“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
(2 Corinthians 10:5)
Though their body plans and behavior reveal breathtaking beauty and design, the lower animals such as insects, fish, and amphibians do appear to be, at bottom, self-replicating stimulus-response mechanisms. There is no indication that any of these creatures actually think. Those of us who reject the evolution story can sometimes feel pressured to regard all of the animal kingdom this way. This we do in order to emphasize our uniqueness and our non-familial relationship with other creatures. While we certainly are unique in the world as image-bearers of God, unconnected to other creatures genetically, it is nevertheless hard to resist the idea that higher animals like dogs, cats, gorillas and chimps actually do think. Acknowledging this does no damage at all to our Christian worldview or our commitment to the doctrine of special creation. Rather, it magnifies and glorifies the Creator Himself as One Who is both infinitely wise and unimaginably powerful (Psalm 11:2; 92:5; 104:24). One distinguishing feature between us and the higher animals is that we not only think, we think about thinking. This no other earthly creature is capable of so far as we know. Perhaps Elihu was hinting at this when he stated that God teaches man “more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven” (Job 35:11). Whatever the case, to learn how to think properly has been the pursuit of the philosophical enterprise for millennia. This of course entails the actual existence of an objective standard of right thinking. As we’ve observed before, the existence of such a standard, and our awareness of it, can only be accounted for by God (this is a dead horse that I have probably beaten enough in these devotionals!). Today I’d like us to focus on the fact that every human activity has a moral dimension to it and thinking is no different. We understand this through experience and direct introspection. When we prejudge someone or think ill of a person only to find out later how wrong we were, we feel bad. Our consciences ache. This is because God has placed upon us moral obligations that go way beyond outward conduct and surface performance. As today’s verse passage reminds us, we are obligated to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We are called not only to act properly, but to think properly as well. Ought implies can, and those of us with regenerated hearts and minds may be very sure that God has granted us all that is needful to order our conduct, speech, and thought aright before Him (2 Peter 1:3). “We have the mind of Christ” wrote the great apostle (1 Corinthians 2:16), and with it may we serve the Law of God (Romans 7:25) as an expression of love for Him Who loved us first (1 John 4:19).