Over at Les's Blog, in a discussion regarding homosexuality, where I was a rare voice suggesting that homosexuality isn't always a sin, one of the commenters suggested that the Bible was simple.
That is one of my annoyances with the modern conservative church--the intellectual decline. Perhaps I am influenced by Noll's Scandal of the Evangelical Mind but this argument that the "Bible says what it says and means what it says" is damn near a nonstarter. This faith, say what you will, is a complicated and difficult one. Turning it into a simplistic faith has not helped us. Elements might be relatively simple, but overall, it is complex.
Simple was the way to avoid tradition, training, intellectual rigor, etc. No need for "book learning" and all you needed was a lay preacher who could read the Bible. Wow, that has really served us well, hasn't it? Given us slavery, segregation, anti-feminist rants, capitalism masked as faith, and even a cottage industry eschatology that has spurred a horrible foreign policy.
Ideas are not everything, nor is intellectualism. I am not suggesting that. But Christian thinkers used to influence more than the faith. They were respected as thinkers by others. CS Lewis comes to mind as the last one I can think of. Christianity has turned to their own versions of Deepak Chopra or insular notions of theology that are never read outside.
I really think we need Christian thinkers now more than ever. We need people to grapple with global poverty, environmental problems, and the issues of wealth and capitalism. Where are they?