Friday, August 05, 2011

There's nothing wrong with 'ian' but he won't save anyone...

There's a fascinating and sobering piece on the BBC website about Dutch Christianity. You can check it out here. It has all the hallmarks of a silly season piece - though there's enough happening on the world's stock markets to have squeezed it out - if it wasn't so serious.

Robert Pigott reflects on how some Dutch churchmen are offering a version of the Christian faith without either Christ or faith - so I guess all they're offering is 'ian' (nice boy but he's hardly going to save the world!). The puzzling thing is that the congregations of Klaas Hendrikse and other ministers like him seem to lap up their 'God isn't real, Jesus is a myth, it's all over when you die' version of the faith.

Now, I'm no die hard traditionalist (as many know only too well) but it seems to me that it's a complete failure of the imagination to strip everything difficult out of the Christian faith and yet still go to church. There are plenty of places where people who are not theists, do not believe that Jesus is of anything other than passing historical interest, believe that this life is all that's on offer, can gather to chew the fat and work out the meaning of our time here on planet earth.

Jesus' teaching is not easy - unless you strip it down to a vacuous 'be nice to each other' message that these guys seem to hold to; it is not for those who are not prepared to grapple with the deep mysteries of life, not prepared to face the injustices of the world and protest that there must be a better way to live. To come to church and engage with Jesus is a bold act of the imagination that demands of every participant a willingness to lay aside our easy perceptions of the world and wrestle with what else might be going on within and around us.

Merely to gather people together to tell them that there's no God and nothing to look forward to when we die, so make the most of life here, seems to be a waste of everyone's time - not to mention the cash poured into the utility bills and upkeep of the buildings.

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