Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Minister for Children and Families
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I have become an adult, I have put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13.11
A Word of Hope
I am loving the discussions going on around the church about our Lenten book study of Philip Gulley’s If the Church were Christian. Since I was involved in putting together the curriculum for the study, I have found myself in hallway talks with a variety of seekers from diverse groups. The book challenges readers to re-consider the dogmatic teachings and worship systems embedded in us through our various denominations and replace them with more practical applications of our faith at work in the real world. For some, this is the logical next step in our expanding understanding of Christianity. To others, it seems they are being asked to exchange a new religion for an old.
A hundred years ago, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the father of science fiction, asked the same questions. His hero, John Carter, an earthman who suddenly finds himself transported to Mars, is confronted by a centuries-old religious system that has enslaved the faithful to the whims of a race of beings called the Holy Therns who maintain their power with threats of unspeakable horrors that await any Martian who would dare to question the absolute authority granted to the Therns by the all-powerful goddess, Issus. Needless to say, Carter eventually discovers the truth behind the Therns’ brutal oppression and exposes their religion as bogus. But, he then faces the dilemma of having no new faith system to offer in exchange for the one that has fallen. “It is very hard to accept a new religion for an old, no matter how alluring the promises of the new may be; but to reject the old as a tissue of falsehoods without being offered anything in its stead is indeed the most difficult thing to ask of any people.”-Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Gods of Mars
To me, Philip Gulley is asking the reader to do neither. He is not asking us to reject falsehoods of the traditional interpretations of our Christian faith, nor is he creating a new religion. He’s suggesting we dig deeper and discover the truth that has always been there. Gulley and Burroughs are not so different. They’re just asking us to explore wonderful worlds that may be completely new to us.
Thank you for opportunities to remember that your realm has no limits.
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