Critical Thinking Without Being Critical

Recently I read a devotional written by another preacher. As I read it, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. What troubled me was that over thirty people had “liked” the post. My heart sank because people did not see all the flaws.

First, the whole thought was built on a false analogy. It was comparing two things that are not similar, although they might appear to be at a casual glance. Second, it used an unreliable Bible translation (this is a pet peeve of mine). The author must have searched all around to find a verse that was stated just the right way to fit their analogy. Third, the verse used was from the Old Testament, and we ripped entirely out of context to make a point about America, making it a violation of proper Bible interpretation. Finally, it took a concept that is about the people of God and applied it to non-believers who were represented in the false analogy.

In a few seconds, I noticed four big issues with this devotion that made me uncomfortable as a preacher and a follower of Jesus. His disciples are to be people who “correctly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). On top of that, we are to keep watch for “false prophets” and “false teachers” (2 Peter 2:1). Here was an attempt to use the scripture in a way that violates the meaning of the author and the will of God. Christians must be wise about such things.

One aspect of being a believer is that we need to learn critical thinking skills. We are required to listen to the words of others and then use the proper tools to analyze what was said. If we are not able to do that, then we will fall for every wind of teaching (Ephesians 4:14).

Here is the final significant step, though. There is a difference between being a critical thinker and being a critical person. When I finished reading the post that was made, I made a note of it so that I could write this blog, and then I moved along.

The temptation for many of us is to jump into the comment section and tear this person apart. Anyone who disagrees with me will feel the burn of my righteous indignation. I can post links and arguments that will put this person in their place and anyone who chose to listen to him. These are the actions of a critical person.

I hope that every person learns to be a critical thinker without becoming a critical person. I pray that you can process ideas and not be led astray. Once you have done that essential first step, then you will not feel the need to let everyone know you are right. A good brain is a gift, but a good attitude toward those with whom you disagree is a blessing to everyone.

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