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Beannachd leibh...

... in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge... Colossians 2.3

In her exploration of deconstructing faith, which describes the experience of (mainly evangelical) believers whose convictions have led them away from church, I was tracking with Olivia Jackson through much of what she was saying in the earlier chapters of (un)certain, the book in which she presents her research. Yet, as she moved on to describe what her interviewees thought they had left behind and what they looked forward to acquiring instead, I grew increasingly suspicious that, far from being a new post-modern phenomenon, this is a rehash of gnosticism mixed with narcissism.

It happened before and only recently with Steve Aisthorpe's and Alan Jamieson's investigation of church leavers (again mainly evangelical) who haven't lost their faith in God but claim that the church may have. The alternative gatherings they tend to create turn out to be less about sharing the Good News and more about self-indulgent introspection. And while deconstructionists claim they are not looking for alternative communities - the whole point being to get away from the herd and assert one's individuality - the end result appears alarmingly similar, only more nakedly hedonistic.

Church as we know it is not perfect because, if we know ourselves, we are not perfect and church is us! But church is also Jesus' idea, as the vehicle in which those aspiring to follow him are to make our pilgrimage to the "promised land" or "new creation", which he will deliver when he returns to unite heaven and earth - and that will be perfect. The journey is not easy because life is not easy. We are warned about that and we are urged to be resilient in our trust and obedience. We are also reassured that we shall not travel alone, nor shall we be denied what we need to prevail. Our journey's end is not a miracle of our own imagining but life in all its fulness.

And, with that, dear friends and faithful readers, this blog comes to an end because my role as minister of Strath & Sleat concludes at midnight tonight. By this time tomorrow I shall be answering a new vocation, as clerk of the new Presbytery of the Highlands & Hebrides: Clèir Eilean Ì. Thank you agus mar sin leibh...



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