martyn-percy-4
Church of England

Martyn Percy on Justin Welby: “there is a marked absence of salient and resonant ‘God-talk’, or any persuasive public theology”

Here follows the first of a six-letter exchange between the Very Rev’d Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and Dr Adrian Hilton, Editor of this  blog, on the matters of the mission of the Church of England; the theology and secular provenance of the Renewal & Reform programme, and the character and ministry of the Most Rev’d and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. These letters were simultaneous exchanges, so responses will be published on alternate days. Here is Martyn Percy’s first letter:

Dear Adrian,

I was interested in your trenchant defence of Archbishop Justin’s Reform and Renewal agenda. And also your assertion that he is a courageous spiritual leader.

I don’t doubt his courage. But I want to mention an off-the-record conversation I had with a ‘fan’ of the Archbishop at a conference recently. The person is a seasoned senior commentator on religious affairs, works for an international news agency, and is clearly impressed with ++Justin. They expressed great admiration for his life-story – the bootlegging background; the father who he knew, but then turned out not to be his father; the great personal danger in Nigeria with the Muslim militia; the possibility of kidnap; his business experience in the oil industry; his ‘business sense’ (also lauded); and of course, the tragic loss of his infant daughter in a car crash.

This person also expressed great admiration for ++Justin’s purported debt to The Rule of Benedict, despite his obvious HTB and public-school Oxbridge CU/Evangelical background. And of course, great admiration was voiced for the new experimental ‘Religious Order’ at Lambeth Palace, where young people can now join for a year or more in a novel scheme. And so, the commentator concluded, the ‘Reform and Renewal’ was a fine development: undertaken by a humble, grounded, saintly man – who also had a lot of useful business experience. What could possibly be better for a struggling 21st-century denomination?

I put some questions back to the commentator. First, how much did it cost to join the new Religious Order at Lambeth? They did not know. I understand it is £12,000 pa – well beyond the means of most young people.

Second, which part of ‘Reform and Renewal’ is shaped by The Rule of Benedict? Actually, come to think of it, which element of ++Justin’s ministry owes any obvious debt to this book and to Benedictine spirituality? As we sat talking, we could think of none. If anything, the aggressive and assertive imposition of ‘Reform and Renewal’ is diametrically opposed to the ethos of The Rule.

Third, I wondered if any of the parts of ‘Reform and Renewal’ – on leadership training or reforming theological education, for example – were rooted (at the point of origin) in any kind of theology? To me, they just seem to be pragmatic ‘business-like’ reasoning. The commentator reluctantly agreed; there was no sense of theology being at the heart of the initiative. Moreover, the claim to be pragmatically addressing a ‘crisis’ with ‘action’ might be a coup: seizing ‘emergency powers’ to rush through reforms. None of the reforms were rooted in collaborative reflection and theological wisdom,

I then asked the commentator if they had followed the recent critique of the Archbishop offered by Matthew Parris in The Spectator? Responding to the multiple atrocities that took place in Paris on 13th November 2015, which included the murder of many young people in the Bataclan Nightclub and over 130 deaths, the Archbishop gave an interview to BBC Songs of Praise, and stated that the atrocity had “caused him to doubt his faith”. Matthew Parris, writing in The Spectator a few days later, openly questioned whether this personal and rather confessional insight into the quality of the Archbishop’s belief was appropriate and adequate for the wider public:

..as we are in confessional mood, here’s an anxiety of my own. The Paris atrocity has not occasioned me any new doubts, but Justin Welby’s remarks have caused me to doubt Archbishop Welby. Speaking on behalf of God, I have to ask the Archbishop: ‘Justin, where are you in all this?’… I’m not a believer, but I try to understand what believers believe. Christian theology has a long and distinguished intellectual history; faith’s most difficult conundrums have all been raised and answers (acceptable or otherwise) have been offered to all the obvious questions [Matthew Parris, ‘Has the Archbishop of Canterbury Forsaken God?’, The Spectator, 28/11/2015, p12].

There is no way of evading the public’s demand for ecclesial leadership that grapples openly with hard questions, and engages richly with the ‘long and distinguished intellectual history’ of Christianity. We cannot afford an Archbishop who forsakes this. To be sure, the Archbishop speaks commendably about his personal life, exhibiting a rare humanity for someone in the constant glare of the media, and in public life. He can speak movingly of his own personal situations, tragedies and losses – past and present.  And on the whole, the media warm to this.

