Archive for October, 2010

Why do we worship the way we do?  What or who do we think “God” is?  Does it matter?  These questions are being mulled over in a series of postings I – an ordinary Anglican layman – am putting on this site.  In this, the fifth or so in the series, I pause to add testimony from better thinkers than I am (I apologise for not giving the full, correct citations).

On what I’ve said before about “God” the non-existent and the resulting need for humans to erect screens of icons and saints and personalisation to mediate between ourselves and the divine, I am happy to quote a modern philosopher on an aspect of “the great mystery of the incarnation.”  Christians believe that God took on human form for a reason.  This has consequences. Professor Keith Thomson has put it in this way:

“the trouble with using terms like ‘intelligent’, ‘design’ and ‘good’ as anything more than metaphors is that it becomes easy to think that they can be applied literally in a human sense.  While to portray God as too mysterious is always to risk making him too remote, making him too accessible and too much like us risks trivialising him.  For the mainstream Christian, the role of Jesus was in many respects to bridge this gap.  Jesus was sent in human form with all its strengths and weaknesses, as exemplified in the ultimate sense by the temptations and his cruel death.  The fact of the human Jesus helps to justify an anthropic concept of God.”

The Watch on the Heath: science and religion before Darwin (2005).

The death of God is the idea, discussed by Kant and Nietzsche, that humans no longer need the ancient formulation or archetype of the divine, and have effectively exercised their free will and murdered it.  Where does that leave us?  Clearly relativism, the acceptance that any one ‘truth’ is now as ‘good’ as any other, and we cannot say which one is the ‘best’ or the most authentic, has its temptations and risks (a theme of G K Chesterton).  It is noticeably the chief concern of Benedict XVI.  Is it so iniquitous?

In my next posting, I hope to explore how organised religion, or faith systems which have become too ‘here and now’, appears to have much to answer for in the case of the death of “God”: in terms of paradigms, actions and language.  I am heading, I hope, towards the idea that there is something that, if we choose, we can denominate as “God” but that we have to open our minds and spirit to accommodate and support such a notion.


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This is the fourth in a series of posts in which I think aloud about why and what we worship, at least in the West.  I draw on theological material I have ingested over the years but I am not going to get into a tangle of references. (more…)

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This is the latest in a series of posts by an ordinary Anglican thinking through what we mean when we either say we believe in ‘God’ or we do not.  I have drawn so many of my ideas from thinkers and writers like Paul Tillich and Marcus Borg, and I should be referencing citations to them, but that would make this piece too formal and too long to write.  The ideas have been assimilated along the way.  What follows is an amateur attempt to follow them at a distance. (more…)

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