Sunday, May 21, 2006

? and !

I notice that the response to The Da Vinci Code seems to focus on the 'fact OR fiction' choice. I remain unconvinced that this is the core issue. Some is fact. Some is fiction. But like the movie JFK, the difficulty is not that some is fact and some is fiction but in knowing which is which. The line between the two is difficult to draw as there is this seamless movement between the two. And so what happens is that a cloud of uncertainty settles in over everything - even the facts! The really real begins to be doubted. The truly true begins to crumble. People begin to hold their convictions like they are holding fog.
I see this all the time. People have heaps of questions. That's good. Creating a safe place to ask hard questions is an essential feature of Christian community today. The ?s must not be dismissed...
However, something must keep flowing alongside the ?s. These are the affirmations, the things we know for sure. The !s... I am alarmed by how much conversation among Christians focuses on what we do not know, rather than on what we do know.

Here are three ways in which I like to respond to this:
(a) I like the content and structure of a hymn. Each verse opens up with 'I cannot tell' (or, 'I don't understand') ... but then further down, half way through each verse comes the same response each time: 'But this I know' (or, 'I am sure'; 'I rest my life on this'; 'I am convinced of this'). This mirrors life. Up front there are so many things that we just don't know (the ?s), but deeper than these things - every single time - are things we do know (the !s). This is how life needs to be lived. We recognise that these two coexist - but we learn to live with one deeper down than the other.
(b) I like to keep an eye out for the things that the Bible tells us that 'we know'. I save these passages and go over them again and again. Here are a few for the eager among you: Deuteronomy 7:7-9; Psalm 100 and Psalm 139; Isaiah 40 (particularly the closing verses); Job 19:25-27; Jeremiah 29:10-14; Ecclesiastes 11; all of John's gospel and all of 1 John (they are full of things we know to be true); Romans 5:1-5; 8:18-39; 1 Corinthians 13:8-13; 15:58; 2 Corinthians 5:1-11; 8:9; Ephesians 1:15-23; 2 Timothy 1:12...
(c) Always remember that the 'magic' in the Christian life begins not so much with the fact that I can know God, but that I am known by God.

We need to let these !s be an antidote to the ?s which things like the Da Vinci Code spark and spread through our lives.

nice chatting

Paul

4 comments:

Sarah said...

Thanks again Paul
I always really enjoy reading what you have to say. I print it of and get my leaders to have a read.
God Bless
Sarah Crocombe (Yth Pst Temuka Bap)

Tash said...

A great new use of that hymn - methinks it is one of your favourites. We went today (some of the pastoral staff together) to watch Da Vinci. Aside a critique of the technical production of the movie - it was fascinating to watch those who were non-plussed and those for whom it was rattling. Even one who 'discovered' via the movie the method by which the canon was decided! At first she believed that the Council of Nicea was part of the fiction ..

For me, most interesting, is the illumination ('cuse the pun) of the importance of Church History and the (hat tip to emergents) 'Tribal Story'.

Perhaps if we really were more certain of that which we know, and what we come from - we would face our ?'s on a surer footing.

Paul Windsor said...

It was great to meet you Sarah over the weekend in Geraldine. Gee - I loved being with all of you. Training people to preach in the nooks ands crannies of NZ has gotta be my favourite thing to do.

And Tash - I haven't seen Da Vinci Code yet - too many people have put me off! But I'll get there this weekend ... but I could not say it better than you do with your final paragraph. Sometime read 1John looking for the word 'know' - it is amazing! Just as the Gospel of John was written so that unbelivers might 'believe' (John 20:31), the Letters of John were written so that believers would 'know' (1 John 5:13) - and be assured of certain things. The whole journey towards faith and then the journey of faith is covered between the two. Its good stuff...

Paul Windsor said...

Saw a statement today that grasps my concern with this posting: "never let what we are uncertain about, rob us of our certainties."