He also speaks about those religious interlocutors that have apparently shaped his life. Yet there is little sense of how The Rule of Benedict shapes the Archbishop’s thinking and practice; in fact, his modus operandi seems rather at odds with that of Benedict. And despite his moving personal testimonies and anecdotes, there is a marked absence of salient and resonant ‘God-talk’, or any persuasive public theology. The Archbishop is on record as saying that the most important theologian in the twentieth century is John Stott (sermon at Durham Cathedral). And that the most important ‘theological movement’ to emerge over the last hundred years was Alpha – this said to a group of bemused American Anglican theological educators.

As Evelyn Underhill once reminded a former Archbishop of Canterbury (Cosmo Gordon Lang) in a personal letter penned in 1930, “the most interesting thing about religion is God – and the people are hungry for God”. Underhill was concerned about the inner life of the clergy that she observed. She was making a plea for the church to talk less about its own concerns, and instead to dwell more on God.

So I asked the commentator if she could think of anything memorably inspiring the Archbishop had said about God. There was a lengthy silence, and then an admission: “No,” they said. It was once said of Cardinal Basil Hume that he “had the gift of being able to talk to the English about God, without making them wish they were somewhere else”. The crucial part of that sentence is ‘about God’. In an age of celebrity culture, church leaders who can talk about themselves, and who engage the media with moving and exciting personal stories are clearly an asset. But this is not the primary vocation for church leaders. Glib ‘God-talk’, earnest personal testimony, or an emphasis on mission and management only drives the public further away. We need church leaders who can speak about God – wisely and inspiringly.

So my question is simple: what is the most interesting thing the Archbishop has said about God? Not a personal testimony: just God. What was said about God?

Sincerely,

Martyn

  • Mike Stallard

    I personally go for spiritual enlightenment about God to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. I actually do not have many Anglican writers on my devotional list. The last Pope did some very good stuff on Jesus and the Saints. Our local Church was locked all day yesterday. We had a huge travellers’ funeral during the week, though.

    • Dominic Stockford

      ? I must say, no-one else may have the courage to do so, that am surprised and disappointed to hear that a Christian goes to someone who denies Christ for spiritual enlightenment.

      • Mike Stallard

        I go to Him as well! But I have learned that the Holy Spirit is, unfortunately, not limited to the Evangelical Wing of a small Protestant enclave!

        • carl jacobs

          not limited to the Evangelical Wing of a small Protestant enclave!

          No, but the Holy Spirit does not indwell Unbelievers either. If a man does not know the Son, he not know the Father. There is no Spiritual Enlightenment that could be found in such a man. The wisdom received from him would by definition be temporal in origin.

          • Mike Stallard

            And a very high temporal standard at that. Have you actually read Jonathan Sacks on the Old Testament?

          • carl jacobs

            No. When he tells you that Psalm 22 does not testify of the Christ, what will you say?

            Be careful and wise at whose feet you choose to sit for instruction.

          • Mike Stallard

            Thank you for that timely advice.

          • Royinsouthwest

            The Rabbi Jonathan Sacks believes in the God of Abraham so it is a bit harsh to call him an unbeliever. In any case, how can unbelievers become Christians without being influenced by the Spirit? Is it only at the moment of conversion that the Spirit can influence an unbeliever? God can speak through whoever He chooses – even Balaam’s ass!

          • carl jacobs

            The Rabbi Jonathan Sacks believes in the God of Abraham

            No, he does not. If he did, he would know the Christ. He believes in a false god.

            God can speak through whoever He chooses – even Balaam’s ass!

            In times past, God spoke to us in diverse ways. But in these latter days He has spoken through His Son. Who was it who said “No one know the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him?”

          • Royinsouthwest

            Well, forget Abraham then. Are you saying that Jonathan Sacks does not believe in the Creator of heaven and earth? Who are you to judge him? Only God can do that.

          • carl jacobs

            I can state with confidence that which God declares in Scripture. It is not I who judges him.

          • Albert

            I think you might enjoy this, Carl:

          • JCF

            I’m really shocked that this anti-Semitic, anti-New Testament BS is allowed to be posted here. Moderator???

          • Not always, though I understand your point. God will even use a donkey to talk to you if it suits Him to do so, though it has to be said that such instances are rare!

        • Anton

          It is possible to talk good sense without having the Holy Spirit. That is what Sacks does.

