|About the Book|
An introductory chapter remarks on the similarities between the organisational life of the church as institution through the centuries and the way this reflects its social and cultural context.Chapter 1 considers the risk of attaching the adjective ‘MoreAn introductory chapter remarks on the similarities between the organisational life of the church as institution through the centuries and the way this reflects its social and cultural context.Chapter 1 considers the risk of attaching the adjective ‘Christian’ to any culture and explores what is culture-specific and what is essential in Christianity.Chapter 2 reviews the trap into which Christianity fell during the first centuries of assuming that orthodoxy was what mattered and that deviation from the truth (defined as doctrine) was a breach of faith. The current Pope’s campaign against ‘dehellenisation’ is addressed.Chapter 3 reflects on the perennial danger of assuming that doctrine can be articulated at one time for all time, that Christians must be ‘on message’. Some past dissenters from this approach are described.Chapters 4 and 5 open up the two-fold basis for belief in God as trust (i.e. relational), namely the notion of a creator and the experience of the spirit. The folly of creationists and the shallowness of much ‘spirituality’ are discussed.Chapter 6 rehearses the story of Jesus of Nazareth and examines how God is revealed in him and how Christianity depends on an ongoing relationship of believers with him.Chapter 7 explores human failure to live ‘like Jesus’ and how the often misunderstood idea of forgiveness can help us to do so afresh. An after-note examines the parallels among world faiths on the subject.Chapter 8 takes seriously the question ‘what would Jesus do?’ as a guide to ethics and affirms a diversity of Christian practice to be as valid as a diversity of doctrinal statements or liturgy. The issues of abortion and women’s ministry are discussed.Chapter 9 returns to an appreciation of contemporary (western) culture and the need for discernment amid so much change, with a defence of such ‘relativism’. How diverse can Christian doctrine and practice be? How can followers of Jesus change without losing their identity? The prospect of life beyond death is discussed.