The Christian churches are in crisis. Their numbers are falling, their influence has greatly diminished and their leaders seem at a loss as to what to do. Many reasons for this decline have been proffered, but the most important reason, the one that strikes at the very heart of the crisis, until now has largely been left unsaid: the 2,000-year-old doctrines that Christians are expected to believe are simply not believable.
In this radical and provocative new book, Hilary Wakeman, a recently retired priest in the Church of Ireland, argues that many of the statements of belief that Christians are required to assent to as literal truth, such as the Virgin Birth and the bodily Resurrection of Jesus statements that were formulated nearly two millennia ago at a time when people understood the world very differently are driving many people out of the churches and preventing others from coming in. Hilary Wakeman describes in detail the origin and context of the main tenets of Christian beliefs, and considers ways that these core doctrines of Christianity can be re-stated so that they can be expressed with honesty and integrity.
She also explains the difference between right-brain and left-brain approaches to faith and religion, and argues that the rational, intellectual left side of the brain must give way to the intuitive right side to be able to experience spirituality fully. For over 150 years a growing number of theologians and lay people have been warning the various Christian churches that, if they are not to become extinct, they need to look for the truths that lie behind those ancient formulations, and find new ways of presenting them. But their words have been ignored by the church authorities and by most priests and ministers, who prefer not to disturb the present faith of their congregations, and so the gap continues to widen and the crisis worsens.
Now many Christians are taking their beliefs into their own hands. Increasingly, they are meeting in small groups and communities, without formal leadership and without formal doctrine, ignoring denominational differences yet bringing the best of their various traditions with them. Is this then the Christianity of the future? Is this closer to the true teachings of Christ?
Saving Christianity is an important and timely book that should be read and discussed by anyone concerned about the present reality, and future prospects, of the Christian faith.
A final wakeup call to churches everywhere . . .
Hilary Wakeman argues strongly and convincingly of the need to express Christian truth in a way which makes sense for people today . . . What does it mean today to say Jesus is God, that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and so on This is a challenging and provocative read . . .
Fr John OConnell, DD, PP
Hilary Wakeman asks many questions that some of us dare not ask and yet it is surely only through prayerful reflection and courageous struggling with our doubts and questions that we can seek a faith which allows us to live with integrity. It is only by being honest and indeed loving in our agreements and disagreements that we can continue to search for and work towards that unity in diversity which all genuinely religious people feel the need to pursue.
Willie Walsh, R.C. Bishop of Killaloe (from the Foreword)
In the tradition of Julian of Norwich, Hilary of Schull leads us out of fear and into creative love. Believing that human reason and faith are compatible, she suggests jettisoning those dead weights which obfuscate the Christian message.
"This is the book I've been yearning for for years. Its themes of the past, present and future of Christianity are patterned together with compassion, lucidity, and vibrant hope. It brought me 'aha' moments and 'at last' relief. Do read it."
Wanda Nash, author and retreat leader
Hilary Wakeman has written a lucid, intelligent book which shows us how mainstream Christianity has for centuries been suffocated by the love of law and how it may now in crisis be beginning to rediscover the law of love. She is compassionate yet pulls no punches, profound yet avoids theological stuffiness, accessible yet refuses to play to the church-bashing gallery.
Michael Davitt, poet
"How can the vastness of God fit into small boxes of human words Hilary Wakeman addresses this and many other questions in her thought-provoking, indeed provocative, book. It makes excellent reading for anyone who wants to think about new ways of achieving a faith at once simpler and more complex. She has messages of reassurance and hope for those of us who want to be Christians, but find it hard to say the Creeds."
Ann Thwaite, author
About the Author
Hilary Wakeman, among the first women ordained in the Church of England in 1994, is an honorary Canon Emeritus of Norwich Cathedral. From 1990 to 1995 she was a member of the Church of Englands governing body, the General Synod. She has recently retired from her position as a Rector of a Church of Ireland parish in Co Cork. She is also the founder and currently the Convenor of the Julian Meetings, an ecumenical network of 350 contemplative prayer groups in the UK, and the editor of Circles of Stillness (2002) and Women Priests: The First Years (1996). She lives in Schull, Co Cork.
- Additional Information
Author Wakeman, Hilary Editor No Print Format Electronic, Paperback E-Book File Formats epub, mobi Paperback ISBN 1-904148-32-8 Hardback ISBN No E-Book ISBN No Date of Publication October 2003 Number of Pages 180 Illustrations No