      • Martin

        Dominic

        It’s the spirit of the age. men follow after those who say ‘wise’ things, not after truth. For example Premier Radio’s Unbelievable programme often has fulsome praise for intellectual arguments, rarely for biblical ones.

    • Sigfridiii

      Jonathan Sacks is the best Archbishop of Canterbury we never had. Even half of the bible is better than no Christian theology. God-Talk is absent from the deliberations of the CofE these days. All it wants is spreadsheets and bums on pews.

    • Rhoda

      There was a recent report on radio 4’s “From our Home correspondent” programme about the gypsy church convention in Wales. ( Listen on the link below from 12.03 – 17.24)

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b080py3z

      This was a trailer for a longer programme which will be broadcast on 27th November on the BBC World service.
      The website of the Light and Life gypsy church states;
      .”Almighty God is moving among the Gypsy and Traveling people all over the world. Come to Church with us this Sunday and see and hear for yourself. Whatever your background, know this. “You are loved by God and us”.

      • Merchantman

        Yes thank God for that. I met some gypsy folk in Spain who were strong christians some years ago. Bless them and their families that believe that their Redeemer lives.

    • Mike, reading Sacks is one thing. We all read writers who are unbelievers for a variety of reasons. But surely spiritual enlightenment about God is not one of the reasons. Any snippets of theological truth they may have is inextricably bound to a tapestry of theological error and lies. The source is deeply polluted and will poison the drinker if used to slake thirst.

      • Mike Stallard

        I deeply agree that the main truth lies with the Catholic church. I also believe, firmly, in the Trinity just as, I hope, you do too. What intrigues me, though, is the way that people who have not really had the opportunity to feel the full force of the Catholic argument are, in their own way, striving towards it! Jonathan Sacks, to take a good example, is really good at understanding the deep truths behind the book of Genesis which is, of course, part of our Catholic heritage. I think the word I would choose actually, to describe the work is stunted. The mediaeval sculptors used to picture the Old Testament as a very beautiful blind woman.

        • I am not a Catholic so I have less confidence in this tradition than you, however, it is at least Christian, Sacks is not. Sacks and OT are not revelatory equivalents; the OT points to a Christ that Sacks denies.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    There is much food for thought here…I look forward to the rest of this correspondence.

    • Anton

      I look forward to your comments on it!

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        I am sharpening my quill…

  • Jill

    Burning with curiosity as to who is the ‘they’ ( seasoned senior commentator on religious affairs). Could it be our Ruthie?

    • Ruth Gledhill

      No it wasn’t me! Ruthie (Actually I disagree with Percy and Parris on this.)

      • Jill

        Oh! (Crestfallen.) I feel sure it must be a lady journalist. Who else fits the bill? An American, perhaps.

  • Will Jones

    Justin is a great archbishop in many ways, especially at this moment in history when the church needs a confident and competent media performer whom the media actually like. But inspiring utterances about God do not, it is true, form an obvious part of his repertoire. You can’t have everything.

    • Anton

      God isn’t everything. He’s the only thing.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Anton, superb.

    • Martin

      Will

      What the church needs is a man of God. A man that will stand up against the spirit of this age. Welby has shown himself incapable of this.

      • Is it possible to attain this office without having learned the language of diplomacy so well that any teeth in ones faith are effectively drawn?

  • Martin

    I’d not class Welby as an Evangelical, and I’d not class HTB or the Alpha course as Evangelical although they are distinctly Charismatic, but that is an entirely different thing.

    I’m struck by the comments concerning the new ‘Religious Order’ and ‘Reform and Renewal’. The first would most certainly not fall under the heading of Evangelical since it is ecclesiastical at heart bordering on priestcraft. I’m also suspicious of the latter which sounds more Charismatic than biblically based. Welby sounds incredibly confused, but isn’t that normal for Anglicanis.

    What I’d like to see from the CoE is a return to its Reformed, in the original sense, roots that at least was a revival of the 39 Articles. Better would be a move to accept the Westminster confession.

    • David

      Your post’s last paragraph more or less sets out my hopes for the Church’s future.

      • And mine!

        • Martin

          Sadly gents, I don’t see any indication it will happen. The heathen have too tight a grasp on power within to CoE.

          • David

            Yes at present the liberal bishops are in charge and hold all the high offices. Only occasionally do we hear from one of the few genuinely Biblically led bishops. This is partly because they are mostly secondary bishops, not senior diocesan ones, and partly because the media ignore everything that does not accord with their solidly anti-biblical stance.

