February 2014 Meeting Summary

North Lincolnshire Progressive Christianity Network Group

This group has met on the first Saturday morning of each month for a number of years now. It consists of churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike. Our aim is to provide an environment for honest and open conversation rather than to try to convert. We have recently decided to publish a brief summary of our conversations, highlighting key areas of questioning or of insight. Any feedback including contributions to the debate will be much welcomed and shared with the group.

Allison led this month’s topic on Miracles. She pointed out the derivation of the word from the Latin: a thing of wonder. All of us were happy with this basic meaning, and felt that the capacity to recognise and be awe-inspired by events like a birth, or an unexpected healing was a gift to be treasured.

There was more uncertainty about some of the so-called miracles in the Bible. The crossing of the Red Sea was explored. While the Israelites might have interpreted what was possibly an unusual but natural event as a miracle for them, would Egyptian mothers or widows have felt the same way about it?

We also raised uneasy questions about an interventionist God. The perennial one which has to be faced is: why should God intervene in certain cases but leave huge atrocities like the Holocaust to take their calamitous course?

Finally, we spent a lot of time discussing healing. We exchanged well attested stories of the power of a charismatic and loving personality to treat diseases effectively - particularly psychosomatic ones - where conventional medicine had not been successful. We acknowledged that these were not exclusively Christian. But we also felt that there was the potential for much harm if a sufferer was encouraged to associate his illness with either guilt or lack of faith.

Allison rounded up the session by reading a moving passage from the book, Dazzling Darkness by Rachel Mann relating, in story form, her personal experience of the real miracle of Jesus: that he did not pretend that suffering could be eradicated, but, through the cross, shared her suffering: “Together they bled, through wounds that will never heal. This was their meeting….”.

Do you believe in an interventionist God? If so, how would you answer our feelings of unease about when he might have intervened and didn’t choose to do so?

What are your feelings about faith healing?

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