Quotes, Ramblings, Reading Reflections

On cognition, doctrine, and anthropology

While this model of the person as thinking thing assumed different forms throughout modernity, this rationalist picture was absorbed particularly by Protestant Christianity, which tends to operate with an overly cognitivist picture of the human person and thus tends to foster an overly intellectualist account of what it means to be or become a Christian… It is just this adoption of a rationalist, cognitivist anthropology that accounts for the shape of so much Protestant worship as a heady affair fixated on “messages” that disseminate Christian ideas and abstract values. The result is a talking-head version of Christianity that is fixated on doctrines and ideas, even if it is also paradoxically allied with a certain kind of anti-intellectualism. We could describe this as “bobble-head” Christianity, so fixated on the cognitive that it assumes a picture of human beings that look like bobble heads: mammoth heads that dwarf an almost nonexistent body. In sum, because the church buys into a cognitivist anthropology, it adopts a stunted pedagogy that is fixated on the mind. So rather than calling into question this reductionistic picture of the human person, the church simply tries to feed different ideas through the same intellectual IV. 

– James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, 42-43.

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