The Academic Conversation

by hamiltonmj1983

Recently, on an online forum that I occasionally take part in, I have noticed how people tend to look at the idea of an ongoing conversation discussing theology or biblical studies in a very negative light.

This thought came out of a discussion about Rob Bell and his new book. I noted that I felt like a discussion of the theology of the afterlife is important for the “conversation,” and nearly everyone disagreed with me, saying that a conversation should be a private thing, and not something “espoused” by pastors and theologians. It seemed to me that the people on this forum (nearly all non-academics) didn’t understand the idea of an academic conversation.

The people were especially opposed to the idea of a pastor or theologian asking questions, thinking that these roles should only give answers, because questions could “lead people astray.”

I want to know, has society as a whole, particularly the non-academic lay society, give up on the idea of critical thinking? Do people want pastors, theologians, and biblical studies professors to just give them solid answers, without challenging them to think for themselves?

What does that say for the future of Christians, both in ministry, academia, as well as the layperson in everyday life? I think keeping the threads of the conversation going is imperative, but do most of your average people disagree?