For a few hours I had a post up called “Donald Miller is an Idiot” a response to his recent blog post entitled “Should the Church Be Led by Teachers and Scholars?” After some thoughtful reconsideration, I’ve decided that the post was too strongly worded. I take issue with Miller’s understanding of what a “scholar” and a “teacher” is. Quite frankly, I just don’t think that he could be more incorrect in his analysis of the church in this post.
But, I want to get to a broader point. There seems to be a dichotomy that is being promulgated by many: Christian Thought vs. Christian Experience. This dichotomy is absolutely false.
The reality is that Christian Thought does not preclude Christian Experience; nor does Christian Experience trump Christian Through. Rather, the two work hand-in-hand. At the beginning of Book 4 of Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis does an excellent job of explaining the usefulness of theology. This is how he chooses to introduces a series of chapters on the Trinity. He admits that it is always better to experience God rather than just read about him, just as it is always better to be at the beach than to look at a picture of one. However, sometimes we need to be reminded of what the beach is, and that’s why it’s good to have a painting or two.
In my experience, I have seen Christians climb to the mountaintop and fall deep into the valley. When we are in the valley, we tend to despair, and we even come to a point where we deny what we previously knew to be true. If we fail to understand and learn who God is and who we are in relation to him, then the climb up out of the valley becomes nearly impossible because there is nothing to stop us from denying him altogether.
There is a great need for scholars in Christian churches. There is a great need for teachers in Christian churches. There is a great need for teaching and learning and discussion in Christian churches.
Finally, I’d like to challenge Donald Miller a bit. What does he hope to do when he writes books and speaks at conferences? Is he not teaching? A picture from his website (seen below) looks conspicuously like the sort of thing he condemns in his blog post. A word to all those teachers out there: James 3.1.