IS GOD OBSOLETE?
For many, the question is unthinkable. For others—led, notably, by dissident thinkers within the church — it is a cry of doubt in the search for meaning in a fast-changing world. Can Canada's churches live without the God they proclaim?
IT DOES TAKE A LITTLE adjusting to. but the most revolutionary Canadians around — tied only with the separatists — are Christian clergymen. On any given morning, including Sundays, clergymen may be heard advocating abortion reform, cold beer at picnics, respect for homosexual marriages, mass picketing of strikers and an exodus of United States soldiers from Vietnam. They may also add that the Bible contains a certain proportion of bilge and that God does not keep an eye on the sparrow, mainly because God does not have eyes. Or ears.
A great many Canadians, particularly those in ever-thickening cities, arc indifferent to Christianity and therefore are not intrigued by the recent debates as to whether the Red Sea parted or Jesus walked on water, or even that God may be dead. But regular church-goers by the millions are aware that religion is undergoing an upheaval only a year or two old that is touching Christianity to its roots.
A middle-aged Canadian who became a Sunday-school dropout a few decades ago could not recognize his old church today. Fire-and-brimstone sermons are Camp; little children learn their lessons from a curriculum that stresses the existentialist question, “What am I?"; teenagers sing the hymns with a Beatle-beat, accompanied by amplified guitars; the ladies' auxiliary pours coffee on skid row; the pastor wears a sports shirt, knows a lot about Erich Fromm and cybernetics, and detests the way religion is taught in schools.
There is even a church union, quite apart from the tough chess game being played at conference tables. Ever since Selma. Alabama, when priests. Baptists and Jews marched shoulder to shoulder between jeering white Southerners, likeminded men and women in and out of all faiths have shared an intense sense of comradeship. This fraternity is duplicated by those clergymen who call themselves Christian humanists, or Christian agnostics, or Christian atheists; they may be laying the groundwork, some say. for a third Testament.
“ There are only a few cd' us." one young United Church rebel said recently, “but we would die for one another."
For the first time in living memory, religion is front-page news. Religion editors of newspapers used to be white-haired ladies, clad in menopausal hues, who glided about sepulchrally and put the carbon paper in their typewriters backward. Today religion editors tend to be brash young hipsters, who win national newspaper awards for scoops.
Canadian newspapers deal daily with God, as with Gerda. They proclaim sometimes that God is dead, sometimes that man is dead and God is alive, sometimes that the word God is an anachronism, like prithee, and should be dropped from the language. A satirical tabloid last May bannered the headline: (iotl Is Alive In Argentina.
Aunt Sally also appears regularly in the newspapers. She’s the lady in Oxbow, Sask., who is offended because her minister is suggesting that the Old Testament is full of myths; she's never known a pastor to talk such / continued overleaf
continued / nonsense. Aunt Sally is also the head of a renowned Protestant theological college, who is distressed because the highest-ranking clergyman in his denomination calmly tells reporters that he doesn't believe in the Holy Ghost, "or any ghosts, for that matter." Aunt Sally also appears in the press in the form of the dignified Roman Catholic prelate who fights the high title of laymen and priests who do not find the use of contraceptives inconsistent with their faith: the substance of the prelate's argument is this: “Not yet! We'll tell you when."
UNI SAI tv is NO i to be taken for a lusty old fool. She finds herself a paying passenger in a once dependable bus, which now seems to have changed direction and clearly is gathering speed. She's demanding, reasonably enough, to know' where it's going, who’s up front in the driver’s seal and whether she'll survive the trip. When she asks, she gets baffling answers. A young divine, uncertain but earnest, tells her. "It's sort of Christianity without religion." "You're mad." decides Aunt Sally, plotting to get control or change buses.
The conflict has moved into the pulpits, more in the form of what the clergy is not saying •—hell fire, Jonah and Thou Shalt Not have almost disappeared — rather than the vague do-good homilies they still prefer. It shows itself most dramatically in the revised Sunday-school text books, the omissions in the new prayer books and hymnals, the democratization of the liturgy, the movement of altars in Roman Catholic and Anglican churches away from the back wall of the sanctuary to a central position, a deployment that catches the nuances of "God among us" rather than "God out there somewhere."
But bookstores are the front lines. Church of England Bishop John A. T. Robinson in 1963 fired the first and still the biggest blast with his book. Honest To God, a scholarly book about
theology w'hich continues to sell 500 copies every week in Canada. It included such observations as. " The only intrinsic evil is lack of love." and. "The New' Testament says that Jesus was the word of God, it says that God was in Christ, it says that Jesus is the son of God: but it does not say that Jesus was God, simply like that.”
