I already discussed Chapter 6 of Christian Smith's The Bible Made Impossible, but wanted to dedicate a whole post to one part of the chapter that was challenging and convicting:
[I]t seems as if believers—myself included—distract themselves with the more obscure, speculative, and cryptic issues related to scripture precisely in order to avoid having to face and act on the parts that are very clear and directive. Why address the main issues when one can mess around with peripheral details? It is like a kid fixating all day on exactly how much to shut his bedroom closet door to obscure the mess in his room that his mother told him in no uncertain terms to clean. Wanting and trying to know what we evidently don’t need to know is a great way to avoid having to deal with other, more basic things that we already quite clearly know but prefer to avoid, delay, or ignore.
...the vast majority of American Christians ignore one of the most pervasive, clear, straightforward, obvious, and simple commandments in scripture: to give away their money generously. [...] The vast majority of American Christians—who in fact are the wealthiest believers in all of history and the world today—give away relatively little of their money to the church or other worthy causes. Some give nothing at all. Yet the Bible simply could not be more persistently clear and forceful in teaching that what we do with our money and possessions is of major spiritual significance, that God commands his people to give and share their money and possessions generously, and that those who are selfish and stingy with their money and possessions will be judged by God. Giving money away is not rocket science. Nearly all ordinary people can do it. Yet only a minority of American Christians does so faithfully.
Why then do so many Christians get so invested in figuring out the intricacies of various biblical and theological matters about which the Bible is not entirely clear when they already don’t and won’t obey scripture on the very clear and simple matter of being generous with money and possessions? How are such believers to expect God to work to deepen their faith and knowledge of spiritual matters when they simply refuse to do what scripture has already made painfully plain and necessary?
(bold emphasis added). I'm glad Smith reminds us of this point. I love to debate about theology, church practice, and politics, but too often I let the most clear and simple command Jesus gave us get lost in the shuffle.
A hungry person does not care whether I am a Calvinist or Arminian. A person who has more month than paycheck could give a rat's ass whether I'm a biblicist or a post-conservative Christological-hermeneutic-supporting Barthian student of the Bible (whew!).
I don't think Smith is advocating anti-intellectualism here, but it's healthy to keep quibbles over such-and-such verse or doctrine in perspective.