Evangelicals and The Mind

I am a Pro-Life staunch Democrat.

I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to believe as a Jew, a Protestant or non-believer, or as anything else you choose. We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might someday force theirs on us.


The former statement made by a dear close personal professing Evangelical friend, and the latter is from the text of an address by Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York on “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective,” delivered September 13, 1984, as a John A. O’Brien Lecture in the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Theology.

Sadly, both statements are theologically troublesome and intellectually bereft. Strong words, words I wish I did not believe with every fiber of my being, but my conscience holds me captive to the Word of God.


Theologically troublesome because I could never imagine any erudite Christian-Thinker of any age putting pen to paper or standing before a microphone or in front of a classroom uttering anything close to either statement. Certainly not in the context of any serious dialogue regarding the support of abortion.


Intellectually bereft because there is no other moral, societal issue, this logic would fly. No one could ever expect to claim they are a staunch Republican while advocating for pacifism as one obvious outrageous example. No one would ever claim to be personally against pedophilia but insist they could not impose their moral views upon anyone else.


I draw attention to both of these purported Christian intellectual worldviews to draw attention to the fact the moral malaise about abortion swims in both sides of the Christian divide: Protestants and Roman Catholics.


I would submit this moral malaise festers as it does so for one common reason: a lack of visceral devotion to the Word of God. I do not assume superiority volitionally or emotively for one minute, yet I do claim the intellectual high ground.


Lest there be any confusion about what I might be clumsily communicating, let me say this. True Christians (whether Roman Catholics are part of that community is a conversation I have covered before in other writings and are for another day) will always falter with inconsistency regarding actions and their subsequent emotional reaction to that action.


I will readily grant true Christians will similarly experience inconsistent thinking but of a different sort as who we are will first and foremost always first reside in our minds. The thought must always originate in the mind for a person to act. Let me buttress my supposition with the following Scriptures:


For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. Proverbs 23:7


but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is full-grown, bringeth forth death.

James 1:14-14

he will be glad in his heart… Ex 4:14 he will harden his heart… Ex 4:20 hate thy brother in thine heart… Lev 19:17


The titans of the Christian faith have almost unanimously agreed sin originates first in the mind.

For Augustine (De Trin. xii, 12) describes three stages of sin, of which the first is “when the carnal sense offers a bait,” which is the sin of thought; the second stage is reached “when one is satisfied with the mere pleasure of thought”; and the third stage, “when consent is given to the deed.”

Aquinas wrote, “Gregory (Moral. iv, 25) reckons four degrees of sin; the first of which is “a fault hidden in the heart”; the second, “when it is done openly”; the third, “when it is formed into a habit”; and the fourth, “when man goes so far as to presume on God’s mercy or to give himself up to despair.”

Now, it would be easy to misunderstand the Biblical writers and Aquinas’ use of the word heart. I must invite the reader to do their own research on the matter, but for the sake of this blog, I will state that when the Biblical writers spoke of the heart, they were not referring to the vital human organ located in our chest. I share the wisdom of Lorence G. Collins in an article he wrote entitled Does the Bible Contradict Accepted Biological Concepts (http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/heart.html)

In the Bible, the heart is considered the seat of life or strength. Hence, it means mind, soul, spirit, or one’s entire emotional nature and understanding. The heart also is the primary source of such bad behavior as adultery, hatred, lust, mischief, pride, and rebellion as well as such neutral or good behavior as desire, doubt, fear, gladness, love, obedience, and sorrow. The heart is the organ that is said to have the ability to reason, question, meditate, motivate, and think. All of these mental processes in today’s world are normally associated with one’s mind or brain and not the heart (except metaphorically). [emphasis mines]

Dr. James Merrit of Touching Lives Ministry writes an article from his website entitled Where Does Sin Begin (https://www.touchinglives.org/devotionals/where-does-sin-begin)


Where does sin begin? The Bible tells us in Matthew 15:19 that it begins in our hearts and minds. Before we commit an act of sin, we will think about it. All sin starts in the mind. Reflect on those ideas and thoughts that have occupied your mind already today. Are they Christ-centered? Are you consumed with spiritual growth and serving God? Are you fearful, angry, or depressed? Are your thoughts right now pleasing to God, and what thoughts are leading you away from God? [emphasis mine]


So, while faithful Christians will forever and always struggle to witness our orthopraxy (right action) follow our orthodoxy (right thinking), we will be perennially doomed from the onset if our thinking does not correctly align with God’s revealed truth.


Since I am not God and thus not qualified to render eternal edicts for myself, let alone another, I can only postulate it is wholly problematic of the first order to state the following:


I am a Pro-Life staunch Democrat.

I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to believe as a Jew, a Protestant or non-believer, or as anything else you choose. We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might someday force theirs on us.


