Critical Thinking Unit

Image result for book burning

Think Like a Christian

This is a Christian Homeschool English class. So why do we read literature that isn’t Christian? Well, part of that is because while your parents want you to learn about the world from a Christian point of view, they also want you to be educated.

You read non-Christian literature, so you can learn to think like a Christian.

If we were to JUST read books like Pilgrims Progress, and Hind’s Feet on High Places you would be super blessed!!! There is some great Christian literature out there, and we have read a lot of it here in these classes if you have been with me in other years.

You can grow so much much from reading spiritually edifying literature. You can also grow spiritually, when you challenge yourself by reading non-Christian literature through the eyes of Scripture.

Remember when we learned about Higher Criticism and Literary Theory? We took the lyrics to “Dirty Paws” and looked at them with New Criticism, Reader Response Criticism, Feminist Criticism, Psychoanalytical Criticism, etc. Well, most of the time we also (without pointing it out), look at literature through Christian Criticism!

  • We talked about what the Bible says about revenge while reading “The Cask of Amontillado”
  • We talked about Christian Community Service while reading “Thank You, M’am”
  • We talked about sin and grace when we discussed The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • We talked about evolution a bit when we started “The Sound of Thunder”

It is so important for you to be able to consider non-Christian philosophy in light of who you are in Christ. If you can’t THINK like a Christian, you will not continue to be one. You have to be able to analyze worldly themes and ideas, and hold them up to the light of truth and see how they fall short.

The Bible says,

 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” Philippians 1:9-10

Sincere means “without wax.” Matthew Poole says, “It is an emphatical word in the original here, being borrowed either from such things as are tried by being held up at the beams of the sun to see What faults or flaws are in them, whether without fraud, or else from such as are clarified by the heat of the sun; and notes here, that Paul would have them to be uncorrupt and impartial in heart and life, in faith and manners; free from prevailing corruptions, of pure minds, 2 Peter 3:1” 

In ancient days, people would fill in the cracks of a broken pot with wax. It would give the illusion that it was a smooth surface. But, if you held it up to the light you would see the light shine through the cracks. You could see that it wasn’t strong, it was cracked.

We need to be “without wax” and we also need to examine the words of others. To hold them up to the light (of God’s word) and see the cracks in their logic. See where their beliefs, ideas, and values fall short.

You need to be able to THINK like a Christian.

Censorship

One of the topics that we can pull out of Fahrenheit 451 for discussion is the idea of book burning. This is a huge hot button topic from the 20th Century that we need to remember in the 21sth Century.

Before we go on, ask yourself–where do you see book burning in the Bible?

  • In Jeremiah 36, Jeremiah’s scroll was read before Jehoiakim, King of Judah, in the presence of important officials; King Jehoiakim destroyed the scroll in a fire, and then sought to have Jeremiah arrested.
  • Antiocus Epiphanes is mentioned in Daniel. But you can read about what he did to the Jews in the historical book of Maccabeees. He burned Scriptures!!!  Read Maccabees chapter one. This book is included in the Catholic Bible, but it isn’t “Scripture.” We can use it as a source for history.
  • Sorcerers Burn Spell Books in Acts 19:19. This was a voluntary act of worship and obedience to God. Their books were worth about a million dollars in our current economy.

Now, where do you see book burning in Church History?

Image result for catholic church burned bibles

  • Roman Emperors burned Christian books.  “An edict issued at Nicomedia on February 23, 303, enjoined the demolition of churches and the burning of Christian books. This was the first Roman persecution that was designed not only to destroy Christians but to eradicate their sacred text, the New Testament.” (Comfort 13)
  • Catholic Church burned John Wycliffs religious books. “The De heretico comburendo (“On the Burning of Heretics”), a law passed by the English Parliament under King Henry IV of England in 1401, was intended to stamp out “heresy” and in particular the Lollard movement, followers of John Wycliffe. The law stated that “…divers false and perverse people of a certain new sect …make and write books, [and] do wickedly instruct and inform people”. The law’s purpose was to “utterly destroy” all “preachings, doctrines, and opinions of this wicked sect”. Therefore, all persons in possession of “such books or writings of such wicked doctrine and opinions” were ordered to deliver all such books and writings to the diocesan authorities, within forty days of the law being enacted, so as to let them be burned and destroyed. Those failing to give up their heretical books would face the prospect of being arrested and having their bodies as well as their books burned.”
  • Martin Luther burned Catholic books. “At the instruction of Reformer Martin Luther, a public burning of books was held in the public square outside Wittenberg’s Elster Gate on December 10, 1520. Together with the Papal Bull of Excommunication Exsurge Domine, issued against Luther himself, were burned works which Luther considered as symbols of Catholic orthodoxy – including the Code of Canon Law, the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Summa Angelica, Angelo Carletti’s work on Scotist theology.”
  • Martin Luther’s books were burned by the Catholic Church. “On March 1521 Emperor Charles V published in Flanders a ban prohibiting the “books, sermons and writings of the said Luther and all his followers and adherents” and ordering all such materials to be burnt. This was followed by a stream of local bans throughout the Habsburg Netherlands and in neighboring states”
  • Image result for catholic church burned biblesTyndale’s New Testament. “In October 1526 William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament was burned in London by Cuthbert Tunstal, Bishop of London.”
  • Luther’s Bible Translation by German Catholics. “Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible was burned in Catholic-dominated parts of Germany in 1624, by order of the Pope – part of the exacerbation of Catholic-Protestant relations due to the Thirty Years’ War, then in its early stages”
  • Puritans Book Burning. The first book burning incident in the Thirteen Colonies occurred in Boston in 1651 when William Pynchon, founder of Springfield, Massachusetts, published The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption, which criticised the Puritans, who were then in power in Massachusetts. The book became the first banned book in North America, and subsequently all known copies were publicly burned. Pynchon left for England prior to a scheduled appearance in court, and never returned.

