Moderator: Why I support Grasping the Nettle
Published on 12 February, 2016
Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison reflects on the priority he has given to Grasping the Nettle within his full schedule.
In my moderatorial year, passing at remarkable speed, many worthy initiatives have received my time and attention. One to which I have given considerable support is Grasping the Nettle-an interdenominational strategy for Scotland that is aiming to build confidence in communicating Christian belief in in our society.
I believe this initiative to be of fundamental importance for at least two reasons. Firstly, it addresses a major issue facing us all - the steady drift out of the church into the mainstream of secular values and lifestyle. Secondly, it does so by involving the wholechurch in a coherent strategy to engage our secular culture in becoming re-acquainted with the Christian worldview. As this process gets under way, it is my prayer that many will come to see that the existence of a creator God presents a far more convincing explanation for our existence than a form of 'reasoning' that tells us that we are the products of a multiplicity of good fortune lucky breaks.
Grasping the Nettle, chaired by my immediate predecessor as Moderator, the Very Reverend John Chalmers, is an ambitious attempt to build confidence on the part of leaders and others within the church in communicating the essence of Christian belief in a sceptical age. Beginning with the science/God debate, it aims to transform public understanding of that issue and stimulate people to ask the big questions and seek the answers. Grasping the Nettle plans to facilitate that process in many ways. See www.graspingthenettle.org.
Several important public events are being scheduled and developed. Excitingly, the first Grasping the Nettle conference is due to be held in Glasgow on 18-19 March with the title 'CHALLENGING ATHEISM….DEFENDING AND DECLARING FAITH'.
This event is for all who are interested in learning how to be part of a coherent strategy to challenge the widespread scepticism of our time. Principal guest presenters include Professor John Lennox of Oxford University, Professor David Fergusson of New College, Edinburgh University, Professor Eric Priest of St Andrews University and Bishop John Keenan of the Diocese of Paisley.
The first half of the conference will face up to the challenges presented to people of faith by an increasingly aggressive atheist movement in our society. The second part will equip us to address those challenges. To find out more about what I believe will be an inspiring and motivating experience visit the Grasping the Nettle website.
The Church of Scotland has a long track record in promoting the engagement between science and faith. For almost 50 years, our Society, Religion and Technology Project has been leading the way in these matters.
Grasping the Nettle has grown out of the conviction that all the scientific evidence at our disposal points robustly in the direction of there being a creator God. Now we need to learn what that evidence is and how we can equip ourselves to share across our culture. Do consider whether you might be able to join us in March. If so, I greatly look forward to seeing you then.