Today’s extract is again from chapter 2 of Mission Mover – beyond education for church leadership, by Thomas G Bandy. The book was published by Abingdon Press, 2004
Amid all the competing Christian ‘theologies’ available in the world, there are but two approaches to the spiritual life. There is the ‘modern’ approach and the ‘pre-or postmodern’ approach.
The ‘modern’ approach assumes that people start their spiritual journey by doing ‘reflection,’ and that this will lead to such perceptive understanding that they will feel ‘compassion,’ and that this loving sentiment will in turn result in ‘action.’ Action will raise questions that an individual has never asked before, and send them back into ‘reflection.’ This unending circle of reflection-compassion-action has been the dominant spiritual method of Christianity since Constantine institutionalised the church. It accelerated after the invention of the printing press, was embedded in European Protestantism, and became refined through the Age of Enligtenment to be uncritically assumed by North American Christendom.
If only people would really read and study the Bible, they would
understand the true nature of sin. They would have compassion on themselves and
others, and take action to convert the world. In the course of that crusade,
they will undoubtedly ask new questions and return to the Bible for answers.
If only people would raise their consciousness and study demographic
realities about race, gender, and the economy, they would understand the true
nature of oppression. They would have compassion on themselves and others, and
take action to reform society. In the course of that crusade, they will
undoubtedly ask new questions and seek experts for the answers.
This is why literacy guilds are so aggressive and higher education so popular. It is not simply that education will bring career success. It is the deeper, hidden assumption that education is the door to the spiritual life.
It is this perception of the spiritual life that fires seminaries to ‘train theologians’ and denominations to ‘train professionals.’ They really do believe in the spiritual life, and that the door into it is thoughtful reflection. Unfortunately, it rarely works that way in a pagan world.
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