Is it possible for people, and even for a whole society, to lose faith in God? ... [If] it happens, [it is] not primarily because something they used to think existed does not after all exist, but because the available language about God has been allowed to become too narrow, stale and spiritually obsolete ... the work of creative religious personalities is continually to enrich, to enlarge and sometimes to purge the available stock of religious symbols and idioms ... (The Sea of Faith, 1984)



... people of different periods and cultures differ very widely; in some cases so widely that accounts of the nature and relations of God, men and the world put forward in one culture may be unacceptable, as they stand, in a different culture ... a situation of this sort has arisen ... at about the end of the eighteenth century a cultural revolution of such proportions broke out that it separates our age sharply from all ages that went before (The Use and Abuse of the Bible, 1976)

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Articles by
Richard Holloway
former Anglican Primus of Scotland

The Absence of God
In this Lenten Talk written for the BBC, Richard Holloway highlights the difficulties of using words to give meaning to the world around us. When he tries to use words to get to the divine behind the things of the world, he finds himself waiting in "The Absence of God" as faithfully as he can.

The Danger of Sincere Religion
We think we know what the Parable of the Good Samaritan means. But familiarity sometimes obscures the truth. In "The Danger of Sincere Religion", first preached at St Mark's, Broomhill, UK, Richard Holloway turns the accepted meaning of the parable on its head to good effect.

The Sixth Paradigm
Hans Kung developed five paradigms to describe the main forms which Christianity has taken over the ages. Richard Holloway proposes a Sixth Paradigm which is in the process of emerging. The Christian faith is presently exploring the borders of entirely new territory.

The Burning Mystery
We tend to insist on knowing "what really happened". When this modern paradigm is applied to the Bible, problems arise. Richard Holloway's sermon to the 1999 Anglican Consultative Council helps us understand The Burning Mystery.

Religion on the Level

Gresham Lectures
by Richard Holloway

What's the use of God?
Claims to absolute truth result in  exclusivity. The better  route to truth is passionate questing - that's what "God-botherers" do!

What's the use of the Bible?
How can those who haven't found ultimate answers use the Bible? What happens when we question the underlying assumptions of fundamentalism?

What's the use of Jesus?
Unlike ecclesiastical powers, Jesus spoke with an intrinsic  authority which touches us deeply. He calls us to forgive even enemies and to harness power for justice.

What's the use of the Church?
An ancient human response to anxiety is to create barriers against uncertainty. Thus the Church is both anti-life as it protects its power, and also the body which witnesses to the staggering unconditional acceptance of Jesus.

What's the use of Hell?
The insecure use the terrors of hell to control others. In fact, Hell exists in the history of mankind and in the "blackmail of the ideal" of perfectability.

What's the use of Heaven?
Theologies of anxiety need a Heaven in the hereafter as an "image of longing" for the perfect. Another, life-affirming tradition works through repentance to transform the world.

The Myths of Christianity
Gresham Lectures
Richard Holloway

The Broken Myth
Why is it that some need to preserve certain religious images? They give it a reality which is fundamentally different from the past and yet cling to their myths tenaciously.

The Myth of Original Sin
Theologians tend to blithely dismiss the Old Testament story of Adam and Eve as a "myth" - that is, as essentially untrue. But is it? Or, despite Augustine's sick distortions, does it still eloquently describe a permanent human reality?

The Myth of Justification by Faith
Paul began the long process of turning his liberating experience of Jesus into a so-called objective fact of Christian dogma. Paul experienced slavery to the Jewish law and found joyful freedom through Jesus.

The Myth of the Incarnation
As a myth, the Incarnation can convey powerful truths about the young Jesus. Used as an absolute truth, as a power-play to cajole or force others to conform, it's transformed into a false teaching.

The Myth of the Resurrection
The Christian belief - indeed any religious belief - can be merely a device for containing obsolete interpretations of truth. What really matters is the "cash value" of our convictions.

The End of Religion
We are creatures who, by nature, seek the meaning of life and the of the universe. A majority of our Western culture now perceive meaning in terms very different from ages past. A few still cling to constructs from ancient times - even though they mean little to the contemporary mind.