Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Jump With Me, Part One

James and I are reading Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis. In the introduction, Bell raises some interesting metaphors. Take, for instance, the trampoline.

To Bell, the Christian faith is akin to a trampoline, held together by its many springs. With a trampoline, you really don't see the need for springs until you begin to jump. Although Gindrup could probably give us all the practical details of Newtonian physics as to exactly how inert energy is stored and released, thus making the trampoline actually 'work', ....initially, I just want to jump. And laugh.

In Bell's metaphor, the springs aren't God. They aren't Jesus. The springs are the statements and beliefs about our faith that help put words to our experience we call 'doctrine'. They aren't the point. They help us understand the point, but are not a means to an end. We take them seriously, while keeping them in perspective.

For example, take the doctrine--the spring--called the Trinity. It's central to orthodox Christian faith. While there is only one God, this God has a three-in-oneness as Father, as Jesus, and as the Holy Spirit. People began calling this concept 'The Trinity'. Keep in mind that Jesus never used the word trinity, that it's not found in the Bible, etc. But over time, this belief has become central to how Jesus Followers have understood who God is. It is a spring, and people jumped for thousands of years without it. We can take it out, examine it, probe it, discuss it. It flexes and stretches.

In fact, its 'stretchability' is what makes it so effective. It is firmly attached to the frame and the mat, yet it has room to move. And God continually brings in a fuller, richer, deeper understanding to who He is.

Think about the various springs in our faith. What are they? Virgin birth? Literal resurrection of Christ? Beliefs about creation? Salvation by grace? The work of the Church? How you are supposed to 'worship'? How you are supposed to 'love your neighbor as yourself'?

What if your springs were seriously questioned? Could you keep jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian?

Ready for Part Two? Let's talk about bricks...


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