If you took one look at the title of this article and said “Big words; forget it. I’m outta here!”, then read on, because this is for you!

How easily we run from what we do not understand. How little we persevere to penetrate apparent adversity. How far we have gone in our bid to water things down, to dilute difficulty, to make things so simple that they no longer carry their original meaning.

The human mind has become a victim of the ‘Lowest Common Denominator syndrome’. If something taxes people’s minds it is perceived as a threat, revealing their ignorance. Thus an artless reductionism and anti-intellectualism has come to pervade the cultures of the world, and has especially been perfected in the culture of the visible Church.

In this brief article, it is my purpose, firstly, to define the primary instruments of learning and, secondly, to examine the various influences in the world and in the Church which have acted as deterrents against our learning process.


How do people learn? There are three primary, and complementary, instruments of learning:

1.    Learning Through Example

The first instrument of learning is example. From the very beginning we are involved in the process of mimicry and imitation. At the tenderest age we smile out from our crib when mother smiles into it. We are patterns of our parents. Later we are influenced by successive peer groups whose role modelling carries great sway in our lives. God frequently teaches us by the instrument of example, through those people He places in our pathway throughout our lives, and also through the influence of characters and events in the Scriptures, as these two examples show:

“These things took place as examples to keep us from craving evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written: ‘The people sat down to eat and to drink, and got up to indulge in revelry.’ We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did, and were killed by snakes. And do not complain, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel. Now these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come. So the one who thinks he is standing firm should be careful not to fall”. 

First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 10, verses 6-12

“For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope”.

Letter to the Romans, chapter 15, verse 4

2.   Learning Through Experience

A second instrument of learning is what is known as heuristics. The word “heuristic” comes from the Greek word eurisko, which means “to find or discover” (e.g. Gospel of Luke, chapter 19, verse 48). The well-known word eureka is related to it. This involves the process whereby we make discoveries through the experiences of life — learning by trial and error. Like the instrument of example, learning through heuristics begins at a very early age and lasts throughout our lives. In order for this instrument of learning to be productive, one must be open to its lessons. God frequently teaches us through our experiences: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now I keep Your word” (Book of Psalms, 119, verse 67). Plus this neat example:

“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who have been trained by it”.

Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 11

Some people never seem to learn from their experiences, which is sloppy living!

3.   Learning Through Instruction

A third instrument of learning is what is known as didactics. The word “didactic” comes from the Greek word didaskalia, which means “teaching” in the sense of objective instruction (e.g. Letter to the Romans, chapter 12, verse 7). Didaktos is an adjective meaning “instructed” or “taught”, e.g. in Jesus’ words, “It is written in the Prophets: ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from Him comes to Me” (Gospel of John, chapter 6, verse 45). This involves objective teaching. It is not enough for us to learn by example or by the process of heuristics. We need practical, concrete instruction too. A child can easily learn by experience that a radiator is too hot, or a knife is too sharp; but s/he must be taught by objective instruction, rather than by example or experience, that s/he must not cross the road when cars are approaching. Didactic instruction implies authority. It indicates that there is one who knows better, one who possesses impartible wisdom. It also demonstrates that there is one whose ignorance must be exchanged for illumination.

4.   Instruction in the Sacred Texts is Didactic

Three classic texts in support of this are: “Take note of anyone who does not obey the instructions we have given in this letter. Do not associate with him, so that he may be ashamed.” (Second Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 3, verse 14). Then this:

“At the end of your life you will groan when your flesh and your body are spent, and you will say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my mentors. I am on the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly”.

Book of Proverbs, chapter 5, verse 11-14

And this: “Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create divisions and obstacles that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Turn away from them” (Letter to the Romans, chapter 16, verse 17). Didactic learning protects us from more than we may imagine.

The Lord Jesus taught didactically. He stood up and opened His mouth, and the people gathered round and listened — for hours on end, if needed! In those days, the people did not need multimedia experiences with laser displays in order to grasp a message (not that they now grasp it even with such displays!). They had not made the stupid discovery that a man and a Bible at a pulpit is the biggest bore in the universe. They had not yet been deceived by visual imagery to such an extent that a talking head is viewed as archaic and immobile. They had not yet been infected with the virus of self-esteem, which dictates that a person must not be subjected to feelings of ignorance by the obvious knowledge of an authoritative teacher. Furthermore, in those days, ‘soundbites’ were regarded as unsatisfactory vehicles for spiritual messages. Instead, in those days,

“On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could listen and understand. So Ezra read it aloud from daybreak until noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate, in front of the men and women and those who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for this occasion. At his right side stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, and at his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. Ezra opened the book in full view of all the people, since he was standing above them all, and as he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and with their hands uplifted, all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law as they stood in their places. So they read from the Book of the Law of God, explaining it and giving insight, so that the people could understand what was being read”.

