FREE THINKING OR INDEPENDENT THINKING…..


Someone said in a Face Book post the other day that they were a “free thinker” to explain their negativity and cynicism. I found that most interesting and somewhat disturbing. I’ve known many people through the years that claim this title of either being a “Free Thinker” or an “Independent Thinker” and yet frequently the analysis of their thought process and conclusions begs to counter that self-labeling. Frequently, they are simply negative, pessimistic, and cynical. Many times it appears that they are attempting to hide behind the mask of “Free Thinking” or “Independent Thinking” to cover their own “self-doubts” and “confusion”.

If we look at an accepted definition of both we find the following:

1. Free-Thinking: Being unwilling to accept authority or dogma (especially in religion).
2. Independent Thinking: This differs from critical thinking, which is the process used to collect and process information to arrive at a logical conclusion. In other words, independent thinking has more to do with the desire to think for oneself and critical thinking is the process used to deal with information.

Free-thought is a philosophical viewpoint which holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas. The cognitive application of free-thought is known as “free-thinking” and practitioners of “free-thought” are known as “free-thinkers.”

Free-thought holds that individuals should not accept ideas proposed as truth without recourse to knowledge and reason. Thus, free-thinkers strive to build their opinions on the basis of facts, scientific inquiry, and logical principles, independent of any logical fallacies or intellectually limiting effects of authority, confirmation of bias, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, sectarianism, tradition, urban legend, and all other dogmas. Regarding religion, free-thinkers hold that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena. So, if you self-describe yourself as a “free-thinker”, especially in matters of faith you dismiss God’s existence and would therefore either be an agnostic or an atheist. In the Christian faith there are some things that we cannot prove scientifically, yet for those of us who believe, there is overwhelming indication that the Bible is true, God created the world, and Jesus is the Son of God who came in the form of man, lived a sinless life, and gave His life as a ransom for our eternal salvation. In that light I am most assuredly not a “free-thinker”. [I’m not sure whom to give credit for part of this paragraph]

What do we find when we examine the idea of “independent-thinking?” Typically the accepted idea is that “independent-thinkers” are analytical and witty persons. They are normally “self-confident” and do not let themselves get worked up by “conflicts” and “criticism”. They are very much aware of their own strengths and have no doubts as to their abilities. People of this personality type are often very successful in their career as they have both “competence” and “purposefulness”. Independent Thinkers are frequently specialists in their field or sphere. Development of their ideas and visions is important to them; they love being as flexible as possible, and ideally, of being able to work alone because they often find it a strain having to make their complex trains of thought understandable to other people. Independent Thinkers cannot stand routine. Once they consider an idea a good one it is difficult to make them give it up; they pursue implementation of that idea obstinately and persistently, also in the face of external opposition.

I would suggest that many confuse being a “free-thinker” with being a “free-spirit”, defined as “one who is not restrained, as by convention or obligation; a nonconformist.” I suppose that could be both good and bad but taken to its extreme would be anarchy and render the person incapable of melding into society in a productive manner and trying to make it better from within. In its extreme it is basically “lawlessness”.

We see many today who self-describe themselves as “free-thinkers”, “independent-thinkers”, or “free-spirits” when they are nothing more than cynical, skeptics who live in the squalor of their anger at “the establishment” living with their “victim mentality”, and believing that “society owes them something”. They see no reason to become productive members of society and labor for their reward. They are perfectly content to sit idly and spout ideological theories about anyone who is a productive part of society. They give little consideration to how their attitude and actions affect others and the drain that they place on those who do strive for success, productivity, and being cooperative members of society as a whole.

Therefore, before you label yourself a “free-thinker”, “independent-thinker” or “free-spirit” consider what that means in the big picture. How does that affect your ability to develop a “committed faith” in God and His Word? How does that affect your ability to live as a contributing member of society as a whole? Also, please examine the potential “selfishness” of your attitude and the lack of “otherness”, which is one of the key tenets of the Bible. I believe that the Bible teaches us that we should have as our first allegiance and focus “God”, then we should consider “others”, and finally turn the focus to “ourselves.” If we have an “upward look”, then an “outward look”, our “inward look” will be healthy and wholesome free of “selfishness” and “self-centeredness”. The philosophy that “I have to look out for number one, because no one else will” is foreign to the teachings of our Lord!

I see this in society. I see it in the church and I see it in the political world. The good of the whole finds itself on the back burner and becomes subservient to the desires of the individual. “What’s in it for me?” is too frequently the guide by which many live, and vote. I served in Vietnam and my question was not “what’s in it for me?” My question was, “what do I need to do?” I’ve served in the ministry and my question was not “what’s in it for me?” My question was “how can I serve?” I am a parent and grandparent and my question cannot be and has not been, “what’s in it for me?” It is and always has been, “what are the needs of my family?” If that means I must sacrifice then so be it. I quote from John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.” If Jesus becomes NUMBER ONE in my life my “thinking” will align itself with His thoughts and will NEVER be “independent” of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I will ALWAYS find myself seeking to work in harmony with Him rather than following my own individualistic desires, goals, ambitions, and plans. So, I guess I cannot call myself a “free-thinker” though I seek for all the truth. I cannot call myself an “independent-thinker” consumed with my own ideas. Nor can I call myself a “free-spirit” because I have no desire to live life separate from the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit. I do believe that I practice “Critical Thinking” because I do desire to know “truth” and all aspects of “truth”. That is why I reject sectarianism and am willing to listen to other ideas, thoughts, philosophies, and beliefs. I “know whom and what I believe” and am not “easily tossed about by every wind of doctrine” that comes my way. Yet, I also know that NONE OF US have a corner on truth and NONE OF US know everything there is to know about the Bible, God, or Life itself.

In politics I am of the conservative mind-set because I believe it espouses what the Bible teaches more than the liberal, progressive, socialist movements. I have compassion for my fellow-man, love my country, love my family, and more importantly love my God. It is my conviction that there is “HOPE” because God is our hope and His promises are sure! I believe we can become slothful and neglect our responsibility to God, Country, and Family. That is the primary driving force behind my becoming involved in political things as well as continually striving to communicate what I believe is the truth of God’s Word to whomever, will listen.

You may not agree with my analysis in this post and that is most assuredly your right and prerogative. I welcome your comments, criticisms, expansions upon my thoughts, and any differing points of view. I want to broaden my understanding in all areas of life and yet I do not want to become as Paul described in 2 Timothy 3:7 as someone who is “ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge or understanding of the truth.” We have a great country that is worth defending and I applaud your efforts to stand for what you believe whether that agrees with my beliefs or not. With that I say, God bless you and God bless America!

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY…


I want to address something that I’ve been watching, as have most of you, for some time. That is the designed transformation of America into something completely other than what most of us grew up in and the founders of this nation envisioned. We are watching the redesign of America into “total dependency” upon government and the “enslavement” of its citizens into “servitude” to the will, wishes, and whims of those in power. That is the America that people like Barak Obama, the progressive, socialist, statist, elitist, and left-wing ideologues desire and are giving their all to achieve. If they are successful, we will lose this great country and frankly I’m not sure we haven’t. It is my view that the Bible, the Constitution, and morality demand that we return to “individual accountability” and “personal responsibility”. We owe it to our children, future generations, ourselves, and God, to return to the very principles upon which America was established. Yet, in public institutions of learning, the “so-called” main stream media, and this administration the exact opposite ideology thrives.

Let me use a passage from the Bible first and then get to some other facts and factors regarding our present dilemma:

2 Thessalonians 3:11-15 – “Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and wasting time meddling in other people’s business. 12 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we appeal to such people — no, we command them: Settle down and get to work. Earn your own living. 13 And I say to the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good. 14 Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed. 15 Don’t think of them as enemies, but speak to them as you would to a Christian who needs to be warned.” NLT

The apostle Paul viewed “individual accountability” and “personal responsibility” of utmost importance as is clearly defined in the above passage. Yet, today we are seeing “Occupy Wall Street” protestors who clearly characterize the opposite view. They, at least those I’ve heard speak, blame corporations, all people of wealth, and virtually everything else for any problems they have. They want the government to virtually rob those who have been successful and become their mythical “Robin Hood” making the wealth of others theirs. It would seem to me that they need to hear the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:11 and grow up – “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” ESV

My upbringing demanded that I take personal responsibility for my actions in everything. I was not allowed to make excuses, blame my circumstances or anything else for my situation. I was to keep my word, do my job, resist the temptation to complain and whine, and dig or fight my way out of whatever I was facing. A concept conspicuously absent in today’s society. It is not a requirement that you become a “victim” even if you have been “victimized”. It is a choice and personal responsibility enables, no demands, that you choose accountability. The government has become the biggest “enabler” of those who choose to abdicate “personal responsibility” and “individual accountability”.

Let me offer a few examples of what I am referring to. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. First, I’ve read numerous accounts of people who acknowledged that because of the government mandated credit easing, before the housing crash, that they took on more “debt” in the form of “mortgages” than they could afford. They did it because somehow they felt “entitled” to have more than they could reasonable or responsibly afford. Many of them now expect the government to step in and pay for their blatant abuse of the “easy credit” situation. Oh, I do not let government off the hook or the individual who did it because they could. My point is if “personal responsibility” and “individual accountability” had been the prevailing mentality, this crisis would not have occurred no matter what the government mandated. Responsible people would have made the choice to live within their means. I take no pleasure in seeing anyone lose their home, but do not believe that hard-working, tax paying citizens are responsible to pay for someone else’s error in judgment. That approach only perpetuates the problem rather than provide a solution. Although an American dream of home ownership is not a bad thing if you cannot afford one you should not incur the indebtedness for that dream’s fulfillment. Likewise, you should also only purchase what you can afford. If you cannot afford a Cadillac don’t purchase one. If you can only afford a $50,000 home, do not purchase a $250,000 one. When you default it not only affects you but the rest of us as well.

