Tuesday, 4 September 2007

John Humphrys on Giles Fraser, and Giles Fraser on the resurrection (apparently it's a "don't know")

(Ed: The whole article is far too important for you to just read this bit, but Giles Fraser is a regular commenter on Evangelicals, and so I find this interesting.)

[...] It was his interest in atheism that made him take religion seriously. He did his PhD on Nietzsche, and theology became “a sort of hobby”. He immersed himself in the great theologians and, after years of looking into theology from the outside, he discovered that he was on the inside looking out. He realised that he believed in God. He seems genuinely puzzled by it.

There are many like him in the Anglican Church who share his scorn (if not contempt) for the more traditional approach to Christianity. He is embarrassed by “stupid” Christians thinking they know more about the nature of the universe than clever atheists like Dawkins. Ask him to prove that God exists – one of the subjects of his philosophy lectures at Oxford – and he cheerfully admits that he can’t. He goes further: “The so-called proofs of God’s existence are all rubbish.”

Ask him if the resurrection of Jesus Christ really happened and he says: “Umm . . . dunno . . . can’t prove it.”

Ask him about evangelical Christians and he snorts: “Evangelicals have misunderstood the Bible. They turn it into some bloody Ikea manual.”

Ask him to sum up the state of battle between militant believers and militant atheists and he says: “Atheists have the best arguments, which makes belief such a precarious thing.”

In hours of conversation over the kitchen table I have tried hard to pick a proper argument with him about theology – he teaches it – but I have failed. That’s partly because he freely acknowledges that theology is not some sort of intellectual platform on which faith can be built. He quotes Augustine: theology is “faith seeking understanding” – which means you get your faith first and then try to make sense of it. And faith is not a belief that certain propositions about the world are true. It is not grounded in rational argument and neither is there any good line of reasoning that can persuade one to believe. Belief just isn’t like that, says Fraser. So what is it like? Why does a believer believe?

What’s interesting is that you get much the same answer to that question whether it comes from a philosopher/vicar like Giles Fraser or a theo-logian/archbishop like Rowan Williams or an old lady who has never read a book on theology in her life and wouldn’t know the difference between an ontological argument and a pork pie. Why should she? Theology, as Fraser says, is not the foundation of faith. Read more

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Death of Radio Essex religious broadcaster

See Chris Bard's profile here.

From the Diocesan website:
Canon Chris Bard died suddenly on Sunday 2nd September 2007, aged 55, whilst travelling to Dublin on a broadcasting project.Read more

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Monday, 3 September 2007

Ten tips for promoting Back to Church Sunday

(Ed: I believe this is such an important event, I'm breaking my break to put this on the blog.)

If you can get some good editorial coverage before Back to Church Sunday, you will find this is far more powerful (and cost-effective) than any amount of paid advertising. Remember, though, you are competing against all sorts of other news stories, and the media needs real stories that will stand out of the crowd.

To help you start thinking about this, here are some things you might like to discuss. There is no pressure to do all of these – but if you can pick even one or two ideas that you think will work for you, you will be well on your way.

At the end of the list there is a generic press release which you may find helpful as a starting point. Please rework it appropriately to promote what you are doing in your church, and send it out to the media in your patch, preferably a week to 10 days before you are holding your BtCS service. Read more

Here are some local Essex/Cambridge/East Anglia addresses

BBC local TV: look.east@bbc.co.uk
B. Stortford Observer titles: observer@hertsessexnews.co.uk
Radio Essex: essex@bbc.co.uk
Radio Cambridgeshire: cambs@bbc.co.uk

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Taking a break

Ed: I'm taking a break for a few days. If Jesus returns I won't need to blog about it.
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