Imagine yourself a church building looking like a theater, without any sacred symbols, the community inside it embraces atheists and others who might want to maintain their religious orientation but do not necessarily believe there is a god.
There Sunday meetings (often held at “church hours”) are no “masses” but platforms where there are similarities to traditional religious services including music, community sharing and a sense of aesthetics. After a concert, conversations, songs and a discussion, a collection is taken up to support humanitarian causes…, this last week for victims of the earthquake in China!
No kidding! You have just entered the Society for Ethical Culture, in New York across Manhattan’s Central Park. Families bring their children to learn how to live in a world of diversity, respecting differences and finding common ground with others, being motivated to make a difference in the world.
This group whose motto is “Deed before Creed,” is, along with other US non-theist, atheist, agnostic and independent groups gaining ground in the United States. 16 % of the Americans see their spiritual dimension as “unaffiliated”, thus becoming the fastest-growing segment of the very complicated patchwork of American spiritual life!
Realizing this, it is not strange that books such as Christopher Hitchens’s “God is not Great,” Sam Harris’s “The End of Faith” and Richard Dawkins’s “The God Delusion” have all become US best sellers in the past three years.
Daniel Dennett, a philosopher who teaches at Tufts University says: “God is not exploding — which is what Nietzsche supposed — God is slowly evaporating before our eyes.”
1. This is the kind of church we are forming in Sweden when we take God and His absolute truth out of the picture. Take God away, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, His redeeming work on the cross and His purpose for our lives and the only thing left is an association. A group of well-willing individuals who take their life serious but are removed from their very roots. God is slowly evaporating before our eyes. I cannot refrain thinking about the Church in Sweden where tolerance, political correctness and Christendom have suffocated the life within it as it through a step by step approach has lost its lifeline and dependency on the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
2. Another “loud thought” I have relates to the tremendous commitment this group of people show as they consciously try to bridge the gaps between the many cultures, between the reality of life in New York and the rest of the (broken) world around them (all the way to China), raising their children as global, respectable citizens and trying to build a consciousness for their place in the world.
How many of us are doing that in our churches where so many of our so-called members have ample time to visit (! – I did not say minister) and hardly show any commitment to be part of the world changing overwhelming minority which was called out from the world and sent back into that world by Jesus Christ Himself?!
“Don’t ask me for the answers I’ve only got one; that a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son!” (Larry Norman, “the great American novel” on “only visiting this planet”)
Let us in dependency upon Jesus Christ follow His example and His commands to be a blessing to all nations. People, that’s the way I see it at the moment…