Talladega Nights and the Restoration Movement
If THAT title doesn’t get some hits, I don’t know what will!
Bear with me, though. I’ve got an idea, and I’m curious about how it resonates with my dear readers.
In Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby is fixated on the Baby Jesus. He seems to know that Jesus grew up, but all he wants to think about is the Baby Jesus.
“Look, I like the Christmas Jesus best, and I’m sayin’ grace. When you say grace, you can say it to Grownup Jesus or Teenage Jesus or Bearded Jesus or whoever you want.”
“Dear Tiny Jesus, in your golden fleece diapers with your tiny, little fat balled up fists. Dear Eight Pound, Six Ounce, Newborn Baby Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant, so cuddly, but still omnipotent.”
“Dear Lord Baby Jesus, we also like to thank you for my wife’s father Chip, we hope that you can use your baby Jesus powers to heal him and his horrible leg.”
“Dear 8 pound 6 ounce Baby Jesus, or as our brothers to the south call you Jésus…we thank you so much for this bountiful harvest of Domino’s, KFC, and the always delicious Taco Bell. I just want to take time to say thank you for my family, My two beautiful, beautiful, handsome, striking sons, Walker, and Texas Ranger, or T.R., as we call him.”
“Dear Lord baby Jesus, lyin’ there in your ghost manger, just lookin’ at your Baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin’ ’bout shapes and colors. I would like to thank you for bringin’ me and my mama together, and also that my kids no longer sound like retarded gang-bangers.”
“Thank you, for all your power and your grace, Dear Baby God, Amen”
Okay, you get the idea.
MY idea is that maybe, just maybe, we in the Restoration Movement think about the church in much the same way that Ricky Bobby thinks about Jesus. We obsess over its infancy, when perhaps we should consider that it was meant to “grow up in all things” (Eph 4:15). Our ecclesiology takes as a foundational proposition that the church sprang forth on Pentecost like Athena from the head of Zeus, when no other major movement of God has happened this way.
Did Israel appear, fully formed, in Genesis 12?
Did Jesus appear, fully formed, in the Gospels?
No, we have this very challenging (to our understanding of Jesus) saying: Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Lk 2:52)
Maybe everything about the church wasn’t fully formed by the time the canon closed. It seems that things like the church’s understanding of slavery, women’s roles, and the purpose and authority of governments were still in flux.
I don’t know, but I fear that looking back, obsessing over, and trying to be exactly like the infant church would be like Israel looking back and dreaming of the days when they were on the wrong side of the Red Sea, scared and angry and pinched between an army and a wet place.
What do you think? Am I totally loony? Am I making sense?
in HIS love,