he did not believe in God’s literal existence but as something that “happens”.

“a word for experience, or human experience”

Hendrikse later said that he did not consider himself to be an atheist, but tried to stay close to atheism in his choice of words and away from the “jargon of the church”.

Hendrikse said that he would “rather remain as a louse in the fur of the PKN” than leave and form his own religious community.

in the PKN and several other smaller denominations of the Netherlands, one in six clergy are either agnostic or atheist.

Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world

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

“No, for me our life, our task, is before death.”

“When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that’s where it can happen. God is not a being at all… it’s a word for experience, or human experience.”

Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible’s account of Jesus’s life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed

The existence of Jesus is irrelevant to the message.

The word God is important. But it isn’t a being.

God is human experience.

“I think ‘Son of God’ is a kind of title,” she says. “I don’t think he was a god or a half god. I think he was a man, but he was a special man because he was very good in living from out of love, from out of the spirit of God he found inside himself.”

“a lot of traditional beliefs are outside people and have grown into rigid things that you can’t touch any more”.

“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.”

“Here you can believe what you want to think for yourself, what you really feel and believe is true.”

contemplate the concept of eternity by spacing out a heap of rice grains individually across the floor

experimenting with the contents of the gospel

focuses on people’s personal search for God, not on the church’s traditional black-and-white answers.

We can use the same words and say something totally different.

Rencontre avec Klaas Hendrikse (part. 1)

Interview with atheist Dutch reverend

I see people quit [the church] because they can no longer believe in a distant god which they don’t experience. Belief is only tenable if it is based on what you yourself experience. And we don’t undergo experiences alone - there are always others involved.

Do you believe in Jesus? Or did Jesus not exist either?
“Undoubtedly there existed an impressive person named Jesus. Otherwise they wouldn’t have written about him. But what the evangelists have written about him has no historical foundation. Who Jesus really was, has disappeared behind what they [the evangelists] have made of him. When the New Testament was written, early Christianity was gaining a place for itself amongst the accessible religions of the time. To make Jesus more believable than his competitors, he had, at least, to be able to do what they could. So, he could walk on water, multiply bread, turn water into wine and, the biggest miracle - rise from the dead. In the bible there is not a single miracle not also attributed to a pagan god or that was not erected by an Old Testament prophet. The question of whether Jesus performed miracles is not important. But because they are attributed to him, he is significant.

I suspect that the religious convictions of atheists and christians hardly differ at all. Who can tell me the difference between ‘I have experienced something’ and ‘I have experienced God’? I try to stay close to atheists in my choice of words and as far away as possible to the jargon of the church.