On this Pleasant Rock

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice…. Hebrews 5:12 – 14

In a recent media article Doug Scott, the famous British mountaineer, criticized “a new breed of climber who wants pleasant rock”. “Pleasant rock” refers to a rock that has bolts all over it in order to make the climb safe and easy. Battery-driven drills are used to set the bolts all over crags, and so the need for real skill and experience is removed. The problem, according to Scott, is that it ruins the rock for anybody wishing to climb it traditionally.

Do I detect a parable for the church in Scott’s disapproval of this new trend? Mountains have always been a striking metaphor to symbolize the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, and so it is not difficult to see the analogy: “Pleasant rock” is like easy Christianity, designed for the lazy pilgrim who wants to get to the top, but with the aid of easy steps worked out and passed down by someone else.

This lethargic dependency on a formulaic Christianity is reminiscent of the Biblical symbol of milk: The nutrient of the immature. Milk is predigested food, ideal for those who cannot do their own digestion. Meat, on the other hand, is for those “who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice.”

Forget about easy steps and how-to’s. Maps for the narrow road do not exist. Spiritual discernment is not handed down, but comes through practice.

(Bloemnews 26 10 07)


3 thoughts on “On this Pleasant Rock

  1. Chris Lovie-Tyler March 17, 2011 / 9:51 am

    Thanks for this post, Tobie. The mountaineering metaphor is a good one.

    I have to admit, I’ve looked for shortcuts to spiritual growth in the past, but I’ve come to realise there are none. We each stand or fall on our own pursuit of Christ.

  2. naturalchurch March 18, 2011 / 3:30 am

    Hi Chris. I think we’ve all done this. And it’s becoming easier in the day and age we live in. Everything can be planned, plotted, programmed, engineered and project-managed. And so we have become a culture of quick fixes and slaves of technique. In the process we lose sight of the miracle of growth and the importance of waiting on the Lord.

  3. Chris March 18, 2011 / 7:07 am

    Agreed. The ‘institutional’ way of doing, or should I say being, church hasn’t helped either.

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