MY NEW BOOK COMING SOON - SEE BELOW
I do not currently charge for my books. If ordering multiple copies for groups, it saves postage if they are sent together. You may wish to consider supporting my chosen charity: www.lendwithcare.org
LAST REMAINING COPIES
THE APOSTATE'S CREED
Rethinking Christianity for the C21st
A non-Theist re-working of statements from the Apostles' Creed and a series of reflections based on the set readings for 10 Sundays following Pentecost in the Common Lectionary
(These passages will come round again in 2022)
Paperback 160 pp.
'Honest and clear'. 'Really interesting'. 'Most enjoyable'
Extract from the Introduction here
'ON NOT BEING A CHRISTIAN'
Retracing my Steps: 2011-2021
An updated compilation of my earlier writings on new ways of approaching the Bible as human literature. What lies beyond 'Christianity'?
In what is more a series of chatty written podcasts than the Reith Lectures I argue that 'religion' has had its day. The Church should focus more on helping us to be human and less on asking us to become 'Christians'. Perhaps this is the Bible's underlying story.
STARTING FROM HERE
'Christianity' has always been part of my life. Whether I Iike it or not, it is an integral aspect of my personality, relationships, culture and context; perhaps even of my very self. But I no longer call myself a Christian because I just don't believe so many of its claims.
Most people now feel the same and have voted with their feet. The language and claims about an interventionist God, heaven, sin, salvation and the supposed authority of the Bible are incredible for most of us. Our understanding of ourselves and of our world has moved on from ancient times. Science has changed the landscape forever. but 'Christianity' seems to have largely stood still. Will it change, or die?
TIME FOR A CHANGE OF DIRECTION?
What we have previously called 'God' reflects the human desire for a purpose and meaning to life. It is not the name of an actual Being. We have created all our religions - and their gods.
Left to right not right to left?
In the Judao/Christian version, the truth about life that we have discovered is that we are at our best when we love someone or sacrifice our own interests for the sake of others. Or when we bring people together and break down barriers. Or when justice and peace roll down like a mighty stream. 'God-ness' is more an adjective or adverb than a noun. Not a 'Thing' but a quality of our humanity; a dimension to our being. 'Where there is love and compassion, God is there.'
LOST IN TRANSLATION?
It is so important to remember that everything in Christianity comes to us in translation, mediated through human brains and lives, so be careful about any claim of what 'the Bible says'. Nothing is exempt from our own perceptions and interpretations. Believers are not always open and honest about this. What did the words originally mean? We don't always know.
For example, Jesus would have taught in Aramaic, not Greek - the language in which the gospels were written half a century or more later. We have no 'original' sources; there was no scribe at the time. Actually, his name was more 'Jeshua' than 'Jesus', (that's English from the Greek). The nails did not pierce his 'hands'. If they had they wouldn't have supported his weight as death by crucifixion required. The nails went through the 'forearms' - between the radius and ulna. (The icon in my local Cathedral gets it right but almost every painting gets it wrong). Does Numbers 5 advocate a priest inducing an abortion as a punishment for infidelity? Opinions vary but 'her thigh will waste away' as in the NIV is gibberish. (The very small footnote says 'or cause her to have a miscarriage'). Of course most believers ignore or wriggle out of this particular embarrassment, but a translation, made by us, may not be accurate. Reader beware!
And on another level, the whole 'God' story has to be 'translated' for our modern world. The words don't mean the same as they used to. These are not just trivial points in the context of what we are asked to believe today. If we are to treat the Bible as a story about a real human community, and a real human person, and therefore also about ourselves, claims must fit with what else we know. We're not talking about a 'Game of Thrones' fantasy here or a holy book that fell from the sky.
SO WHAT'S THE STORY ABOUT NOW?
Maybe it's time for a new story. Nothing is fixed in time forever. Jesus the human person can still remain central if we think in a different way. Those who first followed him were invited to open their eyes to a new understanding of the here and now. That meant radical change in their 'religious' ideas. After his death they realised that Jesus had been right; they had seen what they called 'God' in him. But his apparent emphasis on discovering the Kingdom/God-ness on earth is almost entirely missing from the later Creeds and orthodox beliefs.
This should be the focus today. What does it mean to be human, as Jesus was? Can we live like he did? What brings us wholeness and expresses our full humanity? That's what interests me and keeps me hanging on.
I don't yet want to abandon my heritage entirely, though it may come to that. There is a story here about a real person, not some demi-god, that might still help us to live life to the full. I'd like to be a bridge between most people's total disinterest and the believers' total commitment. The trouble with being a bridge is you get walked over from both sides! Too atheist for Christians and too Christian for atheists. But that's where I am, at least for now.
There is still a sense in which Jesus is 'alive' for those who look to him for an example of how to live. He emodied 'God-ness', but so can we. That is as far as I can go. But those who talk about having to believe the whole Bible 'literally' are in danger of killing the whole thing off. We are no longer living in the C4th, or the C17th.
If we're talking poetry, metaphors and symbols, not always about historical 'facts', let's say so and the modern world might just listen and bring their new ideas with them. What is everyone so afraid of, (other than the loss of power and control)? Can the Christian community accept this degree of diversity or is it happy to virtually disappear in our culture?
The city where I live has a ring road with junctions named after churches: most of which have closed or have just a handful of worshippers left. One is a derelict supermarket, one an office and others have been demolished. This is a metaphor for our times.
Why not join me on a new journey and let's see where it takes us: not just round and round in an ever-decreasing circle but perhaps to renewal!
Make a loan. Change a life.
Support small businesses in developing countries with microloans. Then, when the loan is repaid, you can lend the same money again!
The Jesus story is a 'myth' for our times which, if looked at differently, can still tell us a deeper truth about life and how to live it well. The Christian 'religion', however, is a set of doctrinal claims based on pre-scientific assumptions that no longer fit with modern knowledge. No wonder most people have rejected it. It may be best to leave a 'God' out of it and move on.
In Study Resources you'll find a PowerPoint (with audio) on 'Who Wrote the Bible'? This is so important and so often ignored. And some Discussion Notes on the classic book from the 1960s, ''Honest to God' which still raises so many key questions that have never been answered.
Book Reviews suggests some reading which I've found helpful.
Friendly Feedback is always very welcome. Please let me know if you have found my ideas interesting.