Metacognition and Church of Christ Theology: An Introduction

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It is important to think about how we think. That is what metacognition is all about. What are the presuppositions that we bring to the table that influence our understanding of the Bible? John Locke believed infants were born tabula rasa (blank slate) but that is certainly not the case when we enter into any kind of communication or attempt to understand another person.

We come with a context. We often think that context is what is in the text or communication itself but we, the reader, speaker, etc also come with our own context. Reading and understanding a text is the intersection of two sets of contexts. While the words on the page may not change the one reading the text can come to the text with an infinite number of possible presuppositions (personal context) that influence how one reads the text and subsequently what they believe the text actually means (interpretation).

I want to take a few posts to unpack the intersection of our own personal context and the scriptures we are reading to help us understand what it is we think we understand. The better we get to know our own thought processes, the more we can come to understand the meaning of the text itself. In the process we come to know ourselves as Socrates once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living” or as was inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi “know thyself.” If you want to know the text you need to know yourself because all that you come to understand is a process of sifting and filtering information through your own personal context.

I am looking forward to the conversation. I hope you are as well.

7 Responses

  1. Sorry Matt, the intention might be good, but you picked a hell of a way (literally) of selling it. Why would you base any argument for necessary self-awareness in Christians on the teachings of adherents to the worship of the sun? The Bible, in Deuteronomy 4: 19, cautions us to avoid worshipping or serving any of the hosts of heaven, including specifically the sun, which were created in the heavens for our convenience. The Jews knew this from the Mosaic Law, and the issue was decided for the Western world in agreement with this during the time of the Roman emperor Constantine, when Christianity became the established belief of the Empire, defeating those advocating the worship of the sun as a deity. Jesus himself says “… I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them…” [John 10: 7-8]. If you suggest that your readers respect the ‘teachings’ of Apollo, whose cause are you serving – Christ’s or Apollo’s? If you are looking for wisdom to ponder on, there’s plenty of relevance today in Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs and other books of the Scripture, as well as the teachings of the Lord himself and His apostles, without delving into the dubious and un-saving sayings attributed to non-existant gods.

    1. I believe you missed my point. My appeal isn’t as you have put it. I am merely doing the same thing Paul did in Acts 17. The question isn’t who said it. The question is, is it true? I don’t believe it is fair to take the quote and extrapolate it out to say I am teachings things I never said. I hope that makes sense. Blessings.

  2. Thanks, Matt – I understand what you are trying to say. In modern terms, you’re trying to spell out the central requirement of Shannon’s Theory of Communications, that the parties in a conversation need to know where each other is coming from and have an agreed understanding about what they are conversing about. I have no problems with you quoting from Socrates, for he was a man voicing a man’s opinion (which I don’t necessarily agree with) out of his own life experience, a child of God, just like every other person. Given he was reputed a pagan, I am sure we have to be careful about some of the things he held by. However, I do have problems with you referencing, in defence of a Christian outlook, over a public channel, ‘the wisdom of Apollo’ – the doctrine and practice-in-action of another faith. You need to consider the contexts involved:-
    • The Apollo quote you gave was carved in stone above the entrance to the temple. Is it telling you to understand your own nature (if that were actually possible), is it an invitation to those who enter to thereby learn who they are, is it a rejection of those who don’t pass that standard, is it an assertion of ownership on behalf of the god in question, or is it all of these things? The Ancient Greeks loved puzzling an enigma, and Marshall McLuhan wasn’t the first to realise that “The message is the medium”. Many people are susceptible to that kind of thing today (e.g. the ‘da Vinci code’), and a side-slipping away into heresies and Theosophical thinking is a real danger. We should all be careful of what we inadvertently lead others into by what we say.
    • Paul’s address to the Athenian Areopagus (Acts 17) made it quite plain that he placed no value in other religions [vv. 24, 25, 29]; that he had identified a will but lack of direction in their search for God, who is Creator and Father of all humanity, providing of Himself for their needs; and, the importance of them repenting of their misdeeds, done in error and ignorance, before He calls them to account before the Saviour, an accredited witness to death being no out, whom He has appointed to judge all humanity. Paul also pointed out that much of this was known to their poets in earlier times. (Implicit in some epic narratives?)
    • You are making an argument to Christians (for the most part) who are willing to comprehend that all truth resides in the God of Christianity: “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.” This is the I AM who says to His people, “You shall have no other gods besides Me”. Can you envisage Jesus looking for support to ‘the wisdom of Apollo’ (or of any other deity) in defence of any argument? Therefore, should we?

