What types of Christianity promote free thinking or thinking for yourself?

The more I go to church, the more I feel guilty for free thinking and feel I should be passive to let the Holy Spirit guide me (but I find it is the will of other men that becomes bigger).

So what does Christianity say about free thinking? How and when are we not supposed to think freely?

What if after deep prayer and meditation and critical thinking, my interpretation of a Biblical concept is different than the logical understanding of it, held by the majority \?

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    Affable and others have already gave good answers, so I will not post, but I almost think it is your duty to be your own Devil’s advocate and think on both sides of every idea to arrive a strong faith. You should never think you must not think, and if anyone say’s turn of your brain to be ‘led by the Spirit’, turn them off and switch to a new channel. If you were not allowed to think how could you perform your duty of comparring every mans words with scripture. Just cause a preacher say's something, if it is wrong, and you believe it, you are also guilty for not thinking about it corectly.
    – Mike
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 4:39
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    For the benefit of anyone confused by the term "Free thinking", see the Wikipedia article.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 6:33
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    I think this is a good question, but may need to be clarified, as "Free thinking" is commonly attacked by some Christian groups (or at least allegedly so). See here, for example.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 6:44
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    The term "free thinker" used to be a term used by atheists to describe themselves. I think it's rather obsolete these days, but you may find it used here and there. I suspect many Christian sources that criticize "free thinkers" are referring to atheism. (I don't doubt that you can find some Christians somewhere who condemn independent thinking. Obviously I disagree with such a position.)
    – Jay
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 7:09
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    I don't know why everyone is rushing to close it. Its a good question. Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 16:39

4 Answers 4


Thinking is actually commendable and encouraged for Christians.

In Thessalonica, Paul's witness is recorded as follows:

And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” Acts 17:2-3

So, Paul's method was to reason and logically demonstrate the truthfulness of the Gospel.

After Thessalonica Paul traveled to Berea, who were commended by Luke as follows:

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11 ESV

The Bereans were commended for doing their research, considering what Paul was saying, and searching the Scriptures to verify the truthfulness of Paul's claims. So, thinking was commended.

Throughout Scripture, God asks us to think, to consider, to contemplate. Proverbs is full of exhortations to the many who makes wise decisions. I have heard that the book of Romans apparently used to be used in Law Schools in America to demonstrate how to construct a logical argument.

Christianity proclaims itself as a logical, rational, convincing truth. It invites the skeptic, the critic, and the scoffer to ponder. Many of such people have done so and come to faith in Christ, notably Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel, among many others.

  • I am going back to read Romans, great answer, very helpful, thank you. Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 23:43
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    Amen. And God was pleased with Solomon when Solomon asked for wisdom above anything else. I think that this shows that God desires us to be wise, which implies thinking. And "Be wise as serpents, gentle as doves", "Test the spirits to see if they are true", "Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith". Scripture is chock full of directions to think, examine, and reason, as you pointed out. Great answer! Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 1:20
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    Thank you for the Berean reference. It came to my mind, but I couldn't think how to work it in. Ironically, I didn't look it up. Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 10:45
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    (-1) While I do agree with what you said, "thinking" =/= "freethinking". This answer provides truth, but in my opinion, does not link up with the actual question as well as kurosch's answer seems to.
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 23:40

I'm not sure what you mean by "free thinking" but you make it sound like a combination of "whatever I feel like" and "things I shouldn't be thinking about".

We are always free in our thoughts (constrained by our experiences, previous choices, mental faculties, education, etc) but just because we are free to think about anything doesn't mean we should let our minds wander hither and thither just for freedom's sake.

The thoughts that you dwell upon do have an effect on you and your actions so it is always profitable to think on wholesome things over vile things. Anger, lust, pride... these are all harmful things that begin as a seed of thought.

2 Corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

It takes conscious effort to discern the Holy Spirit's guidance. You don't become a robot waiting for instructions.

  • Excellent answer! I was thinking the same thing, but you have already said it very well.
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 23:34

Our God is a God of reason who gave us the facilities to critically think about all things. To disallow the use of a gift God gave us is a form of insult to the giver. Indeed, many the Enlightenment scientists understood the purpose of study and reason to be the glorification of God and thankfulness for the facilities he gave us.


I don't know what you mean by 'free thinking' but God wishes us to engage our brain in our Christianity.

Romans 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect

It's quite clear that our intellectual faculties, such as they may be, are an integral part of our growing in faith.


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