"Godness, as seen in Jesus"
Creating God, Re-Creating Christ: Re-imagining the Christian way in a secular world
by Ian Harris, published by St Andrews Trust. $12.95.
This review is by John Bluck, Dean of Cathedral, and is reproduced, with permission, from the December 1999 issue of Crosslink.
This is an audacious book.
In a mere 100 pages, journalist Ian Harris tackles the question that academic theologians fill volumes to address: "What does an authentic experience of God comprise?" With great clarity, he argues that we create God, rather than vice versa, but he's equally determined that it must be a living God we create, not a mere symbol. You can't attach the old labels of agnostic, let alone atheist, to this writer, though some will try. Nor is he despairing of the church, even though he believes it to be in terminal decline.
The Ephesus group he's pioneered seems determined to produce another, more coherent model of Christian community. His most telling argument with our present structures is they are distracted from their function of projecting the quality of 'Godness, as seen in Jesus'.
We need, he says, to start all over again. And he does.
Quite what that radical new beginning might look like wasn't developed enough to tempt me into giving up on what we've got. And there were times in the text when I felt the author skimmed too fast and lightly over too much history and theology in one breath. After all, the centuries when God is relegated to simply 'belonging in heaven' managed to produce some very down to earth divine experiences.
The most refreshing and rewarding feature of this book is the personal passion that drives it. Rarely do you find a post Christian, post modern, post church theologian offering a personal creed with an intensity of conviction to match any evangelical testimony.
The theology of this book you can argue with. That it comes from a man of faith is radiantly clear.
[In a subsequent Letter to the Editor of Crosslink, Ian wrote: "I do not regard myself as either post-Christian or post-church: I just want both to live more pointedly in the present. The book explores one way that might happen." You can obtain a copy of SATRS publications by contacting the St Andrews on Trust for the study of Religion and Society by email firstname.lastname@example.org