Thu | Oct 19, 2017

Get with it! Religious scholar says the Church lacks academic analysis

Published:Saturday | January 7, 2017 | 12:00 AMOrantes Moore

PORT MARIA, St Mary:

Religious scholar Phillip Washington is frustrated by the lack of academic analysis modern church ministers apply when teaching their congregations and members.

Washington, who holds a BA in Theology and Religion, believes that in St Mary, where he was born and raised, philosophical reasoning is largely ignored and the absence of any lucid opinions is pushing hungry young minds away from the church.

Speaking to Family and Religion earlier this week, he said: "I have found the logical arguments for Christianity and the existence of God to be intellectually rigourous and academically demanding and hence, many preachers avoid them in favour of the easier and more emotive elements of faith.

"Instead of being the bulk of the discussions, you only get glimpses or hints by a preacher or faith community. In our community, especially here in Highgate because of technology, there is a greater demand for it among young people who are accessing information they didn't have before and asking serious questions.

"I think it is the responsibility of those of us who are religious preachers to find the answers and not just glaze them over. We find it easier just to use platitudinous language, but failing to answer the young people's questions has further deteriorated the relationship between them and practitioners and teachers of faith.

"And so they now seek others to provide them with answers, and oftentimes that information is contrary to the development of faith, but the young people embrace it and decide: 'Hey, maybe what I've been taught is not true, and what I'm learning now is intellectually more logical and rational.'"

Washington, 30, fears that even in an uber religious area such as St Mary, if the situation remains unchanged, eventually more people will lose their faith, and Christianity will become increasingly irrelevant.

He explained: "I believe that one theology can affect every area of life, so much so that the ancient Hebrews didn't even have a word for religion because there wasn't a separation in their understanding of the world; it's just a continuity of life. However, we have divided the life and so at times, people feel a separation between themselves and God.

"God is so big that He could not be contained in one book of the Bible. Oftentimes, faith communities believe they are the sole depositories of information about God when they are not. I recommend that young people ask more questions and where they can't find answers, search for them. Answers are out there, and you have your own experiences. Learn from them and spend some time thinking about the deep and hard questions of life."

He added: "Intellectually, I have a great interest in the spiritual nature, faith, and our existence, which I believe has implications for justice, crime, and all the social issues in our national community. I'd really like to help spark this kind of discussion among and within faith groups so that we can a come to a better understanding of God, and ourselves, to help transform this country."

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com