Ideas / Thinking / July 2, 2011

Thinking Critically Uncritically

When did critical thinking get so critical, or rather so full of criticism? What I mean to say is when did it get so negative.
Critical thinking seems to mean sifting out the bad and dangerous content from whatever medium you’re engaging (movie, music, book, etc.) and emphatically denying it while forgetting everything else. Many babies have been disposed of with the bath water in this way..

It seems to me that true critical thinking means sorting out the good AND the bad and treating them as they deserve.

Sometimes the bad is so prominent that the good isn’t worth dwelling on. But just as often there are strikingly good qualities to the content under scrutiny that are at least a shame to ignore and possibly harmful.

The other side of the coin is the overwhelmingly good content that some people feel deserves nit picking and warnings. Let people make their own [uncritical] critical judgments. Let the petty warnings slide in the face of overwhelming good so as not to taint the good with them.

Conservative Christians (referring to theological, fundamentalist, or legalistic conservatism) seem particularly addicted to negative critical thinking, as if all things must be labeled “good” or “bad”. In this fallen world nothing is good OR bad. It’s all good AND bad.
Uncritical critical thinking sorts the good and the bad and responds rightly. 

1 Comment

Jul 05, 2011

I recently read an excellent book (“To Change the World” – James Davison Hunter) that examines, amongst many things, the Christian Conservatives’ failure to effectively examine, respond to, and influence culture. To your point above, Hunter writes…

“Faithful Christian witness is fated to exist in the tension between the historical and the transcendent; between the social realities that press on human existence and the spiritual and ethical requirements of the gospel; between the morality of society in which Christian believers live and the will of God. These oppositions are a fact of existence for the church and each Christian believer and they pull in conflicting directions—one toward the necessities of survival and the other toward the perfect will of God. There is no place of equilibrium between these oppositions and no satisfying resolutions. In our time, most believers have sought to reduce this tension through denying the opposition between revelation and the order of the world.”

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