It was a cold raining night in the ER. I had just worked two back to back shifts at the trauma center and was entering into a third. On top of an exhaustive day, it was full moon. Now before you say anything, nights at the hospital in which the moon was also full, were simply crazy. Not long into the early morning hours the paramedics brought us a person who thought they were Jesus. Shackled to their stretcher, with a police escort the person went on to tell our whole team how they died for our sins, conquered death through resurrection and am now residing in Columbia, South Carolina. It couldn’t be true, are you kidding, Jesus would never live in South Carolina! Anyway, while working on our lively entertainment for the night, one of our residents made a statement, “I believe this patient is only using 10 percent of their brain.” A classic myth, yet even in a hospital setting many believed that most of humanity only uses a small portion of their brain, while the rest simply sits going untapped. The truth is each human uses 100% of their brain all the time. In a 2008 study done at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, neurologist Barry Gordon states, “Our research through functional imaging demonstrated that all our participants use 100% of their brain, yet very few ever take the time to develop their mind and thought processes, pushing them into new realms of processing and capability.”
This past week while reading The Sandal Of The Evangelical Mind by Mark A. Noll I was struck by the concept that American Evangelicals, though known for their activism and virtues, are not exemplary for their thinking. In doing so, often leaning hard into pragmatic practices, allowing their minds to be numbed by velocity. This velocity of life, meeting needs and even giving into ministry demands has caused a truncation in the development of the evangelical made. A great potential has been forfeited or even lost. While reading and processing Noll’s work on the “Evangelical Mind”, the following concepts emerged in how evangelicals often fall into the 10% brain myth.
3 Keys for Moving Deeper
Fear of the unknown… Most humans find comfort in that which is known. Certainly in all cases there exists some pioneers, but most enjoy safety, routine and even the warmth well worn slippers. In a similar way, pushing the envelope on studying different cultures, ideas, philosophies and even theologies can leave a person unsettled. Unsettled from the norm, and often facing the reality that what they have known and practiced for most of their life, may be inconsistent or wrong. Sometimes fear keeps the evangelical mind from experiencing its full potential.
The unhealthy thinker… We’ve all known “that Guy”! You know, the one who has to show everyone how much he knows. After having grown up and experienced American Evangelicalism for the past 41 years, I witnessed a form of intellectual relational abuse. Those who had intellect often used it to tear down rather than build up. The effects of the unhealthy thinker and their subsequent use of that knowledge, gave many in American Evangelical circles an unhealthy picture of the thinker. Subsequently, many avoided this pursuit all together.
I’m not capable… I’ve heard students say it for years, “I’m not as smart as…” And though at some level this may be true, we as humans can often compare for the purpose of giving ourselves permission to stay where we are comfortable. I have a good friend who seven years ago experienced a massive stroke. After all was said and done, he lost his ability to walk, speak and perform basic functions of life. Over the next year and half after the stroke, I watched him begin to walk, learn to speak and eventually return to the classroom as a Professor. All of our minds are capable of almost anytime if we take the time to develop them.
That evening at the hospital, we all had a good laugh, myths were debunked, Jesus was scanned and our first year resident had his mind expanded. Maybe our minds need expanded as well?