The diocesan rag (page 6) lays before the Niagara faithful the path of progress and enlightenment.
Original sin is out, as is propitiatory sacrifice and substitutionary atonement – what is there to atone for, after all? Gone is the Fall, the uniqueness of Christ and, it seems, theism itself. What is left, you might be wondering – evolution.
Change, of course, is difficult so for those feeling a little queasy about tossing out every major tenet of our belief system, the authors of this recipe for interfaith advancement, Rev Wayne Fraser and ACoC Partnership in Mission Officer, Dr Eleanor Johnson, offer the comfort of Missa Gaia. If that doesn’t do it for you, try listening to John Lennon’s Imagine: its emetic properties will induce the inevitable and help quell the waves of theological nausea.
The concept of Original Sin is the key to obsolete beliefs including propitiatory sacrifice and substitutionary atonement.
Likewise, to blame afflicted people for their personal torments is presumptuous in the extreme. God did not create us evil and prone to diseases as punishment for our fallen state.
Humanity is not fallen. Original Sin is not a concept even mentioned in the Bible. Original Blessing, its opposite, is, yet we allow ourselves to be “guilted” about Jesus dying for our sins. Instead, we see the Bible’s claim that God created the human race, all other species, our habitats and “saw that they were very good.”
The God we worship and serve is not an old man living above the clouds. We can call ourselves “a-theists,” people who do not worship a human-like, a human-made God. Many who have left church have done so because of the traditional image of God. Non-theism for most of us still attending church is uncharted territory, a new theological creation. Who or what do we worship?
We must start with a humble reading of the New Testament, with the brilliant hope, peace, joy and love put before us by Jesus. We experience God as an evolving Ground of Being, and the key word is evolution. Here’s where the most radical concept comes in: God is Love, is giving and receiving. God plunges into the breakdown of humanity’s connection to creation as Love in our loving.
We seek the wisdom and faith to explore our human understandings of God, for kindred spirits of other world religions and for this fragile earth, our island home. We see the destruction of the ecosystems and the mass extinctions of fellow creatures as crimes against God and all creation. We believe in caring for all species of creatures and their habitats. We welcome interfaith peace and inclusive justice for all.
A new era of Christianity is here and now but many are afraid to acknowledge it. It is here in our ecumenical and interfaith worship. We must give up our fantasy that Christianity is superior to other religions.
People of all faiths have in common an evolving experience of the Divine. True worship does not care a whit for the forms of our rituals. God gives no one the right to be militant. Jesus commands us to love God, our neighbours and ourselves. Change is difficult, in anything we do. It seems especially challenging in matters of faith.
We must, however, change or atrophy. Instead of condoning all the fears, threats and guilt induced in the past, let us rejoice in the complexity, beauty and mystery of all creation. All people come from God, we are imitators of Emmanuel and we are co-workers with the Holy Spirit.
For the beauty of the Earth,
sing oh sing today.
Of the sky and of our birth,
sing oh sing today.
Nature human and divine,
all around us lies.
Lord of all, to thee we raise
grateful hymns of praise.
—Paul Winter, Missa Gaia