Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world

Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world

Joined: May 4th, 2005, 1:31 pm

August 9th, 2011, 3:34 am #1

5 August 2011 Last updated at 06:18 ET

Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world

By Robert Pigott Religious affairs correspondent, Amsterdam



The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he's not the sort of man to sugar the pill.

An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland.

It is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN), and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord's Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse's sermon seems bleak - "Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get".

"Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death," Mr Hendrikse says. "No, for me our life, our task, is before death."

Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.

"When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that's where it can happen. God is not a being at all... it's a word for experience, or human experience."

Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible's account of Jesus's life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.

His book Believing in a Non-Existent God led to calls from more traditionalist Christians for him to be removed. However, a special church meeting decided his views were too widely shared among church thinkers for him to be singled out.

A study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the PKN and six other smaller denominations was either agnostic or atheist.

The Rev Kirsten Slattenaar, Exodus Church's regular priest, also rejects the idea - widely considered central to Christianity - that Jesus was divine as well as human.

"I think 'Son of God' is a kind of title," she says. "I don't think he was a god or a half god. I think he was a man, but he was a special man because he was very good in living from out of love, from out of the spirit of God he found inside himself."

Mrs Slattenaar acknowledges that she's changing what the Church has said, but, she insists, not the "real meaning of Christianity".

She says that there "is not only one answer" and complains that "a lot of traditional beliefs are outside people and have grown into rigid things that you can't touch any more".

Dienie van Wijngaarden, who's been going to Exodus Church for 20 years, is among lay people attracted to such free thinking.

"I think it's very liberating. [Klaas Hendrikse] is using the Bible in a metaphorical way so I can bring it to my own way of thinking, my own way of doing."

Wim De Jong says, "Here you can believe what you want to think for yourself, what you really feel and believe is true."

Churches in Amsterdam were hoping to attract such people with a recent open evening.

At the Old Church "in the hottest part of the red light district", the attractions included "speed-dating".

As skimpily dressed girls began to appear in red-lit windows in the streets outside, visitors to the church moved from table to table to discuss love with a succession of strangers.

Professor Hijme Stoffels of the VU University Amsterdam says it is in such concepts as love that people base their diffuse ideas of religion.

"In our society it's called 'somethingism'," he says. "There must be 'something' between heaven and earth, but to call it 'God', and even 'a personal God', for the majority of Dutch is a bridge too far.

"Christian churches are in a market situation. They can offer their ideas to a majority of the population which is interested in spirituality or some kind of religion."

To compete in this market of ideas, some Christian groups seem ready virtually to reinvent Christianity.

They want the Netherlands to be a laboratory for Christianity, experimenting with radical new ways of understanding the faith.

Stroom ("Stream") West is the experiment devised by one church to reach out to the young people.

In an Amsterdam theatre young people contemplate the concept of eternity by spacing out a heap of rice grains individually across the floor.

"The difference from other churches is that we are experimenting with the contents of the gospel," says Rikko Voorberg, who helps to run Stroom West. "Traditionally we bring a beautiful story and ask people to sit down listen and get convinced. This is the other way around."

Stroom focuses on people's personal search for God, not on the church's traditional black-and-white answers.

Rikko believes traditional Christianity places God in too restricted a box.

He believes that in a post-modern society that no longer has the same belief in certainty, there is an urgent need to "take God out of the box".

"The Church has to be alert to what is going on in society," he says. "It has to change to stay Christian. You can't preach heaven in the same way today as you did 2,000 years ago, and we have to think again what it is. We can use the same words and say something totally different."

When I asked Rikko whether he believed Jesus was the son of God he looked uncomfortable.

"That's a very tough question. I'm not sure what it means," he says.

"People have very strict ideas about what it means. Some ideas I might agree with, some ideas I don't."

Such equivocation is anathema in Holland's Bible Belt, among the large number of people who live according to strict Christian orthodoxy.

In the quiet town of Staphorst about a quarter of the population attends the conservative Dutch Reformed Church every Sunday.

The town even has a by-law against swearing.

Its deputy mayor, Sytse de Jong, accuses progressive groups of trying to change Christianity to fit current social norms.

"When we get people into the Church by throwing Jesus Christ out of the Church, then we lose the core of Christianity. Then we are not reforming the institutions and attitudes but the core of our message."

But many churches are keen to work with anyone who believes in "something".

They believe that only through adaptation can their religion survive.

The young people at Stroom West write on plates the names of those things that prevent earth from being heaven - cancer, war, hunger - and destroy them symbolically.

The new Christianity is already developing its own ritual.
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Joined: July 1st, 2008, 11:52 pm

August 9th, 2011, 3:26 pm #2

it was like NOTHING I ever learned in the church, but yet, it was all there........written in the Bible, but now I understood it like I never heard it before, hence eye has not seen nor ear heard the things God has for those who love him...

those who love him are those who "SEE" him, for to see him is to love him:

When I was sent back to tell others 8 years later (six if you count the Jews my first two years), I thought I was giving them the BEST THING since the wheel and sliced bread, so it was amazing to me that others weren't happy to hear that the Bible really has the truth, just not the way we are taught in the "church" who doesn't really understand it yet:

I went through all the levels in front of everyone so there is nothing hidden in how I spoke about it nor in how it was received etc. I remember one of my first forums was "Armageddon of the SOUL, the last seven years of Christianity as we know it":


I knew after this experience Christianity in me as I understood it for 26 years was over.......but that didn't mean CHRIST was over............my understanding of JESUS CHRIST just only began at this point.

Yet Christians were the most threatened by this so the Holland Minister may be trying to make Christianity more palatable, but you can only destroy it...........OR HAVE IT FULFILLED IN YOU

there is no changing it

there is ONLY IT changing YOU when it is revealed for what it truly is.........and where it is......

within your own being

once you experience Christ, you see from another level, a transcendant level how the Bible speaks in another language and it is NOTHING like we think with the human mind:


the human mind is tired of Christianity because it never was MADE for this mind


and people are tired of trying to FIGURE it out with a mind that is of a different world than Christianity belongs to:


to the human mind it has gone as far as it can go............now, the TRUTH is going to be revealed which leads to a NEW MIND............created from the NEW HEART that Christ gives us first:


Christianity has to die as it is delivered so that a NEW DAY can DAWN and the NEW Man can emerge as the image and LIKENESS of God, the source, the LIFE FORCE...........nothing hidden anymore
every day is a new day to die to the old and live to the newness of life
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Joined: July 22nd, 2006, 6:22 pm

August 9th, 2011, 4:08 pm #3

You really described that particular "dilemna" well, Yvonne! To a "T"...the "T" being the cross...of course.
LOL

The essential difference in the "great delusion" and the true way of the cross...which is only a doorway opened to "infinity and beyond" is that the human mind sees the goal of Christianity as "following Christ" but the mind of man realizes it isn't about following but about becoming. The successful end result is not a christian but Christ...and this is gasp...a NO-NO! in the mind that is carnal...but in truth it is nothing other than idolatry! Jesus is not an 'eye-doll' and it is not sacrilege to unlatch his 'sane-dolls'...especially when they are our own sandals...if the shoe fits...SHARE IT!

LOL

I used to go on and on about how the christian religion worships death...seeing a bloody and emaciated dying Jesus on that crucifix, at a certain point in time, became an abomination in my eyes...it isn't that way anymore, because ALL of THOSE symbols are meaningless for me anymore...in the sense of what they used to mean to me and what they still mean to many others...they are, in a very real sense, just distorted images redrawn by men based on the form of that truth that is ultimately received and revealed in GOD's pure language...but yet I still say that a more fitting symbol of what it means to worship the GOD of the living...and not the dead...is the empty tomb!

There is a lot I could say about the meanings intertwined in that idea...but I'm sure you guys, Mondo and Yvonne, have no need of me to do so...

Love to you both!

Evil shall slay the wicked:
and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants:
and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
~Psalms 34:21-22
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lox
lox

August 9th, 2011, 4:12 pm #4

it was like NOTHING I ever learned in the church, but yet, it was all there........written in the Bible, but now I understood it like I never heard it before, hence eye has not seen nor ear heard the things God has for those who love him...

those who love him are those who "SEE" him, for to see him is to love him:

When I was sent back to tell others 8 years later (six if you count the Jews my first two years), I thought I was giving them the BEST THING since the wheel and sliced bread, so it was amazing to me that others weren't happy to hear that the Bible really has the truth, just not the way we are taught in the "church" who doesn't really understand it yet:

I went through all the levels in front of everyone so there is nothing hidden in how I spoke about it nor in how it was received etc. I remember one of my first forums was "Armageddon of the SOUL, the last seven years of Christianity as we know it":


I knew after this experience Christianity in me as I understood it for 26 years was over.......but that didn't mean CHRIST was over............my understanding of JESUS CHRIST just only began at this point.

Yet Christians were the most threatened by this so the Holland Minister may be trying to make Christianity more palatable, but you can only destroy it...........OR HAVE IT FULFILLED IN YOU

there is no changing it

there is ONLY IT changing YOU when it is revealed for what it truly is.........and where it is......

within your own being

once you experience Christ, you see from another level, a transcendant level how the Bible speaks in another language and it is NOTHING like we think with the human mind:


the human mind is tired of Christianity because it never was MADE for this mind


and people are tired of trying to FIGURE it out with a mind that is of a different world than Christianity belongs to:


to the human mind it has gone as far as it can go............now, the TRUTH is going to be revealed which leads to a NEW MIND............created from the NEW HEART that Christ gives us first:


Christianity has to die as it is delivered so that a NEW DAY can DAWN and the NEW Man can emerge as the image and LIKENESS of God, the source, the LIFE FORCE...........nothing hidden anymore
in learned men...

The term used in the bible: foolishenss is interesting. It might mean folly, impious or godless but when applied to God its MOROS....which is an act or appointment of God deemed foolish by men. Its more judged as without learning or erudition. which is extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. Is God wisdom foolish or just to men who are booked learned?


For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.


For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness[moria] of preaching to save them that believe.
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Joined: July 22nd, 2006, 6:22 pm

August 9th, 2011, 4:29 pm #5

That IS interesting! I've not yet looked into those words, down deep (so many words to explore in the word!)
..but I will now.

Evil shall slay the wicked:
and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants:
and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
~Psalms 34:21-22
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Joined: July 1st, 2008, 11:52 pm

August 9th, 2011, 4:39 pm #6

as we join in the TRUTH of the WORD, we become a greater power than we can imagine with the mathmatics of our mind: Spiritual power is to the TENTH or hundreth power etc even as "where two or more are gathered together in HIS NAME, there he is AMONG US):

he glues us together and raise us to the HIGHEST COMMON denominator:

every day is a new day to die to the old and live to the newness of life
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Joined: July 22nd, 2006, 6:22 pm

August 9th, 2011, 5:54 pm #7

Exactly...I laugh because this very concept was just in mind in a conversation Magi and I shared....

Beautiful!!

GOOD NEWS, in DEED...the best ever!
I'm feelin' it, for sure!

Evil shall slay the wicked:
and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants:
and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
~Psalms 34:21-22
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Tim
Tim

August 10th, 2011, 6:19 am #8

5 August 2011 Last updated at 06:18 ET

Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world

By Robert Pigott Religious affairs correspondent, Amsterdam



The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he's not the sort of man to sugar the pill.

An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland.

It is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN), and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord's Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse's sermon seems bleak - "Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get".

"Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death," Mr Hendrikse says. "No, for me our life, our task, is before death."

Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.

"When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that's where it can happen. God is not a being at all... it's a word for experience, or human experience."

Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible's account of Jesus's life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.

His book Believing in a Non-Existent God led to calls from more traditionalist Christians for him to be removed. However, a special church meeting decided his views were too widely shared among church thinkers for him to be singled out.

A study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the PKN and six other smaller denominations was either agnostic or atheist.

The Rev Kirsten Slattenaar, Exodus Church's regular priest, also rejects the idea - widely considered central to Christianity - that Jesus was divine as well as human.

"I think 'Son of God' is a kind of title," she says. "I don't think he was a god or a half god. I think he was a man, but he was a special man because he was very good in living from out of love, from out of the spirit of God he found inside himself."

Mrs Slattenaar acknowledges that she's changing what the Church has said, but, she insists, not the "real meaning of Christianity".

She says that there "is not only one answer" and complains that "a lot of traditional beliefs are outside people and have grown into rigid things that you can't touch any more".

Dienie van Wijngaarden, who's been going to Exodus Church for 20 years, is among lay people attracted to such free thinking.

"I think it's very liberating. [Klaas Hendrikse] is using the Bible in a metaphorical way so I can bring it to my own way of thinking, my own way of doing."

Wim De Jong says, "Here you can believe what you want to think for yourself, what you really feel and believe is true."

Churches in Amsterdam were hoping to attract such people with a recent open evening.

At the Old Church "in the hottest part of the red light district", the attractions included "speed-dating".

As skimpily dressed girls began to appear in red-lit windows in the streets outside, visitors to the church moved from table to table to discuss love with a succession of strangers.

Professor Hijme Stoffels of the VU University Amsterdam says it is in such concepts as love that people base their diffuse ideas of religion.

"In our society it's called 'somethingism'," he says. "There must be 'something' between heaven and earth, but to call it 'God', and even 'a personal God', for the majority of Dutch is a bridge too far.

"Christian churches are in a market situation. They can offer their ideas to a majority of the population which is interested in spirituality or some kind of religion."

To compete in this market of ideas, some Christian groups seem ready virtually to reinvent Christianity.

They want the Netherlands to be a laboratory for Christianity, experimenting with radical new ways of understanding the faith.