Robinson’s major contribution is that he made dusty theology as current as Batman. Paul Tillich, an intellectual mystic and clergyman, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor hanged by the SS for conspiring against Hitler, belonged to the academicians until Robinson quoted them substantially and laymen made the discovery that both wrote with electric clarity. Tillich is quoted as saying, for instance, "You must forget everything traditional that you have learned about God, perhaps even that word itself"; and Bonhoeffer, "Man has learned to cope with all questions of importance without recourse to God as a w'orking hypothesis ... It is becoming evident that everything gets along without ‘God.’ and just as well as before."
This is atheist talk, they are saying in the pews, but the significance of the ferment in the church stems from the central fact that it is clergymen — and often the most distinguished and thoughtful ones at that — who are making waves. Tillich. Bonhoeffer and Robinson are passionate Christians. Tillich believed that God is "the infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of all being." a pious statement: he defined the word God as meaning depth.
Bonhoeffer believed that the development of conscience, humanity and self-reliance in individuals is God’s work, which is hardly heretical. "God is teaching us that we must live as men who can get along very well without him." he wrote. Robinson finds God in the trustfulness between people. “To open oneself to another unconditionally in love is to be with him in the presence of God." he asserts. It is a replica in modern language of comments made repeatedly by Jesus Christ.
The book Honest To God was the catalyst that elated a few clergymen in every denomination, some of them elderly and wistful, some middleaged and restless, some young and irritated. They were united by a common difficulty in finding prayer useful (the first doubt to trouble Robinson). or that God, as an interested, punishing presence, could be true at all.
“Honest To God wats a watershed in religion,. like Bach's polyphony in music," explains the United Church’s Reverend Donald A. Gillies. "Robinson was saying, 'Let's level with the people for once,' and it made sense to a lot of us."
C lillies. 32 and a big, shambling, articulate man who is active in civil-liberty causes, once preached a sermon in Bloor Street United Church in Toronto. which he titled "Christian Atheism." In it he spoke of living in the uncomfortable real world ol men and affairs rather than insulated, unreal faith, and of enduring a universe in which God is silent. Though he didn't say so. there was an implicit suggestion in his sermon that regular church-going wats not his favorite demonstration of Christianity.
i t Lit Tin: SERVICE, he stood at the church door for the ritual handshaking and received exactly the same murmurs of appreciation that preachers always are accorded. Only one person, a not - young woman, paused thoughtfully. "I thought you were going to end your sermon by softening it. you know.” she said. "Maybe by saying that the old things are all right after all. But you didn’t."
Gillies replied levelly, “No, I didn’t."
Such crackles in the pulpit are still rare: the. real thunder in theology is coming from printing presses. Since Honest To God, religion sells on bookstands with all the alacrity of a Fanny Hill Meets Leonard Cohen. The titles are loaded: Let God Go T ree, A Time Tor Christian Candor, The Restless Church, A New Look At Relief. Thet
What does "God" mean to clergymen—and you?
THE REVEREND LESLIE K. TARR is administrator of Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto, a training school for Evangelical Baptists. Two years ago tubercular meningitis put him in a wheelchair, obliging him to give up his pulpit in Winnipeg. Dr. John M. Wilkie, a Scot, and a United Church minister, is the newly ap-
pointed chaplain of St. Andrew's College in Aurora, Ontario. The Reverend Ernest W. Harrison, an Anglican and author of Let God Go free, once observed. "There is no need to use the word God today—it is just not needed.” These three devout clergymen, representing respectively the fundamentalist point of view,
the traditional approach to Christian beliefs, and what might be called the Christian seekers, were asked the same 12 questions, the chestnuts familiar to all theological debates. The reader, picking his way ecumenically through the replies, can determine for himself what brand of Christian he is.
Where is God9
Farr: God is a spirit. Flo's everywhere and can't be confined to any one place, certainly not a building, not even a church. I can't visualize God at all. Jesus said, he who has seen me has seen God. so I get a glimpse of God when I contemplate Jesus. Not what He looks like, but Elis moral and spiritual characteristics.
