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Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity

People Call Us Stupid, You Know

Children learn from our example, which as adults, should be a positive, grown-up one. Into the Surf, licensed open edition print by Steve Henderson.

Children learn from our example, which as adults, should be a positive, grown-up one. Into the Surf, licensed open edition print by Steve Henderson.

If you’re a Christian, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that many people out there think we’re stupid. After all, playground tactics, in which Child A calls Child B “Stupid!” for daring to disagree, extend far into adulthood.

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(Although, come to think of it, with Zero Tolerance for Anything policies in public schools these days, one child calling another stupid is probably grounds for expelling both of them.)

Within the grown-up world of network news broadcasting, magazine articles, “scientific” documentaries, publicly funded teaching, politics — it’s a great big world out there — calling people stupid is subtly done. Gentle denigration is one of the best methods:

“Yes, the Bible has many interesting myths and stories,” the archaeologist said with a smile. “And science’s job is to promote the truth.”

Living with Scientists

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As the daughter of a scientist, raised in a household of these lovable, intelligent, overweeningly arrogant people, I grew up with Science vs. Religion, and two things always intrigued me:

1) The two could never meet.

2) When they did wind up in the same room together, Science always took the nicer chair.

“Religion is just what you believe,” was the general attitude. “Science is the truth.”

While I don't necessarily need to see something to believe it, I do need to know that I didn't make it up. Peace, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

While I don’t necessarily need to see something to believe it, I do need to know that I didn’t make it up. Peace, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

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I don’t know. Believing in something that you’re not convinced is the truth seems kind of stupid to me. I met a person once who spent 30 minutes describing her belief system, which she freely admitted to creating herself from an eclectic collection of eastern creeds, scientific theories, sociological observations, and alien worship, and I thought, “And I’m the stupid one, because I don’t have a PhD.”

Being Called Stupid Is Part of the Territory

But that’s okay, because, realistically, being thought of as stupid by non-believers is not only part of the territory, it’s frequently mentioned in the Bible, as in 1 Corinthians 1: 18:

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“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”

The power and wisdom and message of God are “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles,” the apostle Paul continues, and since many of these people work for newspapers, teach at universities, and inhabit the political arena, Christians get called stupid a lot. We deal with it.

The part that isn’t okay is when we truly are stupid — believing things simply because we are told, parroting back statements we have heard but haven’t checked out, spending more time filling out Bible workbooks than actually reading the Bible, relying upon others to interpret and explain everything we believe, mindlessly reading certain books or listening to particular music or following sweet pre-teen celebrities or watching limited movies because they’re “Christian.” I touched upon this in an earlier article, Should Christians Think?

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Yes, Christians Should Think — a Lot

And the answer to that question, which I didn’t get around to mentioning but which I hope was fairly obvious to anyone who read all the way through, is “Yes.”

Christians should think. A lot. We should read — all sorts of books, not just ones that someone else deems appropriate for us — converse, question, agitate, wonder, ponder, and be free to say,

“I don’t know.” We don’t have to have a pat answer for everything.

On an Internet forum, I stumbled across the question, “Where is the Bible verse about questioning everything that we’re told?”

to which another person replied: “Christians aren’t supposed to ask questions. That’s in the Bible.”

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I don’t know if the commenter was being facetious or serious, but either way, that’s quite a statement.

Human beings are made in the image of the Supreme Intelligent, Creative, Powerful Being — which is why we’re such ambitious, energetic, forceful creatures. Prior to knowing Christ, we frequently mis-apply and mis-use the incredible intelligence that the Creator endowed us with. It’s vital that, after believing in Him, we don’t throw that intelligence away.

 

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