The Dumbing Down of Christianity

Yet we have no problem floating on the surface of our knowledge of God. And then we wonder why we have such trouble witnessing to others or describing what we believe, or why we believe it, to others.

J.P. Moreland, in his book Love the Lord Your God With All Your Minddemonstrates how the Second Great Awakening led to the beginning of emotional preaching and impassioned calls to a quick conversion experience, as opposed to a period of contemplation, learning and discovery of the Christian faith and doctrines. We live in the fallout of that style of thinking. Moreland writes, “The intellectually shallow, theologically illiterate form of Christianity…came to be part of the populist Christian religion that emerged.”

I was fascinated to learn that the church was once the place where believers came to learn deep theology and robust doctrine, but now that seems to be reserved only for biblical universities. Nowadays anyone can start a church, and as long as it’s engaging and entertaining enough, people will show up. Nevermind if it’s true or not. (Case in point: The pastor of the largest church in America doesn’t even have a bachelor’s degree, much less a seminary degree and look where that leads…) This all helps me realize why people are seeing less and less need for the church. After the initial emotion has worn off, what does it really have to offer?

It should not only be pastors, authors and theologians who study what they believe, but all believers. Jesus Himself stated that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and MIND (Luke 10:27), yet we tend to overlook this last one and focus on the heart and soul. (Crossfitters throw ‘strength’ in the mix too, I guess.)

God paints an intense fate for those who neglect to grow in their understanding in Hosea 4:6 when he writes, “My people are destroyed for their lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you.”

So let’s not get destroyed and rejected, eh?

It’s not too late for Christians to learn in their understanding of the holy. It’s not too late to learn the meaning and value of our creeds, doctrines and systems. There is merit in learning and understanding the deeper parts of our faith and I say we start sooner than later.

If you’re reading this and thinking, Gee, I would love to come to a deeper understanding of God but don’t know where to start, I’ll give a few great starting points here, but never hesitate to email me with more questions or comments! I’d love to talk more about these things. Additionally, if you’re reading this and thinking, Gee, I don’t really learn that much about the Bible or God at my church, it just kind of hypes me up, it may be time to change that. Begin by talking to your pastor about it before going church shopping!

Here are some books that are very easy to read and introduce us to cursory facets of the Christian faith:

Delighting in The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

The New Lonely by me

(The last one isn’t theological, it’s just a really, really good book. ;})

Enjoy!

This article originally appeared here.

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Ethan Renoe
Ethan is a speaker, writer, and photographer currently living in Los Angeles. He has lived on 6 continents, gone to 6 schools, had 28 jobs, and done 4 one-armed pull-ups. He recently graduated from Moody Bible Institute. Follow him at ethanrenoe.com.