Monday, October 27, 2008


Imagine an adult human with a double Ph.D. in engineering and ornithology trying to use grass, feathers, scraps of paper, and mud to build a common robin's nest. His fingers and thumbs form a muddy blob that would crumble in the first rainstorm. Then imagine a robin building the same next with nothing but her beak. The robin (as far as I can tell) doesn't know that she knows how to build a nest and doesn't know how she knows, but she knows; she has a feel for it, as we see every spring. She can do something the certified, lettered expert human can't. Her unknown knowledge illustrates the deepest level of human knowledge that is learned not just from a "teacher" but from a "master". If you ask, "How do you do that, how do you know that?"--the only answer can be, "I don't know; I just know!"

This is the kind of inwardly formed learning that Jesus, as master, teaches his apprentices; a knowledge about how to live that can't be reduced to information, words, rules, books, or instruction, but rather that must be seen in the words-plus-example of the Master.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 96

Ok, can anyone understand what the heck he's trying to say?

Is he trying to tell us that being a Christian is like being a bird? That God pours the knowledge of how to be a Christian into us, so that we know what to do like a bird knows how to build a nest? Because there does not seem to be a "master bird" that goes around teaching other birds how to build nests.

And isn't the whole "knowledge...that can't be reduced to information, words, etc..." just a cop-out? Isn't that just a way of saying "I'm right, just don't ask me to prove it"? Isn't that just his way of telling us to not ask him to expect him to give biblical support to his position, and even to not question when what he says goes against the Bible?

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