You are on page 1of 28

Progressive Christianity Lent Course 2014

A Journey of Faith: Moving On John Churcher

Permission To !ea"

Progressive Christianity Lent Course 2014 A Journey of Faith: Moving On John Churcher

Copyright : 2014, Rev John Churcher All rights reserved. Scripture ta en !ro" the #e$ Revised Standard %ersion &i'le, copyright
1()( the *ivision o! Christian +ducation o! the #ational Council o! the Churches o! Christ in the ,nited States o! A"erica. ,sed 'y per"ission. All rights reserved.

-u'lished 'y: -er"ission to Spea 1 .aple!ield St Al'ans A/2 2&*

Contents
0ee 1ne: 0ee 2$o: 2he #ature o! Spirituality Carl Jung and Spirituality

0ee 2hree: 3+verything $e hear is opinion, not a !act. +verything $e see is a perspective, not the truth.3 0ee 4our: Jesus the healer, $isdo" teacher and sage 0ee 4ive: *oes li!e have any purpose $hen $e dispose o! the 5Super 6nterventionist 7od 1ut 2here58

tu#y Metho#s:

1. Read each section and co"plete the discussion 'o9 tas s either individually or in the group 'e!ore "oving to the !ollo$ing section. 2. 6t $ill 'e use!ul to have several di!!erent translations o! the &i'le availa'le. 3. Re!lect on the $ee ly session as a $hole 'e!ore co""encing the !ollo$ing session. 4. Additional suggested reading can 'e !ound at the end o! each $ee .

ession re$uirements:

1. A copy o! these notes !or each participant. 2. +ach participant should have a :otter !or notes.

%ee" One:
O(TCOM) :

The &ature of !iritua'ity

2o a!!ir" legiti"ate progressive alternatives to conventional or traditional creedal Christianity;. 2o de!ine Spirituality and identi!y $ays in $hich it di!!ers !ro" Religion8 2o identi!y reasons $hy $e "ay create the 57od5 that 5supports5 and encourages our pre:udices, our psychological and social needs and

our personal $ishes.

2he "ore so"e people continue upon their :ourney o! !aith the less relevance they see in $hat institutional churches do $ee 'y $ee in the traditional preaching and $orship $ithin the conte9t o! su'stitutionary atone"ent and original sin "entalities. <et "any o! the" continue to 'e delighted and encouraged 'y the depth o! !ello$ship and co""it"ent a"ongst "e"'ers o! local churches. .any o! the" continue to 'e e9cited 'y "uch o! the hu"anitarian and social $or along $ith political 5gingering up5 o! o!!icialdo" that the churches do locally and nationally in the causes o! e=uality, :ustice

and peace. A gro$ing nu"'er o! progressive Christians, !or a decade or "ore, have seen the"selves less and less o! 'eing a theist, that is as one $ho 'elieves in a 57od out there5 $ho intervenes $ith and over rules the la$s o! nature. <et "any o! these are still very happy to use the $ords 4ather, Son and >oly Spirit. 2his 2rinitarian descriptor e9presses the $ay in $hich Christians "ay encounter or interpret our 57od5, 'ut 57od5 is "uch "ore. 4or "any progressive Christians, the 2rinity is an e9pression o! di!!erent people and co""unities living in

per!ect har"ony. #o$ that really is heaven on earth? 2he longer that 6 :ourney do$n this road o! !ollo$ing the 0ay o! Jesus as 6 understand it, the "ore 6 consider "ysel! to 'e a Christian >u"anist, concerned less $ith clai"s o! divinity visited upon Jesus o! #a@areth 'y the Church do$n the "illennia. 1n the other hand, 6 a" increasingly enthralled $ith the hu"anity o! Jesus, his $ay o! co"passionate !orgiveness and his social teachings and hu"anist principles. >ere $as a "an $ho !ound so"ething in li!e that $as $orth dying !or.

0hat do you understand Christian >u"anis" to 'e8 >o$ does this di!!er !ro" conventional or traditional creedal Christianity8 2o $hat e9tent do progressive alternatives o!!er a "ore relevant $ay to understand and to e9perience the 7od that $e "eet in Jesus in our present postA"odern age8

2o a great e9tent 6 thin that $e even create the 57od5 that 5supports5 and encourages our pre:udices, our psychological and social needs and our personal $ishes. 2his is as true !or those $ho are !unda"entalists and literalists as "uch as it is true !or li'erals and progressives, !or theists and nonAtheists ali e. +ach o! us "a es a choice as to $hat is truth. So"e "ay si"ply ta e in all that the !unda"entalist or literalist preachers and leaders tell the" is the truth A and re"ain silent i! the told truth does not "a e sense in personal e9perience. /i'erals and progressives are "uch "ore open to challenge, to see ing out and creating their o$n truth that has a richness B'ut o!ten provisionalC "eaning !or the"selves.

&ut $ithin all versions o! truth there has to 'e an ele"ent o! spirituality that "any associate $ith the 5soul5 as opposed to one5s physical nature or "aterial things.

$onder. 6 illustrate this 'y re!erencing an event that occurred $hile 6 $as $atching the &&C 4 television 'roadcast o! the 201D -ro"enade Concert led $ith i""ense enthusias" 'y >o$ever, $hen 6 have as ed #igel Eennedy. >e $as religious people to de!ine acco"panied 'y the 5spirituality5 o!ten they have "agni!icent young !elt unco"!orta'le and instru"entalists o! the una'le to go 'eyond -alestine Strings !ro" the state"ents such as 36t5s +d$ard Said .usic so"ething $ithin3 or 36t5s Conservatory 'ased in ho$ 6 e9perience 7od3 or 36t5s &ethlehe", 7a@a City, a $ay o! living.3 All o! $hich Jerusale", #a'lus and are true state"ents 'ut Ra"allah. 6t $as a very spirituality is so "uch "ore. di!!erent and distinctive Although, !or so"e, the 5soul5 interpretation o! %ivaldi5s "ay not e9ist, "y e9perience 4our Seasons that !illed "e $ith ut"ost :oy and, tells "e that spirituality is "etaphorically, too "e to real. 4or "e, spirituality is the gates o! heaven? &ut the concerned $ith "y interpretation o! e9periences, =uestion re"ains, 30hat is o! ho$ 6 5see5 the $orld a'out spirituality83 "e, in things such as a$e and

*e!ine Spirituality. >o$ does this di!!er !ro" Religion8 2o $hat e9tent do you thin that $e create the 57od5 that 5supports5 and encourages our pre:udices, our psychological and social needs and our personal $ishes8 So"e 20 or "ore years ago, in "y earlier career $ithin schoolA'ased and then university education, 6 $as grate!ul !or o!!icial #ational Curriculu" atte"pts to de!ine 5spirituality5 in ter"s that $ould "eet the needs o! religious and nonAreligious people ali e. -erhaps the nearest that 6 get to a $or ing de!inition o! spirituality is to loo at the 5Spiritual and .oral *evelop"ent A A *iscussion -aper5 B<or , #ational Curriculu" Council, 1((DC. 2his discussion paper identi!ied di!!erent aspects o! spiritual develop"ent including: &elie!s A the develop"ent o! personal 'elie!s including religious 'elie!sF an appreciation that people have individual and shared 'elie!s on $hich they 'ase their livesF a developing understanding o! ho$ 'elie!s contri'ute to personal identityF A sense o! a$e, $onder and "ystery A 'eing inspired 'y the natural $orld, "ystery or hu"an achieve"entF 5

