If you want to make a point right off the bat, title your book, “The Coddling of the American Mind.” In fact, it is this message that is the main principle that my entire dissertation is being based up; is it possible that even the church as a whole has become so consumed with reaching people that they too have created “terrible ideas” of doctrine, simply as a means of appealing to the masses, rather than clinging to the Gospel? For the purpose of my own project, I address the failure of baptism theology as it is being taught today, though I would venture to believe that there are many more issues facing the church, which as the authors stated, “that these great untruths are bad for everyone.” Furthermore, I agree that “anyone who cares about young people (actually all people), education (Christian education), or democracy (though my issues regards true Christianity), should be concerned about these trends.”
Before addressing what I agreed with further, I would first like to address one of my biggest disagreements with this text; it regards the third of the “Great Untruths” discussed early on in the book; “the Untruth of Us Verses Them.” Though I recognize that once again, this is also not a religious oriented book, this is one doctrine I wish was being taught more emphatically to both young and old alike today. Without stepping on Mike’s toes; if Ephesians 6:10ff is not a call to Christian arms, reminding God’s people that they are in a war for the soul…not against flesh and blood, but against the Prince of Darkness himself, then what is it? We have coddled this generation so much that we are scared to call out sinful behaviors and wickedness. When I was in basic training in the Army, we cleaned our rifle every single day, so that when the battle finally came, we would be fully prepared for combat. I fear that our youth have been convinced that this whole God/Devil thing is more of a fairy tale than truth; and for that reason, when the fight becomes real for them, they will not be ready.
What I did like about this reading…well…sort of…was the repeated accountability to wisdom. So why the “sort of?” Well, the worldly definition of wisdom and the biblical view of wisdom are not the same thing. When we see Solomon address wisdom in the book of Proverbs, he personifies it as though it was someone we should desire to form a personal and very intimate relationship with.
“To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion—a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding with attain wise counsel…the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The modern church has become consumed with simplicity rather than accuracy. Our bibles are now “easy to read,” “politically correct,” “updated and revised,” “gender-neutral,” “deity-generic,” and even as one person put it to me, “less offensive.” Since when did we accommodate human over God? You see, my definition of wisdom…at least as I see it, is to seek the mind of God; what does He call for us to do; how does He expect us to act; what does He say is good and acceptable? It is for this reason that I love the idea that someone is pushing for more wisdom; I just wish it was the same wisdom I wished we were all pursuing.
I also appreciated the fact this this book was calling out the act of “Overprotection.” In this regard, the book read, “Parents who reject overparenting and give their kids more freedom can actually be arrested.” Now, out of context this could be confusing; but here is the reality of the way our world views poor parenting; it is a punishable offense because it places the child(ren) in harm to be overly coddled. Sometimes we work so hard to protect someone from something…all in the name of love…that we have failed to actually prepare them to face danger when it finally strikes. What happens to children raised on sweets, but not required to eat healthy things? Any variety of health issues can erupt from poor eating habits. The rational is that the parents loved their kids and did not want to force them to eat things they didn’t like; however, their job was not to spoil their kids…it was to raise their kids properly…healthily. The same is true with spiritual food; the church is not here to make the people happy; it is here to equip it for the fight that is before them. Paul wrote, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” A church that is great at accommodating the whims of their people, rather than giving them what they actually need, are not helping those Christians to grow; but rather, they are making them weaker and unprepared for the real battle at hand.
What does that all have to do with my dissertation though? My study on baptism is set to show that the church is teaching it incompletely. It demonstrates that the main message being sent out is one that tells believers that it is only a means of showing others that you are a Christian; but that is wrong! My research will demonstrate that baptism is so much more than that; in fact, it serves not just one, but many important and special roles in the Christian relationship to God. To “protect” or “coddle” at this point is dangerous to the those who believe, and yet do not see the importance of baptism…a practice that Christ Himself found important enough to demonstrate through His own ministry and commands. How many other areas of biblical instruction have we neglected, abbreviated, or even removed altogether, simply because the masses deemed it so?
Haidt, Greg Lukianoff & Jonathan. The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.New York: Penguin Press, 2018.
Haidt, Greg Lukianoff & Jonathan. The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.New York: Penguin Press, 2018.P. 4.
Ibid, p. 5
Proverbs 1:1-7 (with some emphasis).
Haidt, p. 171.