Tried for Heresy A 21st Century Journey of Faith
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I have written this book partly to tell my own story of how I came to resign
from a senior position in my church and to tell the story of my journey of
I have also written it to affirm the journeying of many other people, some of
whom have wondered have they journeyed alone in their search for a credible
faith for 21st century. In some ways my book turns theology on its head,
it is a book that will encourage people to think deeply about what they
believe and why they believe it. It is not written primarily for the
academic world, but rather for the general reader.
Andrew Furlong's story is a fascinating one. It pits a profoundly honest spiritual
search against a frightened ecclesiastical hierarchy that somehow believes that
it has to be God's defender. That hierarchy does not recognize that the
timeless experience of God can never be captured in the time warped
explanations of human beings, even those human beings who create Bibles and
Creeds and who pontificate regularly in God's name. Andrew Furlong has broken
open the faith traditions of yesterday, exposed its idolatry and issued an
invitation to his readers to walk beyond the limiting barriers of religious
fear into the life giving mystery of God.
The Rt. Rev. John S. Spong, 8th Bishop of Newark
It is doubtful that Jesus thought he was divine. Thus Andrew Furlong is in
good company with his questioning of this Christian dogma. It is unfortunate
that Christian churches are not broad enough to allow such questions.
Rosemary Radford Ruether. Carpenter Professor of Feminist Theology, Graduate
Theological Union, Berkeley, California
Those people who believe that the Christian Faith is a prepacked and unalterable
teaching will find this book dangerously subversive. But the author is not out
to replace the traditional faith with another, more modern version: he is
saying that the day of purely official theology is at an end. What Andrew
Furlong is demonstrating in these pages is the vitality of a theology that
allows, indeed celebrates, a number of different approaches, including his
own. He is telling us that the day of prescriptive doctrine is over - it's
just that the Church has yet to catch up with the fact.
Richard Holloway, former Primus of the Episcopal Church in Scotland
Running alongside the central argument of this book is a profound challenge
to patriarchal accounts of Christianity. The author is confident that
Christianity has the capacity to transcend its male-oriented past. Out of
this he envisions a Christian tradition that is prophetic and inclusive, one
that affirms and celebrates the goodness of human life in all its diversity.
Dr. Linda Hogan, Lecturer in Peace Studies, Irish School of Ecumenics,
Trinity College, Dublin
This heresy story needs to be read alongside the Sea of Faith Network's
ground-breaking study on doctrine and diversity.
David A. Hart. Lecturer in Religious Studies at Derby University, UK
For all people with an interest in the future of the church, Andrew Furlong's
chilling account of his treatment at the hands of a bishop should be required
reading. In a democratic society that encourages open discussion and debate
of controversial subjects, it is shocking to discover that some church
authorities in the twenty-first century will resort to behavior reminiscent
of the middle ages in order to stifle dissent. His bishop had many options
available, including continued conversation, but deciding he could not
bring Andrew around to his point of view, he decided to crush him.
You do not have to agree with everything Andrew has said or written to
realize that he, not his oppressor, embodies the best of what the
church could offer future generations of thinking people.
Rev Jim Adams Founder of The Center for Progressive Christianity USA
The original conflict between Jesus and institutional religion repeats
itself frequently today, as church authorities refuse to let Christian
doctrine evolve naturally to fit a rapidly changing intellectual climate.
This is the well documented and passionately told story of one such
Lloyd Geering, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, Victoria
University, Wellington, New Zealand.
Living with differences has been said to be the genius of the Anglican
Church. But this book gives a sad picture of one corner of that church, the
Church of Ireland, and its current unwillingness to allow different ways of
expressing Christianity. All who are concerned that witch hunts and heresy
trials should not become the norm in Ireland would do well to read Andrew
(Canon) Hilary Wakeman, Church of Ireland
Andrew Furlong provides a fascinating account of his struggle with the
religious establishment and his theological journey to a radical
interpretation of the Christian message. It is a gripping story of bravery
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok. University of Wales
Andrew Furlong will not soon forget Monday 8 April 2002 when he was to be
tried for heresy. And those who read his book will not soon forget his
story. One can forgive the parishioners who had not been made aware of the
findings of modern biblical and theological scholarship, but cannot forgive
Mr. Furlong's ecclesiastical superiors who had. Bishops who traffic in
feigned ignorance and deception are in this volume held to account by simple
testimony to honesty and integrity by the author. It makes one weep to
witness the truth crucified all over again by the church and then in the
name of Jesus of Nazareth. Congratulations to Andrew Furlong for his
Robert W. Funk. Founder of the Westar Institute and of the Jesus Seminar, USA
This is an important book for anyone interested in the struggle underway for the future of Christianity. Andrew Furlong provides a profoundly personal insight into a crisis that is familiar to members of the church alumni
association as well as those still clinging to their place within the church.
Gregory C. Jenks, FaithFutures Foundation, Australia