There’s a good introduction to the basic Christian message called Two ways to Live.
It’s worth a look if you are trying to understand what Christianity is all about. But how we live depends on what we think. So it’s also true, from a Christian perspective, that there are two ways to think.
The idea that Christians think might surprise some people. There’s a popular myth that Christians aren’t very bright, which is why they fall for the ridiculous claims of dodgy preachers. There are some dodgy preachers, of course, but in reality Christians span much the same range of intellectual ability as the rest of the population. Which means that there are some very clever Christians.
But, highly educated or not, there is something different about the way Christians think. Christian thinking starts with God.
It took some time for the earliest followers of Jesus to appreciate exactly who he was. Other people who heard Jesus speak and saw the miracles he did thought that he could be one of prophets come back to life. If that sounds far-fetched, in fact they didn’t go far enough. The Jews had been waiting for someone greater than a prophet, for someone promised by God, for a king, the Christ, the Messiah. And what Jesus did and said showed that he was this Messiah.
When his disciples realised this, Jesus began to tell them what it meant. Certain things would happen to him, as predicted about the Messiah in the Jewish scriptures. He spoke of suffering, of being rejected by the religious leaders, of being killed and then rising again.
For some reason, Peter seemed to miss what Jesus said about resurrection. Instead, he got stuck on what came before that, the fact that Jesus would be rejected, and would have to suffer and die. ‘You shouldn’t be talking like that’ was Peter’s response.
Jesus put Peter in his place. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns,’ he told him. And that pins down the ‘two ways to think’. Either God is in the picture, or he isn’t. Peter was wrong because he had left God out of his thinking.
What shapes your thinking? The presence of God? Or his absence? If there is no God, then all we can do is think our own thoughts. But if God exists, then the obvious thing to do is to begin our thinking with him. And that’s what Christians aim to do.
Christians see the goodness and the glory of God in the world he created. But we know that the world is not all good. With God, there is hope in the darkness that we also see in the world around us, and someone to help with the darkness we see in ourselves. Without God, the darkness is still there and all the pressure is on us to deal with it.
You may think that’s rubbish. But it would be arrogant to dismiss those who believe it as ‘unintelligent’. Wouldn’t it?