In another follow up to my post on church here, someone referred me to the ideas of Professor J. Smith, of Calvin College. He is a philosopher by background but has some interesting thoughts on the importance of the way we do church/education/everyday life, and how the way we do these things probably has more of an impact in teaching truths about the world than what we actually say. I think he challenges us to consider the emphasis we place on head knowledge rather than forming Christian disciples and ensuring that we aren’t just buying into the world’s way of doing things in the church.
He has a current book out called Desiring the Kingdom which I’m keen to read, but as a taster he gave some lectures at New College this year, which were quite thought provoking for me. You can download them here.
As a side note, I’m not sure I completely agree with all he has to say, but I do think that it’s a good challenge to our current culture where we think that if we teach people knowledge then they will act in accordance with that, and instead suggests that perhaps we need to be thinking more about the way we communicate truth. I wonder though if there may be a danger that we go too far and think that the way we do church will change a person without teaching any knowledge, a risk which is just as serious. Also, I’m not 100% sure what he means by ‘liturgy’ because I suspect he is coming from quite a different context when using this term. I don’t think he just means the prayer book, but that’s all I think of when I consider the term ‘liturgy.’ Thirdly I wonder if he’s a bit too philosophical about it all and may actually be spouting things which psychologists have known for a while. (I’m definitely not a psychologist but some of the things he described sounded a lot like CBT to me).
None the less, I think it’s worth a listen.