Monday, July 18, 2011

Theology of an 8 year-old

A friend and I recently had a discussion with a random stranger while eating lunch. My friend and I were discussing some of our theories related to the book of Genesis, science, and the creation of the world. My friend saw the man at the next table listening to us, then invited him to join. 
The stranger, who I learned subsequently had a huge sticker on his laptop that read “Athiest,” described his perceptions of inconsistencies in the character of God in the Bible. He said that he had read the Bible from cover-to-cover when he was 8 years old and discerned these opinions. Personally, I had a hard time believing that an 8 year-old could read the entire Bible, much less understand or be critical of it. However, this was turning into a very interesting exchange, the last thing I wanted to do was be condescending and criticize his perception. I wanted it to be a discussion and not an argument.
As we continued to conversationally ponder the mysteries of this ancient document, it was interesting how the complexity of the two of us who had studied and believe the Bible were met with the refutations of a confused 8 year-old from a man in his 50’s. It is not that they were necessarily entirely unfounded, but it seems like they were largely based on simplistic viewpoint.
In Matthew 16, the religious experts of Jesus’ day start to sound a little like 8 year-olds. They wanted Jesus to give them a sign from heaven, like when God sent fire on to a drenched wet sacrifice on Mount Carmel at the request of Elijah. They were not interested in hearing his words, it seems like they wanted to see Jesus do some kind of a trick. Of course Jesus knew their motives and responded accordingly, telling them that he would not be giving them a sign from heaven.
I think God probably sees most of our thinking about him like we are all 8 year-olds. We keep trying to force his infinite existence into our finite brains. It seems like our lunchtime conversation partner had decided to quit with his 8 year-old style questions, not accepting any chance of resolution. I think it is monumentally important that we continue at the quest of seeking understanding, while at the same time realizing that the reality is likely beyond our understanding. 

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