Barnacles are sticky crustaceans which collect and attach themselves underneath a boat. If one wants their boat to maintain its integrity, one has to do the regular and difficult job of scraping barnacles.
I like using the idea of “scraping barnacles” to illustrate the Christian life. Imagine the Christian faith as the boat. The barnacles are those things which have nothing to do with the boat. The tricky thing is determining how much to scrape. Speaking in general categories there are too many older Christians who never want to look at the barnacles (perhaps the Christian faith is too closely associated with the Republican party) while there are growing numbers of younger Christians who are more than happy to scrape. The problem for these younger folks is that they sometimes scrape right into the hull of the boat. In other words, in their understandable desire to rid the Christian faith of excess baggage (or barnacles), they end up throwing out key teachings of the Christian faith.
Yesterday, I watched Peter Rollins describe his understanding of the Christian faith. Sadly, he loves to scrape and scrape so what was left hardly looked like Christianity. Frankly, his presentation bordered on incoherence.
Irony and mystery so dominated Rollins’ talk that you were left wondering what he really believes. In fact, Rollins admitted not being interested so much in what people believe, but why they believe it. Clearly, he falls prey to a tragic dichotomy as both the what and why of belief are important. This young scraper offered a few good and necessary push backs on the hubris of some Christians. Unfortunately, in the process of exposing some of these silly notions he seemed more than willing to discard some of the core doctrines of the Christian faith.
So by all means have the courage to flip over your boat and scrape the barnacles. Make sure you remember there is a huge difference between a boat and a barnacle. Confusing barnacles for boats, or boats for barnacles, will eventually get you an untrustworthy boat.