Five minutes later…
by MW Cook
I wonder if the church’s shallowness in the creative and professional world is due to shallowness of theology.
The church’s theology and worldview is generally very shallow. A search of the most popular books read by Christians today puts The Shack at the very top with different Max Lucado works not too far behind. And whatever else you can say about the books contemporary Christians read, you could never accuse them of being too deep. Since 2001 I can think of three books that made a mark on the Christian scene. The Prayer of Jabez, The Purpose-Driven Life, and The Shack. I’ve read two of them, and I’m disappointed by them. Not just because they contain things that I disagree with (which they do). I can respect a book I disagree with. I respected Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. I was disappointed with them because there seemed to be little of significant substance in them. At least Dawkins made me think. At least Dawkins had something profound to offer his readers. Does it not seem that contemporary Christian writers offer little more than witty sayings and neat ideas that bring some encouragement when the going gets rough?
Theology, which ought to be the deepest and most profound and intellectually challenging study out there, is marked as something almost useless at best and dangerously divisive at worst. But the Christian worldview is built on theology! And if our theology is the lite version found in The Shack or Left Behind are we not just drinking the Diet Coke of theology? Lite beer, instead of miraculous wine?
And if our theology is truly shallow, as I’m sure it is, and if our lives are built on our theology, how could we be expected to produce anything deep?
There was a time when Christian thought was deep. People like Dante, Bunyan, Bach, Newton, Lewis, and others, all working in their own fields, generating creative works that have lasted generations. These people sweated to produce things that showed off the Source to the world. Some were not necessarily prolific, but they were all profound. But how can we be expected to be profound today? Our theology isn’t profound. The god we have make for ourselves is certainly not profound. Our religion and sub-culture is anything but profound.
It starts with a right view of God. The profound God. The God that dares you to apply every ounce of intellect toward understanding him and his work. But who dares take Him up on the offer? Why bother, when a much cheaper god is available at every corner bookshop?
A man or woman’s work will always show what his underlying worldview or values are. I am sad to say that I have had more spiritual insight from Stephen King’s The Stand than from The Shack or any other ‘Christian’ novel written in the past ten years.
But I think there is hope. I know people who can shake things up. There are friends of mine who are good at what they do. I have been blessed with amazing friends. Friends who recognized the profoundness of Christ. Who have skill with the pen or brush or tune or thought. I pray the tides will be changed in my generation. Profound Christianity may never be popular, but it should at least be present.