What Christian Non-Realism means to me

Mark Rothko, Black on Maroon (1958). 

Christian non-realism is essentially an approach to one’s Christian faith which interprets the ‘magical’ aspects of Christianity as metaphor. Christian non-realists reject all the supernatural elements of the faith, and do not believe in an objective being or thing called God. The word ‘God’ is used in a plethora of different ways, but never to describe a force which is beyond the laws of nature. God is not a thing or a being, but rather an experience, an experience of the subjectively impossible being actualized into our lives, an experience of finding hope in hopelessness, a word which articulates something of the quality of sacred space, and a word which somehow describes something beyond words.

Christianity then, is not uniquely privileged, but rather is a language through which the ordinary everyday experiences of us all can be understood and interpreted; a language which we inherit from our ancestors, which orientates us within a narrative through which we can draw out meaning and purpose for our lives.

This narrative in which we situate ourselves is not static, but ever evolving as we grow in our understanding of who we are in relation to God. The Bible then can be taken as an extract from this meta-story of humanity seeking to comprehend itself and how it relates to God.

Of course for non-realists the figure of Jesus himself, as is the case with all Christians, is of central import. In Jesus we have the principal metaphor of God being incarnated upon earth and dying, God choosing to self-annihilate. Click Here – for another article I wrote on Death of God Theology.

Being a Christian non-realist is a challenging perspective to hold, for it confounds orthodox Christians and irritates Atheists, because it challenges common assumptions in both camps. It is a perspective which seems to have had its day in the established church, and in part this led to my decision to leave Anglican ministry and pursue Unitarian ministry. I feel that Christian Non-Realism fits better into a Unitarian context, for the culture within Unitarianism is more egalitarian in nature.