Thursday, January 21, 2010

Leap of Faith

Desmond Tutu described the bible as a "library of books" and the point he was making was that we should read different parts in different ways. Some take the whole bible literally, for example, the people who have set up the creation museum in Kentucky Others choose to follow some bits and not others. When I was speaking about the bible with my friend Ian the other day he said "Yes but it is just a collection of stories". Over the past year I have been quite surprised at the historical accuracy of certain parts as put forward by historians as opposed to theologians.

Nicky Gumbel (Holy Trinity Brompton) poses this question - If Jesus was not the son of God - who was he? Either he was a lier or a fantasist. Nicky doesn't give any further options. I have turned to historians to assist me in trying to find an answer."The Unauthorised Version - Truth and Fiction in the Bible" has been a really useful resource. Its author Robin Lane Fox is an English historian, currently a Fellow of New College, Oxford and University of Oxford Reader in Ancient History.

Another incredibly useful book has been "A history of Christianity, the first three thousand years" by Diarmaid MacCulloch, who is Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford (since 1997) and Fellow (formerly Senior Tutor) of St Cross College, Oxford (since 1995). This has also been made into a successful BBC series which can be purchased on DVD.

Despite all this erudite reading I have to ask myself whether I am any further down the path of either atheism or theism. As a christian gentlemen said to me, clearly exasperated by my constant questioning - "It's called a LEAP OF FAITH for a reason!"

So I took a change of tack and decided to explore literature by christians that I admire - hence reading Desmond Tutu's biography. His brand of christianity is, if I believed, where I would sit most comfortably.

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