Post Mortem

Mental warfare

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/31/2021 1:36:39 PM IST

 One late night, my friends and I with our pastor’s family were sitting by the bonfire talking about different world views and how quickly times are changing especially the younger generation growing up in a completely different world view from us. As I listened to them talk about how essential it is for the older generation to gear up and sharpen their knowledge on different philosophies of the day, I couldn’t help but think of mental warfare – an Intellectual War.

As much as the term, ‘Mental Warfare’ sounds suitable for mental health; it has nothing to do with it. Rather, here, it is a statement to signify the importance of intelligence in the form of knowledge. We have learnt for the longest time that “Knowledge is Power”, however, perhaps, knowledge is not just power but also war. Intelligence in the form of Knowledge is an element of the mind and an integral part of our being. If we believe that God of the Bible demands from his followers to use the mind for His glory, then there ought not be any further argument that intelligence in the 'form of knowledge' can be used as “one of the tools” in fulfilling the Great Commission. In other words, it can be used as a tool in fighting spiritual warfare.

To state the obvious, younger generation today is of curious minds, therefore leading them to question beyond conventional thinking. They are willing to go to great lengths in defending their belief system. They are aggressive in their approach; speak boldly and courageously in what they believe–they are fearless! Their questions can make one tongue-tied. In short, they are knowledgeable. Perhaps, the old might say, "what do you know when you have no life experience! "It is true that one becomes wiser through life experiences as one grows older in age, however, it is also true that knowledge is not dependent on life experiences alone. Experience is one thing and knowledge another.

For a long time, the church as a community has ignored young voices. Back in the day, I often heard the phrase, “they are just kids!” in unison. It was possible quite often to suppress their opinions. There was a time people were naive, folded their hands and listened to pulpit preaching – accepted and believed the message as it was presented. No questions asked or doubts clarified out of reverence or perhaps fear of hurting the leader’s sentiments– that age has changed radically over the years. Today, they know and they know immensely better of things we know not yet. These are who seek for answers and it should terrify the older generation if they are not the ones taking responsibility in responding.

However, it is a sad reality to see similar patterns and trend of the ancient carried out to this day. Therefore, in our culture, “questions” in general arouses anger (although it cannot to be blamed on the person as for ages they themselves have not been taught how to handle a question.) However, there is a paramount need in our people, especially the older generation to step up and change the cultural attitude of anger when posed with radical questions by the younger ones. Rather, it is one’s benefit to make a shift towards a new paradigm in learning how to address radical questions through radical answers. And that can be possible only when one is ready for an affair with mental warfare – an Intellectual-War. 

When one is asked with difficult questions, one enters a battlefield of the mind. Being engaged in mental warfare means being able to respond to young and rising minds of our day through dialogue and healthy discussion who are often bewildered by questions and ideas that can only be dealt intellectually and not in pulpit preaching alone.

The spiritual aspect and the mental aspect go hand in hand. Through the years our people have been following a ‘lop-sided theology’ where we have left aside the aspect of the mind and worked more on the spiritual aspect. There has been an imbalance in our attitude toward work and worship especially in the aspect of the mind. God of the Bible demands from His followers, 'balance' in every aspect.

Post bonfire, my friend and I continued on this conversation and he mentioned an interesting term, “anti-intellectualism”. He is right, we are at the peak of time where churches need to come out of their comfortable cocoons of “anti-intellectualism” and be willing to avail themselves, be vulnerable and be present at the battle field of intellectual war by sharpening one’s mind and not be deemed by vagueness. Especially, if one is serious in not losing the younger generation to an ice-Age of misinformation on Biblical truth.

However, if one only have rebuking as a tool to keep the young silent, one is at great risk of a bleak future generation, I believe we will be held accountable if we lose the young ones of our day because of our anti-intellectualism.

We ought to be fully prepared in our response both spiritually and intellectually and consider it as an open door of opportunity and a call in bringing Kingdom’s Glory. Even more so, to consider it a joy when asked uneasy questions or challenged with uncomfortable statements! One ought to take it as one's call in being equiped and prepared to respond to challenging questions with the right attitude. If we are well prepared, assuredly we are at the threshold of victory. For we are called into ministry not to clutter but to bring clarity in love and in peace. 

As C.S. Lewis rightly puts it in his book, ‘Mere Christianity’, ‘one ought to get closer to the fire if one wants to feel the warmth….’, so also, we need to get closer to the realm of intellectualism if we are to bring the young generation of today to know the Light in truth. That one step of getting closer is by getting out of anti-intellectualism and sharpening our minds – being open for a mental warfare.

Nungsangmenla Tzüdir, AG Colony, Kohima, Nagaland

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