When did it become shameful to be intelligent or well-educated? Over the past 40 years or so it seems the body of Christ has lost about 20 IQ points. To be clear I’m not talking about caricatures of intelligence like Frasier Crane and his brother Niles looking down their noses at the poor masses. When did milk instead of meat become the pinnacle of our bible study?
A few years ago when I lived in Tulsa, OK I was looking for a new church and was invited to try out a place called The Gathering. In the foyer area I was offered a choice of sweet iced tea or Starbucks’ coffee. The “service” consisted of a band playing rock style music on a stage with colored lights singing songs I had never heard of (I did know most popular worship songs at the time). The “pastor” (for lack of a better term) got up and sat on a stool and shared a rambling motivational speech which quoted one (I kid you not) one bible verse.
After perusing the bulletin, I could find no bible studies listed as being offered for the church. We were invited to join “life groups” whose purpose was to help us make friends not specifically to study the bible. One motivational speech and one life group meeting and you were good to go. Needless to say I didn’t return.
During that time I visited over 20 churches in the Greater Tulsa area. One of them had a pastor who was celebrated for being “deep.” Sure enough, their bookstore had copies of Strong’s Concordance and Vine’s Dictionary which is a great start for new believers but hardly what I would consider deep. Going into the service I eagerly awaited this pastor’s sermon which was in one sentence “if you’re happy let your face know it.” I’m not kidding. Dear God, I wish I was.
I realize not every bible study or sermon is going to be like a class in Systematic Theology at a seminary. Where has the meat gone? Where’s the beef? (pardon the Wendy’s pun). Where are the robust discussions of free will vs. election or the sovereignty of God? When was the last time you heard a good, lively debate that changed the way you thought previously?
When I was younger (high school, college, graduate school) I was hungry for bible study and good lively discussions. I wanted my worldview to be challenged and to stand firm in my faith against the onslaught of humanistic teaching. My favorite thing about youth group wasn’t the pizza or the social games. It was having a youth pastor who taught me how to study the bible for myself and started a lifelong journey of being a hungry bible student.
Let’s do this for the next generation – let’s teach them to love the bible and love it’s Author. Let’s challenge them with more than milk – if they can handle Calculus at high school then they can handle looking up Greek or Hebrew words. We owe it to them to create thinking, educated Christians who can defend their faith.