I’m deeply concerned about the dogmatically held viewpoints which intensify conflicts in the Middle East and which fuel debates in this country between fundamentalists and those of a secular persuasion. Rigidly held beliefs get in the way of the kind of respectful dialogue so badly needed at a time when we are facing so many challenges.
For example, consider what might happen if global warming increases, if technological advances are unable to keep up with the needs of a burgeoning world population, when natural resources are further diminished, and when the proliferation of dangerous weapons continues. Under such conditions, I fear the possibility of widespread violence if individuals and groups hold dogmatically to their convictions while striving to maintain their way of life.
Now I’m not opposed to ideologies and religions. They can inform and inspire. But when beliefs are held dogmatically, they make reasoned discourse nearly impossible. I think we can have beliefs and convictions without considering them to be absolute.
For instance, in Part Two of my book, I maintain that one need not be a fundamentalist to be a good Christian. I offer interpretations of God, Jesus, Heaven and Hell, Sin and Salvation, and Soul which do not rely upon literal interpretations of the Bible. In Part Three, my essays on Love, Power, Justice, and the tension between Individual and Community continue to rely upon interpreting the Bible symbolically rather than literally. Finally, in Part Four, I highlight the importance of moving beyond dogmatism and argue the benefits of respectful and compassionate dialogue among those having differing points of view.
We are living in difficult times, and I hope readers will find my essays relevant and thought-provoking both for individual reflection and group discussion…….Let the discussions begin.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
3. Mysteries, Absolutes, and Relativism
4. God as Ultimate Mystery
5. Radical Jesus
6. Redefining Heaven and Hell
7. Sin and Salvation in a Different Light
9. Thoughts on Christianity
10. My Interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer
11. Interpretations of an Ancient Theme
12. Of Lust and Love
13. Three Kinds of Power
14. Injustice and Justice
15. Toward Individuality with Community
16. Why Mystery Matters
APPENDIX: THREE SERMONS
By God Transformed