Questions, Beliefs and Doubts (QBD)
At our last series of meetings we discussed Leaving Alexandria, an autobiography written by Richard Holloway, who was Bishop of Edinburgh from 1986-2000. He resigned from the position because of his outspoken views on the Church’s attitude to women priests and gay marriage. Reading his life story got us discussing about how the Church can become obsessed with its dogma and ritual and forget its humanitarian role.
In our last meeting we discussed some quotations from Bishop John Pritchard’s book God, Lost and Found. We found one particularly interesting – “In the Gospels Jesus doesn’t seem to be interested in people’s belief system. What matters to him is their relationship with the poor, with each other and with him”.
For our next 6 meetings we will discuss Rev’d David Haslam’s autobiography A Luta Continua (The struggle continues). It is an amazing account of how David has devoted his ministry to various struggles for justice from the Anti-Apartheid movement to the Methodist Tax Justice movement. His theology has been shaped by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and later Liberation Theologians and we plan to learn more about them and how we can put our Faith in Action.
David is a supernumerary based in Evesham and we are honoured to have such a campaigner for social justice in our Circuit.
Lim & Evelyn Ho
Our meetings are gentle explorations of people’s questions, usually drawing on the ideas of current questioning writers, but they are not academic seminars.
A group of people interested in exploring biblical and doctrinal issues has been meeting at Stratford Methodist Church since April 2016. We run fortnightly for five or six sessions and then have a break before starting a new series.
Twenty-three different people, mostly Methodists, but now including people from other denominations or none, as the word gets around, have attended at least one session. Some have decided that this is not for them, whereas for others, it is a welcome opportunity to explore questions, which have arisen for them, sometimes many years ago.
A similar group in Birmingham calls itself Heretics Anonymous because they have been considered to be heretical, lacking in faith for wishing to ask questions, so, in the past, they have kept their questions to themselves, often feeling somehow inadequate or insincere. There is for some a great sense of relief in finding that they are not alone in asking questions and rather than faith being decreased, it is actually deepened as they explore.
For many, the questions concern the issue of biblical inerrancy. Should we regard as literally having happened, everything, which we read in the Bible? What about seeming contradictions? What about scholarly discoveries regarding more recently discovered documents, or differences in translations? What do these stories imply for us today, in the way we live, our values, priorities, concern for others?
There is an increasing variety of books and sometimes DVD’s which help us to explore. We have considered such issues as what the Bible actually contains, Nativity and Easter stories, what Son of God might mean, watched a video of Bishop Spong explaining how questioning deepens rather than destroys faith. There are plenty more questions! The important issue is that this sharing of discussion helps us better to live out the faith to which we are deeply committed.