CHRISTIANITY RE-IMAGINED                      The Jesus story for a post-religious age                                   

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MY NEW BOOK OUT NOW 

 

'ON NOT BEING A CHRISTIAN'

Retracing my Steps: 2011-2021

 

A newly-updated and revised Collection of my earlier writings approaching the Bible as human literature. Maybe its story is more about 'humanity' than 'Christianity'.

 

Walking Without GodReflections on selected psalms (2011)

Finding the WayReflections on selected parables (2011)

Updating the Map: A humanist journey through the Bible (2012/21)

 

      Paperback 210 pp. 'Taster' HERE   

                       

Christianity has always been part of my life. I still choose to be part of the Church community if mostly for historical, cultural and aesthetic reasons, but I do not call myself a Christian as currently understood. In this Collection of essays and reflections I argue that previous ideas of a 'religion' have had their day in our context. Jesus, (who wasn't a Christian either), never intended to start a new one. 

 

The Church should focus much more on helping us to be a human person like him and much less on what are now unbelievable doctrines about him. 'Faith' is no longer the issue; the Jesus story is about who you are not what you have to believe. That all came much later. The Bible is not actually all about 'religion' - it grew out of our day-to-day experiences as humans. It's full of real life: journeys, doubts, conflicts, politics, stories, relationships, meals, songs and poems etc. It wasn't handed down to us by a God as if we had nothing to do with it. New chapters now have to be written for our times.

 

So what might lie beyond 'Christianity' as we have usually defined it and is the Bible, and especially Jesus, actually about something else entirely: finding 'God-ness' in ourselves, each other and the everyday? If we use our imaginations and are prepared to change, we might find that there's still a story here that can help us to find life in all its fulness, here and now.

 

MY PPT + AUDIO PRESENTATION TO THE PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY NETWORK GALILEE GROUP

12th JUNE 2022

DOWNLOAD BELOW

Ben Whitney 12 June 22.mp4
MP4 video/audio file [89.2 MB]

NEWLY-UPDATED STUDY NOTES on John Robinson's classic book 'Honest to God' which will be 60 years old in 2023. Still raises many exciting questions for the progressive enquirer. He saw that the future would be one of constant decline in belief. Is there another Way to approach it all which takes account of what else we now know to be true? 

 

More details and FREE download HERE

 

LAST REMAINING COPIES STILL AVAILABLE

 

THE APOSTATE'S CREED

Rethinking Christianity for the C21st (2019)

 

 

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 have now come round again in summer 2022) 

 

I do not believe in 'a God' as 'a Being' but I do still see the Christian story about Jesus as of value in showing us how to be fully human as he was. 'God-ness' is to be found there; in his life and death and as part of our human experience, individually and together. The initial focus of this book is on one of the ancient Creeds or belief-statements that lie at the heart of Christian doctrine but which date from hundreds of years after Jesus himself. I am not able to affirm them as they stand, but is there a way to re-imagine what was thought in the past to create a meaningful and believable response in the present? How might these statements be reinterpreted in order to address our very different context when a 'God' is no longer taken for granted? And the Creeds say little or nothing about Jesus' teaching about the 'Kingdom'. Is that where the focus should now be: finding the signs of 'God' in life?

         

Paperback 160 pp.

'Honest and clear'. 'Really interesting'. 'Most enjoyable'

 

 

STARTING FROM HERE

 

'There's a spark of the divine in the world - not God, we're done with God, but something. Is it love? Not silly romantic love, but something more profound...?'

 

(The always-insightful Ursula in 'A God in Ruins' by Kate Atkinson)

 

'Christianity' as usually defined requires our assent to certain beliefs and doctrines that we have created about a supernatural Trinitarian 'God' and what 'He' has supposedly done in Jesus. But I cannot give it. My use of the term 'humanist spirituality' within that tradition should not be seen as a backdoor 'faith' or a search for something 'Other', separate, beyond or outside of ourselves. Our humanity is all we have to work with. 

 

Does 'Church' have to be about a God? Or can it still be about the Jesus story but told in a new way? Most people in my context have already voted with their feet. This decline in participation has been going on for over 70 years, even if no-one still part of it seems to have asked why. It won't be reversed by re-organisations, everyone trying a bit harder or dumbing everything down to a few simplistic catchphrases. 

 

Our understanding of ourselves and of our world has moved on from ancient times. But Christianity seems to have largely stood still. Can it change, or would it rather virtually die out? Can something new be found that people actually want to be part of; renewal not just reassurance?

 

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 justice and peace roll down like a mighty stream. Or when we try walking in the Way of Jesus of Nazareth, (not the same as 'worshipping' the 'Christ' that others turned him into later). There are 'signs' of hope all around us if we look for them. These discoveries used to be attributed to a God who told us what was was right. But they are ours and we should be proud of them. It's about a quality, a dimension to life to which Jesus pointed us. 'God-ness' is an adjective or adverb describing an aspect of our human reality, not a noun or a 'Thing' somewhere else.

 

'We are not human beings seeking to be spiritual; we are spiritual beings striving to be human'. Tielhard de Chardin.

 

 

WHERE NOW?

 

I don't yet want to abandon my heritage entirely, though it may yet 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. 

 

Jesus was a model for our full humanity who transformed the lives of those who met him. He embodied what was seen then as '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 C17h. 

 

If we're talking poetry, metaphors, myths 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. I can't think of a single bishop or other influential Church leader in England who is prepared to openly question the traditional beliefs or engage in meaningful debate. Few seem willing to risk even being seen as 'liberal' theologically. What is everyone so afraid of, (other than the loss of power and control)? It's obvious that the traditional beliefs no longer work and we need to move on to something new. Can the Christian community accept this degree of diversity or is it happy to virtually disappear in our culture? It seems it is.

 

The city where I live has a ring road with junctions named after C of E churches. There are still two lovely buildings, but most have closed or have just a handful of worshippers left. The city centre church still survives and even I engage with it, not least because of its excellent choral music which I have always enjoyed. (St. Peter's, Wolverhampton, Evensong 6.30 in term-time).

 

But of the rest, one is a derelict supermarket, one an office and others have been demolished. The people who lived there have largely moved out or been replaced by those of different faiths or none. This is a metaphor for our times. What is a church for and why should any continue to exist? Most churches are now largely charitable organisations filling the gaps left by the State. Maybe that is actually more important, more 'Christlike' than focusing on what you have to believe to belong. 

 

Why not join me on a new journey and let's see where it takes us: not just round and round on a road to nowhere!

WELCOME. This website contains a variety of resources to interest those looking for a radical and progressive approach to the Jesus story.  You may have been told there is only one way to engage with it. That may be true for most believers, but in our modern context many other people will have questions that need to be taken seriously. Do you have to take the Bible literally or not at all? For those prepared to risk losing the 'faith' they have or searching for something new that  makes sense in the modern world, I hope this will encourage you to continue in your own journey. Feedback is always very welcome. 

 

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