St Lucia Group news, book review, event, links.

St Lucia Spirituality Group
Newsletter March 2023

Our March meeting on Zoom was attended by 13 – even though several of our regular attendees were unable to be present. New faces and ideas are always welcome. We discussed matters raised by Kevin Treston in his discussion paper “Where to now for the Christian Story.” The discussion was thoughtful and wide ranging, including many perceptive insights. If we are to grow in our faith, we must be able to critically question some long held beliefs and determine through our own study and reflection what we believe to be true. That is a sound foundation for an adult faith, isn’t it?

Original Sin or Original Blessing?
The concept of original sin is well known and deeply engrained in our psyche. First proposed by Augustine in the fifth century, it has greatly influenced Church dogma including Atonement Theory, the idea that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Yet this presents a negative view of human development, that even before we were born our character was stained by something we did not do.

In the thirteenth century, an alternative proposition was debated by the Dominicans – who supported the concept of original sin – and the Franciscans who proposed another view based on Genesis 1 – the concept of original blessing. The Dominican view prevailed although the Franciscan view was accepted as a minority view, but rarely taught or publicised. For example, the doctrine contradicts the actual experience of parents who intuitively know that their newly
born children are not born with any inherited moral blight of sin, but inherit a propensity for choosing both good and evil as they mature.

At our April meeting we shall examine the consequences of this focus on sin. Is it any wonder that the pews are emptying? As Richard Rohr writes, “I believe this is the key reason why people do not so much react against the Christian story line, like they used to; instead, they simply refuse to take it seriously.”

We shall also consider the Franciscan arguments for the alternative concept of original blessing and, more importantly, what some consequences on our theology might be if this concept of blessing underpinned our faith.

Butterfly Series – Next Meeting
We shall consider a discussion paper tracing the history of the doctrine of original sin and its impacts along with the alternative concept of original blessing and its potential impacts.
This paper is available on our Facebook page or you can simply email us and we’ll send it to you. There is no obligation to join our meeting.

Our Episode 17 meeting will be held on Zoom at 6:00pm AEST on Tuesday 18 April 2023. Come early to meet the others there. Use this link to join the meeting. The zoom meeting will open at 5:45pm.

To register your attendance, please email John at
If you are concerned about your ability to participate in these zoom meetings, we can accommodate you by simply allowing you to listen. Just let us know.

Book review: The New Spirituality – An Introduction to Progressive Belief in the 21st Century by Gordon Lynch. (2007)

John writes: “Since my retirement from paid work approximately 10 years ago, I have had time to indulge my interest in religion and spirituality. Through my reading, I have developed views that are critical of some aspects of my Roman Catholic Church and a relatively progressive worldview that is accepting of the value of other religious traditions. It is not surprising therefore that I found Gordon Lynch’s book extremely interesting.

Lynch, a Professor in the Sociology of Religion at Birkbeck, University of London, traces the emergence of a new generation of progressive religious thinkers and organisations since the 1950s. He suggests that the term “progressive” religion tends to denote at least one of two things. Firstly, it normally indicates a commitment to understanding and practicing religion in the light of modern knowledge and cultural norms. A second defining feature Is a sympathy with, and often engagement in, green and left of centre political concerns.

His analysis suggests that progressives are a small percentage of the population (between 1% and 3%) and are generally found in groups of less than 100 members or organisations of up to a few thousand. Despite collaboration between these groups and organisations, Lynch does not expect that a new cohesive religion will develop from their common values.”

Christians who hold that the Church is a divinely ordained entity existing parallel to the human condition will resist these progressive views. However, those who believe their faith calls them to actively experience and live life in abundance (John 10:10), will pursue their quest for truth cognisant of the interrelationship between the knowledge of modern science and their experience of religion.

On our Facebook page John has posted a three-page document, in which he has extracted the most salient paragraphs. This may help you to decide whether you wish to read the book.

Our Newsletters & Facebook Page
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Go well…
John Scoble & Robert van Mourik


3 thoughts on “St Lucia Group news, book review, event, links.

  1. Peter Robinson

    Your comments on Original Sin or Original Blessing resonated for me. Augustine’s teaching on Original Sin won out in the Church over Iranaeus’ teaching on sin as a product of human experience and development, the latter’s teaching being closer to modern day psychology.

    Some years ago I did some reading on Christian Taoism which flourished in central Asia from the 5th century on, as minority Christian groups and views spread eastwards in exile. More recent archaelogical investigation in Western China has confirmed that the Christian Taoists held to a doctrine of Original Goodness, not unlike the concept of Original Blessing.

    Beginning with the idea every person is a precious creation and born worthy, the central focus of the Christian life becomes not the idea of ‘rescue from sin’ but rather a deeper sense of the ‘oneness’ of God with mankind , this universe, and beyond.

  2. Michael Furtado

    The ‘rescue from sin’ notion is deeply engrained in all the three Abrahamic faiths. It has its absurd and horrifyingly tragic consequence in the terrible events of The Shoah, which was but the lowest point in the hitherto widely taught and held belief amongst Catholics and Protestants (and challenged only by the Enlightenment) that the Jews were to blame for Christ’s crucifixion. Christian eschatology, misread and misleading from almost every text in the Jewish Scriptures and coming to its apotheosis in the Book of Revelation, is honoured by Christians and manifestly responsible for this! That is why the Jews have the Torah, which is an accumulation of subsequent and alternative wisdom texts and stories that give contemporary Hebrews a more liberating and humanistic account of who they are. By the same token, the Prophet Mohammed did this for the Arab world of his time and only too seldom have a tiny handful of Judeo-Christians, especially Jesus, attempted this re-reading of our history, beliefs, aspirations and traditions for Christians. Among those globally who have challenged the atonement shibboleths that have been passed on from ancient times have been Freud, who taught that the facultiess of sensual expression, pleasure and celebration had been classified as ‘false gods’ and hijacked to impose on subsequent humanity every manner of neurosis and self-imposed suffering known to the universe. With great thanks to Spong, Fox, Treston and the rest of them, I well understand why the events of Easter are manifestly ignored and sometimes derided by the rank and file of the Western World, while categorically rejected for another more ‘spiritual’ account by the Eastern half of the globe. As a homosexual person of Catholic background, I also believe that the excess, especially in the sphere of human sexual behaviour, to which homosexual persons like me have been driven, is but a temporary reaction to millennia of being despised and ‘cancelled’ by hitherto powerful forces of religious fundamentalism, driven by texts that are still held by many to be the literal word of God and which demonstrate no understanding of the evolving nature of human entelechy. For this reason, if for no other, I will NOT be participating in the Stations of the Cross. It is my only means of quietly registering my protest at the inability and reluctance of the leaders of my Church to categorically condemn and disassociate themselves from the abuse of marginalised others, including all of the created ‘anthropocentric’ world, which many generations of my fellow Christians have exploited in the name of a false, distorted, punitive and primitive God.

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