I left the party and walked back to my bed-n-breakfast, in the rain. I felt awful that I had somehow offended her. I wasn’t trying to. I was trying to connect, to understand, to further the discussion.
How did I offend her, I asked myself?
By asking clarifying questions?
I was flummoxed.
I’m not an expert in Aristotelian logic, but I do know that in order to have any kind of conversation, terms must be defined. This is ground zero of logic.
In logic, there are three acts of the mind:
1. Simple Apprehension
And three corresponding questions:
1. What do you mean? (Define your terms)
2. What’s the point? (What’s your conclusion?)
3. Why? (Prove it.)
We could not have a logical discussion. I lamented our inability to engage in a lively, inoffensive, conversation.
But the more I surveyed social media, where everyone including (especially?) Christians seem hell-bent of screaming their own point of view towards people, the more I concluded: we don’t care what anyone else thinks or says.
We only care for ourselves. When we fail to look past our own ideas of how things should be, we cease to be people of vision, we cease to really think.
I believe the Christian community has fallen under the weight of its own non-thinking.
5 Examples of How the Christian Community Has Fallen Under the Weight of Its Own Non-thinking
1. Shoddy Theology.
I believe this is perpetuated by a broad swath of popular Christian publishing, along with Christian conferences, and the megachurch culture. And I don’t mean this as a harsh critique. I am myself an author, writer, and I’ve spoken at conferences. But having been in this world for nearly 15 years, this is my observation.
Christian publishing primarily focuses on author platforms. If you can gather a large following, the thinking goes, then you must have something important to say. This kind of thinking is known as a non sequitur, meaning, it does not necessarily follow. A platform does not necessarily make someone a theologian or even an expert in anything. It just makes them, at a base level, popular.
Publishing is a business, so latching on to a person with a ready-made following makes sense for business, but what are we doing to “thought” when we prize platform, “quantity,” over quality? I think this needs more thought.
Conferences are an extension of publishing. They build off of one another. The conference culture creates a celebrity buzz that elevates authors and bloggers and pastors into celebrities. I wonder if we’ve thought this through, or if we merely observe the amount of influence they provide, so we seek to emulate.
The megachurch movement also creates a similar vibe, our consumer mentality is fed through an excellent product and everyone loves being associated with the Cool place to worship. Have we thought this through? (See below my note about Francis Chan.)
When we simply mimic what creates worldly success, we pay the price. Often this can be found in the dimming of the message.
It can produce shallow products that people buy and consume, messages that people take to heart even though the messenger may only be sharing an opinion. We can then base our theology on people, messages and events that may not be providing solid foundational thinking, to say nothing of the theology.
Have we thought deeply about this?
2. Pragmatism and an extreme dedication to personal views of justice.
Consider this quote from theologian Craig Gay. He says,
“… the contemporary preoccupation with such things as planning, with the organization and mobilization of resources, with ‘programming,’ with the projection of the Church’s influence within the culture, etc., may actually be quite destructive. …
“To paraphrase Martin Buber, whoever knows the Church as something to be utilized–even presumably in the service of the Kingdom of God–must know God in the same way.
“Because God does not actually allow himself to be known in this way, however, Christian activism ends only in disillusionment and perhaps even godlessness.” (Gay, 306.)
This quote from Gay hits on a few points, most deal with the nearly insatiable desire to do, do, do, in the church. But what sticks out to me is the final part about Christian activism ending in disillusionment.