Books that J.P. has authored, edited, or contributed articles.
Smart Faith: Loving Your God With All Your Mind
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Smart Faith
by Mark Matlock and J.P. Moreland

Description:

Love Your God with All Your Mind continues to be one of my most best-selling books; it has continued to strike a good chord with different readers. But the reach of that book’s thesis was significantly broadened when Mark and I published Smart Faith in 2005.

Mark Matlock and I took the themes and thesis of Love Your God With All Your Mind and attempted to translate them for a youth readership. Mark’s extensive experience and leadership with youth and college students offers him a distinct acquaintance with their questions and needs, spiritually and intellectually. He was a fabulous co-author for this endeavor.

There are two parts to our book. In four chapters, the first part tries to show the importance of thinking Christianly for the whole of our life. It is appropriately titled, “Getting smart.” The next six chapters, which constitute part two of the book, aim to offer specific guidance in “applying our smarts.” By “smarts,” we mean more than merely the sum total of our cognition. Presumed in our admiration and encouragement for thoughtful Christianity is a recognition that while the “the faith” doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand it, nonetheless, intentional clear thinking, and especially wisdom, is necessary for both understanding and application.

Regardless of age or life-stage, the themes of our book are useful and significant for people’s growth in Christ. But we do think that there’s something particularly needful for young people in our pages. For the “smarts” that we speak of in these pages is exactly what’s needed for people – indeed, even for an entire generation – in the grip of desire and a way of life bent on the fulfillment of desire. A diet of Turkish Delight is unsustainable. Action requires thought. And a will needs to be environed in moral and spiritual knowledge of the good if it is to flourish well.

In chapter one, we set the stage for how we “lost our minds.” By this description, we are trying to show how “anti-intellectualism” has become a dominant feature of our lives in a sensate culture. Consequently, “faith” has come to mean for many something no more than mere profession. This is often a rampant problem for our church youth gatherings. Frankly, we need to better help youth leaders effectively help others know how to root faith in knowledge of what is real. That sort of perspective is what we try to impart in our chapter 2, and it is further expanded in my book with Klaus Issler, In Search of a Confident Faith.

Chapter 3 and 4 encourages readers to take stock of their source of knowledge for transformation and to learn to see the disciplining of the mind as a spiritual discipline that can help open up a person to better attentiveness to God’s transformation in their lives. As Dallas Willard is fond of noting, “grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning.” It takes intentional effort to be skillfully thoughtful about your life.

Part two begins with chapter 5, where we offer some basic guidance for how to reason with the tools of logic. “Logic,” and learning to reason well with her tools, need not be a negative idea; it is only so, because people fail to cultivate a character full of humility and earnestness to serve others.

Since knowledge and her tools (e.g., logic) are meant to help others, we then show in chapter 6 how our evangelism or witnessing efforts are enriched by robust Christian thinking. We want to you persuade others with confidence and not by emotionally browbeating them! This chapter offers some helpful resources toward that end. When we share why we believe what we believe, it is important to be mindful about how to do this not only with gentleness about also with intellectual and personal care. We want to help you reason with the thinking and arguments from other Christian scholars. Chapter 7 will introduce you to such resources. The goal here is not to make you become a scholar. It is merely to make you aware of the sort of helpful work that others have done for you on your behalf.

A fundamental mistake that people often make when trying to cultivate the “life of the mind” is that they simply view it as merely an intellectual add-on to their life; they think that if they sound intellectual or if they appear to be hip and erudite that they will be persuasive. Learning to love God with our minds is integral to our whole life and not merely some aspect of it.

Thus, chapters 8-10 are intended to show how to grow a thoughtful life as we personally study and nurture our appetites to know and as we grow our attentiveness about God’s actions in our life and with those around us. Consequently, we can begin to see our corporate and personal worship practices as being more than just emotive expressions toward God, but a whole-life endeavor where our minds and bodies are renewed in responsiveness toward God, regardless if we are about religious or non-religious activities (Romans 6 and 12). Where do we live out the life of the mind? As chapter 10 indicates, we live out our thinking wherever we are: home, school, work, play, church, etc.

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Benefits:

  • It is an accessible introduction about how to grow the “life of the mind” as integral to Christian discipleship.
  • It is wonderfully illustrated with personal, real-life experiences
  • It is written by seasoned authors both in terms of their knowledge of the subject-matter and as avid practitioners and influencers of other leaders.
  • It presents each chapter in such a way that someone could read or study it in whole or in part in light of the helpful sectioning.
  • It offers an application-oriented reflection at the end of each chapter in order to help the reader intentionally appropriate the material for their life.

Table of Contents: Acknowledgments Author's note Part I: Getting Smart 1. Have we lost our minds? : finding complete faith 2. How our minds map faith : thinking will take us far 3. What do we know? : minding our source for transformation 4. Brain freeze : melting our mental icebergs Part II: Applying Our Smarts 5. Facilitate the debate : using logic to persuade 6. Not scared to share anymore : evangelizing with brains 7. "God said it. I believe it. Doesn't that settle it?" : reasoning like scholars 8. Does quiet time mean "zzzzz" to us? : waking up our personal study and devotion 9. Close communication : refocusing our worship 10. Where do we shut out God? : applying our minds to home, school, work, and play Conclusion: Where the Think from Here Notes About the Authors

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