I was introduced to this group when I started listening to Bob Greaves. Much of the material is way above my head, but I feel completely at home with many of the thoughts that are being expressed. What follows is my own summary of a two hour broadcast that aimed to introduce the group.
The emphasis is on encouraging questions – seeking ways to connect outside the box – allowing others to choose what they do and how they think and act – trying to erase the lines between Atheists and Theists!
We have common problems as a result of being human – looking for ways to make the world a better place!
There is a need for a commentary on the Christian text instead of just reading it. Bob Greaves looks from many different angles – interacting with the text – the need to understand the mood of the text. There may be a missing dynamic – listen to a variety of opinions – some have insight while some have agendas – the need to hold on loosely – life is full of surprises – in normal relationships it can take a long time to get to know people and what makes them tick!
Beware of trying to nail things down – can we really explain the deity of Christ? – what for example does it mean for Jesus to be God?
Fundamentalism doesn’t encourage thinking for oneself and seems to lead to a shallow commitment – a lack of appreciation of the significance of the meaning of life – a misguided focus?
What for example is salvation and is it only through faith in Jesus? Does it make sense that the message of Jesus is that we are safe?
God is surely not having the issues with us that religious people want us to believe?
There are many disagreements with some of the fundamentals of evangelical faith – virgin birth – substitutionary atonement – exclusivity – nothing to earn – hell – inerrancy – the place of women – the trinity – reincarnation – second coming – final judgement – lake of fire – the place of unbelievers (where will they go?).
Translation – Jesus should have returned – predictions that didn’t take place always result in disappointment – hoping everyone else would be left?
What about after death? It is the chemistry in the brain that makes us different people – after death that chemistry is no longer there!
Do we really need evangelists who preach, yell and scream? Is it our job to do God’s work for him?
Inerrancy – the thinking of men seems to alienate women from God!
The Great White Throne Judgement – Bob would want to give God every opportunity to explain himself so that he gets judged fairly! Diagnosis v forming an opinion – judgement!
Punishing children is surely vindictive? We are surely not born with a sin nature?
The need for an interplay of ideas!
What place moral law? Is morality objective or subjective?
Do we really have to learn to disconnect from our human self in order to learn to love? Do we really need to become something different or can we be empowered when we find ourselves?
Why do many atheists and humanists want to help others?
15-20 years ago Michael and Rhonda Jones were trying to know everything and teaching what they believed, but how many people understand their own beliefs? Many within NCG no longer know what to believe – ongoing change – no longer religious.
For some it could be helpful to teach people their own theology – like looking in a mirror – they might even learn to reject it!
You can’t tell most theists (who are trapped in a box) that there is no hell and that we do not need to be saved from sins.
Bob – a paradigm shift needs a lot of unanticipated preparation. How often did Jesus mock the teaching of the Pharisees? How many Christians see it as Jesus setting the standard?
Adultery – if an eye offends pluck it out – making fun of absurd notions?
Some are loyal to a concept rather than a reality of life – they may need to be moved along in the direction they are headed until . . . Discovering a better way . . . so that theists can come out of some hideous ideas – who has bewitched you . . .?
There is a need for community – the chance to relate – if we can connect and get to know people there is a chance to move forward more rapidly.
For many, if they let others know that they are an atheist (but what does that mean?) or even in some cases an agnostic, their community goes and they appear to lose everything worthwhile (family and friends). Those who speak out might be in danger of losing jobs/pensions – the need for patience – the need to allow enough time for transitions to mature.
There are a few loners, but for most people community is vital – which may be one reason why some stay within religion.
A need for a healthy community – people we know and trust – who help each other – who will welcome new ideas and create a healthy interchange. Why do religious people feel compelled to get together? Kids gather because they want to – discovering new things all the time – new and exciting – but adults often feel they have done it all? When we start moving forward we discover new things – even just a conversation – something fresh – or remembering something old that needs to be remembered – nostalgia?
A need for a genuine respect for other people’s points of view and experience.
We are all together on the planet – you, me and reality! The need to listen to each other and try to understand the individual emotional reactions of those we relate to!