I have been asked a serious, challenging question that I cannot easily answer (at least, not right away). It was asked in an email, so I could just skip it (or reply to the asker), but the fact of the matter is that I come here to be challenged and I’m ASKING for criticism of my ideas, so it would really do me no good to keep this one secret.
(And, for that matter, I’m not ENTIRELY certain that the question, as asked, was intended to be as challenging as I’ve taken it, but intended or not, it led me into this line of thought, so that’s what I’m sharing.)
The question is, “where should someone go to find the deeper meaning in life, that I’m calling everyone to HAVE.”
My assumption here is that the question was motivated by my beginnings of a tirade against the church, and that’s where I get in trouble. I have an answer, to how people could (and would more easily) find and learn Christianity without the existence of the church as we know it, but that is entirely theoretical, and no one will let me get away with it (understandably).
One of my Bible professors at college described the difference between the Temple and the Tabernacle, at such time as both existed simultaneously. There was a Temple, where people went to perform the acts of worship and (during the worst of times) idolize the priests. The Temple was a majestic place, where majestic events happened.
The Tabenacles were sort of Temple subsitutes spread across world, everywhere outside of Israel where Hebrews sought to obey the old Law. Tabernacles were a LOT like our Bible School. And by that, I don’t mean directed at Children, I just mean the Sunday morning classes without the appended worship service. It’s where Hebrews would go to learn the Law and the Prophets, to study the strictures of the Pharisees and even to learn the language. It’s also where the Bible scholars (as it were) would gather together to discuss religious issues and develop Ideas about God and his intentions for Man.
(I’m not really going anywhere good with all this. It’s just a history lesson based on a half-remembered description that I may or may not be getting right….)
Anyway. I value the present-day church for its Tabernacling. Most of my criticisms are for its Templing. The worship service (that is SO divisive), the (fairly pathetic) elevation of a priesthood, the internal focus that so many preachers preach against during the same rite that drives people to do it in the first place….
I also really dislike the Pharisaical codes (the ones Jesus railed against, and the ones we make today, like our condemning Christian children dancing, as a particular example), and those were a product of the Tabernacle. But, for the most part, I recognize the need for a meeting place and a place of learning, as we are all strangers in a strange land.
(No, God said it first. That guy just appropriated it for his book title.)
I guess that’s the roundabout answer to my question. I believe in Bible School. Personally, honestly, I’m more…well, like the Sith, I guess. Y’know, let the parents teach their kids, and if they don’t…everyone study under one master, and everyone take one apprentice. But then that leads to killing the master once you’ve learned more than he knows, and that’s just bad. Poor, poor Dr Baird….
No. That’s just me, because I’m morbidly shy (I call it “anti-social” because that makes me feel cool). I do recognize the value of Bible School. I’ve always intended it for my children. When I stopped attending church all the time, I made a determined decision to do so, but at that time I agreed with Trish that, as soon as we had children, I’d reverse that decision. Not because it would change anything, but because the children will need to learn all the things I had the luxury of growing up learning….
And I certainly don’t want them to hear my ideas only. That would be wildly unfair….
We’ll probably stay for the service, too, when that time comes. I can see its value, but I see it as a crutch. Yes, people need that sometimes, but we teach them to rely on it, we teach them to make the worship service their life of service to God (even though, yes, we preach against that once a month, there is a reason we have to do that — its built into the system). But my children will be young, then, and still in need of such things, so I’ll let them lean on the church, let them learn what they need to know.
As for me…I have a church that I regularly attend (more regularly than most people, even). I encourage and support them, and they return the favor. I strive together with them to grow in my understanding of God, and his desires for Man. And we just kinda got a Benevolence/Outreach Minister, in that Daniel has decided he needs to start doing good deeds. So there’s that. It’s mostly you guys. I’ve seen smaller churches. And EVERY big church I ever attended…I eventually found a group about this size, and spent all my time with them. This is almost no different from that, although I miss out on the arguments over piano music at a wedding held in the church building, and whether or not it was satanism to invite a hypnotist to perform at Soul Fest. But, y’know, I can mostly do without those.
I dunno. This isn’t an answer at all, but I didn’t promise one. It’s mostly ramblings, but a glimpse into my thoughts on the issue. Should be lots of good material in their for comments, supporting or challenging or (most likely) asking for clarification. Hit me with ’em. I’d like to figure out what I’m saying here as much as you would.