The strange disciple
Friday, August 15, 2008 at 11:05AM
Peter Neary-Chaplin in Spiritual, alternative christianity, bible characters, christian writing, christianityr, emerging church, minor bible charactes, religion, spirituality, strange disciple

My favourite story from the gospels is that of the strange disciple. He found himself at loggerheads with the disciples, because he was casting out demons in the saviour's name, but wasn't part of the inner circle. They told him to stop, but Jesus told them to leave him alone. "He that is not against us is for us," was his verdict.

I find this very encouraging, though no doubt theologians of all flavours are aghast at the woolly thinking behind it. No doctrine. No dogma. No organisation, no structures. No robes, no meetings, no infernal flames. No virgin births, talking donkeys or crusades. Just an exhortation to be on the same side as Jesus. Barring a handful of people who whole-heartedly embrace the dark side, and a few well-known politicians, I can't think of many people who are excluded from the kingdom of heaven on this basis.

In fact, this makes the prospect of heaven much more appealing, if you think about it. Instead of a permanent monotone of saintly worship for eternity, we can probably expect to find Humphrey Lyttleton and George Best having a crafty snifter with Tommy Cooper. James Brown and Isaac Hayes might be running the soul disco.  I fully expect them to be rubbing shoulders with all kinds of religious bigots, who will complain to the Almighty about the noise as well as His falling standards, and will want an area of heaven to be reserved for people of pure doctrine. Of course, there will need to be several such areas, but that's all in hand (the author of the universe has a well-developed sense of irony).  I believe it's referred to as "many mansions" in the design documents.

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