Goodbye to God is, I discovered, a book challenging its readers not to faith, nor to doubt, nor to disbelief, but to honesty and freedom. The spirituality it sets before us and dares us to pursue ‘transcends religions, beliefs, dogmas, creeds, scientific proofs, scepticism and polarity’. Its pages are meant to bring together, off the street as it were, anyone and everyone without a spiritual home and yet alive with longing for a spiritual life….
No matter where you find yourself in what Kierkegaard called ‘the stages on life’s way’, there is something here in this book for you – challenge, charm, heart, humour, courage, understanding, insight, reassurance, companionship. It is a gift for which I thank the author.
This is a book that challenges both conservative religion and fundamentalist atheism (and that will probably upset adherents of both), offering a secular spirituality that can be embraced by people of different faith traditions and of none. Drawing on his ministry as a Christian priest and as a psychotherapist, Chris Scott holds that religion is often bad for people, and rejects the belief that religion can provide objective truth about God. In Goodbye to God he advances a spirituality that makes humbler claims – to be true to our experience, and to be open to the mystery that is at the heart of our life. The book stands in the tradition of a ‘way of unknowing’ which has a long pedigree in Christian and other world spiritualities.
I would recommend this highly readable and deeply insightful book to all church-going Christians of every denomination and tradition, and to all non-church-going people (lapsed, agnostic or atheist) who believe in the human potential for goodness and creativity. Chris Scott’s straight-talking account of spirituality clearly comes from a place of profound personal experience and conviction. This important little book resonates with authenticity and deserves as wide a readership as possible. At once encouraging and helpful, learned and brave, Goodbye to God is actually a welcoming of new life, a breath of fresh air.
Goodbye to God is a provocative title. But a title Welcome to God would, I think, in many ways be just as consistent with the theme of this book.
I attend the chapel of Saint Francis where Chris Scott is the much-loved chaplain. His book has all the hallmarks of the sincerity and simplicity of that Order (and Chris Scott in fact has quite a lot to say in this book about the potential deceptions of religious trappings, rituals and dogma). He has a message in particular for those who feel unable to share in the objective certainties that seem to be expected, in some quarters, of those holding a particular religious beliefs (“faith”, incidentally, is a word you won’t find much used in this book). Are we required – should we be required – to accept, for example, the Resurrection as the literal objective truth if we are not to be disqualified, as it were, from being called true Christians? If not, what are we to make of it? And what about the Virgin Birth, the Ascension, the Trinity? Goodbye to God has important and insightful things to say to us on all of this. At the same time, the book challenges us to work out for ourselves what the irreducible minimum is of such religion as we profess. What lies between objective fact and subjective belief, what ultimately accords with true spirituality, is the territory of this book. On this, Chris Scott has drawn heavily, and in a most personal and humane way, on his extensive psychological training and psychotherapeutic experience. And what he has to say offers insight, I think, not simply to those wrestling with the uncertainties of their beliefs but also to those who may feel able to hold more categorical beliefs – whether religious or, indeed, atheistic. (Would those who say categorically that there is no such thing as God be quite so categoric in asserting that there is no such thing as love, he asks us to consider?)
This is not a long book. But it is a deep book. I would say: read it. And then, having read it, read it again.
The following ISBNs are used to identify different editions of Goodbye to God:
ISBN – 978-1-910667-44-6
ISBN – 978-1-910667-21-7
ISBN – 978-1-910667-22-4
The Good Bye to God is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle editions.