Moving away from this observation for a while, and paying more attention to such an undue creeping of "conservative" and "liberal" notions into the faith it becomes difficult to discern at times what is happening in both the society and the church. Different trends, emphases, forces, may be at work simultaneously pulling people in society and people within the church in varying directions. This is no less confusing to pastors. As a pastor I have struggled with these things and their effect on the church. Rather than approach this from a "conservative" or "liberal" dichotomy I have thought how one might be affected personally by all this. Here is a model that might help explain different and possibly simultaneously occurring influences using very simple categories of thinking and praying:
I. Encourages Thinking and Praying
II. Encourages Thinking and discourages Praying
III. Discourages Thinking and encourages Praying
IV. Discourages both Thinking and Praying
Obviously, the first is preferred and the last, while seemingly not a possibility, does occur from time to time. However, all of these seem to be part of the experiences of the believer in this day and age. For example, the academic might experience more occurrences of II while the pious might experience more occurrences of III. IV is to be avoided although circumstances might place one there from time to time. All four possible scenarios are understood in a greater context of the faith.
Hoping especially that the first scenario is more common and preferred we return to the altar where maybe prayer is more dominant although thinking is indeed part and both are connected to the divine mysteries of grace and salvation.