Children of “A Wandering Aramean

(Deut 26:5)

Thesis:

The three great monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share common roots. These go deeper than the texts that are accepted by two or more of the faiths, such as the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, and the traditions that are commonly claimed, such as the prophetic. The cultural impetus that gave rise to each of the three faith communities is strikingly similar, and this is so even though they blossomed in very different cultures. The time has come for each community of faith to recognize in the commonality of their origins a common religious mission to society and culture and a common challenge of reform.

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by Donald Schell

If I’ve framed this question as I mean to, it will probably sound nonsensical to two quite different groups –

            – One group includes post-Christian atheists, agnostics, apathetics, and “spiritual but not-religious” people, many of them my friends.  To them, the question will sound nonsensical coming from me, a priest of forty years, now an itinerant teacher and workshop leader, but still going to church every Sunday and happily covering as a supply priest in a variety of church settings as I’m invited.  They might tell me that they don’t have a clue what church is for, but don’t expect me to be asking the question, though maybe not.  Maybe knowing I don’t mean to provide an abstract doctrinal answer would make the question interesting to them.  Maybe it would get them wondering how church compared with other purposeful organizations and gatherings.  I hope so. Read More…


by John W. B. Hill

What can be learned about the ministry of ‘making disciples’ from the way Jesus did it? Surprisingly, in all the work that has been done to date in restoring the ministry of catechumenal formation in the church, remarkably little account has been taken of Jesus’ way of making disciples.¹

What follows is an attempt to apply some of the insights of René Girard in reading the Gospels² to unlock the question: How did Jesus make disciples, and – more to the point – what is the purpose of discipleship?

The four Gospels are not eye-witness accounts of the matter, nor may they be harmonized to form an aggregate account. Nevertheless, each of them informs the reading of the others; and even in their use of mythological forms of storytelling and culturally adapted detail, they serve as our primary witnesses to the nature of the gospel revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. What follows, then, is an attempt to explore the witness of the Gospels to Jesus’ work with his disciples, using Girardian insights. Read More…


OUR POST-CHRISTIAN WORLD

A friend of mine said recently that Christianity is incredible. He didn’t mean incredibly wonderful; he meant not believable. I had just said that, once American voters knew something of Mormonism, Mitt Romney would find his election chances dimming, since what voter with two feet on the ground could possibly believe in mysterious golden tablets buried in upstate New York, giving (in “reformed Egyptian,” a language unknown to anyone but the engineers of this hoax) a fanciful history of the Americas, featuring native Americans as the Lost Tribes of Israel? The Book of Mormon, supposedly a translation of these disappeared tablets, reads as a lame parody of King James English.

Despite our laudable American tolerance for religious difference (a tolerance born at last out of our long Western history of bloody religious intolerance), there is a large difference between allowing people to believe whatever they wish and failing to note that some beliefs stem from ignorance, madness, or credulous need — and that people who profess such beliefs should not be trusted to steer our ship of state.

My friend, however, a smart, secular man with a considerable scientific background, dismissed orthodox Christian belief as cavalierly as I had dismissed Mormonism. I didn’t ask him for particulars, but we can all imagine what these would be, starting with the Resurrection of Jesus.

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