Seeking and thinking together
(Whatever tradition you come from)
We welcome everyone through our doors whatever their faith tradition, or even those with no faith tradition. In an age like ours the Church cannot but be aware of the difficulties that many have with traditional, religious ways of searching for God or other notions of meaning and purpose in life. Traditional Christian ritualism and dogma doesn’t always convey itself as an answer to those questions a thinking soul anxiously frets over. We recognise this and will not force our faith on you, encourage you to catch religion or to think the way we do before we welcome and support you. We don’t think our faith is the only way to God and we are as interested in hearing what you have to say as we are in declaring what we believe
Are we in the end merely a bunch of chemicals, cells and molecules that abide together for a time only to disperse at death? When we reflect sometimes, when we wake in the night, we go cold at such an idea. The thought that we, our lives and deaths, those of our children, our lovers and friends, all our loves, our memories, our projects, our dreams and hopes, reduced to a random, contingent happening before a merely mechanical and indifferent universe – this is an obscenity to some of us. And yet there are powerful strains of our culture that in the process of achieving so much, scientifically and technologically, have nevertheless left us with little else to say about ourselves. And then, on the other hand, there are those economic, political, social and administrative processes that incorporate us into itself and seem to confirm us as nothing more than a component in a gigantic machine for generating wealth (usually fro someone else). The thinking soul longs to know there is more, employs his or her mind and heart to the struggle to realise a more palatable, yet credible answer. We would be souls that have looked unflinchingly at the real, yet still emerged with hope.
For this reason at St Augustine’s we welcome enquirers as serious interlocutors whatever their belief. We do not retreat from being challenged as long as this stems from the desire to find, with others, an understanding of truth, meaning, a reason to hope. We try to place a special emphasis upon openness, a freedom to debate. We have a library replete with volumes on theology, philosophy, social theory and ethics amongst other subjects, and we have regular meetings where we discuss what is on our hearts and minds, what we have thought and struggled with, toward the end that we all may grow in understanding. Many of us meditate, pray and worship and of course the traditional forms of Christian worship and wisdom are for many of us a rich and invaluable source of help. But we have no necessary expectation that those who just want to search with us have to join in.
This website is different from the parish website for St Augustine’s in that it is intended that it gradually become the ‘online base’ as it were for what we shall call the St Augustine’s ‘Fides quaerens intellectum’ group (Faith seeking understanding), of those who are searching for freedom in hope. We want it to be a thoughtful, serious and courageous forum for people to search together in mutual respect, politeness and openness to the possibility we could be wrong.