Saturday, October 23, 2010

What We Don't Know Can Hurt Us

I'm concerned that we simply do not know enough to engage in effective dialogue anymore. Ample evidence exists that we are uninformed about our faith and our form of government. This is an alarming reality as we face perhaps a watershed election in a little over a week. This apparent deficit of knowledge deserves some thought on our part.

A recent Pew Research Center Survey found that, while Americans are deeply religious, less than half of us know much about our faith. The study further revealed that atheists and agnostics know more about the Christian faith than professing Christians. We also learned that there is almost no difference in the knowledge of faith between those who attend church once or twice weekly and those who never attend church at all. We didn't see that one coming, did we?

Hold that thought as we reflect on recent commentary and critique of the political discourse in the present political campaign. In the Delaware Senatorial debates this week, there was a lengthy discussion about the Constitution. Candidate O'Donnell had difficulty explaining the purpose of certain amendments to the Constitution. The she asked her opponent, Mr. Coons, "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" The audience laughed. Her opponent then gave an uninformed response reflecting that neither he nor the audience knew that the doctrine of Separation of Church and State is not mentioned in the U. S. Constitution at all. In fact, when he was pressed on the point, Mr. Coons was unable to name the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Perhaps the most important fact in that exchange is that the audience laughed. Neither of these candidates was knowledgeable about the founding document of this Republic, but the audience did not know it.

We are practicing our faith and selecting our government in relative ignorance. There is no way we would tolerate this level of incompetence in our doctors, auto repair technicians, or electricians. Why is it less important to know what we are doing in making decisions of eternal sigificance? Unfortunately, too many of us are uninformed and apparently are content to be. God's word tells us in Proverbs 9:10 that fear or respect for God is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Proverbs 8:35-36 speaks of wisdom this way: "For whoever finds me (wisdom) finds life. But whoever fails to find me (wisdom) harms himself; all who hate me love death." Knowledge and understanding are given to those whose lives attempt to honor God. So one must wonder if there is a correlation between the apparent lack of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding in our world and our failure to even attempt to live in ways that honor God.

What do we do to change this fateful and fatal trend? (1) Read God's word and internalize the wisdom contained in it. Using these principles, build a life that honors God. If you need help or are not sure what passages in scripture mean, ask your pastor if you have one. If not find a church, and ask for the pastor. Don't leave until all of your questions are answered. Join us on Thursdays as we continue the study of Paul Thomas' book Falling Up: A Focus on Christian Honour. where we are discussing the tools necessary to build a life that honors God. (2) Vote. All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing. Learn what the candidates stand for. Vote for those who most closely exemplify a life that honors God. These are the people whom God would have us leading this land. But you know, God loves us enough to allow us to elect those who have no clue about our faith or our government. That would be terribly unwise, but God will let us do it.

1 comment:

  1. Fully agree. John Wesley encouraged us to search the scriptures in his Means of Grace sermon. Further, he says:
    And that this is a means whereby God not only gives, but also confirms and increases, true wisdom, we learn from the words of St. Paul to Timothy: "From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim. 3:15) The same truth (namely, that this is the great means God has ordained for conveying his manifold grace to man) is delivered, in the fullest manner that can be conceived, in the words which immediately follow: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;"
    We must take responsibility for knowing the basis for our faith.