“All this, if taken literally, is absurd. If it is taken symbolically, it is a profound expression, the ultimate Christian expression, of the relationship between God and man in the Christian experience. But to distinguish these two kinds of speech, the nonsymbolic and the symbolic, in such a point is so important that if we are not able to make understandable to our contemporaries that we speak symbolically when we use such language, they will rightly turn away from us, as people who still live in absurdities and superstitions.”Paul Tillich, The Nature of Religious Language
There is a real problem with promulgating Christian spirituality: most people take the easy approach to religion. I don’t mean this to sound harsh, because it is a natural human tendency to take the easiest approach to anything. If we didn’t, there would not be washing machines and chain saws.
There are at least two easy approaches to Christianity: accepting it as you were taught and rejecting it as absurd.
Accepting Christianity as you were taught means that you received your beliefs already digested, like a young bird receives food from its mother. It’s easy because you don’t have to think, contemplate, or concern yourself with the details. The problem with this approach is that it is unsustainable for most people. This is why we are losing the battle for “hearts and minds”.
Rejecting Christianity out-of-hand is also easy, because this is probably what you have been taught in government schools and via the prevailing attitudes in society. You’ve probably been taught that Christians are always the big meanies that come into a place and force their beliefs on the nice indigenous folks that were just living peaceful lives gathering berries. Although we all seem to agree in principle that you can’t reasonably condemn an entire group for the actions of a few, it doesn’t stop people from doing it where Christians are involved.
The uncomfortable truth is that, most probably, the Christianity you’ve been taught is absurd. It’s unsustainable, and losing Christianity because of this could be the death knell of individual human rights. While I disagree with some of what (now deceased former bishop) Spong has written, the title of one of his books says it all: Why Christianity Must Change or Die.
But the deeper meaning of Christianity is hard to “get” and thus people are reticent to put in the effort to understand it. All of the information is there, and has been for centuries. If you want to understand it, all you have to do is look.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.Matthew 7:7-8.
IMAGE SOURCE: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sisyphus_by_von_Stuck.jpg ATTRIBUTION: Franz Stuck [Public domain]