Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 26 March 2022

Rebecca Chapman Church Times Life Events team should not be dispatched
“A Church that says it cares about evangelism should prioritise the occasional offices”

Giles Fraser UnHerd Atheists have an evil problem
“We can’t blame God for the war in Ukraine”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Living the Questions: Facing Christian doubt and uncertainty

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Susannah Clark
1 month ago

I’d really like to thank Stephen for his article on certainty and uncertainty. The dangers of certainty can be seen in many sad expressions through human history. You have only to look at religious wars and Christians persecuting each other in the name of doctrinal purity. There is a further danger: that certainty may sometimes close down our openness to reception. If we try to ‘box’ God up, there is the risk that we think ‘that’s it’ and we stop listening to other expressions, other operations, other people who are exploring the power of love. My personal spiritual pathway has… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

Giles Fraser’s answer of the Cross to the question of human suffering is as as facile as the humanists’ arguments he rejects. He complains that humanists threw out God, yet human evil still exists. Jesus of Nazareth was executed by the Romans for political and religious crimes, some Christians say he died on Cross for humanity’s sins — yet evil still exists. The answer for monotheists and humanists alike is the same: People are flawed, and some turn to evil. The Universe is imperfect. Some physicists say the Universe exists the way it does because of imperfection. So evil people… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Picky
Picky
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

I’m afraid the answer that “people are flawed” is only an incomplete answer. Much suffering is not caused by humans but by the physical forces of the world and by disease and the like. And there is much suffering which is not experienced by humans, but by animal life generally, which is organised in what seems to me to be an utterly evil way: creatures exist so that they may be terrifyingly hunted and agonisingly killed and eaten. If anyone set things up this way, it was someone with an unpleasant mind.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
1 month ago

I would like to know more of Giles Fraser’s thinking when he writes, “…for Christianity, the proper response to human suffering and evil — and by proper, I mean the response that is internal to Christian theology — is the cross.” As in tutorials so in a life of faith the cross of Christ demands critical reflection. The crisis of evil and suffering are not “overcome” with the cross. Rather the crisis is highlighted. In proclaiming Christ’s death we continue to advert to the enigmatic relationship between Divine love and ubiquitous human suffering. The Stations of the Cross line the… Read more »

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
1 month ago

Rebecca Chapman is spot on! Who would have thought that the Life Events team also only had an occasional office at Church House when is should be a much longer term feature. Key life events such as baptisms are incredible opportunities to engage with questions of faith and to begin a long term trusted relationship and create a sense of place, belonging, identity and so much more.

John Davies
John Davies
1 month ago

It’s difficult to pin down, but Stephen’s article, and another one by Chris Grant do reflect a lot of my own curren perplexities, as does Susannah’s below. (Or above) Much of the time I’m painfully aware of the limitations of human language when trying to express the divine – our words can never be enough. As Susannah says, my relationship with God, too, is desperately fragile. ‘Faith’ is the same as ‘trust’, and as my evangelical charismatic background taught me to believe, both are spelled ‘risk’. We know God loves us, we know he lives in our hearts, and yet… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  John Davies
1 month ago

I share your non-negotiables, John. I also have an evangelical charismatic background. Personally I feel my faith has been enriched by having to resort to ‘trust’ where some things of God seem the other side of that cloud. Not saying it’s all shiny and easy though. I was immensely helped by convent sisters who helped me deepen my understanding and practice of contemplation. I think ‘trust’ is the heart of relationship, whether that is relationship with God, or relationship with a partner. Trust is often fragile, and of course we may also be confronted – if we are being honest… Read more »

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