Bishop Michael Bird thinks the old way of doing things in the church – those boring old beliefs that have been the cornerstone of Christianity for 2 millennia – don’t work any more. The bright new future for the Diocese of Niagara lies in its pursuit of social justice. What a surprise.
Harvey Cox’s new book: “The Future of Faith” divides the Church’s history into three distinct periods: the age of faith, the age of belief and the age of the spirit. He states that “Christianity, which began as a movement of Spirit guided by faith, soon clotted into a catalog of beliefs administered by a clerical class. But now due to a number of different factors, the process is being reversed. Faith is resurgent, while dogma is dying. The spiritual, communal, and justice-seeking dimensions of Christianity are now its leading edge as the twenty-first century hurtles forward, and this change is taking place along with similar reformations in other world religions.”
[I]f it is true that faith is resurgent and that the spiritual, communal, and justice-seeking dimensions of Christianity are now its leading edge …. then we have a choice to make as we continue to be the people of God in this moment in our life as a diocese and as a church: to live in denial and just spend more money and work harder and harder doing what we have been doing … or we can begin to ride the wave that is emerging and moving across our diocese; an exciting and inspiring movement of the spirit that is calling for us to tap into this resurgence of faith and to find new and innovative ways to be the bearers of God’s transforming love in the world and to participate fully in the missionary initiative that comes from God alone.
Bird is ready to ride the wave as he hurtles forward in anticipation of the Great Emergence of a new reformation:
I want to say to you, having travelled around the Diocese and talking very personally to the people of Niagara for the last several months, that the signs of this “Great Emergence” and this next reformation are beginning to appear!
And to demonstrate he means business, Bird has even learned to use an iPod – there aren’t many people who can do that – and listened to a 1993 song by Sting from whom he has drawn inspiration:
You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy church
You could say I lost my sense of direction
You could say all of this and worse
Bird is one hip bishop.