Let’s Talk about What People Understand by the Word God!
It was Richard Holloway the former leader of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, who suggested that the symbol ‘God’ is one of the most ambiguous of human inventions.
What do you think?
Have you been drawn away from Institutional Christianity –
the Christian RELIGION – or CHRISTENDOM?
I’m now 85. I became a Christian when I was 22 but walked away in the early 1970’s from an Anglican Church in the UK where I had been treasurer for 8 years in the 1960’s. Later I spent some 20 years as a member of a Sabbath-keeping Christian Church until a ‘church split’ in 1995 forced me to reconsider for a second time, just about everything I had ever been taught. I have no recollection of ever doubting the existence of God but my understanding of the meaning of that word has changed dramatically over the years. I have been using the internet since 1997 and created my first web site in 2000 – the beginning of an on-going Work-In-Progress. I gradually became more and more involved with the Emerging, Emergent and House Church scene. There was a time when many of us saw ourselves as part of the Out of Church Christians. I finally stopped attending church in 2009. Over the next couple of years after being influenced especially by the thoughts of Richard Holloway and Diana Butler Bass I realised that I had a faith that I could hold on to ‘loosely’.
How have your thoughts about God changed over the years?
I’ve never had any formal theological training.
I was fortunate enough to enter the world of business computing as a computer programmer as long ago as 1967 – said by some to have been the perfect job for somebody living with Asperger’s Syndrome.
I gradually became disillusioned with the Church of England – highlighted perhaps by the time that I was leading a Men’s discussion group and asked the question, “What is the purpose of life?”. The immediate reaction of the Vicar with whom I was very friendly, was “Peter, you can’t ask that. That is the 64,000 dollar question (a lot of money in those days). Let’s go on to your next question”.
I have long had a bit of a reputation for asking some of the awkward questions to which there are no easy answers. Over the years I have had the chance to share something of the thoughts of more than 2,000 people who have been drawn away from churches (right across the denominational spectrum) that they might have attended for many years. A significant number of those people, including some leaders, were from Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches in America. As someone who never believed in the traditional teachings of hell, I have developed a particular affinity with many who have suffered from the fear, guilt and shame generated by much of that theology.
It was in the autumn of 2018 that I decided to step back from all of the divisive, denominational theology that had been so much part of my life for so long.
It was after listening to Barbara Brown Taylor early in 2019 that I realised that I had reached a point where I simply wanted to encourage even just a few people to reconsider what they really understood about the place of God in their lives now.
I had been introduced to the Enneagram in 2017 and reintroduced to Spiral Dynamics in 2019. something that I had known about several years previously. I have recently been introduced to Integral Theory.
Anyone who is familiar with the Enneagram will know something of how difficult it might be for a Type 9 to ‘bite the bullet’ and stop trying to dot every i and cross every t.
I’ve long been interested by what makes people tick. A glance at the Mind Maps that I created nearly 20 years ago will show what I mean!
Does any of this ring any bells with you the reader?
I would appreciate any feedback and or questions here, on Facebook or by Email.