Lacunas, #1

In my last post, I mentioned that I would be writing a sermon to be entitled “Lacunas” and that I would be addressing some of the holes I saw in the Bible and traditional Christian theology in a series of blogs.

Let me begin by stating that I am not an expert or scholarly theologian in this area. I am grateful that I was able to attend Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, and graduate with a Master of Divinity degree. And, although retired, I am also grateful that I was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), served as an associate minister at a local church for three years, and was active in the work of our presbytery for several years afterwards.

None of this necessarily makes me more qualified to address some of the shortcomings of mainline Christianity than anyone else. What it might suggest, however, is that I may tend to think about religious and spiritual issues more than some people.

For instance, for the past several years, I have been wondering what informs our faith. It seems to me that, by and large, a particular religious tradition (Christianity, for example) rests on four basic pillars: the teachings of an extraordinary leader; the scriptures (oral and/or written) that attest to the leader’s exceptionality; the interpretations and applications of those teachings and scriptures by a community of followers over time; and the inner spiritual guidance and epiphanies of individuals within a particular community of faith.

In other words, if we were seated around a table that represented the Christian faith, the four pillars or legs of the table would translate into first of all, Jesus Christ; second, the Bible, and, in the case for Christianity, the New Testament especially; third, the ongoing interpretation of the Bible by the community of believers who try to understand and apply the teachings of Jesus; and, last but not least, personal revelations that lead us to new insights (or faulty ways of thinking).

The architect in my family tells me that four legs make a stronger table than three, that additional legs make for an even stronger table, and that a round table is stronger than a square or rectangular one. Most communion tables and altars are rectangular and have four legs.

I’m not sure where that leaves us except to wonder what might be missing from the Christian Tradition, for, as Barbara Kingsolver wrote in her novel The Lacuna, “the most important part of any story is the missing piece.”

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