Abductive Columns

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Missional Churches and Faith and Trampolines

Missional Communities
Missional churches perceive missions not as a program of the church, but as the essence of the church. Therefore every component of the church’s identity relates to its missional purpose. No longer a single compartment within the church’s structure, missional churches expect every task of the church to be informed by the church’s missional purpose.
from Shaped by God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches by Milfred Minatrea

In his book, The Velvet Jesus: Repainting the Christian Faith, Rob Bell goes to great lengths (chapters one and two) articulating his understanding of faith and inspiration. He builds his case via the metaphor of trampoline and springs.

Somebody recently gave me a videotape of a lecture given by a man who traveled around speaking about the creation of the world. At one point in his lecture, he said if you deny that God created the world in six literal twenty-four hour days, then you are denying Jesus ever died on the cross. It’s a bizarre leap of logic to make, I would say.

But he was serious.

It hit me while I was watching that for him faith isn’t a trampoline; it’s a wall of bricks. Each of the core doctrines for him is like an individual brick that stacks on top of the others. If you pull one out, the whole wall starts to crumble. It appears quite strong and rigid, but if you begin to rethink or discuss even one brick, the whole thing is in danger. Like he said, no six-day creation equals no cross. Remove one, and the whole wall wobbles.

What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly biological father, named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? But what if as you study the origin of the word virgin, you discover that the word virgin in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word virgin could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being “born of a virgin” also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse.

What if that (trampoline) spring was seriously questioned?

Could a person keep jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian?

Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live?

Or does the whole thing fall apart
Velvet Jesus by Rob Bell


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