Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Changes needed...

Just as we have made changes to update the music portion of our worship services, we need to look toward our liturgy and our understanding of our Christian heritage.

The past two hundred years have seen great changes in the understanding of the Bible and the Christian doctrine. Christian leaders, theologians, biblical scholars all talk, teach and write about Christianity in a way that is completely foreign to 98% of the people-in-the-pews. And they agree that the church must begin to wake up to the knowledge of the 21st century and begin to preach and teach a more intellectually honest doctrine or it will continue to lose its place in society - and in the not to distant future - become relegated to the fringes of society, among the uneducated and uninformed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Behind the Invisible Velvet Curtain

It amazes me that in this post-modern age, with the knowledge we humans have of the universe, of human nature and our place the world, that the human mind can still carry around the idea that there is a supernatural ‘being’ somewhere ‘up there’ or ‘out there’, watching over us and from time to time intervening in the affairs of our lives. Such a notion is an indication of immaturity and a lack of knowledge (even basic knowledge) of the history and origin of god(s), goddesses and religion.

It is clearly understood by knowledgeable Theologians, biblical scholars, seminarians and many, if not most, church hierarchy, that all god(s) and goddesses are of human construct. That ‘reveled word’ is nothing more than a reflection of man’s highest ideals. The only people who do not understand these vital facts are the-people-in-the-pews. Why? Because of what the Rev. Dr. Jack Good calls, “The Dishonest Church” (Rising Star Press, 6/03), or what Bishop John Shelby Spong writes in “A New Christianity for a New World” (HarperSanFrancisco, 2001).

It is as if there were an invisible velvet curtain hanging between the pulpit and the pews. The-people-in-the-pews are being ‘fed’ the pabulum of their youth because the church does not know how to admit to it’s centuries of mis-information and abuse of privilege.

So long as we humans continue to rely on a non-existent supernatural ‘being’ to take care of our needs, we ignore our personal responsibility to ourselves and all of humankind. And as a species we will not grow to our full maturity.

Religions play a valuable role in society. They provide a place for teaching ethics and morals. They offer a much needed atmosphere of community. But if they are to continue to be a valuable resource for all humankind, they must begin to bring their dogma and their beliefs into the 21st century. As humans we need to begin to reconcile what we believe with what we know. If we do not, our churches, synagogues and mosques will soon become nothing more than havens for the uninformed and uneducated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Christianity - likened to a ladder

Christianity (and religion in general) can be understood at many levels. The various levels can be likened to the rungs on a ladder. The lowest rung can be thought of as an immature level of understanding and the top rung a mature level of understanding.

The most immature level of believer, believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and other Christian (religious) dogma. This level believes in a God that is supernatural in nature, one that resides ‘up there’ or ‘out there’ and from time to time invades the world to invoke His own will. This level of understanding also believes in the literal virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and believes that Jesus literally died to save humankind from sin. At this immature level, the adherent believes that the written authority of the religion (i.e. the Bible, Torah, Quran) was literally written or inspired by a God.

The most mature level of believer, understands that all religious writings and all Gods/Goddesses of all religions are of human construct. The origin of which can be found in a cursory study of the early history of the human species. At a macro level it is understood that (any) religion is a tool, instituted and used to control social behavior. At a micro level religious adherence provides comfort and support to the individual believer.

The rungs between represent the many variations expressed in denominational creeds and beliefs. However, there are potentially as many rungs (i.e. understandings of religion) as there are religious adherents.

An individual believer is able to understand religion at the level (or rung) where he/she stands, and most likely understands the levels below where he/she stands. A person may also understand some of the level immediately above where he/she stands. However, he/she is likely to label as heretic or atheist, anyone expressing an understanding that is two or more rungs above his/her own level of understanding.

The ability of an individual, to move (upward) toward a more mature understanding of religion is limited only by the individual’s appetite and desire to study the historical origins of God(s) and religion(s). Without such a desire to learn, the individual, and society as well, will forever remain below the level of a fully mature understanding of religion.