Critical thinking necessary for learning, faith

By Katherine Pullen

Darkness obscures the true nature of the world. Light reveals it, in all its grandeur or obscenity. In a world of gray morality, our Christian professors ought to be light for their students, to help us uncover the truth about our secular world. It is our responsibility, as students, to face up to the truth and to applaud our teachers who are not afraid to help us find it.

We, as Christians, are called to live out our lives in the world, and yet not to become like the things of the world. Surrounded by moral grayness, it is hard to find the line between God’s world and a fallen humanity. It is especially difficult to find this line if we are unwilling to honestly look at worldly things and compare them to godly things. We imagine that the world is much too seductive to encounter, so we refuse to investigate and critically think about issues that are not explicitly Christian, for fear of losing our faith.

“We need to guard our hearts, but I think that sometimes Christians imagine their own faith and values to be much more fragile than they turn out to be in the end,” said Dr. Roman Williams, assistant professor of sociology.

Whether or not we choose to see the things of this world for what they are, we are being influenced and affected by them moment to moment. As a result of our fear of honestly examining the things of the world, we remain ignorant of the larger and more diabolical social structures and cultural value systems that hold them in place. Without our awareness, we often become the perpetrators of the very things we were trying to avoid in the first place.

Christians, absurdly afraid of contamination by unknown evils of the world, walk far around the mess on the sidewalk only to fall headfirst into the sewer. The most clever part of Satan’s plan in all this is that sometimes we cannot even smell our own stench because we have pretended for so long the sewer of the world is not there.

“Part of being effective in Christian ministry is understanding the social and cultural world we live in,” Williams said. “I don’t think we can adequately understand it without going into some of the dark places that people inhabit, not for the spectacle of it, but for the legitimate purpose of learning.”

It is far better to approach worldly issues and wrestle with them now, surrounded by professors eager to help us interpret them through a Christian worldview, than to be blindsided later when we do not have this willing support.

“We don’t live in a Christian world,” said Stephanie Smith, sophomore social work major. “Our professors need to teach us about what’s really going on (in our world), but do it from a Christian worldview, so when we graduate we know how to see the world and we know how to process (it).”

If we do not learn to think critically about our society and our culture, then the line between the world and the truth becomes more and more gray.

“A Christian professor has a responsibility to make students aware of some weaknesses in some worldly perspectives that students may not have thought about before,” said Dr. James Patterson, associate dean of the School of Theology and Missions and university professor of Christian thought and tradition. “Part of what we call apologetics is being able to examine other worldviews and critique them.”

If our professors are willing to expose the ways of the world to us and explain them from a Christian worldview, and we are willing to accept their guidance and ask difficult questions, then this knowledge can only serve to strengthen our faith.

About Cardinal & Cream 1009 Articles
The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.