Let us consider a father and his young daughter Gloria. At school one day, the daughter is given a homework assignment. “Draw a crayon picture showing the class how your father get breakfast for your family.”
Gloria comes home and tells her father about the assignment. She concludes with a question, “How do you get breakfast for our family?”
The father thinks for a minute and says, “I build planes to get breakfast for our family.”
Gloria goes to her crayons and begins to draw. After a few minutes, she has completed her work. The image that she has created is crude with stick figures. It depicts her father using a hammer to build a plane and a pilot giving her father milk and cereal to fly the plane. She takes the drawing to school and gives it to the teacher. When she receives it back, her father mounts it on his wall.
Many months later, Gloria comes home from school very upset. She is crying and she runs to her dad and says, “Daddy! A bully at school said you were a liar!” Her father struggles to comfort her. “Gloria what is wrong? What are you talking about?”
Gloria struggles to get the words out through her tears, “There is this bully and he said that his father was better than my father. He said that his father was a fireman and was really, really brave. I told him that you made planes for milk and cereal and he laughed! He said making planes takes thousands of people! He said that companies that build planes don’t pay for it with milk and cereal!”
Looking at the drawing on the wall, the father remembers the incident clearly. He picks up his little girl and gives her a big hug. He says, “Gloria I didn’t lie to you. Yes it is true that it takes thousands of people to build a plane, but I am one of those people. Yes it is true that they don’t pay me in milk and cereal, but I use the money that they pay me to buy milk and cereal from the store. The boy you talked to was right about those things, but I have never lied to you. Sometimes you are not old enough to understand so I tell you things in a simple way.”
Gloria is relieved and hugs her father, “Daddy I knew you wouldn’t have lied to me.”
In this story, we catch a glimpse of a powerful truth. Notice that the father told the truth to his daughter. Notice also that the difficulties that the little boy (whom Gloria calls a bully but who is really just a “know it all”.) finds with the father’s simple explanation are also true. Notice that both the boy and the father can be correct simultaneously because the apparent contradictions that the boy is pointing out are artifacts of the simplification that the father used to tell his young daughter the truth.
Now let us imagine a different story. Let us imagine a young man named Gary. One day, Gary comes home and falls down on his knees and starts praying. “God, Mr. Worldly Philosopher says you are a liar! Mr. Worldly Philosopher says that you would be evil if you had to torture someone to death to forgive sins!”
Now how would God respond to this prayer? Isn’t it possible that God would respond to Gary like the father responded to Gloria in the first story? “My beloved son, I never lied to you. I told you that my son died on the cross to fulfill the Law of Moses. He actually died on the cross to fulfill the Law of Love. The Law of Moses was a simplification of the Law of Love that I gave to a brutal and simple people because they were not ready for the whole truth. The Law of Love that my son summarized in the Sermon on the Mount required that Jesus intercede on your behalf with the greatest act of love possible. Once he died on the cross, I matched his act of love by giving to all men the justification of life.”
Do you see what is happening here? God reveals as much of the truth as his people can understand. Not realizing that “eye for an eye” is the simplification of “turn the other cheek” given for their hardness of heart, later generations think that God commanded them to take an eye for an eye! Not understanding that “give her a certificate of divorce” was a concession to their hardness of heart, later generations think that God commanded divorce! Focusing on the Law of Moses rather than on the Law of Love, generations of theologians find enormous problems in making sense of what God has said in the past. All the while they have not realized that the Law of Moses was a bare minimum standard used by God to teach a brutal and savage people the basics of the Law of Love.
If even Christian theologians focus on the Law of Moses and not the Law of Love, is it any wonder that worldly philosophers also focus on the Law of Moses? With everyone focused on the gross simplification of the Law of Love that is the Law of Moses, is it any wonder that people think that Christian theology is full of contradictions and paradoxes? The only way to resolve these contradictions and paradoxes is to acknowledge the limitations of Moses and the nation of Israel. The only way to solve the paradoxes is to realize that they are artifacts of the simplified explanations given to brutal and primitive people.
Of course, the father who worked in the aerospace industry had another daughter named Angela. After Gloria comes home crying, Angela comes in triumphant with her dress covered in blood. “Daddy! I beat up a bully who called you a liar today!”
Her father is very distressed and angry. “Gloria told me about what happened. That little boy was not a bully and he did not call me a liar. Everything that little boy said was true. I do not make planes alone and I do not get paid in milk and cereal. You need to not lean on your own understanding young lady! Haven’t I also told you not to hit other children? Now go to your room and stay there until I come up!”
Are there any people like Angela out in the real world?