It's not just that the U.S. Christian experience doesn't require deep thinking. It also discourages even basic situational awareness and wariness of being manipulated, almost to the point where gullibility is considered a spiritual virtue.The first part, we have talked about at length here. The deep thinking theologians of the past are gone from most American Christian's lives, to be replaced by Max Lucado and the Purpose Driven Life, or Prayer of Jabez. Those people may be genuine in their faith, I really don't know. But their approach is paper thin, and easily understood, which further leads to the idea that Christianity is easy and apparent.
But it is that second part that has me thinking. I know many, many, many people of faith, and consider myself one. But I have seen an increasing amount of this kind of gullibility masquerading as faith. We see it in our political figures all the time. But I think it has to do with the increasing emphasis on the "personal relationship" and a sharp decrease in both critical thinking and accountability. When it is all about the personal relationship, then when someone says, "God told me this" who can disagree? Who can say? And in fact, speaking to Leighton's point, questioning that is not a virtue, or about accountability, but rather discouraged. Those kind of pronouncements are meant to be greeted with nodding heads and "amens." Which has given us George Bush telling us that God told him to invade Iraq, and everyone in the GOP platform assuring us that God is their bestest buddy and the one from which they get all their insight and values. Like killing people. Or mocking the poor.
As a kid, I loved Louis L'Amour books, and probably read all of them multiple times. Cheesy, but fun, and in that vein, one of the characters was fond of saying, "Trust in the Lord, but keep your powder dry." The metaphor of taking care of what you could, while maintaining some faith in something bigger than yourself has always made sense to me. Because I don't want to dismiss completely the supernatural nor the issue of faith in the people around me. There are too many I respect who can speak to elements of that. But surely the critical thinking and groundedness has a place too.
Does God heal? I have no clue. I haven't ever seen it, but in the mode of our current language, any medical turnaround would be deemed God's healing. Any rational explanation is immediately dismissed. And in fact, as we have talked about here, faith is simply inserted in areas where the rational and logical explanation is unwelcome. Don't like evolution? That's ok. You can just insert faith instead and talk about what you believe or don't believe.
Does God communicate directly to people? I have no idea. He doesn't to me, but I am not so arrogant to assume that I am the norm. But I do know this. I can't even count the times that someone has said "God led me to this" that turned out to be a bad idea. But you can't question those callings or "words" from God, and seemingly, you can't even follow up after and just fess up that it wasn't God at all, but the little "me" that wanted to do that.
Because what passes for faith now is starting to really piss me off. It is the kind of faith that has millions of Christians sitting on their hands (or worse) while their representatives demonize the poor, celebrate the deaths of others, defend torture, and brag about destroying God's creation. If conservative Christianity can't see through that?