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ETpro's avatar

Should US pastors do a better job of teaching their faithful?

Asked by ETpro (34461points) September 28th, 2010

According to a new study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, US Christians don’t know a great deal about what they profess to believe. Note, you might need to scroll down to find the article’s text.

In the study, American atheists/agnostics actually scored highest of any studied group regarding Christian theology and the other great religions of the world. The Jewish faith scored second and Mormons third, with other denominations below them and Catholics bringing up the bottom. This probably makes for a flock that’s easily led, or misled. But does it build a firm foundation for the future of religion in America? In a world where technology and knowledge are becoming ever more dominant, how long can willful ignorance prevail?

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48 Answers

DrBill's avatar

They need to do more teaching and less preaching.

Most are just lazy and “preach” about the same dozen things over and over, rather than “teaching” about the entire religion.

JustmeAman's avatar

In time they (they being technology and spiritual information) will be joined and yes the pastors need to do a better job in teaching and if they will teach correct principles then they will learn faster and keep what they have learned.

Discobitch's avatar

Teaching them what exactly?

JustmeAman's avatar

Doesn’t matter the religion teach them correct principles and then let them govern themselves.

Discobitch's avatar

Hold on. Either one teaches someone a principle, or one lets him govern himself.

Teaching someone a moral principle is exercising power upon that person.

JustmeAman's avatar

Not at all if one teaches that it is a good principle to be honest in your dealings then one can go and apply that in their life thus governing themselves.

JustmeAman's avatar

The same holds true for your children and your responsibility as a parent. You try and teach them correct principles and as they become of age they will govern themselves.

Discobitch's avatar

If one follows a principle taught by someone, then the teacher is exercising power upon the one who has been taught.

“Governing themselves”? Upon what data?
One needs data to have a view of the world, and to be able to make decision.

He who controls the data input into the minds of the people has control over them.

JustmeAman's avatar

That is simple not so. If you read or learn that doing something works best by doing it the way you have been taught or read about then who or what is exercising power over the other? In your observation we all are causing and have power over us and over others. This simple is not the case we can choose for ourselves and what we learn is how we usually react.

Discobitch's avatar

We are all indeed having power over us and over others.

A man alone on a street has no direct power applied upon him.
But then… a pretty girl enters the street. You will see the man walking more straight and correct his clothes. There is power.

Then there is this “choose for ourselves” part of your post.
Choose how? How does your choice-mechanism work? Is it a dice? A roulette?
Or do we choose on the basis of input data, evaluating all of them as good as we are able to and picking an outcome based on the evaluations?

JustmeAman's avatar

You are making it way to complicated. Do the KISS keep it simple stupid and it makes much better sense. By and by we know what is good and what is not and as we experience life it becomes even more clear.

Discobitch's avatar

Your posts frequently contain grammatical errors.

Discobitch's avatar

Besides, simple approaches to complex problems tend to be very limited and incomplete.

Discobitch's avatar

Grammar and spelling errors can be confusing, since the nonplacement of one punctuation mark, the misplacement of one letter of the misuse of a word can change the meaning of a sentence.
Even when not so, mentally correcting such errors takes up time that can be used to contemplate a new answer.

JustmeAman's avatar

Still so what?

Discobitch's avatar

It is disrespectful, since you might by negligence confuse your conversation partner, as well as force him to waste time to mentally correct errors.

CMaz's avatar

Time to stop selling on the steps of the church.

JustmeAman's avatar

Still makes no difference. The meaning does come out and I make mistakes as does everyone.

Discobitch's avatar

The fact that everyone does something is not a green card to do it.

JustmeAman's avatar

Still doesn’t matter at all.

JustmeAman's avatar

See argument for argument sake. I wanted to see how far you would take something so unnecessary.

Discobitch's avatar

You do mean, “for argument’s sake”, I presume?

JustmeAman's avatar

Thanks for proving it.

Discobitch's avatar

It could mean something else. Sake is a Japanese drink.

JustmeAman's avatar

Thanks again.

Discobitch's avatar

That one was mistake-free. Excellent.

Discobitch's avatar

Yawning in public is not polite, sir.

JustmeAman's avatar

Again I make my point you only want to argue not really find or seek. There is knowledge available to anyone that wants it.

Seek's avatar

Wow. After all that pointless bullshit I forgot what the question was.

Discobitch's avatar

Not true. I do not want to argue.

The problem with arguments is that they serve as a weapon for defending the opinions one holds. A good, coherent and complete vision might fall if the opposing vision has arguments that speak for it that can be formulated in a more powerful way.
Arguments are not visions. Arguments are soulless pieces.

But you told me to keep things simple and stupid. Some things can be simple, yes, but not obvious to see. If you will wave off things as being too complicated, you will fall victim to the vice you blame me for.

Seek's avatar

Debate is all well and good. All that crap up there? That was you two being needlessly snippy with each other.

