How did I get to here? I often wonder! I was brought up with Church, the child of a Baptist Manse, baptised as a teenager, then a deacon, youth leader and even a Minister (briefly) - but ALWAYS a rebel!
After taking a Sociology degree and CQSW at Bath University, (the first boy from my stuffy grammar school ever to go on to study such a subject!), I began my professional career in 1974 as a social worker with the now defunct Avon County Council. In those days social workers were generic, not knowing much about everything! Then, following the sudden death of my father - who was also rather unconventional - I decided to take a break and study theology at the Northern Baptist College and University of Manchester.
I did a postgraduate theology degree (First Class!) focusing especially on church history and social and moral theology. I even learnt to read the NT in Greek, (which I've now forgotten!) I also spent a short time at the World Council of Churches Study Institute in Geneva. These were exciting years in the late 1970s and early 80s as I encountered the whole world of contemporary debate about God, the incarnation etc. In those days the nation was actually interested. But the Church soon closed it all down and so has retreated into a mixture of fudge, denial and inevitable decline.
Because it seemed the logical next thing to do I then became a Minister myself for over 5 years in a Midlands brewery town. But I'm not sure that such a role was ever right for me. I simply didn't have the confidence in what I was supposed to believe. So I then went to work for the Diocese of Lichfield Board for Social Responsibility at the time of 'Faith in the City', helping parish churches to make connections between what they did on Sundays and the rest of the life of their local communities.
But I had become increasingly sceptical about traditional Christian beliefs so when that job ended I went back into social work and Education Welfare. I carried on preaching and leading services for another 10 years as a Church of England Lay-Reader in two Stafford parishes, then pretty much walked away from any involvement in church life in 1999.
In my new career I published widely on the educational implications of the Children Act 1989 and other welfare issues during over 20 years' experience in Staffordshire and Wolverhampton Local Authorities until I took early retirement in 2011. I then ran courses and worked with schools as an Independent Consultant and Trainer until I retired again from active work in early 2020.
I know I have set myself an impossible task - to redefine 'Christianity' without a God (in the usual sense). I am nobody important or influential - just one beggar telling another beggar where there might be some bread. But this journey won't last forever, so this Prodigal is returning to ask some awkward questions before it is too late. I don't 'know' that my interpretation of the Jesus story is right. I do know that a religion built around securing your own eternal salvation cannot be anything to do with the prophet from Nazareth who welcomed women, sinners and outcasts of all kinds and expected his followers to do the same. If I am wrong, so be it. Nothing of any value will have been lost by rejecting what 'Christianity' seems to have largely become and I'm glad most people have seen through it. I'll take my chances with them.
I am also the Convenor of the East Shropshire and Wolverhampton group of the Progressive Christianity Network.
Is there another way to relate to the Jesus story that doesn't require you to sign up to the religion that others created in his name?
On this page you'll find details of how to obtain my book 'The Apostate's Creed'. PLUS a series of short essays, 'Updating the Map' on the different kinds of themes in the Bible and how we might engage with it today as historical human literature, not some kind of Divine instruction manual.
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. And my own first book: humanist reflections on the Psalms from 2011: 'Walking without God'. These are all FREE.
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.
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!