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Bumper sticker theology: We’re becoming anti-Bereans

Bumper sticker theology: We’re becoming anti-Bereans

Jeff Myers specializes in Christian worldview, apologetics, and leadership development. He is the author of several books, including The Secret Battle of Ideas about God and Unquestioned Answers, and is president of Summit Ministries. | (Courtesy of Jeff Myers)

Most of us have unanswered questions about our faith. Unfortunately, we also have unquestioned answers, beliefs we’ve come to hold without really thinking them through. Clichés such as “Just have faith” or “It’s not my place to judge” can keep our faith at a shallow level when God calls us to go deep.

The Apostle Paul said, “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16, ESV). To think like Jesus, we must move beyond flippant answers and showcase the thoughtfulness of the gospel in a culture hungry for meaning.

Christians Don’t Need Slogans to Share the Good News

While speaking at a conference I once found my book table located next to a company selling T-shirts with clever yet silly Christian slogans. One had a Budweiser beer logo but proclaimed “Be wiser.” Another imitated a fishing club logo and featured the phrase “Fishers of Men Catch and Release Club.”

Such t-shirts are like bumper stickers for your body. They’re attention-grabbing but offer little useful insight. I’m betting that for every person who says, “That’s cool!” there are ten who roll their eyes.

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Around the time of my encounter with the t-shirt company, I attended a summit for youth pastors headlined by a well-known Christian speaker. As he offered one boiled-down slogan after another, the audience would ooh and ahh and scramble for paper on which to record his insights. It was as if his being succinct somehow made him more profound.

Though this speaker wasn’t saying anything doctrinally wrong, my conversations with attendees left me with the impression that they were allowing him to do their thinking for them.

These two experiences served as a one-two punch to my confidence in Christian thoughtfulness. I began to wonder whether the church was really helping people have the mind of Christ, or just to accept the clichés offered up by Christian leaders.

We’re Becoming Anti-Bereans

Today’s church risks becoming the anti-Bereans, the opposite of the actual Bereans Paul commends for their eagerness to search the Scriptures and double-check the apostles’ teaching (Acts 17:11). By the time they got to Berea, Paul and Silas had become pretty good at communicating the gospel. But the Bereans didn’t just take their word for it. And the Apostles admired them for their thoughtfulness.

As a speaker, I appreciate a clever turn of phrase. But if I’m honest, I like tweetable insights mainly because they make people think I’m smart. It’s all about me.

In my book Unquestioned Answers, I describe how I’ve come to realize that I need to be rescued from this “me-ness.” Jesus needs to be at the center, not me.

Three Practical Things I’m Doing This Year to Have the Mind of Christ      

This year, I’m relearning the art of soaking in Scripture long enough to wash the “me-ness” off. Yes, I want to be an effective communicator, because I want to stimulate an insatiable appetite for the Word of God.

Here’s what I’m trying to do differently:

First, I’m spending a lot of time thinking through how to approach Scripture without putting myself at the center. Instead, I’m trying to focus on the context of the passage, asking questions about who it was written to and for what purpose.

Second, I’ve asked godly mentors to help me rightly divide the Word of truth (see 2 Tim 2:15, NKJV). What the text means “to me” should take a back seat to what God reveals about himself and His story of the world.

Finally, as much as I love a clever exchange, I am abandoning the idea that an idea is truer if it is catchier.

Bumper-sticker theology is not biblical theology. Now is the time to abandon the unquestioned answers that keep us in the shallows when God calls us to go deep.

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Jeff Myers, PhD, has become one of America’s most respected authorities on Christian worldview, apologetics, and leadership development. He is the author of several books, including The Secret Battle of Ideas about God and Unquestioned Answers, and is president of Summit Ministries. Jeff and his family live in Colorado. 

For over fifty years, Summit Ministries has equipped and supported rising generations to embrace God’s truth and champion a biblical worldview. Find out more at summit.org.

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