[Non-mod, but will still kick your ass says:] Let’s get back on topic, please,

Discobitch's avatar

Gentlemen,

If you have forgotten the question, you can scroll up to the top of the page to re-read it. Scrolling can be easily done if you have a scrolling wheel on your mouse, which has to be rotated away from you in order to reach top of page.
If lacking said wheel, please use the scrolling bar at the far right of the screen. Press the “up” arrow, or click the bar and drag it up without releasing.

JustmeAman's avatar

I agree @Seek_Kolinahr and I got caught up in it. Sorry about that to all other jellies.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Yes, they should. I grew up with parents who are very intellectual about their beliefs, but most Christians I meet actually don’t know that much about what they believe. They are entirely unable to argue whether or not God is ethical, because they are not aware of what makes something ethical or otherwise beyond what the Bible says. I once had some JWs come to the door, and they could not understand how I didn’t find their portrayal of heaven appealing, let alone convincing.

Many atheists, like myself, tend to reject Christianity for intellectual reasons. Christians generally want to appeal to emotion though, for example the typical emotional blackmail of “won’t you accept Jesus’ amazing gift of salvation?” I certainly think Christians should be more educated about their beliefs, if only so we can debate on the same level.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

GQ’ed. It would seem they risk educating members of their flock into the very category that rejects them.

ETpro's avatar

@DrBill Thanks for your thoughts.

@JustmeAman & @Discobitch Thanks for the spirited debate. Please forgive me if I just prop my feet up and watch you two duke it out. :-)

@Seek_Kolinahr Thanks so much for bringing this back on topic. I really did want to hear answers to and discussion of the OP.

@FireMadeFlesh Perhaps that is the strategy at work. It’s awfully difficult to win a debate with someone whose position is essentially, “It’s true because the Bible says it’s true/” And that tautology is all the more ridiculous when the person putting it forward doesn’t really know what the Bible says.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@ETpro I don’t think there is any particular strategy at work. I just think it is indicative of the sort of person that generally believes. I know I am overgeneralising here, but religion lends itself to emotion more than logic. Those who use logic realise the problems with religion, and those who use emotion remain loyal because they don’t consider other points of view as potentially valid.

iamthemob's avatar

Pastors shouldn’t advocate or teach anything. They should allow for the truth.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@iamthemob Interesting comment. If a pastor did not push the doctrines of their particular faith, what would their purpose be? I’m sure they mostly believe what they are promoting is truth though, so they believe they are advocating and teaching the truth. Is that a problem?

Jabe73's avatar

@iamthemob Ha ha I actually agree with you.

@ETpro Trying to stick to your question here I find this to be a tough one to answer. There are different Christian denominations, beliefs and even bibles (not to mention how each denomination interprets each/or which bible). The only real thing that most of these seem to have in common is that in order to get to heaven or have eternal life is to teach that we are all sinners and Jesus payed the price so all who accept they are sinners who fall short of the glory of God by placing their faith in Jesus (who payed this debt for us). Outside of this anything seems to go. Some Christians interpret the bible in a way that promotes “soul sleep” until Judgement Day where the believers will inherit the earth and the wicked/or unbelievers will be annihilated, not tortured in hell forever. You have others who teach the existance of an eternal hell of suffering. Some believe paradise will be on earth and others believe this paradise will be in heaven. I could go on and on with this and type bible quotes supporting each of these ideas. This is the problem here, what should Christian pastors actually teach? Which is the correct way? Which bible? How should they interpret each bible?

ETpro's avatar

@Jabe73 Is it any wonder they are confused. Still, I’ve seen the list of questions. They are pretty simple. I knew the answers to all of them, and I am agnostic.

Seek's avatar

It is said by some that if you are not an atheist, you’re not reading the Bible correctly.

My own life is a testament to that statement.

I think many Christian religious leaders intentionally discourage their flocks not so much from reading the scripture, but from “interpreting” it. That is, drawing a meaning from the scripture other than the ideal of the denomination. How many times have we (as non-believers) quoted a scripture only to hear “You’re reading that out of context!”

Now, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average American reads at an 8th grade reading level, 1 in 5 read at a 4th grade level, and 2 in 5 elder Americans and people of minority groups read at a 4th grade level or below. According to Wikipedia, the King James Bible reads at either a 12th grade reading level (secular source) or an 8th to 10th grade level (Baptist source).
According to the Pew Forum, six-in-ten Americans age 70 and older are Protestant. Latinos 70 and over account for one in eight Catholics, and full half of all Catholics aged 18–29. Black Americans are the ethnic group most likely to profess dedication to a religion, and even if they are unaffiliated with a particular church, will say that religion plays a “somewhat important to very important” role in their lives.

What this tells me is that the very people that are religious are the ones least capable of understanding what is written in the Bible.

This would also explain why 44% of all American adults are leaving the faith they were “born into” in favor of another denomination, and why 28% of all Americans are leaving their religion for another, or none at all.

everephebe's avatar

@Discobitch & @JustmeAman:

Are you aware of the comment privately option?

Jabe73's avatar

@ETpro I got the Buddhist question wrong but all the others right. I know you are not religious and got all the questions correct, probally because you are not confined to any certain religious belief being correct. Lets face it, people are more likely to know more about their own religion than another.

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