Saturday, May 17, 2014

Paul Miller on Naïvete and Cynicism

Is it possible to experience childlike trust and delight while still acknowledging a reality that contains evil? Or is it necessary either to be naïve (that is, to be numb intellectually) or to be cynical (that is, to be numb emotionally)?

In his book, A Praying Life [2009, p. 83-85], author and teacher Paul Miller sees Jesus offering a wise third way  something Miller calls "tension" and "cautious optimism." Here's an excerpt:

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Jesus does not ignore evil. When he sends the disciples on their first missionary journey, he says, "I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16). The overwhelming temptation when faced with evil is to become a wolf, to become cynical and lose your sheeplike spirit. Jesus tells us to instead be warm but wary  warm like a dove but wary like a serpent.