Yesterday my precocious 4-year-old said he wanted to be baptized. I don’t think he’s ready yet; our church doesn’t baptize kids until they are at least seven.
But, how would I know if he was ready?
What is the minimum someone needs to truly understand in order to authentically embark on a lifelong journey of discipleship? In short, how should you explain the gospel to preschoolers?
At Catalyst One Day, Pastor Andy Stanley explained how North Point Community Church‘s Sunday School curriculum focused on hammering home a small set of basic truths at each stage of life. Surprisingly, perhaps due to the decentralized nature of North Point’s ministries, I couldn’t find them written down in one place. Here’s what I’ve been able to compile.
This is an expanded excerpt from the emergence discussion from the Partially Examined Life Citizen Commons. We studied the classic More is Different: Broken Symmetry and the Hierarchical Nature of Science by P.W. Anderson. Their discussion software butchered my reply, so I figured I should clean it up by reposting it here.
It is difficult to have productive disagreements around “emergence” and “reductionism” because of the vague, confusing, and downright inconsistent way these terms are used. To help clear things up, I propose we talk in terms of the following levels.
I want to be a Whole Christian.
I want to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength, and be part of a worshipping community with others who do.
I want to love my brothers and sisters the way Christ loves me,
my neighbor as myself,
and my enemies.
Especially my enemies. For I have discovered that I only see the log in my own eye after I find grace for the speck in someone else’s.
Dear Partially Examined Life podcasters,
Like Skepoet, I was very impressed by your recent episode on Plato’s “Euthyphro.” And yes, Seth, I deeply appreciated your perspective on Judaism. In particular, it helped me realize that modern Christianity in practice actually functions the way you describe Judaism (with decisions made by a small group of authorities revered for their understanding of the text), even if in theory it we claim our theology is a matter of rigorous logical deductions available to all.
That said, my overall reaction was much like the one Socrates had:
But I see plainly that you are not disposed to instruct me-dearly not: elsewhy, when we reached the point, did you turn, aside? Had you only answered me I should have truly learned of you by this time the-nature of piety.
I freely admit I am a philosophical dilettante and undoubtedly biased my religious upbringing. That is why (like Socrates to Euthyphro :-) I come to you who seem so certain to in hopes of illuminating my ignorance. Yet just when you seem on the verge of actually addressing the problem I care about, you veer away. Perhaps you can help me understand why…
Dear Mark, Seth, and Wes,
Thanks for the shout out on the The Partially Examined Life blog. First of all, I want to apologize for my snarky and apparently misleading comments on your Facebook page; let me know when I’ve expended $10 worth of annoyance and I’ll make another donation. :-)
Now that I’ve got your attention, though, let me try to articulate my concerns more coherently, to hopefully inspire a more substantive critique. It is pretty verbose, though, so I’ve posted a reply on my own blog, below. You can reply either there or on your own post, whichever is more convenient.
One of the most common complaints about religion is that it is “anti-scientific”, or conversely that science has removed the need for religion. To be sure, there is a grain of truth in this critique — especially given the anti-intellectual tendencies of American Fundamentalism, which is what the new wave of militant atheists appear to be reacting against.What amuses (and saddens) me is how few of these critics — despite their vocal praise and defense of science — seem to have a deep understanding of the scientific process, much less a willingness to apply these lauded techniques to create a systematic and comprehensive picture of religion.To that end, I offer the following summary as a starting point for a scientific analysis of religion. It is only a rough first draft; still, one of the goals to the scientific method is supplanting crude theories with more sophisticated ones, that ultimately do a better job of explaining existing data and predicting future results. Hopefully some of my correspondents will rise to the challenge. Continue reading