Applying intellectual honesty toward religion, politics, health, and the environment. This is a free and safe space to think, emote, critique and re-examine currently held perspectives. Please join in on the conversation :-)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Churchless Faith and HungerTruth

There are many people who are leaving their churches for one reason or another. Interestingly enough, many people who are fed up with church, authoritarian leaders, and shallow beliefs are still interested in God, faith, and community. This is a common theme throughout Alan Jamieson’s “A Churchless Faith.” I will discuss some of the contents of Jamieson’s work and compare it to the HungerTruth community that I facilitate.

Some church members realize that they are restricted in their thinking and beliefs about God, the Bible, and the world around them. Leaders are emboldened by believing that their interpretations are God-sent. Freethinking and progressive ideas are quenched while conformity to doctrine is prized and sought after.

Leaders’ ‘falls’ have left countless members disillusioned and disappointed with what is perceived to be God’s representatives. Other church leaders are found to be manipulative, abusive, dominating when looked upon closely by their members. Leaders try to retain the power they hold over their people by telling them that they are resisting God’s spirit by resisting their influence. These sorts of experiences have caused floods of people to shake the dust off their feet and move on.

Not everyone who leaves the church questions the faith. In fact, many just leave one church to attend another, or just church shop for a time. Jamieson calls these people, “disillusioned followers.” Those who actually question the faith and attempt to de-church themselves, believing that they have been brainwashed are called, “reflexive exiles.” They begin to trust their own ability to reason and think through issues. Whereas they were once told to examine their hearts if they possessed doubt, now they take their doubts seriously and allow those doubts to lead to further thinking and studying (70).

“Transitional explorers” are those who begin to take ownership of their faith. These people have a renewed sense of confidence. They are comfortable pioneering their own way through the endless number of ideas and doctrines and a fresh way to look at the Scriptures emerges. Alternative interpretations of the ancient texts become known and sometimes adopted. Other times these people become humanists or agnostics, as they believe it is more tenable to remain with nagging questions, rather than trying to force themselves to accept contrite answers. Jamieson’s “integrated wayfinders” find their way to a vibrant renewed understanding of God, and the world around them; they construct coherent theologies that make sense. They are not afraid of questions, in fact they encourage them because they have essentially been through the darkness and have arrived safely on the other side.

The HungerTruth community is unique in that it is in flux. Although there is a core group which is mostly composed of people who are either transitional explorers or integrated wayfinders, there are some who are beginning to question long held assumptions as they are exposed to alternative ideas and perspectives through the conversations. One individual commented that he could never attend a Bible Study again after experiencing the freedom to think through issues while listening to a real live discussion between a Roman Catholic apologist and a Unitarian Christian. There are no straw men being knocked down as ideas are typically represented by those who believe them. People who have joined our conversations are in each of the stages described above. It is my goal that our Truth Conversations will be a catalyst for growth and maturity. It can be unsettling at first for those who are looking for clear-cut answers and authoritative leadership but those who can regard answers as a long term goal on their spiritual journeys find our meetings very useful. We are striving to always learn and progress in our understanding of the world around us by encouraging each other to think, reflect, and expand our minds. Incoherent and contradictory ideas and exposed and change is encouraged. Our mentality is that we are in this together helping to bring solidarity and community.


Anonymous Wess Daniels said...

dan, hey check out the class wiki for the schedule of when the assignments are due, this post was late and we have a no-late rule, but I gave you 5 out of seven this time around. Book reviews are due on Wednesday and comments on your groups' blogs are due on sunday. Take care.

Here's the wiki:

2/20/2006 6:56 PM

Blogger David said...

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2/27/2008 12:53 PM


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