January 13, 2011

Willimon on using our brains

In preparation for a confirmation class I'm teaching, I've been skimming through Will Willmon's book United Methodist Beliefs: A Brief Introduction. I was struck by this great passage in the introduction:

I've had it with people who understand computer programming, French cooking, or molecular biology but assume that they can think like a Christian on the basis of simple, sappy truisms they picked up while flipping channels on their TV. The Gospels depict Jesus as calling people to grow, not turn off their brains and settle into a life forever fixed at age seven.
What passes for atheism ("There is no God") or agnosticism ("I don't know whether or not there is a God") is sometimes simple cerebral sloth, intellectual sluggishness. Some people act as if their disbelief is an intellectual achievement when in reality it's a failure to think deeply about the Good News of Jesus Christ. The modern world is officially agnostic, contending that no truth is greater than any other truth, that it's fine to be a believer as long as you promise your believing will never be more than a personal preference without political or economic implications. "I don't believe" sometimes means that disbelievers lack the intellectual chutzpa to think outside the bod that the modern world has forced on them. We are a culture that loves shortcuts, slogans, facile definitions, and quick, easy, instant answers. One of John Wesley's favorite biblical texts was, "Work our your own faith with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12). Even though our salvation in Jesus Christ is free, it is not cheap. Jesus demands a lifetime of willingness to keep at the intellectual journey. (pgs. xv-xvi)

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