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Wondering What Happened

There's a joke that I will tweak that may help make things clearer: "You can divide the world into four groups of people: those who make things happen, those who understand what happened, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened."  

Those who state that Pentecost was the birthday of the Church thought they were in group #2 (those who understood what happened), but are now in group #4 (those who wonder what happened).  This may seem a big step backwards, but it is really a step forward.  Will Rogers pointed out: "It isn't what we know that gets us into trouble, it's what we know that ain't so."  We are now free to look for "what really happened" so we can get on with the business of understanding it and move back to group #2.  In other words, this was a "red herring": an error that diverted us from our search for the truth.

There are two further reasons why disabusing ourselves of this error is a good thing.  Firstly, putting Pentecost  up against Darwin Day because it is a birthday is missing the point: our real beef is not with the date, but with the "doctrine" and the mindset that motivated the selection and promoted the day in the first place.   Attaching our attention to the tag "birthday" is to focus on a non-essential surface detail while ignoring that the really deep issues have not been addressed.  How many people have been driven from the church because the church attached the label "sin" to a surface detail?  How many with real sins don't see the church as a "hospital for sinners" where they can go to for serious surgery, when the church seems to act like the office of a cosmetologist, dermatologist, or cosmetic surgeon, which are able to help you with what's on the surface, but can't handle anything deep inside?

The second reason is far more important: being in group #2 (understanding what happened) is necessary to get into group #1 (those who make things happen).  However, for things like birthdays, the membership of group #1 is limited to that which is born.  The birth of the Church is a one time thing, so nobody has any reason to believe that moving into group #1 is necessary because it is impossible: how could the church repeat the birth of itself after it is born?  "How can a man be born when he is old?" is a perfectly logical question if the subject is physical or organizational birth.  But if the event of Pentecost is something else other than a birth, then duplication might possible.  If so, then working to move from group #2 (understanders) to group #1 (makers) is not only possible, but quite desirable: being able to end a day with 3000 members in your church when you started the day with only 120 would be worth any amount of hard work, would it not?

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