One of the things about WordPress is that you can see where people visiting your site are coming from, and what searches they use to get here.

The other day, someone vistited from the AOL search Carlton Pearson ask god to kill him.

That’s a big call, don’t you think?   OK, so you don’t agree with Carlton; but shouldn’t you pause just a little before asking God to kill him?

Jesus was very keen on the connection between thought and action; isn’t praying for Carlton Pearson’s death morally the same as killing him yourself?

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

Simple and Intelligible Redux

September 24, 2007

A while ago, I (mis)used an academic paper online at the Unitarian Christian Colloqium by Andrew Brown from the beautiful Cambridge Unitarian called ‘God, Jesus, Christ & Holy Spirit’ as a starting point for some comments of mine on the need for a simple and intelligible presentation of liberal faith. Andrew was nice enough to leave an excellent comment, which is worth highlighting:

[…] I think it is right to point out that liberal Christianity should be simple – at least in its everyday practice (whether in prayer or in social action). However, this does not mean we need to be simple minded when we reflect upon our faith. I think it is vital to explore how sound, intellectually and philosophically, liberal Christianity is. Liberal Christians got caught out after the First World War simply because many of them simply hadn’t done enough hard thinking and it left the door open for people like Karl Barth to set the theological agenda for the rest of the century (and beyond). Let’s not get caught out again. I don’t claim for one minute my own theology is good and sound enough to do the job but I am keen to encourage us all to think as deeply as we can. In between times as a regular kind of pastor I try to practice Christianity in its most simple and intelligble terms just by following the example of Jesus.

The older types of liberal protestantism, such as the Universalists’, with their belief in the perfectability of human society (one 1935 creed endorsing “the power of men of good will and sacrificial spirit to overcome all evil and progressively establish the kingdom of God”) were plainly inadequate in the face of the first half of the 20C – failing Rabbi Greenberg’s post-Shoah test that we should make no theological statement that could not be made in the presence of burning children.

We certainly should not forget that lesson.

So hard thinking is certainly needed. And clear words, too.

Christianity is about…

September 18, 2007

I was wondering the other day, what is this Christianity thing about? So I sat down to make some notes and came up with five key concepts which seem important to me. Because I like to show off, I arranged them into a cross:

  Failure  
Jesus Love God
  Victory  

Christianity is about… Jesus – an itinerant rabbi living in a small backwater of the Roman Empire, Jesus was the only founder of a major religion to be executed young, alone and powerless. He taught a new view of morality based on the ideal of love, and after his death his disciples became convinced that his story had not finished and that his life showed us the nature of God – that God is like Jesus.

Christianity is about… Failure – failure at all levels. If we should love one another as ourselves, it is obvious we don’t – personal failure. As communities we wage war, tolerate slavery and starvation. But Christianity is also about the failure of Jesus, crucified. And by proclaiming a God of love, Christianity raises the question of the failure of God by putting the problem of evil at its starkest – if God loves us, why do we suffer still?

Christianity is about… God – God the creator, maker and sustainer of the ongoing universe, working through it; but also God the lover, not merely transcendent but approachable – she who lives in love lives in God, and God in her.

Christianity is about… Love – charity, agape, love; the basis of true morality. Love is about relationships and the value we put on others; we are called to enter into relationships with each other, not to obey rules.

Christianity is about… Victory – through love, there is the present reality and hope for God’s victory. Called by many names: salvation, the kingdom, the Spirit of God, the new convenant, the resurrection, life in abundance; it is a vision and coming reality of the healing of relationships and the breaking in of love into our hearts and lives. The work of God; this victory is seen in Jesus, seen in our own lives, still coming. It provides the hope of a victory over death itself but is here, and now.

This isn’t everything – it’s probably wrong, too.

What do you think Christianity is about?

What is it not about? Things I think it isn’t about: the Bible, miracles, hell, commandments, sacrifice, atonement, purity.