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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Wednesday, November 13 2002 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster "Atheistic Christianity"

Unsuccessful at pulling any topics from cyberspace through yesterday's pleadings, I'll return to one of my favorite topics and one I can always say something more about: worldview, "philosophy of life," which in my case inevitably brings in consideration of Christian claims and counter-claims, and religious foundations more generally.

I've been looking for upwards of 45 years for a clearcut statement of the premises of atheistic Christianity like one that recently came from Chicago Methodist Bishop Joseph Sprague. But first, I must define "atheistic Christianity." It's an attempt to create a Christianity that has no supernatural eternal creator-God, a "religion" that tries to make Jesus less than a miracle worker, less than the incarnation of the Creator himself, a historical figure whose body was hidden somewhere and not yet found; who may have arisen metaphorically but not historically. Atheistic "Christians" consider Jesus a teacher whose doctrines can still save mankind, but only if they're stood on their head and interpreted in the tongue-in-cheek manner He must have meant rather than the simple "declarations of the truth" the church has always held them to be.

This movement to humanize, demythologize, and historicize Christian doctrine began in the 19th century, mainly in German Protestantism. It has been gaining followers ever since, and has also been creating schizm in most so-called mainline Protestant denominations and controversy even in Roman Catholic circles, where it is a much smaller factor, but is still influential in that faith community's universities and seminaries. It was the underpinning of the "Catholic-Marxist" movement in Latin American Catholicism a couple of decades ago, "Liberation Theology," which has since been discredited as having no continuity with historic Christian doctrine and banned by the Pope.

Methodist Bishop Sprague has created a storm of controversy in Methodism by saying: "The middle-class church is looking for an escapist Christianity, " and, "A more dumbed-down theology is selling today, and it's marketed for consumer happiness." I'll take up more of his teaching and the implications of this form of self-indulgence, in the other two entries for this week. Meanwhile, if you want to see the bishop's comments in context, a transcript of a talk he made last January, which is a chapter of a forthcoming book he's having published and the center of the current firestorm, is available on a United Methodist organization's website, here.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Signs across America

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Thought for today

If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, whom would you call and what would you say?

And why are you waiting?

—Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

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