Continuing discourse: Why I do/don’t go to church

From Tim O’Dwyer

Hi guys,

Thanks for this.

Here is a snapshot of my introductory remarks at our last “exploration”:

On the wall behind the pulpit at the Thompson Estate Methodist Church where I grew up was a large painted scroll with these words: “Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness”. Have been reflecting on that text for more than six decades…

Gained some insight as an adult when I discovered Micah 6:8 :

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

My Aussie paraphrase:

The good oil from God:

Fair go, cobber; be a mate, mate; and let’s all be humble little Vegemites.

Meanwhile, I found much the same message in the Gospel’s setting for Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable where Jesus essentially tells the trickster lawyer to never mind asking who your neighbour is – just be a freaking neighbour!

At the same time, I’ve always been gobsmacked by this New Testament insight: “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (From 

1 John 4:16)

So to the term “God” which Lloyd Geering in “Christianity without God” has not only had a long and complex history but also has become a very confusing word. After suggesting that we can functionally take “God” to refer to the highest values which motivate us, Geering favourably quotes Theologian Gordon Kaufman’s observation that  even in a secular world the term “God” can still have for us a useful function as “an ultimate point of reference”. Hence “To believe in God is to commit oneself to a particular way of ordering one’s life ans action. It is to devote oneself to working towards a fully humane world…while standing in piety ans awe before the profound mysteries of existence.”

Finally why I “go to church” is summed up in part by this provocative passage from Don Cupitt’s “Radicals and the Future of the Church””

“…we should stay in the church and attempt by deception, by reinterpretation, by political stratagems and by perverting the minds of the young to do something for the transformation of Christianity and the future of religion…Self-imposed exile right outside the church may be the right thing for a few very creative people, but…many of us will find it more stimulating to be internal e iles, plotting, scheming and suspected, inside the church…(thinking) of the carefully thought-out deceptions by which we plan to use the old vocabulary as a disguise for smuggling new ways of thinking into the church.”

oOo

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