Anyone walking past 163 Chapel St will notice that scaffolding has gone up and repairs to the tower will begin shortly. I want to invite you to think about this work as a metaphor.
Scaffolding doesn’t actually support the tower; the tower supports the scaffolding. It wraps around it and enables people to access difficult areas and work on them – safely.
When discussing faith questions and progressive ideas about church and God, I often hear the phrase: we have to be careful we don’t pull down the scaffolding! That we don’t dismantle something that is supporting a person’s faith journey; holding it together so-to-speak.
I understand the concern but posing questions and encouraging other perspectives isn’t about attempting to dismantle or remove the scaffolding but rather urging people to use it. To climb it and from different vantage points, examine their faith more closely.
At his trial, the famous philosopher Socrates said,
“An unexamined life is not worth living”.
Similarly, I would suggest that an unexamined faith is not worth having.
It is not unlike what is happening to the tower. It is only when you use the scaffolding to take a closer look at the structure itself that you can see what needs to be replaced or repaired. Faith foundations, like towers, can suffer from years of neglect. Decades and layers of pigeon poop have not helped very much!
We have for quite some time now been aware that the tower needed attention, but other concerns took priority, and now, as a matter of public safety, it has to be completely renovated by lifting it up and replacing its base structure.
Similarly, we can put off close examination of the things upon which our faith has been established and developed, only to discover that the base structure is in need of major repairs. We discover that the faith we had as children or teenagers no longer connects with the realities of the world in which we find ourselves. Nor does it reflect 21st C understanding of history, science, psychology, sociology etc etc
Progressive Christianity isn’t about pulling down the scaffolding but using it to have a closer look at the faith we have inherited and determine whether it is helpful, relevant or life-sustaining. It can be.