My husband just wrote this post over at his blog, The Stumbling Block. He has come up with these “20 Thesis” mostly by experience and observation. Sadly, they ring true in a Church that has grown accustomed to having it’s ears tickled.
1. Studying “Theology” for an Evangelical is largely considered Academic and thus irrelevant for ‘normal Christians’.
2. Studying “Theology” outside ’sanctioned’ Evangelical circles is considered anathema.
3. Believing that “Theology” is something that is organic and fluid is considered ’suspect’ because it challenges the “Evangelical” assumption that theology is “received” (handed down from one generation to the next [e.g. the generations starting in and around the 1930’s]).
4. Learning theological terminology (as developed by ‘the church’ in the past and into the present), and then using it, is considered “anti-spiritual” and “elitist.”
5. Anyone who studies historical theology, and believes that this has impact on how we think theologically and even biblically today, is suspect; since the only faithful witness to Christ has taken shape within the ‘Fundamentalist church’ of the 20th century (and now into the 21st century).
6. Anyone who wants to be a Sunday School teacher at church needs to dump everything they learned in seminary, and learn how to speak the language of the common man (since apparently the common man is too stupid and lazy to understand anything beyond ‘Jesus loves me’ — at least so the assumption goes).
7. If an Evangelical Pastor finds out someone is a ‘theological student’ in his church he typically relegates that person to an category of “too heavenly minded (or intellectually minded) to be of any earthly good” (but not quite that spiritual).
8. Studying theology has nothing to do with growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, it is only useful for “egg-heads.”
9. Studying theology is not an act of worship, and does not lead to worship; but leads to a puffed-up head.
10. People, in the Evangelical church, who actually spend the time studying theology are few and far between (probably for some of the above reasons), thus it is not easy to find others who appreciate this discipline (thus blogging is a good outlet 😉 ).
11. Studying theology is frowned upon from the pulpit of many Evangelical churches, thus the people aren’t encouraged to do it.
12. Evangelical Pastors often don’t study theology because they are busy with the “important” things of ministry — like growing their church.
13. Most Evangelical churches offer no classes for in-depth theological and biblical study.
14. Evangelicals often believe that “practicing” Christianity is separate from “studying” Christianity — and that the former is what is spiritual and important.
15. Mentioning the names of theologians when talking about the Bible (unless they are the “approved” theologians) is tantamount to being a Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox Christian.
16. The belief amongst Evangelicals that studying theology (if done at all) should be left to “the few,” and that studying theology is not really that important for the “normal Christian.”
17. The belief that Christianity is a “private affair,” and that me and my relationship with Jesus takes precedence over that of my brother’s and sister’s.
18. The belief that theology is part of the “formalities of religion,” and not the stuff of being a ‘Mere Christian’, spiritual.
19. The belief that scholarship and spirituality are at odds with each other.
20. The belief by Christian scholarship and leadership that the people are just too dumb and not motivated enough to think theologically (but who’s fault is that).
These are generalizations, but for my two cents, much of the above is very true; and plagues Evangelical Christianity. Most of what is noted above can be blamed upon the impact that pietism (as a system of thought and theology) has had upon Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christianity. And some of what I am talking about can be blamed on simple laziness. All of the above can contribute to the solitude of the theological student, especially for students who are still living in an “Evangelical World.”