Faith at Work VII

February 2005

Life as a chaplain at the Science Park is full of surprises. A few weeks ago I was introduced to someone who, it was said, "would give me a hard time". Well, it turned out that his main thesis was that the Bible could become a best seller if it was re-crafted with "God written out of it". Many of the things it has to say are apparently well worth contemplating and could form the basis of a life well lived. The Guinness Book of Records suggests that this new volume [or library] would have to contend with Agatha Christie's 78 crime novels translated into 44 languages and selling about 2 billion copies or the Bible itself, with its 66 separate books, selling about 2.5 billion copies since 1815 and translated into 2233 languages. So producing something more universally appealing would be some project; I must check out how he's getting on in a year or two.

But what was he really getting at? One thing must be the language that any spiritual writing uses. There is always difficulty in expressing the essence of such deep mysteries poetry can sometimes convey it well but at the expense of concise language making subtle connections. There is always interpretation for the hearer to do and this may explain why there are so many efforts made in translating the Bible, especially to update it into common usage.

Another thing might be the focus placed today on evidence and the material approach to life, seeking to understand how things are. In our enthusiasm to explain everything, we tend to lose sight of why things are as they are. Being able to predict behaviour for both inanimate material and the living world has brought us great benefits in today's technological age but we still feel the need for a greater understanding of why we are here and the source of life. This has led to many different philosophies over time and we are usually most comfortable with the one we know best.

It is always worth testing the truth behind spiritual teaching when exposed to other perspectives and traditions; it would have little value if it didn't stand that. Jesus says that he will send the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth [John 16:7,13] but he never suggests that we can contain the properties of the spiritual realm with any formula or creed he talks more of being guided through life by a loving relationship with a heavenly Father. St.Paul affirms this mystery [Phil.4:7] with words that we often use at the end of worship (paraphrasing slightly):

The peace of our maker,
which surpasses all understanding,
will keep our hearts and minds
in knowledge and love.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2004-12-23

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