Sunday, September 1, 2013

sometimes we can't just learn from history.

Did I really just write that?  Me, who reads quite a few dead authors and is constantly bringing to the table the rich history and legacy of the Church?  Yes I did.
Part of the genius of genuine Christianity is that each generation has to think it through afresh.  Precisely because (so Christians believe) God wants every single Christian to grow up in understanding as well in trust, the Christian faith has never been something that one generation can sort out in such a way as to leave their successors with no work to do.  Like a young man inheriting a vast fortune, such a legacy could just make you lazy. (Wright, forward to The King Jesus Gospel)
So writes N. T. Wright, a man who no one could accuse of being lazy in this area.  This struck me as true when I read it, and has prompted a couple more thoughts:

First, this view of generational legacies is refreshing.  Rather than the older saying to the younger "Here is all that I must impart to you, for your own good", or the younger to the older, "I don't care what you have to say, because times have changed and I know better", we find something different.  We find respect in both directions.  "Thinking it through afresh" doesn't mean throwing out what was done before.  It also means that when the older generation expects the younger to do so - and to do so with capability and zeal - they are respecting their successors.

Secondly, this view lays a responsibility on each one of us.  We cannot be lazy.  Neither are we to be daunted (in this, we can be encouraged by the many who, empowered by the Spirit, thought and taught before us).

You and I need to ask the big questions.  It is vital to our own faith and to the Church.  We need to question our assumptions and our practices.  And we need to do it together.  Wright also writes: "The Christian faith is kaleidoscopic, and most of us are color-blind."  I look around me and realize that the people around me - yes you, too - are a gift to help us all begin to see in color.

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