Wilkie: We tend to want to locate God in a given place, but God escapes these categories. "God is dead" means that for many people God isn’t significant. I believe in the reality of God — He fills the experience of those who believe in Him. Harrison: 1 find the word has no meaning in
New Reformation. The Comfortable Pew. The Secular City. Vestries everywhere are full of them Last May a dog-eared copy of Four Existentialist Theologians was found on a desk in a Baptist seminary, and an evangelical minister in -a Gospel Temple was interrupted in his vestrywhile reading The Abolition Of Religion. "Gives definition to your own position." he explained affably.
The mood of open inquiry is not universal, of course. Dr. Earl S. Lautenschlager, principal of Emmanuel College in Toronto, the United Church's largest theological college, has removed cver\ book of radical theology from his library. "I didn't give them away,” he told the United Church Observer. "1 threw them away.”
( li's a digression, but the schism between the old and new in religion is nowhere illustrated more vividly than with Dr. Lautenschlager, whose personal style is Bible-thumping, and the present Moderator of the United Church, Dr. Ernest M. Howse, a Newfoundland intellectual who is a cool liberal. Asked about the physical ascension of Jesus following the resurrection. Dr. Howse had no hesitation a year ago in saying it was an absurdity, adding a picturesque description of the astonishment of early astronauts if they had encountered a fully-dressed adult male rising calmly, at right angles to their orbit. Dr. Lautenschlager, for his part, seriously believes in the power of the devil to possess souls. Both men maintain the superficial cordiality required of their high positions. but it is clear to all hands that each represents what the other dislikes most in a theologian. )
The tough candor of the paperback books on religion is being matched these days by religious periodicals, many of which bear names as virile as those of male cosmetics. The bulletin of the Youth Department of the World Council of Churches, for example, is called Risk. The United Church of Canada selected Dead Or Alive as the title of its 1966 report of the Board of Evangelism and Social Service. A mutinous Roman Catholic
publication in California is called Ramparts. It rarelv goes to press without roasting Pope Paul; "the Barry Goldwater of the Vatican" is a relatively mild sample.
HE PRESENT STORM in Christianity has one of its roots in a little-know n collection of comment. Essays And Reviews. published in England in the 19th century by such eminences as Frederick Temple, later an Archbishop of Canterbury and father of William Temple who also became Archbishop of Canterbury. and Benjamin Jowett. Master of Ball iol College, Oxford. These two. along with others of similar distinction, wrote in cautious phrases that religion must fit itself to the emerging world of scientific discovery, which at that period included Darwin's theories on the evolution of species.
The resultant uproar can be imagined, since a century later many parts of Christendom — Alberta, for a handy illustration — still cannot abide such notions. Two of the minor contributors to Essays And Reviews were selected to be tried for heresy. One had doubted that Moses wrote Genesis, particularly those passages written after Moses recorded his own death, and the other had trouble with the belief that non-Christians would be eternally damned. Both were convicted of heresy, but the Privy Council, in an appeal, later reversed the judgment — “dismissing hell with costs." someone commented dryly.
After that, and almost without interruption for 100 years, theologians kept their doubts to themselves. The history of Christianity is strewn with the tattered wrecks of clergymen who could not keep a civil tongue in their heads: Martin Luther, who would be amused today to know that his Roman Catholic faith has accepted almost all the reforms he once nailed on the church door in Wittenberg: John Wycliffe. who never stopped thinking of himself as a Catholic priest; William Booth, spurned by the Methodists; John Wesley,
who suffered the same fate from the Church ot England: Harry Emerson Eosdick, an American and almost a contemporary, who didn't care for hypocrisy.
"Facts well known to clergy and taught throughout theological seminaries now for at least (lie last 50 or 60 years are news to persons outside the theological world." writes Dr. William G. Berry, a United Church minister for 50 years, in To Re Heutest, a book based on sermons he has given in St. Paul's-Avenue Road church in 1 oronto. "There is a great gap between the pulpit and the pew in matters of religious knowledge and belief. Ibis is because the clergy and the church have not been as honest as they should have been. They have not stated tacts that might disturb faith. They have had one teaching for the informed and educated and another tor the uninformed . . . The time has come to close the gap.”
“You preach to two congregations.” agrees Dr. J. Harry Faught. a mild-spoken political economist and doctor ot theology who. as president ot the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, represents about a million Canadians. "Ministers are in a very difficult position, on a fence. They try to reach both the avant garde and those with oldtime system of thinking. But they can't stay there in no-man's land much longer.”
The Reverend Ernest W. Harrison, the Anglican who is associated with the God-is-dead theologians. to his distress, because he has said. "The idea of a super-being is difficult to understand and believe in," decided as a young priest that he would not fake in the pulpit. He told his congregations in England and in Quebec that he couldn't understand what prayer was about. "Em having trouble with this and 1 know it's because Em lacking.” he would say. "I hope you'll understand and Ell do the best I can."
