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Monday, May 2, 2016

The ability to contribute

In a private response to my previous post, one of my friends made the following comments:

"Did you run out of ideas?

But to address your comments: how about we ask 'How can a person who is 2 years old, never read a thing, and doesn't even speak in sentences possibly have anything of value or interest to offer in the way of insights into God or his purposes and expectations? Of course, such a question implies that literate, articulate adults have made nothing but stellar contributions in this regard.' The fact is that one doesn't imply the other, nor does the reasoning demonstrate that attributes are not limiters.

There ARE characteristics that do limit a person's ability to contribute. I'm not suggesting you have any of them, but your implication seems to be that nothing could limit a person's contribution. I disagree, but I prefer to examine an argument rather than its author."

This prompts me to ask: What are the characteristics that limit a person's ability to make meaningful contributions to this topic?

My friend's substitution of the two year old into my statement is a case in point. Does a two year old have the capacity to offer insights into God and "His" character that could be considered superior to what a reasonably intelligent and well educated adult might be able to contribute? Jesus Christ seemed to think so. In addition to quoting this passage from the Old Testament: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise," he said: "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."

When considering some of the attitudes that we bring to the table in trying to answer such questions, I am reminded of just how impaired our judgment can be on occasion. The story of how God chose David to be king is a wonderful illustration of this point. In the final analysis, everything that Samuel had considered to be an important quality for a king was dismissed by God as unimportant.

I have a cousin with Down Syndrome. I will not dispute the fact that she has a low IQ, or that her intellectual abilities are severely impaired. Nevertheless, she continues to surprise me with some of the things that come out of her sweet little mouth! She has made her mother a better person, a better Christian (she has made me a better person).

In my original post on this subject, I referred to the story of the poor widow's mite. The crowd was impressed with the contributions that the wealthy folks had been able to offer, but Christ was impressed with her meager offering. Indeed, he said that her offering was superior to all of theirs. They had contributed from their abundance, while she had given everything she had to give. Clearly, the ability to contribute doesn't necessarily trump the willingness to do so.

In the book of Genesis, there is another story that I regard as a very interesting parable: The Tower of Babel. In the story, God is purported to have said: "this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." They wanted to build a tower that would "reach unto heaven." In the story, only the restraint imposed upon them by God prevented them from achieving their objective. Are there real limitations on our abilities to make meaningful contributions to this topic? OR are most of the things that we consider to be limitations only imaginary? Is imagination the factor that allows us to supercede our limitations?

And, in answer to my friend's first question: No, I haven't run out of ideas yet!


  1. "Jesus Christ seemed to think so"

    The Gospels can not be trusted to be historic - way too many problems, weak/fake provenance.

    You Bible-thumpers really need to read university level scholarship, like Ian Boyne now does (he's not going to be a Bible-thumper for much longer!)

  2. Minimalist, I am not ignorant of the biblical scholarship you reference. You have reached a different conclusion than I have about Scripture, but my views are also based on an awareness of that information. You reject the whole thing as worthless - I don't!

    1. Are your views plastic? subject to revision, as you study more (real) scholarly material like Ian Boyne is doing?

  3. You tell me - how far have I already traveled away from Armstrongism? And I don't think Ian Boyne is a great example of an open mind - He is still enamored with Armstrong's theology. Moreover, while I don't have a problem with studying the research and views of biblical scholarship, you may have picked up on the fact that I don't believe it's wise to ignore/dismiss the views of folks who are not among the ranks of elite scholarship.