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From the Rectory

  April 2017  

What should we believe? Who should we believe?
Particularly topical at the moment, in the light of all the fake news stuff that’s flying around. But of perennial interest and importance – because what (and who) we believe, determines how we try to make sense of the world (and ourselves).

Do we take what we hear on the BBC at face value? What about things we read in the papers? (and do we think some papers are more truthful than others?)

Do we believe politicians when they make promises at election (or referendum) time? Or do we cut them loads of slack – to the effect, that that’s the sort of thing they’ve got to say? (and more fool anyone who takes them seriously).

The amount of evidence we need before we accept something often depends on the source. If it’s a good friend, who’s always been reliable in the past, we may be prepared to take what they say at face value. If it’s someone who’s often exaggerated (or invented) things, we’re likely to need a whole lot more persuading.

We’re coming up to Easter, the most significant festival of the Christian year. Church people make a big fuss about it – whilst the rest of the world tends to get on with its business pretty much undisturbed, apart from upping the consumption of confectionery.

The bible makes all sorts of claims about what happened that First Easter and in its immediate aftermath. Claims which form the basis for the whole of Christianity. So it’s important to look at them, and see whether they pass muster.

Was the tomb really empty? Did Jesus really appear after his death to his disciples? And how can we tell? The New Testament is the obvious place to go to find out – but of course it was all written by people who were themselves already convinced of the truth of the Resurrection. So it’s hardly an unbiased source – and there aren’t any others.

So we seem to be stuck – which is why people often fall back on the idea that we need to ‘have faith’. Years ago I remember coming across the definition of faith as ‘believing what you know isn’t true’. Not meant terribly seriously, of course – but faith often does seem to be the fall-back position, when the evidence is a bit on the thin side.

But that’s the case with pretty well anything important. Faith is about committing to something (be it a relationship, a political party, a religious path or whatever). It’s about choosing to hitch your wagon to one star rather than another. The proof of the pudding is only ever discovered by eating it – which amounts to putting your mouth where your money is.

The truth of the Resurrection has to be tested in terms of the religion it gave rise to. And so if we commit to the Christian faith-path, and it bears good fruit (in terms, for example, of the way it enlarges our appreciation of the world in general, and people in particular) – what more evidence could possibly be needed?

It’s not about weighing up the merits of one particular historical claim or another – but of adopting the package-as-a-whole, and seeing where it takes us and what it does to us. Does it ‘work’ in my life – or not? (if it doesn’t – I need to look elsewhere for a star to follow).

And most (if not all) of us need stars to follow. We’ve got to have some sort of structure or framework for our lives. Some find it in becoming environmental activists, some through joining a political party, some through pursuing a career, some through their families, some through their religion. And so on.

Yes, we do need to ‘have faith’. But that says nothing about its content (and the sort of faith that inspires members of ISIS, is positively demonic). It can’t be had on the cheap, either – but demands a genuine commitment, and a regular involvement. It’s as difficult to be a casual activist, as a casual Christian. But all journeys have to get underway somewhere – maybe even at a local church?

May this Easter be the start of all sorts of new beginnings!

Revd Tony

Any enquiries relating to the Week St. Mary Circle of Parishes should be directed to:
Revd Tony Windross, The Rectory, The Glebe, Week St. Mary, Holsworthy, Devon EX22 6UY
Email:  • Telephone: 01288 341600

For local enquiries relating to Week St. Mary Church matters please contact either of the Churchwardens:  Lesley Booker Tel: 01288 341221  or  Richard Sowerby Tel: 01288 341348

For enquiries relating to Week St. Mary Methodist Church please contact
Rev Doreen Sparey-Delacassa • The Manse, Canworthy Water • Telephone: 01566 781854

© All of the content of the Week St. Mary website is the copyright of David Martin & Linda Cobbledick except where stated 2006-2017