March 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. This is our second bulletin reviewing the discussion at our March meeting.
This was based on the chapter about Radical Theology from Tony Windross’s book, The Thoughtful Guide to Faith. Tony Windross, while acknowledging that it is difficult to summarise the complexity of Don Cupitt’s ever-developing views characterises him and other radicals as rejecting the idea that God is an ‘object’ or ‘being’ of some sort and instead sees him as a symbol.
From the start, the group showed that it found this approach inadequate. They considered it too cerebral and did not do justice to their own experience of God. One was especially inspired saying that for her God was “a wholeness”, “a silence”, “a huge space”, “a wonderful freedom”. Several attested to the paradox of the intimacy of their experience of God alongside the awareness of the vastness and incomprehensibility of the deity.
But there was a great deal of support for the position of many radicals that it is in the praxis of religion that we can get to know God. Silence was advocated along with being able to discover God through our everyday connections with other people - we might call it Love. One of our members recalled being inspired by a Eucharist and going into the shopping centre where one of a number of “lively” teenagers trod heavily on her foot. She would normally have snarled, but instead smiled and the youth apologised and there was a connection between them for an instant. It was felt that the story could stand as a parable for how in reality we discover God, not through intellectual abstractions, but by living the Way.
There was sadness expressed about our dying church because, it was suggested, it had abandoned Christ’s radical teaching in favour of worldly models of power, symbolised by the Temple and Empire. Jesus was the true radical who always pointed to the nature of power emanating from God. This was the other element which various members highlighted, the reality of the spiritual energy which they experienced through their encounters with God.
It is debatable whether human beings have a need for gods and so have invented them since before the beginnings of recorded history, or whether there has always been intuitions of the existence of a deity or deities which some people have developed diverse but usually complementary insights into. It was certainly agreed that God could not be pinned down by defining phrases and any attempt to do so was doomed to failure. It was also thought that in this postmodern age, we should be ready to partake of some of the insights other traditions had discovered to blend with our own specifically Christian insights.