“If you see something we’re doing that can be disproved by the Bible, then please tell us.”
“Read God’s word with an open heart and an open mind.”
Both of these statements sound good, but they are typically said with the assumption that we have it all figured out and you don’t.
What happens when you come across something that doesn’t seem to line up with your tradition? What happens when you ask questions that come from honestly reading the Bible?
Unfortunately, these questions and doubts are often perceived as attacks. This leads those in authority to become defensive, dismissive, and even divisive. This discourages others from asking questions and can lead to many being afraid to participate in Bible class, except for the occasional comment parroting something they know to be safe to say.
Those few who really try to study for themselves, as they are encouraged to do, are accused of being “so open minded that their brains fell out” or of “throwing out the baby with the bath water.”
As Carlton Pearson says, one has to learn to distinguish between the baby and the bath water, and many aren’t good at doing that.
In the age of the internet when information is unlimited, both good and bad, questions should be expected. A healthy church is one that encourages questions but also empowers its members to answer their own questions through teaching them how to research.
This doesn’t mean only allowing “approved sources” as the comic above indicates, but educating people on how to find quality resources through examining source material, qualifications of the author, and by reading far and wide.
For the church to survive, those in leadership must not just give answers but teach their members how to find answers. This means allowing for diversity of opinion and encouraging unity despite varying conclusions. The days of blind conformity are coming to an end as more become aware of the wealth of information at their fingertips.
So instead of discouraging thinking through disparaging remarks like the title of this post, encourage others to think outside their tradition’s box and try to find answers for themselves.