Saturday, 18 January 2014


The Quotidian Cleric publishes The Perfect Job Advert.

Jonathan Clatworthy writes for Modern Church about Two directions for liberal theology.

Oliver Burkeman writes in The Guardian about The one theology book all atheists really should read.

Phil Groves writes for the Anglican Communion News Service: What should we do when Christians disagree?

Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church writes Why Christians shouldn’t believe in the devil.
[This refers to an article by Gavin Ashenden in the Church Times which subscribers can read here.]

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 11:00am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

With regard to Jonathan's article, I think that the experience of contemplation and the apophatic way opens interesting pathways.

One can hold liberal views of 'how the Bible is true' - and see it as a contextual expression of encounter and search for meaning - yet at the same time gaze in love and faith towards the unseen.

In other words, 'not knowing' may be a legitimate process, even for 'liberal apologists'.

There can be a platform of words and debate and explanation. But there can also be a platform of surrender, gaze, and the cloud of unknowing.

It's possible to hold on to a Christian pathway - and specifically, the enigmatic person of Jesus - without 'narrowing down' the nature of reality. Diverse people may find themselves along diverse pathways, which work for them. Including atheist or agnostic ones.

And some contemplatives, quite by surprise and reception, find their view of God broadens and opens - so that worship becomes an experience of sharing and vast shared awareness - that may accommodate Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, atheists and agnostics.

In that, perhaps, there is reality beyond the divides?

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 2:07pm GMT

Jonathan Clatworthy's "Two directions for liberal theology" article confuses what he calls religious belief with theology. He seems to be saying that any "liberal" who does not "believe in God" in his terms is an atheist, without ever explaining what he means by "God" (or "believe in").

Of course he's not alone in that. But this confusion and his influence on Modern Church is driving the organisation into the ground. My experience over five years as membership administrator and website manager was that members were looking for opportunities to express and value the diversity of their theological perspectives as an alternative to "dogmatic Christianity". There must be many more theologically liberal ex-church refugees who might support a credible liberal voice within the Church of England. What I see in this article (and others by Jonathan) is in effect a campaign to establish a narrow religious orthodoxy, for some reason referred to as "liberal theology", that is as exclusionary and dogmatic in its way as any in the evangelical and catholic traditions.

Is that really what Modern Church is about?

Posted by: Dave Marshall on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 3:22pm GMT

Heavens above the Girl Guides want to get rid of God and now the Church of England wants to get rid of the Devil.

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 4:06pm GMT

Some really excellent essays this week.
I found Mr. Burkeman's article to be spot on. I think some atheists may feel there is an underlying order to the Universe, but rebel against "God as Superman/Santa Claus". But I've met way too many theist believers who actually believe in God that way, so it is false to dismiss atheists' arguments along that line.
The real problem, I believe, is that all too often, theists and atheists talk past each other. A certain smugness exists among theists that only we are right, and atheists can be dismissed as being silly children, or in rebellion against God, or handmaids of Satan, etc. Atheists, in the meantime, have been put down so often, they feel the need to fight back. So, fight they do. Trading an insult given for insult received, snarkiness given for smugness received.
"IF" theists and atheists truly want dialogue, then we (I'm a theist) have to respect each other and accept the validity of the other side's beliefs, and start from that premise.
Because, frankly, God doesn’t give a damn. I think God is far more concerned about how our beliefs turn into actions. If there is an afterlife, I think our actions towards ourselves, towards each other, toward the world we live on count far more than what we claim to believe.
I also found Mr. Clatworthy to be spot on. I’m a committed monotheist: There is no Devil, period. God gave us absolute free will. In Deuteronomy, God give us the choice of good and evil, life and death, then “asks” us to choose life. We can choose evil if we wish. It’s our choice. In a sense, “WE” are devils. The belief in a Devil can make it way too easy to dismiss our actions when we do harm, too easy to consign them to an “other”. That wasn't really me, the Devil made me do it.
The notion of a God and an almost, but not quite, equally powerful Devil duking it out is way too dualistic for my taste.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 7:28pm GMT

The Quotidian Cleric is rightly interested in the perfect job advert. I wonder if the manse has central heating?

Posted by: Pam on Saturday, 18 January 2014 at 8:39pm GMT
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