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Questions (courtesy of Rob Bell) – Part 4

April 17, 2008

Today I will address one of the most controversial sections of Velvet Elvis, though I will avoid the actual quotes in question because I think it clouds the real point of the chapter. In this section the author introduces a new phrase he calls “brickianity”. He is using the analogy of our faith being like a trampoline, made up of springs, and as we jump we are questioning and testing our faith. It is a picture of the evolution of your personal faith in Christ as we mature or come to a better or different understanding of Him.

This is where the springs on the trampoline come in. When we jump, we begin to see the need for springs. The springs help make sense of these deeper realities that drive how we live every day. The springs aren’t God. The springs aren’t Jesus. The springs are statements and beliefs about our faith that help give words to the depth that we are experiencing in our jumping. I would call these doctrines of the Christian faith. They aren’t the point. They help us understand the point, but they are a means and not an end. We take them seriously, and at the same time we keep them in proper perspective….

Somebody recently gave me a videotape of a lecture given by a man who travels around speaking about the creation of the world. At one point in his lecture, he said if you deny that God created the world in six literal twenty-four hour days, then you are denying that Jesus ever died on the cross. It’s a bizarre leap of logic to make, I would say. But he was serious.

It hit me while I was watching that for him faith isn’t a trampoline; it’s a wall of bricks. Each of the core doctrines for him is like an individual brick that stacks on top of the others. If you pull one out, the whole wall start to crumble. It appears quite strong and rigid, but if you begin to rethink or discuss even one brick, the whole thing is in danger. Like he said, no six-day creation equals no cross. Remove one, and the whole wall wobbles…

…What if that spring was seriously questioned? Could a person keep jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?  If the whole faith falls apart when we reexamine and rethink one spring, then it wasn’t that strong in the first place, was it?

This is because a brick is fixed in size. It can’t flex or change size, because if it does, then it can’t fit into the wall.  What happens then is that the wall becomes the sum total of the beliefs, and God becomes as big as the wall.  But God is bigger than any wall. God is bigger than any religion. God is bigger than any worldview. God is bigger than the Christian faith.

…One of the things that happens in brickworld, you spend a lot of time talking about how right you are. Which of couse leads to how wrong everybody else is. Which then leads to defending the wall. It struck me that you rarely defend a trampoline. You invite people to jump on it with you. I am far more interested in jumping than I am in arguing about whose trampoline is better.

The problem with brickianity is that walls inevitably keep people out. Often it appears as though you have to agree with all of the bricks exactly as they are or you can’t join. Maybe you have been outside the wall before. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Jesus invites everybody to jump.

Does your faith in Christ more closely resemble a brick wall or a trampoline?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. tim permalink
    April 21, 2008 7:35 pm

    Good excerpt. Another way to look at it is a web connected to numerous points. Brian McClaren – New Kind of Christian.

  2. aaron heeg permalink
    April 25, 2008 5:11 am

    I find the analogy of the trampoline an excellent way to describe how flexibility is a key for being an effective Christian leader. I know of a leader in the body of Christ who calls one of his teachings, the non-negotiable of Apostolic Christianity. The more I think of the trampoline analogy in comparison to this title the more I understand why this man is so isolated. The thing that is so funny is that I have found myself being a brick head on many occasions and as a result I have found myself in a cave. Lord, search me and know my heart… help me come out the cave of Brickianity!

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