Sunday, May 24, 2009

Come listen children, to a story...

I was just at a Bible Study - one of the few that I have attended in the past 12 or-so months that has used the Bible exclusively as its resource. It was refreshing, and felt entirely untainted. Regardless, there were many comments that made the entire experience slightly more aggravating to me than I was fully prepared for; I felt as though people weren't entirely prepared to devote themselves to an authentic study of the Bible.

There was one comment in particular that caught me off guard. We were discussing Matthew Chapter 11, and included in this topic are some verses that discuss God providing the gift of understanding to "children" rather than to the "wise and intelligent." This actual lead to good discussion - one comment in particular was quite impressive: Jesus is using the term Children metaphorically to refer to the Gentiles, who are, as children, being introduced to God with open arms for the first time through Jesus' ministry. These gentiles include those of the actual people-group, as well as those social-gentiles, such as the tax-collectors, and lepers, who were now being welcomed into a spiritual relationship with Christ, or God. Whichever Jesus was.

This was the good comment.

The second comment was the one which inevitably develops out of any conversation with Children and Religion - and it is that the truth of the religion (apparently the atonement of Jesus on behalf of man) is simple, so simple that children are able to comprehend it and believe it.

I'm a teacher. I study and try to understand how human's understand knowledge. No information is simple to the human brain - it all must be understood, no matter how insignificant it is. Atonement? Simple? I don't think this is true. In fact, I think that the religious basis of Atonement is so convoluted that is cannot be understood at all. And not just as a result of our human nature and capacity for knowledge - I am almost convinced that it is poor theology. Circular in logic, self-sustaining. But, if true, enormous in its implications.

And is this the basis of our religion? Or, perhaps our spirituality? Atonement? I hope not. If it is, I should check into something else - I'm not sold on it. Parts of it I understand - certainly the fallen nature of Man, and the confusing, mysterious power of God. I accept this; otherwise God is not God and Man has no excuse for what we are.

But... if our spirituality is simple, why do we study it intently, in small and deeply personal groups?

Why do we have religion? Something that Jesus demands?

And why do we allow the religion to establish rules and traditions? I thought this was simple - everybody would understand it, and buy into it.

I'm hesitant about anybody calling Christianity simple. If this is the case, they simply believe in it and its simplicity. If this is the case, then they are unsure of how this actually plays out in their life - Atonement. Certainly it must affect their life - and this is not simple. How does it do so? Their very action? Is it merely to help others realize that they have been atoned for? I hope not.

If it is, I should check into something else - I'm not sold on it.

And I am not prepared to establish the foundation of my existence on something simple, self-sustaining logically. I need something more. And I would like to this that God provides that, and that it is anything but simple. It is mysterious and elusive. BIG, confusing. Not simple.

Certainly not to us. *though I like the idea that Atonement is only one of God's thoughts

Even if it should be.

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