Letter: Towards a church without God?

Share
Related Topics
Sir: Professor D G Barnsley (letter, 1 February) does not like my suggestion that too many clergy represent the superstitious and anachronistic face of the Church, and wonders whether there can be a religious Good News without the elements that I consider superstitious.

Nobody, after 200 years of biblical scholarship, can take an uncritical view of the Church's founding document. Every page of the Bible is shot through with the cultural signs and assumptions of those who wrote it. We live in a different world.

We reject without hesitation the New Testament writers' implicit assumptions about women, children, slaves, crime and punishment, sickness, the economy, science, angels and demons, and almost everything else. We also, therefore, increasingly reject literal and supernaturalist readings of the text. We do not believe that prayer holds up the course of the sun, nor that epilepsy is caused by demons, nor that water is literally turned into wine. And we know how stories grow with the telling.

The great strength of liberal Christianity is that it has reinterpreted and spiritualised all the stories that the non-religious mind would simply reject as quaint. They are an important part of the tradition of the fabric of the faith, but they are not to be regarded as true in any real sense.

The process of liberalising the tradition has still farther to go. I suspect that most churchgoers, despite the best efforts of their more conservative clergy, are at least agnostic about the supernatural assumptions of the Gospels. But however liberal they become, there is an underlying basic degree of supernaturalism that seems non-negotiable. God, surely, must be a supernatural being?

Not necessarily. If we can see all the other cultural baggage of previous eras for what it is, we can at least imagine the possibility that a real God in a real heaven comes in the same category.

Then a truly embraceable gospel for the third millennium might emerge. For if the life and death of Jesus stands alone, as a human act, without a divine will to bolster it up, then surely it shows itself to be altogether more redemptive, true, wonderful and soul-creating. Then here is a Gospel really worth living for, and maybe even dying for.

The Rev KENNETH WILSON

Wolverhampton

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
More From
The Rev Kenneth Wilson
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Property Manager

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Property Manager in a yo...

Recruitment Genius: Web Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress – arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?