Angels Dancing On A Pin
I was watching a video the other day of three Christian pastors/authors, who were arguing about whether God causes all things (both good and bad) to happen to us.
Two of the pastors argued that God does cause all things to happen to us--even the worst things--in order to teach us and shape us. The other pastor argued that God doesn't cause all things, but that God is present in all circumstances and moments--both good and bad.
I get that this is a topic that probably needs to be unpacked. Lots of people have pretty negative opinions about God because they've been taught that God goes around smiting people with awful afflictions and circumstances---for their own good.
For the record, I don't hold that particular notion.
But the whole thing made me recall an obscure question that certain medieval Christian scholars debated: "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"
In 1619, theologian William Sclater offered the following criticism of seventeenth-century Christian thinkers and authors.
He writes how they wasted time and energy debating whether angels "did occupie a place; and so, whether many might be in one place at one time; and how many might sit on a Needles point; and six hundred such like needlesse points."
It comforts me some to know that here was this guy in the 1600's, critiquing the endless debates about Christian doctrine in his own era, and ends up asking the same question I was asking about the pastors in the video: "Seriously?"
In the first decade of the 20th century, Oswald Chambers lamented the following: "Today we have substituted doctrinal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many people are devoted to causes and so few are devoted to Jesus Christ."
As someone who loves to overthink some of these things---I think that those of us who call ourselves Christians are in constant danger of overthinking the Christian faith to the point where we lose sight of who is at the center of it---Jesus himself.
And when we lose sight of Jesus, we run the risk of completely missing the point about why we do any of the things we do as Christians.
Pursue a real and intimate relationship with Jesus today. Seek to be like Jesus in all that you do and say. Discover ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who desperately need to feel his presence. All the rest--doctrines, questions, debates--will resolve themselves.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.
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