Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
Simple but not simplistic is a mantra I developed many years ago to describe what Christianity is (or ought to be).
[It is similar to the illustration Jerome painted of the Bible, “shallow enough for a babe to come and drink without fear of drowning and deep enough for a theologian to swim in without ever touching bottom.” Christianity isn’t a kiddy pool, nor is it an raging ocean; it is like a real graduating pool, the same water, but different depths, with room for maturity but ever with mysterious humility.]
On the one hand it is simple vs. complex. One shouldn’t add to the Faith. This can happen in legalistic or nominal or ritualistic or highly intellectual settings, etc.
On the other hand, it is simple vs. simplistic. One shouldn’t take away from the Faith or make it less than it is. This can happen in popular or folk Christianity, nominalism, emotionalism, etc.
Like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” Christianity should not be too hot or too cold but just right, as God intended.
Part of this mantra is informed by my own journey. Growing up in an evangelite denomination, exposed to theological liberalism, etc, gave me a desire for a more “robust” Faith; or one that richly accorded with Scripture.
The rest of the mantra comes from an acknowledgement that Scripture says as much (2 Pet 2:2; Heb 6:1–3), we should live (and hunger) for “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4).
Consider how the Gospel is simple but not simplistic (Acts 2:38):
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The Gospel isn’t do all of this to be saved, or understand the depths of Christology to be saved. Nor is the Gospel just believe or any such pithy saying. It is a simple robust call to belief in who Jesus is, repentant of one’s sin, trust in Jesus for forgiveness, baptism and the promised Holy Spirit.
Consider how Discipleship is simple but not simplistic:
While some portions of God’s Word is difficult to understand (2 Pet 3:16) we trust that with the Spirit’s help, all Scripture is for our good (Dt 6:24), even the hard passages. This clarity of Scripture (2 Ti 3:16–17) encourages us to study God’s Word and not settle for over simplifications nor feel trapped as if it is all impossible to understand.
Consider how the study of Doctrine is simple but not simplistic
From the Gospel all Christian theology can be built, one brick at a time.
The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and His will. This is good. God calls doctrine, if it is biblical vs. manmade, good, “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.” (1 Ti 4:6; c.f. Tit 1:9, 2:1). He wants us to know more about Him and His ways and this does require training (effort). We might not all become elite athletes but we should all be healthy and fit.
Christianity is not trivial nor is it impossible, it is like an exciting adventure that is possible with the Spirit’s help. It turns out Christianity is simple but not simplistic after all.
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