First Principles Thinking

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.”

Hebrews 5:12

The effervescent successes of Elon Musk have drawn much attention in the world to his ethics and methods. As the door to the room of success swings on the hinges of opposition so Elon Musk has had a fair share of complex problems to overcome.

In a popular interview with Mr. Musk, he verbalized his philosophy for problem solving. It’s the ancient idea that complex problems can be solved by breaking them down into their basic parts.

Well, I do think there’s a good framework for thinking. It is physics. You know, the sort of first principles reasoning…Boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there, as opposed to reasoning by analogy.

Through most of our life, we get through life by reasoning by analogy, which essentially means kind of copying what other people do with slight variations. And you have to do that, otherwise, mentally, you wouldn’t be able to get through the day.

But when you want to do something new, you have to apply the physics approach.

Elon Musk

This idea is not only sage; it is Scriptural. As asserted in Hebrews 5:12, “Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God.”

“And ye shall know

the truth,

and the truth

shall make you free.”

John 8:32

In a world of imitators, it is invigorating to watch the performance of a rugged individual.  It is a shame more Christians cannot break away from soft, dull molds to be sharper, more noble followers of Jesus Christ. 

The basis of becoming a rugged individual in action is to be free from the fog of presumption or lies. To think originally is to follow the truth FROM its logical conception TO its logical conclusion. There is no other source of truth outside of the Scripture, by that I mean the King James Bible of 1611 in English. Elon Musk echoed this Scripture unwittingly, further reinforcing its authority outside the realm of religious opinion.

The late Dr. Peter S. Ruckman (1921-2016), himself a pioneer who intensely provoked believers into faith in God’s words, testified, “Spending time in the Book (the King James Bible) will produce a rugged individuality.” (Quote from a sermon delivered circa 2005)

Two Failures of Principle

A failure of present time thinking is in marketing. Problems are not actually resolved, they are simply reorganized for mass consumption. Ideas are promoted based on convenience or novelty instead of substance and morality. The ‘new and improved formula’ hardly goes deeper than the packaging. Nobody cares if it IS better, it just has to SEEM better.

Another failure exposed by hard-working successes is mimicry. Musk says in the interview, “we get through life by reasoning by analogy.” In other words, we try to look the part, but never deliver the goods. We focus on the ‘optics’ (how it will make me look) rather than the operation (doing the work).

Although speaking in a purely secular and money-making setting, I must confess he has nailed the modern Christian to the wall. The English bible retranslation business is booming now more than ever, yet they are not turning people to the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, through marketing and mimicry, they are shaming the name of Christ by their ineffectiveness and tendency toward hypocrisy.

Take for example the New Testament call to obedience from the Apostle Paul:

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 11:1

Today’s impotence and copycatism is exposed by the lame admission in over 30 modern interpretations of the Bible, which all say:

“Be imitators of me”

Thus is the reading of the ASV, NASV [5+ editions], ESV, LEB, NCB, NET, NKJV, NLT, RSV, NRSV [5+ editions], TLV, WEB, Amplified Bible, CSB, HCSB, ISV, GNT, CJB, Darby, DLNT, EHV, EXB, GW, Phillips Translation, JUB, Mounce Reverse Interlinear, NOG, NTE, and OJB. (For a list of the full names and dates of publication of these and other versions, visit Biblegateway.com or do an internet search)

As you can see from the massive substitution of “follower” to “imitator” Elon Musk was right. And the multiplicity of failures in the ‘Bible arena’ have overly proved it.

Christ never called for imitators to mimic; he called for followers to disciple.

Paul did not want a marketable Christianity; he wanted a meaty, substantive one.

The Apostle Paul (who wrote both the letter to the Hebrews and Corinthians) was a rugged individual not cast from anyone’s mold. It was the guile of murder and the diffused light of Christ himself which brought this man to his knees. He wasn’t trying to imitate anything or anyone- he got alone with the Scriptures for 3 years to get to know God. (See Galatians 1) He wrote in the letter to the Hebrews that they needed to get back to the Scripture, the oracles of God. For him to compel any man or woman to be an ‘imitator’ would impugn him with the most hellish hypocrisy.

It’s got to be more

than an imitation

As Bob Jones, Sr., would say: “A Christian does good deeds, but just doing good deeds does not make a man a Christian.”

No more mimicry. No more marketing. End the mockery.

Instead of asking yourself, “What kind of a Christian would people think I am if…” That’s marketing ANALOGY. Rather ask: “What does the Bible say I should do?” That’s first principles. Instead of, “How can I fit *being a Christian* into my schedule?” (Mimicry analogy) Rather ask: “How can I schedule my life around Jesus Christ?” (First principle thinking, see Colossians 3:4)

It’s time for us to review the “first principles of the oracles of God” in order to be genuine and healthy followers of Jesus Christ.

2 Replies to “First Principles Thinking”

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