How the Mind Matters

The third component of the Old Testament Great Commandment is loving God with all of your mind.  As a teacher, I’d like to think that I think about thinking a lot.  Hopefully I’ve gotten a little better at it over time.

As with the previous section of “The Drama of Discipleship,” Kevin Vanhoozer spirals various ideas through one another, revisiting and building on them in good, generative ways.  As he does this, he also brings in concepts that bring depth to what some might perceive as well-worn topics.

In the case of the mind, Vanhoozer introduces the idea of sapience, a human trait which indicates “not simply sensation and feeling but also deliberation and wisdom.”  Spiritual formation, he asserts, “involves . . . the renewal of the mind to imagine the world as Scripture imagines it.”  Vanhoozer sees our human nature, gifted with sapience, requires some kind of “radical remedial education” which comes from Scripture and the Spirit.  As such, the Word and the Spirit attune our minds to the world the way Jesus through Scripture sees it.  This reading of the world through the lens of Scripture creates something called “canon-sense,” which is “our ability to indwell the richly patterned story-world of the canon, to imagine the world that Scripture imagines  and to mirror in our lives the reality that Scripture mirrors.”

And so, it seems, Christian must practice a “vocation of wisdom.”  From the essay:

Wisdom is the ability to see how Christ is the center of both the created and the renewed order, and thus to see the place of disciples in the grand scheme of things.  Being wise unto Christ involves not merely assenting to but practicing what we know.  It is a matter of practicing the premise, presence, and promise of God.

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One thing I like about Vanhoozer’s work is that it brings a number of threads together and adds a particularly Vanhoozer-like twist.  His constant return to Scripture is reassuring, particularly in a culture where religious text is often demoted to a collection of inspirational quotes.  And when it’s not about inspiration, it’s about something like rules and regulations.  But the imaginative aspect is critical and too easily overlooked.

How do we live well in the Story that we are in?  We start be seeing . . . by imagining it . . . rightly.

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