Bringing God Up to Date
What people around the world believe about God will determine our future.
Religion is an essential part of our humanity. We all follow some form of religion, in the original meaning of the word. But organized religion establishes definitions, boundaries and hierarchies which the founders would be amazed by. This is perhaps more true of Christianity than most other religions, due to the short life of Jesus, his sudden death, the lack of any contemporary records. His teaching about the kingdom of God is great; it could see us through our time on earth. But his followers watered it down and soon lost it altogether. It became a kingdom in heaven for the few, rather than one here and now for everyone.
The Church, or Churches, that resulted became increasingly irrelevant, even a hindrance, to seeing it realized. Many will always find security and truth in the traditions that developed, and good for them. But for those who can't, for those who have given up on religion or never thought it worth considering, the original teachings are worth another look. If we could recover them and live by them, we could change ourselves and the world for the better. We could bring God up to date.
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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. This is a wide ranging and deep book and I have taken my time to read it. I will read it again. I have made copious notes and ideas to research. Mr Hunt has taken thousands of years of history and managed to wrap it up as a fairly easy read. There is a lot here but it is lightly told. I particularly liked the exposition around how we ended up with our current bible. It all seems like a lottery. What was in and what was out. Who had power and who didn’t. A revelation..There are stories about all aspects of religion from Christianity through Judaism and Islam to Buddhism via others but it’s very non judgemental and this is not a polemic. It’s a fairly dispassionate look at how we have ended up where we are. This is a read for anyone interested in where our beliefs came from and how a group of people hundreds of years after Jesus put together a book of beliefs. It has the murder and the mayhem of many good books but this is all true. He touches on the results of hatred in places like Northern Ireland, Rwanda, South Africa. This is a real eye opener...This book needs revisiting, as having got to the end with a new level of understanding I want to read the earlier parts to understand them better. ~ Anne Maguire (Reviewer), NetGalley
I found myself comparing Bringing God Up to Date with Dawkins’s The God Delusion (Black Swan, 2006) because of its all-encompassing scope and endless debunkings. But it’s better. Dawkins rants, Hunt laughs: he writes with a light-heartedness which many readers will find amusing – though others may find it flippant. The strength of the book is that this is indeed a well-trodden path, and many people who have been on a similar journey will find it helpful. In addition, it’s full of interesting snippets and quotations that make one think. University of Liverpool Jonathan Clatworthy Modern Believing April '22 ~ Modern Believing , Review
Bringing God up to date by John Hunt, Christian Alternative This uncompromising and hardhitting book strikes at the heart of past and present Christianity. He is unequivocal about the fact that religion matters, but contends that Christianity is all too often bad religion. He reserves his harshest criticisms for fundamentalism, particularly the US Bible belt: for him, “taking the Bible literally just makes it difficult for rational people … to take Christianity seriously.” Not that more traditional churches get let off the hook: to him they are “morally bankrupt” and have caused untold damage by clinging to myths such as the infallibility of the scriptures, the papacy, ungrounded doctrines, original sin, great buildings, wealth, and western Christianity’s record as “probably the bloodiest of any religion.” He also roundly condemns the kind of laissez faire market capitalism that dominates the lives of so many people in the West and creates both extreme wealth and extreme poverty. He is not convinced that the churches can be part of the solution to finding God in the modern world, although following the teachings of Jesus about the Kingdom of God - recovering Christianity in its purest form unfettered by power, wealth and doctrine - certainly can, as can the essence of the other religions if, as he reminds us, we survive. There is little that is new about Hunt’s reservations and criticisms. Prophetic voices have been saying similar things for decades now; the churches have largely closed their ears to them and, in consequence, he says, have by and large driven out their congregations. Albeit rather long, it pulls no punches and is supported with scholarly evidence. It is an important read that should open many eyes. Alastair Smurthwaite ~ PCN
This pulls no punches and is supported with scholarly evidence. It is an important read that should open many eyes. Progressive Voices Issue 40 - March '22 ~ Progressive Voices , Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Very comprehensive book! It truly brings God up to date. What was the original message of Jesus that has been watered down? I will need to take a second and carefully run through this packed full of information book to mine for the missed nuggets. I encourage you to slowly read this book and learn from it. ~ Rich Lewis (Reviewer) , NetGalley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. A really interesting book, that doesn’t come across as trying too hard. The style is very conversational and it is this relaxed way of giving information out that makes it all the more impactful. There is a feeling of having a chat with a very clever person at a wedding! The book is for everyone from devout believers to those who think there is something out there. It covers the history of Christianity, looks at words and the big ideas and looks at where they came from - there is even a bit of Shakespeare quoted to show there is something for us all! Bible verses are woven into the text and the history of religion and how we got to where we are now. ~ Stephanie Maurel (Reviewer) , NetGalley
John Hunt is to liberal theology what Richard Dawkins is to evolutionary biology...a readable, thoughtful and challenging work. Christian Marketplace Knowledgeable in theology, philosophy, science and history. Time and again it is remarkable how he brings the important issues into relation with one another... thought provoking in almost every sentence, difficult to put down. Faith and Freedom Very accessible for every man and woman who cares about their faith, I would like to see it made compulsory reading for every budding theologian before he is allowed to put pen to paper. The Presbyterian A breath-taking project. But don’t be put off by the scope of the book. The writer has such an easy-going style that we dance our way through aeons of time. And, of course, any book about God and religion is going to cover life, death and everything in between. A courageous book. It makes compulsive reading. We feel we are in the author’s company, carried along by his fervour. But like all great spiritual books, the fervour is undermined by a radical acceptance of life. Sea of Faith Network An absorbing and highly readable book, profound and wide ranging. The Unitarian This is a well-informed and daring book in its call for a radically new approach to religious understanding. Expertly summarising vast conceptual and historical stretches...even readers who find his conclusions objectionable should be thankful for his effort. It is a hopeful and exciting book. With challenges and epiphanies on every page it is a rewarding encounter with the art of believing in God and living accordingly. Nimble Spirit I salute him. He is exactly the kind of christian the church must produce if it is to live another 100 years! John S Spong Former Bishop of Newark and author of “A New Christianity for a New World” and other titles | I found much to enjoy and even sympathise with. Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, author of “Being Christian” and m\any other titles Highly readable and well informed, this book is a refreshing personal view of the evolution of Christianity and the spiritual condition of our time. Network Review A most enjoyable and exhilarating book. Interreligious Insight The best modern religious book I have read. A masterwork. Robert van de Weyer author of "World Religions Bible", "Celtic Fire", and many other titles Answers all the questions you ever wanted to ask about God and some you never even thought of. Richard Holloway, former President of the Scottish Episcopal Church, author of "Doubts and Loves” and many other titles ~ summary, summary