“Yes,” Fred said.
“So tell me this. Why are the laws
of this city, province and country so
darned complicated? Why can’t you
write them out on the back of a
postcard so that an eight-year-old
can understand them?”
Fred seemed stunned by the
question. So the apologist continued.
“I’ll tell you why. Because in
Grown-Up World, things are often
complicated. Simple truths can
guide us much of the time, yes, and
we can teach those to our eight-year-olds. But in a world as complicated as ours, we need appropriate
complexity to guide us.
“The Bible is a book that can
IN TELLEC TUAL CULTURE
bless an eight-year-old. ‘God so
loved the world.’ ‘ You must be born
again.’ ‘I am the way, the truth, and
the life.’ But the Bible is also capable
of guiding adults, families, church-
es and even nations. For that, we
need more than a postcard.”
And to make good use of that
amazing book, and to listen prop-
erly to that subtle Spirit, we need
more than your best guess or mine,
your intuition or mine. We need an
intellectual culture among Can-
adian Evangelicals sufficient to the
Sadly, I was told last week that
Canadian evangelical postsecondary
institutions labour under some
$100 million in debt. Almost none
are in the black. None can plan
confidently for the future on the
basis of generous endowments rendered by Christians who believed in
their mission enough to trust them
with significant resources.
Likewise, national organizations
who could do the work we need
doing – convening conferences,
sending out seminar speakers, offering media training to academics
– continue to struggle to find both
funds and creative leadership.
Furthermore, most of our most
popular churches from coast to
coast do not feature anything ap-
proaching substantial biblical
preaching, let alone extensive adult
education programs adequate to the
problems each of us laypeople face.
Some of them even disparage
formal theological education, as if
glib spiritual formulas, funny anecdotes and peppy worship music will
equip Canadian Christians to respond adequately to the political,
economic, sexual, artistic and
other issues of our day.
And that is the test – adequacy.
We Canucks don’t typically think in
extravagant terms. None of us will
say we need schools flush with
cash, or organizations with posh
headquarters, or churches offering
full-blown college or seminary
programs in their Christian education departments.
But we can agree to settle for
nothing less than adequacy –
enough in the way of personnel and
programs to help each of us think
Christianly about the main issues
of our lives.
Imagine being able to give a
compelling “reason for the hope”
within us (1 Peter 3: 15).
Imagine offering a well-considered defence of a Christian view
of complex issues such as sex, abortion, taxation and climate change.
Imagine forming beliefs in actual
accordance with the Word and
Spirit of God, and not just according to our own preferences.
Imagine becoming intellectually
adequate to represent Jesus Christ
in the complex day in which we live.
But let’s be absolutely clear. When
our thinking has to contend with the
daily messages purveyed by the likes
of the Royal Bank, the Government
of Canada, Apple, Exxon or Twenty-First Century Fox, “adequate” is a
high standard indeed.
We Canadian Evangelicals have
risen to the challenge before. By
God’s grace, let’s do it again. /FT
John Stackhouse is the Samuel J. Mikolaski
professor of religious studies and dean of
faculty development at Crandall University in
Moncton, N.B. His latest book is Need to Know:
Vocation as the Heart of Christian Epistemology
(Oxford University Press, 2014).
AND TO MAKE GOOD USE
OF THAT AMAZING BOOK,
AND TO LISTEN PROPERLY
TO THAT SUBTLE SPIRIT,
WE NEED MORE THAN YOUR
INTUITION OR MINE.