When Christianity Becomes Grotesque

23 Mar

Christianity is most beautiful when we enter the story and embrace the mystery.

At its core, following Jesus is about recognizing the grand narrative that He authors and finding our place in it. 

What genre is the story?

Part comedy. Part love story. Part mystery.

In the classic sense, the only difference between a comedy and a tragedy is that a comedy ends well, while a tragedy doesn’t.  We know that the story of Christianity ends well! It is not without its conflict and tragic elements, but in the end love triumphs.

Much of the story is about relationships — we make a terrible mistake if we think of the Bible as primarily a “user’s manual for living”.  It is not.  It is a record of how God interacts with specific real people — with real issues, hardships, challenges, hopes, dreams and contexts.  Can we learn from this?  Absolutely. And it is the story of a love-sick Father in search of his lost children. It is indeed a love story.

And it is a mystery. What is the mystery?  I think it is about who this God really is.  Much of our faith — and the Bible — is about learning and discovering the heart and character of God.  

In the Catholic church, they talk about the mystery of our faith as “mystagogia” and an important part of ones discipleship and spiritual formation is reflection upon these mystagogia or mysteries.

Mystery is beautiful and all faith acknowledges mystery.

What we know about our faith will only take us so far; true faith is when we enter the mystery, embrace the mystery, and affirm the mystery.  We don’t need to answer all the questions; mystery is a good place to be.

But when we try to erase the mystery, OUR FAITH BECOMES GROTESQUE.

For example, there is great beauty in the mystery of communion.  There is something about the bread and the wine that is powerful, and yet always mysterious. However, when we try and erase the mystery and fully understand and explain it — then it becomes both a caracicature of itself and grotesque.

I fully affirm the real presence of Christ in the sacrament. But I am also okay calling it mystery. For me, when we get into trying to explain exactly what happens when (or doesn’t happen when) not only to we erase the mystery but what we replace it with can be rather grotestque.

The same is true when we try to answer the mystery of who is saved, what heaven will be like, what hell will be like, etc.  It is mystery and I think it is meant to be.

One of the disturbing things about the recent barage of attacks on Rob Bell and his new book LOVE WINS has been the obsessive desire to clearly define hell, state with cocky assurance who will be there (and for how long and why) and who will experience nothing but eternal bliss.  The seeming joy in which people are willing to theologically condemn some to eternal damnation — well, it is indeed grotesque.

Some will argue that they are merely teaching/reflecting upon what the Bible teaches.

That is simply not true.

The Bible does not answer these questions with precision. It leaves it as mystery.  And what God leaves as mystery I believe we should embrace as mystery.

Those who insist on removing the mystery through mere speculation and postulating have truly embraced a grotesque caracicature of the Christian faith.


1 Comment

Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


One response to “When Christianity Becomes Grotesque

  1. Ryan Spooner

    March 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Agree 100%. Thanks for writing this, Ben.



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