    May the Lord give us the insight to be aware of what contexts we and others are in.

  3. Matt: I don’t see that you have an account at … A lot of good discussion going on there about these kinds of thoughts which touch on ministries which require taking intercultural, cross cultural, worldview, ontologies, philosophical, comparative religion (mythologies, etc.), political, sociological… into account. Gailyn Van Rheenen is active over there [] and a bunch of others who bring a “World Missions meets a pluralistic USA” sensitivity.

  4. Dear Brother in Christ
    We are all the congregation and our brethren in Markapur area Churches of Christ Salute in the Precious name of our Lord and Savior Redeemer JESUS CHRIST

    My Dear Spiritual Family of North Side Church of Christ
    We Greet You
    My Dears Im ASHOK KUMAR BUDALA From India
    Im a Preacher at Pedda Yachavaram Church of Christ in Marakpur My Uncle K.Solomon Raju Evangelist At Pedda Yachavaram Church of Christ We are Last 20 years we are Preaching the Word of God in our Surrounding areas Spread the Good news for the peoples Sharing the Peoples im Recently Last 5 Year Im Baptized in the Christ added to the Church me and my uncle Solomon Raju we are spread this area Churches of Christ Doctrine in Biblical Way . Dears We are Every Month we are invited the Bible Classes in our Village our Surrounding areas churches of Christ Preachers and some Denominations Pastors attending the Classes we preach the True Gospel in Christ we are changing the Denominations mind and Thoughts in Christ Biblically The Bible Says only one of the one name Church in the Bible that is “Church of Christ ” Jesus Telling the one of the time the Apostle of the PETER —– Mathews – 16:18 Iam Construct the My Church JESUS tell to that Persons but We are now Preaching the 1 Corinthians – 1:23 Jesus Christ Died for the all the Peoples in the Earth Jesus Christ BLOOD bleed for the peoples of SINS the Bible Says Acts – 20:28 We Are Christ died for us because he was afraid of us the bible Says Philippians – 1:21 We are also ready to die in CHRIST We are Spread the Good news for the Peoples in this area Even the Denominations Preachers was announced and they also changed, and they are also with us in God’s work.

    Keep in your Prayers for the Works in india we need your encouragement and support the works in Markapur area Churches of Christ Development the God Works we are Praying the God and Faith
    My Dears here Very poor Families and Widows and The destitute are the orphans the Bible Says
    JAMES – 1:27 we are spent that our financials and Praying But now my brothers we need your supports in Lords Works Sharing with us Gospel . We Dont Have Any Missionary Supports we are in Faith in Christ

    Convey our Humble salutes for the all Congregation and ELDERS , DEACONS , MINISTERS , Especially Faithful Christians in the Church .


    With Love
    Your Spiritual Bothers in Christ
    B.Ashok Kumar COC , Preacher
    K.Solomon Raju COC , Evangelist
    Pedda Yachavaram Church of Christ
    Prakasam DIST
    Andhra Pradesh
    South India

  5. Very good article.
    It is true…we need to understand what we bring to the table as we come to the reading table.
    Most of us don’t believe we have biases and preconceptions, but alas we do.

    Truth is truth no matter the source of the truth.
    Sometimes even wrong people can have wise thoughts and be profound.
    Case in point: Solomon gave us many inspired writings about wisdom, all the while he himself was dragged down by many foreign wives.

    Ironically, those of us raised in the Western world, have a different context than what the scriptures were written in and who they were written by, so does that make us wrong?
    No, it just means we have more understanding to do.

    I guess instead of “know thyself” you could say “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly”, but the other is not wrong.
    God Bless

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