Spiritual Infantilism and Fundamentalism [1/2]   Leave a comment


In this article I wanted to take the time to expand on my concerns of Fundamentalism. The particular concern of today is describing how Religious Fundamentalism is not the height of Religious Worship but rather the most earthly form of Religious Worship. I believe that because it Fundamentalism is the more lower form of Religious Worship, it is for those who are more spiritually immature, those who are happy with superficial and surface understandings, but as I pointed out in a previous article, in a fast-paced age of consumerism, it seems we do not have a lot of time to contemplate upon the Lord and His Word.

What Is Spiritual Infantilism and The Adverse Effects of Being Infantile?

Spiritual Infantilism is a twofold definition. On the one hand, it is Immaturity at the Spiritual Level, which according to this one forum post, is “anything that retards the healthy development of maturity by attachment to infantile behavior for self-gratification.” Now is this an official definition? No, but I do tend to agree with it. Yet, the other part of the definition however stems from that, which is, a literal reading of what Christ meant when He told people to become as little children, if they wanted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3). Sadly, such literal meaning to those who read it literally confers a sense “of artificial simplification, the denial of growing, of education, of having the experience of growth, of development–that is, all of which we call in childhood the preparation for life, the mental, emotional, and physical maturation,” according to this BeliefNet article. In denying these things however, people become excessively gullible and naive, such naiveté into Adulthood is dangerous, for when the time comes that the Naive Worldview is utterly destroyed the Adult will feel a profound sense of [un-needed] Betrayal! I have spoken on the Adverse Effects of Naiveté, elsewhere on this blog. These twofold definitions are complimentary if not synergistic with each other however, for in pursuing self-gratification one’s life becomes repetitive enough that the denial to grow and develop in all aspects of life is realized!

What Does Christ Command To “Become As Little Children” Mean?

The Depth of this Teaching is Profound to anyone, but especially a Christian who takes the time to Contemplate its meaning. In the end however, we understand that becoming as a Child carries 2 meanings, the first meaning is to Conform to the Virtues of Simplicity and Humility. According to St. John Chrysostom Homily 62 on Matthew it is revealed to us that,

“And wherefore did the disciples repel the little children? For dignity. What then does He? Teaching them to be lowly, and to trample under foot worldly pride, He does receive them, and takes them in His arms, and to such as them promises the kingdom; which kind of thing He said before also…”

In Clement of Alexandria’s Book 1 of the Paedagogus, we find in Chapter 5 a larger commentary on this Command to Become as Little Children. In it we find both a confirmation of my concern as well as an expanded understanding of Matthew 18:3. The excerpt reads,

“He alludes to the simple children, as if they were sheep and lambs in nature, not men; and the lambs He counts worthy of preference, from the superior regard He has to that tenderness and simplicity of disposition in men which constitutes innocence… He does not then use the appellation of children on account of their very limited amount of understanding from their age, as some have thought. Nor, if He says, “Unless you become as these children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of God,” are His words to be understood as meaning “without learning.” We, then, who are infants, no longer roll on the ground, nor creep on the earth like serpents as before, crawling with the whole body about senseless lusts; but, stretching upwards in soul, loosed from the world and our sins, touching the earth on tiptoe so as to appear to be in the world, we pursue holy wisdom, although this seems folly to those whose wits are whetted for wickedness.”

The Second meaning of the Command to Become as Little Children, follows closely in similarity to the first meaning and that is the fact that, we are no longer children of this world which is passing away and fleeting, but Children of a World To Come, depending on the point you converted or rediscovered the Faith I would say is the day in which you are truly Born as a Spiritual Child of this World To Come. We find in Clement of Alexandria’s Book 5: Chapter 5 of the Stromata a further yet brief comment on the Command to Become as Little Children when he said that,

“Wherefore the Lord says, “Take My yoke, for it is gentle and light.” (Matthew 11:29-30) And on the disciples, striving for the pre-eminence, He enjoins equality with simplicity, saying “that they must become as little children.” (Matthew 18:3) Likewise also the apostle writes, that “no one in Christ is bond or free, or Greek or Jew. For the creation in Christ Jesus is new, is equality, free of strife— not grasping— just.” For envy, and jealousy, and bitterness, stand without the divine choir.”

Envy, Jealousy, Bitterness these are qualities that we know all too well living in the world, yet we have been given a new life and a new world to live in, an opportunity to start over. To reply Envy with Kindness, Jealousy with Celebration, and Bitterness with Forgiveness, all of these things of course need the Primary Child-like Virtue of Simplicity and Humility to make it possible. I conclude this half of the post with an excerpt of an EWTN article of a French Priest named, St. Louis De Montfort, he writes concerning the meaning of the Command to Become As Little Children,

“What Jesus recommends is neither the innocence of children, nor their obedience, nor even their simplicity as such, but their humility and their receptivity, full of confidence… In the social parable of the child, its summit is his trusting behavior, not, as is so often mistakenly believed, his ingenuity. The child does not have the distrustful prudence of the adult but with spontaneity and trust remains open to whatever leads him, without calculation or prolonged reflection.”


Posted October 9, 2011 by jimbo9889 in The Objectives

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