+9periencing !eelings o! transcendence A !eelings $hich "ay give rise to 'elie! in the e9istence o! a divine 'eing or the 'elie! that one5s inner resources provide the a'ility to rise a'ove everyday e9periencesF Search !or "eaning and purpose A as ing 5$hy "e85 at ti"es o! hardship and su!!eringF re!lecting on the origins and purpose o! li!eF responding to challenging e9periences o! li!e such as 'eauty, su!!ering and deathF Sel!A no$ledge A an a$areness o! onesel! in ter"s o! thoughts, !eelings, e"otions, responsi'ilities and e9periencesF a gro$ing understanding and acceptance o! individual identityF an a'ility to 'uild up relationships $ith othersF Relationships A recognising and valuing the $orth o! each individualF developing a sense o! co""unityF the a'ility to 'uild up relationships $ith othersF Creativity A e9pressing inner"ost thoughts and !eelings through, !or e9a"ple, art, "usic, literature and cra!tsF e9ercising the i"agination, inspiration, intuition and insightF and 4eelings and e"otions A the sense o! 'eing "oved 'y 'eauty or indnessF hurt 'y in:ustice or aggressionF a gro$ing a$areness o! $hen it is i"portant to control e"otions and !eelings, and ho$ to learn to use such !eelings as a source o! gro$th. *iscuss the ) ele"ents and state to $hat e9tent you identi!y $ith these aspects o! spiritual develop"ent. 0hat "ight you $ish to challenge or to add to conclude a $or ing de!inition o! spirituality !or yoursel!8

As 6 travel in "y "inistry the =uestion that eeps co"ing at "e !ro" all shades o! Christian e9perience is, 3&ut $hat do you thin a'out prayer83 .y reply is that it all depends upon ho$ $e e9plain our e9periences o! the nature o! 7od and $hat $e thin is the purpose o! prayer. 6! the e9perience o! 7od is that o! the 5Super 6nterventionist &eing 1ut 2here5 then prayer is a'out as ing !or that 7od to get "ore involved in the li!e o! a particular person or speci!ic situation. 1!ten such 6

prayer arises !ro" a response to a circu"stance that see"s to 'e 'eyond the a'ility o! the prayAer to do anything a'out. So"eti"es such praying is so !ervent that it appears that the prayAer is de"anding 7od to do as re=uested. 6! 7od is the allApo$er!ul 5Super 6nterventionist &eing 1ut 2here5 $ho inter!eres in li!e, ho$ can the prayAer :usti!y such a 7od ans$ering the prayers o! so"e and ignoring or reversing the prayers o! othersF heaping 'lessings upon so"e and allo$ing others to die in

tsuna"i, !lood, earth=ua e, car crashes, oncology $ards and so on8 -erhaps persistent praying $hen nothing see"s to change is 'ecause there is so"e e9pectation that !ervent prayer can change the "ind o! this Supre"e &eing8 A!ter all, there any "any e9a"ples in the &i'le $here deeply religious people have argued $ith their 7od, trying to understand the actions and to change the "ind o! their 7od over certain issues. 1ne o! the "ost interesting characters as !ar as 6 a" concerned is A'raha".

>e $as a "an $ith the Rott$eiler instinct: once he had his teeth into so"ething he $as reluctant to let it go $ithout a !ight. A'raha", a "an li e so "any o! us, so o!ten got it 'adly $rong. <et, in the stories, he had the audacity and the courage to argue $ith his 7od. A!ter all, $hat is the di!!erence 'et$een pleading one;s case and arguing $ith another8 -erhaps it is only a "atter o! degree8 2he &oo o! Jo' is all a'out arguing Jo';s case $ith his !riends and $ith his 7od. 6n ch. 1D in particular $e !ind Jo' trying to understand $hy such cala"ity has !allen upon hi" even though he considers that he has done nothing $rong to deserve such treat"ent !ro" his 7od. %erses 20 G 24 are heartA rending calls !ro" deep $ithin Jo': 31nly grant t$o things to "e, then 6 $ill not hide "ysel! !ro" your !ace: $ithdra$ your hand !ar !ro" "e, and do not let dread o! you terri!y "e. 2hen call, and 6 $ill ans$erF or let "e spea , and you reply to "e. >o$ "any are "y ini=uities and "y sins8 .a e "e no$ "y transgression and "y sin. 0hy do you hide your !ace, and count "e as your ene"y83 0ho can read the" even today and not 'e touched 'y the depth o! his despair8 6t is there again in the &oo o! 6saiah. .y !avourite chapter is 7

4D Battri'uted to Second 6saiahC that has those $onder!ul state"ents in verses 1) and 1( that can 'e so easily cherryApic ed, 'ut even so, applied to the situation in the Church and in the $orld today: 3*o not re"e"'er the !or"er things, or consider the things o! old. 6 a" a'out to do a ne$ thingF no$ it springs !orth, do you not perceive it8 6 $ill "a e a $ay in the $ilderness and rivers in the desert.3

another place $ith little relevance to li!e today.

.y prayers o! intercession during ti"es o! pu'lic $orship are constructed around an introductory state"ent or phrase !ollo$ed 'y silence !or each one to pray in $hatever $ay they !ind appropriate and to $hatever i"age or e9perience o! 7od they have. 2his allo$s those $ho 'elieve in an interventionist 7od to pray G even to argue their case on &ut in that sa"e chapter, v2H, 'ehal! o! others !or 7od to intervene. And !or the according to Second 6saiah;s gro$ing nu"'er o! !ollo$ers understanding there is an o! the Jesus 0ay $ho re:ect invitation !ro" his 7od, 3Accuse "e, let us go to trialF the concept o! the interventionist 7od, the set !orth your case, so that silence $ithin the ti"es o! you "ay 'e proved right. 3 intercessory prayers allo$s -erhaps that is ho$ those the opportunity to silently $ho pray to an interventionist centre one;s sel! upon the 7od should petition !or sacredness o! li!e itsel! and healing and $holeness8 #ot one;s role in living 7od;s $ith nice =uiet prayers o! 3 I Eingdo" in this present ti"e. i! it 'e your $illI3 'ut !ullA -rayer !or "e is no longer 'looded arguing prayers o! putting "y concerns !or J0hat;s the purpose o! situations and people into allo$ing this to happen at $ords and o!! loading the" all8K upon 7od to do so"ething to &ut i! our understanding o! put the situation right. 7od is not that o! the ancient -rayer no$ "eans o! days, o! the 5Super recognising $here situations 6nterventionist &eing 1ut 2here5 $ho, $ith $hat see"s and people lac the to 'e !ic leness, 'lesses so"e co"passion, :ustice and peace o! the a'undant li!e that $e and curses others, then the all should 'e sharing A and $restling o! Jaco' and the then doing so"ething active pleading o! A'raha", Jo', a'out putting right the Second 6saiah, etc, and even o! ourselves in our prayers !or $rong. #o longer is it others G then arguing li e this a'dicating "y responsi'ility onto the shoulders o! the is !ro" another ti"e and

57od 1ut 2here5 'ut it is an active involve"ent !or "e that includes regular letters and e"ails to the "overs and sha ers Be.g. "y .e"'er o!

