A WARM WELCOME TO THIS NEW WEBSITE - Let us journey together in asking the hard questions of life.
I do not intend to do away or destroy anyone’s religion. Religion, despite the evils of fundamentalism, has done a lot to bring order and stability to human beings across the world. Religion is the foundation of human life, ethics, and culture. It is religion, more than reason, which distinguishes the human species from animals. Lloyd Geering, my main scholar who interpreted my spiritual ephiphany, has suggested that ‘it is the function of religion to help us respond to the questions of meaning and purpose as they apply to human existence. Is there any meaning to at all to human existence and, if so, what is it? Are there any essential or worthwhile goals in life which, if we strive for them, offer some kind of fulfilment of our human potential? The kinds of answers we give to such questions constitute the substance of religion. Science, however much it may contribute to the formation of our world-view, cannot per se answer these basic religious questions. It must remain neutral on the question of values, purpose and meaning’. Remember the above paragraph, dear reader, as I continue on my scientific world-view. Maybe you can read the above paragraph again. I advise the careful reading of the following capped, bolded, italicized and underlined words. We will be visiting these words again in different forms as we continue.
RELIGION AND ASSOCIATED BELIEF SYSEMS ARE THE MAIN SOURCE OF SECURITY AND HAPPINESS FOR A GREAT MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN OUR WORLD.
I have done the above because I want my readers to know that I understand better than most the appeal that comes from religious belief systems that offer security. I have abandoned those systems. Over the years I have learnt to respect religion for the order, security, and happiness that it brings to society. However, I also know that all religions, including the Christian religion, were created to survive on myths and not truth. If the church provides security, it cannot provide truth. I also value the myths I have learnt from the Christian religion and will continue to propagate them. Myths can be immensely satisfying. This book is however all about truth. I do not know of a book that mixes religion and truth, these two are oil and water. It is my understanding that religion and politics are two institutions that have made it a taboo to speak the truth.
‘Myth is not falsehood; it is a product of mental activity, as instructive and rich as any later product, but its characteristic is that it is not yet distinguished into history, poetry, and philosophy’, writes Charles Gore in his essay on The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. Historians have proved that myth, far from being valueless, is of unique importance to religious faith. Religions were made for security and not truth. I have chosen truth over security. As you read on, you will discover that the truth in this book is actually known truth. Truth is free and costly at the same time. The uncovering of truth is unwelcome and discomforting. In many cases it is a career ending and friendship ending exercise. However, truth has become common property (ask any question on ask.com; Wikipedia or Google.com ). Nobody has copyright or propriety to truth anymore, not even this book. You no longer need a Priest or an institution to tell you truth. Truth, however, brings its own insecurity, a lot of insecurity and turmoil into our lives. Religion does not give truth, but it does give security. Some choose security and peace of mind over truth. I have embraced the insecurity of life and have come to terms with my situation. Just over a hundred years ago, a man now described as the prophet par excellence of the new age, Friedrich Willem Nietzsche said these words, ‘if you wish to strive for peace of soul and happiness, then believe: if you wish to be a disciple of truth, then inquire’. He pointed out that, though the traditional belief in God might bring peace of mind and spiritual satisfaction, it did not necessarily mean that it was true.
I am careful that I do not destroy anyone’s religion. We have to tread carefully on issues of religion. Paul Tillich suggested that religion is that which gives culture its depth and its strength. He wrote, ‘religion is that which concerns us ultimately. Religion is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern, a concern which qualifies all other concerns as preliminary and which itself contains the answer to the question of the meaning of life’. No definition of religion is likely to prove entirely adequate, however. The unfolding of the Kingdom of God through religious thought since the book of Genesis has always been a source of depth and strength. I would hate to see you reader, lose your peace of mind, your depth, strength and become insecure. I am the first to admit that belief in God does bring spiritual satisfaction. I came to Jesus looking for security for my insecure soul; I found, not security, but the expansion of life. Having said the above, I add that, as much as belief systems are a source of meaning and peace of mind for many, we also have to acknowledge that these are no longer a source of meaning to non-religious and irreligious people like us. Religious beliefs do provide meaning to many, but it has to be stated also that the greatest freedom (freedom indeed) one can enjoy is to have one’s mind free from the grasp of religious beliefs. It was Karl Marx, in 1865, who first prophesised that the truly democratic state ‘can discard religion because in it the human foundation of religion is realized in a secular way. He went on to write, ‘Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world...It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness’. Though Marxism has evolved, flourished, and entered into decline under the weight of ferocious capitalism, within a century, Marx’s prophecy on a secular religion has flowered in the same century. Christianity has indeed become the most secular of all global religions. This has set up Christianity in direct conflict with conservative Islam. Islam was, in part, established as a protest against the secularization in the Christian tradition and the division of God into three (trinity).
