Robin Blount: ecumenical notes, cruise ship chaplaincy and lots more

The faith journey continues...

15 September 2021

Some words from Bishop John Shelby Spong, who died on September 12th at the age of 90.
"God is not a Christian. God is not a Jew or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honour my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God. I think it only points me to God."
I wish I could have expressed this as cogently as JSS did. Searching for what for me will be authentic, I've been skirting around these thoughts for some time. I think religion began as the primitive human response to circumstances then beyond human knowledge and control - flood, drought, earthquake and the like. Over time it has become more and more sophisticated as human beings have acquired knowledge (not necessarily the wisdom to accompany it!), and more and more institutionalised as the powerful sought to maintain control.

The prophetic voice has maintained a steady stream of critique and encouragement to ensure that the rules and regulations regarding the practice of religion do not become an end in themselves, but remain the supportive structure for human beings trying to observe true unity in community. I place Jesus in that tradition and I am content to be called a Christian, trying to follow the example and teaching of Jesus and trying to reinterpret his message for our present times.

But the word ‘Christ’ carries with it two thousand years of orthodoxy, and also two thousand years of doctrinal conflict. In the end, it seems to me, what really matters above all else is that we live our lives unselfishly and generously, aiming for the highest regard for all life and treating this planet as if it really was created in love by a loving God. My faith, thus expressed, is strong - my Christian beliefs are a work in progress.


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