Christian Mindset, Mindset, Philosophy, Spiritual Life

Biblical Mindset

One of the great casualties of modern academic theology and biblical studies is any sense that the Bible offers a philosophy for life. And I don’t just mean that it provides information for the creation of an accurate worldview or political practice. I mean that the Bible offers actual insight into the realities of human nature (mind, body, spirit/soul), history, and God. But I think that the Bible claims to offer such a philosophy. A brief example can be found here:

For those who walk according to the flesh are mindful the things of the flesh, but those who walk according to the Spirit are mindful the things of the Spirit. For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)[1]

Paul, in the passage above, is claiming that his own gospel message contains a Spirit inspired mindset. And while Paul describes the mindsets in absolute terms (you have one or the other), elsewhere, Paul makes clear that one must be renewed over time and through tremendous effort to overcome the mindset and practices of the flesh (see Romans 6, Ephesians 4, and Colossians 3). So to be a Christian is to be daily obtaining and putting into practice the mindset of the Spirit, with the help of that same Spirit.

Kyriacos Markides described this view of the Bible as a book designed to help people form a way of life very well:

Likewise, the role of the Bible must be seen as a therapeutic tool to heal our existential alienation from God. And those who can offer an expert’s opinion about its worth as a handbook for union with God are neither the fundamentalists nor the Bible historians, but the saints who have extensively put it to practice. Furthermore, Father Maximos added, the Bible by itself is not adequate as a guide to reach God. One must take into consideration the entire experience of the Ecclesia, the entire corpus of the spiritual tradition as articulated in the lives, aphorisms, homilies, spiritual methodologies, and written testimonies of the saints. And this tradition is being tested and retested by the experiences of the saints.[2]

My definition of mindset is the beliefs, attitudes, and processes individuals and organizations utilize to interact with circumstances. The definition of the Greek word I translated mindset above is ‘a way of thinking.’ So Paul’s concept is not dissimilar from my own. What does the Bible say about the Christian mindset? The lists below are incomplete, but sufficient to show that there is biblical content to the mindset of the Spirit.

  1. Beliefs
    1. God is benevolent and does not tempt us to sin.
    2. To love is to be like God.
    3. The world is ruled by evil and I have contributed to that evil and fundamentally chosen to rebel against God.
    4. God’s kingdom is at hand.
    5. Jesus has been raised from the dead.
    6. Jesus will reconcile those who trust him to God.
    7. Jesus’ teachings can be the foundation for an invincible life.
    8. God is present in his people, the church and the history of the church is filled with wisdom and both good and bad examples of faithfulness.
    9. God has given the Christian everything necessary for spiritual growth.
    10. Every temptation is supplied with a way out.
    11. There is eternal as well as temporal hope for the righteous.
    12. Human beings are responsible for their own virtues, vices, and eternal destiny in a profound way.
  2. Attitudes
    1. Gratitude should be cultivated daily.
    2. Knowledge is good and love is even better.
    3. Hatred of all evil is good as well as a desire to overcome evil with good.
    4. Wonder at God and his creation is encouraged.
    5. The Christian is given a spirit of love, power, and self-control.
    6. Christians should approach church disagreements with moderation.
    7. Joyful anticipation of good works to accomplish.
    8. Money is a metric among many, it isn’t everything.
  3. Processes
    1. Negative visualization (consider losing everything in advance of losing it)
    2. Fasting
    3. Daily prayer and meditation
    4. Silencing your soul/mind/heart
    5. Planning for the future while remaining outcome independent.
    6. See every temptation, challenge, trial, disaster, and tragedy as a test of virtue.
    7. Subjecting spiritual claims to public scrutiny
    8. Self-examination and comparison to divinely inspired ideals
    9. Daily attempting to become more virtuous
    10. Confession of sins
    11. Honoring God by doing your best at work and in daily interactions
    12. Maintenance of property and household economics

References

[1] Kurt Aland et al., Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th Edition. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012), Ro 8:5–6, “ οἱ γὰρ κατὰ σάρκα ὄντες τὰ τῆς σαρκὸς φρονοῦσιν, οἱ δὲ κατὰ πνεῦμα τὰ τοῦ πνεύματος. τὸ γὰρ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς θάνατος, τὸ δὲ φρόνημα τοῦ πνεύματος ζωὴ καὶ εἰρήνη”

[2] Kyriacos C. Markides. The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality (The Crown Publishing Group). 48.

 

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