Stroom ("Stream") West is the experiment devised by one church to reach out to the young people.

In an Amsterdam theatre young people contemplate the concept of eternity by spacing out a heap of rice grains individually across the floor.

"The difference from other churches is that we are experimenting with the contents of the gospel," says Rikko Voorberg, who helps to run Stroom West. "Traditionally we bring a beautiful story and ask people to sit down listen and get convinced. This is the other way around."

Stroom focuses on people's personal search for God, not on the church's traditional black-and-white answers.

Rikko believes traditional Christianity places God in too restricted a box.

He believes that in a post-modern society that no longer has the same belief in certainty, there is an urgent need to "take God out of the box".

"The Church has to be alert to what is going on in society," he says. "It has to change to stay Christian. You can't preach heaven in the same way today as you did 2,000 years ago, and we have to think again what it is. We can use the same words and say something totally different."

When I asked Rikko whether he believed Jesus was the son of God he looked uncomfortable.

"That's a very tough question. I'm not sure what it means," he says.

"People have very strict ideas about what it means. Some ideas I might agree with, some ideas I don't."

Such equivocation is anathema in Holland's Bible Belt, among the large number of people who live according to strict Christian orthodoxy.

In the quiet town of Staphorst about a quarter of the population attends the conservative Dutch Reformed Church every Sunday.

The town even has a by-law against swearing.

Its deputy mayor, Sytse de Jong, accuses progressive groups of trying to change Christianity to fit current social norms.

"When we get people into the Church by throwing Jesus Christ out of the Church, then we lose the core of Christianity. Then we are not reforming the institutions and attitudes but the core of our message."

But many churches are keen to work with anyone who believes in "something".

They believe that only through adaptation can their religion survive.

The young people at Stroom West write on plates the names of those things that prevent earth from being heaven - cancer, war, hunger - and destroy them symbolically.

The new Christianity is already developing its own ritual.
Answers of why you are?

Answers of who you are?

Answers of what you are?

I was shown all the answers of those questions Mondo.
I had the same questions.

YOU are a child of HIM/GOD and you think like HIM.

You expound on the adversary of our Father but that may be your down fall.

Perhaps you are the seed of the adversary of our Father.

So be it.

Tim






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Joined: May 4th, 2005, 1:31 pm

August 10th, 2011, 1:28 pm #9

I'm not looking for anything. There is nothing to be found. It's all here now. All are One.

In the meantime, I'm just exploring. Not looking for anything in particular. But if in my explorations I find something of interest, woo hoo!

peace bro
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Joined: July 22nd, 2006, 6:22 pm

August 10th, 2011, 3:05 pm #10

Answers of why you are?

Answers of who you are?

Answers of what you are?

I was shown all the answers of those questions Mondo.
I had the same questions.

YOU are a child of HIM/GOD and you think like HIM.

You expound on the adversary of our Father but that may be your down fall.

Perhaps you are the seed of the adversary of our Father.

So be it.

Tim





Any adversary in this world is set up as man's adversary....by GOD, Himself. GOD has no true adversary or viable opposition. GOD, as our Father and our savior, will not be our opposition anymore now that the old covenant is behind us...the adversary of men ministers to men on the left hand of GOD...for the destruction of the flesh so that the soul might be saved.

One way or another...GOD is going to get everyone back into the sheep fold...the shepherd sits on His right hand...as you know. And it is GOD who determines who is to sit on both the right and the left.

"Hurt not the oil or the wine..."
(read Zechariah chapter 4 for an explanation)

There is no power even slightly comparable to GOD's...omnipotence is a big concept...hard to wrap one's head around but it is, indeed, one fact I will attest to without hesitation, for it has been proven to me and I am a witness with a willing testimony.

And all power that exists in the hand of anyone else was expressly put there by GOD, as well...for purposes that often we do not understand but that are guaranteed to work for the good of those that love Him. Even that which we see as "evil" power...the heads of nations, war generals, despots...whatever...all power proceeds from the Singular Source...that Source is Love and the epitome thereof...therefore we know that it is true that all things work for the One Same Good...GOD is GOOD...GOD is LOVE...GOD is Perfect LOVE.

All that is in the bible, Tim...I'm surprised that you think GOD could have an enemy...especially after the work of reconciliation has been finished. Albeit, not fully manifested presently...but yet the work is done, nevertheless...only the harvest remains incomplete...and the burning of the tares...some of which reside alongside the wheat in EVERY yet-to-be-converted human soul (the converted soul of man is the barley - "A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny")


"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do...."

"It is finished."
And he gave up the ghost...

Evil shall slay the wicked:
and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants:
and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
~Psalms 34:21-22
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