Many thanks to Schof for his great cooking and leading of the discussion!
This is what I can remember from the discussion - maybe other people can fill in the blanks:
- There was a brief discussion about what 'good' actually means. eg. a person hasn't been divorced? A person does their quiet time every day? I think we were in agreement that many of the definitions of 'good' presented in traditional Christianity were unhelpful.
- It was pointed out that statistics have shown that the behaviour of 'fundamentalist' Christians (by the criteria of the questionairre) were better than the ordinary population. This was put down to social conditioning by our group.
- I think we were pretty much in agreement that the traditional Christian message that if you become a Christian you become a better person is just simply not true in our experience and creates unrealistic expectations.
- We were challenged to think about some of the Bible passages (especially in the letters) which suggest that if you become a Christian you do change and become a better person. There were various responses to this. Some found it difficult to read some Bible verses without interpreting in the way they had been brought up to interpret them. I think I said a few (heretical) things about defining the 'good' / 'holy' / 'people of God' not by the contours of 'Christians', but by 'those who do good'. This could include people of faith or not, Christians or not. I tried to support this by reference to the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Sheep and Goats. I'm not sure others were particularly convinced.
- We ended with communion - a very fitting demonstration of the 'openness' of the table of God to everyone and our unity before him.
It seems pretty self-evident to me that 'doing good' should define who 'the good' are and that if these happen to be those outside of our faith tradition, so be it. However, I want to rise to the challenge of Monday night and try to argue that point in the light of biblical texts that might be read to the contrary. So, please post the passages you would challenge me to respond to and I will see what I can do.