Sunday, November 11, 2007

How does the average Christian know what to believe?

One of my favorite bloggers Dan has a post critical of John Piper and fundamentalist biblical interpretation.

Piper's advice: Ignore the experts and their research, and just read the bible and believe whatever you think it says.

Dan's response: Following carefully the expert opinions is of great importance in understanding the bible. In no other field would we dismiss expert advice: 'If one were to take [Piper's] advice with other experts, like one's doctor for example, the results could well be tragic.'

Commenter asks: What then is the average Christian to do, who has neither the time nor ability to follow carefully the expert opinions?

Another commenter responds: 'If it were any other subject, the only proper response would be "tough cookies." If you don't have the time or the ability or can't make the effort, then you'll be left out in the cold. Knowledge isn't egalitarian.'

So what is the correct answer? How should the average Christian with neither much time nor ability know what to believe?


Blogger Bryan L said...

That's a great question. I have a feeling though that anyone who is that concerned with the question and really desires to know what the right thing to believe is will make the time and put forth the effort to know. If it really matters that much to them don't you think they will remove other things from their life (amusements like TV, magazines or internet surfing) to be able to make the time and effort?

Most don't even make little steps. There are so many resources available now put out by solid biblical scholars and theologians aimed towards popular audiences to get them initiated yet most average Christians don't even want to read those. N.T. Wright has a whole popular commentary series on the NT that are really easy to read, interesting and informed by solid scholarship and yet the average Christian would rather read a book by a popular televangelist or Christan living author or read their own personal meaning into scripture instead of actually trying to find out what scripture says.

With all these resources available it's important for a pastor to be able to recommend and offer them to his congregation yet how many people do you think even ask the pastors about this type of stuff. They have this mentality that I'll let the pastor deal with that stuff since it's his job and I'll just listen to his sermons.

All this to say I think it's a good question but I don't think the average Christian really cares about it that much beyond merely wondering about it.

What do you think?

Bryan L


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