Yesterday I had two seperate things happen that lead to the same conclusion. First, I read this article from the New Yorker. The author points out that the Evangelical church has moved away from people thinking and considering issues of faith in favor of charasmatic leaders that emphasize “saving souls” over living with a worldview that makes sense. Of course that’s painting with a wide brush, but it makes sense. The second event was someone speaking to me about how they have never heard from a Christian to consider whether or not something was true. The combination of these two events have lead me to consider how I feel about the Church, especially the popular Evangelical and/or Non-denominational Church. I just want to get these ideas out before they fade away.
The main thing that I think the Church is sorely missing is any connection with the past 2000 years of Church history. We like to reference people when speaking, but most often it is someone who is still alive and has had a book published in the last 10 years. Not to say this is wrong, but Christian thought has existed for so long, it seems a tragic disservice to not even consider the theologians that have gone on before. So many people are unaware of things like St Augustine’s Confessions, St Teresa of Ávila’s Interior Castle, Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, The Rule of St Benedict, and so many others. There are even more recent author’s that have taken up the task of trying to figure out what it means to live in the world as a Christian: CS Lewis, Dallas Willard, Karl Barth, Eugene Peterson, and others. The problem is that these books do not offer the instant gratification that we so crave in our world today. We want a book that is easily accessible, read a chapter a week and discuss it with our Sunday School group, and maybe we’ll consider the vague idea of being a better Christian. The reality is that our faith is hard and doesn’t make sense with the world around us. People get sick and die. Plans go awry because finances get messed up. Relationships fall apart because of unfaithfulness. And yet through it all, we believe that there is a God who walks beside us through it all and has put to death all sin. I’m still sinful though. How does this make sense?! No amount of reading popular books is going to help you or I come to any real understanding. The Church has been wrestling with these concepts for so long, and we’ve come so far from where we started, but if no one knows what the Church actually believes, how can we expect to help anyone?
The scandal of the evangelical mind is there is not much of an evangelical mind.Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
I think that for my part, I’ve not done a very good job of encouraging people to deepen their faith by studying their Bibles and theology together. I’ve certainly fallen into the trap of so many of us by pointing people to the Bible and never once considering someone like Thomas Aquinas. If you would permit me, I’d like to work through this with you. I’m going to start working through theological concepts from the beginning and seeing how we might be able to deepen our faith. If you would like to join me in this, maybe we can bring together something good for the Church at large. I don’t think that blind faith is good for us, and I want to help you and I to not have this issue. There has been lots of work done by theologians over the milliennia, and its feels a shame that we do not further their work. If you’d like to join me on this journey leave me a comment letting me know what ideas you are most interested in. How is it that Jesus saves? What does it mean to say that God is three-in-one? How is humanity made in the image of God? What is the job of the Church? Let me know what you think below.
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