Saturday, January 31, 2009

Beyond Discernment

Scan through the brochures all  around promoting theological workshop, seminar, forum, etc. Tell me I'm wrong, but the objectives of these sessions are almost always about 'raising a generation of discerning believers'.

Discernment. Knowing truth from falsehood (and being able to detect the latter even when lodged within the former). Being sensitive to the message of God, knowledgeable of correct Biblical exegesis (or at least know when it's veering off an accepted trajectory).

Discernment. This word virtually encapsulates 'Christian thinking' in some circles today. All other words are mere variations of this one, which is to say that 'Christian thinking' is about ONE thing only: Knowing the truth.

Sigh. That's the plan. To create men and women who go around being able to point out what's wrong and right with what people are saying about God and the world (including, yes, those who use the Bible).

Honestly, it depresses me. 'Raising a generation of discerning believers', IMO, is much less exciting-missional-inspiring-stimulating than nurturing: 
  • creative/innovative believers
  • explorative/investigative believers
  • curious believers
  • believers interested in learning about other faiths/worldviews, their data-perspectives, their arguments and their networks of convictions? (okay, I confess I've seen this on one or two brochures before, but these are almost all restricted to Roman Catholic-organised inter-faith dialogues?)
  • believers able to accept paradoxes and synthesize multiple (even contradictory) ones
Of course I'm all for discernment (who isn't?), but if I didn't know the Christian community better, I might start to feel we absolutely abhor creative thinking about theology. Do we?


Sensei Michael said...

Perhaps "discerning" believers are best able to think creatively and see other viewpoints? An oxymoron?

Alwyn said...

i pretty much doubt that, Michael :)