Religion: Can We Know God? (27) Education, Day Two

   Discipleship is education, in that the disciple (learner) is transformed by the renewing of his mind. "Renewing" is progressive transformation. The renewed disciple takes the information his mentor imparts and learns to engage his culture with this information, growing in grace and knowledge (insight) into favor with God and Man. That is, he becomes one various ones can hear because of the Source of his information.

   If one accepts this definition of discipleship, we can understand education is not intended (should not intend) to help a person amass mounds of information. Expository preaching, for instance, is misunderstood if one interprets exposition as the introduction of a text, with attendant notes on language, history and a minute application, usually sculpted to fit a local prejudice.

   If discipleship is education, if education is the progressive transformation of one's mind such that we may engage our culture with knowledge and insight rather than some nebulous "faith experience" that  can be gained or lost depending upon our momentary feelings and certain to force the Christian "Faith" into a tiny subculture, then the Source of our education matters. For instance, if we intend to learn from God in order to change Man, philosophical refection on faith matters takes the place of dogmatic indoctrination, as well as dispossessing the primacy of emotion in religious expression. Real religion requires real philosophical reflection, lest religion fall into the (current) miasma of superficiality.

   Real philosophical reflection may not be much different from just thinking hard. Philosophical reflection on a specific subject may just be hard thinking on a subject, all the while taking care not to filter information through the seine of acceptable bias. Jesus, the Christ, educates His listeners with information intent to cut across their cultural assumptions with the ferocity of a rip saw. 

   Deep thinking on Christianity is made more clear with specific knowledge on the subject, from its overarching themes to minutia. The wise Christian philosopher (progressively renewed disciple) learns specific items of information. He does not allow the "Basics" to become the "Sum of All Wisdom" for he holds the "Great Purposes" dear enough to call him to death. He might not die to promote amillenialism, for instance, but he lives (and loves) to advance the Great Purposes. 

   The Disciple sees the Great Purposes of the Christian Movement as democratization of the greater population, expanding participation, recognizing social and moral interdependence and securing the vulnerable. Agape love "leavens the whole lump," so Jesus teaches love for God and Man as the Greatest Commandments, i.e., the necessary impetus (and editor) of the Great Purposes. Love changes everything. Everything needs changing.

   So, we might distinguish between disciples of action and movement disciples. Action disciples may tend to incremental transformation, while movement disciples require vast, spotlessly puritanical reconstruction. The action disciples will be disappointed because their "actions of the possible" (the gospel of what works) finally lacks depth in its repetitive activities. The movement disciples will be disappointed finally because they are purists and no one is ever pure enough for them. Any discussion smacks of compromise for them. Legalism is born of personal stringency first.

   For instance, Gandhi used a particularly Hindu form of non-cooperation called satyagraha to liberate the Indian sub-continent from the British Raj. In his passionate non-participation, Ganhdi used what has been (mistakenly) called civil disobedience to cripple the British empire and bring about swaraj. He is fittingly called the "Great Soul" for his liberating work. 

   Jesus, the Christ, taught His disciples (interestingly, the first group of disciples known to make more disciples for their mentor, rather than establish disciples of themselves) a different form of non-participation. Christian non-participation allows one to bring about incremental change in society without withdrawal (render to Caesar what is his). In fact, Christian non-participation (based on the educative actions of the Great Mentor) actually ban withdrawal, requiring Christian citizens "to be in the World but not of it." Thus, Jesus shows Himself to be both an Activist (pragmatic, incremental transformer) and a Movement (visionary, ethos transformer) Educator. He is in the Now, for the Then, Here for There. His disciples (those educated by Him) can (must) engage culture lovingly (or with rightful indignation) in unconditional agreement with their Master Teacher.


Opinions expressed here are mine alone.





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