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Background Reading: II Corinthians 10:1-5

We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Corinthians 10:5

As we consider this text again, let us consider some characteristics of the practice of taking thoughts captive to make them obedient to Christ.

First, the practice of taking thoughts captive to Christ requires that we recognize that the world is not divided into two categories of activities: a secular one where a certain set of non-religious rules apply.  To the sacred we assign our private and public piety.  To the secular we assign all else.

This approach is especially seductive of those in the law, largely because it is our response mechanism to the dominant view of the law within the American legal community.  Legal positivism, the view that law is nothing more than a command backed by force, still rules the day in the American legal community.  Under such a jurisprudence, law becomes a technical endeavor, completely disconnected from any transcendent Truth.  When that happens, truth becomes irrelevant, justice becomes procedure, and the lawyer becomes the placeholder in the system whose only loyalty is to the client and whose only job is to zealously represent that client within the bounds of the law.  Such a system reinforces at every point the modern maxim that law has nothing to do with morality and vice versa.  For the Christian lawyer, law student or law professor such an approach requires him or her to live seemingly in two worlds: a professional (secular) one where the professional rules of ethics govern and a person (sacred) one where Christian ethics govern.  And when we consider that in light of the time the lawyer will spend in the world of the profession, it is easy to understand angst felt by Christian lawyers who see very little of their lives reflecting what they know ought to be their first concern.  To break through this closed capsule of “professional life” the Christian lawyer, law student or law professor tends to do a number of things: (1) to supplement his or her professional day or week with piety; (2) to devote time to pro bono work; (3) to devote time or energy to religious liberty issues, which provide a sense of using one’s skills for a noble purpose.

None of those responses are wrong, but none of them change in any fundamental way the reason for his or her personal angst.  The angst will be present as long as the sacred and secular dichotomy exists.  We must stop thinking that way.  We must take all thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

Secondly, the practice of taking thoughts captive to Christ must be culturally suspicious, even counter cultural.  Paul illustrates this principle in the verses immediately preceding verse five when he writes, “I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”  This should not surprise us.  The people of God are to be a holy people.  They are set apart and distinct.  They are not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their mind.

Thus, for the Christian, taking thoughts captive begins with being suspicious of the conventions of the world.  That is not easy, so much of what we do, say and particularly what we think, consciously and unconsciously, is conditioned by the patterns created by the world in which we live.  Can we escape that?  Yes by considering the patters, ideas and assumptions of our world in light of the True Truth of God’s Word.  May God grant us grace to be quickly and persistently about that task and to Him alone be the glory.

Richard Bowser


– This article comes from AI’s devotional for lawyers titled, “What Does the Lord Require of You?”