This website and blog is aimed at helping followers of Jesus work through issues associated with living in this complex 21st century world. (If you have chanced upon this website and are not a believer, and want to consider the reasons to believe, may I recommend my other website Is there a God?)
For more than 50 years I have been following Jesus (the description “christian” has too many connotations for me these days), and I seem to have not stopped learning and changing in that time. Sometimes it is a struggle to work out ways forward, even more of a struggle to live as I ought. I remain committed to the truth of who Jesus was, and is, and to following him in life – I just want to “keep up with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25) and maintain a cutting edge.
In recent years I have met, mostly on the web but also in person, many believers who struggle with some aspects of their faith that they feel no longer seems right. They don’t have significant doubts about Jesus, but they do have doubts about some of what they have been taught.
The world is changing (it’s always changing, but it seems faster and more drastic these days) and we may need to keep adapting. But how does our belief adapt? Which bits are not negotiable and which bits are flexible?
I doubt anyone has more than a handful of answers, but together we probably have many helpful ideas.
the Way? is my attempt to address some of these issues and seek comment and input, in the hope that together we may “see him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly” in this 21st century.
I cover topics like:
- What we can believe about Jesus and how we can have confidence that belief is true
- The mission Jesus has left for us, how the church is doing in that task, and how we might improve.
- What we should believe about the Bible, and how to resolve some of the difficulties we find in it.
- Answers to hard questions we may be asked, or which have already occurred to us.
My name is Eric Hatfield, I live in Sydney, Australia, and I have been following Jesus (imperfectly) for more than 50 years. I once studied, and obtained a degree in, theology, but I think my main qualifications for writing this blog are an enquiring and honest mind, a willingness to change from any belief I conclude is wrong, and a fair amount of reading. I have no official teaching role in any church, or any other organisation for that matter.
If you wanted to know more about my life, and why I think what I do, you could read:
- Seventy years in the making – how I came to believe in Jesus, why I continue to try to follow him more than 50 years later, and how my beliefs have changed along the way.
- Church and me – my experience of church, how I’ve tried to serve God and people through the church, and some of the lessons I’ve learned.
The last word
One more thing. I am not interested in argument, but discussion. All and any viewpoints are welcome as long as you are being friendly and constructive, and as long as thee comments are somehow supportive of this sites aim of “helping followers of Jesus work through issues associated with living in this complex 21st century world”. With that encouragement, welcome, please come back, and please offer your ideas.
I have a comment policy though I hope it generally isn’t necessary.
Photo by Dennis Kummer on Unsplash
I believe that it is written in the Word that we are not to adapt in this world. We get our roots from the Word that becomes our foundation. Christianity is a personal relationship with God and is not a religion. there shouldn’t be any conformity with the world(Matt 12:30). God will reveal to us through the Holy Spirit the truth about His Word and doctrine if we seek it. (Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…)
God Bless and may we continue to grow until our Lord’s coming:]
Thanks for your comments. I think I agree with everything you say here, except I think we need to adapt to the culture around us so we are loving and sensitive towards other people and communicate with them in an understandable way. Best wishes.
Some Questions: When the Bible is referring to The Word of God isin’t it referring to Jesus? It refers to itself as inspired but where does the Bible ever refer to itself as The Word of God? If this is the case that Jesus is The Word of God isint it more important that people seek to be filled with Jesus’s Spirit to lead them into all truth rather than just reading the bible?
After all the devil uses scriptures himself in order to tempt Jesus. Why do some churches these days seem to almost worship the Bible, or treat the bible as God. Yet The Bible points to Jesus as The Word.
Ryan, you raise interesting questions, and I think I go about halfway with your answers.
1. In the Bible, “word of God can mean three things – (1) Jesus, as you say, (2) actual words of God, primarily to the OT prophets, and (3) the message about Jesus in the NT. As far as I’m aware, the Bible never calls itself “the Word of God”.
2. I think many churches emphasise the Bible over the Spirit because they feel that’s safer. I think the correct way is to depend on both the Bible and the Spirit to reveal the word of God to us.
How do you feel about those thoughts?
I’m going to think about this and get back to you, thanks
Due to the countless translations, interpretations and disagreements regarding scripture, believers within different churches seem to be more divided at times than united.
It seems Christ’s call that all believers should be united and love each other in Him would be achieved not just in reading scripture alone and studying.
It seems to me that The Bible directly points to The Word of God as Christ Jesus Himself.
The Bible states that Gods Spirit will guide believers into all truth. So as I understand it The Bible teaches that people should (1) accept Christ through faith, (2) Repent (3) apply Christs teachings, (4) be baptised, then according to God and the believers faith they will receive His Spirit (if they have not already).
However questions for me are:
A. What does Receiving His Spirit actually mean?
B. What is/are the actual difference(s) between a person who has Gods Spirit and one who doesn’t?
I agree that christians argue with each other way too much, contrary to Jesus’ clear teaching. We need to change our attitude.
A. Receiving the Spirit. I think it means welcoming the Spirit and cooperating with him.
B. Difference. I think all believers have God’s Spirt as an active agent in their lives, even if some (all to some degree) don’t consciously cooperate with him much, whereas the Spirit is less free to work in an unbeliever’s life.
That’s how I see it. What do you think?
thanks so much for everything you have given, You have a fantastic blog here 🙂 Im going to stop posting for a while, but I just wanted to thank you for your thoughts and clarity. Feel free to drop an email , I’ll still be reading your blog from time to time 🙂
Thanks Ryan, I have appreciated your interest, questions and comments. If there’s ever any issues I can help you work through, please feel free. In this regard, read my next post (coming soon) as it may be of interest. Best wishes.
Hi Eric, I’ve just found your blog and I’m loving it. Are you on twitter? I’m blogging at churchinacircle.com, and I’ve tweeted a couple of your older blog posts on interactive teaching methods. Looking forward to reading more of your posts,
Hi Kath, thanks for your positive comments. I write this blog mostly for people like you! I’ve visited your blog and appreciated it too. No I’m not in Twitter, I never really saw the need, though perhaps that is short-sighted of me.
It’s lovely to connect, Eric – especially with a fellow Aussie! SInce you’re not on Twitter, I’ll take it on myself to tweet some of your blog posts. I’m so pleased to have found your site – you’ve written some great articles, and I’ve learned a couple of things already. I’m going to subscribe and stay in touch.
Kathleen, I didn’t realise you’re an Aussie too! I would love to network a bit. If you want to, please contact me using the email link in the navbar. Best wishes. Eric
Hope your going well. just dropped past to let you know I’m still am a fan of your posts. Also, I read a brilliant book recently and I think you might find it of interest. Its called Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent J. Donovan.
Our new pastor recommended it to me and I borrowed a copy from him. I found it to be a really fascinating read. I’m not sure if you had already heard of it or not, its about
a Roman Catholic missionary from the USA, reflecting on his experience evangelising the Masai people of Tanzania in the 1960s. The priest strips back and starts at the very basics of the gospel, to start from scratch in considering the biblical concept of ministry. He was really seeking to see if the simple Gospel and the methods of the early church were needed in this time and place.
Its kind of a reflection on Anthropology as well. One of the best books on Missionary work in practice I have ever read, although I admit I have not read many 🙂 Anyway, I’d love to know what you think of it.
Here’s the write up and a link:
Anyway, Have a great week 🙂
Hi Ryan, nice to hear from you again. And thanks for the positive comments.
I haven’t heard of that book before, but I have earmarked it on Amazon to include in some future order, and I had a look at as much as I can on “Look Inside”. It certainly looks like it would be good. Until I get it, I can’t say more.
God has made all human beings in His image, and took care that they all have some feeling (you may call it instinct) of what is good (right) or bad (wrong) and can think about what and why they are in this creation and Who is behind it.
God has given His Word to guide humanity. We can take it or leave it. In it (the Book of books or the Bible) all people can find words that can guide them and bring them to understand Who is behind everything and what is His (God’s) Plan.
God also has given His son, who is not the God but a man of flesh and blood, who can lead us up to the right way to his Father, the Only One God. This son of man, the 2° Adam is now also made higher than angels and taken into heaven to sit next to his Father to mediate between God and man.
We should all try to bring people to see how Jesus is the Way to the Father, and that we should come in unity with Christ and his Father, like Jesus was one with God.
Let us all bring the message of salvation, the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God.
Hey, just wanted to say thanks for your blog. I have been seeking (coming to somewhat of a crossroads in my faith), and I really appreciate your sincerity and attitude about Christianity.
Hi Andrew, thanks for the encouragement. This blog was started partly for people like you. I think many christians these days grow up in churches where some of the teachings don’t seem to fit with reality, and many people feel they cannot question them. But I believe we need to be willing to question and consider new ideas, and this website contains the results of years of thinking and praying about christian belief. I hope you find some useful answers here.
I have another website, aimed more at deciding if christianity is true or not, called (what else?) Is there a God?. You may find something useful there too. If it could be helpful to you, please feel free to email.
All the best.
Thank you! I will take a look. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.