Updated: Mar 20
Only 46% of people in England and Wales consider themselves Christian, while 37% say they have no religion at all. It’s time for Christian Alternative.
Religion begins with experience rather than handed-down doctrines, so what are the raw materials of religious experience in today’s culture? Examples will include awe and wonder at the enormity of the universe, traumatic suffering through the loss of a child, the sense of the other through aesthetic experience, whether a walk in the hills, Cathedral Evensong, or a really good film, and moral indignation at, say, the injustice of a civilian family bombed out of their home or a protester for women’s rights being murdered by the police. The visceral feeling of anger at transparent wrong makes you think about the place of ethics in your life and asks how you should act yourself.
You might hope organised religion can help make sense of such experience. Then you discover there are theories in Christianity about God and salvation and scripture which really don’t ring true and there’s a sort of stand-off between religious experience and the Church – a set of organisations that in a secular society tend to veer towards the conservative. Can one have a heterodox and multi-faceted approach to Christian doctrine? What are the indispensable beliefs of the Christian gospel? Is there such a thing as religious instinct? Is religion inevitably tribal? What does inclusivity really mean in relation to religion? Are there limits to inclusion? (Let’s face it, Jesus speaks of sorting the sheep from the goats and tells stories like the wise and foolish bridesmaids, where one lot get into the marriage feast and the other lot are left outside.) These responses are ideas that crop up every day when people talk about their search for God.
Just as it would be a mistake to think that all those who say they have no religion are immune to the raw material of religious experience, so it would be a mistake to think that all of the 46% who claim to be Christian subscribe even to the minimalist baptismal creed of believing in God the Father, source of all being and life; God the Son, who redeemed mankind; and God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God.
What do you think? It’s time for Christian Alternative.
I am Publisher for John Hunt Publishing's Christian Alternative and this is the kind of questioning approach to Christianity I am interested in. I also want Spirituality for Questioners and those In search of God and will consider off-the-wall stuff as well, so long as it is a serious attempt to enhance and interpret the Christian tradition.