    • Like the Church of Scotland?

      • Martin

        John

        It would be good to see the Church of Scotland return to the Westminster Confession.

  • David

    Archbishop Welby is undoubtedly a courageous man and probably has a good grasp of how the denomination, as a business, should become more business-like and streamlined. However those leadership qualities will not result in a revival in the C of E, although it may stem its institutional and financial decline.

    To me the man seems very conflicted. One the one hand he presents himself as an evangelical, but why then does he doubt the inspired word of God, as understood throughout the ages ? He seems to be prepared to compromise what the Church has always understood the Bible to say, simply to accommodate sinful aspects of post-modern culture. This will not win souls for Christ.

    As a traditional, conservative and orthodox Christian, who happens to be an Anglican, I find more leadership amongst the faithful bishops of the global south than with our archbishop. Thankfully there is still a core of gospel preaching vicars in this country’s pulpits and it to these places I look, not Justin Welby.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Excellent and thoughtful letter. The Bible is all about God, and ministers should stick to that unsurpassable example in their own ministry.

    • Indeed. However, the problem is many church ministers (of all denominations) do not believe there is a God and many more do not believe in the God of the Bible.

      • Dominic Stockford

        There are some ‘Christian’ people, one of whom has posted under this thread, who go to those who deny Christ for ‘spiritual’ input. I pray he isn’t a minister.

  • carl jacobs

    the most interesting thing about religion is God

    To modern man, the most interesting thing about religion is … man himself. What is religion after but the stories we tell ourselves. There are numerous fascinating avenues to investigate – what are these stories, where do they come from, why do we tell them, and how do they shape our lives?

    Who wants to talk about God when we can talk about us?

    • ‘“True wisdom consists in two things: Knowledge of God and Knowledge of Self… There is no knowing that does not begin with knowing God.”

      John Calvin

      • carl jacobs

        Ironically enough, true knowledge of self presupposes true knowledge of God.

  • I look forward to reading this exchange. In many respects it is too early to comment because as the exchange unfolds and points are ceded many of these early comments could become redundant. Understanding that, I would like to endorse the need to talk more about God. If God exists, and I have unshaking belief that He does, then there is nothing more important to talk about. Even a largely unbelieving population fully expects the Archbishop of Canterbury to talk about God and will make room for him to do so. Nobody is better placed than ++Justin to do this, and my goodness he needs to do it. But even for him I suspect it takes great courage when not in a pulpit. There is something in the makeup of fallen man which fights actively against truth and for Christians to be uncomfortable talking about it. I notice that other religious belief systems have no such inhibitions. The book of Hebrews refers to this as “an evil heart of unbelief” and in truth that is exactly what it is. I mean no disrespect to ++Justin for there but for the grace of God etc. It is not a case of denominational labels but of man’s parlous state. Paul tells us that the human mind is “enmity against God”, so what should we expect?

    The leadership of the church needs to be willing to grasp every tragedy and disaster by the scruff and step forward boldly and speak revealed truth into every situation. The gospel needs to be proclaimed, Christ and Him crucified, as the only solution to the problems and cruelty of man and the world – not some watered down irrelevant social gospel but the true gospel. The house of bishops has no need to mouth platitudes about peace loving Muslims or God being with us in our pain, it just needs to proclaim the gospel. There is no other answer and Archbishop Justin has a platform like no other person in the country.

    • David

      Amen to that !
      Yes they should exhibit far more courage in preaching the undiluted gospel.
      This is the only way to save souls and build the Church. The decades of striving for “relevance”, tantamount to compromising with an increasing heathen culture, has resulted in little more than, an overall accelerating decline.

  • John

    I like Justin Welby; he is real. He makes mistakes, don’t you? Yes, I wish he were more like the bishops in the global south. But being Archbishop of Canterbury is like herding cats on a unicycle. Give him a break. At least I can understand what he’s going on about which is something, despite having a degree in theology, I cannot say of his predecessor, saintly though he is.

    • David

      Well that’s one fan anyway !
      I suppose this blog needs some balance ?

      • chefofsinners

        Welby is about as good as you’re going to get in the CoE. Would you rather have Martin Percy as AoC, quoting Matthew Parris at you?

  • Ian Paul

    I find this a slightly odd accusation, given what can only be called the incoherence of Martyn Percy’s recent theological comments about the Church. I wonder what his assessment of Rowan Williams is like—who certainly talked about God, but in a way which did not at all engage with contemporary secular discourse.

    Welby offered plenty of coherent God-talk when he spoke earlier this year at New Wine Leaders’ meeting at Harrogate…but I don’t suppose either Percy or the reporter were there to hear it.

    Looking forward to Adrian’s response.

  • len

    ‘but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ (1 Corinthians 1:24)

    Lets talk about Christ….(evangelism is not being ‘our most persuasive’ but preaching Christ and Him Crucified)

  • Inspector General

    Rather telling that the author mentions this badly contrived future leadership sniffing out business embraced by the Church Of England, which Cranmer informed us about last year, and so soon in the correspondence at that. If you’re a newbie and make the right squeaks to start with, that is. If you don’t you get your card marked “not suitable for advancement. Ever”

    Fast tracking is something you do in business alright, but there is a good reason for it. You do it, and by doing so reduce ground level experience for the chosen candidate, because if you don’t, some other firm will head hunt and offer the same themselves. In other words you take a gamble that what you have in the person is embryonic greatness that you need. You do it because you have to. It should come as no surprise then that fast tracked types who don’t make the grade are subject to be fast tracked out of the company. Oh yes – There is precious little security for the fast tracked until they prove themselves.

    That’s the cutting edge of business then. Not applicable to the church at all. The church has all the time in the world to observe and select its future leadership. Without previous arbitrary judgment. And most importantly, to GET IT RIGHT. Only a fool would agree to fast track those who are called to the cloth.

    • Anton

      Hierarchies. Unscriptural.

      • Inspector General

        Jesus took himself off to be educated by Rabbis. Not assistant Rabbis…

        • Anton

          Do provide chapter and verse for that.

          • Inspector General

            Not to hand. It’s what he was doing as a teenager. Anyway, creation is hierarchical. The angels are above us in the order. Hierarchy is everywhere…

          • Anton

            Well, enjoy your own.

          • Inspector General

            One does. The very idea that the Inspector is equal to the riff raff he encounters in the town fills him with disgust.

          • carl jacobs

            The very idea that the Inspector is equal to the riff raff he encounters in the town fills him with disgust.

            That’s what theologians call “The Offense of the Gospel”. You may not like it, but you are exactly the same as that riff raff. You only privilege yourself by comparison because you judge by the wrong standard.

          • Anton

            Don’t take him so seriously!

          • Inspector General

            Not at all Carl. One may be made of the same stuff as aforementioned riff raff but the parable of the talents tells us that improvement is not only desirable in the human condition, it is to be expected. Those who don’t, fall off the path. If that not be the case, then all of us are saved. Riff raff included…

            So, while you’re here on this earth. Walk softly and carry a big stick…or, as you do, your pistol…

          • chefofsinners

            Scripture says we shall judge angels

          • Inspector General

            Really!

          • chefofsinners

            1 Corinthians 6:3

        • chefofsinners

          Jesus was found educating the rabbis at the age of twelve.

          • Inspector General

            Really? Not the other way round…

          • Both ways.. asking and answering questions.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Written 100 years after the events by a Jesus-fan who never meet Jesus. Jews/Rabbis have no record of this ever taken place. Sounds like a dubious fan-fiction story.

          • chefofsinners

            In reply to ‘written 100 years after the event’, see my reply above to your comment about the text ‘some standing here shall not see death…’

          • Jon Sorensen

            Late 1st century writers did not know Luke or Gospels and this saying is in couple of different forms in the Gospels

          • chefofsinners

            So, you think that a ‘Jesus fan’, who never met Jesus, when all the apostles were dead wrote: “some standing here will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

          • Jon Sorensen

            ‘Jesus fan’ wrote parts based on oral tradition, some text looks like it would have not survived as oral tradition.

            Tell me when did Jesus followers see “Son of Man coming in His kingdom”?

  • Colin

    One thing that stands out to me re his talk about God is his testimony to the presence of God in the face of loss and suffering. That is what I’ve seen shared on social media, what has spoken to many non-Christians I know and shares a hope in the context of anti-theist discourse that holds up suffering as one main reason to say God does not exist

  • Politically__Incorrect

    When Justin Welby talks about having doubts about his faith in light of the Paris attacks I wonder what he means exactly. Does he expect God to not allow these things to happen so that when they happen he is disillusioned with God? If so, that makes me wonder about the way he understands God. It reminds me of the argument made by many atheists that if God is omnipotent but allows suffering then he must be heartless, but if he has a heart then the presence of suffering means he is not omnipotent. There are two other responses to this. Thirdly, God knows things we don’t know about these situations, and fourthly, He is more concerned about how we spend eternity than this brief temporal existence on Earth.

    I’m really not sure where Justin Welby’s faith lies on this spiritual spectrum. I would like to know because I have no grasp of his deeper spiritual nature.

    • David

      Well put.

      • Old Nick

        The core of the matter being that God even allowed the most appalling suffering to happen to His own Son, Who did not even deserve it.

    • Colin

      You seem to be saying that doubt is not part of our faith walk, even in the face of appalling evil. To me, it’s more real to discuss our doubts and show how we walked through them with Christ (something Welby has done and talked about in ways that have spoken to atheists and anti-theists)

      • Politically__Incorrect

        Justin Welby has spoken about his doubts but seems coy about expressing his confidence in God. I would like to hear more of the latter from him.

        • Colin

          See http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/blog.php/25/why-arguing-with-god-is-not-the-same-as-not-believing-in-him
          I would suggest that what you’re hearing is the media’s take on what he said, rather than the times he has spoken about his confidence in God (e.g. Desert Island Discs with avowed atheist Kirsty Young spoke of both the hurt and the confidence)

          • Politically__Incorrect

            Actually I pay little attention to what the media says about him. The media is institutionally anti-Christian. My views on Justin Welby are based on his actions and words as Archbishop of Canterbury. I think he has missed several opportunities really talk “God” to a nation that is dying from spiritual and moral malnutrition. The embers are there but they never quite burst into flames.

          • Inspector General

            Unfortunately, he pales into insignificance when compared to Basil Hume…

      • There are, I think, two kinds of doubt or perhaps better two ways of questioning God. There is the questioning of faith and the questioning of unbelief. Jesus, on the cross, is an example of the former (my God, why have you forsaken me) and the serpent in the garden is an example of the latter (has God said…)

  • chefofsinners

    There is one great Paris disaster, and it is Matthew Paris. Why would Martin Percy ally himself with an attack on Welby which emanates from one so obviously seeking to justify his own sin by condemning the church?

    And what does Welby say about God? He speaks with his life, not with the empty weasel words of modernist revisionist theology that calls good evil and evil good.

    • Inspector General

      Mathew Parris is a homosexual. He has to overcome that handicap before he is taken seriously. Maybe he has, the Inspector says enigmatically,,,

      • chefofsinners

        Martyn’s Percy is in favour of gay and women bishops. He thinks the bible did not arrive ‘by fax’ from heaven. He says the CoE should apologise for exporting homophobia to the empire in the 19th century. He’s a member of the Labour Party and wants the church to keep in touch with our ‘progressive’ society.
        Why is Cranmer even publishing this man’s words?

        • carl jacobs

          Why is Cranmer even publishing this man’s words?

          C’mon, now Chef. We have no reason to fear Liberal theology let alone its writings. It is the weakest of all our opponents. To publish it is simply the prelude to beating it into the dust. 🙂

          • chefofsinners

            Yes, true. But most of the comment so far seems to be attempting to beat Welby into the dust, so for the sake of balance…

          • CliveM

            What surprises me is the tone of the letter. Clearly he loathes Welby. He may pretend not to,but it seems personal.

          • chefofsinners

            Nakedly ambitious, even.

          • CliveM

            Yes that as well.

  • What did Jesus say about God?

    ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!

    • Jon Sorensen

      Jesus did say:
      “And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

      He was clearly wrong…

      • chefofsinners

        This text is proof that the scriptures were written by those who knew Jesus; no-one writing later would produce something so confusing.
        It is also proof that Christians have faithfully reproduced the scriptures across 2000 years.
        So, what does it mean? The transfiguration, possibly. The events of the prophecy in Matthew 24 possibly. The vision given to John possibly, and Stephen, and others not recorded.

        • Jon Sorensen

          Lol “proof”. Do you even understand what it mean.

          But let’s agree it was written by those who knew Jesus. That means that Jesus was clearly wrong about his prophecy and was false prophet.

          • chefofsinners

            You say nothing that was not answered in my previous post.

          • Jon Sorensen

            So when did his “see[ing] the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom [while being alive]” happened?

      • Clearly the writers of the gospels didn’t think so. The fact that each follows this with the transfiguration suggests they take this to be what Jesus was referring to.

        • Jon Sorensen

          Of course fans produce fan-fictions. But Jesus was clearly wrong about his prophecy which makes him false prophet.

          • Pubcrawler

            Or your understanding of what he was prophesying is wrong.

            Now which is the more likely? Hmm, I think I know where my money’s going…

          • Jon Sorensen

            So when did people in the first century “see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom”. Note “coming” and “see”.

          • Jon

            You’re so superficially trite. Worse, I think you know how dumb an observation this is.

            Any with a smattering of biblical savvy knows the subtle layers of reference that often lie in the words of Jesus.

          • Pubcrawler

            “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:”

            How frequently his comments remind me of myself in my late teens: relishing the ‘discovery’ of what might be termed ‘gotcha’ passages, and thinking arrogantly that I was the first person in the history of Christendom to spot them. It wasn’t long before I was disabused.

          • Jon Sorensen

            The thing is nobody is willing to answer when did people standing during Jesus time saw the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.

            Growing up is to face the truth and answer the tough question even if you don’t like the answer.

          • Pubcrawler

            Others have given you answers, and suggested why your reading is erroneous. You have not explained why you reject them.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Nobody has answered when did this event happened. You just made it up.

          • Pubcrawler

            I made nothing up. The comments are there for all to see.

            ἱκανόν ἐστιν.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You push Christians to give answer… they try to weasel out by asking going back somewhere and then writing “ἱκανόν ἐστιν”.

            Here is a challenge for all readers: Can anyone see anywhere in these comments answer to my question:
            “When did people standing during Jesus time saw the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

          • Jon Sorensen

            Calm down angry Christian. Tell me about these subtle layers that explains when people standing during Jesus life time saw the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom? When did this happened?

          • Jon . I’m not angry. You give yourself too much credit. I am reacting as I might to a fly buzzing around my head. You are simply an irritant that needs swatted from time to time.

            I have already pointed out that the literary signals point to the transfiguration which immediately follows. But flies don’t respond to argument they just keep buzzing.

            Where people are genuine in their questions I will happily take time with them. Where they are simply interested in being a nuisance I brush them away.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Sorry I thought you were angry when you started to insult me. Thanks for letting me know that you are not.

            So your “literary signals point to the transfiguration” immediately after. So your argument is that Jesus was such a great prophet who predicted that not everyone around him is dead 8 days later after his transfiguration. No wonder scholars don’t see any of your signals as that would make Jesus’ prophecy laughable. Seriously anyone can make a prophecy that people around them are not dead next week. And if we are already living in his Kingdom why would the need to come back again to fight for his kingdom…

          • Only three did not see death before seeing Christ come in his kingdom (assuming a reference to the transfiguration). And in fact many scholars see a reference to the transfiguration. Given that Jesus said he did not know the time of his Second Coming, th one thing we can be sure he was not referring to was that event.

            Tell me Jon, how much respect and patience do you think should be shown to someone who drops comments in to a conversation with no intention of genuinely interacting, interested only in mocking and hopefully destroying the views of others, and clearly devoid of any concern for those he attacks; someone with no intention of trying to win his opponents but intent on cynical ridicule?

          • Jon Sorensen

            “Only three did not see death before seeing Christ come in his kingdom”
            So you are saying everyone else died during those 8 days between prophecy and transfiguration? What kind of prediction is that if you predict that in 8 days some people are still alive? hint: a bad one.

            “Given that Jesus said he did not know the time of his Second Coming, th one thing we can be sure he was not referring to was that event.”
            Is it possible that various people writing NT disagreed if Jesus knew his Second Coming or the whole universe was created through him while being omniscient. And his Second Coming did not happen and people like you try to re-interpret the text to fit your world-view?

            “Tell me Jon, how much respect and patience do you think should be shown”
            I do respect you as a person and would have no problem having a beer with you. I just disagree with your ideas. I try to separate the respect of people and ideas. Ideas don’t deserve respect without evidence of sceptical eyes.

          • No, I’m saying that they all died in time but only three had the preview of Christ in his kingdom.

          • Jon Sorensen

            So who are the people who died that Jesus was talking about?

