This introduction is still a work-in-progress – last updated on 18th May 2018.
I’m now 82 and created my first web site 18 years ago.
I became disillusioned and walked away from a traditional Anglican church in the UK over 45 years ago after having been treasurer of the local church for 8 years. It’s been a challenging and sometimes frustrating journey!
It was as a 60 year old unemployed Christian in 1995 without any formal theological training that I found myself in the position of having to reconsider just about everything I had ever been taught (for the second time). That is a very long story – that I have described in part elsewhere on the blog. I finally stopped attending church in 2009.
It was early in 2012 that I found a review of “Christianity After Religion” by Diana Butler Bass (see sidebar) that resulted in what was for me an intense period of study over the Easter period. I had never doubted the existence of God but as Richard Holloway once suggested, the symbol ‘God’ is one of the most ambiguous of human inventions. Let’s just say that although I was no longer attending church, this study reinforced some of my serious doubts about Evangelicalism – as seen by “An Outside Observer of American Evangelicalism” (see sidebar), but left me with a faith that I thought I could hold on to loosely.
But that was not going to be the end of the story!
Are you on a journey away from traditional Christianity?
What are your beliefs about heaven and hell?
Do you recognise any of the following descriptions?
- Maybe you are one of the DONES – Done with Religion – or someone who thinks of themselves as SBNR – Spiritual But Not Religious.
- Perhaps you would describe yourself as an Ex-Christian or Atheist but still looking for opportunities to share your thoughts in a constructive way.
- Many have become ‘disillusioned’ with some aspects of what they had been taught about the Christian RELIGION (or CHRISTENDOM).
[This seems to have been an important part of my journey and I have explained in some detail what I understand by this – see sidebar for link].
- Many people within the different denominations recognise that some things need to change. Others recognise that any denomination can only take its people as far as their own traditions and denominational theology will allow, and are looking for some of those deeper insights.
- Some have been abused by leaders; some are angry that they have been deceived while others have simply let go of what they had been taught.
- Perhaps you have considered some of the very diverse views of people who describe themselves as Progressive Christians (see sidebar) where some are working from within while others have moved beyond the confines of their own denomination.
It is said that there is a book in each of us waiting to get out. Instead of writing a book I started developing a web site over 17 years ago. I could never have imagined then how this was going to be an on-going work-in-progress where I have had the chance to share something of the stories of over 2,000 people – including a few leaders and former leaders – who have been drawn away from churches that they may have attended for many years.
A very close friend on this journey once said, “Peter, you have the knack of asking some of the awkward questions to which there are no easy answers”.
You can see some of the questions I was asking around 2005 in ‘Some Earlier Material’ – see sidebar.
I describe myself as someone without any formal theological training who seems to have learned so much about why people believe what they believe, often as a result of divisive, denominational theology. I do wonder how helpful it might be if we could all go back to some absolute basic questions such as:
- Thoughts about the Nature of God – see sidebar
- How do we see the place of Jesus? – see sidebar
Imagine someone saying to you either, “I don’t believe in God” or “I no longer believe in God”. What might your reaction be?
It would obviously depend on the circumstances, but how about, “Please tell me something about this God you don’t believe in. Maybe I don’t believe in that God either”.
I think it is true to say that wherever we are on our unique journeys we are all seeing things from our own specific vantage point, whether or not we have had any formal theological training. Those of us who are still asking questions, even if we no longer consider ourselves to be Christians have a lot to contribute. We can all benefit so much from each other’s stories IF we are happy to take part in OPEN AND HONEST DISCUSSION (rather than a contest or a debate).
Where are the people whether or not they have ever been in church leadership, who would like to learn from others and share something of their own stories?
Where are the Safe Havens where we can share our thoughts on some of these questions?
In “Stepping Stones” I have created a series of bullet points (my favourite way of presenting material) pointing to just some of the material that has been important to me since 2012 – any of which could lead to some interesting discussions.
I would welcome any feedback.