Monday, September 10, 2012

Dumbing Down Disciples

I'm really confused by the logic of the so-called religious powers that be. Wait! Let's start with an illustration ...

Little Billy is in the 5th grade ... for the twentieth time (which means he's now 30 years old). He just can't seem to understand the material and pass the tests (Insert 'Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?' jokes here). The local school board wants Billy to succeed, therefore they make a decision which will not only help Billy, but all the other little Billys out there. They decide to give him 2nd grade work. He passes all those tests successfully, and they gratefully pass him into the 6th grade. But knowing they cannot give him 6th grade work (because he didn't pass the 5th grade material), they continue to give him 2nd grade work ... all the way through middle school and high school, until Billy proudly walks across the stage holding his diploma ... a diploma that says he completed 12 grades, but in truth he simply repeated 2nd grade material eight times.

Now let's talk about today's Christians, who have sat in church for years and years yet have never grown in their spiritual understanding of the Scriptures. The KJV was too difficult to understand at a 12th grade reading level, so a board of scholars gathered to update the language and bring us the extremely accurate New American Standard Version at an 11th grade reading level. Still too much? People aren't growing? Let's make an easier version!

The New Internation Version was created at a 7th grade reading level ... and we've had it since 1978 ... yet the religious leaders still scratch their heads, wondering why no one's growing.

Two of the latest fads are The Message and The Story. These are being accepted as the next great thing among the churches. The Message - which isn't written by a team of scholars at all, but by one man (a Presbyterian minister) - brings God's Holy Word down to a manageable 4th grade reading level.

The Story takes a different approach. It uses the 7th grade NIV text, but chops out parts that are deemed difficult or redundant. Remember those Bible story books we had when we were children? You know, like three years old? They had pretty pictures and gave us a nice cheery view of God's world. The Story basically does the same thing, yet without the pictures (bummer). Doesn't the Bible specifically warn about not adding words or taking them away (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Revelation 22:19)?

Has anyone stopped to consider that the reason people are not growing is either A) because they really don't care to learn, or B) because they've been dumbed down to the point where they no longer have the ability to learn?

2 Timothy 4:3 (from the 11th grade NAS) says, "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires." Well, we're there, folks! Today's religious leaders are trained well ... in the same way as the parent of the unruly Wal-Mart child, who gives the screaming child whatever will shut them up the quickest.

Church leaders do not want grumbling church members - as it tends to hurt the attendance and offering - therefore when they complain they aren't understanding the message, the answer is to dumb it down. Give them an easier version of the Bible! Have the preacher give less Bible and more stories, jokes and illustrations! Give them a flashy Powerpoint! Bring on the drama team! Let's spend more time singing, and less time learning!

Why are people so eager to praise God with their mouths and hearts, but not with their minds? Jesus said (and I'll use the New International Reader's Version which is only a 3rd grade reading level, so that everyone will understand), "If you remain joined to Me and My words remain in you, ask for anything you wish. And it will be given to you. 8 When you bear a lot of fruit, it brings glory to My Father. It shows that you are My disciples" (John 15:7-8).

Disciple means learner. If someone's not learning from Christ, they are not a disciple of Christ. If a person does not have the word of God within them ("the seed is the word of God," says Luke 8:11), then they cannot possibly bear fruit.

So what's the answer? STOP DUMBING DOWN THE PEOPLE AND GIVE THEM THE WORD OF GOD!!! "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31-32, NAS). "STUDY to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

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