Oct 12 2009

October 2009 Newsletter/Talk

Published by under Newsletters,Talks

Dunedin Sea of Faith



Who Needs Jesus? –

Life in the 21st Century

Three people who were at the national conference reported briefly on the key speakers and introduced discussion on what they said about this topic.

Margaret Feist discussed Lloyd Geering’s talk. He said that Biblical criticism has forced us to distinguish between the Christ promoted by the Church – about whom we know a great deal – and the historical Jesus – about whom we can know little with certainty. As the influence of the Church, and the credibility of the Church’s Christ recede, what is the future, in the 21st Century, for the Jesus of history? Two questions to think about:
1. How is it that the main topic of the teaching of Jesus was the Kingdom of God, and yet the great creeds never mention it?
2. Which of these statements is closest to your own thoughts:
• The secular world and Christianity are totally incompatible.
• There is some conflict between the secular world and Christianity, but there is good in both, so the conflict must be resolved.
• The secular world is more Christian than we thought.

Alan Jackson discussed David Boulton, who invited them to be a jury, and to vote on two questions, using four categories from red (strongly yes) through pink and grey to black (strongly no):
1. Is Jesus still important to you?
2. Does Jesus have importance for the man in the street ?
Alan invited us to discuss these, too.
The 140 conference participants had divided into 8 breakout groups, each constituting a “jury”. After considering the evidence they were invited, in Jesus Seminar style, to vote red, pink, grey or black on a scale where red was the most positive affirmation of a relevant Jesus and black a clear verdict of irrelevance. On aggregation, votes were cast as follow:
personally/for ‘man’ in the street
Red 74/-
Pink 42/-
Grey 6/10
Black 2/3
Five abstentions were counted as yellow votes!
The verdict: Jesus is relevant. Jesus matters. He’s still worth standing up for!

Our voting resulted in:
14 red votes (Jesus very important)
13 pink (quite a lot)
with no greys or blacks – or yellows!
However no distinction was made between whether our votes held personal or general concern.

Marjorie Spittle looked at what Greg Jenks told us on his topic: What value is a first century Galilean holy man in today’s world? He said it was very important to establish first which Jesus we are talking about and outlined some difficulties that changing ideas on Jesus pose for us today . He outlined a number of allusions to Jesus made in Judaism, Islam and the East and ended by asking if Jesus has meaning for people of no religious faith.
She asked us to discuss:
1. How would you feel if you had only the historical Jesus?
2. To what extent do you think Jesus is relevant to people with “no religious faith’?

The five conference papers are available in full on the national Sea of Faith Conference Papers website .


About your committee:

The present committee has discussed some of the details for replacing or re-electing members when we come to our Annual Meeting in February.
We have been electing people for a three-year term, and we have agreed that only those who have completed three years, or have resigned, need to be replaced or re-elected. In 2010 three people:
Graham Batts, Gretchen Kivell and Geoff Neilson complete three years, and must stand down for at least one year before being eligible for election again. Three other committee members are entitled to continue:
Ian Fleming, Andrew Meek and Bruce Spittle.
We propose that, to help ensure continuity, the retiring Chair, as the Immediate Past Chair, will automatically be a member of the committee for one year. This will apply at the 2010 AGM to Geoff Neilson. We also propose that a Newsletter Editor, Treasurer and Website Publisher be elected each year. If they are not already members of the Committee, they will become part of it. There will be no time limit on these positions. At present the Newsletter Editor is Donald Feist, and Ian Fleming is both Treasurer and Website Publisher.

So – we are now calling for these nominations for 2010:
1. A Chairperson [to be elected for three years]
2. Three new committee members [to be elected for three years]
3. A Newsletter Editor, a Treasurer and a Website Publisher. [to be elected for one year – the present holders of these positions are eligible for re-election]

Nominations must reach Geoff Neilson before mid-January, and preferably before Christmas. Committee membership is interesting, and not onerous. For a number of years we have met only once, late in January, and occasionally done some business by email, or after our monthly meeting.




by Lloyd Geering, with a foreword by Margaret Mayman, and published in 2005 by St. Andrew’s Trust for the Study of Religion and Society.

This short book of only 56 pages is a prophetic work. Lloyd Geering describes the global crisis facing the world community because of man-made damage to the environment. Humanity needs to live with the environment in a state of equilibrium. This is a matter of survival of life on earth.

The author then deals with the link between theology and moral attitudes to the environment. Bad theology has destructive attitudes to the environment. He laments the dualism that contrasts the physical and the spiritual worlds. Such theology insists that the spiritual world is of real value. The physical universe is temporary and expendable, so why not exploit it and help to destroy it? In contrast to those destructive attitudes, we need theology that is monistic, theology which insists that this is the only world there is. We need to look after it, or else everything will be lost. This is a call to morally responsible action to save our planet from destruction.

How people understand God has environmental consequences. Lloyd Geering challenges us to get rid of the image of God as a ruthless warrior, and as our Father in heaven. We need to re-image God in ways that value this physical world, and promote life-enhancing and environmentally sustainable behaviour. The book’s last chapter introduces the reader to a new range of greening rites and festivals to better enable us to have compassion for the earth. Good theology is good for the environment. This is truly a prophetic book.

– Peter Wishart, Sea of Faith Librarian


Chairman: Geoff Neilson – Phone 489-6727 – Email: Geoff

Newsletter Editor: Donald Feist – Phone 476-3268 – Email: Don

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