He was comforted by the reaction to his confession. Most of his congregations were sympathetic. or even relieved to find their pastor shared their own difficulties with prayer. Only a few were indignant — not / continued on page 31
terms of where or who. It's a label 1 would like to see left on the shelf, but if 1 must put that label 1 would say God is all the great relationships between people and the recognition that man has freedom and dignity.
Do you believe in the virgin birth?
Tarr: Yes, 1 believe in the virgin birth. God being a supernatural being. But I m not going to say that someone can t be a C hristian without accepting virgin birth. I o deny the virgin birth, however. would he to deny the Bible at that point. Wilkie: The virgin birth is not central to the New Testament and more freedom of opinion can he allowed here. I accept what it stands lor. Harrison: It's completely unimportant. 1 don't know whether it’s a historical tact and I dont care. Em not prepared to say it didn t happen, but 1 can't waste my time with it.
Was Jesus Christ divine?
Tarr: The divinity of C hrist is the central affirmation of C hristianity. It is essential to laith that Jesus was not just a good man. more inspired by God than other men, but that He was also God.
Wilkie: The divinity of C hrist is very real to me. It’s what unites Christians, however else they may differ. 1 don’t believe the person of Jesus exhausts the Godhead, but the Godhead poured into him fills him completely. Charles Lamb said it Shakespeare walked into the room we would ail stand, but if Jesus walked into the room we would kneel. Harrison: Divinity of Christ depends on the definition ot Ciod. Jesus, I tind, is a man who knew' himself to be a man and was fully a man.
Do you believe in the physi c ‘a l re su rre ctio 11 ?
Tarr: Yes, and in the physical ascension of Jesus, «oing up to heaven as a corporate body. 1 believe that while God is a supernatural being. Jesus is still a corporate body today. 1 have no idea where He is and it doesn't bother me. The universe is very large and you display your ignorance if you become skeptical of a physical location for Jesus because of the feats of spacemen.
Wilkie: The scriptures deal with a mystery here. St. Paul spoke of a "spiritual body” — that's a very curious phrase, combining two categories.
The contusion iies in the difference between Greek psychology, w'ith its sharp distinction between body and soul, and the Hebrew view of man. which regarded him as an animated body, into whom God had breathed His own Spirit. What is meant, 1 think, is that the spirit of Jesus was raised from the dead with a recognizable identity. 'The physical ascension is part of mythology. I don't mean myths can he dismissed out of hand, the spirit behind the myths is very significant. but the physical ascension should be understood as being "caught up in glory." Harrison: 1 hate dogma. It's a very sophisticated miracle. Em not a sufficient historian to analyze the scripture fully but my personal feeling is that Jesus did rise — though not physically. It's not the centre of my faith.
Do you believe in life after death?
Tarr: Em persuaded on that point. Browning said that man was not born to die. Our vocabulary breaks down here — we don't know' if w'e will look the same but it will be a personal experience. Everyone who ever lived is alive somewhere. Even if the Bible didn’t / continued on page 32
IS GOD OBSOLETE? continued front pape 9
“There’s no use praying — but don’t say it in the pulpit”
because he had doubts, but because lie hadn't kept them to himself.
Dr. Howse has had a similar experience. His views have brought him mail from ministers and laymen across the country, expressing gratitude for removing a heavy load of guilt from their backs because they had felt their inability to accept the supernatural in the Bible made them unfit for Christianity.
“The reason all this debate about religion is coming as such a shock to the people in the pews,” Dr. Howse notes, “is because ministers haven't been passing along what they are taught in theological schools. We've been cushioning the shock for the past 40 years, when we knew better.'
Shoptalk among august theologians is indeed startling to laymen accustomed to soporifics. A panel of brilliant men gathered in Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto a year ago to discuss a new book on Judaism. One panelist, Dr. Emil Fackenheim, a rabbi who is professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, put a question to Dr. Markus Barth, the shy. intense son of orthodox religion’s great defender. Karl Barth.
“We live in a world which is largely godless, or else in a world in which ( iod does not live,” said Dr. Fackenheim quietly. "Martin Buber said after Auschwitz that God was eclipsed. Can one accept a God of love after Auschwitz?”
