Last week I wrote a note that generated a lot of discussion from some of my Facebook friends. So I thought I’d share it with the rest of the blogosphere. Enjoy!
Perhaps what I really meant was that I’m rethinking the face of the Christian faith. But those who know me well know that what I say often has deeper meaning than its face value implies.
First of all, “Christianity has an image problem.” So goes the assertion made on the first page of the first chapter of Kinnaman & Lyon’s book. As the research is presented and their findings disclosed, it’s frightening to see what this generation thinks of Christianity. And much of their frustration, skepticism, and suspicion doesn’t actually have anything to do with the values of the faith itself. In fact, most of their issues with Christianity have to do with the way Christians react toward issues in life. I won’t go into detail, but I believe that much of this generation’s anger toward Christianity can be relieved if Christians were to live true Christianity based completely on the Word of God and not on traditions, church standards, or what they were taught in Bible school their whole lives.
Second, the whole of the Christian faith never hinges on any one doctrine or belief. Let me cite an example. In Velvet Elvis, Bell cites an incident where he watched a video of a Creation scientist who travels around preaching the so-called truth of a literal six-day, 144-hour Creation event. I think I know who this guy is, and I’ve probably heard him speak before. Regardless, I won’t agree or disagree with his assertion that God created in six literal days. That’s not the point.
The problem came when the man said that a denial of a literal six-day creation of the universe is equivalent to a denial that Christ died on the cross.
For those of you who’ve read Velvet Elvis, my question is this: Is faith in Christ more like a trampoline or a wall of bricks? Is each doctrine or belief so crucial that to take one out and examine it would be akin to removing a brick from a wall, thus compromising the integrity of the wall and introducing the risk that the wall of faith may come crashing down?
Or can faith stand up under the removal and scrutiny of any one doctrine? If we were to examine one of the springs of a trampoline, would the trampoline still function?
Faith as a wall leads to defense. Christians are so quick to defend. They argue, they debate, they grow frustrated. No brick must be removed lest the wall fall down.
Faith as a trampoline leads to invitation. “Come jump with me!” Maybe if we viewed the Christian faith this way instead of as a brick wall, non-Christians would be more open to checking it out and won’t be so quick to say, “I already know what you’re all like.” Besides, jumping on a trampoline is a whole lot more fun than defending a brick wall.