-arlia"entCF getting involved "eans 'eing an active part o! in ca"paigning and the outco"e o! the prayer. de"onstratingF devoting ti"e and "oney to the causes o! :ustice and peace. -rayer no$

0hether or not 7od e9ists, the hu"an spirit L hu"an spirituality is part o! us all, li e it or notF theist or nonAtheistF religious andLor spiritual. &ut to understand "y approach to Christian >u"anis" 6 need to consider the 'alancing act o! Carl Jung 'et$een psychology and spirituality. 2hat is the su':ect !or ne9t $ee ?

T*+

+O& *A *)LP), M) TO:

uggeste# rea#ing:
2o" *ra eA&roc "an, 5Christian >u"anis": 2he Co"passionate 2heology o! a Je$ Called Jesus5, B-aper'ac C -u'lisher: 2o" *ra eA&roc "an. M21 .ay 2012N *o"inic 4. *oyle, 52he -ro"ise o! Christian >u"anis": 2ho"as A=uinas on >ope5, B-aper'ac C -u'lisher: Crossroad -u'lishing Co"pany M1 .ay 2012N

Week Two:
OUTCOMES:

Carl Jung and Spirituality

To decide the value and importance of various well-known people and their contributions to the realm of religion. To consider critically Jung's attempt to create and to maintain balance and harmony in life. To critique the archetypes described by Jung and state the extent to which these may or may not impact upon traditional and creedal Christianity. come to this study with the wisdom of Confucius ringing in my ears! "#ever give a sword to a man who can't dance." may offer fresh insights into the nature of spirituality in general and to religion in particular.

(o! begin with a reminder of This is the second part of my last week's working definition exploration of my changing of spirituality that makes and developing spirituality sense to me. (pirituality is an from certainty to umbrella term that includes provisionality$ from the following aspects fundamentalism towards identified by the '(piritual Christian %umanism. This and )oral *evelopment - + session considers the *iscussion ,aper' -.ork! balancing act of Carl Jung #ational Curriculum Council! between psychology and /0012 spirituality. &rom the outset ,ersonal beliefs$ declare that am not a + sense of awe! wonder psychologist or and mystery$ psychoanalyst. #or am more 3xperience of than an interested amateur transcendence$ and! as such! may have (earch for meaning completely misunderstood and purpose$ the work of Jung. (elf-knowledge$ 'hat now follows makes 4elationships that sense to me at this moment in recognise and value time but it may seem the worth of each irrelevant to you as a follower individual$ of Jesus in this day and age. Creativity$ &eelings %owever! invite you to stay and emotions. with me and to engage with the emerging issues. To do so 1

(o how does spirituality differ from religion5 '4eligion' is not easy to define but what works for me at this time is that 'religion' involves either an individual or a group engaging with aspects of the spiritual! of that which is 'beyond' the individual. 6ut 'religion' also includes a developing or 'completed' orthodoxy in which a number of individuals or groups agree on a number of transcendent and moral commonalities. t is upon these commonalities that the members base their belief systems and aspired ways of individual and corporate living. Christianity! slam and Judaism -all descendants of +braham72 readily come to mind.

%owever! within each of the broad agreements as to what constitutes the basics of the identified 'religion' there are disagreements and often splits into smaller subsections of the core narrative -e.g. in Christianity there are Catholic! 8rthodox and ,rotestant versions of the Jesus story! and within each of these there are yet smaller factions into denominations and so on2.

the soul$ :nbelief! in denying them."

Those who have been highly critical of religion include another /0th century +merican! Thomas 3dison! inventor of the electric light bulb! the phonograph and the telephone. 3dison said! "4eligion is all bunk." The #obel ,ri;e in <iterature in /0=> was awarded to 6ritish philosopher 6ertrand 4ussell! also known for his anti-war Those who present warmly campaigning and political towards the benefits of activism. 4ussell stated! religion include the "4eligion is something left over television and film actress! from the infancy of our 9oldie %awn! who explained intelligence$ it will fade away as in an interview! "'e go into we adopt reason and science as religion in order to feel our guidelines." +merican warmer in our hearts! more philosopher! poet and religious connected to others! more naturalist! 9eorge (antayana connected to something who died in /0=? said! greater and to have a sense of "4eligions are the great fairy peace." The /0th century tales of conscience." The first +merican Transcendentalist &rench 3mperor! #apoleon poet! philosopher and 6onaparte! got very close to an essayist 4alph 'aldo appalling truth! "4eligion is 3merson said! "4eligion is to excellent stuff for keeping do right. t is to love! it is to common people quiet." +nd serve! it is to think! it is to be one cannot forget probably the humble.... 6elief consists in most widely quoted opponent accepting the affirmations of

of religion! @arl )arx who stated! "4eligion is the sigh of the oppressed creature! the heart of a heartless world! Aust as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. t is the opiate of the people." %owever! those who have seen the value of religion in therapeutic terms! helping individuals and communities come to terms with the challenges and threats of life and the unknown! include ,hilip 4ousseau in his The Early Christian Centuries B?>>?C! "The religious response is a response to experience and is coloured by the wish to provide a wider context for a fragile! short and turbulent life." Contemporary +merican freelance palaeontologist with an interest in sociology and theology! 9regory (cott ,aul said! ",opular religion is a coping mechanism for the anxieties of a dysfunctional social and economic environment." &rom my reading conclude that Carl Jung comes into this category.

*iscuss the various well-known contributors to the realm of religion and state to what extent you identify with these comments. 9ive reasons for your conclusions. Jung was born in (wit;erland in July /DE= and died in June /0F/. %aving lived through two 'orld 'ars Jung sought to create and to maintain balance and harmony in life. 3ven though he was a practising clinician and a theoretical psychologist Jung was particularly interested in both 3astern and 'estern 2 philosophy! the arts! astrology! literature and sociology. 8ver time he became increasingly concerned that humankind was becoming too reliant upon logical thinking and scientific discovery leading to a neglect of both the spiritual and the unconscious domains.

