Item description for Is Jesus God?: Finding Our Faith by Michael Morwood...
Overview Continuing the conversation begun in "Tomorrow's Catholic", this book asks Christians to examine the accepted theologies regarding Jesus in hopes of discovering paradigms for a viable new millennium.
Publishers Description In the new millennium, the most central question is how to understand God and Jesus. This book is an invitation to Christians--and non-Christians--to challenge their inherited notions of how and why Jesus is to be thought of as divine.
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Studio: Crossroad General Interest
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.23" Width: 5.36" Height: 0.39" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Jun 1, 2001
Publisher Crossroad General Interest
ISBN 0824518918 ISBN13 9780824518912
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More About Michael Morwood
Morwood is a former priest with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. He is still involved in Adult Faith formation and has spoken extensively to groups in both Australia and the United States.
Michael Morwood currently resides in Melbourne.
Michael Morwood has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Is Jesus God?: Finding Our Faith?
Hoping Again Feb 24, 2004
I had resigned myself to being forever frustrated with the teaching & preaching in my Catholic church. I wanted more 'meat' that I could take as a challenge to my prayer life and social justice mission. Michael has given me challenge, rooted in today's cosmology and scripture. I am grateful!
New Cosmology? Same Song, Different Verse Mar 11, 2002
We do need more people to challenge outdated religious concepts, but Michael's arguments of "updating" God to match our present cosmology simply won't work.
Our present scientific cosmology, whatever its limitations, was not developed with God in mind. All ideas came from observation, speculation, theory, and testing of physical results. In none of that can we find evidence of God's hand directing it.
If we superimpose "God" on our present paradigm, what kind of God would He/She/It be? Michael proposes awe and wonder at the mystery surrounding us. We don't need God to feel that. Michael states that "God remains utterly transcendent and utterly immanent".
Perhaps, if we could prove the existence of a God. Michael further states "God remains, even more so, the greatest mystery of all, beyond our concepts and beyond our mistaken efforts to shape God into our notion of 'person' and beyond the popular image of a male deity".
In other words, when we choose "God", we are choosing merely our own thoughts and ideas as to what God is.
Michael writes that the apostle Paul has an outdated cosmology, and we need to reject Paul. Yet looking at the same observable facts, Paul rightly concluded in Rom 9:16 that "...it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."
Paul's conclusion was based on obvious physical evidence plus the fact that we cannot choose a God who is not dependent on our own beliefs and and opinions shaped by culture, genetics, and psychological dependency.
Granted, the old cultural ideas of God are outdated, but simply superimposing "God" over a new cosmology that doesn't need him is much like corporate welfare or political porkbarrels. If there is a God, then he/she/it is not dependent on our concepts. If we place God within this new cosmology, we merely make God the result of our measurements.
This is exactly what Paul, Jesus, and the disciples taught against. If man is a creation of God, then man must accept freedom for his own decisions apart from culture or ideological needs. Knowing this to be fully impossible, Jesus stands as an offering of grace for those who seek truth beyond that of men.
By seeking to remove the sacrifice of Christ, Michael makes us sacrificial objects to the ideas of humans and majority rule.
If Spong was Catholic, and less polemical Sep 22, 2001
This was kind of a disappointing read. I suppose it might serve as a useful introduction for those thinking of stepping out of the darkness of conventional Christianity, but for those who have done so already, it doesn't really have anything new to offer.
I think Morwood should have developed his arguments a little more. This is not a thick book (141 pages), and it suffers somewhat by suggesting radical departures from traditional Catholicism without backing them up with well-reasoned, detailed arguments. I don't know how persuasive they will be to anyone who is not already leaning in that direction -- although I suppose if they weren't already leaning in that direction, they probably wouldn't consider reading a book called "Is Jesus God?"
While his writing style is less confrontational than Jack Spong's (which is a good thing), his work is much like Spong's in that it fails to provide a very appealing alternative vision. For this reason I can give it only a marginal recommendation.
Reveille for Dogmatic Slumberers Aug 1, 2001
We were having dinner at the home of Jewish friends. The other guests were a Catholic couple whom I will call George and Emily. George had lost his teaching position at a local Catholic college because of his liberal theology. Emily, a student health nurse, had been dismissed for giving information about contraception to students. I told these two that my wife and I shared their religious heritage but were now Unitarian Universalists. Emily compressed her lips, looked down, and said, "We decided to stay and fight." They are indeed scrappy people. Recently George accepted a teaching position at a Catholic high school. He did not modify his progressive opinions, the bishop learned of these, and he was fired. I suspect these two are closer to me theologically than they are to the Pope, and I wonder why they remain Catholics. But I respect that decision "to stay and fight."
Michael Morwood also stays and fights, and he is a nimble strategist. When in 1998 his book 'Tomorrow's Catholic' received unfavorable attention from the Archbishop of Melbourne, Australia, he resigned from the priesthood. He continues to find groups of Catholics and others who engage him as a teacher and lecturer.
