The Middle Way is the practical principle of avoiding both positive and negative absolutes, so as to develop provisional beliefs accessible to experience. Although inspired initially by the Buddha’s Middle Way, in Middle Way Philosophy Robert M. Ellis has developed it as a critical universalism: a way of separating the helpful from the unhelpful elements of any tradition.
In this book, the Middle Way is applied to the Christian tradition in order to argue for a meaningful and positive interpretation of it, without the absolute beliefs that many assume to be essential to Christianity. Faith as an embodied, provisional confidence is distinguished from dogmatic belief. Recent developments in embodied meaning, brain lateralization from neuroscience, Jungian archetypes and the Jungian model of psychological integration are drawn on to support an account of how Christian faith is not only possible without ‘belief’ in God or Christ, but indeed puts us in a better position to access inspiration, moral purpose, responsibility and the basis of peace.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Erudite, well-researched and deeply thoughtful. ~ Ben Whitney, Sofia, Sea Of Faith
‘The Christian Middle Way’ deploys three main tools: the notion of brain lateralisation, a clear distinction between ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ and, coupled with that, a distinction between ‘absolute’ and ‘provisional’. These tools are used to re-describe the history of Christian doctrine not only in some fine detail, but also providing illustrations of the re-description of possible Christian practice. These tasks are effected in considerable detail.
Hardly a page is turned that does not provide an occasion for some questioning, or for some ‘internal conversation’ with the writer. Perhaps here lies its value: it is written, largely, in a manner congruent with its claims: it is not an attempt to declare ultimate truths, but is rather the story of part of a life accompanied by rich reflections, giving rise to provisional conclusions as how one might think, and speak, about one’s actions. If one was looking for a thoroughgoing intellectual work-out for one's current faith and practice as understood in the context of one's actual experience over the years, then this might be the place to do it.
David Lambourn, former clergyman and now member of the ‘Sea of Faith’ network
~ David Lambourn, correspondence
...a densely argued book, needing, and deserving, time to digest; and to work out, with the author’s help, the implications of approaching religion in general and Christianity in particular, in terms of the Middle Way. ~ Edward Walker, author of Treasure Beneath the Hearth
The recognition of the different functions of the brain’s two hemispheres provides a whole new approach to thinking about the meaning and values of human life, that can be applied in the context of every philosophy and religion. Robert M. Ellis here uses it to distinguish between abstract left hemisphere belief and live embodied faith in the Christian tradition: an important consideration for anyone influenced by Christianity. ~ Roderick Tweedy, editor of Karnac Books
Praise for author's previous book ‘Middle Way Philosophy 1’... A departure at right-angles to thinking in the modern Western world. An important, original work that should get the widest possible hearing. ~ Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary and fellow of All Souls Oxford
The author describes the aim of this book as being to present “the case against Christian belief but for Christian faith”. In my view his aim is amply fulfilled in its ten chapters, which begin with a discussion of “faith without belief” and end with a discussion of Christian ethics and politics. Reflecting the author’s sojourn in Buddhism, there is much talk of “The Middle Way”. Jesus, enlightened like the Buddha, is no absolutist; rather, in his life and teaching he provides an example of a wholesome balance between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. As the Christ, he is “the balancer, the mediator, the transformer, the bridge-builder that we find within ourselves. This is a densely argued book, needing, and deserving, time to digest; and to work out, with the author’s help, the implications of approaching religion in general and Christianity in particular, in terms of the Middle Way. ~ Edward Walker, author of Treasure Beneath the Hearth