One mans religious journey: From Alpha to Omega in faith by Ewing Stevens
Ewing Stevens’ book is available through Nationwide Book Distributors in 351 Kiri Kiri Road, Oxford, Canterbury. Also through Auckland freephone 0800 459 459.
A review by Peter Creevey.
How can it be that my path has never crossed with that of this man?, I asked myself when I commenced reading One Man’s Religious Journey, by Ewing Stevens.
Although he states quite clearly that no two people will ever agree completely about theological issues, I sensed that I had come across a Kindred Spirit with whom I would enjoy walking, talking or working. His values and ethics I found to be unassailable.
He has worked productively and sincerely with Presbyterian, Methodist and Unitarian gatherings from Otago to Auckland, as well as with radio talk-back programmes from the old Waipiata TB Sanitorium (probably the first ‘pirate’ radio station in New Zealand), to those of Gordon Dryden and others in Auckland. He also edited a Methodist newspaper for some years. His writing, particularly his book ‘Jesus’ in 1973, took him into the elite company of those who, along with Sir Lloyd Geering, have been suspected by the Presbyterian Assembly of committing heresy. Even the hate-mail is re-printed in this book, and reads as vaguely pathetic conservatism in this time of shrinking congregations.
To look today at “The Book Jesus”, included in this autobiography, it seems to be a fairly innocuous, but valuable, discussion of the stories, myths, inserts and dogmatic additions to the Christian Bible. I was reminded of the recent publication “Why Weren’t We Told?”, which contains the views of many Progressive Christians in Australasia. Those studying at Knox College were introduced to Biblical scholarship, but also warned that they risked enraging or outstripping their congregations after they were ordained into the church.
To see most of the Gospels, miracles, parables, and other religious writings as metaphors rather than history - not to be taken literally - is today accepted by growing numbers of people, and is seen as giving huge new strengths to religious belief.
To add humility to “the full armour of God” is also a valuable trait to be developed by those who choose to live out the essential Christian message of love, that ‘agape’ which is unconditional, nonjudgmental, universal and practical.
Ewing Stevens put considerable energy into working with young people and listening to those outside formal religious institutions, finding this to be the cutting-edge of a lived personal faith. His views on the future of formal ‘churches’ and the ordained ‘ministry’ are pragmatic and forthright. The call for committed persons to become counselors, advisors, facilitators, therapists, chaplains, social workers, rather than to proselytize and to dogmatise, is a clear and valuable one.
This bio material appeared on the website of Nationwide Books at www.nationwidebooks.co.nz
Ewing’s life has known many twists and turns. He is still an ordained Presbyterian minister and has been a minister in another calling since 1979.
His faith has been shaped through illness for five years with tuberculosis, his theological training for the church, his experiences of the suicidal death of a son, the death of his wife and remarriage, the controversy over a book he wrote about the life of Jesus, his work over nearly twenty years with questioning and rebellious youth and fifty years of radio broadcasting.
Ewing has always questioned his Christian faith and some of the ancient doctrines of the Christian church in the light of the scientific age. The virgin birth of Jesus, the miracles, stories of Jesus’ resurrection, and the place of the Christian church in a world of many beliefs.
His aim is to encourage his readers to question what they believe and to be honest in their thinking about faith. And to encourage the adoption of a belief system that leads to a moral approach to the whole of life through this philosophical autobiography.