Jaclyn and I are currently reading through Alan Hirsch‘s “The Forgotten Ways” together. What I love about this book is that it lays out what many have been saying and feeling for some time now: the church in the West must relate to the culture it finds itself in as cross-cultural ministries; no different than going to Africa or Asia where nobody has heard the Gospel. The basic thesis of the book is that there is a latent, primal force within every believer and church (Hirsch dubs this “Apostolic Genius”) that is ready to burst into missional engagement with the world, provoking a Jesus movement of evangelism and service much like the early church and the contemporary Chinese church.
He makes the point that the churches were forced to get down to the nitty gritty of what they were all about by the external pressure of persecution (but not just persecution). This simple core is then easily reproducible by anyone/any group, so the church thrives and multiplies with great speed and power.
It sounds all well and good, but the implication is this: complex and/or academic thinking has no place in the life of the church. This is not easily reproducible, and is more of a hindrance than a help to the mission of the church in the world. (Although Hirsch doesn’t say this, it surely is the implication.) As one currently engaged in academics towards future service within God’s church, this troubles me. I want to dismiss, but I can’t. It might be right.
I have some thoughts, but I’m going to hold off for a bit in the hopes of generating some discussion first. So, do academics get in the way of the mission of the church?