The Battle Against the Brain – Conclusion September 16, 2009Posted by Matt in The Battle Against the Brain.
Tags: change, Christianity, educated people, Evangelical churches
So, where does this leave churches in America? How do they reach out to and bring back the educated people who have abandoned them or have been pushed away by them?
First of all, churches should do away with drawing lines of absolution, especially when they involve the Bible. It is fine with me if you want to believe the logical fallacy that God is both omnibenevolent and required that Israel wipe out every man, woman, and child during their conquest of the Promised Land. Just do not tell me that I must believe it is something other than an ancient nation trying to justify genocide.
Secondly, do not take away the right to question. There is nothing wrong with questioning the decisions of church leadership or even questioning God, for that matter.
Third, do not push away or show disregard for people because of the talents they possess or the educational level they have attained. If someone has a brilliant mind for the sciences, don’t constantly tell them they are wrong because they make you uncomfortable. Do not push away the artist, allow them to use their gifts of expression, regardless of whether or not you understand them. Respect people for who they are.
Fourth, be open to change. Things will not and should not remain static in this constantly evolving world and churches must be willing to change along with it if they wish to survive. Placing roots in some nonexistent ideal or acquiescing to one side because “that is how we’ve always done it” is a recipe for disaster.
Finally, show consideration for dissent. All men and women have a voice and should be allowed to speak on their ideas without fear of being immediately shot down and ganged up on by their fellow church members. Believe me, it is no fun.
In the end, the answer is that all must show love and respect and should keep an open mind, regardless of whether or not they agree with each other on every issue. We must keep away from a bumper sticker slogan theology and accept the fact that all things are subject to change.
If churches have any desire to reclaim the educated, something must be done.
The Battle Against the Brain – part 3 September 15, 2009Posted by Matt in The Battle Against the Brain.
Tags: Bible, Biblical Interpretation, Divine Inspiration, educated people, Evangelicals, mythology
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One of the biggest sticking points between many Evangelical Christians and the educated is undoubtedly their unwavering belief that the Bible is the perfect, inerrant, divinely inspired, directly-given word of God. The aforementioned Pew study quantified this idea, stating that 59% of Evangelicals believe that the Bible is the literal, word-for-word dictation from God.
But, some of us have differing opinions.
The inaccuracies and contradictions contained within the pages of the Bible have been widely written about in the past (see Marcus Borg’s Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, as one example) and, though many seek to tie the loose ends together with the most tenuous and illogical explanations, they still exist and they can be quite damning.
Now, of course, this does not mean that the Bible is unimportant, quite the contrary, it is of great relevance, even to those of us living today in a world that the Biblical writers could not have even dreamed of. For us it is a window into the world of an ancient people as they try to explain things beyond explanation. It is their realization that something bigger than them exists, leading them to speak of it and write about it in a way that makes sense within their ancient worldview. It then leads us in our search for the Divine as we search for meaning in a world of randomly occurring tragedies and triumphs.
Thus, we do not feel the need to accept the asinine assumptions of creation science or to accept the obviously bipolar God of Genesis (It says creation is good and then, one page later, is sorry for it and wants to kill all the men, women, children, and animals by asphyxiation?) as factual. We do not need to believe that a good God sends pestilence and plague and natural disasters to wipe out masses of people. We can accept it that the New Testament writers borrowed heavily from Plato, rather than having their pens divinely guided (unless you accept Plato as being divinely inspired as well, but, as a homosexual heathen he’s probably not very high on the Evangelical guest list in heaven).
Perhaps then it is the overarching Biblical themes of redemption and love that truly matter rather than the specific stories. Maybe we would all be better off if we accepted mythology for what it is, a collection of thematic stories proclaiming truth without being factual representations of actual events.
It is this blind allegiance, this thinly veiled form of idolatry, that has been largely responsible for the exodus of the educated from America’s churches.