Bill Tammeus, a Presbyterian elder and former award-winning faith columnist for The Kansas City Star, says that the church should be embarrassed at the level of theological ignorance among the laity.
Almost 20 years ago, in response to what I saw as widespread biblical and theological ignorance among many people in the pews of Christian congregations, I began teaching a series of classes I called “Theology Even the Clergy Can Understand.”
It was a layperson’s examination of the basics of Reformed tradition (read Presbyterian) theology. I tried to cover such tiny subjects as God, Jesus, the Trinity, the Bible and the church.
I’ve been thinking about all of that recently because of some educational work I’ve been asked to consider helping with in my own congregation. In the process, I’ve reaffirmed my belief that we need to be able to articulate our faith in ways that reflect some effort to understand its complexities.
I’m not suggesting that people in the pews need to know how to compare and contrast the many theories of atonement or be able to discuss in detail the differences among amillennialism, premillennialism or postmillennialism.
But I do think it’s important to have read a few theologians or, at minimum, to have heard of them. I once served on a pastor nominating committee on which I was the only one to have even heard of Paul Tillich. It would be like Catholics never having heard of Karl Rahner — just heard the name, not even be able to describe anything about his theology.