Muchprayer,hard work,costly co-operation andconsider- ablemoney–all arerequiredof
Christians to address the challenges of contemporary society. It has
always been so – for those fighting
world wars, enduring depression
and dust bowl, facing epidemic or
environmental disaster, immigrating to a new country.
Yet our present challenges have
something in common – a complexity that means we can’t just
pray and work and co-operate and
spend our way out of our troubles,
the way Canadians have solved
problems since Confederation. We
are going to have to think our way
out of them too.
Canadian Evangelicals might
seem poised for the serious and
sustained analysis and reflection our
moment requires. As a whole Canadians are among the best-educated
people on earth, with a higher proportion of our population receiving
postsecondary education than in
any other country.
Evangelicals have shared in this
trend as we steadily increased the
academic quality of our educational institutions. Our pastors typically now have at least one degree and
And all of us are surrounded by a
clutter of publishers, websites,
seminars and other media that seek
to edify clergy and laity alike.
However, we also swim in a
constant stream – really, a flood –
of information packaged as “
infotainment,” as brief and superficial
“segments” that promptly tell us
what to think, rather than furnish
us with solid information to interpret on our own.
(How many statistics do you
think the typical editor wants to see
in an article, or a producer will allow
on the air? How many actual facts
are presented in the average news
story? Count them sometime.)
Information comes to us arranged according to algorithms of
interest. Google, Facebook & Co.
use our previous clicking to ensure
we are served more of the same. So
we live in increasingly self-reinfor-cing matrices of congenial perspectives and comforting “truths.”
Among Evangelicals, usually
labelled as such partly because of
our commitment to biblical truth,
the watering down of our knowledge is no less dire.
Bible reading and Bible knowledge have steadily declined, even as
our secular education has increased.
Poll data show a truly appalling lack
of basic biblical knowledge in most
Canadians’ minds – but worse, they
show scanty Bible reading even
among regular churchgoers.
Although Evangelicals are still
accused, particularly by some
Roman Catholic critics, of thinking
each of us is our own pope, we
recognize, in our candid moments,
how pathetically fragmentary is our
knowledge of Scripture.
Most of us can barely quote the
23rd Psalm and couldn’t recite 20
verses from anywhere else in the
Bible. Scripture memorization is a
vanishing folk art, like baking your
Text-based preaching in our
churches is often replaced by clever
storytelling and passionate punch-lines.
These and similar changes have
gained momentum as we turn increasingly toward infotainment
and away from more important
knowledge. But there’s also another
key factor – a sweeping increase in
Whom do Canadians today believe? Clergy? Hah. At best, they
pander to the powerful and at
worst, they prey upon the vulnerable. Scientists? You hire yours and
I’ll hire mine. Physicians? Lackeys
of government health authorities
and puppets of Big Pharma. Polit-
OU TSIDE QUEBEC
OF ALL CANADIANS
WHO IDEN TIF Y AS
OF ALL CANADIANS
WHO IDEN TIF Y AS
IN SEARCH OF… ADEQUACY MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF OUR TIME
WITH INTELLECTUAL RIGOUR
BY JOHN G. STACKHOUSE JR.