Teach People What To Think
There is a popular saying among modern church leaders, “We must teach people
how to think, not what to think.” This statement is an overcorrection to the ways of the past which taught people to memorize the “right” beliefs, not to think for
There are toxic effects for many that have this overcorrection in their approach. I
agree that we should teach people to think, which means providing them with good hermeneutics, presuppositional apologetics, a fair and honest view of all the
positions on a topic and their historical development. Yet when some say, “teach
people to think,” it actually comes loaded with baggage, which simply translated
means “question everything from a place of cynicism and suspicion.”
It is true that people need to be taught how to think and supplied with the tools mentioned in the paragraph above, but the Apostle Paul took it further. He believed that people should also be taught what to think as well!
Telling people “what to think” runs counter to another cultural saying of our day,
“speak your truth.” Which means, that the things you hold as truth, to stand up for
them. But Truth doesn’t work like that. There are not 7.5 billion truths in the world
(current global population). There is truth and there is deception, and just because
something is your truth, it may in actuality be a deception.
Paul was very firm on teaching people what to think, consider what he wrote below:
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” Galatians 1:8
Then in three different places, the Apostle Paul refers to the message committed to him as "my gospel" (Romans 2:16; 16:25; II Timothy 2:8).
It is his gospel that is the truth, which we must all agree with as believers. Even Peter gave Paul’s letters the same status as the Old Testament Scriptures as early as the First Century (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Paul goes on in his other letters to say:
For this reason, I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in
the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with
what I teach everywhere in every church.” - 1 Corinthians 4:17
“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters,
to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live
according to the teaching you received from us.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” Romans 16:17
Paul was not bashful about saying he was right, that people should agree with him, and even if an angel tries to tell you differently, let that angel be accursed!
So let’s change the statement to the following: “We need to teach people how to
think, supply them with the tools for critical thinking, and teach them the actual
I know it isn’t as catchy, but it will create good fruit.