I have written this article in such a way that atheists and agnostics will become spiritual and the religious will become irreligious. I however, do this with great caution. I do not want you to believe what I believe, especially if this will bring insecurity into your life. Allow the new evolution of the God concept to take cause in its right time. God has been an integral part of my spiritual journey. He knew me before I was born (Jer. 1:5). ‘If you have a false idea of God, the more religious you are the worse it is for you. It were better for you to be an atheist’, said British scholar, Kenneth Leech.
Someone commented after my first book, ‘Why write a book when you do not want people to believe what you believe?’ The reason is that some people may not be ready for this. To be human is to be a Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall in freefall; all The King’s men and all the King’s horses cannot put Humpty Dumpty together. Humpty Dumpty cannot fix himself/herself. Humpty Dumpty cannot stop bleeding! I would hate for anyone to read this book and fall apart like Humpty Dumpty, thus; do not believe what I believe! For some people this artcle might as well be totally out of sync with the assumptions of the world they live in. I write from a totally post Christian and post evangelical perspective. I say more on this perspective later. This is the world I live in, and suspect the majority of Christians in denial live in. Thus I invite you to see the world through my eyes. I write as an evangelical looking from outside. You will realize that along the way the contents of my artcles vacillates between the God who exists and the God who does not exist; a God who is there and a God who is not there; a God we can believe in and a God we cannot believe in; hope and despair; belief and doubt; optimism and pessimism; freedom and bondage; exile and homecoming; Egypt and Canaan; sense and nonsense; kingdom now and kingdom later, etc. It is an artcle about our life and tension! The happy state for a human being to live in, and the one we always seek, is the state of easy, unquestioning loyalty. This book unfortunately disrupts that state. Jesus always disrupted the status quo. Allow me disrupt your status quo. Allow the subversive content of this book to unsettle you in your comfort zone. Hope all that I have said in this chapter has raised your interest in the book and hope it will help you to absorb any shocks from the contents.
My wish, my hope, my most earnest prayer, is that our churches could be places, the very places, the best places, for our children and our youth to bring their questions, and for us to bring ours. Not places for ready- made answers to the problems of life. And then, as we wrestle with the questions of how we are to live and work and worship, as we grow in trust of God and each other—slowly, gradually, over our lifetimes—a new spaciousness would emerge allowing new things to be born in us and in the world. “Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart,” wrote Rainer Maria Rilke:
...and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign
language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able
to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the
future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
I am suggesting a three-fold approach to reading these articles, namely:
1. What do I agree with in these articles?
2. What do I disagree with?
3. What don’t I understand?
I allow Pastors to use the same approach, should they desire a conversation on the contents of this article. I am aware of the misunderstanding these articles might cause and the further questions they may will raise. Observe the universe as it unfolds and you begin to live answers to these questions. Nothing in this article makes claims of final words and infallibility. Examine carefully what I say here and weigh it in the light of your own experience and what you see around you. Make your own decision whether this book has a ring of truth. Before I take you on the journey of my life, my story, I want to start the next chapter by giving you an opportunity to be a part of this book. All human beings have life-stories and all human beings are stories. All stories form ‘the road less travelled’ individually.