Here is a list of other books that have been burned representing various cultures and backgrounds from Islam, Greece, Nazi, China, etc. Whole libraries of ancient writings have gone up in flames leaving us without them forever.

Control or Protection?

When we think of censorship, we often think that it is a moral thing. That someone who “knows better” is protecting people from immoral books that can be socially dangerous. If you support censorship, for these reasons, let me ask you this–who is this person? Is it the government? The church? Who gets to decide? And what if they think differently than you? What if they think what you love is immoral? Or, what if what they think is good, you think is immoral? And their morals are opposite?

Right now there is a petition on Change.org to ban the Bible! 62,798 people have signed this petition to make the Bible illegal in the United States. Did you know there is a top ten list of banned books in the United States? And in 2015, the Bible was number 6 on that list! It offends people.

I mean we would probably be open to some mild censorship, making immoral books less common. The thing is, the heart is desperately wicked so we can’t ban immoral thought or people sharing immoral thoughts.

And if we start banning books, one of the first to go will be the one I love the most!!!! THE BIBLE!!!!

Image result for this book is banned in 52 countries

Usually censorship is not done for “protection” but it is done to control thought. It is done to stop ideas that will challenge power. That is why the Catholic Church burned the Bible. That is why Nazi’s banned literature. They are threatened by free thought.

If we support censorship against immorality, then let us focus on censoring ourselves!!! Let us make our own personal choices to say no to ungodliness. Let us choose. We have the right to choose not to read something that is offensive. We don’t need someone to protect us, if we are filled with the Holy Spirit and in love with God. He will convict us and we will know we need to throw out the book ourselves.

That is why in Acts we see people voluntarily burning their books of witchcraft. It was their choice. When God is working in a people, they will choose to burn their own books. But trying to burn someone else’s books won’t change their sinful heart. It won’t change their mind. It is only a fake way to control people.

Give people the gospel, not guidelines for morality. They need Jesus!!!

If you want to influence thought, you need to be a voice that refutes ungodliness.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15

You Must Defeat Ideas!

“You can’t destroy secular philosophy by hiding it, burning the book, or censoring it—you can only destroy secular philosophy by being able to logically and Biblically expose the cracks within it.” (Brandi Harrison <quote yourself> LOL)

One of the things I want you to study in this unit is the amazing skill of apologists. They defeat the power of evil philosophies in books, by exposing them. I want you to browse through these websites and pick a topic. I want you to then collect information that exposes your topic, and disarms it’s power.

So go ahead and browse the topics on these websites. I want you to select a topic, it could be anything as long as your parents are okay with it. Some possible options:

  • If you are into the sciences, you can focus on Evolution topics
  • If you are curious about Christian sects (and cults) with false doctrine you can pick from topics like-Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, even the information on Catholocism and the Emergent Church. Maybe you have family members who are part of these groups and you want to understand them better?
  • If you are curious about other religions, you can find info on Buddhism, Hinduism, Bahai, Astrology, Scientology and Witchcraft (all from a Scriptural point of view)
  • They also explain controversial books, like The Shack, The DiVinci Code, and The Secret

There is so much information available that you might be overwhelmed. So just go with your gut, if there is something that piques your interest. Click on it, and if you stay on that page longer than a minute, you are genuinely interested! LOL

Your Work This Week:

  • Research the First Amendment-What protections and freedoms does it give you? What limits are there on free speech? Write a half page essay presenting your facts. Due Friday.
  • Apologetics Oral Research Report–I want you to select and read up on an apologetics topic (above). Do some research and start compiling facts for an apologetics oral presentation. Your topic is due next Friday 🙂
  • Argumentative Essay on Censorship–And I want you to begin drafting an argumentative essay on censorship, from a Biblical point of view. It is a complex subject, so you will have a lot to consider. Look up the laws for “Freedom of Speech,” to see what is protected and illegal. You must use 4-6 Scriptures that back up your thesis. This week gather research, and Scripture and make a graphic organizer (Web) to organize your ideas. Web due Friday.
  • Image result for web for essay
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4 thoughts on “Critical Thinking Unit

  1. What exactly are we supposed to discuss? Are we supposed to discuss what we think on censorship and how we feel about it?

  2. I personally believe that nothing should be completely censored. I think having the ‘Explicit Content’ label on music or movies is good, because it warms you that what you possess contains inappropriate content, but you can ultimately decide if it is acceptable for you to watch or listen to. If we voted to have certain content censored, it would quickly go off the path of protecting us and go towards control. We are all human, so even if some made bad choices to censor certain things for themselves, I would rather have my parents or myself censor things than the government.

    I hope some of that made sense, I was having trouble wording my thoughts to make the comment shorter.

  3. Well I personally don’t think the government should censor what we see, our parents should have the power to censor what we see. And on a more personal level we should be able to tell for ourselves what should and shouldn’t be censored for our own well being (especially since we have Christ in our hearts)

  4. In some aspects, I can see how censorship could be a good thing, but there are many problems with it. Censoring certain books would not stop people from getting their message out to the world. Sin will continue to prevail; even with strict limits. Also, people should have a choice of what they will and will not look at. Many people in the world are not able to get to know about God because their government makes the choice for them. So, I do not think censorship should be a thing. People need to determine what they will allow themselves to see and not another person.

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