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The Life of the Mind

A Christian Perspective

series: RenewedMinds

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"Those who ponder these pages will be renewed to love God with all their minds, to pursue truth, and to live faithfully."--David S. Dockery, Union University

What purpose do purely intellectual pursuits have in the lives of Christians? Why should Christians study subjects that have little bearing on their future careers and ministry? In a style reminiscent of the work of Arthur Holmes and Harry Blamires, veteran professor of philosophy Clifford Williams addresses these issues and more in this succinct and accessible examination of the life of the mind.

Christians cultivating the life of the mind actively pursue situations and discussions that require experimentation, reflection, and perseverance. They are interested in the acquisition of knowledge that is both unrelated and directly related to their faith. Williams answers common Christian objections to such activities, describes the virtues of the person who engages in the life of the mind, and asserts that the life of the mind is justifiably a Christian calling.

The Life of the Mind, the newest addition to the RenewedMinds imprint, is directed toward students contemplating the importance of college and intellectual activity in general, but it will be enjoyed by all committed to developing a Christian mind.


"Clifford Williams has made a valuable addition to the RenewedMinds series. The Life of the Mind will help us to think--to think Christianly, to think imaginatively, to think reflectively, to think virtuously. Those who ponder these pages will be renewed to love God with all their minds, to pursue truth, and to live faithfully."--David S. Dockery, president, Union University

"Williams captures the allure of learning in fresh and revealing ways. From decades of teaching experience, he reflects on the importance of an inquiring mind and how it can contribute to the development of faith and character in our anti-intellectual culture. Heartily recommended for those asking why college is important." --Arthur F. Holmes, author of The Idea of a Christian College

"Clifford Williams offers just the sort of calm, insightful discussion of 'thought' that all students need as they begin their college careers. But because The Life of the Mind so effectively tackles truly big questions such as meaning, popular culture, death, and personal coherence, the book will be useful far beyond the classroom. For thoughtful Christian readers, this volume is a pause with true intellectual refreshment."--Mark Noll, author of The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

"The celebration of the 'life of the mind' is one that all thinking Christians can and should embrace. Cliff Williams has given us a fresh sense of this lifelong journey of learning and being, of a calling to give one's heart, soul, and mind to the glory of God. Williams stands within a long tradition of Christian scholars who remind us of the call to think Christianly and who see the life of the mind as a true and noble calling. With a fresh sense of urgency given the challenges of our day, Williams reminds us that kingdom work requires deep, thoughtful, and careful attention to the richness and fullness of the world of ideas. A carefully written reminder to all of us who take these tasks seriously."--Robert C. Andringa, president, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

"Christians have long debated the relationship between faith and reason, with many concluding that they are in opposition. In this engaging and accessible book, Professor Williams argues to the contrary, suggesting compatibility between faith and intellectual inquisitiveness, faith and imagination, thought and devotion. But Williams goes far beyond arguing for mere compatibility. While affirming the usefulness of thinking and learning for Christians who wish to contribute to human flourishing based on a Christian worldview, Williams dares to propose that thinking and learning also have intrinsic value, that delighting in knowing the way things are is a way of loving God with our minds, analogous to delighting in the beauty of a landscape. Such a message needs to be heard in our highly pragmatic and utilitarian American culture, including our Christian subculture. In the end, Williams calls us to a life of intellectual exploration, not as lone rangers but in community. And this dynamic pilgrimage is likened to the work of an artist, for, as Williams suggests, the Christian life is a work of art in which thinking and learning are important not just for what they do for us but for what they do to us, affecting who we become as persons. That is a refreshing outlook on the nature of Christian living. This book is important reading for anyone who struggles with the relationship between faith and reason."--Harold Heie, director, Gordon College Center for Christian Studies

The Author

  1. Clifford Williams

    Clifford Williams

    Clifford Williams (Ph.D., Indiana University) teaches philosophy at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois. His works include Singleness of Heart: Restoring the Divided Soul, With All That We Have--Why Aren't We Satisfied? and On Love and Friendship: Philosophical...

    Continue reading about Clifford Williams


"[Williams] encourages his readers to value and engage in what he terms 'the life of the mind.' His arguments for such participation are thoughtful and interesting, and his responses to what he presumes will be the contrary views of his readers are fair and balanced. The book is easy to read and appropriate as a kind of prolegomenon to study for college entrants."--Choice

"Williams challenges Christians to grapple with questions of ultimate meaning and value and at the same time become 'active thinkers.' . . . One of the book's many lessons is that authentic living is not something those who educate for transformation teach, but a goal we pursue daily, conscious of the context in which we live, teach, and learn. . . . Williams is passionate about his subject, and he makes a persuasive case. Recognizing that the starting point for this work is a Christian perspective does negate, for this reader, the reality that this form of 'sensing the divine' is an intrinsically valuable pursuit for Muslims, Jews, and believers of other faith traditions."--Debra Mubashshir Majeed, Teaching Theology and Religion

"Aids readers to become thinkers-to think Christianly, to think with imagination, to think with creativity and courage, to think virtuously. . . . I find this book delightful. I heartily recommend it, especially for college students."--Michael De Vries, Calvin Theological Journal

"A helpful book not only for philosophy students, but also for Christians outside the classroom. . . . Pastors, read this and you might add a light zest to your teaching and preaching. Parents, read this and you might want to work through it with your teenagers. You might even want a copy for your college sons and daughters. Or you may be challenged, encouraged, and better equipped to take the time to develop your Christian mind."--Equip for Ministry

"The author provides a primer on the foundational underpinnings of intellectual pursuit. Acknowledging the tension for Christians between the heart and mind, he systematically addresses the questions that normally emerge as any person navigates this classic dilemma. This volume provides a remarkable explanation for why intellectual inquiry is a contributor and not a deterrent to strengthening of faith. Such an integrated approach to the heart and mind tension is a necessary consideration for any mature Christian wishing to seriously interact with a rapidly changing world. . . . This concise primer will equip both young and not so young inquisitive minds."--Wayde Goodall, Enrichment

"The book is directed towards students contemplating the importance of college and intellectual activity in general, but it will be enjoyed by all committed to developing a Christian mind."--Theological Book Review