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Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Allegory of the Cave

In the “Allegory of the Cave”, we see an example of people seeing “through the glass dimly.”  Plato describes a group of people in a cave since their childhood, chained so that they cannot move their heads.  I could not picture this until I saw the illustration, but imagine a fire behind the people, casting shadows on the wall in front of them.  There is also a walkway and animals, people and things are carried along between the fire and the wall in front of the prisoners.

All these people know of the world are the shadows on the wall in front of them.  In fact, they may not even know that there is a world outside of those shadows.  All they can see – all they can know – are the flickering shadows on the wall in front of them.

Imagine that one of these prisoners is set free.  He stands up and turns around, seeing the fire for the first time.  This is the first time he sees the direct flame and he is blinded.  At first, before his eyes grow accustomed to the light, the objects that cast the shadows seem unreal – less real than the shadows.  He rebels – this is not what he is used to!

This is the way I felt when I started looking at “reformed theology”.  All of my life I’d been an Arminian, my life, my faith, and my walk were all in my own hands.  I knew what I had to do.  Then, over the course of a year I started studying the passages of both “sides” – I started learning what the Greek meant.

For the first time, I belonged to a God that I knew was in control.  It was an adjustment; my human-centered ego just didn’t like that man is not in control.

To take the Allegory of the Cave a step further, what if this man – in the darkness of the cave since childhood – is taken out into the sunlight.  BLINDNESS!  Even the fire that he first saw is be nothing compared to this blazing ball of fire in the sky – the light that warms the earth.

This is where I am today.  It seems that after a couple of years being comfortable in “reformed theology”, a new curve has been thrown at me. Cessationism.  My entire life has been spent “understanding” - just as the people in the cave understand the shadows – that God “talks”.

Here is the question:  Was the problem the people had because of their wrong understanding of the shadows, or was the heart of the problem their unwillingness to embrace the new knowledge?  I am not ready to embrace “full cessationism”, but I am ready to look at the “real thing” and decide, according to Scripture, what is real and what is not.

The next step in the “Allegory of the Cave” is to bring other people out of the cave.  They don’t like (in fact, they detest) being dragged out of their comfort zone.

I went into the library at the church I attend and asked if they had anything on both sides of the cessationist issue.  There is a certain look that oozes arrogance and I got it.  “We don’t believe in that.  We are a “Spirit-filled” church.

I guess you can’t be Spirit filled unless you have a miraculous gift.

I’ve tried dragging the people at my church out of their cave.  Not to change their minds, but at least to take a look at the issue  - to look at the real basis for their beliefs, not just to go on believing because that’s what they’ve always believed.

It doesn’t work.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato's_allegory_of_the_cave

2 comments:

Kim from Hiraeth said...

Wow! Ellen! Good stuff. I never know which blog to read. I think I better pay closer attention.

Ellen said...

Heh...I got an "A" in the class I wrote that for.

I think I might want to move these over to the main blog at this point and cross post. I like having the blog just for bigger projects and school stuff.

thanks!