Sermon for Sunday, 1st November 2009 (All Saints’ Day) — 9 Comments

  1. Thank you for your sermon. You are clarity itself. “The one single point upon which the whole Christian faith rests is our belief that Jesus rose from the dead and made a way for all the saints who would follow him. If he did not, then life would be very melancholy indeed” Indeed.
    Please do not think me rude, and I am going to totally mis-quote someone, but scariest thing in the world is a man who is certain of his future.
    Just now I cannot recall the source of the quote, but I’m sure you grasp the sentiment.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians Chapter 15 sets out his belief that either the resurrection is true, or the whole thing is pointless. I would agree with him, if there is no resurrection, then the whole Christian business seems a rather silly waste of time. Anyone reading the daily papers in this country would quickly conclude that there is no way here that virtue is its own reward.

  3. Thank you for Indulging me in my amateur musings. But the statement “either the resurrection is true, or the whole thing is pointless” is surely a sophism. There are absolutely no other views of the world. What is wrong with the “whole thing” being pointless? Does that not leave room to develop non-theistic framework – such as humanism or varieties of it ?
    All of these beliefs or stratagies are surely man’s way of dealing with pointlessness.
    Or maybe it is as simple as the selfish gene of Mr. Dawkins.
    Tea time ‘philosophy and theology – isn’t it grand.

  4. The whole thing being pointless is quite a tenable position, and I would regard it as having more integrity than being a Christian who tries to ‘demytholgize’ faith, but for me a world without the hope of resurrection would be fundamentally amoral. I would prefer to take a Pascalesque punt on divine reward (and retribution!) than go down the path of nihilism, which I think would be the logical alternative.

  5. Thank you again. I have to say (and you must by now, expect me to say!) that I do not accept that nihilism is the logical outcome. Anyway, roll on the next sermon.

  6. If the abandonment of faith does not lead to nihilism, what reference points are there for constructing a ‘humanist’ perspective?

    I do not believe in the goodness of human nature: I was in Rwanda during the summer.

  7. I do not speak from a humanist viewpoint. To suggest abandonment of faith implies the existence of a faith in the first instance. Why think of such matters in a negative way? I am saying that lack of a belief in something greater than ourselves necessarily leads to nihilism.

    You do not believe in the goodness of human nature. Indeed Rwanda was horrible beyond words. But I would ask you to study the influence of the church (Roman Catholic, but that is of no consequence, any religious system would do) on the Tutsi people.

    I cannot believe other than in the inherent goodness of people. (Christianity, among others, comes to mind). Of course there are many who are not, or seem not, of such a gentle nature. There are many secular societies (cities, towns) to prove that people, in general, do not wish to hurt each other. Of course Capitalism slightly dents this argument.
    Onwards and upwards!

  8. I think I’m probably Dawkinseque in some of my thinking! Evolutionary science suggests competition and struggle are the order of things – and capitalism to me seems to be built into human nature.

    Do altruism and goodness not stem from social conditioning rather than natural inclination; co-operation in struggles being a more successful evolutionary model than a selfish individualism?

  9. If we co-operate in struggles surely that stems from ‘selfish individualism’ ? The self wanting to protect itself. Combing individuals together for a common goal is merely a combination of selfish invdividuals. I stil maintain that we are inherently good – circumstances may make some people ‘bad’ – such as the need to protect one’s family. If goodness (to each other) is not a natural incliniation, is badness the opposite?

    Forgive the garbled sentences – I’m in a rush out the door!
    You are more familiar than I with these arguments from your days of study .
    Onward christian soldiers…………

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