In his book, “The Master and His Emissary – The Divided Brain and The Making of the Western World” Oxford Psychiatrist/Neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist describes how we have lost a part of our minds, literally. 

The right side’s ability to aggregate both the known and the perceived in understanding who we are and what makes us whole. His analysis concludes that Western society has essentially buried the right brain’s “integrated whole-picture” capability in exchange for the comfort of taking only what can be seen and tallied as socially rational.  

This is not a book pleading for a restoration of feelings and fuzziness. McGilchrist’s is saying that by shunning the fuller picture available only in the right brain’s aggregate meta-narrative, (which includes inputs from the left side…) we get a less complete view of life. And says McGilchrist, society is the worse for this truncated clinging to logic/fact-only as reality.  

How congruent is your pursuit of Christ? What forces shaped you spiritually, and what’s catechizing you these days in your life as a disciple? 

The more time I spend looking at my life in Christ, the more hypocrisy and denial I see in my past. This isn’t written as a guilt trip or some kind of reparational angst though. Christ died for me, and my sins are covered.

The point I want to make today is that as Western believers, we live with significant blinders on in our daily life to some things amiss with us, all the while shining bright lights on other things we may see as vile and heretical. Examples? For one, consider how Western disciples view the accumulation of wealth and the work ethic it engenders as good and virtuous, while we condemn 

Social norms have blinded and deafened us to Christ’s way of living, and time embeds the tolerance of the two in our lives as routines. The result? A cognitive spiritual dissonance in our discipleship hacks away at our operating systems, making us in many ways mute, deaf or blind to some things, whilst keenly woke on others. We talk extensively about this phenomenon in our book The Disciple Dilemma.

I just returned from a tour of discipling initiatives in New England, courtesy of the Cecil B. Day Foundation. Over four days we met with a Seminary, a Christian College, Pastors and six parachurch discipling ministries. 

All of these organizations and their people were gracious, sharp, focusedand concerned. What I took away from four days of dialog with Christian leaders is that many believers in the modern Western world today labor under mythologiesabout who they are in Christ. Perhaps an even more a more daunting takeaway is the near unanimous affirmation that it is difficult being a pastor or minister to people like us (!) in the Western world.

New England was the launching platform of America’s Christianity. Yet that legacy has struggled, with some accounts saying more than 90% of churches in the Northeast are struggling to simply survive. There’s a lot of inertia to overcome. 

Bright spots for me were in seeing the quality of education being delivered by Christian Seminaries and Colleges, along with a vast array of tools and activities served up by parachurch teams in training and online learning for the individual believer and for pastors.

Where do we go from here? The short answer is we have to change the culture of modern discipleship. 

Christian culture is the nearly-exclusive turf of leaders, like you. Only leaders can change a culture. So here’s the truly unfair ending today: this dilemma is not your fault, but it is your responsibility. Are you ready to take on the dilemma?

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© 2024 Dennis Allen | Morgan James Publishing

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January 2022 segement: Catch and Release Christianity