What Would Christianity Be Like with 300 Memorized Verses and the Golden Rule?

The Scenario: A catastrophe results in one adult and roughly 300 children between the ages of 7 and 10 being the only survivors on an alien planet. The locals help them survive, but they have almost nothing remaining of their own world except what they remember, including their Christian religion. The adult memorized around 300 Bible passages put to music (strikingly similar in content to the Fighter Verses mentioned in the previous post), including the Golden Rule, and remembers a number of Bible stories in greater or lesser detail.

What would they create out of that?

There’s a strong possibility that any Christian teachings would join with the locals’ religion—if anything Christian survived at all—but our solitary adult is stubborn, and she has taught the children all of the songs, forming the basis of religious education for the future. Syncretism aside, those Bible passages will form the core of their developing theology.

In terms of practical, everyday living, the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) will stand out as one of the foundational passages: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

In short, treat others as you would be treated. Short, sweet, to the point, easy to remember, wise words.

This is all great in theory, but we humans are rules lawyers. What group of humans could possibly refrain from pushing the rule to distortion? It’s what we do. It’s why we have corollaries and subparagraphs and caveats and quid pro quos. As soon as one person announces the rule, twenty people will test it. The 300 other passages will temper this impulse to an extent, but stop it entirely? Not possible. You might as well harness it.

So here’s my bet on the first three corollaries.

Corollary 1: Inasmuch as it does not violate the spirit of the Golden Rule, treat others as they treat others, so that they know the consequences from the receiving end.

Of course this corollary came from the solitary adult. Just look at the grammatical structure. It also offers insight into her personality. She wants her treatment of others to be consistent with her beliefs, but she knows she has blind spots. What better way to challenge her actions than to be treated as she treats others? However, it’s prone to abuse (“I’m just treating you the way you treat others!” shouts a particularly obnoxious teenager), so she adds the first phrase. Again rules lawyers, pushing the rules to distortion, etc. After a few years, they might delete this corollary entirely. Or create Corollary 1.1.

Corollary 2: If you love strawberries, that doesn’t mean you give strawberries to someone who is deathly allergic to them.

I once read that an atheist gave a similar scenario when talking about the Golden Rule. This reveals more about his low opinion of the average Christian’s intelligence and self absorption than anything else, but given that we’d be talking about 300 pre-adolescents, it fits.

Can’t you see a nine-year-old coming up with this?

Corollary 3: No, this doesn’t mean she has to have sex with you.

Pre-adolescents will hit puberty, and they will use anything in their power to get what they want. For young men, that means sex. I can hear a guy snuggling up to his girlfriend and whispering in her ear, “But don’t you want to be loved? I know I want to be loved. It’s like the Golden Rule says….”

That this becomes Corollary 3 rather than Corollary 1 happens solely because the children haven’t hit their teen years at the beginning of the scenario.

 

These three corollaries also represent three distinct lessons:

1) Philosophies are different from tactics. The Golden Rule is a philosophy by which a person lives. Corollary 1 is a tactic that people can use as a mirror. It may or may not work in a particular situation.

2) The Golden Rule ultimately focuses on the other person.

3) Don’t be a manipulative SOB*.

There you have it, my take on Survival Christianity with Corollaries.

Maybe someday I’ll write about this world.

 

*Son of a boor, if you don’t like what this usually stands for.

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