Fundie God Dictation Bible: Matthew 18:3

Cleanliness is next to godliness

Christians of certain traditions love to talk about the importance of being childlike, obliquely referring to this passage, but this is used worryingly often to mean that you should trust the church leadership, and not ask too many difficult questions. I’d have said that the context indicates pretty clearly that the important feature is humility, which I suggest is a message pertinent to anyone who expects unconditional trust, but this is glossed over or ignored, and if you disagree with the conclusion you’re providing clear evidence that you’re not trusting like a child.

But if these church leaders are right, and we can’t take Matt 18:4 as evidence that this verse refers to humility, what else could it mean? What does it mean to be childlike? Well, I’ve had a few thoughts about that:

And he said, “Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

And the disciples said, “Why?”

Jesus said, “Because it’s important to be trusting, and to have a pure heart.”

And the disciples said, “Why?”

“Because that makes you a nice person.”

And the disciples said, “Why?”

“Because I said so. Now stop asking why.”

Simon Peter paused in the middle of picking his nose and said, “But we’re being like little children, like you told us.”

“Oh, I see,” said Jesus. “That wasn’t quite what I meant – stop that, Philip – but never mind. Let’s just forget about that for now – I said stop that – and I’ll explain later. Okay?”

The disciples shuffled their feet and mumbled “Yes.”

“Good,” said Jesus. “Now come on, we’d better get a move on if we want to get back to Nazareth this evening.”

“Teacher,” said James, “John took my sandals.”

Jesus wept.

Photo by Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis, used under Attribution License

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About Recovering Agnostic

I'm Christian by upbringing, agnostic by belief, cynical by temperament, broadly scientific in approach, and looking for answers. My main interest at the moment is in turning my current disengaged shrug into at least a working hypothesis.

8 responses to “Fundie God Dictation Bible: Matthew 18:3”

  1. 2012 and all that says :

    If we leave aside the “innocence” and “purity” angle, there’s something rather sinister about Matthew 18:3. It isn’t just about trust, it is about acceptance of authority… you must believe what you are told without question, do as you are told without question. Sit down, shut up, respect your superiors without exception or else be sent to bed without any supper and maybe face the strap…

    Such an attitude is indicative of totalitarian systems of control. North Korea ain’t go nothin’ on YHWH.

  2. Daz says :

    I do like to see a point made with a chuckle. Thanks.

    Kinda reminded me of this old Joyce Grenfell monologue…

    Old fashioned, but still brings a smile.

  3. tobeforgiven says :

    I’d like you to re read Matthew 18 (the entire thing so as to understand context) and then explain what the that section (specifically 18:1-9) is about.

    You will find that it has nothing to do with questioning authority.

    Also, if you could, find me where Jesus tells anyone not to question authority.

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      Ooh, homework! Excellent! I’ll get right on that.

      Well, if we’re handing out assignments, I’d like you to actually read what I wrote, rather than what you think I wrote, or what you think I meant, and for extra credit, you can read my whole page on what these parodies are about. Then you can try again.

  4. Lorena says :

    LOL! Hilarious.

  5. tobeforgiven says :

    OK I did. Your saying this verse is telling we need to have faith (or Trusting) without questioning. Is that correct?
    If not please clarify.

    Also, I did not assume much as I just told you to read it and asked if you understood the purpose of that text.

    Then asked you to find where Jesus says not to question authority.

    This should be easy right?

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      No, I’m not saying that. That’s how some people choose to explain the text. I disagree with them, but my precise interpretation isn’t important, because what I’m really bothered about is people making dodgy and manipulative claims for their own ends.

      That and having a cheap laugh.

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