Thoughts on Thinking
1. Thinking is much like traveling: for just as when a man travels he moves from scene to scene, and is ever confronted with new sights, so a thinking man moves from thought to thought, and is ever confronted with new vistas and different perspectives and vantage points.
2. And just as a traveler may only find himself in new locations by moving there one step at a time, so a thinker may only find new territory by proceeding from his starting point, one connection at a time, until he finds himself someplace that he has not seen before.
3. Many people believe that they are not able to think well, and that thinking is solely the occupation of a select few. They feel themselves inadequate because they have an insufficient view of what thinking is, imagining it to be an unconnected conjuring up of abstract ideas. They are like children who think that they cannot see their friends because they are in a different place, and who believe that only their parents or some other trusted adult can enable them to visit those whom they desire to see. They do not realize that their parents can only bring them towards the desired goal one step at a time, and that they could just as well take each one of the necessary steps, if they could only see how each one is necessary to bring them to the wished-for place. In the same way, many people imagine that philosophers and other notable thinkers are able to dream up inaccessible ideas, when they really only walked there one step at a time, and with such faltering progress that each individual step could be traversed by the weakest of men.
4. Thinking is the noblest occupation of mankind, which was created for an ever-increasing recognition of the beauty which inheres in the Godhead, and whose life is meaningless and absurd without the fulfillment of that intrinsic purpose.
5. Even as travelers are able to encounter only certain places by their unaided walking, and rely on extra-individual means of transport, such as planes and automobiles, to arrive at otherwise unreachable destinations, so thinkers may only bring themselves to a limited array of understandings without outside help.
6. Although it may seem that the majority of destinations may be reached by one man alone, who is physically adept, yet when one pauses to consider the vast realms of the worlds outside this globe, he realizes that the places he may arrive at are unimaginably few compared to the amount of new locations there are waiting for him in the universe. So an ambitious thinker may be confident of exhaustive understanding, apart from outside revelation, only when he is too narrow-minded to see the depths of knowledge which inhere in the limitless Godhead, next to whom every field of human reason is but a microscopic drop in the ocean of possible knowledge.
7. Some travelers are notable for the wide variety of locations they have encountered, but in each of those locations they come across others who know that precise region far more exactly than they. So many thinkers are able to connect the basic natures of many different subjects in a wide-angle view, and others know far more deeply the intrinsic nature of one subject alone. Both of these types are necessary, one to extend the depth of knowledge beyond that which any one well-traveled man could do, and one to illuminate the significance of that deep knowledge by relating it to a broader whole.
8. Travelers do only those things which are proper to the location at which they have arrived, and all people do only those things which make sense within the paradigm of their thoughts. It would be foolish to tell a child in an inner city slum, â€œBuild sand castles on the beach!â€. Likewise, it would be foolish to tell a person with no knowledge of national history, â€œGive up your life for your country!â€, or else to tell a Christian who has not learned the sweet thoughts of Christ, â€œAbstain from sin!â€.
9. Therefore, the world is not changed by those who speak the loudest, but by those who are best able to communicate ideas. When one is transported to the world of an idea, he will naturally do those things appropriate to it.
10. Most people are willing to live vicariously in the thoughts of others, even as many person who do not travel amuse themselves with the make-believe world of movies and video games. But these can never finally satisfy, for they can only produce make-believe impressions in the heart. True location enables true perception, and true understanding produces the true emotion which is the corollary to the understanding.
11. As human beings are designed above all to gain their happiness through the apprehension of joy-producing thoughts, and as they are created with immortal souls, it stands to reason that only that realm of thought-travel which offers infinite and intoxicating newness is proper to them.
12. The only source of infinite and intoxicating newness is the illimitable nature of the Godhead; and the only human-accessible entrance to the mysteries of the Godhead is the person of Jesus Christ.
13. Therefore, the only way to eternal happiness is through the pursuit of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
14. Christ may not be seen in his beauty by unaided human reason, any more than a traveler may walk to Mars with his feet. An outside helper is necessary for the seeking thinker.
15. God has provided the necessary outside help, first, by the scriptures which declare Christ; and second, by his Spirit who illumines the human mind. No one may find eternal happiness without these necessary means.
16. The traveler's home, where he makes his plans, is the stepping-off point of his longest journey. So this life, where we take the first step along the path that we will walk for eternity, is the stepping-off point for our eternal destiny.
17. A traveler cannot board a flight to Tokyo, and on the trip decide to arrive at London. Neither can a man spend his life walking toward the deceptive pleasures of this finite world, and in eternity change his final point of destination to the presence of Christ.
18. The dignity of man is his thinking. The complement of his immortality is an infinite, joy-producing subject matter.
19. The only infinite, joy-producing subject is the nature of God, revealed by Christ.
20. This life is the only life in which the first step towards that subject may be taken. Therefore, man's eternal destiny and joy hangs upon whether or not in this world he employs the means of the Spirit-illumined scriptures to move towards the knowledge of Christ.