          • I think you’re reading the words in an unintended way. Jesus is not saying that all the others must die before some see him coming in his kingdom. His point is simply that some will see his kingdom before dying.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I think the most honest way to read that prophecy in all gospels shows that Jesus talked to people around him about a time when some people are dead and some still alive.

            I see no way him talking about something happening next week. If he had there would have been no point to refer life time of people around him.

            The other problem you have is that according to you his kingdom has come, but I don’t see that it has happened.

      • len

        ‘Some.’ You know what the disciples had seen ?.
        You know what John witnessed on Patmos?.

        • Jon Sorensen

          What? John is dead.

      • Anton

        He also said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” What do you understand by that kingdom, Jon?

        • Jon Sorensen

          Nice dodge again to meaning of words.

          Everyone who Jesus addressed is dead. So they did not see “the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom”

          • Anton

            Look in the mirror to see the dodger. When Jesus came back from the dead they knew very well he was a king.

          • Jon Sorensen

            So you are saying Jesus predicted that three days after his crucifixion not everyone of these people are dead. Amazing prediction skillz. You might need to re-read that passage….

          • Anton

            Always happy to read the Bible. I suggest that you do the same, however. The version of this conversation set out in Mark 8-9 shows that a crowd was present (Mark 8:34). The crowd would comprise believers (such as the disciples) and nonbelievers. The former would recognise Christ as a king for his return from the dead; the latter would not.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Any evidence that this Mark 8-9 is true?

          • Anton

            Please tell me what you would accept as decisive evidence. Even if I were able to give that to you on your terms, would you commit to God?

          • Jon Sorensen

            Again nice avoidance of my question by asking me to answer your questions. I guess there is not evidence then.

            I just don’t get why people don’t want to answer my question but expect me to answer theirs….

          • Anton

            It’s because I don’t trust you. I’d give you evidence and then you’d blandly deny that it was evidence. I’m not falling for that. So tell me what you’d accept.

          • Jon Sorensen

            As the Bible says “Always be prepared to give an answer only to people you trust for the hope that you have” – 1 Peter 3:15

          • Anton

            Which I have done for you in the past. The Bible also says that if they will not hear you then shake the dust of their dwellings off your feet and move on.

          • Jon Sorensen

            yep… the book of multiple contradictory-advice choices…

          • Anton

            The Bible is not written in the form of a legal document between two executives who don’t trust each other an inch yet still need to do business with each other. If you want to read it in bad faith, you will get exactly what you want out of it. That does not mean it is incoherent.

          • Jon Sorensen

            But Bible tells “always” to give testimony and not always do that. It’s up to reader to decided nothing to do with “good” or “bad” faith. Multiple choice…

          • Anton

            Bible tells “always” to give testimony and not always do that.

            Not so. It says always give testimony, but if it’s rejected then move on. Where’s the contradiction?

          • Jesus said re his Second Coming that even he did not know when it would be. Thus ‘the son of man coming in his kingdom’ is unlikely to refer to that event.

          • Jon Sorensen

            All people standing then are dead. So when did they see while being alive “the son of man coming in his kingdom’ (note “coming”)?

            Did Jesus “Second Coming” happened without anyone noticing?

  • And,

    ’16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

  • David

    Anyone taking bets on the race for POTUS ?
    At what time will we know the result – anyone know ? Carl maybe ?

    • chefofsinners

      When you wake up in the morning.
      4am if you want to set an alarm.
      I think Hillary, but the fact that it could be Donald is a sorry reflection on politicians today.

      • David

        Well ye of little faith – you were WRONG !
        But so, thank God, was I !

    • carl jacobs

      They won’t annouce any results until polls close on the west coast. Some time around 10:00 – 11:00 o’clock EST.

      • David

        Thanks.

    • chefofsinners

      It’s clear enough now. It’s Trump, with clear control of the House.
      We thought Brexit was big.

  • carl jacobs

    Sometimes I sit and I stare at the rain.
    Isn’t rain filled with sorrow.
    Wonder if I’ll see my home again.
    Will it be dry tomorrow?

    Time passes softly and I’m a day older.
    But still I live in days gone by.
    Ashes to ashes, the rain’s turning colder.
    Finding tomorrow the ashes, the rain, and I.

    I am going to vote now. Pray for us voters, now and at the hour of our death.

    • chefofsinners

      The worst thing about democracy is this: every individual voter knows that his one vote doesn’t make any difference.
      But in a situation like this, it can also be a comfort.