The QuasiChristian

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Reasoning

Unquestioning Faith: Ignorance Is Bliss


The definition of “indoctrinate” is to teach (a person or group) systematically or for a long period to accept biased ideas uncritically. Uncritical in this sense means not tending to find or call attention to errors, discrepancies, inconsistencies or questionable content.

The very essence of church services is an environment of passivity. Being exposed to a repetitive ambience of emotions and fervor leaves the mind malleable, thus making it more susceptible to indoctrination. One begins to assimilate what’s being said without actually processing it. Stimuli that produce excitable and heartfelt feelings are assumed to be the Spirit of God. An atmosphere that is euphoric captivates those present, enticing them to free themselves of mental restraint.

A passive mind conforms to anything and questions nothing when pleasure is derived. Once you’re emotionally attached to something it becomes more difficult to be objective. This makes it practically impossible to be critical and voice an opinion that’s in direct opposition to those whom one experiences impassioned ecstasy with on a weekly basis.

The continued search for an emotional high eventually leads to biblical ignorance. Many have a short attention span when it comes to serious study because they derive no sense of pleasure from it. It doesn’t provoke a warm and fuzzy feeling inside so it’s shunned. Those who want to go deeper in their studies often find themselves alone in such endeavors. Diluted teaching and prepackaged Bible studies are the norm for most congregations in order to accommodate the illiteracy and disinterest of the audience.

I’ll use the spiritual term “stronghold” to describe the indoctrination process of Christians. It’s frightening when one quenches their desire for knowledge and abandons their sense of reason in favor of playing church. The outcome is an individual who doesn’t know the historical background of the faith they profess, can’t articulate what it means to be a follower of Christ, and exhibits very little Bible knowledge. Memorized Bible verses that have become clichés among Christians masquerade as biblical literacy.

You’re invited to worship with us, but please check your brain at the door.

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January 10, 2012 Posted by | Christian Education, Commentary, Spiritual Reasoning | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rick Warren’s Illiteracy Problem


English: PressKit photo of Rick Warren

Image via Wikipedia

Link

The Christian Post reported recently that megapastor Rick Warren has discerned a significant problem among American Christians: Biblical illiteracy. In the face of this, he’s launching a new Bible study called “40 Days in the Word.” In a year-end webcast he plugged the new study, insisting that “Americans are biblically illiterate. They just don’t know the Word of God… Our parents’ generation knew the Word of God pretty well. My generation knew a little bit. The next generation knows none of it.”

He may be right. Over the last several years it has become clear that American Christians know little about the Bible, and in 2010 Pew study atheists and agnostics performed better on a test of basic biblical knowledge than did Christians. It’s a problem. Christians should know more about the book they profess to love. They should not be biblically illiterate.

But there are other kinds of illiteracy. There is, for example, scientific illiteracy. It too is a problem in America. And there is evidence that it is related to religious beliefs. This is hardly surprising. When one is raised to see science as the enemy of faith; when churches actively work against science education; when a literal understanding of Genesis is a requirement for faculty at major seminaries, scientific literacy suffers.

It is easy to blame extreme anti-science people like Albert Mohler and Ken Ham for this problem, and some responsibility does fall on them.

But I suspect more moderate leaders like Warren have a lot to do with it.

Click to continue reading

I agree with Jim Reed’s comment in response.

To be biblically literate do you also have to understand the problems with the Bible such as questions about authorship, unresolved contradictions, and things that are shown by science to be wrong? I would think you do. Without that understanding your biblical literacy is really only Christian propaganda. This might be the case with Rick Warren. His biblical literacy might depend on one accepting the conservative Christian perspective is divinely inspired.

And DanVoj’s comment.

Warren wants people to know more about what the Bible literally says than what we should know about it.

It all comes down to control: memorizing the Bible is one thing, while analyzing it is another. Control can always be had from illiteracy. Now, Warren’s statement is the same as many other “pastors” around the country, but you don’t see them recommending a scholar like Bart Ehrman for follow-up analysis. THEY are the true analysts, and they will ultimately tell you what to think.

Warren wants people to be Bible-savants, not analytical Christians.

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Biblical Criticism, Christian Education, Current Events, Science | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Year. Same Old Story. Or Not.


