Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christianity in 90 minutes (plus Q&A)

Through an unexpected series of events, I am teaching a class on the Christianity for a county organization. They maintain an institute on LifeLong Learning for people 50 and older and this particular series is on World Religions.

By divine providence or luck of the draw [I'll decide after the class is over :-)], I am the guy to put out the claims of Christianity.
And I have 90 minutes to do it.

So my mind has been twirling around the idea. What do I say in 90 minutes that encapsulates Christianity? For so many, Christianity is a religion of pejoratives--in other words, a way to "beat the man down," not "lift the man up."

In the technical sense, Christianity is a religion. Religion: From the the Latin--"to reconnect ligaments;. To put things back together." Christianity is, then, all about religion. Rejoining people to God, to each other, to themselves, to creation itself.

But in the popular sense, Christianity is anything but a religion. Religion is humanity's attempts to make things right, to rejoin with God, each other, ourselves, the creation. Do this, say that, stand this way, hold your hands like that. And something gets lost in all that.

Christianity is about Christ. "Christian" was itself a term of derision for the first followers of Jesus--as in, "Oh, they think they are little Christs." And it's stuck ever since.

So I'll be working through this--hoping I do it well so people get a glimpse into the wonder and beauty and goodness that Jesus came to bring into the world. I'll let you know how it goes...


Josh said...

90 minutes. It's possible. Do they get a break?

Maybe you could teach in 15 minute sections.

Perhaps you could ask for perceptions of Christianity.

Perhaps you could have a section listing all the misconceptions of Christianity.

Perhaps you could pull out some Willard on them. Especially the sin management concept.

I definitely think it'd be good to connect it to history...a history of people attempting to follow Christ. Many different thoughts on God, and sometimes even when Christianity there are fights, but we have one thing central: Jesus the Christ. We believe God has come and touched the world and is continuing to touch the world. It is different than theism, with the God up there...incarnation has revolutionized the world.

brad said...

i would likely admit to horrific things done in the name of the religion called christianity. not sure what i'd do with that acknowledgement, but it seems to be something that shouldn't be glossed over in my humble opinion.

good to find your blog scott!

Josh said...

yeah, thinking of donald miller's confession booth...

Josh said...

"Is God really to be found in an organization that slaughtered so many innocent people in the Crusades, that used the Inquisition as a divine tool, that sanctioned racism and sexism for centuries, and that has in its history so much in the way of religious wars, sinful silences, and blind imperialism? Is God really to be found in an organization that has some pedophiles among its ministers? How many millions of people have been hurt by the church? How can the church be forgiven for some its history and parts of its present practice?
“These are not irreverent questions, though, ultimately, not iconoclastic ones either. The church is always God hung between two thieves. Thus, no one should be surprised or shocked at how badly the church has betrayed the gospel and how much it continues to do so today. It has never done very well. Conversely, however, nobody should deny the good the church has done either. It has carried grace, produced saints, morally challenged the planet, and made, however imperfectly, a house for God to dwell in on this earth.
“To be connected with the church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child-molesters, murderers, adulterers, and hypocrites of every description. It also, at the same time, identifies you with saints and the finest persons of heroic soul within every time, country, race, and gender. To be a member of the church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul…because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves.”

Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing, pg 128-129