A Building Does Not Guarantee Faith

By on 6-25-2013 in Church, Culture, Worldview

A Building Does Not Guarantee Faith

An interesting story emerged on ABC news about an Atheist group building a place to worship the absence of god.

A US temple where faithful don’t have to believe in God

by Luis Torres de la Llosa_Agence-France Presse 

NEW YORK (AFP) – It looks more like a theater than a church, there are no sacred symbols, and the faithful who gather at this monumental Art Nouveau edifice believe deeply that there is not necessarily a god.

Here, across from Manhattan’s Central Park, the Society for Ethical Culture, whose motto is “Deed before Creed,” along with other US non-theist, atheist, agnostic and independent groups, are gaining ground in the United States.

According to the news report, those who see their spiritual dimension as “unaffiliated” make up 16 percent of Americans, but they are the fastest-growing segment of the complicated patchwork of US spiritual life.

“It feeds my spiritual, ethical and social needs,” said Judith Wallach, a member of the ethical society for years who acknowledged having a religion but not a strong belief in God.

The article goes on to speculate why some folks find this movement so powerful.

“More and more people are discovering that they can lead good, fulfilled, moral lives without religion,” said Daniel Dennett, a philosopher who teaches at Tufts University in Massachusetts and author of essays such as “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.”

Still others suggest the power of the group is their social activism and service to the community.

Says Worden: “Families bring their children to learn how to live in a world of diversity, respecting differences and finding common ground with others, and making a contribution to the well-being of the world.”Jesai Jaymes is 55 and works in theater. He joined the society last week after finding it on a stroll through Central Park.”I am meeting bright, intelligent people who want to do things and that is what attracted me to it,” said Jaymes, who was raised Catholic and has a Jewish father.

It is “an organization in which it is possible to participate and be active, rather than contemplate things,” added Jaymes, who was happy “finding an organization that supports social activism rather than belief and prayer: I can pray in the park, where I do my yoga and my meditation.”

Here are some of the questions that come to mind.

  • What is the difference between your church and this one?
  • How do some of the recent trends among Christians compare with the philosophy and approach of this group?
  • What are the implications for how we take the Gospel to the world?
  • Some churches attract people with buildings. Others attract them through programs or the promise of meaningful friendships. Still others attract through programs for social justice. But then again, so do these atheists. How then can the church demonstrate we are “The Way” and not just an alternative?

Dr. Joe Miller (aka JR) is a Professor in Southern California, teaching a variety of courses in Theology and Leadership. In addition, he works as their Digital Media Coordinator and Instructional Technologist. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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