Archive for the ‘homosexuality and the clergy’ Category

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ

September 30, 2009

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.


The Foolishness of the Cross

August 17, 2009

One of the country’s most controversial clerics was at the centre of a new controversy yesterday after saying that traditional teaching about the Crucifixion was “repulsive” and made God seem like a “psychopath”.

The Dean of St Albans, the Very Rev Jeffrey John, used a Lent talk on BBC Radio 4 last night to attack the Christian theory of penal substitution, which argues that God sent Christ into the world to be punished for the sins of mankind.

The dean’s comments in the run-up to Easter were met with outrage from leading evangelicals who said his comments verged on the heretical, even though he attempted to soften his message by adding extra lines on the eve of the broadcast.

Dr John, who was forced to stand down as Bishop of Reading in 2003 after it emerged he was homosexual, although no longer sexually active, said he had been taught that Jesus “took the rap” for our sins, but we got forgiven provided we said we believed in him.”

But even at the age of 10, he had thought this particular explanation for the Crucifixion was “pretty repulsive as well as nonsensical.”

“What sort of God was this, getting so angry with the world and the people he created and then, to calm himself down, demanding the blood of his own son?” Dr John said.

“And anyway, why should God forgive us through punishing somebody else? It was worse than illogical, it was insane. It made God sound like a psychopath. If any human being behaved like this, we would say they were a monster.

“Well, I haven’t changed my mind since. That explanation of the cross just doesn’t work but sadly, it’s one that’s still all too often preached.”

A BBC spokesman said that the dean, reacting to criticism, had added two extra lines to “pre-empt any further misunderstanding or misinterpretation”.

One of the lines was: “On the cross Jesus died for our sins; the price of our sin is paid; but it is not paid to God but by God.” Fellow liberals defended his view, saying that a key difference between them and conservative evangelicals was their view of God. The Rev Giles Frasier, the vicar of Putney in south London, said: “What is at the heart of salvation, punishment or love? Liberals, like myself, believe it is love.”

Evangelicals were furious, however, and the row will fuel their growing discontent with the liberal wing of the Church.

A number said yesterday that Dr John’s comments showed how unsuitable he would have been as a bishop, regardless of his homosexuality.

In a statement, the Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, and the Bishop of Willeseden, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, said: “Jeffrey John is saying that the cross is not about anger or wrath or sin or atonement, but only about God’s unconditional love.

“There is, he says, nothing to understand in the cross which is anything to do with sacrifice or Jesus dying for our sins – and we say, No. You’ve got it wrong.”

Bishop Broadbent said: “Of course there are some very raw discussions amongst Christians about quite how Jesus died in our place and what that meant and how He suffered for our sins.

“But to ignore the entirety of the language about atonement and sacrifice and the cross is to nullify the message of what Good Friday and Jesus dying for us is all about. “Jesus Christ is sacrificed and he washes away the sins of the whole world and he completes the understanding of Scripture and fulfils it in a completely new way.”

He added that he was disappointed that the BBC was using its schedules to undermine the message of Easter.

“You cannot read the Old Testament and New Testament and blank out an entirety of language and concept and understanding that means that we are guilty sinners, we need our sins to be paid for and we need Jesus Christ to die for us.

“That is what the Creeds say, it is what the Bible says and you cannot rewrite them. You cannot understand Jesus Christ without understanding Old Testament atonement material.”

Bishop Benn added that “the truth that Jesus died as our sin-bearing substitute carrying the punishment for our sins on the cross is the glorious heart of the Gospel. It displays the love of God: Father, Son and Spirit, for us.

“To deny or vilify that is a tragic denial of the power and heart of the Gospel. I hope Jeffrey John will speedily reconsider and repent of his attack on apostolic Christianity.”

A spokesman for the BBC said: “Lent Talks are short individual authored opinions in which the contributor is invited to reflect on a different part of Christ’s passion.

“There will be those who agree with the points being made and those who disagree. They are a reflection of ongoing debates within the Church.”

Daily Telegraph, 5/4/07