Creating God; Re-Creating Christ

Ian Harris, the first chairman of SoF New Zealand, is the author of this short summary of the SoF position. The review is by Ronald Pearse, secretary of the SoF UK network.

The keynote to this book is a quotation from Iris Murdoch: "God does not and cannot exist, but what led us to conceive of him does exist and is constantly experienced and pictured."

In spite of this startling theme, there is a constant struggle to keep the word "God", although re-defined in secular terms. We are told that it would be settling for very thin gruel to limit our idea of God to a mere symbol of our highest values and aspirations. Our secular God is to be a living and powerful God, by analogy to the ideology behind National Socialism or Communism, for these ideologies were absorbed and internalised and became living faiths.

To create or define our own God, we need to start from our total experience and knowledge, recognising the values that we have affirmed. "The more the values move towards love, compassion and the service of others, the closer they reflect the humanity of Jesus."

However there is a need to distinguish between the core tradition and the lesser traditions that have grown up around it. Harris concludes that the churches will never let go of the lesser traditions, such as the shape of ministry, architecture, forms of church government, robes and let's do what the first century Christians did: start from scratch.

A chapter is given to describing the formation and life of the Ephesus group in New Zealand. The name encapsulates an old tradition and a new departure. Some 21 people set out to explore ways of understanding and experiencing faith in the secular world of the 1990s. The starting point is the Jesus of the Gospels, but it is recognised that groups of differeing cultures and traditions would have other agendas.

The final chapters compare the Jesus of the Jewish world with the Jesus of the Greek world, and the transition from Jesus to Christ, from man to God. So we enter into a discussion of mythology and the place of the imagination, and to the contribution of Freud and Jung.