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Actualising God

I seem to have spent a lot of time recently thinking online about God (or that which we call “God”), rereading all my old theology books, or searching the web for others’ testimony or speculations, or simply thinking things through.  Why is this, and why now?  What am I trying to achieve? Continue Reading »

More Christian reticence: it is only after writing my previous post on this site that I came across the following remarks which to my mind parallel, albeit in clearer language, what I am trying to say:

“On the other hand it cannot be said that the Church concerns itself very much to emphasise the radical character of Jesus’s ethical teachings.”  Humphrey Carpenter.  Jesus.  Oxford, 1980. p93

“What now passes for belief in God is a very reduced version of what it once was.” Don Cupitt. After God: the future of religion. London, 1998.  p82

“Most of Christian theology has already been lost, as we soon discover if we ask people to explain, for example, just how Christ’s death has made atonement for our sins, or the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism, or the doctrine of the Trinity.” Cupitt, ibid p81

Somewhere in his many admirable books, Richard Holloway draws a distinction between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ belief;  perhaps that is what is needed to be referenced here.

 

Modern theology

“Modern theology is not always easy reading.  It would be helpful if theologians tried to present it in an atttractive, accesible way to enable congregants to keep up with the latest discussions and the new insights of biblical scholarship, which rarely reaches [sic] the pews.”  Karen Armstrong.  The case for God.  London, 2009  p295.

My point exactly; though it is striking that her book does not even mention Marcus Borg, Richard Holloway or Richard Harries, to speak of but three.

Love matters

It’s been a long time since I heard any preacher mention Satan, hell, damnation or eternal punishment. What happened to these concepts? Things change. Continue Reading »

Bearing in mind the present row within the Roman Catholic church – for that is what it is – about admitting divorced persons to the sacraments, it is a jolt to come across, in passing, the following quotation from half a century ago:

“It is impossible to escape the impression that, to certain sorts of clergy, the effective exclusion from sacramental communion of divorced persons who have remarried is the highest form of the Church’s moral witness. The cynic might well be tempted to say that the heartless zeal frequently displayed in the bearing of this particular testimony, is a way in which ecclesiastics compensate for their unwillingness to engage with other besetting moral issues of our age, for instance the moral permissibility of nuclear weapons.” D M Mackinnon  Moral objections; in Vidler, Alec  Objections to Christian belief  London: Constable, 1963 p14

I attended Professor Mackinnon’s lectures when I was reading theology at Cambridge in the late 1960s and found them exhilarating.  Seeing a group of straight-backed Jesuits walk out of one of his lectures, on the great I Am statements in the Gospel, is a particular memory.

 

God’s diversity

Thirty or forty years ago, I recall, there was much anguished talk in the Church of England about Christian unity – or lack of it – and the perceived need for determined ecumenicalism to tackle the problem with ‘solutions’; much more so than nowadays. Thank God. Continue Reading »

Unbelievable

Like many other innocents abroad, I have often blundered into local religious rites or appurtenances that I knew nothing about and could not decode.  Why do worshippers in  Thai temples pray with those little sticks in their hands?  When is it permissible to sit down during an Ethiopian Coptic eucharist?  Why do some Calvinist churches have a sort of fenced paddock as part of their furniture?  Whom can I ask about any of this?  How would I feel when it was all explained to me?  What reaction should I cultivate? How do I show respect? Continue Reading »

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