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Christian Atheist: Belonging without Believing

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We had realised that this book would require deeper thought and study than our more recent readings and, accordingly, had allotted more time to its study. Not enough in some cases! However, it must be admitted that this book was well outside our comfort zone and had to be read, not perused, chapter by chapter, with frequent recourse to the use of a dictionary.
Brian Mountford sets out to explore the reasoning behind people, who are found in many churches, who attend church regularly, sometimes hold positions of authority in a church, support and work for the church but who do not believe in God.
Why? Why attend church, participate in the worship but not believe in God?
Some attend because they like the ritual, some because they like the music or the art, others because they admire and attempt to follow the ethics of the church and/or Christianity or, again, because they find the friendship in a church important to their lives. Some attend church because they wish to support their spouses/ children or because they see in the morals of the fellowship the standards by which they wish their children to be brought up to aim for. Gradually, they become drawn in becoming supportive in many ways but still cannot take that final step of faith or belief.
“I don’t believe in God but I miss Him.”
During the book the author interviews some of these Christian atheists and recounts the question and answer sessions he has with them. These were the most interesting and simple parts of the book. Unfortunately, for us he also tends to pontificate or theorise in very learned language, which is where the dictionary is of some but limited use. When he is dealing with the “isms” (existentialism, adoptionism, etc), philosophers and theologians, it becomes a real struggle for the ordinary reader. One member of the group described it as “wading through treacle”: another as “losing the will to live.”
To be fair, many of us found quotations, which intrigued us and gave food for thought.“ Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
And for Christians, “Preach the Gospel everywhere - if necessary, use words.”
We must admit that, although we struggled to read and cope with this book, it produced one of the longest, deepest and honest discussions we have ever had and also attracted one of the largest attendances at the club.

Author: Brian Mountford

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