Monday, September 22, 2008

Macnab's New Faith and a response

Photo: John Woudstra
from w
Bad timing Dr Macnab - a few days before the Synod meets, and the Opening Worship at St. Michaels!

from the Age last week:
New faith throws out the Ten Commandments• Barney Zwartz
• September 16, 2008

"THE TEN Commandments, one of the most negative documents ever written." With that provocative claim posted high over two city streets, controversial cleric Francis Macnab yesterday launched "a new faith for the 21st century", a faith beyond orthodox Christianity. Dr Macnab says Abraham is probably a concoction, Moses was a mass murderer and Jesus Christ just a Jewish peasant who certainly was not God. In fact, there is no God, in the usual sense of an interventionist deity - what we strive for is a presence both within and beyond us.

Dr Macnab, a noted psychotherapist and executive minister at St Michael's Uniting Church in the city, said the new faith was necessary because the old faith no longer worked.

"The old faith is in large sections unbelievable. We want to make the new faith more believable, realistic and helpful in terms of the way people live," he said. St Michael's is promoting the new faith with a $120,000 campaign over several months, involving newspaper and radio advertising, the internet, banners and billboards. Dr Macnab is being advised by Barry Whalen, who was the media guru for Cardinal George Pell when he was Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.

According to Dr Macnab, the new faith transcends denominations and religions. It is about searching, not dogma. It seeks the good, the tender and the beautiful, and finds it in Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.

"At the Jesus Seminar (a scholarly but sceptical international enterprise examining the statements attributed to Jesus, of which Dr Macnab is a member), we are inclined to think there was a real Jesus but we don't know much about him. The record has been embellished a great deal along the way. He gives glimpses of something beyond him, and that's the most powerful aspect of what he was doing."

Photo of Rev Jason Kioa recently with Rev Bill Lidgett and Peceli when he visited the Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting Church.

A response (also in the Age newspaper) from the Moderator, Rev. Jason Kioa

Gentle rebuke over minister's 'new faith'

Barney Zwartz
September 22, 2008

THE "new faith" launched last week by Uniting Church minister Francis Macnab seems a departure from Christianity, moderator Jason Kioa told the church's state synod yesterday. It is as close as the church leadership can come to calling Dr Macnab a heretic without a disciplinary hearing, for which it first needs a formal complaint.

Last week Dr Macnab, minister for life at St Michael's in Collins Street, launched what he called a "new faith for the 21st century", retaining some of the ethical elements of traditional Christianity but rejecting a personal God and a divine Christ.

The launch comes with a $120,000 advertising campaign.

Mr Kioa told the synod at La Trobe University: "The views expressed by Dr Macnab in the media last week discard much of what has been accepted for 2000 years as orthodox Christian belief. "It also concerns me that Dr Macnab's expression of a 'new faith' as reported in the media appears to be outside the teachings of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."

But Mr Kioa also obliquely called for restraint by outraged church members, saying it was important to be aware how public statements would be perceived within and beyond the church. "I remind all members that we are called to be a fellowship of reconciliation," he said.

Dr Macnab yesterday replied that he was at one with many outstanding preachers and theologians who were certainly within Christendom.

"We are asking the traditional church to re-examine and renew their basic thinking about what faith can be, because millions of people do not find the old faith meaningful to their lives," Dr Macnab said.

The church response to Dr Macnab has been tied by protocols that require an official complaint from a member before it can act, and none has yet been made.

The Uniting Church initially sought to distance itself from the "new faith". Acting moderator Sue Gormann posted a statement on the synod website, saying: "We regret any offence that may have been caused to other members of the Christian family or people of other faiths in statements made to the media or used in St Michael's advertising campaign."

other comments:
Minister for life in one church community! Time to retire. Stay with your psychology.

Everyone can follow their own thinking, their own journey and can change their mind over many years. Okay, but to still stay within the Uniting Church with its quite clear Basis of Union and being part of a 2000 year tradition is not okay.

Within the Uniting Church there is room for liberal views, but Macnab just is going too far, and in his position as a well-known leader, he ought to re-align himself.

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Blogger karlajean said...

Very interesting.Sounds like Macnab is a little over the top, in my opinion. Certainly, there is "dogma" in orthodox Christianity, but it seems like he is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I would say I am definitely left of the middle line, but I think that his stance is hurtful to so many who have found refuge and comfort and challenge and community in our faith. The UCC has a motto: "Our faith is ancient, but our thinking is not" which pretty much says it all to me. It is important for the church to connect to culture, to where people are at, but not necessarily always chance. There is a movement in the states called "Emergent" church, which focuses on relevancy and richness of faith in our 21st century, while taking the bible seriously but not always literally which I embrace, too.
By the way, I had a seminary professor say that really, when God tells you there are only ten things you CAN'T do, that isn't negative-think of how many YOU CAN DO! Also, the Ten Commandments are rich--in how we are in relationship to God and one another. That's not negative!

I will look forward to hearing more!

5:42 AM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Thank you Karla for your response. It's good to know that there is a place for steering left of centre. I like the idea of the 'emerging church,' occasional dissent, exploring new ways of worship certainly, and reading the Bible sometimes as literature, though inspired. I am comfortable with my women's interfaith friends (Buddhist, Bahai, Muslim, Hindi and others) because I know where I stand in my own faith.
Talk some more later,

5:01 PM  

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