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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Naked Anabaptist

A quote from Stuart Murray's fascinating book The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith (Herald Press, 2010):
Maybe we need to stop calling ourselves "Christians". Not only is the term compromised by its associations and debased by overuse, it is also rather presumptuous. Who are we to claim that we are like Christ? If others want to refer to us in this way, because they see us as Christlike, well and good - this seems to have been how the term was first used (see Acts 11:26). But maybe we need a term that is both purposeful and restrained. Maybe we should claim no more (or less) than that we are "followers of Jesus."

As followers we do not claim to have arrived at the destination, nor need we distinguish ourselves from others who are at different stages of the journey. Belonging, believing and behaving can all be interpreted as aspects of following. Churches committed to following Jesus welcome fellow travelers and unconditionally. But their ethos is one of following, learning, changing, growing, moving forward. Together, and as we reflect on the Gospels (and the rest of Scripture), we discover more of what it means to follow Jesus.
Such churches may be very good news indeed for those who need to time to work through the implications of the story of Jesus that they have encountered for the first time.  And to those who are more interested in lifestyle issues than theological beliefs. And to those who "use" journey imagery to describe their search for spiritual meaning. And to those of us who know we still have some way to go in following Jesus and are grateful for the support and encouragement of others who are on the same journey. (p.61)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Gaza - links

 A friend Alex Bell participated in visit to Gaza late last year. One of the links he provides reporting on the Gaza visit is to the Quaker David Hartsborough's web site on creative non-violence:
Creative Non-violence

Thursday, 6 May 2010

What Terry Eagleton & Daid Bentley Hart have in common

I have just started reading Terry Eagleton's polemical Terry lectures published as Reason Faith and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate after just having finished David Bentley Hart's stunningly important book Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies. 

Eagleton is a Marxist literary and cultural critic of atheist persuasion and Hart is theologian of Eastern Orthodox conviction. What do they have in common? It's early days with respect to the Eagleton contribution but so far it seems that they have some important things in common in their response to Dawkins, Hitchens and the current wave of atheist critics of Christianity. They both:
  • write in vigorous and direct English
  • are convinced that the quality of the atheist criticism of Christianity has sadly declined and is embarassingly ill informed when compared to that offered by its critics in previous centuries
  • argue a case, though each on somewhat different grounds, that Christianity is revolutionary
It looks like there might be value in a comparative discussion of both books from an Anabaptist perspective. No promises.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Atheist Delusions - David Bentley Hart

Catching up on life after a couple of weekends away - some issues that i want to blog about. But in the meantime I have just started reading David Bentley Hart's Atheist Delusions: the Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale 2009).

Vigorous prose and a challenge to much received wisdom so far. He seems to have much more regard for the atheists from previous centuries rather than the current crop on the best seller lists. Nietzsche in his view trumps Dawkins in terms of the substance of his critique of Christianity.

One quote to keep you going:
. . . [Nietzsche] had the good manners to despise Christianity, in large part, for what it actually was--above all, for its devotion to an ethics of compassion--rather than allow himself the soothing, self-righteous fantasy that Christianity’s history had been nothing but an interminable pageant of violence, tyranny, and sexual neurosis. He may have hated many Christians for their hypocrisy, but he hated Christianity itself principally on account of its enfeebling solicitude for the weak, the outcast, the infirm, and the diseased; and, because he was conscious of the historical contingency of all cultural values, he never deluded himself that humanity could do away with Christian faith while simply retaining Christian morality in some diluted form, such as liberal social conscience or innate human sympathy. (p.6)

Update: Interesting review and discussion at thinkingblue guitars blog and an extended account of Hart's argument at all manner of things blog.