I’ve been a Christian a long time. Long enough to see things in my tradition that don’t make sense. As time has passed, I’ve began to wonder. What if we’ve accepted beliefs as sacrosanct that aren’t, in fact, fully true? What if our understanding of the Mystery of God is obsolete because it hasn’t evolved as we as a species have evolved?
Long ago humans believed the earth was flat. Not so long ago humans believed the earth was the stationary center of the universe. More recently, Europeans believed neither the Americas nor much of the southern hemisphere existed. All of these beliefs eventually fell, some after significant struggle and turmoil.
In his book A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, Edwin Friedman argues the Renaissance started as a result of Columbus discovering the New World. After that discovery, everything that was known in fullness wasn’t fully known anymore. Maps were obsolete. Answers were incomplete. What exactly was out there?
Columbus’ discovery catalyzed Europe by making the world bigger and enabling dreamers to dream again, adventurers to adventure again, and questioners to quest again. The Dark Ages were over and humanity catapulted forward in a blaze.
Fast-forward to now. I suspect that Christianity is in a Dark Age. Despite having all the answers, catechisms, orthodoxy, certitudes, creeds, dogma and truth, our churches are dying rather than thriving. Our kids are abandoning the faith. Many feel under siege.
A frequent solution is to double-down and try harder. This solution isn’t Good News. Returning to fundamentals reduces the genuine ambiguity and paradox of the faith, stripping our ability to question deeply like the prophets of old or even Jesus himself. Fundamentalism says we must simply believe harder, pray harder, work harder. Then maybe God will show up.
What if the issue, instead, is that we simply need to rediscover God? What if we, by daring to consider dangerous questions, discover that God is bigger than we thought, more generous than we thought, more allowing than we thought? What if our Hebrew brothers and sisters were onto something when they refused to name God, refused to claim a familiarity that limited their understanding of the Infinite?
So let me ask you. What are some things about Christianity that don’t make sense? Comment please and maybe even offer an alternative (particularly if you’re outside the tradition). Perhaps we can slowly, slowly help start a Renaissance.
P.S. I’ll offer a few of mine:
- The world isn’t fallen. It’s rising.
- Jesus didn’t die to appease God. He died to show us the way and how scary it is.
- Just like there’s gravity outside, there’s gravity inside.
- God isn’t angry at us. Ever. Ever. Ever.