Book of Nehemiah, chapter, 8, verses 2-8

Now that is didactic instruction. Imagine if this was to happen today: Old Ezra would be accused of being on an ego trip! Surely, anyone who needed to “stand above all the people” on a specially crafted platform of wood must have some inner inadequacy which needs sorting out with a couple of years of psychotherapy sessions. Who on earth does the guy think he is? Six feet above contradiction? And as for holding the people captive from dawn until midday, how insensitive to their needs can one get? And that was just the reading! They then had to suffer the indignity of a sermon on top of that! What oppression! And the people just “stood in their place” like some mindless captives in a prison camp. How downtrodden and put down they must have been. Furthermore, is it not arrogant and presumptuous for certain men to be “explaining it and giving the insight” and help them to understand the reading? Isn’t that what is known as “mansplaining”? Not only was that patronising but it was also only one man’s opinion which was being foisted onto the hapless crowd. Are you telling me that out of that entire crowd there was no one else there — women as well as men — who could have done it at least as well, if not better than Ezra? If there is any teaching to be done at all in Israel, then why could it not have been done in groups rotationally from one home to another, with people taking it in turns to be “key person”? Are we not fortunate today to have the benefit of techniques such as small group discussions and “brainstorming” sessions, where we can all be participants in the humane shuffle towards a collective consensus? (I hope you realise that this paragraph is supposed to be a sardonic satire on the kind of attitudes which prevail today in the ‘Christian’ scene! 😉).

Those are the questions of the modernist evangelicals. But what does the Bible show? It shows that it is God who puts teachers in His church to teach His people with authority and leadership. He alone ordains pastors and teachers — leaders who are “able to teach”. He alone has ordained who they will be and, moreover, that they will be men (First Letter to Timothy, chapter 2, verse 12; First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 34).

Can you see the vast gulf between Bible times and the present day in the approach to learning? Instructors in truth never were meant to be “group facilitators” (a.k.a. manipulators)! They are instead supposed to be preceptive didacticians of great wisdom, who know how to lead people into the truth with authority, yet without a trace of authoritarianism. For any quasi-dyslexics out there, that was “PREceptive”, not PERceptive! The difference is crucial!

The Apostle Paul commended didactic instruction as fundamentally necessary in the life of the disciple of Christ (First Letter to Timothy, chapter 4, verses 11 & 13); and — unlike most preachers today — he was not concerned by the necessity to confine his sermons to a soundbite, as Eutychus painfully found out one night in Troas (Book of Acts, chapter 20, verses 7-9)! Instruction in Scripture is didactic. Disciples of Christ are to go into all the world teaching (Greek: didasko) people to obey Christ’s commandments (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 28, verses 19-20). First and foremost, preceptive instruction is required — NOT group therapy or voluntary online modules.

The instruments of example and heuristics are fine in their place; but, without the objective instruction of didactics, the process of learning is incomplete. People will go astray without it (Letter to Titus, chapter 1, verses 9-11; Second Letter to Timothy, chapter 4, verses 2-4). Morality will suffer without it (Book of Psalms, 50, verses 17-20; Book of Jeremiah, chapter 32, verses 33-35). Knowledge will be depleted without it (Book of Proverbs, chapter 19, verse 27). Superficiality and its sister, sentimentality, will abound if didactics do not take precedent in the field of learning. Teaching is not supposed to be about what I call “Fish ‘n Chips”, where we all fish around and everyone chips in! 🙄 Teaching is based on God-given authority of the healthiest kind imaginable. That is why it is literally called (as the Greek reveals) “healthy teaching” (e.g. Second Letter to Timothy, chapter 4, verse 3; Letter to Titus, chapter 2, verse 1). Good teaching, regularly imbibed, imparts spiritual health which has permanent benefits.

