This morning a friend of mine down at Duke pointed out this postcard that was posted on Post Secret. (Post Secret is a community project where people from around the country anonymously mail in their secrets on a post card. The post cards are then either published online or in books that they periodically publish and sell. It really is a fascinating anthropological look at the lives and hearts of people in America.)
All that being said, I felt I needed to address the point that the young woman in the picture brings up. It is, in truth, an issue that I have thought about many times over the course of my tenure at seminary.
This is what I told my friend Maria in response...
"As crazy as it may seem, I think many of us have sensed the same possibility that this person has. I think it is often the result of reducing faith and God to a set of intellectual principles that are to be mastered and manipulated in the name of the academy. In my experience, the times that I have come closest to divorcing my intellectual knowledge of God and theology from a practical, living expression of the faith that is meant to embody those principles are the moments when I've felt most like walking away.
For me, mere intellectual possession of the faith is of significantly little value in a world where there is so much pain, suffering, and heartache. Only in the living out of the charismatic elements of our faith can the world hope to know the love, creativity, and beauty it was meant to have. Sometimes in seminary it is easy to go down the path of intellectual ascent by itself (because after all, it is still the academy) and in so doing, to lose hope of there being any real significance to all this “God talk”…which, as I have found, ends in the loss of any sort of personal belief and faith. Solitary religious intellectualism is, in my opinion, the Achilles’ heel of any theological education. In as much, may we ever desire to be enlightened in our studies, but, more importantly,
may we be empowered to live out and make manifest
the life transforming realities that faith brings to the world."