Posted by: dacalu | 27 December 2008

Monday’s Christian

Christians make a point of going to church on Sundays. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a defining moment in the history of the world. But what do Christians do on Monday? This blog deals with Monday questions. Why should Christianity appeal to modern Americans? What does it mean practically? Where is it going?  I’ll do my best, but I hope you’ll keep me honest.  I hope to hear from you about what questions are on your mind and whether or not what I say makes any sense.

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Dear Friends,

I have something to share that cannot be easily shared. I want to say something about Christianity and I find that it does not always lend itself to words. The ideas are not complex or difficult or even particularly foreign; rather I find them so simple, so fundamental, and so profoundly intimate that the words get jumbled up and obscure the meaning. Perhaps this is why Jesus was so fond of parables. They make no pretense of being analytical or plain. Having started with that, and with a prayer to God that the words I type and the words you read may find favor and bring all who see them to a deeper knowledge of Christ, let me begin.

An understanding of Christianity must begin with three unimaginably simple things. Their simplicity means that I cannot explain in terms of other things. We cannot assemble them from smaller pieces. We cannot reduce them constituent parts or motivating forces. We cannot comprehend them as anything but themselves—though many have tried. I must be perfectly clear in this: once you break them up or explain them in other terms, they cease to be Christian. We require them to be essences, things in and of themselves, so our definition will be one of example. I shall point to them and talk about how they work. I will not, and cannot, and must not define them by what they are made of, what they do, or what they mean in some larger system.[1] They simply are.

The three unimaginably simple things are these: soul, God, and love. They are the basic stuff of Christianity, the markers we must move to indicate meaning in the world. Our culture—perhaps every earthly culture—will ask us to make other things important: animals, value, money, atoms, physical things, … It’s a question of what’s really real underneath it all, and those things are much more pliable than soul, God, and love. They are manipulable, and tractable, and put simply boxable. You can fit them into neat little boxes. No so with our three basic things.

I regularly delight in the complexity and nuance of Christianity, but this year I have decided to set aside time each week to explore the straightforward Christianity that underlies my faith. It is, without varnish, a way of looking at the world, one I find compelling and useful. It starts with the recognition that Christianity can be simple without being simplistic, reasonable without being dogmatic, and relational without being stifling. You need not follow me down the road, but I hope to convince you that the path is worth taking and surprisingly hopeful—even to people like us.

Oddly Enough,

Lucas


[1] Apologies to countless theologians and philosophers here. Perhaps you will see later in my writings, how these ideas may yet provide truth. For now, though, I think that this sort of language will only get you in trouble.

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