Sentamu on rock or sand2
Church of England

A few rocky facts belie Sentamu's sandy statist socialism

 

The Most Rev’d and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, has edited a neat selection of essays on the current moral state of the nation. Entitled On Rock or Sand? (and we soon glean which political philosophy is grey granite and which is white limestone), the compilation draws on the cumulative wisdom of experts from the fields of economics, politics, religion, academia and social thinking, including contributions by Lord Adonis, Sir Philip Mawer, Oliver O’Donovan, Andrew Sentance, Julia Unwin and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. According to John Bingham of the Daily Telegraph, the book constitutes a “pre-election assault on (the) ‘evil’ of inequality in Coalition Britain”, with “‘Entire cities’ being ‘cast aside’ in a nation where ‘rampant consumerism and individualism’ are the new religion..” You get the picture.

But it’s rather a warped one, if not politically one-dimensional and misrepresentative. Indeed, from the Bingham piece we get a sense of a replay of the Faith In The City offensive against the Conservative government of 1985 – so much so that one wonders if the spectre of Margaret Thatcher doesn’t haunt the corridors of Bishopthorpe Palace, or whether The Lady, for some unknown reason, plagues the mind of the Archbishop, who appears to have graced the Telegraph with a few privileged thoughts about his collection:

It advocates a new redistribution of wealth, quoting the slogan popularised by Karl Marx: “From each, according to his resources, to each, according to his need.”

In an interview with The Telegraph, Dr Sentamu acknowledged: “That sounds extremely left wing doesn’t it?

“The truth is it is the theology of where I am coming from.

“If God has created us unique, (and) all of us have got his image and likeness, is it ever right that I should have more when somebody else has nothing?”

“The theology of where I am coming from” is empirically unassailable and epistemologically irrefutable: it is ‘truth’ because it is God dwelling in the comfy home of biographical subjectivity. And who can argue with that? “The theology of where I am coming from” eulogises whoever one admires and endorses whatever one may think. And so the brotherhood endorsements abound: “This is a watershed moment for British society, as more and more people are recognising,” writes Rowan Williams, now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. “These essays, by a range of respected authorities, offer a clear and comprehensive picture of the values and priorities we need to discover or rediscover if we are not to go on slipping into a value-free muddle whose costs are carried by those least able to bear them.”

And that’s the theology of where he is coming from.

But for many Christians – including a good many in the Church of England (not to mention the theology of where they are coming from) – this book is not only theologically disputable; it is politically uncertain and contentious, if not belligerent and controversial. Some might even say that it constitutes the latest in a series of PR gaffes in which the Archbishop of Canterbury has found himself embroiled through no direct fault of his own. Coming on the run-up to the General Election, it is a highly questionable initiative that superficially politicises what are complex and deep-rooted social and economic ills.

Justin Welby’s contribution to the book is not, either in content or intent, an exercise in bashing the Prime Minister, his Government, the Conservative Party, or, indeed, any other party. Nor does it dismiss Conservatism. Much of the focus of his writing is rightly and reasonably concerned with state of the nation, making explicit that: “This is not a question about economics, let alone party politics; it is a question of the moral basis of our prosperity.”

For him, the Church is political; not party political. That’s the theology of where he is coming from.

There is, however, a justifiable concern that he has chosen to associate himself with clearly left-leaning figures during a sensitive and critical campaign period. It is worth noting that his chapter on “Building the common good” was written in May 2014, which dates it by eight long months. Did he know back then (or was he warned) that the book would be launched with a huge media fanfare during the heat of a general election campaign? The Archbishop of York’s timing and willingness to see the book spun by the Daily Telegraph betrays a distinctly partisan view of such issues as poverty and social justice. Did the Archbishop of Canterbury have prior knowledge of that? Was he told that his essay would sit alongside those of prominent figures in the Labour Party, and may be seen to offer spiritual succour if not ecclesiological patronage?

The book is inscribed: “For hard-pressed families on poverty wages”. Since Christ informed us that the poor would always be with us, there is a guaranteed market for reprints and repeat orders. But there are truths to be discovered beyond the Christian Socialist trinity of Temple, Tawney and Beveridge, who are lauded in leitmotifs throughout the book. The ‘Five Giant Evils’ of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness have as many potential solutions from the political right as they do the left, but Canterbury’s insights into conservatism are distinctly subsidiary to York’s socialism.

Archbishop Justin begins his chapter by quoting the parable of Jesus and the workers in the vineyard. For him, the importance of employment is not not limited to earning a salary, but includes also the dignity and sense of social belonging and individual worth which arise from having and doing a good job. He continues:

Stability and hope are linked to purpose and productivity. While they may be found in other ways, for most people the major source of stability and hope is found from engagement in a worthwhile occupation.

Since job creation has been one of the present Government’s biggest achievements – 2 million more private sector jobs created; 2 million new apprentices; 1.2 million more people in work; 760,000 new businesses – this is not an area of Conservative weakness: the Archbishop of Canterbury is not making an open challenge to the Government, as the Telegraph alleges (and, presumably, the Archbishop of York was content to see spun). His central point concerns the problematic relationship between the value of human life and economic models:

(Stability and hope) will only come through a mass conversion of our hearts and minds to a gratuitous and widespread commitment to solidarity – of a society built and lives lived on the principles of the inherent dignity of the person, outside and beyond any economic value, and of the commonality of the human journey.

He accepts that no-one has cracked this, nor does he propose a new model. Talking of economic policies since the 1960s, he is informed and even-handed in his criticism, noting: “One thing all these strategies have in common is that none has experienced the success which was hoped for, or which was predicted. Nothing has really worked so far.”

But his remarks concerning the growth of London and South East, in comparison with slower rates in the regions, are framed unfairly. There has indeed been growth in the regions, with 75 per cent of all jobs created since 2010 being outside of London. If the clergy are to weigh into political debates – as they should – they must at least have possession of the facts and make balanced arguments around the statistics.

The Archbishop of Canterbury also decries the migration of young people from the regions to London, when, in fact, figures published since his writing point to the direct opposite: more young people are leaving London for the regions than ever before. He is right to warn about the values that our society holds dear. On this he says: “Christian solidarity is concerned with how we value people and communities. That is, it values people not according to their economic output or capacity but in and of themselves.” But it is not fair to claim that David Cameron’s government has turned its back on the poor. Of the 2 million private sector jobs created by the Coalition, 85 per cent are full-time and the vast majority outside the South East. The Government has also cut tax for 3 million people, reduced the tax rate for the lowest earners, and raised the stamp duty on expensive houses.

Archbishop Justin does, however, graciously acknowledge the success of apprentice schemes, observing:

The renewed interest and investment in apprenticeships is a welcome step, and it should continue to be a priority to ensure that young people are able to be trained in work that is both economically and socially useful and that will bring purpose, stability and hope to all young people as they begin their adult lives.

Conservatives would also (rightfully) point to the Troubled Families Act of 2012, which set a target of helping 120,000 families out of social ills such as unemployment, truancy, crime and antisocial behavior – seeking to address the root causes of some of those very ‘Five Giant Evils’ that no Labour government has been bold enough to dissect or brave enough to dissolve.

For the left-leaning contributors to this book – from the Blairite peer Lord Adonis to others with less publicised (but highly-suspected) affiliations – it is apparently justifiable to ride on the back of Christianity and use poverty and social justice for political point-scoring. A better approach would be to consider outcomes and facts rather than prejudices and enmities. According to the Archbishop of York, inequality is evil. According to the ONS, the level of income inequality is at its lowest level since 1986, whereas under Labour inequality reached its highest level in modern times. Whence comes the greater evil?

Prominently edited by England’s second most senior Church leader, On Rock or Sand? only reinforces the prevailing perception of episcopal political bias. The Church has an important role to play in politics, and offers a unique voice in speaking out to defend the poor, dispossessed and weak. But that voice is muffled if not muted when it is seen to be partisan.

  • sarky

    Headline in the daily mail:-

    “Bishops were wrong on poverty last time……..this time they are irrelevant”

    Sums it up nicely I think.

    • Linus

      Oh you sad man!

      You read the Daily Wail?

      I officially blackball you from the Secular Atheist Club. Begone and never darken our door again!

      • sarky

        Ha ha, dont read it, just saw the headline!! Am I allowed back in??

        • Nick

          Come on guys, let’s have a bit of unity. I’m sure that secular atheism has room enough for the reading of esoteric texts like the Daily Mail.

  • tiger

    Once again people like the Bishop intruding into areas where they have no expertise and fail to try to gain some knowledge before inserting foot in mouth.

    Lets look at some of the problems that affect the wealth gap that they are prattling on about.

    1. Big business and the multinational have undue and undeserved influence over day to day politics that affect ordinary people. Big business have the resources and connections to politicians that matter, to effect political change that affects everyday life in the UK. Here is a simple example. The big media players (recording and movie heavy weights) effectively wrote the Millennium Digital Act. Mandelson spent a wonderful holiday with the great and the good on a super yacht for a period in the Med, came back and carefully orchestrated its passage through Parliament. This was based on the principle that theft from the artists was evil and they needed protection from the masses. Now whether you agree or not on the principle, this is an example of how big business affects change without any democratic right because many of the people influencing change are not British and have no right of influence.

    2. The influence of Home ownership has had a huge economic impact on us and was major factor in the financial collapse of 2008. The Margaret Thatcher inspired home ownership has been transformed from doing good to doing really bad things for everyone. The sale of council owned homes to ordinary people should have resulted in more homes being built and greater home ownership for ordinary people but the money was wasted. Lost on wasted projects or off-setting debt. This has lead to a supply and demand shortage of housing with the consequence that housing stock is vastly over-valued. So much so that when the crash came housing prices had to be sustained artificially because so many people had borrowed against the equity. The country would have gone into financial melt down had this collapsed as well. Too big to fail.

    3. Labour costs; Prior to former East European states being admitted to the EU many businesses were sending work to Asia because they could get it done cheaper there. This led to big job losses. The East Europeans then filled the gap that was left for jobs that could not be exported. Since the mid 2000’s wages have been gradually depressed whilst we have seen sustained inflation. Because of the ever decreasing wage costs, profits for the businesses has soared leading to an ever increasing wage gap.

    4. We are now seeing the consequences of these disparities. The wealthy do not spend their vast excess income in the shops. These are invested either off-shore in tax havens or in investment items. We are now seeing the likes of Tesco start to suffer. This will be widespread and will we now be faced with deflation and all the problems associated with this as the retailers fight a war to get their share of the dwindling consumer spend?

    Will the politicians really get to grips with the realities of these effects on ordinary people or continue on their path or ignoring the obvious? History has taught us that these factor lead to violent change when ordinary people get desperate enough. Hopefully Nigel Farage has enough influence on politics for us to see some change.

    • IanCad

      Sure got your teeth into this Tiger.
      Particularlly regarding the housing problem. Huge problems down the road.
      What’s with this blog today?
      I agree with everyone so far.

      • Dawn Young

        But lack of housing stock is also exasperated by other factors, smaller households, divorce and separation, cheap right to buy and other loans, low interest rates, foreign property investment and immigration.

        • IanCad

          So true!
          I would also add to that the policies of recent administrations to increase home ownership.
          Also known as saddling the suckers with debt.

    • dannybhoy

      “This has lead to a supply and demand shortage of housing with the consequence that housing stock is vastly over-valued”

      True, but it gets votes, just as doling out benefits stolen from the taxpayer gets votes for Labour..
      What we need is a vision for a fairer, more united society with a prosperous economy, a State that encourages entrepreneurial success as well as labour intensive businesses such as were common back in the ’50s and ’60s when I were a lad.
      At the moment the political party of which I am an active member is the only one that offers something approximating a better, less cynical vision of the future

  • magnolia

    I haven’t read these but I would guess there is a hefty section on global warming that scaremongers the innocent, in direct contradiction to the promise of God to Noah in the rainbow, a symbol whose real meaning is all but lost on the modern church, who have chosen disbelief, and preferred the path of those who advocate a vastly reduced population.

    If the global warming alarmist figures were right only a complete cessation of all human economic activity, trade, travel and a drastic reduction of the world population could even begin to make a small dent in this deadly CO2. (Even then the sea and the volcanoes would have dwarfed the reduction in their continuing massive production.) The church is naive if it thinks there is any nice way to achieve that. And naive if it thinks there was not big money with its nose in the trough.

    Fortunately the figures are wrong, and the rainbow is right, and all the dire things prophesied are not happening. It would have been nice if more church leaders were on the side of the Angels and loved humanity in this, and refused to get on the bandwagon of castigating them for breathing or using their cars to visit Granny, or being active at all. Jesus was and is a great lover of humanity, and criticised the Pharisees for piling heavy loads on people’s shoulders, and then standing back to watch. It still happens.

    • The Explorer

      If the rainbow version of things is wrong, then presumably the Second Law of Thermodynamics will run its course. Why all the fuss to save the planet, if the planet is doomed anyway? Deckchair arranging on the ‘Titanic’.

      • Anton

        Can you correctly state the second law of thermodynamics with understanding? There is much wrong with the lay expositions. As for global warming I agree with Magnolia. In science data trump theories, and it hasn’t got warmer for about 15 years even though China and India continue to industrialise apace and CO2 levels increase as a result. (The effect of CO2 in absorbing radiation is instantaneous – no delay.) This is according to satellite data, and only satellites can look at the whole globe at once; terrestrial thermometers are liable to suffer from selection effects.

        • The Explorer

          As Carl Jacobs said a few threads ago, we speak as if by curing cancer we will live forever, when all we are doing is prolonging life. That’s what I was getting at with regard to the Universe.
          With understanding? Certainly not. String theory? The curvature of space? My understanding of everything is pretty blurred: theology included. However, I tried to get some sort of basic sense of it after C P Snow’s point in ‘The Two Cultures’ that ignorance of the Second Law was as bad as ignorance of Shakespeare.
          C19 materialism believed in the self-existence and permanence of matter. Then came the Big Bang. What has a beginning will have an end. Matter is passing from more concentrated to less concentrated forms. (Bertrand Russell’s definition, I seem to remember.) The Sun will grow cold. For the atheist, I think, there are two responses to this. One is that everything is pointless; life is absurd. The other is to defy the Universe, and to behave – despite the final extinction of everything – as if life had meaning.

          • Anton

            Actually I do understand the curvature of space, the 2nd law of thermodynamics and a good deal of string theory in mathematical detail. I would not have dared to say that the nontechnical summaries of the 2nd law are almost invariably misleading otherwise. Every physicist sees a beauty in the laws of physics, expressed mathematically. Secular physicists are at a loss to explain that beauty, but Judaeo-Christian physicists can: those laws were put in place by One who had an acute sense of aesthetics. (Notice that science grew out of the one culture in which the Bible was generally held to be true.)

            You mention the Big Bang. What it says, most fundamentally, is that the universe had a beginning. Before the Big Bang theory which emerged when Einstein’s field equations of general relativity were applied to the entire universe early in the 20th century, science had nothing to say about ultimate origins. Now look at the opening line of the Bible: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Some 4000 years after God told man, man works it out in his own strength. And people say science and religion (at least, biblical religion) are incompatible!

          • The Explorer

            As one doesn’t need to understand the combustion engine in order to drive a car, I don’t understand the technicalities of the Big Bang, but I do see that it impinges on the meaning of life. If the Universe had a beginning it can, like the individual human life, have an end. If both the individual life and the life of the Universe come to nothing, then that has implications for the atheist that are not there for the Christian.

          • Anton

            Yes, but the Christian can explain the beauty in the laws of physics whereas the atheist cannot.

          • sarky

            Thats right, us atheists are not in possession of the special ‘beauty’ glasses you christians wear!

          • Anton

            Sarky, I am not saying that Christians see beauty in the laws of physics because they are Christian. I am saying that physicists see it – whether they be Christian or atheist. The Christian physicist has, however, an explanation for that beauty whereas the atheist physicist does not. Try asking one!

          • sarky

            The atheist physicist does not…….yet.

          • Anton

            You’re a physicist too? Greetings!

          • The Explorer

            Absolutely!

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    It’s the rotten system of appointments by the establishment. It needs cleaning out.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Not merely partisan, but also plain wrong with significant facts.

  • Anton

    Disestablishment! Let the CoE compete in the Free Market of nonconformist denominations and see how it fares once its Statist links are severed.

    • saintmark

      Very dangerous idea, at the moment the Monarch HAS to be head of the CofE if the Church is disestablished and say Charlie decides to throw in his lot with the Muslims, what is there to stop UK having a Muslim Head of State and not just the UK but all members of the commonwealth might be classed as technically Muslim, how much of the map might change colour. The implication being that this country would become part of Dar al Islam and if the next Monarch was not Muslim the religion of peace could justify an insult/attack/offence against Islam, at least certain members might. You know that once a country is Muslim it is always Muslim and anyone who tries to change that is declaring war against Islam.

      • Anton

        Correct response to Islam is to enable the entire population to defend itself in a way it is presently denied.

  • Philip___

    Once again the bishops go on about economics while they remain silent on things like abortion.

    Rather than wasting time on ivory-tower economic criticisms of government, or on sins of the City etc, perhaps they might do better to spend time addressing the typical sins that are relevant to the individual and talk about the Christian message of the offer of eternal hope in Christ to us imperfect fallen individuals. (It is noticeable that do this tend to be the ones that are growing.)

  • Anton

    This is a sorry collection. John Sentamu once spoke well against Freemasonry in the Church of England. Rowan Williams, having spent half his life taking pay from the collection plates of Christ’s faithful to sow doubt in Christ via liberal theology, is now Master of a rather beautiful and ancient Cambridge College. One has a Bishop’s Palace available to him from which to preach about the poor, the other a Cambridge Master’s Lodge. It’s a hard life!

    • The Explorer

      I always thought our last archbishop had the most wonderful voice: a pleasure to listen to. But what he actually said could be summed up by his beard: fuzzy.

  • Anton

    Perhaps these Archbishops are unaware of an earlier precedent. In 1795 the parish of Speenhamland decided on a minimum wage and set local taxes so that the wages of persons who were paid less than a certain amount were topped up from those taxes. This system then spread throughout much of the south of England, with variations. The law of unintended consequences promptly made itself felt, reducing the market wage offered because employers knew that taxpayers would make up the deficiency. Then, in order to maintain the top-up, taxes and tithes had to be increased significantly, even as wages fell. This was hardest on the poorest ‘labourers’ (meaning those who did not qualify for relief), who were soon living less well than some ‘paupers’ (meaning those who received relief). Moreover the paupers, initially grateful, soon made up gangs which physically threatened the people who set the rates and the criteria for relief. These criteria took family circumstances into account; the result was that, while labourers became poorer with the more children they had, single mothers and other pauper families often became richer with more children. The growing unfairness of this system was a major underlying cause of the rural riots of 1830-31, even if the immediate trigger was poor harvests in combination with partial mechanisation of farm work.

    In Mosaic Law every Israelite family owned outright their means of production, i.e. their land (unlike in the mediaeval feudal system), and could work it for food. But our industrial society doesn’t guarantee work or, consequently, food. We are far richer than ancient Israelites per head, but if someone finds a better way to manufacture what your employer makes then your factory goes bust, so you lose your job, and if no other factory is looking to take on labour and expand, and you have no savings, then you’ll be unable to pay your rent or mortgage and your family is likely to lose your home. That is different from ancient Israel, and it raises the question of whether the government should take over wholesale in helping the unemployed: the nationalisation of charity. The choice appears to be between two evils, the disincentivisation of work (as preferred by the Left, who believe that people will always prefer to work than not, despite frank statements to the contrary by some unemployed on benefits); and the possibility of people going hungry (preferred by the Right, who are liable to callousness). But Mosaic Law can tell us more. Did it have a social security system? On the one hand, Mosaic Law mandated stores of grain, taken as a fixed proportion of each person’s crops, for poor relief. On the other hand the Law did not specify how much someone poor should get. There was an element of personal discretion in such decisions; significantly, nobody could use the Law to demand “Gimme!” The decision would have fallen to the local priests and elders, who would have personal knowledge of the people involved. (On top of this system, personal charity to the poor whom you encountered in daily life was a duty.) I suggest that there is divine wisdom in this combination, and that we move to a system in which tax is taken for welfare but it is handed out with some element of moral discretion rather than by a mathematical formula. To minimise nepotistic abuse (no system is perfect in a fallen world), there should be a cap on what any person receives.

    Furthermore, as a matter of national urgency, the tax-and-welfare system must stop subsidising and thereby promoting the consequences of sexual promiscuity.

    • IanCad

      An excellent post Anton.
      A huge amount of information in so few words.
      Just what blogging should be.

      • Anton

        The point is to change the world…

      • Anton

        The Chadwick Report of 1834 into those rural riots, explaining the unfairness to labourers and the effect on paupers, has a distinctly modern ring to it.

        • IanCad

          As I went to school near there, the Speenhamland System was explained to us – with – Horrors!! The master comparing it to the modern state and that we should heed those lessons from the past.

    • Watchman

      Thank you, Anton, for your excellent précis of the vagaries of part of the history of the Poor Law; it shows that once we interfere with spiritual principles we upset the balance of God’s purpose. God’s principle economic unit is the family and it was through the family that provision was made; which is why in the OT they were commanded to care for widows, orphans and foreigners, those which fell outside the normal family provision. (foreigners were those which attached themselves to families and lived as part of the family). It was expected that all men would work and make provision for the family. Carried through to the NT Paul told churches to care for widows and orphans and himself worked to keep himself when visiting as an apostle. All this was based on the principle of sowing and reaping; without sowing we should not reap. Poor relief broke this bond between sowing and reaping and we have been living with the chaos ever since.

      The end of Speenhamland was brought about by the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834 and the advent of the workhouses, not the finest episode in British social history.

      Perhaps the most neglected of all social thinking was as a result of the research of Seebohm Rowntree in the early 20th century who defined primary and secondary poverty by absolute standards rather than the relative standards which are uncritically accepted today and ensure that wastefulness and abuse are now endemic. Rowntree set a standard below which was a starvation level and this he described as primary poverty. Above this level of income, where hardship ensued was secondary poverty, brought about by mismanagement of resources. I would suggest that even at the lowest level of benefits there is no primary poverty in Britain today.

      BTW the Israelites never owned the land they were rather leaseholder rather than freeholders, Leviticus 25:23 makes that clear; hence the year of the Jubilee could ensure restitution of the land and the Israelites knew that they couldn’t sell off any of it to a passing Arab in order to make a quick shekel or two.

  • Watchman

    Both these archbishops would do well applying themselves to the things of the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of this world. They are acknowledging that the god of this world is the accumulation of wealth and are falling prey to the notion that the world is right in doing so. I can find nothing in my bible which says that we should encourage covetousness and that those in authority should concern themselves with theft from one group of people to distribute to another in order to enable all to worship their god equally.

    To interpret the parable of the labourers in the vineyard in such a way is mischievous. Like all parables this one has a simple point. The husbandman has the right to pay his labourers according to the contract he struck with them and this contract should not be the concern of anyone else. Perhaps Christians who are members of trade unions should ponder this point.

  • Anton

    If the bishops want to get into the politics of inequality, there is an area in which they can do some good. Genuine capitalism means free markets in goods; and trade is mutually enriching not a zero-sum game. Banks connect borrowers and savers. This system should be left alone as much as possible in order to generate wealth, which it has done to an unprecedented extent in the West in the last 200 years.

    Then there is banking. If I print money, I get sent to prison as a counterfeiter. If a bank does it, this is held up to be a good thing, for various reasons – more cash available for investment or, in the case of national banks with QE, promotion of liquidity and maintenance of the velocity of money so as to prevent a slump. Some of us believe that fractional reserve banking is responsible for the business cycle of boom-and-bust. Ultimately it is a gross violation of the Mosaic commands for fair weights and measures. And QE money goes to banks who lend it preferentially to people having more collateral, ie the wealthy. Money then begets money and THAT is why the rich are getting richer today. Sentamu needs to read more Adam Smith and less Meynard Keynes. Perhaps he might get round to rereading the Bible and someday pronounce on something theological too.

  • Inequality is the wrong target. I am currently reading a couple of Sentamu collections of essays on faith and hope, very good so far. Of course the MSM didn’t jump on these…

    Still willing to believe the best (love hopes all things) but I hope this isn’t the shade of Spaceley-Trellis with his ‘we are all guilty’ re-asserting itself.

    • dannybhoy

      We have inequality because men are unequal in talents, intelligence, aspirations and disposition.
      To sustain a society there must be wealth, work and opportunity. Socialism kills enterprise but not envy. Socialism does not build fraternity, instead it creates fear, as people are expected to report those who are failing the state in some way..
      Even in the failed Soviet regime people still needed incentive to work for the party! In fact few people are inspired by the nebulous concept of a better and fairer society, but will respond to the chance to improve their lot.

  • IanCad

    Equality! Equality! Equality! The plea of Marx, of Mao, and of the useful idiots throughout history.
    Same uniforms, same haircuts, same pay, same status.
    Oh Man!! Could I ever get steamed up over this!!

    • Anton

      If they ever stopped to define it they might learn something.

  • Anton

    Sentamu: it is the theology of where I am coming from.

    Is this not an insult to the church in Uganda?

  • Linus

    The theology of where I am coming from makes Sentamu a valuable ally.

    Not because of his crackpot economic and social theories. Marxism died and was buried decades ago and now only lives on the heads of a limited number of refugees from the 1960s. Like it or not, the economy we have is the economy we need to deal with. Romantic notions of “share and share alike” are utopian nonsense. Man is not like that. He’s selfish and will always try to work things to his own advantage at the expense of others. He can make an effort to be altruistic and education plays a big role in this, however his default setting is “look after number one, and all of number one’s number twos, and let all the other numbers look after themselves”.

    No, Sentamu’s value as an ally is not that he’s trying to propagate a vision of society I share. Far from it. His value is counted by the sheer quantity of ridicule and opprobrium he heaps on the Church’s head.

    Just look at the British papers this morning. I even betrayed my principles and read the article in the Daily Wail that sarky linked to. It’s pretty typical of the tone all the papers are taking. Once more the public perception of the Anglican leadership as gormless, ineffectual, cardigan-wearing communists has been confirmed. The fact that Sentamu is African, and a Ugandan to boot, just makes it worse for him. The message is that once the Church gets its hooks into you, not even African vitality and ebullience can save you from becoming the class nerd.

    Which from where my theology is coming from (was that English?), is very satisfactory indeed.

    More young people alienated from the Church. More existing church goers throwing up their hands in disgust and packing the whole thing in. It could hardly get any better.

    • Anton

      Really, Linus, really! Anybody would think you didn’t like Christianity…

      Have you any view on Jesus of Nazareth as expounded in the documents which the church views him by, namely the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?

      • dannybhoy

        I think Linus doesn’t like what he thinks is Christianity…

      • Linus

        A good story, but not very plausible.

        • dannybhoy

          So you will admit then Linus that those of us you referred to as “certifiable” at least believe in something good and inspiring?
          ps. a less kindly man than myself might ask why you’re still here and still conversing with these awful cruel deluded Christians.
          That some of us actually like you and continue praying for you must be even more galling. 😉

          • The Explorer

            By ‘a good story’ he might not mean a story about goodness. After all, a story about badness could be a good story in the sense of being well told. ‘Macbeth’ would then be both a bad story and a good story. Since Linus writes well, the same would be true of his autobiography.

          • dannybhoy

            You’re right, but I believe Linus has a lot of goodness in him, and I believe God loves him just as much as He loves me.

          • The Explorer

            Agreed. I don’t think Linus’ good qualities are confined to his writing abilities.

          • Linus

            Only a couple of you are cruel. Most of you seem amiable enough. Slightly deranged, but amiable.

            When I say the Bible tells a “good story”, I mean it in the sense that it’s a decent read, in parts. In others it’s tedious in the extreme.

            The story it tells is that of a relatively minor ethnic group trying to make sense of their precarious place in the world by mythologizing their oral traditions and erecting themselves as a powerful deity’s chosen people.

            As their position got weaker, so their god became more powerful until he became the one and only god. And when he could get no more powerful, all of a sudden he transforms into a man to bring that power within the grasp of his people, although their reluctance to share it with others saw most of them reject the offer.

            So the Jewish tribal religion became a way for all men to grab onto the hope of self-deification and the idea that their nasty, brutish and short lives were just a step on the way to greater glory. And power. Especially power. A seductive lure. And one that need never deliver on its promises because fulfillment is delayed until after death.

            A good story, but a hollow one. Or perhaps symbolic. We do now enjoy power that our ancestors might have considered god-like and science will bring us more. So in a way we really are deifying ourselves. So the need for a god disappears, but slowly, as we take time to let go of our myths and legends.

            So in that way I can accept the Bible as an account of where we’ve been. But it has little to say about where we’re going. That’s a future we’ll make for ourselves.

    • The Explorer

      I wish I shared your optimism about the collapse of Marxism. When the system could no longer sustain it in the East, it transmuted to the West as Political Correctness. Remember Gramsci. First destroy western culture from within.. When it implodes, then you can implement the new economic order. From a Gramscian perspective, everything is going splendidly.

      • Linus

        Political correctness doesn’t have the same grip on France as it does in the Anglo world. Witness Charlie Hebdo and their editorial policy.

        • The Explorer

          France probably less than elsewhere, agreed; France’s forte is postmodernism. PC is primarily a German thing. (Although Gramsci was Italian, and Germany runs France through the EU). The survivors of the Frankfurt School took PC to the States, which exported it to the UK. Germany also exported PC to Scandinavia, which swallowed it whole. There can’t be a more PC country than Sweden. Unless it’s the Netherlands.
          Saying which, if one accepts multiculturalism as an offshoot of PC, then France is right up there with the leaders…

          • Linus

            You misunderstand the French definition of multiculturalism. All are welcome here as long as they respect the values of our Republic.

            One such value is égalité, equality. In France women are equal to men. Any custom coming from abroad that endangers this equality is not welcome in France. Thus the burqa is banned. The hijab is banned in all schools and public employers, and classes or public meetings may not be segregated by sex.

            Where multiculturalism clashes with French values, French values prevail.

          • dannybhoy

            “You misunderstand the French definition of multiculturalism. All are welcome here as long as they respect the values of our Republic.”
            See Linus, that’s why your input is valued here on Cranmer..

          • The Explorer

            If only it were true!

          • The Explorer

            I took a wrong turn once into an immigrant area of Evreux. I still remember the experience. I was living in France during the riots of 2005. I watched the commentary on French TV. I think I understand French multiculturalism very well.
            French values did not prevail in the case of Ilan Halimi. They certainly don’t prevail in La Zone.
            But I do give the French credit for recognising, ahead of other European nations, that there is a problem to be addressed.

    • dannybhoy

      Without wishing to upset anybody at all, and not vouching for, or endorsing the website, I share this link. I have done a brief search and I have found other websites that carry the same story but with slightly different photos,
      Some of them I think would be rather difficult to fake.
      My only reason for sharing the link is so that we all face a bit of reality here regarding homophobia and justice Shari’a style. It’s one thing to chunter on about the evils of Christianity, but look at the poor people here and think on…

      http://libertyalliance.com/isis-releases-images-koranic-punishment-homosexuals-women-graphic/

    • Watchman

      Marxism is alive and well and is the major tenet of all political parties, including the Conservative party.

  • dannybhoy

    “For him, the Church is political; not party political. That’s the theology of where he is coming from.”

    The Church is or should be, a moral influence, not a political one.
    Individual Christian citizens, even groups of Christians should definitely be involved in politics. The job of the Church is to give a Christian slant on all aspects of life, not just economics..
    Were the Church to speak out on morality, adultery, greed, exploitation, covetousness, it might have more credibility.

  • Darach Conneely

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-socalled-inwork-poverty-soars-by-59-under-coalition-as-more-people-with-jobs-are-forced-to-claim-housing-benefit-9340907.html
    Exclusive: So-called ‘in-work poverty’ soars by 59% under Coalition as more people with jobs are forced to claim housing benefit

    • Anton

      Or is it that more people on housing benefit are forced to get jobs as Duncan-Smith’s reforms are enacted?

      • Darach Conneely

        From May 2010 to August 2014 the total number on housing benefit has risen by 180,000 to 3,930,000 while the number of employed receiving housing benefit rose by 343,000 to 1,084,000. That would suggest there are 254,000 fewer unemployed. Unfortunately these aren’t people being ‘forced into jobs’ as you put it, but into government schemes like workfare or the 390,000 new zero hour contracts since the Coalition took over.

        • Anton

          Workfare is just a subsidy from the taxpayer to companies, and housing benefit is a subsidy from the taxpayer to landlords. When the government gets into this sort of thing the law of unintended consequences always bites.

          • Darach Conneely

            As well as keeping the peasants and plebs in line, workfare has the great advantage of massaging unemployment figures.

    • IanCad

      Since moving back over here I have been amazed at how many “In Work” are defined as being employed.
      So many in retail – I’m thinking of B&Q in particular – have only twelve or so hours guaranteed. They are required to come in whenever called, all for $8.00 an hour.
      That’s tough.
      A good source for those looking for employees though.

      • dannybhoy

        This is commercial greed without a conscience.
        This kind of thing disgusts me. All men willing to work have a right to a decent wage. All married women with children should have the right to stay at home and look after their children and be supported by tax benefits.

        • IanCad

          So true.

          “–And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”
          1 Timothy 5:18

        • Linus

          If you can’t afford to have children, don’t have them. Don’t expect to be some kind of Christian version of Vicky Pollard and pump out the sprogs while the State (i.e. your neighbours) subsidizes your lifestyle.

          • dannybhoy

            Linus as a supporter of evolution you surely accept that offspring are vital to the continuance of the human race, and that like other mammals it is important that children are nurtured and socialised so that they can play a positive interactive and contributing role within society.
            So as child of the ’50s brought up in a council house, all the families we knew had mums at home, dads at work with tax breaks as married men and child allowance. That as you know was because the government needed more people to replace those lost in the war.
            It is the way of things for men and women to get together and produce children, and to my mind best done in family units. Very few people in society end up as single people supporting married people.

          • Linus

            Believing in evolution does not oblige me to believe there’s a moral imperative to continue the human race. Indeed I think our days on Earth are numbered. We’re not evolution’s final word. We’ll evolve into something else or we’ll become extinct. That’s how evolution works. It’s complete amoral. It just is.

            In the meantime, pay for your own children. Don’t expect other people to contribute money from their pockets to subsidize your desire for a comfortable lifestyle. Because that’s what this is all about. For the amount of money you want the government to throw at you to fund your lifestyle, two or three single mothers on council estates could probably pump out twice the number of children you’ll produce. The future of the human race is therefore better ensured by spreading available resources widely and thinly rather than concentrating them a few middle class families who want everyone else to pay for their children’s xBoxes and ballet lessons.

          • dannybhoy

            You make I larff Linus!
            Good writing style though. May I ask if writiing is a significant part of your employment?
            Did you join the “Je suis Charlie” demo?

    • dannybhoy

      Darach,
      Shouldn’t that be “in-work paahvertay”?

    • And as discussed the housing crisis is nothing to do with the mass immigration that Sentamu appears to favour…..

  • Nick

    “Since job creation has been one of the present Government’s biggest achievements – 2 million more private sector jobs created; 2 million new apprentices; 1.2 million more people in work; 760,000 new businesses – this is not an area of Conservative weakness.”

    Except that many of these jobs are low paid self-employed jobs. Also many people with illnesses and disabilities have been compelled to find work (many of whom are unable) in order to save money.

    What is even more scandalous is that the Government takes the credit for any good that happens (such as in their latest party political broadcast).

    Things are much worse than they were for many people. If you have thrived under this con-dem nation then you are very lucky. Many people are simply surviving and it is outrageous to say that people are prospering under the current regime. Things are worse.

    Maybe Sentamu is more in touch than you think.

    • dannybhoy

      I don’t think Sentamu is right. What is wrong is exploitation by multinationals and corporations for whom profit is all.
      Far better in my view is each nation playing to its strengths; economic cooperation where mutually beneficial, but all living within their means rather than being exploited and manipulated by multinationals.

      • Nick

        Well at least you are suggesting a solution. But at £9.99 maybe the book is inaccessible to all except us lefty hand-wringers?

        There is a case suggesting that the C of E itself could redistribute some of its own wealth (or any of the denominations). In Greece the Orthodox church offered to sell land to relieve the suffering of the Greek people in the economic crisis. It didn’t come to that in the end but I bet the Greek people respected the Orthodox church for it.

        • dannybhoy

          The CofE of whom I am a slightly recalcitrant member, has no money!
          Land aplenty! Stones piled up one on top of another in abundance! An acreage of vestal robes and altar clothing,
          but no money!
          Forget it.
          As far as I am concerned the Bible clearly teaches that the Church is People. We don’t need dedicated buildings, just available buildings..

          • Nick

            Hmmm.

          • dannybhoy

            Not “Hmmm.”
            It’s true. I am not an Anglican, I and my wonderful wife attend and are deeply involved in an Anglican church, and I can tell you that all we ever talk about (apart from homosexuality and female priests) is MONEY and the LACK of it.

          • Hmmm …….

          • sarky

            You could get a loan from the Catholics, they’re minted! !!!

          • “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

          • dannybhoy

            Providing you know the password of course.

          • dannybhoy

            Hmmm
            Couldn’t you have come up with something more original??

          • You missed this: ……..
            You must learn to read Jack’s dots.

          • dannybhoy

            🙂
            You’re a man of (benevolent) subtelty Jack.
            (Now the serpent was more subtel…..)

          • Nick

            I do hope the laypeople don’t get the blame for the lack of money.

          • dannybhoy

            The problem Nick is that as Jack has alluded to, money has become more important than the Gospel

          • You did read the dots!

          • Nick

            Oh, I see, kind of like ‘we love the things that we talk most about’?

            Would a Christian revival be a solution to the financial problem by the way?

          • dannybhoy

            I think so. If you consider that a lot of the big social improvements came out of Christian preaching and revival.
            It is men changed from within with God’s Law written on their hearts that really affect society for the good.

          • Nick

            It has happened before so it can happen again. It is a matter of faith, imagination and petition.

          • Old Nick

            And People need buildings. And, at least in the countryside, many People (not being the deracinés of the suburbs) find in their buildings to be an important witness to the Christian character of the land. The Church of England should build on its strengths.

    • Anton

      I know personally and well a CoE vicar who can tell of one man who carefully does 2 days work per week because any more than that and his State subsidy would get hammered; this man is perfectly capable of fulltime work. My friend also went to a local shop and asked if the shopkeeper would employ another man, whom he described, and who is currently on benefits; the reply was Yes but the man turned the job down.

      I am sorry to hear bishops saying that it is iniquitous to try to distinguish between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. St Paul had no such trouble when he wrote that if a man wills not to work then he should not eat (2 Thess 3:10).

      • Nick

        I still think that it tends to be those who have never been unemployed who love that scripture.

        • Anton

          I have been.

          • Nick

            I know, Anton, I have massive deja vu and I think I’ve already had this whole debate with you. Please accept my apology. I’m sorry.

          • Anton

            I don’t recall it, but I hold nothing against you Nick.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Zero-hour contracts and so-called “micro jobs” seem to account for a lot of the new employment opportunities. With a cabinet full of millionaires, it is very unlikely that
    Cameron understands the plight of those who have to struggle just to find a couple of hours low-paid temporary work each day.

    I make no apology for saying I have always been in favour of the mixed economy. Some things are best left to the market, but others such as essential services and infrastructure need some sort of central co-ordination and funding; government in other words. Unfortunately, many of those jobs have gone thanks to Cameron et al.

    Haven’t read Sentamu’s narrative so I can’t comment on that. However, the apostles effected some re-distribution of wealth to help the poorest, so I don’t feel I can rush in to condemn the idea as just a Marxist concept. I feel too that if Mrs T had been less disparaging about the idea of “society”, then there might be a greater sense of nationhood (patriotism even), and less influence from the rising tide of secularism and trouble with mass immigration.

    • Trouble is the free market is no longer. They are all rigged, fixed and
      manipulated. These days with high frequency trading by adding in
      algorithms to skim off a fraction amount of money from each trade to
      manipulating the prices of commodities like gold and silver, energy
      etc… the fixing of the interbank interest rates and the foreign
      exchange rates nothing is left to the free market anymore. It’s all
      worked so those in the positions get richer. Greed has taken over
      the western civilisation.

      Capitalism is good on the one hand but it is running away with itself.

      We need to control the amount of people coming here and working for next
      to nothing.

  • “There is a general social assumption that the economy has the power to dictate what is and is not possible for human beings. We believe that if we can fix the economy, the fixing of human beings will automatically follow.

    That is a lie.

    It is a lie because it is a narrative that casts money, rather than humanity, as the protagonist of God’s story.”
    (Archbishop Welby)

    Surely no Christian can disagree with this.

    • dannybhoy

      Very true Jack. Relationships before Lucre.

      • “Our human journey is not a journey of individuals, it is a journey held in common, and no individual can safely be left behind.

        The principle of the common good and human flourishing finds its foundation here.

        “We really are all in it together.”
        (Archbishop Welby)

  • When high ranking members of the clergy write books like that and
    publicise them in the run up to the Gen Elec., it shows me that the
    current ConDem government has failed and that the Church is worried
    about its flocks and feels it has to cling to the opposing party to
    seek corrections for society.

    Had the ConDems been a government of a higher spiritual and intellectual
    calibre then I would imagine Bishop Sentamu would not have felt the
    need to write such a book.

    But, as it stands under this government they and their cronies and big
    corporates have got richer on the backs of the average Joe workers.

    • Anton

      On the contrary, had Bishop Sentamu been of a higher spiritual and intellectual calibre then…

  • Inspector General

    ”The Church has an important role to play in politics, and offers a unique voice in speaking out to defend the poor, dispossessed and weak.”

    There are not one but two condemnations of this statement. Can anyone point them out…

    For a start, the church is beyond politics. Or at least it bloody well should be. The man in front of the alter is your priest, not your blasted political conscience or party Kommissar.

    Second, yes to a degree, the church does offer a unique voice. But it needs to keep it’s damn mouth shut nearly all of the time. It should open it rarely, and by rarely we are talking of once a generation if that. And this is not the time. We do not live in an evil society (…abortion and Lord Carey’s wicked euthanasia message apart…). The poor will always be with us, and one feels there has never been better opportunities for people to come out of poverty if they want to. That’s if you accept there really are the deserving poor out there, and not feckless idlers who deserve everything they have, or don’t have to be more accurate.

    • Anton

      We live in a deeply evil society as you forget the key indicator that is family breakdown. Statistics for nonmarital cohabitation, divorce, children born outside marriage, children not living with both parents, abortion have gone hockey-stick in one lifetime after centuries at low levels. Ask Muslims what they think of secular society! Because Islam is intrinsically politico-religious they think Christianity is too and assume that this is a deeply Christian nation because of our constitution and that this is Christian behaviour. It is difficult to disabuse them of that while we have an Established church. But their critique is correct and sobering.

      • Inspector General

        Please don’t suggest we live in an evil society. It insults the people who really do.

        We live in a society that allows us to thrive as individuals, to form relationships and marry, if we can, to have a family, if we can. If other types don’t wish to follow that pathway and do their own thing, let them. Let them also suffer everything doing their own thing entails. The insecurity of it all for example. It’s their lookout, their mistakes…

        • Anton

          I’m not being polemical or meaning to insult anybody. I believe it. I wish it were otherwise. It used to be.

          • Inspector General

            As it happens, you are doing what the CoE should be concentrating on, bringing spirituality to those who need it, not whining about why some people are millionaires and others not.

            If the CoE did manage to raise benefits by a tenner a week, do you think the recipients would thank them. Hardly, they’d pocket it and continue moaning about their lot.

          • Nick

            You know that all of King Davids laments in the psalms are considered to be valid concerns while the poor are said to merely whinge and moan? Perhaps that is the difference between a king and the poor. A king is taken seriously when he ‘whinges’. The poor are simply moaning about their lot. Perhaps it really is about an accident of birth.

          • Anton

            Do you think the definition of “poor” might be a bit different in the psalms and in the Welfare State era?

          • Nick

            King David himself considered himself ‘poor’. But he wasn’t born into privilege.

            Poverty may be relative but it is easier to love the poor who are far away or the poor in the past. Because they are not as irritating.

          • dannybhoy

            You forget Nick, that God did not want the Hebrews to have a king, and warned them through Samuel what the consequences would be..
            https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+8&version=ESVUK
            In any case though there would always be inequalities because although as Christians we believe that men are of equal before God, we are not of equal ability or talents.

          • Nick

            Well, God said that he didn’t want a monarchy but it was part of destiny. He ‘allowed’ it.

            Incidently, if an absolute monarchy is the best political model (the model of God’s Kingdom) then shouldn’t that be the model we have in the UK rather than a democracy under monarchy?

          • dannybhoy

            No, because man still has free will, and lots of people have not/will not bow the knee to Christ Jesus.
            There will never be a perfect system on earth until the Lord returns, and to us Christians sharing our faith, praying for revival is all that matters.

          • Nick

            But you and I (and others) give free will love to God. Why withhold a blessing (a very important blessing which concerns life and death) just because others don’t ‘behave’? It is like a headmaster punishing an entire school for the behaviour of a few.

          • dannybhoy

            Aaaah Nick!!
            I know who I’m talking to now!
            God bless you Bro!
            How are you keeping?
            You’re the man with the doubts who withdrew for a while.
            “But you and I (and others) give free will love to God. Why withhold a
            blessing (a very important blessing which concerns life and death) just
            because others don’t ‘behave’? It is like a headmaster punishing an
            entire school for the behaviour of a few.”

            Bottom line Nick: if we are able to conceive of such a wonderful, forgiving, just God as concerns you, then I would say that GOD must be so much more loving, understanding, forgiving and enabling than we could ever imagine.
            My faith, my justification, and reason for being is built on Him.

          • Nick

            Thanks dannybhoy. I’m ok (mustn’t grumble). God bless you too (and may he open the floodgates of heaven in blessings on your life). I think that the God that you speak about (who is Christ) is fascinating too and a very good reason to live.

          • David may have been very poor indeed when he wrote some of the Psalms.
            He may have been hiding in a cave from king Saul or running for his life from Absalom.

        • sarky

          I agree again, think I need to sit down.

    • dannybhoy

      Speak up sir, speak up!

    • sarky

      Never thought I’d say it but I agree!! The opportunities are out there, just get off your arse and get out there! !

  • Inspector General

    Strike a light!
    We have Sarky on side. That’s almost as good as speaking in tongues…

    • No, it just suggests you’re in error.

  • Old Nick

    Ill fares the land to hastening ills a prey
    Where wealth accumulates and men decay…..
    But how much more unfortunate are those
    Where wealth declines and population grows.

  • David

    Christians of all persuasions should be caring and compassionate. But we must put this into perspective.

    Jesus did not say that possessions, and wealth are evil, but that the worship of money, or wealth if you prefer, depending upon your translation, is the root of all evil. So you cannot serve both God and money. We must choose which one is paramount in our lives. But we are perfectly at liberty to work, and amass some wealth for the benefit of our families and ourselves, through socially responsible work that utilises our talents, and is coupled to prudent investments. Good, morally responsible investments are one of the vital energies that drive society forward. Wealth and investment are not per se evil, but necessary.

    For the avoidance of doubt Article 37 states “The riches and goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast. Notwithstanding every man ought, of such things he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability”. Quite !

    As usual I find there is much of value within the 39 Articles, reflecting both good theology and sound, practical thinking, which is, or was, an Anglican characteristic. It is a pity that these two “turbulent priests”, do not adhere to preaching the gospel, as it is written, and thereby attracting more people, desperately in need of the Good news, into the Church. I am tired of the hierarchy preaching a Marxist “bible”. Jesus was not the Labour Party member for Galilee south and Capernaum. He ministered to rich and poor alike.

    My disappointment with Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of all England grows by the month. Stick to the Bible and the 39 Articles Archbishop, please !

    • Anton

      Liberal theology and Marxism: the typical Anglican bishop’s belief, which is why it has been in deep decline for a generation.

      • David

        Quite ! But fear not – all is not lost !
        On the contrary, the thriving element within the denomination is the evangelical one, which includes the conservative minded section. It is a growing proportion of an admittedly shrinking C of E.

  • You say:-

    The Church has an important role to play in politics,

    You miss the point, you should say:-

    The Church has an important role to play *THAN* politics,

    People live their lives whatever politics come or go – a worthwhile church cares about those lives, not the politics that happens to be happening at the time.

    The gospels are great – the Churches they spawned are forever failing.

  • The separation of Church and State is not the same as a separation between belief and public action. Moral principles and political choices and action are not contradictory; they are complementary.

    Christians can’t just huddle in separate communities and shun the world. We should engage in public life and promote and act on our values and use the gifts God has given us. Social, economical, political and cultural issues matter to God and they should matter to us.

    Christian believers, lay and clergy alike, cannot just sit back and wait for the Kingdom and restrict their activity to preaching forays and worship. Social and political engagement is necessary to deal with social and economic problems guided by Christian principles. We cannot abandon the field and leave it all to a secular approach.

    • dannybhoy

      Quite right Jack, and I would go as far as to say that Christians forget that many of our social reforms came about through Christians getting involved and working for change. It often seems to me now that for some reason Christians think that politics is dirty (which it often is) and therefore we should stay away from it (which we shouldn’t.)

  • grutchyngfysch

    Sounds like the usual dog’s dinner of conflating the function and character of the Church (in which the actual presence and guidance of God is the driving force) and the application of Christian-themed/Christian-rooted methodologies to public policymaking (without obeisance to the Lord).

    That said, the stolen “Marxist” idea of commonality of ownership (commonality by imputed right of the proletariat) really ought to be an integral part of the Church’s witness in exile (commonality through Grace). We are not our own, but have been bought – if that is true in our bodies, then how much more is it true in our far less worthy estates? A Church of those who would see in riches only the answer to their neighbour’s need, no matter the size of the part they bring.

    • Anton

      Aren’t you forgetting that the church is a voluntary organisation whereas the world isn’t? The appropriate precedent is Mosaic Law in which each family owned its own land outright. Collective farms didn’t work too well when imposed by Stalin, I seem to recall.

      • grutchyngfysch

        My point was that it isn’t Marxist to see your own possessions as the means of supplying your brother or sister’s need – it is profoundly Christian. Would you honestly say that you do not recognise the idea that Jesus may just have been serious when He taught His disciples to set aside any idea that their belongings were to be the measure or aim of their lives? We write here so often of our certainty on issues of speech and sexuality which really have very little play time in Scripture – how can we not be certain of Jesus’ teachings on possessions?

        What we have – *all that we have* has been given to us. We arrived with nothing and will depart able to take nothing with us: therefore we must use all that we have in pursuit of Jesus.

  • Uncle_Brian

    Is it even conceivable that someone who was expecting to vote Tory might now vote Labour instead, as a direct result of reading this book?

    • dannybhoy

      Anyone who would consider that would have to be ‘a floating voter’, otherwise known as an airhead..

      • IanCad

        Let me add to that Danny.
        The unprincipled, the opportunistic, the disloyal.
        On such wretches are governments established.

        • dannybhoy

          (Chuckles)
          You’re right.

  • Martin

    It’s just a shame that Canterbury & York don’t base their theology on the Bible but on their opinion of what society should be like.