Jung's interest in psychology and religion resulted in a break down of his friendship with (igmund &reud. The latter! who has been probably the more influential of the two! reAected spirituality and religion as examples of psychosis from which patients needed to be freed. n his #ew ntroductory <ectures on ,sychoanalysis &reud stated! "4eligion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires."

seeking balance and harmony in their own disordered lives. Jung offered ideas about psychological archetypes that exist within the collective unconscious.

n his book The Structure of the Psyche, Jung wrote! "+ll the most powerful ideas in history go back to archetypes. This is particularly true of religious ideas! but the central concepts of science! philosophy! and ethics are no exception to this rule. n their present form they are variants of archetypal ideas created by +lthough Jung said that 9od consciously applying and could not be found outside adapting these ideas to the psyche! he was much reality. &or it is the function more sympathetic than &reud of consciousness! not only to and whilst he reAected the recogni;e and assimilate the theology of theism! of a external world through the transcendent (uper gateway of the senses! but to interventionist 6eing translate into visible reality somewhere out there! he did the world within us." see that religion and +lso he explained that we spirituality offered support and encouragement to people each present a chosen

persona to others to mask the 'true self' that we hide from others. Jung also explained that within each of us there exists the 'shadow' as part of the unconscious mind. %ere we hold onto our forbidden desires and repressed ideas$ our 'hidden' failures and shortcomings. 'hen we refuse to acknowledge and to accept the 'shadow' within the 'self' Jung suggested that we then often proAect our 'shadow' onto others. Thus they become the scapegoats of our own preAudices and shortcomings. Jung also said that every one of us is made up of multiple social masks that we select and present as 'different' persona when meeting in different groups or communities. (uch selectivity in our social masks protects our ego from negative criticism and reaction towards us.

s religion a way in which we add a cloak of transcendence to cover our 'shadow'! our 'hidden' faults and weaknesses of character5 s this why many who are trying to come to terms with the result of facing up to their 'shadow' self find consolation in the religious cycle of "you are guilty - can show you a way to rid yourself of the guilt - come and say my prayer..."5 s this why some religious folk are accused of being 'hypocrites'! presenting the religious mask on the (abbath and living behind different less 'godly' masks in business! home and work for the rest of the week5

+lso Jung suggested that the psyche -i.e. the soul or spirit! that which makes us 'tick'2 is composed of the ego! the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious and all three are inherited! natural! unlearned and universal. +ccording to Jung! they operate together to organi;e how we explain our experiences of life. (ome of the archetypes described by Jung areG The fatherG the authority figure that is almighty! omnipotent and strong whilst also being austere! exacting and severe. s this not part of the &ather-figure of Christianity! slam and Judaism5 The motherG the loving! nourishing! protective and reassuring figure. s this not part of the way in which Catholic Christians see the god in )ary mother of Jesus5 s this not the way in which Christianity and Judaism see the (pirit H 'isdom H (ophia5 The childG the one who wants to rediscover personal innocence through rebirth into all that is good -god52 and deliverance H rescue from ourselves and from the 'enemy'. s this not ourselves in the meta narrative of traditional Christianity5 The wise old manG the one who offers spiritual direction! spiritual knowledge and spiritual wisdom. s this not Christianity's %oly (pirit5 The heroG the one who has championed the cause and won the battle! thus becoming our saviour and deliverer$ our guardian and protector. s this not Jesus who became the Christ of the Church5 The maidenG the innocent one! pure and holy. s this not another picture of )ary the mother of Jesus5 The tricksterG the one who is the cheat! the deceiver and the trouble-maker. s this not the *evil H (atan of Christianity5

*iscuss the archetypes described by Jung and state the extent to which these may or may not impact upon traditional and creedal Christianity. 9ive reasons for your conclusions.

The following comes from my book 'Setting Jesus Free' . "'riting in ?>>F from an ndian Christian perspective! John )artin (ahaAananda shed new light on the conversation between Jesus and #icodemus -John 12 by inviting us to look beyond the physical re-birth and then to rethink the traditional understanding of spiritual rebirth. (ahaAananda suggested that what Jesus discovered was 4

that the Judaism in which he was birthed had! like all other religions! set up barriers as to who was in and who was outG -i.e. Jew and 9entile2. Jesus of #a;areth had grown in his understanding of 9od so that he reached the point where 9entiles were no longer dogs and a Jewish man could talk openly with a (amaritan woman. Jesus had discovered that the Jewish .ahweh 9od was and always had been! the 8ne 9od of +ll! including the 9entiles. (ahaAananda

suggests that Jesus was talking of Judaism as being the womb of faith! when #icodemus was still stuck on the physical aspect of returning to his mother's womb. + whole new understanding of 9od opens up when the story of Jesus meeting with #icodemus is put into the context of the second birth being the reali;ation that it is necessary to be 'wombed'! born and nurtured within a

religion and its associated culture! but then there is a further step in which we are to be 'birthed' out of that religion into the knowledge and experience of the unconditional and inclusive

8ne 9od of +ll. (ahaAananda is reAecting the idea that this 'second birth' is about conversion from one religion to another. nstead! where he is particularly helpful is in suggesting that this 'second

birth' is out of all religious groupings into the glorious liberty of seeing that 9od is not on the side of one religion [usually the'my' religion] and against the others.

This second birth is the (pirit-inspired reali;ation that we all need the 'wombing' and nurturing within a religion but then we are invited and encouraged to go beyond the barriers created by the individual religions to the liberty of 9od that transcends all religions." +s 6ishop Jack (pong constantly reminds his listeners and readers! 9od is not a Christian. #or is 9od a Jew or a )uslim! not a %indu or a 6uddhist - or whatever label by which we human beings identify ourselves. 6ishop (pong says! " honour my tradition. walk through my tradition. 6ut don't believe that my tradition defines 9od. t only points me towards 9od." To take and to apply the thinking of the likes of (ahaAananda and 6ishop Jack (pong - this 'second birth liberty' and 8ne 9od of +ll pointed to by each religious explanation of the sacred experience! will mean that we will no longer have to serve religion but will make religion serve us as we genuinely come to see that all people are united as sister and brother under the 8ne 9od. t also means that we have a responsibility to work together for the common good of peace$ Austice$ equality$ and for the future of Creation.

t remains important for Christians to be 'wombed'! nurtured and to celebrate the metaphorical birth stories of Jesus the Christ child but also we should be experiencing the Truth of those birth stories in our own lives everyday. The spiritual transformation that results from this experience is life in all its abundance! regardless of the circumstances that we have to face day by day. That is something about which we can and should be Aoyful7 'e can hold out and refuse to change the purity of our traditions! our words! our creeds and our doctrines but if we do then the days of the institutional church in this country are numbered. 'e need to move on from the old ways of interpreting and understanding the (criptures and the traditions of the Church! and build our futures within the framework of the post-modern world in which we now live. +lthough today's offering may appear to be a cry of despair! it is a call to hope and to action because there is time for a #ew 4eformation that will save the institutional Church from itself and help stop it continuing to do psychological damage to millions of adherents in our rapidly changing and insecure post modern world.

*iscuss the extent to which you agree that the second birth is the reali;ation that it is necessary to be 'wombed'! born and nurtured within a religion and its associated culture! but then there is a further step in which we are to be 'birthed' out of that religion into the knowledge and experience of the unconditional and inclusive 8ne 9od of +ll. 9ive reasons for your conclusions.

have chosen to find my 'self' and my 'shadow' within the Christian tradition. +s concluded last week! whether or not 9od exists! the human spirit H human spirituality is part of us all! like it or not$ theist or non-theist$ religious andHor spiritual.

