Headline on Global News this past week-Four Anglican churches are up for sale!! What is happening and why were the major questions that I was repeatedly asked? The church is shrinking! Why?
The simple answer is that much of the images of the Bible and its physical construct are unreal in 2018. People cannot believe what we have traditionally proclaimed as faith in God as it seems unbelievable when presented as fact in the context of 2018!
Context of life is always important. Understanding of and reaction to and with God is always dependant upon time and situation as we now know in 2018. The last Gospel was written down about the year 118-the Gospel of John. Like the other gospels and writings it reflects the context within which it was written. The context was for all the New Testament -a three-tiered world with a theistic all powerful male god sitting above the heaven, controlling and judging everything. If we did it right, this pleased god who would select these people as favourites and punish the rest in a tribal like fashion. This is the underlying message of the Bible, creeds and much church doctrine. It was based in mostly fear even though the Jesus message was love. Over the years the church through its actions has lived out this dichotomy.
Today, we know this is all wrong! There is no theistic god in heaven, the revelation of God is in creation as spelled out in the December "Vicar's Voice" through evolution, the planet is one of many and demons do not exist as "demon possession" that is in reality failing brain chemistry which can be addressed and health regained. Modern People look at the traditional church understanding of 118 AD life as presented in 2018 and say "No-this is not for me!" and leave as 'traditional church' understanding is unbelievable. This is why churches are closing and up for sale.
We as 2018 Christians must carefully look at ourselves, scripture, history, and what we know from God's Creation and renew our proclamation of our faith in God in a responsible, reasoned way that is honest and sustainable so that our post-modern children, grandchildren and beyond can have faith in a Dynamic Eternal, Living God that cares, is loving and constant as well as understood in a real way.
It will take courage to explore and make real this quest. We will Journey in Faith in a sermon series through Lent, Easter and beyond. The hopeful outcome is a faith understanding and praxis that is vital, sustainable and that can be proclaimed in our post-modern world which is our real context of 2018.