The Pastor As a Christian Thinker -- By: Thomas N. Smith

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 03:3 (Summer 1994)
Article: The Pastor As a Christian Thinker
Author: Thomas N. Smith

The Pastor As a Christian Thinker

Thomas N. Smith

Everyone in the Western world knows “The Thinker.” The statue has become one of the great mental images of the twentieth century. It is arguably the most famous piece of sculpture in the whole history of Western art.

The Thinker.” Naked, muscular, sitting, elbow on knee, head slightly bowed, brow knitted, eyes narrowed. “The Thinker.”

We can know, at least in part, what Auguste Rodin was saying in this bronze, silent, lonely figure. First, he is naked. Now, while Rodin gloried in naked flesh (particularly female flesh), he is using the age-old device of the nude to point us to man, generic man, humanity. Second, the man is deep in thought. As they used to say in the South, “He is studying something.” Rodin is saying to us: Man as man is a thinking creature, a thinking animal.

Christians are thinkers as well. C. S. Lewis once remarked that it is not a question as to whether men will read; they will. The question is, rather, whether they will read what is worthwhile, or trash. The same principle can be applied to the Christian as a thinking man or woman. They will think. Whether they will think well or carefully, or even Christianly, is another thing entirely. This is where the pastor as a Christian thinker comes in. By definition, the pastor is a leader, a teacher, a thought-shaper. In the lives of most evangelicals, there are few influences as powerful as the pastor of the local church they attend. The responsibility to use this influence in ways that will cultivate thinking that is distinctively Christian is a very real part of his role as a pastor-teacher. In order to ensure this, he must himself possess a Christian mind.

But, at this point a disclaimer and an explanation are necessary. I am not for a moment suggesting that Christian pastors are to be “intellectuals” or philosophers. Nor are they responsible to shape the members of their congregations into intellectuals or philosophers or aesthetes. No.

The goal we are seeking to achieve ourselves and to bring our people towards by the Word and Spirit of God is Christian maturity. In Paul’s words, we are seeking to “present every one perfect in Christ” (Col. 1:28).

While this involves the mind, it involves more than a merely intellectual approach to life. The “mind” in biblical thought includes the affections and the will. The concern we pastors have is to teach our charges in such a way as to promote and produce under the influence of the Holy Spirit a genuine Christian life. Many Christians simply do not have the i...

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