This is precisely what has happened in the world today. In fact, the entire process of human learning has disintegrated in so many ways. The wrong examples are followed. The latest mindless pop group has more influence over young girls than their parents — and this is true even among many professing Christians, who are more obsessed about the latest contemporary ‘Christian’ music album and the group performing it than with healthy deep Bible teaching. Learning by experience has degenerated into selective experientialism (“it feels good to me”). But by far the greatest casualty in the learning process of the world has been that of objective instruction — didacticism. For the degeneration of the two other instruments of learning has come about as a direct result of the demise of didacticism. When you take authoritative learned instruction out of the equation, then ignorance, foolishness, and a complete failure to learn from experience will abound.

How has this come about? What are the main influences which have deterred so many from coming to the fullness of their intellectual and spiritual stature? To this I shall now turn.


The demise of didacticism has not happened in a vacuum. There are very definite influences and movements which have deterred its presence in modern culture and in the Church.

1.    The Influence of the Media

True didacticism instructs so as to create an increase in knowledge, personal ability, and spiritual and moral discernment. However, almost everything about the various media militates against that. Television, especially, dictates against the exercise of didacticism. One does not have to think when watching television. It does the thinking for you and will even call it a “reality show”, when that reality is hollow and excruciatingly superficial. It creates an ersatz world into which you enter and which prevents you from formulating an objective worldview. I remember an elderly man from the Hebrides saying to me that “the television is the devil’s eye in your living room and his tail up on the chimneystack” — a cute metaphor.

Not only does the process of modern television-watching remove didacticism as a life influence, even the format of many influential programmes today has been set up to militate against didacticism. For example, it is increasingly common for news readers to look as if they just somehow dropped in on you for a chat while they sit on the edge of a desk with a piece of scrap paper. This is deliberately designed to avoid looking formal; but the effect is to reduce the objective authoritative nature of news reading.

That there has been a deliberate “dumbing down” of television programming is not some uncorroborated idea of mine. The former Managing Director of the BBC World Service and now chairman of the great European Union Youth Orchestra, John Tusa, has publicly said that he left the BBC because there was such a deliberate policy of dumbing down. In an interview I heard on the subject of the “dumbing-down” of culture, he said that programmes — and especially news broadcasts — had become almost monosyllabic so as to avoid making anyone feel hurt or ignorant because they could not understand certain words which may be used. He said that whereas at one time if one didn’t know a word one would be motivated to discover its meaning, the accent today was on crass simplification in the cause of “equality” and political correctness. In a lecture at the Athenaeum Club in London, amongst other things, Mr Tusa rightly highlighted the way that television chooses well-known ‘personalities’ to front what should be serious programmes, resulting in a failure to convey knowledge (see ). Dumbing down. It is now endemic in society.

The same mentality prevails in many churches today. If a preacher uses one or two big words in his sermon, instead of humbly and deferentially asking him afterwards what the words mean, he will receive bitter complaints about his lack of empathy or his over-academic approach or how he makes everyone switch off in his sermons, or he will be accused of showing off. Consequently, many preachers today have bowed to the pressures against such alleged “elitism” and have done all they can to guard against hurtful accusations of insensitivity to the philologically-challenged. As a result, in many churches, if there is any ‘preaching’ at all, it will sound more like a children’s address or an infant Sunday School lesson rather than didactic exegesis of Scripture. Then if the people ever chance upon the ministry of a real preacher, they will suffer inconsolably from Post Traumatic Shock Syndrome.

Another deterrent against didacticism has been…

2.   The Numbing Artlessness of Ecclesiastical Entertainment

A great many church services today have been fashioned to cater for the need to be entertained rather than taught. An endless round of “acts” with trite choruses, so-called “contemporary Christian music” (pop music with the name of Jesus thrown into the mix), the appearance of an occasional compere, have squeezed out the didactic function which God has ordained should form a central part of corporate worship (Gospel of Mark, chapter 6, verse 2; First Letter to Timothy, chapter 4, verse 13; Second Letter to Timothy, chapter 4, verse 2; etc).

