Saturday, 14 November 2015

Christianity is ultimately about loving relationships, not being an obedient servant - but first things (must come) first...

Is Christianity...
Or is Christianity...
The average modern intellectual firmly regards Christianity as being like a child's bike fitted with what we in England call 'stabilizers' - or in the US training-wheels.
     In sum, they perceive Christianity as constrained by rules fixed by a church (supposedly on behalf of God), and the good Christian as (utterly, but merely) obedient to the rules and a docile servant to the church/ God.
     But ultimately, Christianity is not about obedience to rules, and subservience to a monarchical God; ultimately Christianity is about entering into a 'grown up' personal relationship with God as befits our identity as a mature, hence fully-divine, Son or Daughter.
     The divine life aims at ultimately becoming an exalted family life - and not the apotheosis of the court of a Byzantine monarch - with God as enthroned Emperor and men and women as a throng of courtiers in perpetual worship.

(This clarification of a chronic ambiguity within Christianity is a consequence of the Mormon Restoration of Christian doctrine - the doctrines relating to marriage, families, the nature of God and the meaning of us being His offspring.)

But if the actual earthly Christianity of rules and authorities, of obedience and repentance for failure to stick by the rule, is not the ultimate - it is essential.
     It is essential in the same kind of way that a little bike with training wheels is essential for a five year old to learn to ride: the rules and obedience are not ultimate but they are necessary.
     If we perched a five year old atop a grown-up racing bike on a trackway, the child would simply keel over and smash himself onto the hard surface.

We are children and we need, we must now have, a kiddy-bike-with-stabilizers type of Christianity - even if we know that is not our ultimate aspiration - even if the mature Christians on earth can (to some extent) ride without stabilizers. That does not make them hypocrites any more than dispensing with basic finger exercises makes a concert pianist a hypocrite.
     But, although the stabilizers are absolutely necessary here and now; we should remember when talking with non-Christians to make sure they know that they are not the end-point of Christian life and hope: we have knowledge of higher things; and faith that someday, with perseverance, we shall cast aside the training wheels, mount a sleek and speedy racer; and joyfully experience new possibilities of exploration and swiftness.

1 comment:

Karl said...

Minor cavil: On the wheels in your first picture a child doesn't learn the skill of bicycling, but only how to pedal a slightly larger tricycle. Our children learned to balance when we took off the training wheels and the pedals as well and lowered the seat and told them to see how far they could coast.

Your point still stands, just as we can still profit from the letter to the Hebrews even though it is not true among our people that "every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe."