497: DON CUPITT PUTS ETHICS BEFORE BELIEF IN NEW BOOK

The arrival of a new book from retired Cambridge University academic Don Cupitt is always a pleasure. He’s been challenging all of us, in the church and outside, for decades, and long may he continue to do so.

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The gist of his latest work (March 2015) is that Christianity was split into two pathways from the word go. For more on this see Zingcreed’s Posts on James and the Jerusalem church and on Paul, listed below. One path stayed with the teachings of Jesus and the primacy of ethics. (That’s James and Peter in the church based in Jerusalem.) The other path started with the return of Jesus from the dead and therefore with supernatural belief. This is the successful church that St Paul founded.

Today ethics is sidelined and viewed as secondary or subservient to belief. Cupitt says we should give ethics priority in defining and shaping religious life.

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“No longer should we aim to conserve the self, preparing for eternity. We must simply expend it, by living generously.”

Source:
Don Cupitt “Creative faith. Religion as a Way of Worldmaking”. Polebridge Press (2015)

Related Zingcreed posts:
Dummies guide to Don Cupitt
Jesus’ communist brother James (I) His life
Paul vs Jesus
Kazantzakis: When Jesus met Paul
Saint Paul – a few notes
From Hebrew to Hellenist – how the church metamorphosed
Ebionites – the residual Hebrew Christians
How Emperor Constantine corrupted Christianity
Don’s dream: Cupitt and the kingdom

 

 

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3 comments

  1. For myself personally, I have always believed that Jesus’ ethical stance was his most important, and in fact find that belief in his divinity gets in the way of his essential message.

    1. Hi Barry, how’re things in NZ? I just saw a crazy kiwi film on TV about carnivorous sheep attacking the farmer. Sorry to read of your disabilities, if that’s the correct term. I’ve had Parkinson’s for 3 years, but it only affects one arm and hasn’t yet spread. “These things are sent to try us” as my mother used to say. Life must go on. I agree with your comment about Jesus’ ethics being more important than his divinity. I wrote a Post critical of Jesus’ ethics in the early days of Zingcreed (“He was racist, a liar…” etc with references from the gospels.) It just makes him more human, and doesn’t distract from the challenging nature of much of his teaching. If you want to write an article/critique for me I’d be glad to publish it.
      Peter

      1. I presume you’re referring to Black Sheep. NZ has a history of making comedy horror films. In fact that’s how Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Ring and King Kong fame) started out in film making.

        I’ve never considered them disabilities. Migraines are a real nuisance, and make planning next to impossible, but having lived with them for over 50 years, I’ve learnt to “go with the flow”. As for the autism, as I didn’t know I was on the spectrum for the first 60 years of my life, I’ve never even considered it a disability. In fact I prefer to think of ASD as not as “Autism Spectrum Disorder”, but “Autism Spectrum Difference”, if that makes sense.

        I’ve given up self identifying as Christian, as too many believers and non-believers make too many assumptions about what that label means, and I don’t fit comfortably into their preconceived definitions.

        I’m clearly not an atheist, as I have a sense or awareness of something other (although whether it’s a social/cultural construct, or something else, I don’t know). Sometimes it’s convenient to refer to it as “God”, other times as the “light within”, and yet other time it’s more akin to the idea of a “life force” as expressed Shinto kami or Maori mauri.

        Whatever, I’ll always have more questions than answers. Currently I’m not considering writing outside my own blog, as I’m still struggling to get ideas/thoughts out of my head and into Another Spectrum. But thanks for the offer.

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