In a recent article from Relevant magazine, entitled “The Tragedy of Dumbing Down Christianity” Ethan Renoe said, “I’m saddened that atheists are so passionate about what they believe that they will read stacks of books in order to define their beliefs, while we are happy to float along the surface with a “Hillsong-deep theology” and call it good.”
He’s on to something here. We have lived through at least 50 years of lowest-common denominator Christianity. Learn just the basics. Minimize the doctrine. Keep the commitment level low. Make it easy. So, we are well into the second generation of Christians raised on a steady diet of cliches, platitudes, prosperity preachers, and fish bumper stickers. We’re a long way from “Take up your cross and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
I think we’ve gotten it backwards. We need to move in the other direction. We need to raise the bar. There is so much more to this Christian life than that!
Consider the pattern we see in the early church. It too was striving to grow in a hedonistic culture where it was not seen in a favorable light. Instead of capitulating to the culture, the Christian church stood apart. They didn’t lower themselves to make it easier for people to come into the community. They certainly didn’t change their doctrine to adapt it to the cultural norms of the day to make it more palatable. Instead, they taught and educated people and raised them up and helped them grow into the community. They helped them grow into maturity by training and living the faith. They prepared them for the very real possibility of persecution. And the church grew like wildfire.
It’s the same today. The church grows under persecution and it seems to wither under cultural approval and endorsement.
Perhaps its time to raise the bar. What if, instead of “dumbing down” things, we raised people up? What if we spent the time to train people in the faith, in the creeds, in the doctrine and history of the church? What if we created robust, well-read, mature churchmen and churchwomen who know what they believe and why?
In his article, Renoe concluded, “I have found that the more I learn about God, His Word and theology which describes Him, the more I can love and worship Him, because now there is that much more to adore and be amazed by.”
I would love more people to have that experience. I think it’d be revolutionary.
I like the sound of that.