Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Intelligence / Emotion Dialectic

I've had some interesting conversations with some uber-smart people lately. The question we have pondered together is "why is our church shrinking?" In some cases, the conversation has centered around a local congregation. In others, we are talking about shrinkage in mainline denominations.

One discussion turned toward finding models of ministry that appear to be growing in size, depth, finances, etc. "What about the Pentecostal church?" one person asked. Here was my answer:

I used to think that their only lure was theology. The evangelical / pentecostal / conservative Christian perspective deals in absolutes - right/wrong, black/white, saved/unsaved, gay/straight, etc. Lots of people (especially Americans) want hard and fast answers to their problems. The dialectical tension offered by Lutherans only makes their lives messier in that sense. However, I wonder if it isn't just their theology that is attractive. They are able to tap into genuine emotions of joy, fear, contentment, sadness, and hope that left-brained Lutherans will talk about, but are often unable to authentically stir up.

I invite you into the conversation. Do Lutherans (and other mainlines) suffer from a lack of emotional spirituality? Are we exalting the benefits of intellectualism to the neglect of our raw feelings? Is it a problem to favor "smarts" over "hearts"?

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