Session 2: Defining Theology

by Administrator 7. October 2015 04:56
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30

Writing about Session: 2 Defining Theology, Korey Beemer shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions.

Discussion question #1: Reference was made to the quote from R.C. Sproul that we live in an anti-intellectual culture. Another person once said that the sins of the culture become the sins of the Church. Further discuss the ways that the sin of anti-intellectualism is evidenced in the Church.

“We live in what may be the most anti-intellectual period in the history of Western Civilization… We must have a passion—indeed hearts on fire for the things of God. But that passion must resist with intensity the anti-intellectual spirit of the world.”  ~R.C. Sproul

I have chosen question number one because I have lived what seems a lifetime of what R.C. Sproul is talking about, an anti-intellectualism in our culture that leads to anti-intellectualism in our church. In this post, my goal is to think through how we got here as a culture, why we got here as a culture, and what affect this has on the church.

How We Got Here

Let’s start with our current culture and possibly how we got here. In my view, there are many possibilities of why the last several generations have intellectually declined. For this post I will concentrate mainly with the American culture and church.

A study in 2013 showed that American adults scored far below other countries in math, reading and problem solving. This is a problem on many levels for a culture and indicates a trend towards a lack of critical thinking and anti-intellectualism. I believe I can make the argument that this has stemmed from an entitlement mentality among the population.

We as Americans have been told by our leaders that we live in the richest country in the world. While this may be true on some levels and not on others, it seems as though we live like we are all rich. Overall, we have lost how and why we have become prosperous. I believe the success has come purely from living under a constitution (a contract between the people and the government) that was stemmed from Judeo-Christian values (the Bible), but that is for another post.

Why We Got Here

Let’s try to put our finger on the problem. Our success has caused our population to grow content. Parents want to give their kids a better life than what they had, so they have tried to do the work for the kids. Therefore the kids do not go through the same struggles and learning process needed for critical thinking and to shape their worldview. I would love to blame this on technology, and how we have learned to communicate by texting or twitter in 140 characters or less. Also, our education system has become a test rich environment with almost no critical thinking. However, I believe the problem is deeper than just having one single cause. What we have is an identity crisis in our culture.

The Effect on the Church

So then, what influence does this have on the church? Let me first say, that I believe it is not the culture that should be affecting the church but the church affecting the culture. We as the church have failed to speak out with clarity on many important issues. Long story short we as believers need to articulate the Gospel in a loving way that gives contrast to the world’s way of doing things. We need to clear up supposed “contradictions” in the Word of God.

In conclusion, I think we’ve lost the ability to study the Bible. As most things have been handed to us, I am afraid that we think the Word of God should just be handed to us without us going through the process of studying and learning.


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Comments (7) -

Frances Sloan
Frances Sloan
10/7/2015 3:04:49 PM #

Thank you for your thoughts on this Korey. You are right on target! One thing you did not mention was our lack of courage. If the church is going to affect the culture, we need more courage to speak without watering down the gospel. And, as you mentioned ... share the gospel in a loving way. The challenge for me is finding the loving way while being courageous...and just simply being more courageous.


Bob Sweeny
Bob Sweeny
10/8/2015 4:15:15 AM #

Sad but true. Somehow I've fell into the trap that my faith should grow just by God giving it to me with no effort. No doubt we need God's huge helping hand and spirit  but not with out effort and work/study.   Thanks Korey


Craig Sparks
Craig Sparks
10/10/2015 2:02:40 PM #

I think it is important to define what it means to be intellectual.  Being intellectual means to think in a logical way, that is involving serious thought and study.  I think a root of the problem is that in today's culture many seek the immediate emotion or experience rather than take the time to seriously study and consider a topic before reacting.  The Lakeside Men were reminded of this at Men's Retreat; using emotion is great to energize or encourage someone to get started, but the ultimate work is in the diligent study of the bible and praying to God each day.


Steve Sloan
Steve Sloan
10/10/2015 3:50:42 PM #

As Sproul said above, "We must have a passion - indeed hearts on fire for the things of God." Cory touched on the essence of the problem of anti-intellectualism in his statement about being the riches nation on earth, which if true, shows we worship our stuff and spend time thinking about our stuff instead of doing the hard work of living for God, not living for our stuff. In order to live for God we have to know God. To know God we have to study his word, his creation, human history and philosophy which through the Holy Spirit he reveals himself to us. All the above takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication which does not define most of what happens in our culture. As Cory points out, the church has followed our culture in trying to get to an understanding of God the easy way by not spending effort and time in his word, and he is 100% right that without effort to learn of God we are left to follow our culture


Frances Sloan
Frances Sloan
10/10/2015 3:59:00 PM #

Anti-intellectualism makes me think of today's political correctness. We have made ourselves lazy because ... if we speak truthfully, then we might offend someone. So we, as a culture, just nod our heads. It takes courage to speak truthfully. I struggle with this daily. We all need to pray for each other so that we find the necessary courage in speaking and sharing the gospel. Truth is often not accepted, or we are persecuted and rejected when we speak it. Christ said that since he was persecuted, we would be also.


Gail Maach
Gail Maach
10/10/2015 6:38:39 PM #

We have grown accustomed to believe we are entitled to many things. We, as a society, have lost or forgotten about thinking for ourselves. We have lived an anti-intellectual life for so long that we need to retrain ourselves to think again. Anti-intellectualism is so rampant in society today that many people don't even realize they are not thinking for themselves. It seems to me that people have accepted being "book smart" as being the same as being intellectual. While some people are good at memorizing, that does not mean that they can think for themselves.


Jesse Von Behren
Jesse Von Behren
10/24/2015 8:13:10 AM #

It seems to me our culture has changed in the past 10-20 years. Growing up in a small farming community it was an expectation that we go to church on Sunday, no way around it, no other option. Today our culture allows for many distractions on Sunday that tend to compete for our time.  In turn, some churches have turned to alternative ways to try and entice people to come, and in the end have lost focus about what it means to be a Christian; which then makes it more difficult for others (sadly the minority) to stand up for what is truly right.  


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