TEN POINT CRITIQUE OF EVANGELICALISM
1. Evangelicals, through the Westminster Confession on 1647, and other creeds, have elevated the Bible to number one position and made the God of the Bible number two. My critique is; now that the Bible has fallen from the pedestal as a source of authority, its God has also fallen.
2. Evangelicals believe the number two in their confession, a super human being, sitting in eternity, spoke a word, and the universe instantly exploded into being. He spoke again and animals came. He spoke again and the sun appeared, etc. There is no other way in which these scriptural utterances can be interpreted to the modern person. After the enlightenment millions in Europe left the church when these grotesque beliefs no longer made sense to them. That day will come to us! My critique; let us change our God concept.
3. Evangelicals believe that all truth is in the Bible. Some believe in extra-biblical truth as long as this extra-biblical truth is not in opposition to the Bible. This was valid until the Copernican revolution. Nicolas Copernicus, Galileo Galileo, and Charles Darwin, amongst other scientists came with extra-biblical truths that made the modern man to change forever the way we think about the skies and the God who presumably inhabited them. Let us enquire.
4. Evangelicals then say the word and God are one. Every act and practice that is in the Bible is true and should be respected without question. Specifically practices in the book of acts. I write this after a sad story I read in the City Press Newspaper. In this story, the owner of a RDP house sold his house and gave all the money to the church. He claimed God told him so. His family was left destitute and at the mercy of the same government that originally gave the house to the man. The response from the evangelical church was that the brother was practicing the word of God as practiced in the book of Acts. This practice is indeed biblical and equally abhorrent. Let us be innocent as doves and wise as serpents.
5. Evangelicals operate in ‘Microsoft theology’ as opposed to the progressive ‘Linux theology’. In the former, truth is tied to evangelicalism and the power structure of the evangelical tradition. Tradition is sacrosanct amongst evangelicals. Evangelicals seem to own the franchise to truth. The emerging world has shown us that we can now add, tweak, and use truth as we please. Let us choose God’s way over our tradition.
6. Evangelicals (not all) have a history of being anti-intellectual, anti-biblical scholarship, and pro-emotionalism even though evangelicalism preceded Pentecostalism and Charismatic-ism. The Apostle Paul enjoined us to ‘reason with the philosophers of our day’ (Acts 17:16-31) and not to call them names when defending the gospel. Peter challenged us to ‘give reason for our hope in Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 3:15-16). Jesus challenged us to ‘love God with our minds’. Isaiah called us to ‘reason together’.
7. Evangelicals seem to believe that if the truth cannot be defended rationally, it must be defined and enforced as law. Truth should be enforced by power and power alone. Those who do not oblige should be sniffed and excommunicated for their heresies. The recent findings re: the Greco-Roman cultural influence on the writing of the New Testament has now shown that ‘heretics’ are not really heretics.
8. Evangelicals believe in the literal virgin birth of Jesus Christ. They believe in the literal resurrection of Christ. They believe in the literal ascension of Christ into heaven. They believe in the literal ‘second’ coming of Christ. How do we explain the mechanics of these beliefs to our 21st century, space scientist influenced, space-time continuum, new global cosmology, post-enlightenment generation? They should either believe these truths claims or get out of the church; and leaving the church – they will and do. Let us leave convention for truth.
9. Evangelicals believe and emphasize the dogmas of Incarnation and the Trinity with absolute confidence. These dogmas are not even ‘scriptural’ as evangelicals claim. Evangelicals will have to renounce the yearning for absolutes, ultimate explanations, and religious certainties.
10. We, Evangelicals will have to abandon the idea that we are the chosen people, we posses ultimate truths, our gospel is the truth, and we alone have privileged access to eternal salvation. We must give up our nationalism, ethnocentrism, and our exclusive religious allegiance. We are not a ‘chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation’ (1 Pet. 2:9), everyone is. This is indeed a recipe for future wars against the un-chosen and the un-holy. Look at the Middle East! We should be aware of any group whose members all claim to be ‘brothers and sisters’ of each other. Remember, the first murderer was a brother (Cain).