The Christian Mind

February 23, 2011

I'm in the middle of preparing the 2011 Commencement Lecture* for 'St Mark's National Theological Centre' in Canberra next week titled 'Regaining our Voice in the Secular University'. I have spent considerable time in January and February reading some new and some old works that are relevant. I thought I'd share a great quote from Harry Blamires well-known book 'The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian think?' Harry Blamires is now 95 and has been retired for some time. He is an Anglican theologian, literary critic, and novelist and was head of the English department at King Alfred's College (now Winchester University) in Winchester, England. He began writing in the late 1940s at the encouragement of his friend, C. S. Lewis, who was his tutor at Oxford University.
"There is no longer a Christian mind. There is still, of course, a Christian ethic, a Christian practice, and a Christian spirituality. As a moral being, the modern Christian subscribes to a code other than that of the non-Christian. As a member of the church, he understands obligations and observations ignored by the non-Christian. As a spiritual being, in prayer and meditation, he strives to cultivate a dimension of life unexplored by the non-Christian. But as a thinking being, the modern Christian has succumbed to secularization. He accepts religion - its morality, its worship, its spiritual culture; but he rejects the religious view of life, the view which sets all earthly issues within the context of the eternal view which relates all human problems - social, political, cultural - the doctrinal foundations of the Christian Faith, the view which sees all things here below in terms of God's supremacy and earth's transitoriness, in terms of Heaven and Hell." pp 3-4
Blamire's challenge to recover the authentic Christian mind was made in 1963! It still applies in 2011. CASE exists in response to challenges such as Blamire's. His book does not denigrate or ridicule the secular mind; rather, it calls upon Christians to seek to understand the difference between the two.
"To think secularly is to think within a frame of reference bounded by the limits of our life here on earth: it is to keep one's calculations rooted in this-worldly criteria. To think christianly is to accept all things with the mind as related, directly or indirectly, to man's eternal destiny as the redeemed and chosen child of God." p.44
While Blamire's book is framed by his experience in the first half of the 20th century, his ideas still resonate. I'll probably do a longer post on this topic in the next few months.

* The lecture for those interested is HERE

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