Barth’s answer was long and agonized. In it he said, “Of course God died at Auschwitz and maybe it is all right that He did. The God of Queen Victoria died at Auschwitz, the God (4' class distinctions, of churchism and establishment. The only answer can be found w'hen God proves himself living. I trust that God is alive.”
Outspoken Christian liberals are being asked, often with pejorative bitterness, why they stay in the church at all if they find so little inspiration in traditional beliefs. They answer, variously, that religion, with its trappings of rituals, superstition and obedience, is anti-Christ. They say they arc rebelling, as Jesus did, against authoritarianism, empty pomp and idols: they are praising, as Jesus did, self-realization and openness to all men without prejudgment. The Reverend James Fisk, a lanky, red-headed Anglican who offers uncritical friendship to Toronto intellectuals as well as an assortment of winos, homosexuals, prostitutes and other losers, once commented, “1 try to be a searcher. I don t know if there s a word for it — I call it Christian.”
There’s a technique, apparently, for preaching without being either insincere or scandalous. A gentle old minister, whose credulity could not encompass such Biblical celebrities as Noah, has been preaching for 45 years in Canada without mentioning Noah's name. “There’s really no point in praying,” a younger minister offered off-handedly, “but you never say that in the pulpit. However, you never advise someone in trouble to go out and pray either.”
The theologians poke away at their resolving convictions with troubled
minds, but around them Christianity's multiple denominations are in the vigorous process of incorporating reforms that reflect most of the new criticism. The Roman Catholics are undergoing the lustiest transition, marked by healthy tolerance of impertinence. Their revolution is so fastmoving and significant for all the
world that it must be dealt with later, in a further Maclean's article.
The Protestant churches also are undergoing profound renovations. Most of them have witnessed services that incorporate rock 'n' roll, an innovation to attract young people (which has an astonishingly uplifting effect on their elders as well).
1 ast spring Applewood United Church in Cooksvillc. Ont., permitted its teenagers to arrange their own confirmation ceremonies. The young people picked guitars and folk music for an accompaniment, offered a simple short prayer and then three speeches on "What Christianity Means To Me." which were over in seven and a half minutes, total. The ministers sat in the congregation.
The evangelicals, often accused of faith-preoccupation to the exclusion
of the rest of the world, are talking relevancy. "We’re getting hack to where we should he.” says the Reverend Leslie K. Tarr, administrator of Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto. “A Baptist should he interested in social questions, make a contribution in political and social areas.” T hundering, clenched - list oratory is out-of-date, it seems; the new look of the evangelist minister is restrained, reasoning.
The Unitarians, conversely, feel they’ve concentrated too long on intellectual and moral development to the neglect of the aesthetic. Mrs. Doris Dodds, the only Canadian member of the Unitarian board of trustees, which tends Unitarianism in North America, predicts that austere Unitarian churches will soon have music, art, poetry and dance as part of their regular services. "We have to be careful with this,” she adds. “It reminds
many people of the religions they left.”
The Anglican Church, while it has moved in the direction of revised curriculum, liturgy and prayer and is mulling over the marrying of divorced persons, is maintaining the pace and passion of a vintage glacier. Its conservatism may be a factor in the decision of Canon Michael Créai and the Reverend Ernest Harrison, the men responsible for commissioning Pierre Berton to w-rite The Comfortaide Pew, to abandon jobs at church headquarters and become teachers.
Sooner or later, however, a new alignment will take place in most of Christianity. Many are prophesying an acceleration of the lateral shifts that already have begun, with distressed fundamentalists moving in with the Baptists or Jehovah’s Witnesses in search of stability, and the liberals in the fundamentalist churches finding themselves at ease only with humanists, whether atheist. Roman Catholic or Anglican.
In the future, many agree, denominations will coalesce in new groups based on the degree of religiosity of the adherents. The fundamentalists will clump together in a faith likely to be known as Evangelism, and the traditionalists, mildly detached from the Old Testament but retaining a degree of supernaturalism, will form an ecumenical block largely made up of the Anglican and United churches. The religious liberals probably will opt for a churchless fraternity, with the ministers — like France’s w'orker priests -— working in the world as cab drivers or psychologists or coffeehouse proprietors.
The present turmoil in the church would have delighted that very modern man, George Bernard Shaw. He once wrote: "A church that has not enough energy to cut dead wood out of its ritual and lead its people instead of lagging centuries behind them is no real church at all.”
In 1966, the church in Canada is
very real. ★
WHAT DOES “GOD” MEAN? continued from page 9
“Jesus was too great a man to fiddle around with magic”
teach it, thought about it would lead
! to that belief.
