“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its ZING, how will it be made salty? It then has no further use than to be thrown out and stomped on.” Matthew 5:13 (Scholars’ Version)
Thinking aloud about religion: a personal polemic
by Peter Turner
We believe Jesus was a real flesh and blood person who lived in the Jewish community of first century Palestine;
- We believe he taught ethics and ways of wisdom, as well as healing sick men and women;
- We believe his teachings are still relevant today and that when we apply them in our daily lives we bring the “Kingdom of God” into being, however fleetingly;
- We believe this ”Kingdom of God” on earth is open to all, whether believers or not, and that it may resemble a utopian democratic republic where no-one has power over anyone else;
- We accept no contradiction between reason and belief. Reason and common sense will always trump blind faith, indeed they are our most valuable aids in the search for truth in a world where there are more probabilities than certainties;
- Consequently we welcome the findings of the philosophers, scholars and archaeologists who over the centuries have cleared away biblical weeds and undergrowth so that each generation may glimpse Jesus more clearly than the one before;
- We agree with them that the quest for the authentic words and deeds of Jesus is vital if we are to avoid being sidetracked by forgeries and dubious theologies inserted into the bible by Jesus’ well-wishing followers or early church leaders seeking to manipulate and control the minds of believers;
- We support the actions of all those who follow in Jesus’ footsteps, genuinely trying to carry out his will with no thought for personal gain: such as the Catholic Workers who care for the homeless, the Quakers and their peace testimony, and the Anabaptists with their altruism;
- We acknowledge that Jesus’ message has been developed and amplified since his death by such activists as Gandhi ( ahimsa and satyagraha) and Martin Luther King (civil disobedience and non-violent direct action) as well as many others;
- We also acknowledge that terrible crimes are committed in Jesus’ name and we resolve to be at the forefront of those tackling the perpetrators and supporting the victims;
- We note that Jesus challenged the religious and political authorities of his day and we pledge to do the same as we put the interests of the weak and the oppressed before those of the powerful;
- We are challenged to feed the hungry, to liberate the enslaved and exploited, and to befriend life’s losers, misfits and marginalized with no thought for reward;
- We are enthused by Jesus’ companionship with those whom others despised, and inspired by his compassion for those in need;
- We believe in the teachings of Jesus, not the person of Jesus. He is not to be worshipped as, after all, he was only human and the circumstances of his birth and death are largely irrelevant and not verifiable;
- We acknowledge that Jesus cannot always be taken literally and we rejoice in his use of wit, aphorism, exaggeration, parable, hyperbole and contradiction to tell his story;
- We accept that his iron-age peasant mindset may never be fully comprehensible to us in the information-age, but the residual hardcore of Jesus’ life and teaching as uncovered by the scholars is enough to be getting on with. The chaff has been blown away to leave a kernel that can nourish the world. The words alone survive – in our books and in our hearts;
- We believe we should give Zing to the world like salt in a meal; and we are happy to be known by the fruit we bear .
Image: Maximino Cerezo Barredo (www.servicioskoinonia.org/cerezo/imagenes/) Text: “I have come to bring fire on the earth.” (Luke 12:49)
OVER THE NEXT 17 BLOGS I SHALL SPELL OUT WHAT I MEAN BY EACH OF THE 17 LINES IN MY “ZING CREED”. THIS MAY TAKE SOME TIME. I SHALL ALSO BE WRITING ON FRESH TOPICS IN BLOG 118 ONWARDS, AND RE-VISITING OLDER POSTS AND ADDING FRESH INFO. & IDEAS.
BLOG 75 IS AN INDEX OF TOPICS COVERED SO FAR.
BLOG 118 IS A PREVIEW OF THE NEXT HUNDRED TOPICS (I HOPE)