There was an article in the newspaper today about religious illiteracy. Stephen Prothero is publishing a book about our lack of knowledge in America about religion; not just other religions, but our own. He particularly focused on Evangelicals who, though the loudest, tend to be the least knowledgeable. He says:
"Ironically,the United States became a nation of forgetters at the same time it became a nation of evangelicals. Believing in Christ became more important than knowing about Christ. To evangelicalism, therefore, we owe both the vitality of religion in contemporary America and our impoverished understanding of it."
A perfect example of this was shown on a blog that I frequent. There was a discussion going on about a teaching given with the topic "Finding God in the Other". In it, one of the writers proclaims their ignorance of theology, then attempts to present a theological argument. The rebuttal that came afterwards was stinging, but spot on. Here is that snippet:
Feb 24, 07:30 AM
Hi! I don't know a lot about theology or doctrine. But I can say this! Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God, He is God,(for those who want to debate what this would mean…. I am not really into strong theological debate!!! The basis of the Gospel is simple!! Jesus, who is God, came down to live on earth, became human, lived among us and died to bring us back to God! He is alive today and we can know Him!!! That is it… FINITO! I know He is alive.. I know Him deeper than I know even my own family!!! THE GOSPEL IS NOT MEANT TO BE INTELLECTUALISED, THEOLOGICALLY DEBATED!!!! Jesus, who He is, His divinity, ... is the one unquestionable. undebatable fact!!! You either say He is the Only Way to God or you don't!!! It is that simple!!!!
Feb 25, 12:59 AM
This thread is such a great example of why Christianity gets a bad wrap. How do you expect anyone to take our collective faith seriously when our discussions are filled with people that are “confident” that these doctrines are bullet proof but then they start their defense with some comment like “I don’t know much about the subject but I’m sure I’m right”. That is harmful. The only people that talk that way are people that have not put in the time to study our religion and our sacred scripture. Spouting cliche phrases doesn’t help our cause here. Renouncing wisdom is rejecting the LOGOS that the author of John’s gospel tells us was “in the beginning… and became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus”. Rejecting wisdom is rejecting the aspect of God that was incarnated in Jesus.
I believe people can have a simple faith. I don't think faith has to be complicated. However, when you take it out to the public square I believe it is time to step up to the plate or stay home. As was shown in the exchange above, there are many Christians who have absolute faith and certainty about something of which they know very little. Unfortunately, it is often those who lack knowledge who are the loudest. Those who proclaim "the Truth" most sternly rarely have more than a few scriptures at their command.
I think this lack of education about our own religion is an example of how our Church (universal) has been shaped by culture rather than the other way around. In our present culture, education is something to be avoided. People often seem to take a sense of pride in how little they know. Our culture is into working longer hours to buy boats, RVs, vacation homes, gadgets and gizmos. As a nation, the sky is the limit as to how much we will spend on our entertainment. Our places of learning must fight for every dime they get. The Church has absorbed this mentality into its ethos. If the salt loses its saltiness........