REPLY BY REV MICHAEL COCKS
CO- EDITOR OF THE
GROUND OF FAITH, NEW ZEALAND.
ON THE BIBLE AND CHRISTIANITY.
Research and the Churches
Churches are created by fallible humans, and the
faults of teaching, belief and practice that you perceive
in them, are often real, and a problem. But as an Anglican
clergyman, who is happy to remain such, I may differ from
you in the way I understand a church. To take our local
church in Christchurch as an example: we are a community
of faith and spirituality, but differ from each other markedly
in our beliefs. In the 21st century people change denominations
without a qualm: amongst us are ex-Catholics, Pentecostals,
Baptists, Plymouth Brethren, Methodist, Spiritualist, and
a few long time Anglicans.
Some of us belief in an afterlife, some don’t. Some
are intellectuals, some have psychiatric problems. Some
are gay, some are not. Some are White, some are people of
Colour. Some are Fundamentalist some are not. Some are little
children, some are in extreme old age. Some support my The
Ground of Faith journal, some do not. Some are at an earlier
stage of personality development, some are very mature.
Some are conservative politically, some are not.
With such a congregation, we cannot bang on about dogma,
rather our prayer and worship must relate to our daily lives,
and our care for each other as a community, and for the
community at large. We have to focus on our common life
in Spirit and in community.
Recently I asked the vicar of a thriving local Anglo-Catholic
church whether all his church members were orthodox in their
thinking, and he said that he was scared to ask any of them
what they intellectually believed, for they all differed
so from each other. Once again, it was a case of community
of Spirit and love, but not of dogmatic beliefs.
This state of affairs is so widespread these days, that
in any given church it would be next to impossible to change
official dogmas, for there would never be an agreement as
to what to say. The Roman Catholic Church is famous for
its dogmas, but could never change them, because one could
never get agreement amongst its 1,000,000,000 members as
to how the dogmas could be changed. Members of Roman Catholic
churches on the whole are not silly, and are capable of
ignoring dogmas at will, and are equally capable of sampling
the worship of other denominations.
In the philosophical chaos, which is the local church, it
is very necessary to have places outside the church where
particular beliefs and interests may be catered for. I can
refer some people to your site, Victor, which I fully support.
Others are focused on helping the local City Mission, in
caring for the homeless, and the local food bank. Others
are more politically focused, or want to attend Buddhist
With these considerations, I feel that churches should be
supported, rather than attacked, for there are no other
organizations that attempt to do what they do. We all should,
however, vigorously bring to the attention of the proper
individual church members issues such as Afterlife, Community
Service and so with many other issues.
As you are aware, I do think as many people as possible
should become aware of what has been discovered through
psychic research.. it does have to do with the essence of
Spirituality, and efforts should be made to overcome the
taboos against discussing these matters.