New Year 2015a
Meditation and Reflection

Archbishop of Canterbury: "We must go on looking outwards"

 

In his New Year Message to the nation, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby paid tribute at the National Memorial Arboretum to those who have “served, suffered or sacrificed for this country”, to whom “we owe a debt of unspeakable gratitude”. He spoke movingly of the ravages of war, the massacres of children, the persecution of Christians, the misery of disease, and the ever-present danger of forgetting those who are caught up in such hardship who might “slip from our minds”.

The right response, he urged, is not to turn inwards, in despair, because:

We are a country formed in a Christian heritage, which calls us to sacrifice and self-giving; to open-handedness and hospitality.. When we are at our best, living out the generosity of Jesus Christ, as that has formed itself in our national character; when we turn outwards and use our best resources to change this world in which we live, we see what a wonderful heritage we have, and the hope we can bring to the poorest and those with the greatest suffering on the face of our planet..

And the Archbishop’s hope for 2015 is that we go on looking outwards, being full of a generous spirit, “because when we are generous we find joy, and others find comfort and hope”.

It is a cause of great joy and a source of considerable blessing that we have in Justin Welby an Archbishop of Canterbury who reaches beyond the fusty metaphysics of theology and, like St Augustine before him, contemplates virtue in the perspective of true religion. He is no patronising ecclesiastic or aloof Christian moralist, but an agent of godly incarnation and a clear broadcaster of grace, love and kindness.

You may point the doctrinal finger of accusation or harp on about something he didn’t do that, in your judgment, he jolly well ought to have. And you can focus on his weaknesses and vices or his failures and inadequacies, which are legion. But consider prayerfully his ministry and mission, and consider patiently his character, experience and resolve, and ask yourself – honestly – who amongst our current crop of spiritual and political leaders speaks so fervently and persuasively with such compassion of the need for justice and courage in the face of appalling adversity; and who might be better placed to assert a little corrective influence on the deliberations and decisions of those who seek to frame our national character in the narrative of secularism and the confines of self-creation.

No amount of political ideology will re-associate morality with reality or rescue love from self-seeking. By exhorting the whole country to look outwards, and doing so with a plain reference to our Christian heritage and to the generosity of Jesus, Justin Welby confronts the manifest and expanding socio-political zeitgeist – the introversion of love into self-love, and the introspection of political policy toward the image reflected in the mirror of national identity.

To love the United Kingdom is laudable, but the diminished jeopardy is idolatry. To love the Kingdom of God is to serve, suffer and sacrifice. In giving ourselves, the subject of our love, we become even more the object of His love, which is already His love in redeeming.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace,

    I have every confidence in Justin as a Christian but his leadership of the Church seems very focused on social concerns. Very laudable.
    We are a country formed in a Christian heritage, which calls us to sacrifice and self-giving; to open-handedness and hospitality

    Not wanting to be critical of that attitude but it seems somewhat misplaced in this nation. Your comment on his theme is supportive of that notion that we must build on our Christian Heritage. That is what Pickles keeps saying without any reference to what that Christian Heritage is. What does a Heritage do?

    By exhorting the whole country to look outwards, and doing so with a plain reference to our Christian heritage and to the generosity of Jesus

    With so few genuine Christians in this country, are we to suppose that the ‘whole country’ will engage with this concept.

    Those concerned with ‘Evangelism’ would say that there has to be a motivation among the people before the the Heritage of Christian Action can take effect.

  • David

    This archbishop is a huge improvement on the last one. We can understand what he says and he understands how the world works. His theology seems more conventional than that of the wooly, waffly bard of Oystermouth. So this is a useful step forward.

    But like his predecessor I do not see him prioritising the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a nation desperately in need of “the Way”. Faith must come first, then the good works will flow from those. I fear that the liberal bulk of the C of E is drifting towards becoming a mere social movement with religious overtones. If that happens it will not be a force for “the kingdom”, and it will slowly die out I expect. The traditional protestant part, described as evangelical nowadays, whilst simply being reformed Protestantism, will then continue, as indeed it is now.

  • Inspector General

    He made mention of our Christian heritage. That’s the spirit we want !

    • Shadrach Fire

      A Christian Heritage is all very nice but it is only a live and present church that achieve what Justin wants.

      • Inspector General

        My dear chap, a Christian heritage is everything. A bedrock of our faith, if you will. You build upon it, not next to it. If you present the people with greatness, the curious will come and see for themselves…

        • Martin

          IG

          A Christian heritage is nothing, it matters no one whit what your parents believed, what matters is your standing before God.

  • If he would only preach the Gospel! Surely the sinfulness of Man and his inability to reform himself must be obvious to all these days. We need a Saviour, not a social worker or a good example or a life-style guru.
    There are hundreds of faithful ministers preaching the Gospel in England, and some of them work for Justin Welby. But none of them have the access to the media that he does. He is uniquely placed to lift up Christ before the people of Britain.
    In God’s name, man; PREACH THE GOSPEL!

    • Dominic Stockford

      I wish I could keep favouriting this comment again and again and again!

      • Thank you, Dominic.
        I will say that I would never have made this comment about Welby’s predecessor. Somehow one never expected dear old Archdruid Williams to know what the Gospel is, much less preach it.
        But when Welby was appointed, he was presented as some sort of evangelical with a genuine experience of conversion, and also as a practical man with experience of life in what people call the ‘real world.’
        Probably, I come down a bit hard on him because I had unrealistic expectations of him. The C of E was never going to let a real evangelical in Lambeth.

  • The Explorer

    I remember reading a book of sermons by the last archbishop. At the end of I realised I had been carried along on a mellifluous flow of words without the slightest understanding, at any point, of what had actually been said. It almost rivalled the fruitless time when I had tried to read Hegel.
    The present incumbent has not had the same effect on me, except in this instance. But at least here one is able to paraphrase. As a country, we should look outwards and bring hope to the poorest on the planet with our open handedness and hospitality. These are decent sentiments, but what, in practical terms, is being asked for? More foreign aid, and more third-world immigration? That is how I read it.

  • IanCad

    Oh Dear! Could it be denied that the AofC has, perhaps, the most difficult job in the world?

    Not so much because of the worldwide communion of Anglicans: But, because of the natives.

    “–We are a country formed in a Christian heritage, which calls us to sacrifice and self-giving, to open-handedness and hospitality.–“

    To me, it seems this parlous state of merely having a Christan “Heritage” does – in Welby’s eyes – somehow absolve us from the absolute imperative of preaching again Christ Crucified in this gilded isle.

     

    Sure, we are generous – and wonderful that we are thus. It is our heritage, the deposit of The Word received in ages past.

    As a nation, the outward manifestaions of Christian principles still stand tall. There is, not only generosity, but kindness, toleration and fairness on every hand. At least, in general.

    A goodness – absent the Spirit.

    The words of 2 Timothy 3:5 are for these times:

    “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

    • CliveM

      I agree being AoC must at times be a thankless task!!!!!

      • Inspector General

        Seems to be when it comes to Cranmer’s crowd, what !

  • carl jacobs

    It seemed to me not a religious message at all. It was rather a political message framed in religious imagery. The listener was not confronted with anything in particular beyond an exhortation to “look outward.” What that means beyond Gov’t aid to poor countries I don’t know. I don’t think anyone else knows either. If you wanted to summarize the entire speech in once sentence you could write:

    “We’re a nation of Christian heritage, so let’s roll up our sleeves, and … do something.”

    It was a generic bland message with no memorable thesis. It will be forgotten in a week.

    But this speech does illustrate a danger for the church in the post-Christian West. It is relatively easy to find common ground with the secular culture by immanentizing the Gospel. Do good works. Feed the poor. House the homeless. As long as the ministries of the church don’t cross the moral boundaries of secular society (say adoption, or pregnancy crisis centers) the church can get along quite easily. That to me is what this speech is all about. Even worse is that it pushes the immanentizied Gospel up to the collective level. We see here the church as advocate for a politicized social Gospel. What is the business of the church? To exhort people to support foreign aid. That’s what this speech amounts to.

    I can understand the logic. He could speak on matters of personal conviction and repentance and salvation, but he can hear the public pressing the giant collective mute button. They don’t want to hear it. So for the sake of access he talks about the things they are willing to tolerate. He talks about ‘heritage’ and doing good as a corporate body. He flatters the listeners by telling them how generous they are. He exhorts them to keep being generous. The listener appreciates getting his ego stroked, and nothing else of consequence occurs.

    “None of that Bible-bashing, Vicar. We won’t stand for that. But you can certainly tell us how wonderful we are.”

    • Shadrach Fire

      Carl,
      Your systematic analysis is very good. I hate to be critical but we must stand for what is right or it will be lost in cloud of mystery and superstition.
      It is so annoying to hear this comment about our great ‘Heritage’.
      A heritage is is something that we inherit from our forefathers, but unless the same standards that created the ‘Heritage’ are maintained, the heritage dissapears and is merely a memory with no further function. There has to be a live Church if a Christian Heritage is to be built upon.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Years ago I listened with sadness to a sermon that repeated again and again the belief of the preacher that the deceased had “great faith”. However, at no point were we told what/who that faith was in. The chance to tell the many people there the truth of Jesus Christ was completely missed.

        But telling that truth is the one thing the ‘Church’ MUST do.

  • Phil R

    Like many politicians.

    It is a speech to keep the Secularther and Welby in office for another year.

    i am not even convinced he acually cares about these limited secular concerns very much

  • Politically__Incorrect

    I think it is good that this nation has a tradition of generosity, hospitality to the persecuted, and tolerance of different views. But as they say, no good deed goes unpunished. Now, those national virtues have been hijacked and transmuted into something that benefits nobody. Our generosity has become foolishness (e.g. giving foreign aid to prosperous nations). The “persecuted” now means anyone who is not protected by the West’s loose interpretation of human rights. Tolerance now simply means “anything goes”, except disagreeing with an anything goes policy.

    What we are lacking as a nation is our spiritual backbone. It is that backbone that allows us to stand up for the good charactersitics we espouse as a nation without letting them become corrupted. I would like to hear the ABC talk a bit more about that backbone. I would like to hear the Gospel proclaimed with sincerity, truth, and authority.

  • len

    To love is a Christian commandant and to love our neighbour is a good and honourable thing to do.

    But are we in danger here of preaching a’ social Gospel’ here where we do good works and help the sick and needy but neglect the true aim of the Gospel?. Make no mistake these are all good things to do but is that the Gospel?.
    It is possible to do’ good things’ for the wrong reason, for example to give to charity because it makes one’ feel good ‘superior even and this attitude can give the illusion of being’ a good person’.
    When we become a new creation in Christ the emphasis has shifted from self to Christ and we can then begin to do the same things BUT with the right motive.
    The Gospel is the Wisdom of God and the Power of God and the Gospel must be the prime objective of those wishing to advance the Kingdom of God…..

    • Dominic Stockford

      The BCP collects are superb in the way they remind us of this, as are the 39 Articles. It is unfortunate that the truth in them on this subject hasn’t penetrated the lives and thoughts of more people.

  • Royinsouthwest

    I think that the criticisms of the Archbishop are unfair. His speech was not intended to be a full exposition of the Gospel. Should every single speech by an archbishop or any clergyman have a detailed explanation of the gospel as its main theme? Those people who think so probably think that the Epistle of James would have been much better if God had got them to write it instead of inspiring the Lord’s brother to do so.

    • Shadrach Fire

      If you take this message in isolation, then you may be right. But those who have expressed concern, are aware that this has been his consistent message. Very laudable but, he needs a live church before he can mobilize.

    • Martin

      Roy

      The only message the AoC has any business proclaiming is the gospel.

      • CliveM

        Which he did.

        • Martin

          Clive

          Where?

    • dannybhoy

      Not every single speech or sermon, no.

      I would only remind people that the ArchBishop is appointed NOT by the Anglican community…

      “The responsibility for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury rests
      with the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC). Its task is to submit the
      name of a preferred candidate (and a second appointable candidate) to
      the Prime Minister who is constitutionally responsible for tendering
      advice on the appointment to the Queen. ”

      http://rowanwilliams.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/2403/outline-of-procedures-for-the-appointment-of-an-archbishop-of-canterbury

      • dannybhoy

        I have to say that I find it sad that after my offering this official explanation TWICE, very few of you here respond.
        The ArchBishop of Canterbury is NOT chosen by the Christian community, but by the (Kingdom of darkness) Establishment.
        A response from you loyalists would be welcome!

  • Linus

    What do you want Welby to do? Preach exclusively to the converted? Is that what an archbishop of Canterbury is for? Is he just a mouthpiece for fanatics who want to shriek about their own faith and consign those who don’t share it to the flames?

    In order to preach the Gospel, you first have to get the other side to listen. Screaming “repent or burn” at people simply makes them write you off as a nutter and fanatic.

    Welby’s approach of attempting to position himself as a voice allying reason and faith at least opens the way for a conversation to take place. Whether the outcome of that conversation will result in many conversions is highly doubtful. I’ve heard all the arguments from people like Welby and they certainly haven’t convinced me. But at least their conciliatory attitude provided them with an opportunity to try.

    Those who scream “sinner” at me make it 100% certain that, if that is what I am, that is what I will always remain. If I associate Christianity with strident fanaticism, to me it will always remain a marginal philosophy fit only for the unbalanced.

    The fact that I participate in discussions such as this one is entirely down to the efforts of men such as Welby. If the only Christian voices I ever heard were like some of the Fred Phelps clones who post here all too regularly, I would long since have abandoned all dialogue with Christians.

    • Inspector General

      One has always believed that preaching the word should entail a fair amount of humility from the preacher. He is as other men himself. As you say, many are enraged at being labelled…

    • William Lewis

      Some good points, well made Linus. Happy New Year to you.

      • The Explorer

        Linus has generated a lot of responses. I hope he continues to post; he adds vigour to discussion.

        • William Lewis

          Yes. Vigour with culinary interludes.

        • dannybhoy

          I kind of agree with you because it is in being challenged one is forced to reconsider what one believes. I had twenty years in the wilderness, but in all that time I could never deny that Jesus Christ died on the Cross as much for me as He did everyone.
          We need to be challenged, but I think Linus is at a particular point in his journey through life. I am glad he keeps coming back here to have a rant at us.. 🙂

    • Martin

      Linus

      There is no requirement for the other to listen, just as it is not a dialogue. It is a proclamation, not requiring persuasion.

      • Correct Jack if he’s wrong, but Jesus had two ears as well as a mouth and met people where they were. Some heard and accepted Him; others heard and rejected Him. Jack suspects there was a sizable middle group who were left wondering.

        • Martin

          HJ

          So did Jesus ask them what they thought about it or did He tell them what they should do?

          • Jesus taught through a variety of methods, Martin.

          • Martin

            HJ

            But Jesus never sought the opinion of the hearer as to the proclamation.

            But remember, we are not Jesus, we are not called to do as Jesus did. We are called to proclaim.

          • “But remember, we are not Jesus, we are not called to do as Jesus did. We are called to proclaim.”

            Odd comment.

          • Martin

            HJ

            What’s odd about it? Are we God that we could do what Jesus did?

    • IanCad

      Exactly what is strident fanaticism Linus?
      Is any mention of the saving grace of Christ verboten?
      I don’t know of any on this forum who would “scream” at you to repent or burn. Neither would any accuse you of being a sinner without recognizing the same failings in themselves.
      I get the distinct impression that you are fine with Christians until they start expounding on the reasons for their faith.
      A little give and take if you don’t mind.

      • “I don’t know of any on this forum who would “scream” at you to repent or burn.”
        Happy Jack could mention one or two. Some believe the very words of scripture alone are sufficient for men to either accept or reject faith, regardless of their condition. Others believe the world creates barriers to the reception of faith that have to taken into account and overcome in evangelising.

      • len

        Christians are perfectly acceptable as long as they don`t preach the Cross because it upsets the unsaved….Which is the problem Welby and many other Christian preachers must confront.
        If we Christians become friends with ‘the World’ and accept their lifestyles and morals we will be tolerated but we become perfectly useless for the purposes of the Gospel.
        The fear of man , the fear of the opinions of man is a big hurdle to anyone who wishes to preach the Gospel in an undiluted form..
        Christians must expect to be disliked for the sake of the Gospel Jesus Christ warned us as much!.

    • Linus,
      May I say to you in the nicest, kindest, most politically correct way I can, that you are actually either going to repent or burn and anyone who tells you anything different is actually not doing you any favours at all.
      I was an unbeliever for well over half my life so far, and when I was at University there were plenty of people from the Christian Union who came and told me that Jesus loved me sooooo much and wouldn’t I like to get to know him? Well, no, actually. I couldn’t see the point in it. It was not until I understood that I was a sinner under the righteous condemnation of God that I fled to Christ for salvation.
      ‘This is a true saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst’ I found that to be true for me. He came to save people like you, me and Saul of Tarsus who hated Him, despised Him or couldn’t be bothered with Him. He is committed to saving all those who come to Him in repentance and faith. “The one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). Believe me, it is a whole lot better to repent than to burn.

      • Have you read the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Martin?

        • Is that the part of the Bible that says that Jesus didn’t come into the world to save sinners? No, I don’t think I’ve read that.

          • No, it’s the part where Jesus taught us not to take it upon ourselves to go around and uproot unbelievers because the difference between them and believers isn’t obvious, especially in the early stages of growth where tares can resemble wheat – and vice versa.

          • The parable of the wheat and tares teaches us that there will be unsaved, sinful people in the world until our Lord’s return. Just as the wheat and the tares receive God’s sunshine and showers indiscriminately to help them grow, so saved and unsaved experience God’s general grace and mercy (Matt 5:45).
            But at harvest time there is a separation. The time of grace will be over.
            Now may I point you to the parable of the sower. The sower spreads the seed all over the place- on the path, among the weeds, in the rocky soil. We are told that the seed is the word of God (Mark 4:14). We are to preach the word of God to all (Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 26:20, 22), knowing that many will not accept it, but also knowing that some will (Isaiah 55:10-11; Galatians 6:9).

          • The Sower suggests the ground has to be prepared for reception of the seed.

          • Ah, Jack! I knew you were a good Calvinist at heart!
            Yes indeed; only the seed sowed on the good soil produced a crop. Did the sower do anything to improve the quality of the soil? No; he just sowed the word indiscriminately, confident that some of it would land on good soil. ‘No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day’ (John 6:44; cf. Matt. 11:25-30).

          • The question is the preparation of the soil, Martin. God moves and saves who He will through His grace by ways unknown to us. You cannot say how each individual is made ready or by what means to be receptive to God’s word.

          • God’ s usual way of saving sinners is through His word. Please consider the following texts and perhaps be prepared to interact with them in your reply:

            Isaiah 40:6-9; 55:8-11.
            Ezek. 2; 3:1-11, 16-21; 33:1-6.
            Mark 1:15.
            John 6:63.
            Acts 11:19-21.
            1 Corinthians1:21; 2:4-5.
            2 Corinthians 5:19-20.
            Colossians 1:5-6.
            1 Thesalonians 2:13.
            2 Timothy 4:1-2
            James 1:18.
            1 Peter 1:23.
            God may have other ways of saving infants or imbeciles, but He hasn’t told us about them. Ordinary people He saves through His word.
            May I particularly draw your attention to the 2 Timothy text? we are to preach the word ‘In season and out of season,’ that is, whether people want to hear it or whether they don’t. We do not wait until people are in a better mood or frame of mind; they may be dead tomorrow! We must be diligent to bring the Gospel before people whenever we can: kindly, winsomely and tenderly to be sure, and prayerfully also, but we must do it because God commands it.
            This does not have to be formal preaching. It can be the passing of a text or a Testament or a brief informal word, but we should take whatever opportunities we have and be prepared to be rejected.

          • Yes, Martin, but the will has to be oriented to receive His word and to respond to the grace of Christ. And you quote scripture. Did you notice this sentence:

            “We must be diligent to bring the Gospel before people whenever we can: kindly, winsomely and tenderly to be sure, and prayerfully also, but we must do it because God commands it.”

            This is a call to preach and convert – not by shouting hell and damnation but through kindness, tenderness, and in an appealing way.

            You do know the Gospel wasn’t composed when Paul wrote this? It’s really no good just citing words from the Book.

          • Yes, Martin, but the will has to be oriented to receive His word and to respond to the grace of Christ.
            That is God’s work (Acts 16:14 etc.).
            And you quote scripture.
            Someone has to. And it doesn’t seem to be you.
            Did you notice this sentence:

            “We must be diligent to bring the Gospel before people whenever we can: kindly, winsomely and tenderly to be sure, and prayerfully also, but we must do it because God commands it.”

            This is a call to preach and convert – not by shouting hell and damnation but through kindness, tenderness and in an appealing way.
            I did notice it, mainly because I wrote it. I am not for one second advocating some sort of crazy American fundamentalism like that ‘God hates fags’ church that was in the news a while ago. I am in favour of telling people that they need to be right with God, and that He has provided a way to do that through Jesus Christ. That may entail challenging them about their sin, but not necessarily.

            You do know the Gospel wasn’t composed when Paul wrote this? It’s really no good just citing words from the Book.
            I am aware of the view that Paul’s letters were written before the Gospels were. It’s not a view that I share. Paul quotes from Luke’s Gospel in 1 Timothy 5:18. But that isn’t the point. The Gospels certainly weren’t written when the Lord Jesus spoke the words recorded in Mark 1:15, ‘repent and believe the Gospel!’ What do you make of that?

          • Other translations have it as: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” And by “repent” you understand what? It is turning one’s life towards God.
            To be honest with you, Martin, Jack has not really noticed one positive Christian message from you. It tends to be all hell and damnation and words of wrath and condemnation.

          • O you silly man! Don’t you understand that ‘Gospel’ means good news? Euangelion. Good announcement, good news. Every time I mention the Gospel I’m talking about good news. But good news often pre-supposes bad news. If you read about a man rescued from a burning building, it pre-supposes that a building has caught fire with someone in it. The good news that people can be saved from death and hell through faith in Jesus Christ and attain to eternal life in heaven pre-supposes that there is death and hell to be saved from.
            ‘Repent’ signifies a change of mind or heart. (Gk. metanoieo). It is someone saying, “I’ve been going the wrong way up to now,” and then turning about and going a different way. To teach that people can become Christians without seeking to turn away from sin is to ‘turn the grace of our God into lewdness…..’ (Jude 4) and sending people to hell with a pocket-full of false promises.

          • “O you silly man!”

            Tip from Jack, Martin. Leave evangelisation to others. Your enthusiasm gets the better of you at times.

            “Every time I mention the Gospel I’m talking about good news.”

            Well, it doesn’t sound like it. Try starting from the premise that God loves us all and each and every person has the offer of redemption available through the willing sacrifice of Christ. A sacrifice voluntarily offered through love. Then go on to why we need to accept this love to be saved and have to cooperate with grace..

            Then that isn’t your position, is it?

            “The good news that people can be saved from death and hell through faith in Jesus Christ and attain to eternal life in heaven pre-supposes that there is death and hell to be saved from.”,/i>
            Yes, but you start from the presupposition. And you don’t actually believe that all people can be saved depending on their response to God. How does the grace to accept faith come to people? Is it freely available to us all? Did God predetermine the outcome before creation? Your “good news” is only “good” if you happen to be amongst the selected “saved”.

          • Jack, you are a silly man. You don’t have the faintest idea what Reformed Christianity is. You are confusing Calvin with his evil younger brother, Hypercalvin.

            And you don’t actually believe that all people can be saved depending on their response to God.
            This is an absolute travesty of what I believe. ‘everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.’ But it is also true that ‘…The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (1 Cor. 6:9). The calling on the Name of the Lord is an act of repentance as well as faith (Luke 18:13). But the most wicked of men, murderers, child molesters, even investment bankers and politicians, can make that call and Christ will not cast them out.

          • “You don’t have the faintest idea what Reformed Christianity is.”

            Jack wonders how many ‘Reformed Christians’ do.

            No dancing around now, Martin. Tell Jack do you believe God offers the same opportunity of redemption to all? Or does He from before creation, (or after the Fall, if you’re not a ‘hyper’) chose some people to make His grace available to and leave the rest to be damned?

          • HJ,

            I’ve no intention of having a discussion about Free Grace with you, especially as my delightfully long Christmas holiday is coming to an end. Go and read a book on it or, better yet, read some sermons by C.H. Spurgeon, arguably the greatest preacher this country has ever known. I’ll just make one comment, and then I’m done.

            Are the “condemned” utterly powerless to act or choose otherwise?

            I was. I thank God for Irresistible Grace.

            ‘Long my imprisoned spirit lay
            Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
            Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
            I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
            My chains fell off, my heart was free,
            I rose, went forth and followed Thee.’

          • Are you too embarrassed to answer some very easy questions about the fundamentals of your faith, Martin? Jack is not inviting a debate – just a short, clear statement.

          • I thought the Inquisition had been abolished.
            I’ve been perfectly clear on my beliefs. Every part of salvation is of God- every single part. Our faith is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). Our repentance is a gift of God (Acts 11:18). Our perseverance is a gift of God (John 10:27-30).
            But if anyone wants God’s gifts, all he has to do is ask (Matt. 7:7-11).

          • “But if anyone wants God’s gifts, all he has to do is ask (Matt. 7:7-11).”

            You’re avoiding the question, Martin.

            We both know man on his own without grace and faith cannot ask God for His gifts. So who does God offer this initial grace to? Everyone? Or is it reserved for the predestined elect and the rest are left in their sin?

            Come on Martin, don’t be so shy.

          • ‘then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk………But Jesus perceived their craftiness…..’
            Tell me, this initial grace that is offered to everyone; what sort of grace is it when not everyone benefits from it? Do you know of a certainty that you are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8)? If so, how do you know? If not, what do you have to do to be certain?

          • Come on Martin, answer the questions. You think Jack is craftily plotting against you by asking you to disclose your basic premise about God’s redemptive plan for man?

            Do you believe redemption and the means of salvation are given selectively and irresistibly to a predestined ‘elect’ and the rest are left helpless in their depravity and predestined for Hell?

          • cacheton

            ‘The good news that people can be saved from death and hell through faith in Jesus Christ and attain to eternal life in heaven pre-supposes that there is death and hell to be saved from.’

            Right, and you know that death, hell and eternal life (which only certain people attain) exist because ….?

          • Because the Bible tells me so.

            The Person who spoke of hell more than any other is in fact the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He has given us ample warning of that dreadful place.

            eternal life (which only certain people attain)
            Have you been up to heaven and had a look at the Book of Life and seen your name missing from it? Unless you have, don’t worry about it. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.’ ‘The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.’ Turn from your sins and come to Christ and you can be absolutely sure of attaining everlasting life (John 10:27-28).

          • cacheton

            And you know that what you interpret the bible as saying is ‘true’ because …?

          • And you know that it is untrue because…….?

          • cacheton

            Because however you interpret it is coloured by your preconceived beliefs, conscious and unconscious.

            The same is true of those who were ‘inspired’ to write the bible in the first place. Therefore between God and You any information through words has already undergone a double distortion.

            If those words inspire you to godliness, compassion, love etc, then wonderful. If they inspire you to condemn/hate/judge others etc then, obviously, less wonderful. Often this ‘Because the bible tells me so’ stance means that the believer is unable and/or unwilling to look at what those words are actually inspiring in them.

          • Because however you interpret it is coloured by your preconceived beliefs, conscious and unconscious.

            Thank you for being so plain. So however I or anyone else interprets the Bible, you know for a fact that it is untrue because it does not fit in with your preconceived beliefs, conscious and unconscious.
            On that basis, there doesn’t seem to be a lot more to discuss.

          • dannybhoy

            Jack
            What I think we can be sure of is that God loves all sinners as wayward sons and daughters, and is not willing that ANY should perish. How the ground is prepared so that people come to the Lord is a mystery, but it is a wondrous mystery, not a biased one.

          • CliveM

            No the bible doesn’t say that. But it does say a lot more besides.

        • dannybhoy

          Jack, Martin didn’t say Linus IS going to Hell, he said,
          “Linus,
          May I say to you in the nicest, kindest, most politically
          correct way I can, that you are actually either going to repent or burn and anyone who tells you anything different is actually not doing you any favours at all.

          • Danny, to be clear, the message is correct for all of us. Catholics believe there is another option too – purgatory. It is its method of delivery Jack is querying.

          • dannybhoy

            Jack, I don’t know where purgatory comes in Biblically, although I have of course some understanding of the concept.
            Maybe not on a blog, (but Linus makes the statements and people respond) but in actual preaching situations, when the preacher preaches the Gospel with more seriousness, then the congregation realises that it is a serious issue!
            Even if no one is saved in that service, the Holy Spirit can move in that person’s life.

            1 Corinthians 1>
            17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
            18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
            “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
            and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart….”

          • Yes but the preacher has to get a congregation through the door of a church first – or capture an audiences attention. And remember, the ‘old’ models may not apply where sin is clearly identified, consequences made plain and people called to turn to God.

            Nowadays, the Christian message is so varied both among and within denominations there is always a group somewhere ready to reassure a sinner that the life they’re living is either acceptable, others are misreading scripture, or God will forgive them anyway, others are stressing God’s judgement over His forgiveness.

          • dannybhoy

            I think once more we are saying the same thing Jack, we just express it in different ways. I think where I agree with Martin is that the Gospel must be preached in its entirety and without pulling punches, but a gentle person will express it differently to a prophetic ‘Moses’ type. I believe (as I have been saying over at Hannah’s blog) that we have to build a case which makes that Gospel relevant to the people listening.

            Many years ago during my time with a Christian missionary organisation we had a teacher come from another country to tell us about what was happening there -revival.
            After a while though it became very apparent that much of what he was saying created fear (of damnation) and legalism. Instead of spiritual life it brought condemnation…

          • CliveM

            Ok DB I will disagree with you. I don’t think Martin is suggesting that the whole of the Gospel is preached. Martin has a very narrow view of the Gospel, which explains why he believes the AoB doesn’t preach it.

            The Gospel covers the whole of human experience, Martin appears to believe it only covers the repent or die part.

            I hope I am wrong.

          • dannybhoy

            From my Brethren days I remember that every service apart from Sunday morning communion ended with an appeal to come forward and
            “accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour if you haven’t already done so!”
            I also remember that there were times when I personally ‘bridled’ because I believed I was a decent young man and didn’t need a Saviour or a Lord.
            But at least I knew where I and the Gospel differed…

          • CliveM

            Hi DB, I have also attended such services in the Bretheren and I have looked around me and their isn’t a single person who hadn’t made that walk decades earlier. My point isn’t about the need to repent, my point is preaching such a borrow Gospel, ignores most of the bible and what God is saying to us.

            Of course the other thing about the Brethern Churches I was at, a decade later there was no one left.

          • dannybhoy

            Clive,
            “Of course the other thing about the Brethern Churches I was at, a decade later there was no one left.”

            This also seems to be true for the times they are a’changin.’
            What is the heart of the Gospel? Surely that God in His love for lost mankind had a plan that satisfies Holiness, Righteousness and Mercy by coming to earth in the person of the Son.
            There is no other solution that satisfies a righteous and holy God, and offers repentant sinners sanctification and eternal life.
            Hell is the ultimate destination for Satan and the fallen angels. It was never intended for man. Adam’s disobedience had two main consequences. It separated man from God and it allowed the serpent to become the ruler of this world..

            Ephesians 2>
            “2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

      • dannybhoy

        ” I couldn’t see the point in it. It was not until I understood that I
        was a sinner under the righteous condemnation of God that I fled to
        Christ for salvation.”
        Amen Martin. Similar to myself.

      • William Lewis

        The light and love of the redemption cannot be unlinked from the darkness and destruction of the sin. Ultimately all Christians acknowledge both. But people are initially drawn in different ways. Some are moved by this extraordinary love and are eventually persuaded that it applies to them. Others are acutely aware of their predicament and, deciding that they want nothing more of it, flee to their Saviour.

      • cacheton

        ‘you are actually either going to repent or burn….’

        And you know that because….?

        • …..Because I have it on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Mark 9:43-48. Check it out. If you have a sin in your life that is as dear to you as your right hand, foot or eye, you need to get rid of it.

    • Linus, good points and Jack agrees the Archbishop of Canterbury, like Pope Francis, has different ‘audiences’ to address in public homilies at this time of year.

    • len

      Just tell me if you saw a car driving down a road and it was heading towards a precipice and certain death to all the occupants would you shout out a warning or just politely wave as they went by?.

    • dannybhoy

      Who keeps screaming “Sinner!” at YOU especially? I think most people who have conversed with you here have tried to be reasonable and reasoned. Not only that,all we who view ourselves as Bible based Christians, accept that we ourselves are sinners saved by grace; imperfects saved by the Perfect.
      You know of course that you could be a man suffering from terminal cancer and have a doctor who was so worried about upsetting you he told you it was ‘flu…. You are not a sinner because you are homosexual, you are a sinner because the Bible says that all men are sinners..
      Romans 3:>

      21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

  • Watchman

    Perhaps ABC could use Paul’s attitude:

    1And I, brothers, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God. 2For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2)

  • cacheton

    That last paragraph is completely incomprehensible. There seems no point to this post at all.

  • Martin

    The preacher of the gospel is to preach the gospel, to point people to Christ. He seems to have forgotten that, indeed, it seems intrinsic to the post that its holder is forced away from preaching to politicking.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Mr Slope was arrested for looking outwards…mind, he was using a telescope and pointing it towards Bertie Stanhope’s bathroom window…

    • Shadrach Fire

      It wasn’t Mrs Stanhope’s bathroom window then?

  • CliveM

    The bible addresses the whole breadth of human experience; love, hate, sex, violence, wealth, justice, birth and death. Their is practically no topic that the AoC can preach on that isn’t part of the Gospel or God doesn’t have something to say.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Clive and others,
    I would not disagree with you, for all that you say is true. It is just that the CofE is in such a mess that it is believed that his most urgent matter should be bringing the church into unity with a single voice. There must be a unity among Christians. The the word of God is inviolate.
    I would quote for example. ‘We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’.
    So if that is accepted as true then what would happen if Welby was found to be having an affair. He would surely be dethroned, taken out of ministry and given counseling until it was felt he could be restored.
    So how then were there two individuals in the Top 100 list in ministry, one a vicar and the other a singer who were self declared ‘sinners’ (Lesbian). Sinners as in the Welby illustration but they maintain their positions in ministry. Lovely people I have no doubt but left in delusion because they will not acknowledge their sin.
    This and other issues need to be resolved so that the Church can speak with one voice and then it will be empowered to do mighty works for the Kingdom.

    • cacheton

      Who would give the Archbishop counseling?

      How do you know it is not you who is deluded about the ‘sin’ of being a lesbian? Of course this issue needs to be resolved – will the church opt for love and tolerance or judgment and discrimination?

      • Shadrach Fire

        God sets the standards in his word. It is his word that Judges. We show them love that they might conform to his pattern.

        • cacheton

          Your answer is a typical example of Christianspeak gobledegook, incomprehensible to most people, including me. Words do not judge, they are symbols on a page. Telling people they should conform to anything is not showing them love, it is an attempt at control. I’ll ask again – will the church opt for love and tolerance or judgment and discrimination?

          • Define tolerance for me, please.

          • cacheton

            There are plenty of online dictionaries.

            Maybe it would be simpler for you if I reduced the question – will the church opt for love or hate?

          • Well, since you won’t define (or do not know) what you mean by tolerance, here’s the Oxford Concise Dictionary definition.

            ‘Endure, permit (practice, action, person’s doing); allow (person, religious sect, opinion) to exist without interference or molestation; endure with forbearance.’

            Well, I think we’re all being mighty tolerant of you on this blog. You have not been banned as a troll, hacked, or threatened with violence. We are enduring you with forbearance.
            But, of course, this isn’t enough for you; what you want is capitulation, and that isn’t part of tolerance. I am very happy to tolerate you and others who disagree with me; but I reserve my right to disagree with you or to disapprove of your actions, and to express my disagreement or disapproval. If you think that is hatred, then you don’t know what that word means either.
            I will come back on the important question of love or hate tomorrow. It’s bed-time.

          • cacheton

            ‘what you want is capitulation’

            No, what I want is discussion. I am interested in why people believe what they do. Why are you so angry?

          • I think you may find it’s you that is angry.

            Your answer is a typical example of Christianspeak gobledegook, incomprehensible to most people, including me. Words do not judge, they are symbols on a page. Telling people they should conform to anything is not showing them love, it is an attempt at control. I’ll ask again – will the church opt for love and tolerance or judgment and discrimination?


            Sounds pretty angry to me. Perhaps people not agreeing with you makes you angry? In that case you’d be better of on a nice atheist forum where everyone will agree with you.

          • cacheton

            No, people not agreeing with me makes me interested in why. What makes you think I am an atheist – I am not!

            My post you quote was not about not agreeing, it was about not understanding – hence the word ‘incomprehensible’. If I cannot understand something how do I know whether I agree with it or not? If Shadrach, who wrote the post I was replying to, could explain why telling people they should conform is loving and not controlling, then maybe we could have a conversation. He didn’t – instead you come along and accuse me of being a troll etc!

            Ah well – such is life!

          • Maybe it would be simpler for you if I reduced the question – will the church opt for love or hate?

            God’s people must always opt for love. You seem to be under the impression that everybody here hates you, and perhaps that is part of your problem. I can’t speak for everyone here, but not only would it be bizarre to hate someone I’ve never met, but if I were to do so I would be denying the One who told me to love my neighbours and even my enemies. He didn’t specifically say, love people who troll on the internet, but I think we can say that’s included. That love is not some gooey, gushy feeling, but a desire to do good, and to help others as we have opportunity. It seems to me that the greatest help I can give you, and the greatest love I can show, is to point you to Christ.
            A brief Bible study. 2 Corinthians 5:14.

            ‘The love of Christ compels us.’
            That is Christ’s love for Christians, that He should suffer in such an appalling way to save people like me who despised Him and wanted nothing to do with Him. We are compelled to share His love by trying to bring the Gospel before people.

            ‘Because we judge thus; that if One died for all, then all died;’

            Christ died for all manner of people who will trust in Him: for Jews and Gentiles, Pharisees and tax-collectors, black and white, rich and poor, respectable and otherwise. There is no one who can sin Himself out of God’s love; there is no sin so heinous that the blood of Christ cannot wash it clean. Read Titus 3:3-6. Those who trust in Him have died to their old life and been born anew (v.17).

            ‘And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.’

            He did not suffer and die to leave these people in their sins, but so that they might live for Him and be a people eager to live lives to the praise of the risen Christ.

            ‘Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh……’

            Paul now looks at no one the way he used to: that guys a loser; that fellow is despicable. One he regarded Christ in a worldly way; as an imposter and a blasphemer, but now he sees Him as the Lord of glory.

            v.20. ‘Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.’

            I, who once scoffed at the very mention of Christ have been made an ambassador for Him. My job is to implore you not to continue in your rebellion against God. He will receive you as a son and heir (Luke 15:11ff), but you must forsake your rebellion against Him. His terms are very easy.

            “Come to Me, all you who are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
            I have found it to be so.

          • cacheton

            What gives you the impression that I think everybody hates me?

            The love/hate thing arose in relation to how the church intends to solve the issue of homosexuality. I agreed with Shadrach – it does need to be resolved. Will that be done through love and tolerance or judgment and discrimination?

            You say ‘God’s people must always opt for love’. OK. Then why are so many of them still opting for judgment and discrimination? Why is the issue not resolved?

            Thankyou, but I already have a relationship with Christ which is entirely fulfilling!

          • Why do you think you know who Christ is, let alone have a relationship with Him?
            How can you if you don’t believe the Bible? That is the only place that speaks of Him. Anything that comes from any other source is a form of idolatry. You can be sure that a ‘Jesus’ you make for yourself will always validate you and never judge you.
            And by ‘judgement and ‘discrimination,’ you appear to mean anyone who doesn’t agree with you. The issue is not resolved because people who call themselves Christians live in disobedience to the word of God and refuse to repent.
            ‘Repent,’ by the way was the very first word recorded in our Lord’s public ministry (Matthew 4:17). He also said, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I say?’ (Luke 6:46).

          • cacheton

            ‘Why do you think you know who Christ is, let alone have a relationship with Him?’ LOL I could ask you the same question!

            As for idolatry – isn’t ‘believing everything in the bible without question’ idolatry? If that is the only source of what Jesus is to you then he must be dead, not alive! Blimey!

            And no, by judgment and discrimination I mean in relation to homosexuality, which you continue to avoid answering. Will the church love and accept homosexuality or judge it and discriminate against homosexuals?

          • The Lord Jesus said, “These are the Scriptures that testify of Me” (John 5:39); “If you believed Moses you would believe Me, for He wrote about Me” (John 5:46); “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations…….” (Luke 24:46-7). If you don’t believe the Scriptures, you have no way of knowing the will of God and you have a god and a christ of your own imagination.
            As for why believe the Scriptures, ‘We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the people of God to gain a high and reverent estimation of the Holy Scriptures. We may similarly affected by the nature of the Scriptures- the heavenliness of the contents, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God, the full disclosure it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, together with many other incomparable excellencies and entire perfections. By all this evidence the Scripture more than proves itself to be the Word of God.
            Yet, notwithstanding this, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth of Scripture and its divine authority, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts’ (John 16:13-14; 1 Cor. 2:10-12; 1 John 2:20, 27)
            Baptist Confession of faith 1689.
            Now to the question of homosexuality. If Christians hated homosexuals or other sinners, they would say nothing and let them go to hell in their own way (Jonah 1:2-3; 4:2). As I wrote before, ‘The love of Christ constrains us.’ It is love that causes Christians to speak out against homosexual practices, along with other sins., because God orders us to do so. The human body simply isn’t designed for homosexuality, any more than it is designed for drug abuse or alcoholism and all these practices lead to sickness and death unless departed from, as well as coming under the judgement of God. So Christians are to love homosexuals, but we cannot accept them into membership in the churches until they repent; we do not discriminate against them, save where it may lead us into sin, but we judge the practice sinful on the basis of God’s word.

          • cacheton

            ‘If you don’t believe the Scriptures, you have no way of knowing the will of God and you have a god and a christ of your own imagination.’

            This sums up the lack of spiritual knowledge/experience in the church. How do you make the so-called Scriptures (written by men – ie:some other people’s idea of God, a very long time ago) apply to you today? By considering it a book of rules? It would seem so as you say ‘because God orders us to do so’.

            And what/where is the imagination? Where else is God? I know ‘imagination’ gets a bad press from atheists/rationalists but it seems it does from you aswell, like its an insult. You really think the heavens physically opened and God’s booming voice sounded out? It’s a nice image, but only a deluded person would believe it actually happened in our physical dimension! The people who wrote the bible were writing from their imagination, obviously. If we can’t agree on that then – well the situation is even worse than I originally thought! That does not mean that the scriptures are worthless, but it does mean that the bible is not merely a book of rules.

            ‘..we cannot accept them …’; ‘..we do not discriminate against them..’
            Not accepting IS discriminating against them. You seem mightily confused over this.