Yesterday I rhetorically asked “what gives?” regarding the anti-intellectuality of many Christians today I want to take a shot at answering my own question.
Why do we, as a people group, fear logic and reason? Why do we clip verses out of context and put undue emphasis on them that diminish the importance of sources of knowledge other than church? It’s not native to scripture, so where do we get it from?
Well I think there is a number of causes, but the first major problem is we think we’re saved by thinking the right things, rather than by Jesus. So out thoughts become a very touchy subject because the implication is that thinking the wrong things could send us straight to hell.
Also we don’t really believe Christianity is true. We don’t think it lines up with the real world, so we’re afraid of the real world, because paradoxically, we think if we study science too much, we might realize evolution is true, and then lose our faltering faith in Jesus, and then go to hell.
Which is ridiculous because obviously if you proved Christianity was wrong you wouldn’t have to worry about hell. But these conversations don’t take place in the sense-making parts of our brains. if they did, then we would just realize we don’t really believe and move on from there instead of getting defensive.
The final problem I see is that the church has become a business, and pastors the CEOs. Pastors are expected to keep people in the seats and keep the lights on. Doubt may be good for a healthy human existence, but it’s not good for business, so rather than let people search for answers in fields that pastors are unfamiliar with like Biology, our automatic subconscious response is to be fearful and defensive of the question, and our congregants follow suit.
On Sunday, when it comes time to preach a sermon on something, Pastors are busy (another result of putting them at the head of a business in addition to asking them to care for people’s spiritual needs personally) and it’s much easier and safer to preach a sermon on the first part of 1 Cor 8 “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up” Than it is to explain that 1 Cor 15 was a rational treatise that invited free inquiry, or talk about the message of the Pauline story being one of truth prevailing, or telling about Kepler, a monk who some might credit with inventing modern science, doing so for the Glory of God. These things run through the christian narrative like a scarlet thread, but they must be exposited, they must be found and dug up and understood, and that takes work, and work takes time, and time is money, and the sermon… is due… tomorrow.