..."Let me ask you a question, Daniel. Where is teh foundation for the home of this spider?" I replied, "Well, I guess it doesn't exactly have one. But it does have anchor points--like where the web attachesto that leaf and that branch and that branch there..."
"Ok," Neo said, "I think you can see where I'm going. What if faith isn't best compared to a building, but rather to a spiderweb? Instead of one foundation, it has several anchor points. Those points might be spiritual experiences, exemplary people and institutions whom one has come to trust, that sort of thing." "But where does the Bible fit in?" I asked.
"Well," Neo replied, "it could be seen as one of the anchor points. Or perhaps every passage in the Bible that has affected your life could be seen as an anchor point. Or perhaps the Bible isn't only in the anchor point. Perhaps it is part of every thread of the web."
I wasn't satisfied. "But I think you're stretching things, Neo. I mean, why just pick a spiderweb as your model for faith? That seems kind of arbitrary, doesn't it?"
"No more than a building with a foundation, really. When you think about it, a spiderweb has some real advantages over a building. It's flexible. It can be repaired when it's damaged. It functions as both a home and a tool for catching food...
Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christian, pp. 54-55
For one thing, the idea of the Church as a building is not arbitrary, but biblical. We have the passage where Jesus tells Peter that upon the rock of the confession of Jesus as the Christ, He will build His Church. There is also the passage where we are told the church is built on "the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone".
And what could the Apostles and the Prophets be for us today, but the Scriptures (with apologies to Peter Wagner and the other pretenders).
But, what is a spider's web? Is it really a home?
I've seen spider's webs, and will not deny that there is something like beauty in them, though best appreciated from a distance. I can remember seeing one foggy morning, large webs visible with beads of water on them, stretched between the lines on overhead power and telephone cables, one after the other, dozens of them. I've also seen smaller one one porches and in trees and other places.
But what is a spider's web?
To my observation, spider's don't really seem to live on their webs; rather, the web seems to be place they work, or to use a better word, hunt. In that sense, it may be seen as an office.
But I think a better way of seeing the web is as a trap.
McLaren does make mention of it, in the above excerpt, where he says it's "a tool for catching food". But if one looks at it as a trap, one can see that a trap is a very different thing from a home or a building.
For example, if one thinks of metal leg traps, one can note that one of those doesn't have a foundation, but it does have an anchor point. Or one of those snares that catch legs and hang the creature by them, those have no foundation but an anchor point much like the web does.
I suppose one could think of traps that do have foundations, just as one could think of houses that don't have foundations like we think of (houses in trees, maybe). But I think a spider's web has more in common with a trap, than with a house or building.