His main concern in this book is that official doctrine and the way it is taught are driving people away from the Catholic Church. Current teaching, Morwood says, depends too much on an outmoded cosmology, on the assumption that heaven is in the sky somewhere and that the universe is a lot younger and smaller than we now know it to be. This style of teaching, and its emphasis on unquestioning faith rather than on free intellectual engagement with tradition, hinder what he calls "adult faith development." Morwood spent 29 years as a priest, many of them teaching, and in that time he noticed much "arrested faith development" in Catholic adults. Symptoms of this condition include literalism regarding Scripture and certain doctrines; uncritical loyalty to "external authority"; "unquestioning acceptance of dogma and doctrine"; adherence to childish notions of heaven, hell, and judgment; ignorance of how the Christian faith developed over the centuries and of how the Gospels were written; hostility to more sophisticated views of Christian doctrine.
A notable item in this syllabus of errors is "Claims of exclusivity: we are the only true religion." This belief, he says, reflects an inability to appreciate that "all of humankind shares the one Transcendent Spirit," a sharing that is implied by "the universality of God's presence." The claim of exclusivity certainly was Catholic doctrine as I remember it from my years in a Catholic university in the 1960s, and it is reasserted in the recent 'Dominus Iesus' declaration from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Morwood would remind me, though, that the church is not just the "teaching authority," but the entire body of believers.
And Catholics do at times pull their leaders in a different direction. An example is the reputedly weakening resistance to ordination of women. Morwood knows that some rank and file Catholics are receptive to his ideas, and he probably hopes that these will become widespread among the laity and percolate into the hierarchy.
If his hopes are realized, it will not be because they are modest. For instance, besides challenging Catholic claims of primacy among Christian churches, Morwood would also recognize prophets from nonchristian traditions. Yes, Jesus was "raised by God," but so also were Isaiah, Buddha, Zoroaster, and Confucius.
As for the redemptive sacrifice of the cross, it was never necessary: The Spirit of God, "at work in all places at all times, offered to people in all places at all times the possibility of eternal life with God. Jesus did not regain it, for it was never lost." Jesus came not to heal a rift between God and humanity, but to teach us that God has never been estranged from us; that by loving each other we do God's will; and that this is more important than professing the correct creed. The early followers of Jesus "came to understand that this man's life was like a mirror to them, revealing the ultimate purpose in life: living in love is intrinsically connected with being raised in death into eternal life with God."
In the past I've wondered if Morwood has used the notion of worldviews as a ploy to avoid charges of heresy. While he was still a priest, a bishop asked him if he believed that "Jesus was God in a way that we are not," and Morwood replied that he had "difficulty with a worldview that necessitated this belief." In this book, he answers such questions more assertively: "the onus is on those who insist on the truth of a doctrinal proposition to show, in a contemporary worldview...why Christians should keep on believing this as an article of faith." Rather than say, "I don't believe this," he says, "To keep our faith vital, you need to show me why I should believe this."
This is not a strategic evasion but the best answer. He does not see the current dogmatic and exclusivist stance of Catholicism as suitable for dialogue with other religious traditions. He has seen many adult Catholics leave their faith because of hidebound traditionalism. As an educator, he seeks not to put the stamp of his own mind on his students but rather to spur them decide for themselves what makes sense to them intellectually and what speaks to them spiritually. His subtitle, Finding Our Faith, suggests that he sees faith more as a process than as a destination, and is more interested in the process than in the statements of belief that might result from this engagement.
This book will appeal to the many who have long been growing restless over ancient teachings which have dwindling relevance and credibility. If this book, an eloquent and inspiring statement from a committed Christian, and others like it, stimulate and embolden enough of today's Catholics, their church might begin to treat people like George and Emily more justly, not to mention make better use of them.
Faith Restored May 29, 2001
Both this book and Morwood's previous work,Tomorrow's Catholic are authentic, succinct, simple insights into the potential for Christianity, and Roman Catholicism in particular, in the modern world. Together they answer questions of inquiring Catholics and other persons of good will. The books are in- tended for those in particular who have moved or are moving beyond conventional stages of adult faith development. They know that their religious tradition/spirituality is a truth and not the truth. It is for those who need and want cosmic generating principles for their lives. Morwood give them that. The book will initially be upsetting for those who think of Jesus only in the sense of having provided a bloody sacrifice to redeem humankind from a "fall". But the invitation to live in one's own time and place with the Spirit of God even as Jesus did in is is irresistible for those who heads to learn, hands to work, and hearts to love. Morwood has done a great service for all who do not want to leave their brains at the doors of their churches, or their mosques or synagogues for that matter. He has paid and will likely continue to pay a high price for speaking the truth in love but one can only admire him for having done so and hope he will continue to do so.