'hatever 9od may be! in my Aourney into a less supernatural spirituality warm to the wisdom of the 6uddha! "The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart."

n the next week will be considering the cost of being a follower of the 'ay of Jesus. 6ut the final word today goes again to Jung! "Your vision ill !ecome clear only hen you loo" into your heart# $ho loo"s outsi%e, %reams# $ho loo"s insi%e, a a"ens#"

THIS SESSION HAS HEL E! ME TO:

Sugge"ted reading:
+nthony (tevens! 'JungG + Iery (hort ntroduction BIery (hort ntroductionsC' -,aperback2 ,ublisherG 8xford ,aperbacks$ #ew edition edition B?? &eb ?>>/C 4uth (nowden! 'Jung - The @ey deasG Teach .ourself'! -,aperback2 ,ublisherG Teach .ourself B?F &eb ?>/>C 8liver *avies! '9od 'ithin' -,aperback2 ,ublisherG Darton,Longman & Todd Ltd; [New edition] (21 Feb 2006 John Churcher! '(etting Jesus &ree'! -,aperback2 ,ublisherG 8 6ooks B1/ *ec ?>>0C

Week Three: "Everything we hear is opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."
OUTCOMES: To acknowledge that our understanding of Bible passages can be changed completely by the way in which the translators of a particular version of the Bible have done their work. To critique the interpretation of the family situations in which Jesus found himself. To identify reasons why the church remains important for you, and if not, why it has ceased to be important. No matter what we mean by the word God and no matter how we interpret and understand God in our own e!periences, surely the central feature of all religious interpretations of God is deep love, "ustice and respect for the other# But differing interpretations of the same information is not new. $%& years after the e!ecution of Jesus, 'aesar (arcus )urelius said, *+verything we hear is opinion, not a fact. +verything we see is a perspective, not the truth.* included in the section entitled The 'ost of Being a 5isciple . 4erses 06 and 02 read, *3f anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters1yes, even his own life1 he cannot be my disciple. )nd anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.* re"ected than it is to do with the starkness of the +nglish hate . Now life is sometimes very hard and it can be, for some people, difficult to like a parent or a partner, or even a child, but for Jesus to demand all his followers to hate every other member of his or her family is the substance of e!tremist religious cults. 7owever, the translation of the same passage in the 'ontemporary +nglish Bible is gentler and turns the *hate* into *unless you love*/ *;ou cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. ;ou cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.*

*7ate* is a very strong word. 3f taken literally, anyone here this morning who claims to be a follower of Jesus and does not hate his or her father8 his or her mother8 his or her children8 his or her The same applies to the brothers and sisters9 if any scriptures. ,or e!ample, -uke husband does not hate his $./0%102 is one of those wife or a wife her husband, passages that can be changed yes, even hate his or her own completely by the way in life to follow Jesus, then that which the translators of a person cannot be a disciple of particular version of the Bible Jesus. The word for *hate* in have done their work. 3n the the Greek is miseo and is New 3nternational 4ersion more to do with non1 the following two verses are emotional re"ection:being 1

But even so, for Jesus to require his disciples to put him before any other treasured family member is again the tactics of many

religious cults that have plagued the church down the centuries. <o either way, if we do not hate all members of our own families 1 or, in a

gentler way, unless we love Jesus more than we love all our family members, we cannot be disciples of Jesus.

By referencing several different translations of the Bible, discuss passages that have been changed completely by the way in which the translators of a particular version of the Bible have done their work. Give reasons for your conclusions. )nd if hate is really what Jesus meant when he spoke about the cost of discipleship then we may as well all pack up right now and walk away from the 'hristian 'hurch once and for all. =r perhaps Jesus did not intend that anyone should take his statement about the cost of being one of his disciples in a literal way# >erhaps Jesus was getting at something quite different when he spoke about a person hating one s family if he wanted to follow him# Jesus probably said words of challenge to his early followers about putting him before their own families because when one considers the Gospel accounts Jesus was often at logger1 heads with his own family. 3ndeed, in (ark @/0$ we read that when his family heard about the things that Jesus was doing and saying they attempted to take control of him because they thought that he had gone mad.

-ater in the same chapter the family arrive at a crowded house to take Jesus away but Jesus To find a genuinely fresh e!pression of the life turns on them saying that his blood mother, and legacy of Jesus we can no longer treat the brothers and sisters were no longer his family scriptures in a simplistic and literalist and his new family consisted of all who were manner. ?e need to recognise that we no listening and then who would do God s will 1 longer live in a simple world. ?e live in a at least God s will as Jesus saw itA multi1cultural, multi1ethnic, multi1religious 3t was in renouncing his blood family that and well1educated world. To have any relevance in our contemporary world we who Jesus was making an important and radical social comment on the customs of his day. are followers and disciples of Jesus need to Jesus was freeing himself and others from the come to the scriptures with educated and custom that their identity and power was scholarly minds. within their own blood family. 3n the ?hy should we who follow the ?ay of Jesus process, Jesus was giving individuals the leave our critical educated thinking faculties dignity of being themselves. ?hen Jesus is outside the church door every time we go to said to have used the words *hate your father worship# To try to understand the scriptures and mother9* he was encouraging so that they will have both a meaning for individuals to detach themselves from the ourselves and a new relevance for those who custom of family identity into are beyond the church, we need to get to comprehending that, in the Bingdom of God, grips with the conte!ts in which Jesus lived we are all recognised for who we are as and taught. ?e also need to know something individuals of equal worth before God 1 not of the conte!ts in which his stories and for our colour, our family, our gender, or any actions were translated and interpreted by other affiliation. the later 'hristian Gospel and letter writers. 2

To what e!tent do you agree with the interpretation of the family situations in which Jesus found himself# Give reasons for your conclusions. But we must also see the conte!t in which -uke was writing some %& years after the e!ecution of Jesus. -uke was challenging his own community of Jesus followers to give up all that they valued most highly for the common good. Cemember that the Book of )cts is the second part of -uke s Gospel and in it we read that the early 'hurch members gave their possessions to the community for the common good and benefit of all. ?hen -uke put harsh words such as *hate* into the mouth of Jesus he was offering sacred credibility to the practice of giving possessions to the community because that is, according to -uke, how Jesus saw and did things. -uke was asking, perhaps demanding that any member of his community who wanted to be a true disciple and follower of Jesus had to be more than "ust an on1 looker. =ne could not be content to remain on the edge of the life of the community. The family identity for a disciple of Jesus was no longer in the blood or the genes of father and mother but in the personal sacrifice of self in the interests of living in the community of the Bingdom of God. -uke was telling people that they had a choice/ be possessed by your possessions, your family and your racial identity 1 or be possessed by the Bingdom of God as lived by Jesus of NaDareth. )ccording to -uke, it was not possible to be possessed by both one s own possessions and by Jesus at the same time. Jesus calls none of us to renounce our families if we are to truly follow himA ?hat concerned both Jesus and the author of the Gospel of -uke was that the followers of the ?ay of Jesus should willingly sacrifice self1interest, individual advantage and personal privilege for the sake of the Bingdom of God. The primary family to which we now all belong is called the family of all humanity and that includes our mother, father, sister, brother, children 1 yes, even our own self. +ach of us is sacred and important to God and to others but our true identity as sacred individuals is always found and developed within the social conte!t of community. That is why the church still remains important for me. The Bantu languages of southern )frica have an appropriate word for it/ Ebuntu meaning that no human being can live as an island in isolation because we are all interconnected and what one person says and does affects the whole world. Ebuntu is what it means to be human 1 when one suffers we all suffer and when one re"oices we all re"oice. Ebuntu is a description of the kingdom of God in practice. The cost of being a disciple of Jesus has always been and will always remain living as Ebuntu people within the whole family of humanity, sharing and protecting one another as well as 'reation itself. )nd to live this way we need to be constantly giving of our time and resources to the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the stranger, the one in need of protection, the sick and the prisoner. 3t is in giving ourselves to the likes of these that we are giving to Jesus.

