Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
1. In the beginning Man created God; and in the image of Man created he him.
2. And Man gave unto God a multitude of names,that he might be Lord of all the earth when it was suited to Man
3. And on the seven millionth day Man rested and did lean heavily on his God and saw that it was good. Jethro Tull, Aqualung
Here’s a fascinating little human interest story:
The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he's not the sort of man to sugar the pill.
The Exodus Church is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands
An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland.
It is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN), and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord's Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse's sermon seems bleak - "Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get".
"Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death," Mr Hendrikse says. "No, for me our life, our task, is before death."
Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.
I’m unsure what to make of the hymn-singing, bible reading and prayers. And Klaas actually equivocates by changing definitions:
"When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that's where it can happen. God is not a being at all... it's a word for experience, or human experience."
But he’s another Myther. Hurrah!
Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible's account of Jesus's life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.
And of course, he attracts detractors:
His book Believing in a Non-Existent God led to calls from more traditionalist Christians for him to be removed. However, a special church meeting decided his views were too widely shared among church thinkers for him to be singled out.
Sense is seeping in, slowly but surely:
A study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the PKN and six other smaller denominations was either agnostic or atheist.
It sounds more and more like the church I wouldn’t mind attending – had I the inclination to do so.
The Rev Kirsten Slattenaar, Exodus Church's regular priest, also rejects the idea - widely considered central to Christianity - that Jesus was divine as well as human.
"I think 'Son of God' is a kind of title," she says. "I don't think he was a god or a half god. I think he was a man, but he was a special man because he was very good in living from out of love, from out of the spirit of God he found inside himself."
Well, the mythical man-child also named himself ‘Son of Man’ as well – but that could very well be a Gnostic interpolation that slipped by the incessant censors.
Mrs Slattenaar acknowledges that she's changing what the Church has said, but, she insists, not the "real meaning of Christianity".
She says that there "is not only one answer" and complains that "a lot of traditional beliefs are outside people and have grown into rigid things that you can't touch any more".
And this little snippet says it all:
"In our society it's called 'somethingism'," he says. "There must be 'something' between heaven and earth, but to call it 'God', and even 'a personal God', for the majority of Dutch is a bridge too far.
Ah, the schisms of –isms, I’d rather have something that ends with an –asm. But that’s just me.
Till the next post, then.