Friday, January 25, 2008

Rethinking the "gray" areas

While reading The Power of Healing by Francis MacNutt, I came across this quote by Dr. Paul Tournier: People who have the sort of mind that sees only one side to every question tend toward vigorous action. They succeed in everything they do because they do not stop to split hairs and have abounding confidence in their own abilities. your successful journalist, for instance, is inclined to simplify every problem and condense it into an arresting phrase. On the other hand, those with subtle and cultivated minds tend to get lost in a maze of fine distinction. They always see how complicated things really are, so that their powers of persuasion are nil. That is why the world is led by those who are least suited to raising its cultural and moral standards. It is only a very few who manage to combine both tendencies, and in my view a lively Christian faith is the best precondition for the accomplishment of this miracle, because it gives both profound understanding and simplicity of heart.

Following this quote, MacNutt goes on to discuss the "anti-intellectual bias" of which Pentecostals, in their simplification of healing doctrine, have been the victims. I have often been guilty of "anti-intellectual bias" (bias against anything that seems non-intellectual). However, life's experience has been teaching me that those who sacrifice absolutes on the altar of intellect, those who see ONLY the gray areas and scoff at the simple-minded concept of black and white, are ineffective as leaders and Christians. Quite frankly, their faith is unimpressive. Furthermore, they suffer from the arrogance they claim of their faith-preaching opponents. Is it not as arrogant and presumptuous to proclaim that there ARE no absolutes as it is to proclaim there are? At least the absolutes proclaimed by fundamentalists come from scripture; the gray areas proclaimed by "intellectuals" generally come from their own minds -- as if they are a higher authority. (I'm now speaking of some Christian intellectuals.) Isn't there more of a humility in accepting the blacks and whites given to us in scripture and leaving the complicated gray areas to God? In short, I am finding the intellectual and philosophical crowds to be as foolish looking, if not more so, than the fundamentalists from whom they distance themselves.