[Here's an edited reprint from my blog, June of 2005. I spent all I could of the weekend trying to finish the last fine-tooth-comb editing of my Proverbs manuscript before zapping it off to the publisher. FAIL. Unexpected interruptions. Worked almost without a break from like 4am to night-time yesterday... still, fail. Snif. About 80 pages or so to go. I'm really excited about the book, really invested in what's in it. Want it to be just right, as perfect as I can make it. So... you get this! I actually use this story in the book, so it's fresh in my mind.]
When I would preach on Christian growth, and particularly Hebrews 5:11-14, I'd often use an illustration. (Yes, the same one; yes, all preachers do it; yes, even the Lord re-used parables.) Here is the passage:
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull [Greek says lazy] of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.In my sermon, I would say that one expects a baby to do — well, not much. Hard job, really: all he has to do is sit there and be cute! Now he giggles and coos, now he cries. He's either taking in food, processing it, or disposing of it. Sometimes all those things in combination.
Expectations are low, delivery is high.
It's absolutely adorable — in a tiny little tot of 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months.
And we love our little toddlers, wobbling around in their huge diapers, everything new and interesting to them, emotions on their sleeves. They're really actually learning at an astonishing rate, but it doesn't look like it: they just teeter and totter, explore, make demands, and bless the house simply by being there.
Now, I say in my sermons, picture a twelve-year-old, still in the same state. Or an eighteen, twenty, thirty year old: still in diapers, still helpless and dependent, still in infancy.
Well, of course (I preach) we'd all immediately know something was severely, seriously, terribly wrong. But then (I go on to say) suppose you were to find out that, no, there was nothing wrong with that man's brain. Perfectly healthy. No injuries, no diseases; nothing physically wrong whatever.
He'd just decided not to grow up.
And then I point out that what would alarm us horribly in a marketplace apparently doesn't cause the slightest stir in church.
How so? How many people think they've been Christians for five, ten, twenty, thirty years, and yet have not managed to read the whole Bible through even once? They're perfectly literate, they read novels and magazines and web sites... but not the Bible. How many could not name the books of the New Testament in order, let alone the whole Bible? In fact, how many could not even name the four Gospels in order?
(Aside: a fellow in the last church I pastored informally surveyed several dozens of professed Christians. He asked them just to name the four Gospels. Just that. Either none could, or only one could. And these were long-time Christians, including leaders within their churches. As an added bonus, how do you think they responded, when they found they could not even name the first four books of the New Testament? Were they embarrassed at their own astonishing ignorance? Humbled? Not at all. Instead, they were offended at him for asking.)
Poll after poll reveals those who claim to be born-again Christians to be stunningly ignorant of the Bible, or rebellious against its contents. On Biblical teachings as basic as the deity and bodily resurrection of Christ, the reality of the Devil, salvation by grace alone through Christ alone, low numbers recur over and over again, consistently.
And even among those checking the right doctrinal boxes, if you ask them to demonstrate their faith (on which they claim to base their lives) from the Bible, even if only by one or two apposite verses, you're likelier to be disappointed than not.
Churches aim to palliate, entertain, mollify, tranquilize. I feel the pain of folks searching earnestly for a church home. You feel like you aren't asking too much: just a sound church that believes the Word, preaches it emphatically and passionately, sings some decent songs, and tries to practice it. Yet you just can't find it. Everybody's stuck in past fads, or chasing after current ones, or hearing voices. Or all three by turns.
How can this be? No age, and no country, has had more abundant access to the Bible than ours. No age, and no country, has had available the helps for Bible study that ours has. None has had greater freedom to use and exploit that access.
Yet I daresay that, for all the impact the Bible has on the average professor, the Bible might as well still be in Latin and chained to the pulpit at the local Roman Catholic Church.
We have churches filled with folks who, if their spiritual condition could be seen, are fully grown adults lolling about in diapers, trading off one "binky" for another. It's a horror, but it's a horror we live with without being horrified.
I tell this as an illustration.
Enter "baby man."
"Baby man" is the flesh-and-blood embodiment of my illustration. He is a 54-year-old man who "sleeps in a crib, eats in a high chair and does it in his diaper — by choice." Click on the link, look at the pictures, let your jaw drop in revulsion...
And think of William Windsor. Think of "baby man."
Because that's you.
UPDATE: since I wrote that article, "Baby Man" died. Sad life, sad death. I could not find it on a more mainstream news site, only on a cynical alternative-type site. It does link to more information about this wrecked soul and his sad, wasted life. Inherited a truckload of money, had been married, devoted himself to living like a baby. Sad, sad sad. There are other images of him... but I don't think they'd be uplifting.