Sunday, October 21, 2012

The fool says, "There is no God"

Today's sermon was just right.  Our Psalms reading was from the passage that begins with the title above.  But that's our usual mistake.  That's not what the Psalm says.  As Melvin very rightly pointed out, the verse says "The fool says in his heart...".  It's not a reference to atheists because, as Melvin put it, there were no atheists in those days.  People were ridiculously superstitious then and they believed one thing or another.  No, that last bit wasn't what Melvin said.  It would be indecorous to say that over the pulpit but my blog is not the pulpit.

Melvin brilliantly explained in the sermon that the Psalmist was talking about people who lived their lives as if God didn't exist.  It's how you treat your fellow men.  It's how you live your life that determines if you're a fool or a wise man.

I see a beautiful trend in most churches to stay away from the exclusive approach to religion.  It's no longer my dogma is better than yours but it's more a question of what can I do to show kindness to my neighbour.  The truth of Christianity is not something we should bother about too much or argue over.

Time saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy

Just last week, Rev Walton was installed as the new minister at Harvard.  See the Harvard Gazette.  In his brilliant inaugural sermon, he said, “It does not matter if Christianity is true, but rather can we, as those informed by the teachings of Jesus, make it true."  Students who were interviewed by the Harvard Gazette were of the opinion that Rev Walton fitted well with the rest of them in Harvard.  Let it not escape you that this is the USA we're talking about where 50% of the people believe the earth and the rest of the universe were created some 6000 years ago.  But then again, Harvard isn't exactly representative of the rest of that benighted country.

In Singapore, most Christians adopt the fundamentalism of America.  They are almost all evolution-denying, young-earth creationists.  American fundamentalists are prolific writers and it's very hard for Singaporean Christians who tend to have an exclusive diet of American fundamentalist books to stay away from this backward version of Christianity.  But in most traditional churches, it's always the lay parishioners who are fundamentalists.  The clergy tends to be more balanced.  As a pastor once told me (I don't want to mention his name here), you can't possibly be a fundamentalist if you have gone through the theological training of a proper seminary.  He was actually talking about biblical inerrancy and what he said precisely was no properly trained graduate of a good seminary could possibly accept the flawed view of biblical inerrancy.  He then proceeded to say that in his view, the Book of Revelation should not have been included in the Canon of Scriptures.  I can think of a lot more books than Revelation, particularly the pseudepigraphal epistles which readily come to mind.  These are forgeries which shouldn't be included in what the liturgy calls "the Word of the Lord".

Rev Walton's sermon is also pertinent to those of us who are struggling with our faith.  Truth and facts seem to have an uncanny knack of militating against faith so much so that we sometimes stand at the crossroads unable to decide whether we should walk down the path of truth or that of faith.   Rev Walton is saying that the truth of religion isn't important.  It's for us to create truth out of our faith by the way we live our lives in relation to others.

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