I take no great delight in positing a polemic against both worldviews—one from a dear friend and the other from a complete stranger. I do so with the sober reality that each and every one of us will one day, sooner than many will ever stop to realize, even today, will stand before God and give an account. An account for every word, for every idle word.


I know I stand naked and exposed before the Divine Tribunal, both now and even more so immediately after I take my last breath. I am a gross and heinous sinner. I am totally bankrupt, and I am ashamed of many things that have transpired during my sordid existence. My volition and my emotion will repeatedly fail to measure up to what my conscience, even marred by original sin, knows all too well. My real me, the real me with no mask, with no false bravado with nowhere to hide. That real me knows the real deal, and that real me knows without the finished work of Jesus Christ upon an old rugged cross some two-thousand years ago the real me is dead man walking, dead man on arrival from the time the real me exited his momma’s womb one sunny day on June 5, 1964.


See! Before any of these emotions manifest, they must first occur in my mind. Given what we can intellectually know about God, there is no rational way true Christians can espouse we are staunch Pro-Life Democrats for one very simple reason. There is no Pro-Life ideology anywhere in the Democratic worldview, formally or informally. Yet God shouts from His Word Life is sacred, not because of any human convention but because it is how God has revealed Himself in Holy Scriptures. From the moment of conception and all the way until natural death, every life is created in the Imago Dei of God, thus worthy of dignity and protection, especially from the government. A God-ordained human institution with one chief mission: safeguarding the means of human flourishing, not giving legal sanction to human genocide on an order that dwarfs all the human atrocities committed in human history.


Similarly, you can no more claim to be personally against abortion but refuse to impose your views upon someone else any more than you can claim to be personally against rape or murder but refuse to impose your moral views about those moral matters upon another. What is advanced as respect for the religious opinions of others is nothing more than theological cowardice, plain and simple. It is shameful and frankly despicable, and it tragically and, as a final consequence, slaughters a human life at its most vulnerable stage. It is unfathomable even to write this as I reflect upon the immense joy God impresses upon parents, and now for me, grandparents derive from the gift of life through birth.


Why people, especially black and brown people, do not take to the streets with profound and visceral outrage is the quintessential question of this generation. The police are under siege, and in a typical year, there are no more than fifteen fatal shootings of unarmed suspects in America. Still, today alone, mothers will eradicate over two-thousand eight hundred eighty (2880) lives, all with the legal sanction of the government of the United States of America. All done without blushing or embarrassment from the Democratic Party. Yet, again, many professing Evangelicals in the Democratic Party will claim the title of a follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.


Both ideologies are endemic to what is taking place all across the Christian landscape. We have professing believers of all shapes, forms, and fashions who have not been transformed in the Renewing of Their Minds. They are Emperors with no Clothes, and I know without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit I am wholly inadequate to persuade their unwilling minds.

When I write on this topic, I know it will not gain popularity, respect, or acceptance from those professing Evangelicals I will never meet; that is to be expected, and I can more easily stomach that somber yet haunting reality. Especially troubling for me is when I receive the same treatment from those professing Evangelicals I know all too well. My only comfort is God’s Word explicitly informs its readers the road to Him will be narrow while the road that leads to destruction is broad.


I understand my task in my space is to cast the clarion call, so I end this blog with my feeble attempt to do just that. I am calling upon all professing Evangelicals to step up to the plate and let your yays be yay and let your nays be nay boldly and loudly yet never belligerently or in a manner that brings shame and disrepute to the name of Jesus Christ. We must do so with a heavy heart and a tearful disposition because we vividly know, but for the Grace of God would go I.


I plead with you, my fellow professor of Jesus Christ, to join me and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and actively, not passively, to push back courageously while wistfully against the darkness. It will not be easy nor popular, but this is precisely what our Lord and Savior openly and without apology informed us what it would entail being His disciple. We will be mocked, marginalized, and boisterously told we are on the wrong side of history, but one great day we will stand before the Creator of Heaven and Earth and be told, Servant, Well Done if we endure to the end and do not shrink.


I confess, for me, some days are harder than others just to get out of bed and confront the day, but what keeps me in the game, albeit with highs and lows, ups and downs, stops and starts, is the gracious provision of Faith by God. A faith that I sometimes parrot the believer in Mark 9:24 when he said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”


Yet, most urgent is the realization the faulty thinking that began this blog is not evidence of poor discipleship but of no salvific fidelity. In simpler terms, it demonstrates the adherent does not genuinely possess saving faith.


It is clearly beyond my pay grade to definitely postulate who fits into what category. God will marvelously sort it all out with exquisite precision. My job is first to ensure I am traversing on the narrow road and then compel those I see on the broad highway to change course with trembling and fear.


I will not know the success of this enterprise until I reach eternity. I have no guarantee on what lies ahead in the days ahead or even if there are days ahead for me, but as long as I have breath, I will man my post and seek to be light and salt.


As always, let me know what you think. Until then, keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.

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