On the Difference Between: Child-like & Childish Faith (Miniblog #134)
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” (NRSV). This same message is recorded in both Mark 10 and Luke 18, and was a major theme I heard growing up via the Christianese rendering: child-like faith. I have to admit something, though. I cringe almost every time I hear people use that term. While Christ’s actual teaching is golden, in my estimation it’s typically misunderstood and commonly used to justify all sorts of terrible things.11.Antipathy for even basic theology? Child-like faith. Militant anti-intellectualism baptized with piety? Child-like faith. Christians knowing little to nothing more about the Bible today than they did five years ago? Child-like faith. Condemnations of all ritualism? Child-like faith. Condescending dismissal of formal ecclesiastical structures? Child-like faith. You get the picture. Of course, the problem isn’t the term itself. Actually, I kind of like it. It seems to me the problem lies in our profound misunderstanding of the term, the concept it’s supposed to summarize and express, and the passages upon which it’s based. Lemme shoot straight with you. The plain reality is that far too many of us have mistaken child-like faith with childish faith. One is a matter of trust. The other immaturity. Reception of God’s kingdom isn’t dependent up perpetual intellectual, psychological, and spiritual adolescence; rather, it’s dependent upon an abiding confidence and dependence. That’s what the kingdom is all about.