Earlier today I was browsing through my social media and stumbled upon an article about the “dangers” of reading the works of Watchman Nee. Watchman Nee was a pastor and Martyr for the gospel of Jesus Christ in China. If you are interested in Watchman, I suggest you look him up and read some of his works. My favorite is his book “The Normal Christian Life”. Either way, the article very much bashed Brother Nee in the most respectful and kind way possible. They used words to describe him like, “a confused Christian mystic.” Their claims were that his writings were at best difficult to understand because he never came to a solid conclusion as to what he believed in his writings.
Though I like Brother Nee’s writing, and love the saints in China I am not here to defend him. My problem is actually not the opinion of the man who wrote the article, but the condition of the church which lead to such writing in the first place. After reading the article and the comments after I became ill to my stomach. When did Christianity become an intellectual pissing match between believers. It seems that there are more and more articles out there about who’s ideals on doctrine and denominationalism are right in stead of the gospel and a life lived for and in Christ. It is my opinion that the Holy Spirit has taken a backseat to theological training in a manmade and run institution of higher learning. In its purest form, the seminary is a wonderful thing that provides Christians tools in ministry, however I believe that it has stopped doing this and created a large community of overly intellectual bookworms and less and less active disciples of Christ.
No wonder the church in America is struggling so bad. We have lost the idea of the “priesthood of the believer” and created a chasm between the clergy and laity that can only be bridged by seminary. All of the sudden, those with the degree are closer and more qualified to not only hear from God, but speak for Him. Those who are less educated in the scriptures have no authority and no place in the pulpit or any form of ministry outside of teaching what some intellectual has written for them to teach on Sunday mornings or in small groups. No one feels like they can hear from God directly and certainly do not have what it takes to serve Him in the way He calls them to.
The Christian life is simple and reproducible. We have created a climate where a person with no degree in theology not only doesn’t feel worthy to teach God’s word, but wouldn’t be taken seriously if they did. When I read articles that criticize a brother in Christ who not only dedicated his life to Christ in service of the word, but spent many years of his life imprisoned for it and ultimately killed in the name of Jesus, written by people whose lives are spent comfortably behind their desk with their noses in commentaries it makes me sick. Anything that challenges the Americanized version of Christianity with its divisive denominationalism makes Christians in America uncomfortable and critical.
Again, my problem (though it may seem) is not with the author of the article and his opinion. My problem is with the condition of the church in that education is held in higher regard than a life lived in the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit as a gift from God who leads us into all truth and sanctifies us, not our education and study of the written works of man. May the Spirit take precedence in our lives and no longer be overshadowed and quenched by the intellectual ascent of man.