The welfare system in America has gotten completely out of control and grown to an extent that we are nationally bankrupt. It arose from a flawed ideology and encourages all who will adopt the philosophy, to defer “accountability” and “responsibility” and develop an “entitlement mentality.” I’m talking about those who, now generationally, have become “slaves to entitlements” and believe it is their “right” to live off those who laboriously strive to achieve and attain success. Additionally, the Small Business Administration is complicit in this through the SBA’s Section 8(a) program. This was supposedly a benevolent adoption of a policy that would enable “disadvantaged minorities” to succeed even if they could not perform the work or produce the desired product and compete in the free market. This program has encouraged all Section 8(a) companies to cease striving to attain legitimate status and truly compete by providing a product, at a price that would be desired by the purchasing public. Instead it encourages those companies to throw off the shackles of “accountability” and “responsibility” and depend on the government’s gravy train, develop a “victim” mentality, and continue at the expense of others who actually do the work and provide the product.

We are in an economic crisis that has and will continue to destroy lives, businesses, and dreams of those who are “responsible” and “accountable.” The present course and ideology of those in power, especially in the Whitehouse, has only one possible ending – FAILURE! We can recover but it will be difficult and painful for everyone. It will require government to “get out of the way” and demand that everyone take “responsibility” for their actions and become “accountable.” As individuals we MUST begin accepting “personal responsibility” for our actions in all areas of life. If a business is not competitive or makes bad lending decisions, it must assume “responsibility” and become “accountable”. We cannot allow an individual, company, or government to avoid or evade “personal responsibility” and “individual accountability.” I am responsible for my decisions. Corporations as well as Congress must assume responsibly for their decisions and WE THE PEOPLE must hold them “accountable.”

God holds each of us “responsible” and “accountable” for our actions. If we “repent” of our sins and “accept” His provision of pardon we gain access into His family. That, however, does not mean that we are no longer “accountable” for our actions and free to do whatever we please with impunity. We WILL give answer for our actions and most of us know what it’s like to endure the hardships of bad choices spiritually, economically, and relationally. Truly we do “reap what we sow”. I do not see our current direction, as a nation, reversing UNTIL the concept of “personal responsibility” is reestablished. Then, and only then, will we see government move toward that which the founders envisioned – small, less restrictive, and less invasive. That’s the America I dream of having again. Paul’s words in Galatians 6:5 are applicable here, “…we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Or as stated in the ESV – “each will have to bear his own load.”

Nehemiah accomplished restoring Jerusalem because the people were willing to assume “personal responsibility” for the work. No one expected someone to do it for them they stepped up and determined to do their part. The Bible offers numerous accounts of success, restoration, and renewal through people becoming “personally responsible” and “accountable”. History is replete with examples of this concept. I know what it’s like to experience “victimization” but my refusal to become a “victim” allowed me to attain renewal and restoration in my spiritual, personal, and financial life. I am not wealthy and there are many things that I do not have that I would enjoy. However, I do not expect you to provide them for me. I have made bad business decisions and even today am paying for them. I’ve made bad spiritual decisions and I and others experienced the accompanying repercussion. I’ve made bad personal and relational decisions and the consequences were not always pleasant but I “earned” them and while I have and do enjoy “God’s Mercy” I have accepted “personal responsibility” for my actions. I owned them and stepped up to the bar and became “accountable”.

Will America be restored? I truly believe the answer is “Yes”. When? I do not know! What will it cost? For some of us, everything! My core belief in God, personal responsibility, and individual accountability drives me to seek restoration of “honesty” and “integrity” as the basic foundational philosophy of society. I do not mean that I believe in an Earthly Utopia where “everyone” does the right thing and “no one” is morally or ethically bankrupt. Just like sin’s existence in the world, there will always be some who will desire to remain “dependent” rather than “independent” of government sustenance. The “victim” mentality will never be fully eradicated. That element will maintain the belief that it is “entitled” to live off the labors of others. America would never have been established had that been the prevailing mentality of the colonist. Therefore, if we want our country back we will have to become willing to “pay the price” of restoration. We will have to become “personally responsible” and “individually accountable”. We MUST turn our hearts and lives back to God. We MUST determine that we will resist the temptation to take the easy road and dare to face the “lion in the street”, holding our elected officials accountable for their decisions. We MUST exercise our right, responsibility, and privilege and VOTE! The only question is, “Are we willing to take that stand?”

Thank you for allowing me to rant and may God bless you and America as well!