Thursday, June 28, 2007

(3) It would seem to me...

Let me till you about my Pastor….

My Pastor graduated with a Master’s of Divinity degree, from a well-known Christian seminary, in the early 1990’s. She was ordained shortly thereafter by a Mainline Christian denomination and began her career as a Pastor by serving as an Associate minister at a church in Southwestern Florida.

In 2002 she became the Senior Pastor of the church (where I regularly attend) where she now serves, and cares for a congregation of about 350-400 parishioners.

My Pastor is faced with the task that most Mainline Pastors are faced with today, albeit; to serve the church in a time of dramatic cultural and spiritual change. She must not only preach the gospel of the ‘Popular Christianity’ (that which is understood primarily by the people-in-the-pews), but also, she must tend to that segment of the ‘flock’ that has moved beyond the ‘Popular Christianity’ to a more mature and intellectual understanding of the church and religion. This is a ‘balancing act’ that will challenge many mainline Christian Pastors for years to come.

It would seem to me… my Pastor is making great progress in accomplishing the dynamics of this ‘balancing act’. Her sermons are biblically based but not dogmatic. She uses scripture to reference a thought, an ideal, a situation, but her reference to the scripture seldom implies a literal interpretation. In Bible study classes she will often explain the scriptures as the experience of those of the ancient world, but not necessarily our experience, today, in the 21st century. She has instigated small (but important) changes in the liturgy of the worship service that are helping to move the congregation toward a more mature understanding of the Christian religion. Her sermons are life affirming messages that comfort and inspire, (as opposed to those that instill fear and intimidation).

It would seem to me… this is the path that Mainline Pastors mush begin to walk if the Church is to have a chance for survival, and the sooner the better.

It would seem to me… there are a great number of people in Church pews who are silently waiting for this movement to begin and untold others who have left the Church because – in many cases – it has not.

But then… I could be wrong………….barry e

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Another interesting excerpt....

Excerpt from the book, The Question of Religion
by William Corlett and John Moore
Bradbury Press, 1978

If I leave aside religion’s involvement in temporal matters – political, economic and social – at least for the moment, then the religious image has among its assets the advantages of comparative permanence, stability, continuity and security. Its importance may fluctuate from time to time and from place to place, but in the main, its threads, in their various forms, have woven continuously through the tapestry of human history.

Certainly it is debatable whether man invented religion for his own satisfaction, but there can be no doubt that it has fulfilled its human requirements – indeed, it still does. In general, the forms of religion have always been accepted as an essential ingredient in human society, even though at times the different forms have sought to suppress and eliminate each other. (But are those unseemly activities the fault of the religion or the men who are interpreting it in inappropriate ways?)

Now, in modern times, as a result of the effects of science, technology and industry, certain materialistic ideologies, gathering strength in many parts of the world, have elected to dispense with religion altogether and actively discourage it in their societies. This last development seems very significant.

Does it not indicate a crucial point in human evolution? Does it represent a foolhardy and disastrous movement which will result in men being no more than well-organized colonies like ants, simply surviving and reproducing themselves? Or does it signify progress, in that men are facing the facts of existence and are beginning to regulate themselves intelligently and be responsible for themselves?

Are we alive at a time when, regardless of past evidence, the god-idea is no longer viable or even useful to man?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

(2) It would seem to me...

Our study group, that meets each Sunday morning, has been discussing a chapter from the book ‘Philosophers and Philosophies’ titled ‘Christianity Without Belief in God’. The book is by Frederick Copleston.

The essence of the chapter is this… “For an increasing number of people, belief in the existence of a God is becoming impossible in a sense analogous to that in which it has become impossible for most people to believe that there are elves in the forest.

It is not a case of one’s being able to demonstrate the non-existence of elves. Rather it is a case of one’s seeing no good reason for accepting the hypothesis that they do exist. The events, which might be said to be the activities of the elves, can be explained in other ways.

Analogously, in view of what seems to be the massive silence and the conspicuous inactivity of the alleged divine being, and in view of the fact that events that were once explained in terms of divine activity are now explained in other ways, belief in such a God has become a superfluous hypothesis.”

It would seem to me… in addition to those who do not believe, there are vast numbers of Christians who would describe God in some way other than the description found in the Bible.

This, of course, is not a new discovery. Humanity has been trending in this direction for (at least) the past two hundred years. Bishop John A. T. Robertson said as much in his book, ‘Honest to God’ written in 1963.

It would seem to me… the trend is beginning to grow exponentially as the intelligence level of the nation and the world increases.

It would seem to me… the Church must embrace a new understanding of God and begin to gently infuse it into the its liturgy and teachings, before the critical mass of non-belief in the traditional description of God causes the Church to fail completely. Copleston suggests the possibility of an understanding that moves “from God to god”. (I’ll explain that concept another time.)

It would seem to me… a new approach to religion and/or spirituality must become an urgent priority of the Church if it intends to survive the 21st century as anything more than a fringe organization among the uninformed and uneducated…

But then… I could be wrong……………barry e