?hy does the church remain important for you, and if not, why has the church ceased to be important# Give reasons for your conclusions.

T !S SESS!O"

#S

E$%E& ME TO:

Suggeste' rea'ing:
(arcus Borg, (eeting Jesus )gain for the ,irst Time , >ublisher/ 7arper <an,rancisco8 FCeprinted editionG H$ )pril $II%J John <helby <pong, ) New 'hristianity for a New )ge , F>aperbackG >ublisher/ HarperCollins [New edition] (May 2001) Bru!y 'avey, The +nd of Celigion , F>aperbackG >ublisher/ Nav>ress >ublishing Group H00 )ug 0&&2J

Week Four: sage


OUTCOMES:

Jesus the healer, wisdom teacher and

To evaluate the religious importance of repentance and judgement.

the concepts of

To consider or determine which is of greater relevance in our part of the world today, repent and believe or lost and found celebration? We continue to look at this journey of faith within the context of the 'lost and found' theme. What have lost since leaving behind the certainties of my evangelical interpretation of the !esus story? have lost the need to erect boundaries to show who is 'in"saved' and who is 'out"lost'. have also lost any sense of a #$uper nterventionist %eing " &od 'ut There#. %ut what have found as a result of my developing journey of faith? (irst, have come to realise that the unconditional love and grace of &od that are so important to the traditional )hristian understanding are, in fact, conditional in the sense that you are saved by praying the )hristian prayer of repentance and asking for &od's salvation. )onversely you are lost if cannot or do not pray that prayer. $o the unconditional love and grace of &od turns out to be conditional after all. addressed today to worry about what might or might not happen at the end of the journey. +astorally have had to listen often to and comfort those older folk who spent their early formative years in )hurch $unday schools who then, in adulthood, gave up on the worship community but could never ,uite let go of a notion of the carrot and stick kind of punishing &od of their youth. 'ften they had a fear of the unknown * the #will &od love me " can &od forgive me for all that have done wrong?# kind of response to the closing of life. n my post*evangelical years have tried to reassure them that there is nothing to be afraid of in death. -eath is a natural part of life. -eath is the cost of living.

/s &retta 0osper reminds us, life is a gift and we are its celebration. /lthough the manner of death may be a worry, death is the price we pay for having received the gift of life. f at $econd, have found the joy of provisionality the end of my life have not lived life to the * that is, of no longer needing to be certain full then it is my fault. /s far as am about the claims of the traditional )hristian concerned there is no judgement by some faith especially about what happens after supernatural power or being. The only death in the imagined realms of life eternal in judgement that any of us will face will be by heaven or life eternal in hell. What matters to those who have known us in life. The me now is not the end of the journey but the judgement of others will be based upon how opportunities of today as walk this journey. we have lived and how we have treated and t is the journey that matters * not the end of impacted upon them. the road that counts. There is too much hell and too little heaven on earth that need to be

To what extent do you agree that the comment, #The only judgement that any of us will face will be by those who have known us in life# ? &ive reasons for your conclusions. /nd with that continue my 'lost and found' theme starting with 1ogiism. 2awrence +eter %erra is a member of the elite 3$ %aseball 4all of (ame and named as one of the best players and managers of all time. %ut what is the connection between %erra and the television cartoon character 1ogi %ear? assume that it has something to do with the similarity of name * %erra and %ear, and then something about %erra that associates him with the cartoon character, 1ogi %ear. f you remember him, 1ogi %ear relied on his ,uick wit to outdo and to outrun those whom he irritated beyond measure. t may not surprise you therefore that %erra's witticisms became known as 1ogiisms. %erra was able to find words to fit most situations. 4is 51ogiisms6 include the following * but you may have to think about them for a second or two. Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise they won't go to yours. Half the lies they tell about me aren't true. down or inside out so that those who are listening begin to hear and to perceive these events with new meanings and fresh opportunities. !esus was not only an itinerant wisdom teacher but also a sage who told stories that were particularly concerned with the plight of those who were pushed to the margins of society, and especially those who suffered at the hands of the social, political and religious establishments of his day. Why? %ecause !esus himself was a marginalised social, political and religious outsider. take 2uke 7897*7: as an example for this study. t starts with some of the political and religious elite attacking !esus because he not only welcomed the unimportant and the marginalised such as shepherds, tax collectors and women, but he also shared meals with those considered by the 5religious6 folk to be beyond the love and concern of their particular interpretation of &od.

n the previous study we read of !esus renouncing his own family ;<ark chapter =>. It's so crowded, nobody goes there any more. %ut having left home and 'blood' family !esus I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous. wandered around sharing his wisdom and accepting hospitality wherever it was given. What like about 1ogiism is that hear a 4owever, at the end of those days when there statement and smile at the words, and then moments later have to step back and think a was no hospitality on offer !esus withdrew into the hills where he slept ;#foxes have little more about what has been said. That is how a sage talks. 'ften a sage demonstrates a holes but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head# comes readily to mind>. -o not sympathetic understanding of, and miss the significance of this * only the lowest penetrating insight into situations that of the low, &alilean shepherds for example, impact upon others. /s a result a sage offers slept upon the hillsides. wisdom arrived at from personal reflection based upon his or her own experience. / sage has an extraordinary ability to take the ordinary events of life and turn them upside

/t the time of !esus many of the poor of &alilee became the dispossessed, losing their little smallholdings and income to the economic exploitation by both the ?oman oppressors and their local puppet political and religious elites. /nd apart from the working fishermen, +eter, !ames and !ohn, think that the growing band of itinerant followers of !esus were drawn from the marginalised and the dispossessed of &alilee. These people had lost everything and therefore were of no social insignificance. !esus offered them a new 'family' of those who lived the @ingdom of &od as !esus understood it. The growing !esus movement gave respect back to those who had lost all respect both from others and for themselves.

The !esus movement lived as 'ubuntu' people sharing what little they had with one another so that if one suffered they all suffered together and if one rejoiced they all rejoiced together. The bread and wine of our 4oly )ommunion liturgies go right back to the sharing of their meagre food rations together. These were proper meals when the food was available, shared e,ually between all who were present. There was no hint of the theology of the body and blood of !esus * at least not until the 8th decade +aul and the Ath to 7:th decade &ospel writers built such a theology into their shared meal experiences and corporate memories trying to make sense of the execution of !esus

