The title is not mine but comes from a series of articles I discovered late last year. While reading through the “Letters to Stagnant Christians,” I found them both convicting and insightful. The author, David De Bruyn, is a Reformed Baptist pastor in South Africa. Though the context in which he ministers might seem a world away, his “letters” prove that the same spiritual struggles stymie Christian growth and maturity across ethnic, national, and cultural boundaries.

I will repost these letters as long as he continues writing them. Here is a sample of the twelfth, followed by a link to the original article:

Dear Jeremy,

It’s always enjoyable to spend time discussing theology with someone like you. You have a very fertile imagination and a robust logic, which combine for stimulating conversation.

Your strength is also your Achilles heel. It is your intellectual aptitude that is your enemy when it comes to the things of faith. You are one of those Christians who gets “stuck in his head”, and hopes to think his way out of the problem. When he can’t, he assumes the only explanation must be that Christianity is faulty (for if it were not, his brilliance would have solved the mental conundrum, right?).

We call this the paralysis of analysis: the Christian who becomes immobile in his devotion, commitment, or even Christian relationships, because he has to “solve” the problem in his mind first. The problem can be of many kinds: how does Christian growth happen, how does prayer really work, how does God’s sovereignty correspond with human choice, how does God’s foreknowledge work with human sinfulness, why does evil exist in a world made by God, why are there so many religions, what happens to those who have not heard the Gospel, could there really be an eternal hell, or many other questions.

Now most thinking Christians face and tackle these questions in some form and at some point in their lives. The difference between them and you is that other Christians integrate these questions into the broader experience of being a Christian. The Christian experience is more than a mental, cerebral experience of problem-solving: it is a life of loving, obeying, serving, and worshipping. In your case, however, these questions become like errors in an equation that must be solved before proceeding one step further. You become fixated on them, chase them around and around, and become quite despondent if you are unable to resolve them in your head.

“Letters to Stagnant Christians #12: The Paralysis of Analysis”

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