Being Educated Beyond Our Obedience Pt. 2

More than any other in my short history as a blogger, my recent post "Being Educated Beyond Our Obedience" generated a lot of hits and debate. I responded to this on with this....

Hey Guys,

Wow, quite a lively debate here-though I do think it's gotten of topic quite a bit. I'm the guy who wrote the original post and want to speak to Jesse's question near the top:

"How can we fix this problem? Perhaps more sermons against this? I intuitively believe this is a deeper problem than more teaching will fix - it seems to me that we’ll need some kind of fundamental change in our system."

Jesse -- You've got to be dead right. How absurd of us to think that we can educate (teach) our folks out of being over-taught and inactive. The system is the thing. You look at how Jesus made disciples, teaching was just an element, whereas in most of our churches we depend on the teaching alone. I find that those with teaching gifts (myself included) tend to think that a good sermon can fix anything. It's like we're the guy who's only tool is a hammer and therefore sees every problem as a nail.

What we need is something like Jesus' model of discipleship which is summed up by no better work than "apprenticeship". Jesus' crew became like Jesus because they kept company with him, watched what he did and joined in. Remember Jesus and the 5000? Jesus said "You feed them" to his disciples. Remember the sending out of the 12 and 70? Matthew's Gospel is the best discipleship model I've seen - with a chunk of chapters on what Jesus did, followed by a chunk on the disciples doing the same, and concluding with a commissioning of the disciples to go reproduce "teaching them to OBEY everything I have commanded.'

If there is any steam left in this conversation - I hope someone will spend it on proposing a 'programmatic' solution to being educated beyond our obedience.

Related Posts:
Being Educated Beyond Our Obedience Pt.1
God's Word is Dangerous Entertainment
Confessions of a Glutton

1 comment:

  1. I think the organic metaphor is useful here. Everybody has a head, a heart, hands, feet, &c. You can do without a few of these, but not without a head or a heart.

    Your original post was insightful for its cyclical -- even evolutionary -- view of what faith looks like. Every new idea we have should be put into practice when possible so that it can become manifest not only in our heads, but in our hearts and hands as well.

    But Colson seems to have had a different audience in mind, an audience that has no problem using its heart or hands, but might buck a little at having wrongheadedness pointed out. At the end of the day, we don't have much to separate ourselves from other faiths except our doctrine. You'd think that the average believer would show more of an interest in understanding its nuances, but it turns out that for most believers doctrinal nuances matter only when there is disagreement over them.

    More generally, I am sympathetic to Colson's point because there is an anti-intellectual strain of church culture. I suffered through it as an adolescent and even in college. (People telling me the Kierkegaard was anti-Christian because he was an existentialist, &c.) Those experiences still bring painful memories back -- I was made to feel less faithful for demanding at least a more nuanced understanding of Jesus' and Paul's teachings. Jesus would never have made somebody feel that way for showing an interest in God. It was the people with all the answers that he saved his harshest words for instead.

    So I don't know. I think you have a great point and Colson has a great point, but your points are really addressed to differenet audiences (with different needs). MPPC is certainly not an anti-intellectual church, and that's at least part of why I'm there.

    The big picture for me, again, is the organic metaphor. Each of us has a body, and parts with different functions, some of which are essential. Each of us as believers are also parts of a body, some among us being called to mind doctrine, and others among us being called to care for the poor and sick. While all of us should make an effort to use our bodies to their fullest to promote the health of *the* body, I wouldn't agree that the head should try to be a foot or vice versa. Heads must be heads, feet feet. All must obey God according to his will for the body.