4ow different is this study's approach to the marginalised !esus and his followers to your understanding of the !esus movement? &ive reasons for your conclusions. Botice that shepherds were without homes or land so they were unimportant, and that women were the possession of either their father or their husband or they were widows. Whatever, they were socially unimportant. n the great scheme of life a single sheep or a single small coin are unimportant * unless you are poor in which case a single sheep or a small coin will be immensely important to you. Bone of the 4ebrew and )hristian %ible writers wrote in chapter and verse * they used continuous text. 2uke's lost sheep and lost coin stories are preceded immediately by the claim of !esus that to follow him 3 re,uired people to give up even the little that they had for the common good. (ollowing immediately after the lost sheep and the lost coin is the story of the +rodigal $on. These are all lost and found stories concerning people who ended up with nothing but had found a new identity in the itinerant and marginalised family of !esus. %ut read again these 2uke 7897*7: lost and found stories. #Bow all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. /nd the +harisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, CThis fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.D [ otice that there is condemnation of the marginalised and the outsiders.! $o he told them this parable9 CWhich one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety*nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. /nd when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 5?ejoice with me, for have found my sheep that was lost.6 [ otice that the emphasis is upon ris" ta"ing, see"ing, finding, re#oicing and celebrating$! !ust so, tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety*nine righteous persons who need no repentance. [ otice that

the element of repentance is an add on to the lost and found story aimed directly at the #udgemental religious elites!. C'r what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she

finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 5?ejoice with me, for have found the coin that had lost.6 [ otice again % the emphasis is see"ing, finding, re#oicing and celebrating$! !ust so, tell you, there is joy in the

presence of the angels of &od over one sinner who repents.D [ otice that the element of repentance is another add on to the lost and found story aimed directly at the #udgemental religious elites!.

These stories are primarily concerned with marginalised people rejoicing and celebrating together. The element of repentance is an add on to the lost and found stories and were aimed directly at the small number of members of the political and religious elites who were criticising !esus and condemning those people they considered to be unimportant and the outsider. $ome of the +harisees and $adducees divided the world into those who were like them and then there was all the rest.

These lost and found stories attributed to !esus emphasise for me the importance of celebration amidst the ordinariness of every day life. !esus did not spend his time with 5sinners6 in the hope that they would repent and become like him before he fully accepted them. 4e accepted them without conditions. Bow there6s a message for many churches and )hristians today.

(or me, the beauty of these stories is not in repentance but in the way in which !esus accepted the dispossessed and marginalised !esus countered this by accepting all as they as his e,ual, just as they were. The beauty is were for no other reason than because they that !esus valued them and afforded them the were human beings. !esus accepted the poor, dignity that the religious folk denied them. despised, marginalised and rejected outsiders /nd the relevance of these stories for today is without making any re,uirements such as not in preaching repentance as the core repentance and religious belief. %ut most message of !esus but in living the acceptance importantly, !esus opened their eyes to the of difference. ts relevance is in affirming life possibilities of what life could really be like for all, not in defending one kind of religion for all people, with or without the ?oman or another against the 5outsider6. /fter all, occupation. &od is not a )hristian, or a !ew or a <uslim or a 4indu or a $ikh. 4ow different is this study's approach to the repent and believe interpretations of the traditional approach to these 'lost and found' stories? &ive reasons for your conclusions. Which approach ;repent and believe or lost and found celebration> is of greater relevance in our part of the world today? &ive reasons for your conclusions. n the next study we will consider the ,uestion, # s there any purpose to life once the concept of the '$uper nterventionist %eing " &od 'ut There' is abandoned?# %ut we finish today as we started with two 4 1ogiisms that point with the wisdom of a sage to the corrupted history and theology of the )hurch down the ages9 &he future ain't what it used to be. 'e made too many wrong mista"es.

The !esus message continues to be relevant to all people and to all times E even if parts of the )hurch that bear his name still re,uire repentance and people to 5become like us6 before we fully accept them. $urely it is time for a new reformation. (or the sake of the

@ingdom of &od and for the future of the )hurch in our post*modern age, )hristians need to go back and rethink the core message of what we say we believe. t is time to start our theological thinking all over again.

TH S SESS O! H"S HE#$E% ME TO:

Suggested reading:
-avid (lusser F ?. $teven Botley, 'The $age from &alilee9 ?ediscovering !esus' &enius', ;+aperback>, +ublisher9 William % Gerdmans +ublishing )o ;Hth ?evised edition> IJ7 $ep J::AK %en $itherington, '!esus the $age' ;+aperback> +ublisher9 /ugsburg (ortress I!anuary J:::K. &retta 0osper, 'With or Without &od9 Why the Way We 2ive s <ore mportant Than What We %elieve ;+aperback> +ublisher9 4arpercollins )anada IL (eb J::LK

Week Five: Does life have any purpose when I dispose of the 'Super Interventionist God Out There'?
OUT O!"S: To evaluate the sacred stories within which we have grown up and developed our religious and social attitudes. To determine the extent to which human language invented 'God' to explain and to enable tribes to survive in an evolving and hostile environment. To decide upon the relevance or otherwise of the Charter for Compassion to the future of religion and humanity.

What have I lost by no longer believing in the 'Super Interventionist God ut There'! "oes life have any purpose when I dispose of that #ind of God ' ut There' who holds the past$ present and future in the 'hollow of his [sic] hand' thus 'wor#ing his purpose out' for all and sundry. %otice how often that such a God has a special interest in his select few& Such a God certainly gives his chosen followers purpose in life. So does the loss of any understanding or experience of the 'Super Interventionist God ut There' leave life purposeless! The answer is a resounding '%o'& The purpose of life has nothing to do with the explanatory fiction of the human created interventionist 'God out there'. 'owever$ it has everything to do with that which impacts upon all living things$ including plants$ animals and we humans. It is called 'evolutionary survival'. It is the basic instinct that is built into the "%( of everything that has life. What ma#es the human animal different to all the other living things is the evolutionary ability that has enabled it to develop a uni)ue language system * a capability that enables the human to remember and to learn from the past$ to interpret and to improve the present$ and to anticipate and plan for the future. Such a development added both hope and fear to the previous developmental level of the survival instinct's 'fight or flight' along side the need to procreate. +anguage developed within the tribe enabling it to develop its own uni)ue conceptual thin#ing and tribal stories that were used to come to terms with the growing realisation that there was more to life than simply a stimulus , response mechanism. (lthough life and survival had always been problematic$ the development of language and conceptual thin#ing presented new challenges and )uestions. %omadic tribes doubtless continued to follow the source of food and they needed to understand the rhythm of life in the changing seasons. (nd when the nomadic tribes began to settle in their own claimed tribal area$ there was a new rhythm of life$ for example$ predicting and preparing for the season when the bison herds or the great whales passed by the tribal settlements. Stories began to emerge that tried to ma#e sense of a dangerous world and to bring protection upon themselves. There had to be something greater than themselves that could be harnessed to bless their tribe more than the other tribe along the valley or across the plain. 1

