Report by Liz Poynton
from Signs of the Times No. 39 - Oct 2010
[NW regional Ggoup conferences]

Basing his talk on his recent book, Liberal Faith in a Divided Church, our General Secretary led us through the history of the relationship between religion and science, culminating in a consideration of the situation today where the desire for certainty often eclipses a more complex, integrated approach.

Amongst the issues we discussed following this session were consideration of how fact and fiction are defined, the role of scientific thinking today, how we tolerate differing views without inducing chaos, the need for the freedom to challenge tradition in order for it to grow, the need to accept that we may be wrong in order to learn, and the concern that expert consensus doesn't always convince general public opinion.

Jonathan's second session concentrated on the current situation and the role of liberal faith today. A liberal approach requires us to be open to reason, to critical and historical research, and to ethical implications rather than exclusive emphasis on liturgy and the afterlife.

We expressed our gratitude to Jonathan for providing an analysis which helped us to stand back and understand how we've arrived at the different approaches we see today, for the confidence which his talk and our discussions provided in our attempts to help people find relevance in a Christian approach to life, and for providing us with much food for thought.