I’m not generally keen on acquiescing to authority. I couldn’t even manage to join the Cub Scouts when I was a kid: one time, when I was just considering joining, the Den Daddy, or whatever he was called, cried out, “Okay, boys! Line up! Let’s go! Single file!”
I didn’t much care for his tone. But I understood the concept of lining up. I’d done it before. I got it. And I did like the Boy Scout uniform: I thought those crisp navy-blue shirts were extremely cool.
So, okay. I lined up. No worries.
But apparently the line we boys formed wasn’t tight enough for our DD. “Come on!” he barked. “You can do better than that! Everybody! Stare at the back of the neck of the boy in front of you!”
I walked out of the line. I didn’t want to stare at the hairy mole on the back of the neck of the kid standing in front of me. And I didn’t want to have to suddenly be self-conscious about what the back of my neck looked like, either. I knew I never washed back there. For all I knew, I had mold growing back there.
That night my mom asked me, “What happened? Why did you quit the Cub Scouts?”
“Because I’m too young to join the military,” I said. “Those guys are Nazis.”
“Fair enough,” my mom laughed.
Anyway, with following I’m not so good. And by “not so good,” I mean spectacularly bad. I’m … congenitally predisposed toward independence. I’m actually sort of feral about remaining independent.
For the record, that’s not something I’m proud of. I’m aware that being the sort of guy who doesn’t (as I didn’t) get his picture taken for his senior year high school yearbook has in my life done me at least as much harm as good.
It also doesn’t mean that I don’t like people. I do. A lot! I love people! I stalk seven or eight of them, assiduously. You could set your watch by when I show up at certain bushes throughout my town.
Har! Stalking jokes!
Anyway, about church authority.
I have zero interest in it. None. Zero. Zilich. Nada. I just don’t care what anyone else thinks about what I think about God.
Which is not to say that I’m uninterested in what other think about God. Far from it. I know I can be deeply enriched through other people’s thoughts, experiences and explorations of God, as well as by studying the history of religion generally and Christianity in particular.
Good times, for sure.
But tell me what I should think about God? Tell me what God or Jesus really means by something in the Bible? Tell me (of all things) what church authority has always said about this thing or that?
Then you might as well tell me to line up, and stare at the neck of the guy in front of me.
What is the Holy Spirit for, if not to let us know all that we need to know about God? What was the whole point of the Reformation, if not to definitively assert that everyone can quit listening to church authority, and just start being with God? Why in the world am I supposed to think that someone who has a seminary degree, or graduated from Yale Divinity, or (of all things) wrote a bestselling Christian book, knows more about, or has more direct access to, God, than I do? Who cares about that stuff? Getting a seminary degree is a career choice, not a special ordination from God. Going to Yale Divinity means that you could afford to go to Yale Divinity (and are unlikely to ever have a real job.) Having a bestselling Christian book means that pastors bought your book in bulk to use in their church’s adult education classes—which means the book was really, really safe (read: boring), and encouraged people to give. Is there any way such a book won’t be excruciatingly boring?
Some guy with great hair and a magnetic personality heads a mega-church, and I’m supposed to think he’s got some kind of direct Bat-line to God?
Homey don’ think so.
Okay. Back to work for me. Thanks for letting me rave at you, friends.