I’ve just started reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. So far, I’m loving it. He basically says that people can see Christianity in two ways. He uses the analogy of a trampoline to descibe Christianity. Being a Christian is getting on and jumping, the doctrines of the faith are the springs in the trampoline – the framework, the things that allow you to jump. They stretch and flex. If one is being questioned, the others still support it.
The second way is to think of each doctrine as a brick. Put the bricks together and they make a wall. Bricks don’t flex. Walls keep people in and keep them out. The bricks might seem like a firm foundation, but bricks all hold each other up. Take one out and the whole wall may fall down.
For example, some Christians believe that the world was made in six literal 24-hour days. (I don’t, but fair enough if you do). If we use the brick model, this doctrine might me one brick. OK. But what happens when that one brick starts to become questioned? What happens when arguments concerning intelligent design or some sort of evolution start to become compelling? Well, the whole wall may fall down. In the book Rob Bell quotes a preacher who actually said that if you didn’t believe the world was made in six 24-hour days, you are effectively denying that Jesus ever died on the cross. This is what Rob Bell means when he talks about a ‘brick’ – the whole wall falls down.
Instead, faith is like the trampoline. It is about getting on and joining in. You don’t have to have every single doctrine worked out, the springs still help ou to jump. In fact, Bell says that Christianity is about the jumping – discovering the mystery of God by asking the questions, testing the springs, and doing it with God.
And that is how it works really isn’t it. We never discover it all. We never get full answers to our questions – but we tend to get more questions. Acknowledging the questions is freeing and humbling. When Moses got to go up the mountain to talk to God (Exodus 3:14), he effectively asks – Who are you? What is your name? The response in confusing. God says “I AM WHO I AM” (or “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE”). It is an answer. It’s enough to say, I am here, was here, I will always be, but it opens up a whole load more questions. How is he here? Did he always exist? How do we relate to him? What does this mean for me? and so on. The act of finding the answers to the questions, is the act of coming towards God. Get on the trampoline – come and join the questioning about the Almighty God, and enjoy the experience of living life with him.
I find this incredibly freeing – we don’t have to have it all worked out, but we can come to God and begin to ask the questions. The truth is the mystery of God, and we can all jump on and live the mystery with him, and delight in the jumping.
I’m looking forward to reading more of what Rob Bell has to say. He gives a different spin on it, focusing on the ‘living with God’ rather than the ‘beleiving the right things’.