The Holy Spirit clearly states that, in the wake of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the principal way that a congregation achieves maturity, unity, discernment, refusal to be falsely taught, true ‘body ministry’, proper knowledge of Christ and edification, is through the office of teaching. He specifically mentions four offices which have an authoritative, didactic teaching function (Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4, verses 7-16). First there were the temporary apostles and prophets building the foundation of the church in the apostolic era (cf. Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 20); then permanent evangelists planting churches though the kerygma of the gospel, and permanent pastor-teachers bringing the word to established congregations through their authoritative oversight and teaching messages. Paul specifically states that such teaching will prevent disciples from being like infants who will be “tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming” (Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 14).

At the expense of didactic authority, however, most churches today prefer the ugly artlessness of ecclesiastical entertainment (which teaches nothing but how to enter an altered state of consciousness) rather the Ascension-won, Christ-given gift of teaching (which can even be conveyed through song).

Another deterrent against didacticism has been…

3.   Mysticism and Experientialism

Mystics and ‘enthusiasts’ (a most expressive word) are always dismissive of teaching authority and the idea of a structured local body of disciples. After all (so they claim), they have a direct hotline to God, so why let such earthbound forces stand in the way? They seem like carnal things to the one who has visited the third heaven and he perceives that they can only stand between him and God.

It is for this reason that the more a church is given over to experientialism and emotional experiences, the less didactic teaching there will be. This was the satanic function behind such fashionable movements as the “Toronto Blessing” (sic) in particular and the charismatic movement in general throughout the twentieth century.

Mysticism and experientialism always militate against the authoritative didactic teaching which the Lord has ordained should build-up His Ekklesia.

Another deterrent against didacticism has been…

4.   The Usurpation of Genuine Leadership by Trendy “Democracy”

The concept of authoritative leadership has been challenged to such an extent that for someone to be in an eldership role is regarded as somehow outmoded — belonging to the old order of things. True authority is parodied as being akin to dictatorship, and critiqued by “experts” — and especially by “Christian” experts — as an undesirable influence on social and ecclesiastical life. A consequence of this has been that a didactic teacher is perceived to be a subversive influence because he instructs his pupils PRE-ceptively rather than merely “facilitating their self-learning processes” (to use a trendy phrase).

Therefore, new paradigms have had to be invented. Team leadership, self-governing bodies, and democratic councils of all kinds have burgeoned during the past few decades in all areas of life. This has had disastrous consequences for the Church, as people have become embarrassed by the authoritative leadership commended in the Bible for Elders/Presbyters.

In many ways, the rot set in with the advent of congregationalism, which is an outgrowth of liberal social democracy rather than biblical church structure. Churches never were meant to be democratic in the political governmental sense. Liberalism always sees oversight in churches as being based on a congregational democracy rather than a presbyterian system of elders.

This has pervaded every level of church existence. I have already outlined the effect of anti-didacticism on preaching. The same effects have been felt in relation to Bible studies. Most churches deliberately eschew a true didactic Bible study in favour of what I referred to earlier as a “Fish ‘n Chips” session:  We all fish around and everyone chips in! There is no final authority permitted. Everyone’s view is valid. There is no single “right” answer. The opinion of an elder is only one opinion of many and just as valid — so they think. The casualty in this process has been didacticism; and as a result, many of those calling themselves “Christians” today know very little about anything except their own feelings — and even those are mainly delusional.

The big problem has been that if something cannot be immediately understood by someone, it is perceived as a threat rather than a challenge. It threatens to expose the inequalities of intellectual ability, which (in their view) is an affront to democracy. Therefore, in the interests of maintaining the illusion of equality, teaching has to be dumbed-down to such an extent that it virtually becomes non-existent. They also ignore the fact that a spiritually transformed person does not need a high I.Q. or fancy degrees in order to understand truth and truthful teaching, for s/he has been transformed in the renewal of his or her mind (Letter to the Romans, chapter 12, verse 2).

Obviously, a teacher has to ensure that he is accessible to all the congregation. He must provide milk for newborn babes and meat for those who have been weaned. But infants do not stay on milk for long. They will soon hunger for solid food. Making oneself accessible to all in a congregation should not mean an encouragement to laziness or over-simplification. The great English puritan preacher, William Perkins (1560-1602), was professor of theology in Cambridge and preached to a local congregation in the town every week. He preached didactically with much theology; yet it is widely acknowledged that everyone who attended — prince or pauper — hung on his every word and understood what was being said. The truth is that the genuine disciple of Christ is highly motivated to learn, whether he or she is a Doctor of Philosophy or completely uneducated. A teachable spirit is one of the principal signs of faith. I knew a man who was converted out of a totally profligate lifestyle in the slums of Glasgow, Scotland. He could barely read and write when He came to know the Lord, and his brain was addled with alcohol and drugs. But his desire to learn motivated him highly to become literate so that he could read the Bible and other books. He signed up for classes and within a year he was reading not only the Bible but some deep literature! Is that an encouragement?

