One of my favorite books is Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis. In that book Rob wrote a metaphor that I have used countless time since first reading it… that faith can be like a brick wall or a trampoline. If we build our faith as a wall against the world, then every single brick of doctrine is essential. And if one doctrinal brick is called into question – or even re-evaluation – the whole wall is in danger of collapse. (You can’t punch a hole in a brick wall and maintain it’s stability!)
This is the worldview of people who respond in anger to faith questions that stretch them. Faith positions that get set like stone become monuments – not alive, not growing – just memorials to a moment. God continues to grow me, and my understanding of Him and His Word. I would humbly assert that only people who assume they have it all figured out – that they know what there is to know about God and the mysteries of His universe – don’t need to leave room in their theology for growth, correction, retraction, and… well… God. But if a tweak, or new learning, or a challenge to ANY of my current beliefs makes me afraid that MY WHOLE WALL of faith is set to come down, I would respond in anger, in fear, and reject anything new.
The whole “brick wall” metaphor should instead be replaced by the trampoline. Again, as Rob Bell describes it, a trampoline is held up by many springs. If one spring breaks, the others hold the weight until a new spring can be found. Trampoline faith – or Elastic Faith as I like to call it – operates much the same way. If my understanding of one particular doctrine or another changes or grows, my faith trampoline doesn’t collapse. I don’t fear that all my beliefs are somehow jeprodized by one doctrine being re-examined. The other doctrinal “springs” bare the weight until I can reform or recast my doctrine on the missing point.
Does this mean I doubt the veracity of Scripture? Not hardly. Do I have confidence of the immutability of God? Surely. But it is not God or Scripture that I call into question. It is ME. God doesn’t change, but I had better be changing continually as I grow, as I journey, as I discover anew each day what it means to be a follower of Jesus. And because I am growing and changing, my understanding of the immutable, transforming Creator changes as well. And that is why MY faith must always be elastic…