Broken Lights of Thee

Sunday, February 20, 2011

With the best of intentions, Rachel Held Evans writes, the generation before mine worked diligently to prepare their children to make an intelligent case for Christianity. We were constantly reminded of the superiority of our own worldview and the shortcomings of all others. We learned that as Christians, we alone had access to absolute truth and could win any argument. The appropriate Bible verses were picked out for us, and the best responses articulated for us, so that we wouldn't have to struggle through two thousand years of theological deliberations and debates but could get right to the bottom line on the important stuff: the deity of Christ, the nature of the Trinity, the role and interpretation of Scripture, and the fundamentals of Christianity.

As a result, many of us entered the world with both an unparalleled level of conviction and a crippling lack of curiosity. So ready with the answers, we didn't know what the questions were anymore. So prepared to defend the faith, we missed the thrill of discovering it for ourselves. So convinced we had God right, it never occurred to us that we might be wrong.

In short, we never learned to doubt.

When we know how to make a distinction between our ideas about God and God himself, our faith remains safe when one of those ideas is seriously challenged. When we recognize that our theology is not the moon but rather a finger pointing at the moon, we can enjoy the freedom of questioning it from time to time. We can say, as Tennyson said,

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be;
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

Evolving in Monkeytown was fabulous. I can't recommend it highly enough. For more from Rachel Held Evans, check out her blog. I'm so very thankful for her.


mollie said...

I have to read this book. Everything you've posted from it and from here have mirrored my internal conflicts and questions and thoughts perfectly.

Beth said...

You really do need to read it, Mollie. It's made a huge impact on me (clearly!). Mostly, it's allowed me to breathe a HUGE sigh of relief -- I'm not alone!

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