So they came to him and patronised him, “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
Jesus was a critical thinker and was not swayed by their patronisation and the accusations levelled against the woman. He had to make his comment after a critical analysis of the situation. Not moved by them calling him a teacher. Not swayed by them quoting Moses’ law. He needed to give a fair and unbiased opinion on the matter.
Somewhere I read, but cannot remember the author, that;
‘Critical’, ‘criticism’ and ‘critic’ all originate from the ancient Greek word Kritikos. It means the ability to judge, discern or decide. Thus, a ‘critic’ is someone whose job it is to make evaluative judgements, for example, about films or books.
If someone is ‘critical’, it doesn’t merely mean finding fault or expressing dislike, however, that’s the other meaning of the word. In this discourse, it means giving a fair and unbiased opinion of something or situation. Being critical and thinking critically are not the same thing.
In the story of Jesus, we can draw elements of critical thinking. Butterworth and Thwaite suggest four features of Critical thinking;
1. Fair and open-minded
Without an open mind, we cannot judge fairly and objectively whether some statement or story is true or not. Jesus was honest and open-minded.
2. Active and informed
We have to be ready to take a keen interest in the subject matter and be prepared to investigate and enquire. Hasty, uninformed judgements are never critical. Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger before he made his comment.
Jesus said “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Some degree of scepticism is also needed: a willingness to question or to entertain doubt. Scepticism is not the same as cynicism. For instance, it doesn’t mean that we should doubt everything that journalists write, with no regard for fact. Critical appraisal requires each claim or argument to be considered on its merits, not on blanket prejudgements of their authors – however, justified those may sometimes seem.
Finally, critical thinking requires independence. There is no harm in listening to others, respecting their beliefs and opinions, in learning from teachers, getting information from books and/or from online sources. However, to think critically, you must also be prepared to take some initiative. You should ask your own questions and reach your own conclusions.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Never spread stories you have not critically thought about.
Go and spread no rumour any more.