May God Keep Us from Being Like Thinkers

Reflections on Ecclesiastes

Great minds don’t think alike. Leonardo Da Vinci didn’t paint the “Mona Lisa” by working like his predecessors; he made the uncommon move of focusing on her eyes and hands. Albert Einstein didn’t figure out the speed of light by focusing on the problems his peers were solving. Walt Whitman didn’t come up with his poetry style by working with the same forms as his contemporaries. And Henry Ford didn’t take his car to market by coming up with the best one; he made his mass-producible.

Anyone who has achieved greatness has thought for themselves. That includes the prophets, the authors of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, the apostles, and Jesus.

This is why I often say, “May God keep us from being like thinkers.” To keep from being like thinkers, we need to restrain ourselves from hearing only one part or voice of the Bible. We need to be influenced by great ideas.

Yet, new ideas aren’t exactly new. They’re a repackaging or combination of old, and sometimes ancient, thoughts: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Can one say about anything, ‘Look, this is new’? It has already existed in the ages before us” (Eccl 1:9–10 HCSB).

The very idea of an “ideas issue” isn’t new. For over 150 years, The Atlantic’s editors have raised their glasses to ideas that could change America and the world. The world of Bible study—and the church—needs ideas. There aren’t novel ideas for approaching the Bible anymore; just good, old ones presented in smart ways. We have chosen these nine ideas because we think they have the most potential to help people become interested in the Bible again.

We want to see Bible study front and center in the church and the world. We believe that the Bible will do the rest of the work—both by bringing the good news of Jesus as our savior, and by changing those, via the work of the Spirit, who have accepted the gospel. These ideas will help us all make that idea a reality.




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