Posts tagged: theology

On the weakening of theology amongst friend and foe

By , 2 April 2010 7:31 pm

As often the case what I’m stimulated to write on today comes from a couple of things coming together.

The first is some interesting research in the States from the Barna Group on public perceptions of Easter. Their conclusions include this. “The results indicated that most Americans consider Easter to be a religious holiday, but fewer identify the resurrection of Jesus as the underlying meaning.” Actually, I worry about the definition of Easter being about the resurrection; I always thought it was the cross and resurrection. But it fits with my own perception that in many churches the underlying framework of theology is slowly weakening. We worship and we celebrate and we rejoice but please don’t ask us why. I’m afraid I am irresistibly and troublingly reminded of 9/11 when for a long time the Twin Towers apparently resisted the effects of flame and blast before their heat-weakened steel framework suddenly and unexpectedly gave way.

The second was that I have bought the latest Philip Pullman book: The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. This is his reworking (I think a stronger word than ‘reworking’ is needed) of the Gospel accounts in a somewhat bizarre fashion. Mary has two children Jesus and Christ. Jesus is good (in a rather weak and wishy-washy liberal late-20th century Anglican fashion) whereas Christ increasingly comes to represent the worst aspects of formal religion. Jesus becomes an atheist and dies on the cross whereupon Christ effectively forms the church. Needless to say the supernatural is absent.

The reason for getting it was that there had been some discussion with a publisher about whether to write a rebuttal. The moment I saw the book on the shelf I realised that we didn’t really need to write a response. Why? It was already reduced to half price. Anyway it is fundamentally a revisiting of the oft repeated, old old lie of the noble peasant preacher Jesus full of homilies and non-judgemental good sense who is made divine only by the early church, in particular Paul. It’s not actually a very good book in any sense and I really wouldn’t advise you to buy it because it’ll probably turn up in a second-hand bookshop very quickly and if whoever read it had grubby fingers I bet you won’t find the mark of their prints much beyond page thirty.

Now what is relevant here is that Pullman has incorporated elements of the Gospel accounts but he too is theologically light. Somehow the entire history of Judaism, the sacrificial system of the temple, the establishment of Passover, the priestly castes, the great division between Jew and Gentile and a hundred other things are all mysteriously missing.

So I suppose I am vaguely comforted that if the church is undergoing theological amnesia so are our enemies. Just as well really….

Anyway have a blessed and theological Easter.

Panorama Theme by Themocracy