In looking over the interpretations that have been offered of the gospel
admonitions to "become like a child", I was rather surprised not to see any
that coincide with my own, which I had thought was rather mainstream. So
I'd like to survey those other interpretations, then give my own.
Jeffrey describes Ambrozic's position in two ways: (1) being at the bottom
of the "honor/shame" scale, and (2) being without political or social
rights. Without having read Ambrozic myself, I must say that neither of
these strike me as being particularly convincing. There's no indication
that I can see that the notion of shame enters into it, and as for not
having political or social rights, I would think that most Xians fell into
that category without having to be told to do so. Yet the admonition is for
Xians, so I don't think that this will do.
Jan suggests that to be childlike is to be most readily accepting of a
"free lunch", as he puts it. But the point of the banquet parable is not
that the rich and wealthy can't bring themselves to accept unearned
goodies, but that they're too busy with their own worldly concerns. Those
who end up going to the banquet are "street people", one might say. So to
make his reasoning work, Jan has to equate being poor with being childlike.
This won't do, IMO.
Mahlon connects being childlike with the belief that if you ask, it will be
given to you. This comes closest to my own view, which involves naivite
(esp naive belief that what you want will magically come to you, i.e., God
as Santa Claus), but also innocence of the distinction between good and
evil, unconcern with worldly affairs, and the willingness to put oneself in
the position of being taught by others, by recognizing one's lack of
knowledge with respect to Xianity. All of these ideas are suggested, I
think, by the admonitions to become like a child, different aspects being
stressed in different contexts.
The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying