Our hearts dropped when we read the recent Anglican Journal Headline "Gone by 2040" the Primate's reaction to a statistical report on the fate of the church! This truth is not a surprise and is behind the reason that in the fall of 2019, the parish planned a new study of scripture for this year. All Saints is hosting a look again at our understanding of the Bible and our faith-both from a historical and modern point of view this year. The study is called "Fully Alive 2040". It follows the work of Bishop John Spong calling upon us to look seriously at our theological framework and have our belief in God congruent with our modern knowledge of the universe. God is real, Alive, Loving and we need to worship honestly in truth and beauty. The study is based in the work of Jeffrey E. Frantz in his work The Bible You Didn't know you could Believe In. The parish has a number of copies of the book for sale at a book sellers price-40% off.
Jesus called His community together within the same kind of life framework within which we live today. The major difference is the knowledge base for the physics of Creation and the Universe. Additionally, the Biblical writers wrote within the same frame as well as the ancient leaders choosing which writings would they accept into the sacred writings. The Christian Bible evolved over a 300 year period. Throughout the ages, this framework has been behind the presentation and understanding of theology. Sadly, the scientific knowledge base became more fully known but church leaders separated faith from the developing understanding of reality. Understanding this can assist us in how we read the scripture in our own time within the context of modern knowledge. It also opens the understanding as to why people are leaving active faith practice in all denominations over the past 50 years. We need to address in a serious way this environment in order for our children and others to have faith in a loving God in 2040.
The current, universal and historical conceptual framework of life experience has five categories: Process-the unfolding and evolving of life; Relationality- Shaping of attitudes through our relationships with others and our greater society; Relativity-experience that we individually encounter shapes our life perspective on everything including faith; Ambiguity - the personal truth of our experience has multiple meanings which must be explored to uncover truth; and Tentativity - life is always evolving with premature conclusions which are not necessarily forever. Together, we understand this foundation as a base for human needs which always colors our life and choices both known and unknown.
Since the nuclear age, modern people are always seeking truth and evidence. Metaphor was foundation to ancient life and truth as well as scripture. All writing was historically picturesque as understood within the idea of "as if". 300 years ago with the rise of science, the church tried to claim a literal truth for metaphorical understanding of scripture-a sort of "belief science" which became a literalised biblical understanding and down-played the importance and truth of "metaphor". Today, modern people feel they must either accept literalised biblical understanding or walk away from Christianity. Our study Fully Alive 2040 will explore a progressive response to the faith framework and assist us recapture the original spirit metaphor of faith, remove unsupportable doctrine of belief and give us confidence to pass on a healthy alive sustainable faith to our children within the Anglican tradition and community.