Imagine doing 'Christianity' differently. Is a 'God' still the answer to life's questions? The bishops talk of 'Re-imagining' the Church. You can't do that if the beliefs always remain the same. What was considered 'true' in the past might not be 'true' now'. But hardly anyone wants to talk about that or to question the historic doctrines and creeds. The status often given to the Bible prevents many of us from seeing faith as intellectually or morally possible. We have learnt a lot more since then!
There may be an 'unutterable beauty' (Studdert-Kennedy) or an 'infinite mystery' (John Churcher) behind it all. But once you have uttered its name, or claim to know all about it, that's no longer what you are talking about. Those 'gods' are ours alone. Most people think it's all superstitious nonsense; maybe they're right. But there's a long human story here that we're in danger of losing. So let's at least make it clear that it's all our own ideas that we are discussing. Then perhaps more will join in the conversation, rather than just ignoring us or feeling excluded unless they conform.
I don't think Jesus of Nazareth was ever interested in starting a new religion with himself as the focus. That's all down to us too. So what's left? An exciting journey towards discovering our full humanity. But we have to be honest. Is Christianity 'good news'? Or just more 'fake news'?
Here's where I'm coming from. Does it make me a 'Christian'? Almost certainly not. Does that matter?
Let's talk about God! I also offer a Study Day on request looking at John Robinson's classic book, 'Honest to God'. Can there be an authentic 'Christian' faith without an interventionist personal God? Is it all about life before death, not after? Have we missed something important here that might help people to see it all in a new, more C21st way? See below for more details.
My reflections are like a film 'based on the book' or a screenplay 'inspired by real events', not just a carbon-copy of the original. They are a kind of 'midrash' - a commentary on and development of the original Judao-Christian texts and beliefs, not merely their repetition. So, for example, this contemporary image, from Sri Lanka after the dreadful bombings, is a symbol that Jesus stands with us, here on earth, in our suffering, pain, loss and violence, not up in heaven watching. My human journey includes Jesus when he was still remembered as a radical teacher, healer and prophet who lived on in people's personal/spiritual experience, not as the second member of an eternal Trinity. How might following him be re-interpreted in the light of what we now know to be true? We do not have to keep to the ancient path alone.
We have to be prepared to reassess the content of 'Christianity', not just its presentation. I am not attacking it; I'm trying to re-think how it could be. A faith should focus on how you live; on what difference it makes, not just be a list of required statements to which everyone is expected to assent without discussion. Fundamentalism and so-called 'Biblical' authority are not the way forward, in Christianity or any other religion. That's like asking people to use the internet based on a manual designed for a typewriter! It might work for a few who are willing to set aside everything else they know to be true, but it just digs a deeper and deeper hole for them to disappear into.
The overwhelming majority of people are not convinced. It's a stone when we asked for bread. Just the same old wine in recycled wineskins. We need something genuinely new.
'And a little child shall lead them' said the prophet Isaiah. I recently visited the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The centrepiece is a massive circular war memorial with two group sculptures. Each of them shows muddied and frightened figures gently bearing away a dead and naked man from the battlefield. A school party was there and one of the children asked her teacher, 'Is that Jesus'? The answer, of course, is 'Yes'. That's how Jesus still lives, as we find that his human story echoes our own. That's the Way I try to follow.
I value the Christian past. I find Christian history endlessly fascinating and probably know as much about the Bible as most clergy! This is my heritage and I am not ashamed of it. I don't want it to die. But it will, unless it changes. Christianity has never come to terms with the new view of the world that came with science, Darwin etc. It still asks us to believe in a God who is now unbelievable. We're still waiting for a theological revolution to match the astronomical one after Copernicus! So let's say something different before it's too late!
Simplistic 'answers' to life's questions just don't work anymore. Or they don't last. Cathedrals are showing increased attendance because they offer such a range of more thoughtful activities and styles of spirituality. For me, the music is a metaphor. The faith journey should be like great music, with a variety of ideas and insights alongside each other. It can be challenging at times. But we need to enjoy the harmony, not expect everyone to sing in unison, or no-one else will listen.
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!
But my website also reflects my other main interest. Can Christianity and its central figure mean anything to those who are not convinced that conventional ideas of 'God' and religion take us where we need to go as modern, thoughtful human beings? Can faith be radical, rational and inclusive?
Friendly FEEDBACK is always very welcome. Please let me know if you have found my thoughts interesting and helpful.
ALL INFORMATION AND ADVICE PROVIDED ON THIS WEBSITE, AND IN RELATED RESOURCES, IS GIVEN IN GOOD FAITH AND IS TRUE AND ACCURATE TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF. HOWEVER NO LIABILTY IS ACCEPTED FOR ANY ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES ARISING THEREFROM OR FOR ANY IMPLICATIONS OF UNINTENDED ERRORS. I HAVE BOTH PUBLIC LIABILITY AND PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE.