Monday, August 22, 2011

The State of "the Mind" in the Church

     I recently came across an interesting blog posting by Randall Smith called Thinking in Church and with the Church. To read the full posting follow this link. I will quote some interesting thoughts below.

    "Theology is about growing in your understanding of the faith.  And growing in your understanding of the faith is an important part of what it means to have a living faith.  First of all, you need to know what you believe in order to say you believe at all.  
Consider how odd would it be if, hearing a person repeat over and over: “I believe; I really, really believe,” you asked: “That’s interesting; what do you believe?” – and the only response the person could give was: “I don’t know, but I know I really believe.”  
Living in the South, I hear a lot of Pentecostal preaching about the name of Jesus.  “Do you believe in Jee-zus?”  “Yes!,” the crowd shouts.  It would be more than a little embarrassing if a member of the congregation were asked: “Who is this Jesus?” and the reply was: “I have no idea. I just love the name Jee-zus.”  You need something to believe in or, as in Christianity, some one.  And you need to know at least a little bit about what that something or someone is.  A faith that isn’t growing is a faith in the process of dying."

Smith asks a rhetorical question that is very powerful. "If you have a Ph.D. in law, economics, or science, but have nothing more than a third-grader's understanding of your faith, which do you suppose is going to dominate your life?"

We need to be growing in our knowledge of God all the time. Smith makes an interesting comment about our faith. The Scriptures say our faith should be “child-like” – that is to say, simple, honest, and trusting.  This is very different from saying that our faith should be childish. When adults have a “childish” faith, it becomes something they force on their children, even when they aren’t especially interested in it for themselves.  But the faith ceases any longer to have much to do with the realities of daily life – especially with the really big and really difficult moral questions.

Once the Christian mind has been extinguished who will be left to teach the doctrines of the true Christian faith? The problem has been put this way by Michael Marshall, “The problem for the church in every age is to find a sufficient supply of men and women who know the content of the Christian faith and who are able to communicate it in user-friendly language and in a manner that is accessible to a particular generation and culture.”[1] I fear that the church is full of great communicators, but is severely lacking in men and women who have a profound knowledge of the doctrines of the Christian faith.


[1]Michael Marshall, Flame in the Mind: A Journey of Spiritual Passion (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 30.