The group tends to limit itself to Christian Theology, although relations with people of other faiths and none inevitably form part of our discussion.
Theology literally means what we can know of God, and because the core belief is that we are made in the image and likeness of God, also enables us to understand ourselves better. We live in a largely secular age, and a great deal of scepticism about religion in general, and the assumption of many people following that period known as the “Enlightenment” that religion would cease to be a subject which would dominate people’s thinking. This has proved not to be the case; religion is still an important part of many people’s lives, and provides the foundation for their understanding of concepts such as truth, meaning and purpose. One of the more unfortunate words to be used in conjunction with religion is “fundamentalism”, and the only way that this can be countered is by trying to understand what motivates people of faith, and how we can all live peacefully in a multi-faith world, living up to the high ideals of the Charter for Human Rights which enshrines the right to “practice your religion, change your religion or have no religion.”
Over the past years we have examined the idea of Truth in Christianity, through the writing of Timothy Radcliffe of the Dominican Order, and how we are going to have to “Re-think” Christianity with Keith Ward. This involves thinking about Christianity in the context of evolution, and the constantly expanding knowledge base provided by exploration of the Human Genome. Positive and social psychology provide different contexts for understanding matters of faith, as well as “Emotional Intelligence”, all of which we have studied. In addition we have read Alistair McGrath’s Book – “Inventing the Universe”, which is a fine exploration of the relationship of Christianity and Science.
We live in an age which has a knowledge base greater than all the generations that have preceded us, and yet we also live in an age of profound uncertainty, and huge inequality. Christianity, if it has a single aim is to enable people to flourish. 2017 marks the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, and I am the first person to admit that much of what has been done in the name of an all loving and faithful God has not accorded with the central tenet of the Gospel, which is to “Love God and Your Neighbour” – everything else is a commentary, and that Is really what Theology is, a commentary on that seemingly simple phrase.
The Christian faith is often charged with being outmoded and anachronistic, and my critics claim it is a monolithic belief system rooted in the past; totally unsuited to the needs and advances of contemporary society. The reality is that Christianity has always had to express itself in the context of new knowledge and understandings of the world. I have no problem with stating that God created the world 13.82 Billion years ago, and am fascinated by the advances in our scientific understanding of ourselves and the world. I am also concerned about the environmental and social issues that face us, and threaten the wellbeing of so many people and other species.
Our aim is to think through some of the biggest problems we face in the context of the faith we hold, and to construct a systematic theology for the post-scientific age in which we all live.
Meetings on Thursday; see events page and Brecon U3A programme for dates