As former clergyman I believe the church is in crisis because New Testament theology is ceasing to be credible and cannot speak to the modern age (Church-going plummets to all-time low, News, April 16). The Resurrection is a case in point.
Some 2000 years have passed since Jesus said he would return within the lifetime of those who knew him. It is fair to conclude that he cannot return because he was not resurrected. It is surely time that the clergy acknowledged the truth of the matter, and freed people up to dump the theology and lay hands on the things that really matter and of which the New Testament speaks, namely “the things that are pure … and good". Things like justice, truth, compassion and hope, which commend themselves to all mankind.
The only kind of resurrection that matters is that something of the ethical spirit of Jesus, and other spiritual leaders, be resurrected in the heart of every one of us. What's needed is not talk of fathers, sons, holy ghosts, virgin births, sacrificial crucifixions, resurrections, eternal damnations and second comings.
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What the world needs is a new global spirituality which lays its hands on the spiritual virtues of justice, truth, compassion and hope and which looks to the globalisation of spiritual and ethical secularism.
Mankind is outgrowing the theology of the New Testament. Only the practice of virtue will save the human race.
Since when was Christianity dependent upon the existence of church buildings or institutionalised religion? Navel-gazing will lead nowhere until the top of the hierarchical pyramid topples and people are left to live their lives of faith in the way the founder of Christianity intended.
Every time "living" communities have attempted to come together over the past 40 years in the Americas and in Europe, they have been systematically broken up by the clergy in power. Politically, I wonder how the right-wing elements today will respond to any "threat" from the anawim?
Your article reflects the truth of organised state and national religious organisations in Scotland, no doubt, but across the world the picture is very different. For example, such is the growth of the Christian faith (often underground) in China, that China-watchers believe that this country will soon overtake the USA in numbers of Christian believers. The same can be said about South America and many parts of Africa. In Scotland too there are "green shoots" of vital and compassionate belief appearing all over the country: serving the disadvantaged, the refugees, and promoting mission using the arts, in coffee shops, and in public spaces. Whereas the formal national churches are dwindling, the informal grouping meetings, the house-churches, the evangelical/charismatic churches and new expressions of the Christian faith are attracting numbers and growing. I suggest that it is not Christianity, but the institutional churches which are in crisis. There is a difference.
Dr Alistair Macindoe
Tutor in Pioneer Ministry
Scottish School of Christian Mission
Church attendance might be expected to decline in a secular liberal democracy in an era of rationality, and these days, fewer agencies of socialisation (the school, the family etc) are particular about instilling in children the notion that church attendance is important. This is a good thing.
One does not need to entertain the concept of God to have faith and to follow a spiritual path. I have had a Buddhist practice – zazen – for some 25 years or so. Sometimes it helps me, sometimes it doesn't but I keep it going and I am glad only a tiny minority of people practise this way, because if it became a mass movement it would become utterly corrupted.
Organised religion has always been a means of enforcing conformity in a society and results in much perversion.
I would venture the best way for the Christian church here to attract more adherents is to ditch the talk of virgin births and resurrections and all such supernatural nonsense and concentrate on the teaching of Jesus as regards living one's life here and now.
To conclude, though, I do not think Christianity is in crisis in Scotland, for I am sure any true Christian would rather fewer people attended church who really mean it, rather than many going along because it's the done thing.
New research shows that just 390,000, or seven per cent of Scotland's population, now attend Christian worship (Church-going plummets to all-time low, News, April 16). Reasons given for this by Reverend Norman Smith were, changes in working patterns, leisure activities, family life and increasing secularisation. I would add to these the paedophilia scandal involving Catholic priests, and the Church's stance on homosexuality and women. To these might also be added the core religious teaching of Christianity, which takes Jesus to be a scapegoat for the sins of humanity – sins which were imputed by God to all of innocent mankind because Adam and Eve disobeyed his command. This Exodus 20:5 scapegoating dogma contradicts the whole moral principle of personal responsibility. Could any rational, moral person consent to be saved from the penalty of his own misdeeds by the suffering and death of a completely innocent person?
Dr Graham Seed
Most of us will find nothing surprising in your report on the continuing decline churchgoing numbers, but might it not be interesting to ask those who do still go to church regularly why they still go? I wouldn't presume to predict their answers, but they might be interesting. Also, is it not possible that the decline in Church membership might be because the Gospel message of universal compassion now has wide acceptance?