This blog is the combined effort of four senior pastors of different churches. Their desire is to point you toward living a God-centered, gospel-focused, Christian life.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Critical Thinking and the Christian

My friend recently sent me some information on “concept mapping.” For those unfamiliar with the, um, concept, here’s an example from NASA (original image can be found here):

Bryan Bradley at Brigham Young University describes a concept map as “a visual organization and representation of knowledge. It shows concepts and ideas and the relationships among them. You create a concept map by writing key words (sometimes enclosed in shapes such as circles, boxes, triangles, etc.) and then drawing arrows between the ideas that are related. Then you add a short explanation by the arrow to explain how the concepts are related.”

The concept map has many educational benefits. For instance, it allows students studying a specific scientific concept to visualize how that concept relates to other fields and disciplines. It also allows students to group seemingly divergent thoughts as they brainstorm.

Concept maps also assist people as they think through how their opinions have been formed. Check out this example dealing with the Iraq War (original can be found here):

This individual has stated her position in the central circle: "My position on the war is that I am in between." In the next ring of eight circles, she lists reasons for and against the war. Finally, she lists what was the primary influence for that reason (media, religion, etc.).

It is that last step that intrigues me. Training young people—and ourselves—to think critically is an essential task for the mature believer. We must know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

Remember what Paul tells Timothy as he encourages his young friend to remain faithful and not follow the path of self-loving false teachers:
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
The pedagogical goal of the church is not merely to convey information. Paul wants Timothy to recall the sources from which he received his convictions. They were trusted teachers and sacred writings. Timothy would do well to listen to their instruction instead of following the hedonistic lifestyles of the false teachers. 

We also want to equip ourselves and others to think critically about the information we know and how to apply it. Continue to hold fast to what you have known and firmly believed!

By His Grace,



  1. Interesting.
    Donald Whitney lists "meditation mapping" as a way to meditate on Scripture. I agree with Dr. Whitney that meditation on the word of God is the greatest spiritual need among Christians today. Almost all of us listen to the Word; most of us read it; many of us study it; some of us memorize it. But, few of us, I think, meditate on it. And really, that is how you soak it in and remember it!

    Anyway, Dr. Whitney lists a number of helpful suggestions on how to meditate, all of them with the goal to simply spend more time thinking about the Word of God. Tony Buzan's The Mind Map Book is the idea behind this "meditation mapping" concept. (I'm not endorsing the book necessarily.) I think Buzan's book may present the material a bit differently than what is mentioned in this blog post, but it is certainly similar.

    So, this idea can help us become more critical thinkers, and perhaps also be used as a tool to meditate on Scripture.

  2. Great post, Pastor Daniel. Something Bethany does so well is show how the Bible is part of one larger whole. What is done in Genesis impacts the Law which sets the stage for Christ which sets the stage for Revelation. I would LOVE someone do a concept map of the whole Bible.