Stories and rituals developed as a direct result of the developing language abilities$ identifying 'gods out there' -e.g. the sun god. the rain god. the thunder god. etc./. These gods obviously had great powers because they could destroy homes$ settlements$ crops and people0 the sun god could scorch the earth. the rain god brought storms and floods. the thunder god demonstrated displeasure with the tribe by throwing lightning bolts and thunderous noise across the earth. The great need was to find ways of harnessing these god powers by appeasing and by encouraging them to side with 'my' tribe against the 'other' tribe. The fact that no such gods existed then nor exist today was immaterial. +anguage had enabled the tribal people to create explanatory fictions to help them come to terms with the fearful powers of the un#nown. Sacrifice became one of the tools by which certain tribal gods could be encouraged to either withdraw their displeasure or to respond favourably to the tribal offerings. 1or example$ the offering of virgin daughters or the first fruits of the harvest and so on were proffered to the relevant tribal gods. Where the 'ebrew tribes evolved was their enlightened thin#ing that there was ne God rather than many gods. We should not forget the evolutionary importance of ancient tribal stories such as (braham offering to sacrifice his son Isaac -if you are a Christian or a 2ew/ or Ishmael -if you are a 3uslim/ to the newly created ne God. The apostle 4aul also explained to his listeners in (thens -(cts 56057* 89/ that the :n#nown God to whom they offered their sacrifices and worship was$ in fact$ the God of the 2ews met in 2esus of %a;areth. 2ewish Su##ot and Christian 'arvest festivals are the continuation of these ancient attempts to than#$ to encourage and even to appease our tribal versions of God. It is always difficult to unlearn the sacred stories with which we have grown up$ especially the basic traditional religious explanatory fictions that 'God created us in his image'. 'ow do you respond to this study's approach that human language invented 'God' to explain and to enable tribes to survive in a hostile environment! Give reasons for your conclusions. Which approach$ ancient languages created 'God' or 'God created us'$ is of greater relevance in our part of the post*modern 'mix and match' world today! Give reasons for your conclusions. 'owever$ within the evolutionary process$ along side the advent of the 'gods' there also developed specific tribal social norms and laws. Tribes increasingly focussed upon their created 'god' believing in some uni)ue 'god,tribe' relationship . ften these socio , religious communities became exclusive and so different tribal gods were brought into 2 conflict. The 'ebrew <ible is full of such 'godly' conflicts between the God of the 'ebrews and the gods of the gentile tribes. With the evolving exclusiveness of religion$ barriers were erected to define who was 'in' or who was 'out' of that particular tribe. (s such$ religion is a human created tribal survival mechanism. It is a social phenomenon.

'aving said all that$ religion has had and continues to have very useful survival and comforting purposes in the process of human evolution. [NB: Study Week 2 has said more on this when looking at the 'spirituality' work of Carl ung! and you may wish to go "ack and re#read that study$]

The challenge for organised religion today in our part of the post*modern world is to live the core values without the ancient boundary creating exclusive language of the past. (s a follower of 2esus I see the challenge for me as living orthopraxis -i.e. decisions and actions based upon my understanding and experience of 2esus of %a;areth/ rather than living within an orthodoxy of belief -i.e. decisions and actions based upon the explanatory fictions$ understandings and experiences of the Church and of what it says about 2esus the Christ/. 1or religions to survive in this increasingly post*modern secular world they will have to evolve on from what ma#es one religion different to the others into a search for the commonality of religions. This could be by emphasising the 'Golden =ule that$ in one form or other$ underpins most religions across the world. This does not mean that we need to abandon our individual tribal explanations of that which we each call 'God'. 'owever$ it will re)uire us to see our explanations of these experiences for what they are$ 'our' uni)ue explanatory fictions that none the less point us to the highest level of what it means to be human. In other words$ all religions will need to live the commonality of compassion and respect for difference. The best explanation that I can offer in the present time is the Charter for Compassion whose leaders include "esmond Tutu and >aren (rmstrong. It was unveiled to the world on %ovember 5?$ ?@@A. Compassion is at the heart of all religious and ethical systems. What follows is a paraphrase of the Charter's own rationale. The Charter is a document that brings together and then goes beyond ideological$ national and religious differences. The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious$ ethical and spiritual traditions. It is a growing movement that is supported by 3

leading thin#ers from many religions and traditions. It is based upon the Golden =ule0 doing to others that which you would li#e them to do to you$ or$ with a slightly different emphasis$ do not do to others that which you do not wish them to do to you. The bottom line of compassion is putting ourselves into the shoes of the other. The Charter is concerned with both compassionate thin#ing and compassionate action as the centre of religious$ moral and political life. Compassion propels us to wor# tirelessly to relieve the suffering of others. to see ourselves as ubuntu people rather than ourselves as the most important at the centre of the world. to honour the sacredness of every uni)ue person. to deal with all people with e)uality$ fairness$ Bustice and respect. to cease from causing harm or inflicting pain upon ourselves or others. It is also necessary for individuals$ communities and nation states to refrain from acting or spea#ing violently out of spite$ chauvinism$ or self*interest$ to impoverish$ exploit or deny basic rights to anybody. The Charter explicitly states that to incite hatred by denigrating others * even our enemies * is a denial of our common humanity. The Charter also ac#nowledges that we -you and I/ have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of their own god of their religion. The Charter also states0 CWe therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion. to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence$ hatred or disdain is illegitimate. to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions$ religions and cultures. to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity. to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all

human beings * even those regarded as enemies. We urgently need to ma#e compassion a clear$ luminous and dynamic force in our polari;ed world. =ooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness$ compassion can brea# down political$

dogmatic$ ideological and religious boundaries. <orn of our deep interdependence$ compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment$ and indispensable to the creation of a Bust economy and a peaceful global community.C

#s far as I a$ %on%erned the harter for o$passion is part of the %ontinuous evolvin& nature of so%iety and reli&ion' It is the hei&ht of what I %onsider to (e hristian )u$anis$' There is no other way' To what extent do you agree with the rationale of the Charter for Compassion and the concluding comment CIt is the height of what I consider to be Christian 'umanism. There is no other wayC! Give reasons for your conclusions. So where does all this put the Trinity * as Three 4ersons in ne or as the pinnacle of what it means to be human$ living together in a world wide community! (nd where does this put 2esus$ as the only begotten Son of God$ both fully human and fully divine$ or as the most complete human being who has ever lived$ our pattern for life abundant for all people! (nd what about the Spirit of God! Is this the Third 4erson of the Trinity or the sacred presence of life indwelling all people$ the %amaste Spirit explained by 'indus as 'may the God in me welcome and respect the God in you'!

'ow do you understand and experience the theology of the Trinity! Is the traditional Christian understanding the most helpful way of brea#ing down barriers that exist between people! To what extent do you thin# that it is time to rethin# Christian theology in general and the Trinity in particular! Give reasons for your conclusions.

T)IS S"SSIO* )#S )"+,"D !" TO:

Su&&ested readin&:
>aren (rmstrong$ 'Twelve Steps to a Compassionate +ife'$ -4aperbac#/ 4ublisher0 Bodley Head [Reprint edition] D7 2an ?@55E The Charter for Compassion web site0 www.charterforcompassion.org 2ohn 'ic#$ 'The 3etaphor of God Incarnate'$ -4aperbac#/ 4ublisher0 Westminster 2ohn >nox 4ress -Second edition/ D57 1eb ?@@7E 2ohn Shelby Spong$ 'Fternal +ife0 ( %ew Gision0 <eyond =eligion$ <eyond Theism$ <eyond 'eaven and 'ell' -4aperbac#/ 4ublisher0 'arper ne -=eprint edition/ D5 ct ?@5@E

T)IS OU-S" )#S )"+,"D !" TO:

#S # -"SU+T OF T)IS OU-S" I I*T"*D TO:

W)"-" DO I GO F-O! )"-"?

# FU-T)"- OU-S" OF STUD. !IG)T "/,+O-"'''''?