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A heartfelt lament for our present-day Christian churches that stick so rigidly to the original teachings of the church; doing so even though the great majority of our churches' flocks are no longer in the fold, are no longer reached by the old words and the old beliefs. By staying true to the original word, our churches are no longer true to their modern flock. Virgin births, resurrections, ascensions etc, no longer ‘speak' to twenty-first-century people who are beyond the fold, and yet who still believe in love and compassion and even universal justice and a benevolent universe; who do indeed still believe in God and the core teachings of Jesus.
Richard Dell, in almost Biblical language, pleads for our churches to take risks with faith and God, to embrace the realities of a world that already embraces world views and indeed embraces other faiths. We all know, Richard Dell claims, that Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists etc walk hand in hand into heaven. Even our churches, deep down, know this. Time, Richard Dell argues in this short but powerful booklet, to embrace that greater faith, and thereby to be properly true to that earlier faith.
Your flock is outside the fold.
Your flock outside the fold is not lost.
Those of your flock who are outside the fold
are the Thieves in the Night.
Your flock outside the fold walks hand in hand
with those who are of other flocks.
Yet, your flock outside the fold needs you still.
Speak to them, oh people
of the faith and the book
To all you shepherds of the church, this book is humbly offered. To all you priests and ministers, pastors and fathers and divines, and yes to all you brothers and sisters in Christ who so ably and so carefully and so lovingly administer to your flock: HEAR THESE WORDS .
Know, oh faithful ones, that you do well by your flock which is safely in the fold. You speak to your flock and your flock hears your words. You explain to your flock and your flock understands what you say.
But raise your heads and look, you children of God and the Book. See how your flock in the fold has grown small in number. See how your flock in the fold does not multiply, but instead grows less by the day. And now raise your heads further and see this:
See that the greater part of your flock is not in the fold at all. See that it is out on the hillside and that the words you use, the teachings you employ, do not reach them out there.
So know you this: that your language is ancient and to they who are on the hillside your language is meaningless. Yet out there is the greater part of your flock. And to those out there you owe as much care and as much love and as much ministering as you do to the faithful who reside with you in the fold.
And mark this well, oh people of the Book and the Faith: They who are out on the hillside still believe in a loving God. They who are out on the hillside still believe there is life after death. They who are out on the hillside still believe there is ultimate justice in the universe. And yes, they who are out on the hillside still believe that how they lead their lives in this life affects the life they live beyond the grave.
But do you go out of the fold to reach them, oh people of the Faith and the Book? No! You only use the words and the teachings that your dwindling flock within the fold can respond to. All those beyond the fold, you ignore.
But remember, oh wise ones: the day will come when you must answer for your deeds. And of one thing you can be certain. The Master will ask of you this: ‘why did you not venture out of the fold onto the hillside? Why did you not find words that could reach our children who had moved on?'
And you will have no right answer; and you will hang your heads. And you will despair.
Hear now the truth regarding those who are on the hillside. Hear this, oh people of the Faith and the Book about those who are no longer in your fold.
Mark you well that these lost sheep are not lost. Accept most rightly that they are in God's hands. Know that they move to the changing times, that verily they have gone from you ‘to seek the wind'. Yes and know this: that they will be found, and that it is you who are lost.
Tell us you might, oh people of the Faith and the Book, that they on the hillside have lost their way because they have ignored your ancient Word, because they have moved from their dependence upon your scriptures. Tell them if you will, that the Christian faith was at its most mighty when the faithful were true to that now ancient Word of God.
Yet heed these two sentences well:
HE WHO RENOUNCES THE BIBLE,
HAS NOT NECESSARILY
SHE WHO DOES NOT FOLLOW
THE WORD AS WRITTEN
IN YOUR SCRIPTURES,
IS NOT ALWAYS LOST.
Remember, oh friends, that the Holy Spirit is like the wind. It ‘bloweth where it listeth'.
Thereby know that it is not the Word that determines the spiritual future of our people. Know that it was not our forefathers' use of the Bible that determined how the Faith might be received. Know instead that it was the Will and the Spirit of God that determined these things. And thus mark this well, oh people of the Faith and the Book: those are matters that are not ours to command.
So beware, you peddlers of your ancient scriptures, you good shepherds who chastise from the safe comfort of your fold: t he Spirit of God has moved on.
And mark this too, oh dear and faithful ones: the Children of God have moved on likewise.
The Times have changed. Our destiny is upon the hillside, and our task is clear. We must all ‘seek to catch the wind'.
You too, oh people within the fold. You too.
This teaching of the talents was given by the Master. It was given to chastise those of the ancient ways who stayed with the ancient ways. It was given to those who could not respond to His new dispensation of which He was the herald.
Think not that this was given to show how we might employ