Sadly, many are attracted to Christianity because it’s presented as a haven from the struggles and strains of everyday life. Browse the shelves of Christian bookstores (brick and mortar or online). Notice the numerous books that target the emotionally needy—individuals who need a quick fix to satisfy their insatiable addiction to having their spiritual ego stroked. Modern Christianity places an enormous emphasis on the special believer. Some go through life attempting to execute steps and techniques to solidify their anticipated place in heaven. We all fall short of the glory of God is a phrase proudly proclaimed in Christian circles. This keeps believers ripe for any new book, conference, or sermon which purports to unveil how to strengthen one’s walk in Christ or gain unlimited favor of the Father.

It’s common for people to profess the faith of their parents. In fact, that’s how most become Christians in America. They are Christian by default. Very few undertake a personal study of Christianity prior to declaring Jesus their Lord and Savior. As a result, they are ignorant of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Decades later, still clueless.

The prevalence of biblical ignorance among black Christians is disturbing. Not surprising, yet disturbing nonetheless. This is a topic I’ll address in a future post. If you’re a Christian and can’t articulate what that means from a historical perspective, then you need to educate yourself. Not with the latest re-packaged Joel Osteen or T.D. Jakes books. Not with evangelical material that offers several steps to fill-in-the-blank. Biblical literacy (memorized Bible verses don’t count) begins with one step: Step outside of your comfort zone and examine your faith critically. Don’t get offended when asked about the Christian faith. Who? What? When? Why? How? You should be able to articulate well-reasoned answers. But you won’t find answers on Wednesday/Thursday nights at your church. Your children aren’t given this information in Awana. Remember the United Negro College Fund slogan “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste”. It applies here as well.

This is the time of year when many embark on resolutions made for the next 12 months. Add this to your list: To read the Bible in its entirety using critical thinking skills. Simply employ logic and reason when analyzing passages.

As a general rule, critical thinking involves developing some emotional and intellectual distance between yourself and ideas — whether your own or others’ — in order to better evaluate their truth, validity, and reasonableness.

Critical thinking is an effort to develop reliable, rational evaluations about what is reasonable for us to believe and disbelieve. Critical thinking makes use of the tools of logic and science because it values skepticism over gullibility or dogmatism, reason over faith, science of pseudoscience, and rationality over wishful thinking. Critical thinking does not guarantee that we will arrive at truth, but it does make it much more likely than any of the alternatives do.

I’ve made one promise for 2012. Stay rational.

December 30, 2011 Posted by | Apologetics, Biblical Studies, Christian Education, Spiritual Reasoning | , , , , | 2 Comments

How Many Is Too Many English Translations Of The Bible?


New American Standard Bible

Daniel Burke (The Huffington Post)

Scholars estimate that at least 200 English translations have been published since 1900 — many of them revisions of earlier texts. Sorting out the differences between the New American Bible and New American Standard Bible, for example, can be daunting for even experienced
readers.

The market can be so confusing and crowded that half of customers who visit Christian stores to buy a Bible leave without one, according to a study presented to Christian retailers in 2006.

“Heck, I’m overwhelmed and I’m supposed to know what the hee-haw I’m doing,” said Tickle, author of “The Great Emergence,” a well-regarded book on the future of Christianity. “Bibliolatry is not a word I use very often, but we are probably veering very close to it.”

There’s even a cottage industry of experts to help people choose a Bible. Paul Wegner, a professor at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona who conducts church conferences about the Bible, says Christians constantly ask why there are so many different Bibles, and which is the “right”
one.

“People almost throw up their hands, there are so many Bibles out there,” he said. “Maybe they’ve created a market for me.”

To counter consumer confusion, publishers began marketing Bibles based on “felt needs,” or secular interests, said Andy Butcher, an editor at the journal Christian Retailing.

Christian publisher Zondervan’s 2010 catalog of Bibles (“The Book of Good Books”) runs 223 pages and includes Bibles tailored toward black children, students, spiritual seekers, women with cancer, busy dads, new moms, recovering addicts, surfers, grandmothers and camouflage
enthusiasts.

“The next thing will be a Bible for men in midlife crises,” Jeffrey said, “with ads for Harley Davidson motorcycles inside.”

Link to Article (Continue Reading)

October 20, 2010 Posted by | Christian Education, Commentary | , , , | Leave a comment