Discipleship of the Mind

“The Christian faith enables us to see the world in a manner that transcends the empirical. It offers us theoretical spectacles which allow us to behold things in such a way that we are able to rise above the limits of the observable, and move into the richer realm of discerned meaning and value. The natural world thus becomes seen and interpreted as God’s creation, bearing the subtle imprint of its maker. We see not only the empirical reality of the world, but its deeper value and true significance. Neither value nor significance, it must be emphasized, are empirical notions – things that we can see around us. They must be discerned, and then superimposed upon an empirical reading of the world.

We are called to exercise an evangelical discipleship of the mind in every area of life. Whether we are called to serve God in the arts or in music, in health work or in international development, in the academy or in politics, we must work out what it means to be a Christian in these contexts. Sometimes this will mean manifesting and embodying the love, compassion and care that is so central a feature of the life of faith. Sometimes it will involve challenging ideologies that have become deeply embedded in the academy, culture or society. There is no area of life in which we are excused by God of the need to work out our discipleship. We are called to be witnesses, to allow our light to be seen; to be salt to the world around us. And we can only do that through presence – through inhabiting situations to which we feel called.”

Alister McGrath: “The Lord is my light: on the discipleship of the mind” EQ 83.2 (2011), 133–145

The 2010 Laing Lecture, delivered at the London School of Theology on 23 February 2010. The author is Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture at King’s College, University of London.

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