Sunday, May 6, 2012

Analogies, Parables, and Teaching Stories- Part 1

I've always had a thing for analogies, parables, and the like. As teaching tools, they use every-day situations and ideas to explain complex principles, making those complex ideas a whole lot easier to understand. Often, they can explain ideas that would otherwise be nigh impossible to explain accurately.

Jesus Himself used parables all the time in His teaching. Sometimes this was to make the teaching of a certain principle easier. But often He didn't give an explanation. He simply allowed people to take from the "nice story" what they would- an act of mercy, given that we are each held accountable for following the doctrines we understand.

Here is one of my favorites.

Having been raised LDS (Mormon), I'd grown up singing songs like "Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam," and "I Believe in Christ" and taking the sacrament (Lord's Supper or Communion). So when I first heard someone say that Mormons weren't Christian, I really didn't get it!

I asked the smartest guy I knew-my dad- why they would think that, and here's what he told me:

If you define a duck as a white waterfowl with webbed feet, a broad bill, a distinctive waddling walk, and quacks, you'd be right.. sort of. But you'd also be terribly wrong in many ways.

Think of all the wild varieties of duck- not a one is all-white. But just because this is how you've defined a duck, does that mean that all Mallards and Wood ducks aren't ducks at all?

If you define a Christian as a person who believes/believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God/Savior, and believes in the Trinity/believes that salvation is by grace or faith alone/etc.. then you'd be right.. sort of. But you'd also be terribly wrong in many instances.

According to, the adjective christian is defined as:

1. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.
3. Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
4. Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
5. Showing a loving concern for others; humane.
6. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) of, relating to, or derived from Jesus Christ, his teachings, example, or his followers
7. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) (sometimes not capital) exhibiting kindness or goodness

When I served as a missionary in Wisconsin, I found that many people over-refined this basic easy-to-understand definition by adding caveats like:
* belief in the Trinity (1- Check out the history of the Council of Nicea and guess how much divine direction was going on there. 2- John 17 refutes this.. unless Jesus was schizophrenic..?)
* being born again as the only requirement (Matthew 24:13 "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.")


See, only He is the judge of who is and isn't really a Christian. He can look into a person's heart and determine what someone's motives are, if those motives are nefarious or benevolent. Only He is able to determine if someone is one of His sheep.

His sheep know Him. They know His voice.

1 comment:

  1. It is by their fruits - not by their denomination - that ye shall know them. You are so right.