Christianity For Skeptics: A Godless Dutch Church?

A Dutch vicar is making waves for his views on Christianity.
Rev Klauss Hendrikse

The Reverend Klaas Hendrikse is quoted by the BBC as saying the following:

"Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get."

"Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death," Mr Hendrikse says. "No, for me our life, our task, is before death."

"God is not a being at all... it's a word for experience, or human experience."

"You don't have to believe that Jesus was physically resurrected."

Hendrikse is not the leader of a Humanist or UU congregation. He presides over the Sunday service at Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland. The church is part of the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands. The service is conventional enough -- hymns, readings from the Bible, the Lord's Prayer, etc. But Hendrikse's sermons are what sets the service apart from conventional church.

Hendrikse appears to be tapping into a growing need for churches to address the doubt that has increased in congregations as more and more people are unable to reconcile scripture with what they know about the world.

From the BBC:
Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible's account of Jesus's life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.

His book 'Believing in a Non-Existent God' led to calls from more traditionalist Christians for him to be removed. However, a special church meeting decided his views were too widely shared among church thinkers for him to be singled out.

A study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the PKN and six other smaller denominations was either agnostic or atheist.

The Rev Kirsten Slattenaar, Exodus Church's regular priest, also rejects the idea - widely considered central to Christianity - that Jesus was divine as well as human.

Reactions to the church's loose reading of the Christian doctrine has led to both jeers and cheers:
Deputy mayor, Sytse de Jong, accuses progressive groups of trying to change Christianity to fit current social norms.

"When we get people into the Church by throwing Jesus Christ out of the Church, then we lose the core of Christianity. Then we are not reforming the institutions and attitudes but the core of our message."

Dienie van Wijngaarden, who's been going to Exodus Church for 20 years, is among lay people attracted to such free thinking.

Some believe that traditional Christianity has too restrictive a notion of the nature of God
"I think it's very liberating. [Klaas Hendrikse] is using the Bible in a metaphorical way so I can bring it to my own way of thinking, my own way of doing."

Wim De Jong says, "Here you can believe what you want to think for yourself, what you really feel and believe is true."


  1. Awesome! I hope atheist churches catch on in a big way :D

  2. I'm not sure I like the idea of atheist churches because it's virtually impossible to separate the word "church" from its religious connotations. Also, it would give idiot theists more ammunition for the non-argument that atheism is a religion.