Wilkie: Yes. I’m fairly orthodox about this. It isn’t very meaningful to many in this 20th century,but I believe that there can be no end to the love of God.
Harrison: 1 have no information on that at all. I’ve never yet made any decision which is a function of that belief. It affects my life not at all.
Do you believe in prayer?
Tarr: Prayer has the power to change things, if it is in God’s will. I don’t believe it is a good thing for all requests to be granted and. sitting in this wheelchair. I have more right than most to say that. But the emphasis of some Christians on the future, that the present should be endured because God will take care of His own. is not mine. God can intervene now in men’s lives. But in the face of such horrors as the six million Jews who went to the oven, I can say nothing. I cannot answer how God did not answer those prayers.
Wilkie: Yes, I believe in prayer. But set prayers are not necessarily the answer. Man should seek to live in an atmosphere of prayer, always aware of God’s love. To work is to pray and I tend to side with the Scottish divine Alexander White, who said that public prayer is an unnatural act. Harrison: Yes. 1 believe in prayer, in the power of prayer, but 1 describe it very differently now than I once diii. If it is in the direction of requests and pleas to a God who will protect and guide in response to those pleas, then I don’t believe in prayer. But if it is a discovery of the real life of people, then I do. T o the extent that we are discovering one another, we are praying.
i Do you believe in original sin?
Tarr: The teaching that infants are consigned to hell comes straight from hell, but 1 do believe that by nature the disposition of everyone is to do
wrong. Man’s sinful nature today stems from that original transgression that shaped our nature.
Wilkie: Of course, it’s all around us. A baby is born into a world of clashing w'ills. where there is not complete understanding, and where violence and brutality become part of its world.
Harrison: Man is essentially good. The doctrine of original sin as reported to me by the theologians is offensive.
Do you believe in the literal truth of the Bible?
Tarr: You have to be careful here. Jesus said. I am the door, and that’s obviously poetical. But within the ordinary usage of language, I believe all the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God.
Wilkie: No, no. I taught the Old Testament for six years and I believe in the critical approach to the scriptures. You must judge the Word according to the best scholarly tools available and yet be prepared to be judged by it to decide what God is trying to say.
Harrison: I don’t believe in the literal truth of anything. Life is far too imaginative and creative to be tied down. Scientists also get literal about their disciplines and I resist them. too.
Do you believe in miracles?
Tarr: If you accept the supernatural Ciod. of course you can accept miracles.
Wilkie: As far back as we can go, there is an irreducible element of miracles in the Bible. 1 don’t believe Jesus performed his miracles in order to gain acceptance, but out of compassion. A man so transfused with the divine is bound to break forth on the world of men with extraordinary powers.
Harrison: 1 believe that Jesus heals people because of the response they could make to him, as fully man. If
that is a miracle, then I believe in miracles; but if a miracle is a magical event changing the normal process of nature, then 1 not only don’t believe in miracles; I find them distasteful. Jesus was too great a man to fiddle around with magic.
Is Sunday the Lord's day?
Tarr: It could be any day, with all the changes in the calendar since the day of C hrist’s resurrection, but I do believe one day a week should be reserved for worship and rest, in which no one should do unnecessary work. Wilkie: Sunday is a Christian day, very significant as a celebration of the Lord’s rising. 1 don’t think, however, that the minority has any right to impose its views on the community at large. Christians, you know-, are a minority.
Harrison: No. Every day is a day for religion.
Is Christianity the only true religion'?
Tarr: Yes. I’m not suggesting that there is nothing good in other religions but that they are inadequate explanations of God and the universe. Wilkie: It is obviously the only true continued on page 34
con tin tied
religion for the Christians, but that doesn’t mean that we should dismiss as worthless the religions of other people. I believe Christians are going to come to the point of accepting other faiths as meaningful.
Harrison. No. Truth is universal and can’t be boxed up.
Do you believe in hell?
Tarr: Yes. In the Bible, hell means eternal separation from God in a conscious existence. If hell isn’t an inferno, then it must be worse.
Wilkie: There is room here for agnosticism. Hell is isolation, alienation. We humans create the essence of hell for ourselves and for one another. But when Jesus was asked about this, He
put off the questioners, telling them to strive to enter the narrow gate. It’s God’s business, not ours.
Harrison: What’s hell? The Bible has three definitions. If hell is a place where an authoritarian God punishes the disobedient, it’s a monstrosity of a doctrine. If it represents that our actions have consequences and that those consequences can hurt, well then . . . ★