Can Fundagelicals learn? The answer depends on how you define learning. If you define learning as acquiring a set of facts, then yes, Fundagelicals learn. If you define learning as acquiring understanding, then no, Fundagelicals don’t learn.
I might be a little bias because I work in an academic setting. I work with people who are constantly seeking understanding. I have heard thousands of college lectures over the years, and I’m always impressed when I hear a professor say, “New evidence has changed what we know about _____.”
The ability to take in new evidence, to re-evaluate old beliefs, and to humbly admit we don’t know it all is the mark of real learning. This was brought home to me a few days ago as I was reviewing some notes on John Boswell’s two books Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, and Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe. Boswell was addressing the change that happened in fourteenth-century Europe that led the Church to become rabidly anti-homosexual. In the footnotes, he admits he tried to formulate why, and he also says that his ideas were not generally accepted and that he doesn’t feel as strongly about them now. The ability to reflect and change that Boswell shows is why the world of academia can learn but Fundagelicals cannot.
Fundagelicals have a literal and inerrant view of the Bible. They believe that every word in the Bible should be read literally, (Except the parts that shouldn’t be) and that the words in the Bible are God’s actual words written down. Fundagelicals acquire a set of facts and then proceed to pass that set on to future generations. This set of facts must be defended and never questioned. Revision is not allowed.
In the late 1970s, the Fundagelical view of homosexuality was decided. They believe it is a choice: it is a sin; and that it is wrong. Despite mounting evidence of mistranslations, incorrect application of scripture, and increased understanding of how people are born homosexual, the Fundagelicals refuse to change their view.
For Fundagelicals, their teaching on homosexuality can’t be reevaluated, reconsidered, or revised. If they reevaluated their view, it would be an admission that they don’t have all the facts handed to them by God. It would be an admission that their set of facts may be “alternative facts.” New books are published every year on by Fundagelicals on the topic of homosexuality, but these books are nothing more than regurgitation of the same old “facts” dressed up in new language. In the simplest of terms, Fundagelicals can’t learn. If you can’t revise ideas to achieve a better understanding of the universe, you can’t learn.
It took the Vatican 350 years to pardoned Galileo for his heresy that the earth traveled around the sun. One small step towards learning and understanding. Is it any wonder that Fundagelicals are so anti-academic? They claim that colleges and universities are hotbeds of liberalism that are full of atheists who want to destroy your Christian faith. Apparently, they are unaware of how many of those liberal teachers are Christians. For them, learning involves fides quaerens intellectum.
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