Thinking toughly…

Not too long ago I suggested at the Scottish Baptist College that we go for a while with the tag line: ‘think toughly, feel deeply, act courageously’. I am not sure where I got it. I thought I read it in a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. but I have not found it since. I regret suggesting that title as I could have used it now for IBTS Centre Amsterdam!!!

It seems to me that ‘thinking toughly’ involves bringing some rigour to reflections. This involves a bit of discipline so that instead of ‘one’s heid being all over the place’ we approach different issues with a degree of ‘consistency’. To approach with consistency requires as starting point – a hermeneutical position – a place from which we can stand in order as it were to view and make sense of the world and all that there is.

We all have these starting points and so in that sense looking at something as ‘objective’, without ‘prejudice’ is somewhat impossible. Recognising this, being reflexive, is part of thinking toughly. It allows us and others to know our perspective and to work with it or to challenge it.

I want my starting point, the place in which I make sense of being in the world to be the person of Jesus Christ and his life, death, and resurrection as found in the biblical witness. Often, however, I find myself reflecting from other starting points: pragmatism, necessity, common sense etc etc. etc. and it takes discipline to pull back to that place where I want to be found. 

Strangely, however, I find comfort in the fact that I find this starting point hard – because it suggests that it is something which is ‘over and against me’ rather than simply a product of my own self interest. Here is a paradox – on the one hand I would like ‘mind of Jesus’ to reign in me from day to day. On the other hand I am afraid that when I think that it is then it is no longer the mind of Jesus I am following because I am not Jesus.

Here I guess is where we need other ‘like minded people’ to help. like minded in that they are not simply prepared to think with us but to think with us from a shared starting point in which we recognise that our starting point is one towards which are always aspiring and striving because it is never fully ours. To me when Jesus said ‘follow me’ it is a reminder that he is somehow always ahead even though present.

This does not lead to a theoretical abyss of non decision but to a humilty of acting in faith and being ever open to learning and change even as we yet take side and position. Ayer…thinking toughly…can be hard work.


One Comment

  1. I think the strap line is common property Stuart especially amongst Baptists looking for a place to stand. I’ve two thoughts to add into the discussion:
    1. The three part strap line could be seen as a theological manifesto arising from the Great Commandment, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. That word all is an absolute that because we are human will always be relative in its fulfilment, but not its aspiration. Felling deeply is exactly what we mean by loving God, but so is thinking toughly and acting courageously. What such loving in its absolute form might look like, is Jesus; what the God we love will look like is Jesus.
    2. No one part of the strap line stands alone without causing an imbalance. I know you chose the think toughly element because it undoubtedly describes theologising that has intellectual integrity and cognitive humility – and these are essential attributes of theological education that is formative and transformative. But tough thinking is authenticated by courageous action, and both are motivated by deep feelings – of what it means to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul mind and strength.
    The kind of exchange that made the past years so rich Stuart. Thanks for pushing it along some more



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s