If we are to contend for the faith (Jude 1:3), we must actually know what we are defending. We should not only know what we believe, but why we believe it. In my experience, the rank and file Christian believer doesn’t know much about their own professed belief system. I believe this is one of the chief reasons evangelism is done poorly, if at all.
When I served as youth pastor at my church, I asked the youth group on several occasions, “If a non-Christian were to ask you what you believe, what would you tell them?” I’m sorry to say that I don’t recall a single instance of any of them giving a coherent answer. These kids were not dumb, but none of them had been consistently taught the basics of classical Christian doctrine and theology. The teens’ non-answers also told me that most of their parents could not have told me what they believed either. I did my best as a youth pastor to remedy the situation, and I hope my teaching rubbed off on the youth group.
Evangelical Christians need to renounce this embedded attitude that thinking is evil. God gave us brains because He intended for us to reason with them.
Jesus hates stupidity, this I know, for the Bible tells me so:
Psalm 92:5-6 ESV
How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!
The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this.
Proverbs 1:32 ESV
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
Ecclesiastes 2:13 ESV
Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
Isaiah 1:18a ESV
Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord…
Hosea 4:6a ESV
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you…
There are plenty more where that came from!
Even more importantly, because we Evangelicals claim that their highest authority on doctrine, theology, and Christian living is the Bible, we should actually read and know the Bible! Just open it up at home, at work, at school–even in *gasp* church!–and read it, study it, think about it, and apply it to our lives. As shocking as it may be to some of you, you don’t need a degree to understand Scripture. We can understand it without a pastor, priest, or theologian explaining everything to you (though they can be helpful when we come across something we don’t understand).
In fact, all believers in Christ are priests!
The priest is not made. He must be born a priest; must inherit his office. I refer to the new birth–the birth of water and the Spirit. Thus all Christians must become priests, children of God and co-heirs with Christ, the Most High Priest.