The Manchester bombing - questions for religion
Former chair of PCN Britain, John churcher, says the Manchester attack underlines the need for a reformation in our religious thinking.Manchester reminds me yet again that regardless of the different religious labels by which we choose to define ourselves we each have a responsibility to work together for the common good and for the future of creation.
And unless our faiths speak to the heart of the causes and the results of last Monday evening when children and young people were the targets of the bomber, then we and our chosen faith[s] will become increasingly irrelevant in this world. Unless what we say on our respective Sabbaths and holy days changes us and changes our world with compassion for the benefit of all then we really are being narcissistic navel gazers who have little to offer to a broken world. We have to stop answering questions that no one is asking.
I am more convinced than ever of the rightness of Jack Spong's remark that the Church will die of boredom long before it dies from any progressive Christianity. Unless there is passion in the pulpit and a relevance in the message that links what we say to what we do then we are merely keeping the cemetery warm. Unless we get rid of any barrier between Sunday worship and the way we live Monday to Saturday then even the currently faithful may join the exodus into the freedom of not having to put up week by week with such theological old paradigm irrelevance. And no matter how we who follow the Way of Jesus demystify the Jesus stories or jazz up our worship with rock bands and dancing in the aisles, unless our thinking is translated into actions of compassion, justice, love and peace, then all our pontificating will be no more than puffs of air. What is needed is a commitment to daily personal and corporate living based upon the ultimate power of the love and compassionate 'powerlessness' of Jesus.
And unless we welcome a new reformation free of the ancient creeds and doctrines we will surely kill the institutional Church in this questioning post-modern age. The real alternative to the straight jacket of creedal and doctrinal orthodoxy is more than hiding behind yet more words. Indeed, the new reformation needs to be less wordy and more concerned with living the personal sacrifice and servant-hood ways of Jesus. It will need to involve the active seeking of justice for all people.
The way of Jesus is the way of full and abundant humanity for all people, and that is what Jesus found worth dying for. It is in that compassionate humanity that there is real hope for all the “Manchesters” of the past, the Manchester of the present and, sadly, for all the “Manchesters” still to come.
It is time for change.
This article is taken from an essay by John Churcher called "In the aftermath of Manchester" which can be read in full on his website
Image: By Ardfern (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons