Community Gardens

Imagine that the biblical worldview is like fertile soil. Plant a person or idea in this rich loam and a beautiful and fruitful yield results. Imagine, further, how many more plants would grow in an entire garden.

Imagine that a garden is a learning community (formal and informal) created to grow Christian minds for the glory of God and the blessing of mankind. Imagine, also, the impact of countless community gardens over course of time. The long-term impact of learning God’s word profoundly would be extensive in the church and the world. Consider these possibilities.

Aspiring thinkers turn back to the Bible as an act of worship. They evaluate whom they listen to and where they learn. They turn away from negative speakers and false messages. They learn to distinguish between the trivial and the momentous. They reinvest their intellectual capacity in the true, good, and beautiful. They develop intellectual virtues in accord with the Scriptures.

Apprentice thinkers acknowledge with their whole mind, soul, and strength this essential truth: “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8:3). They learn the history, people, themes, and vision of the Bible. They study the cultures of the ancient Near East and Palestine. They practice intertextual reasoning and learn to think like the biblical authors. They listen to the global community and learn from the theological tradition of the church. Renewed thinkers learn to fear the Lord and grow in wisdom.

Those who acquire wisdom serve their local cultures, teach in their local churches, and mentor future leaders. Some are like Joseph and Daniel, serving with distinction in the world for the glory of God. Others function as ambassadors in the public square, like Dorothy Sayer and C. S. Lewis. Still others serve evangelistically as Francis Schaeffer and Tim Keller.

Maturing thinkers are wise stewards and honor God as apprentice leaders, builders, benefactors, and thinkers. They evaluate the world with biblical assumptions. They affirm what is positive and promote the common good. They also critique and challenge what is false and evil. They demonstrate the gospel in ways that are intellectually plausible and existentially credible, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks” (1 Pet 3:15).

Imagine the positive impact of community gardens—nurturing Christian minds for the long-term to the glory of God and the blessing of mankind.

Cited by permission from my book Such a Mind as This: A Biblical-Theological Study of Thinking in the Old Testament (Wipf & Stock 2021)

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