13 March 2019, The Tablet

Benefit of the doubt


Lent Talks
BBC Radio 4

The first of this year’s Lent talks (13 March) came courtesy of Dr Mark Vernon, a one-time Church of England clergyman who has retrained as a psychotherapist. Like many an absconding cleric, Dr Vernon had diagnosed a bad case of spiritual reductiveness. Christians, he alleged, either overstressed a handful of narrow beliefs or downplayed them to the point where their value ebbed away.

To Vernon, this was not the best means of approaching the problem of how we could live life in all its fullness. The modern world, he declared, was hung up on certainty. Business abhorred equivocation. Politicians liked things cut and dried. His own religious views, post-Church of England, were founded on doubt. If the New Testament was, eventually, a tale of new life and discovery, then it was also a story of panic, disruption and confusion, and the one, he argued, was implicit in the other.

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