Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Secular “Sunday Assembly” Movement Makes Perfect Sense

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 11, 2016

c6There is a growing movement worldwide called “Sunday Assembly.” If you go to the movement’s website, sundayassembly.com, you discover the following:

“The Sunday Assembly was started by Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, two comedians who were on the way to a gig in Bath when they discovered they both wanted to do something that was like church but totally secular and inclusive of all—no matter what they believed. The first ever Sunday Assembly meeting took place on January 6th 2013 at The Nave in Islington. Almost 200 people turned up at the first meeting, 300 at the second and soon people all over the world asked to start one. Now there are 68 Sunday Assembly chapters in 8 different countries where people sing songs, hear inspiring talks, and create community together. Why do we exist? Life is short, it is brilliant, it is sometimes tough, we build communities that help everyone live life as fully as possible.”

The movement, sometimes reported as “atheist church,” is growing fast enough to get the attention of many major media outlets such as NPR. The public charter follows:

The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that celebrates life. Our motto: live better, help often, wonder more. Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfill their full potential. Our vision: a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one…

  1. Is 100% celebration of life. We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let’s enjoy it together.
  2. Has no doctrine. We have no set texts so we can make use of wisdom from all sources.
  3. Has no deity. We don’t do supernatural but we also won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do.
  4. Is radically inclusive. Everyone is welcome, regardless of their beliefs – this is a place of love that is open and accepting.
  5. Is free to attend, not-for-profit and volunteer run. We ask for donations to cover our costs and support our community work.
  6. Has a community mission. Through our Action Heroes (you!), we will be a force for good.
  7. Is independent. We do not accept sponsorship or promote outside businesses, organisations or services
  8. Is here to stay. With your involvement, The Sunday Assembly will make the world a better place
  9. We won’t won’t tell you how to live, but will try to help you do it as well as you can
  10. And remember point 1… The Sunday Assembly is a celebration of the one life we know we have.

This kind of group makes perfect sense because the church has completely hijacked the Bible and used it for a doctrine of spiritual caste. Because of the way church defines individualism, bad fruit will incite people to leave church in search of something else that will give them hope. Obviously, this movement is about individual journey and feeling good about life in the process. In contrast, the church is all about the inability of man, and complete submission to church authority for purposes of obtaining eternal life. Reported responses by clergy are most telling:

“I can see why people would agree with what they are hearing because a lot of us are lonely and seeking something larger,” said Wittmer, a professor of systematic theology at the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary at Cornerstone University. “The question is what do they believe in? They might be catching the wave of a culture, but what does it mean in the end? To me, they’re leaving out the most important part.”

In church, that means letting the “biblical scholars” tell you what to believe. And if it just doesn’t add up in your mind, well, check your conscience at the door because you are totally depraved and must not “lean on your own understanding.” Humanity was willing to go with that for about 1700 years, but the church hasn’t delivered anything from that idea other than more death and misery. In the same article, Wittmer reveals one aspect of the problem:

Wittmer maintains the absence of a religious faith and a commitment to autonomy presents problems. He wonders how the group will settle conflicts should they develop, issues traditional congregations solve by looking to clergy and religious texts.

Get the picture? An organized group of people utilizing leadership without authority in a spiritual caste system will lead to chaos. This is due to the church’s presuppositions concerning mankind. The church has effectively hijacked the Bible and rewritten it according to Plato’s, The Republic. This movement, and church, represent two extremes. The only problem is this: the church has defined the Bible as such in the minds of most.

The truth follows: The Bible looks more like Sunday Assembly in regard to individualism and presuppositions regarding humankind. God has never imposed His truth on anyone. He offers life, and freewill to choose. He offers life more abundantly in the here and now, and eternal life in the end. Death, and death more abundantly in the here and now, and ultimately eternal death, is a choice people make on their own accord.

A lot could be said here about the fact that real Christian life is found somewhere in the middle between church and Sunday Assembly, but I will end with this: The latter has the correct presuppositions in regard to humankind and life-value, but is missing the boat in regard to a definitive truth. This is key: the definitive truth is there, but the individual alone is culpable before God and must be persuaded in his or her own mind.

That’s what a true believing community does; it is a cooperative organized venture to obtain one mind of truth as each is persuaded.

paul

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