Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Last night I was helping to teach a confirmation class. We were discussing the miracles, and having the usual liberal dilemmas about what they mean for us today. We talked about little things being miracles and about how God works through people to bring his miracles to folk nowadays. The young people in the group who are fairly well 'churched' seemed to take hold of this quite well. Perhaps they knew the game that was being played and answered accordingly. But two of the group are rather less regular attenders at church and found it more difficult. It seemed to me that they thought we (the leaders) had got something confused because the story from the Bible we were talking about was clearly a miracle, but all the stuff about people helping each other clearly wasn't.

Thinking about this since then, I wonder whether this variety of liberal Christianity (which I don't want to rubbish, since it has nourished me well for many years) actually requires quite a high level of knowledge of Christian things. People need to know the stories before they can find them difficult. Yet all too often we dive in with our excuses and explanations before we have allowed them to have the time to understand the basics.

This has clear implications for evangelism (itself not a good liberal word) as well as for teaching the faith to young people. We cannot rely on the knowledge of even basic stories like the prodigal son (and certainly not on the names of stories, like the prodigal son or the good Samaritan).

I think that we really need to reconnect with how the Biblical stories transform us and our world. We need to teach the stories, and allow them to do their work. Apologising for Biblical stories before even telling them created barriers, and there are enough of those already.

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