There are two kinds of ignorance: natural and wilful. The first is excusable and rectifiable. The second is the product of pride. The first is a hunger which longs to be appeased, a hole which aches to be filled. The second is a wall which hates to be shouldered, content with what’s already known.

Here is a logical syllogism for you to complete. No prizes for doing so:

First proposition: Genuine disciples of Christ are highly motivated to learn, and they relish didactic Bible teaching from an authoritative source.

Second proposition: Most professing ‘Christians’ today have an aversion to learning, scoff at didactic Bible teaching, and would far rather be entertained by foppish boybands chanting “Jesus loves me” endlessly or some character on the ‘stage’ speaking in so-called ‘Tongues’ and prattling on incessantly about a “move of the spirit”.

Conclusion: Therefore, most professing ‘Christians’……….

I invite readers to complete the above conclusion for themselves. It’s a no-brainer!

Another deterrent against didacticism has been…

5.   Cultural Feminism

One of the major influences on the demise of didacticism and true authority has been the invasion of society by feminist philosophy.

Leadership in churches is unashamedly male. Didactic teaching is overtly masculine. The subtle encroachment of feminist principles in many churches today has turned these biblical values on their heads and given us women priests instead of male elders; congregationalism instead of Presbyterianism; trite, effeminate, mind-numbing choruses in the place of the masculine teaching and warning function of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God”.

Letter to the Colossians, chapter 3, verse 16

Feminism is one of Satan’s principal warheads against didacticism. And it is not the barbed thrust of a Germaine Greer or Mary Daly which is emasculating the churches today, but the subtle ‘empowerment-of-women syndrome’ gleaned from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, whose popular brand of New Age feminism has lulled even many professing ‘Christians’ under its sway.


The New Evangelicalism which we find today in most churches is actually a compendium of all the above influences! Amazing, is it not? But it is astonishingly true that cultural incursion, media brainwashing, orientation to an entertainment style of worship, mysticism and experientialism, a withering egalitarianism and stultifying feminism are the predominant influences in the New Evangelicalism which have come to pervade the vast majority of Protestant churches in the last few decades.

In how many churches has a ‘pulpit’ become not only a rude word but also an outlawed item of furniture? Surely the time has come for many professing Christians to admit the following words:

“How I hated corrective instruction, and my heart despised rebuke! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my mentors. I am on the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly”.

Book of Proverbs, chapter 5, verses 12-14

It is clear from these words that apostasy and spiritual ruin can be directly related to a rejection of didactic instruction from an authoritative teacher. (By “authoritative teacher” I mean one who is mature, learnéd, wise, patient, and who would never abuse his authority and thereby become authoritarian). Perhaps the developments of the past few decades have been part of the great “apostasy” to which the apostle Paul referred as the preliminary world development preparing the way for the Antichrist (Second Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 2, verses 1-3). That is my sincere belief. As the restraints on the demonic realm are being progressively removed by the Lord, one of the primary results is the demise of didacticism.

One of the first acts of any dictator as he comes to power is to remove or destroy the academics and intellectuals. Then the way is paved for his revolution. Therefore, as Satan — under the permitting hand of God — is avidly engaged in preparing the way for the installation of his representative on earth to whom he will give “his power, his throne and great authority” (Book of Revelation, chapter 13, verse 2), he must first ensure the demise of didactic teaching in the churches over which he holds so much sway. This must surely be the reason behind all these developments.

So let us all resist this reluctance to learn from an authoritative teacher and instead say with the psalmist: “Teach me Your way, O LORD, that I may walk in Your truth” (Book of Psalms, 86, verse 11).



© 2021, Alan Morrison / The Diakrisis Project. All Rights Reserved. 
[The copyright on my works is merely to protect them from any wanton plagiarism which could result in undesirable changes (as has actually happened!). Readers are free to reproduce my work, so long as it is in the same format and with the exact same content and its origin is acknowledged]