UnLearn Religion… again

A few more thoughts from Sunday at Jacob’s Well:

“The greatest UnLearner of all time is God.  Face it,  God had a problem.  God created us with so much hope and promise and it wasn’t panning out.  We turned away and kept walking.  So God decided that to learn how to truly be what God wanted to be for us, God would need to unlearn what it meant to be God.  We call that unlearning event, ‘Jesus.’  And it was hard.  It is always hard when we leave the competence of what we know how to do – even if it wasn’t working – and we have to learn a new way.  It was about 30 years of the toughest unlearning and relearning that could be imagined, so that God could come out of that experience and provide 3 years of the greatest leadership that this world will ever see.  It changed the world forever.

If God had to UnLearn being God to offer the true relationship God sought to have with us, who are we to think we don’t have to UnLearn what it means for us to be followers of Jesus?”

– – – – –

“Why do we need to UnLearn?  To be ready for a world that has seen too much, gotten too big and too interconnected to swallow ‘Christianity’s’ certainties – which are really an illusion of knowledge, a disguise of ignorance, a refusal to unlearn and relearn – so that we can touch humanity as God wants us to.”


Both of the quotes above from my message on Sunday (they are approximate, I don’t use a script) are inspired (and maybe partly created?) by Ron Heifetz of the Harvard/Kennedy School of Govt.  I heard him speak at a Leadership Network event in Dallas some years ago.  He, along with Jim Collins, Neil Cole and others really drove the unlearning concept home.  I heard him speak again at the Carlson School (part of the U of M) last week which made me pull out my old notes.  Good stuff.  Smart man.


4 responses to “UnLearn Religion… again

  1. I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

    Robert Michel

  2. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Just checking out your blog as a person checking out your church…not sure I agree with God unlearning. The implications seem to put unnecessary limits on God. (like He has to learn something He doesn’t know, which would put something above God and therefore make him not God) God did something remarkable by redefining our humanity in Christ. I’m not sure God had to “unlearn” as much as he had to manifest who He already was. The implications of Jesus (the ultimate human, the new Adam) unlearning seem to belittle our humanity, as if God had to become some foreign thing. A big part of my self view comes from knowing I’m made in God’s image and am therefore sharing in a part of who God is. Maybe I don’t get the whole unlearn thing but this is my gut reaction. If you care to expand that’d be great, if not take it as someone who’s doing some thinking. 🙂

  4. Jerod,
    Sorry, your comment got lost in my summer. But this is a good question.
    Here’s my short answer. We talk about God a lot, but we often times are really talking about our experience with God. (This is true for the Bible’s talk about God as well!) The difference is significant. The God we experience through our finite means of knowing and expressing isn’t as immutable and omni-everything as God’s self actually is. It can’t be. We aren’t capable.

    So does God unLearn? I don’t know. But the Bible certainly presents God that way. Do a word study in the Old Testament of the word ‘repent’ as it applies to God and see what you find. One of God’s greatest characteristics of God’s determination to be what would be helpful to us. Let’s call that ‘grace’. And one of the things we need is permission to be wrong, to try again, to figure things out, to need forgiveness. What does it mean for God to do that, be that, for us.

    Is Jesus God’s greatest act of unLearning? Hmmm…

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