Inspired by Ephesians 4:7-16
“We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” Ephesians 4:14-15 (NRSV)
Children are gullible. They are easily led to believe anything that the adults around them want them to believe, good or bad, right or wrong. As they get older they begin to question, to test their beliefs against their own reason and experiences. Some of their childhood beliefs will be proven out as true, and retained as part of a new adult worldview. Some will be abandoned, rejected as childish fantasies or outright falsehoods. Fantasies and lies will falter and fade, and the truth alone shall prevail.
Christians are often encouraged to be as ‘little children’ in regards to Christ, or have a ‘childlike’ faith. This means that we are to recognize our total dependence on Christ our Savior. It does not mean that we should unquestioningly accept everything we are told about God, Jesus, faith, salvation, or Christianity. We are called to test everything we are taught with our reason and experience, using the intellect and curiosity that God gave us.
What does this look like in practice? If one text in the bible is held up as inviolately authoritative, we must consider whether that text contradicts other texts in the bible, and, if so, question why that one text is given more weight than the others. Are any of them contextually specific? Which ones? Do they apply to our context today? How and why, or why not? And in regards to action in the world we must ask ourselves, does this appropriately represent the God of love and grace we meet in the bible?
There is plenty of room for debate among the faithful, but given that we all name ourselves Christians, we are called to reflect his grace and gentleness. We are called to debate the truth in love, letting go of platitudes and sweeping generalizations, and seeing how the truths to which we cling hold up to the reality of life. Fantasies and lies will falter and fade, and the truth alone shall prevail.
Let us pray. God of truth, you have provided us with your Word. Grant us wisdom and maturity, that we might be comforted by your Word and proclaim its good news. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.