Trinity Wall Street2
Philosophy

Welby: equality as a government aim is "doomed to totalitarianism"

 

Justin Welby often gets it in the neck from Tories who are quick to spy Marxism under every mitre, but this Archbishop is rather more nuanced than that. In a panel discussion following his lecture ‘Is Inequality Sinful?‘, delivered as part of the Trinity Institute symposium ‘Creating the Common Good‘, the Archbishop of Canterbury shared his thoughts on the observable disparity in the wealth of individuals. His words have received absolutely no media coverage at all (not even from those critical Tories), which is rather a pity, because his spontaneous thoughts about the extremist pursuit of equality revealed rather more about his political philosophy than many dozens of carefully-crafted sermons. He said (section starts at 17.00):

Equality as an aim in itself through government action is doomed not merely to defeat but to totalitarianism. I think that’s absolutely right, and when you look at some of the modern writings, the recent writings, by economists in this area, about inequality, they talk about the need for creating the circumstances to give greater equality of opportunity rather than equality necessarily of outcome. And when you look at some Christian theological writings – I’m thinking of Luke Bretherton’s book, which I know is part of what’s been behind this event – he talks about the need for hospitable generosity as part of the way in which we tackle inequalities, and I think those are important things.

Equality can either be engineered and imposed by government diktat, or fostered organically in society through education and moral inculcation. The latter would be a more conservative approach; the former an essentially socialist construction – though there are many variations of these political philosophies and variable traditions of social theology within those strands. Discerning core dichotomies and mutual exclusions is not an easy task for the moral theologian (though it’s not an unusual episcopal pursuit in the realm of political philosophy).

Consider ++Justin’s first sentence. While all the main Westminster parties are legislating to prohibit all forms of discrimination and enshrine in law certain ‘protected characteristics’, the Archbishop of Canterbury grasps that the equality of man and man and man and woman arises not from Parliament, but from the transformed hearts and minds of man. Attitudes are not modified by statute, but by consideration of and sensitivity to the social community: inequality and injustice must first be apprehended in the hearts and minds of men before society may be transformed. Government action does not make the unequal equal: the starting point is the acknowledgment of the equality of all men before God – a belief which stems fundamentally from a Protestant reading of Scripture.

Equality as a political vision and civil imperative inclines toward totalitarian injustice because it denies liberty to difference. We may share and be required to share, but we do not all need equal portions because some differences cannot be overcome. If a man does not have legs, he cannot walk. If he has no tongue, he cannot articulate. If he posseses no breasts, he cannot suckle progeny. If he is a socio-biological castrato, he cannot procreate. Baptismal egalitarianism is the acceptance of natural diversity: differences are not all to be levelled in the political realm or overcome in the economic realm, but accepted, affirmed and celebrated.

There is, in Christ, neither Jew nor Greek; slave nor free; male nor female. Neither is there young nor old; married nor single; disabled nor able-bodied. But in Christ there are prophets and deacons, healers and teachers, cleaners and flower-arrangers. And, like it or not, prophecy is better than tongues. All are worthy of respect, but the head ought not to be treated like the big toe: some parts of the body are simply more worthy of honour than others, and that is natural law. A government that insists that the toe is no different from the head pursues a fundamentally unnatural vision of society.

Human solidarity is not realised by minority self-assertion, coercion or violence, but by the apprehension of the equality of sin and the inequality of guilt. Moral difference is part of our brotherhood and sisterhood, and the only egalitarian principle that ought to be pursued by government is equal justice. Anything else is in danger of becoming idolatrous – even the pursuit of democracy itself.

The egalitarianism advocated by Archbishop Justin is implied by the baptismal conservatism of One Body and the socialism of the Eucharist. They are both concerned with the need to love, forgive, share and accept. Government aims may become idolatrous and the ruling powers tyrannical when the state demands loyalty to an oppressive orthodoxy. The Archbishop of Canterbury prefers to see a society determined by equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome; and through the exercise of incrementally-changing conventions rather than revolutionary pretensions of ideology. This does not make the Archbishop a Tory, but it does suggest a conservative inclination toward good government.

So, instead of bashing him at every turn and straining over every jot and tittle of the broadsheet snippets and terse tweets which swarm around every speech and sermon he delivers, consider that they are not and cannot be the sum total of his theological beliefs or his philosophical worldview. His grasp of the politics of equality is far more profound than many of the shiny new things currently sitting on the green benches. Our grasp of his grasp of equality is helped if we experience the Exodus and Pentecost together.

  • Doctor Crackles

    Your Grace, well said. Equality before God as Christian men and women is the only equality. However, the Christian life imposes limits and goals. We like to hear of the equality, but not with sin mentioned and our whole lives being given up for God’s glory.

    You mentioned prophecy. Where is this to be found in the CofE these days? Is Welby to be the new Nathan?

  • Anton

    Tis a step in the right direction, but how to define “equality of opportunity”? Down that road lie the evils of “positive discrimination” but when my dentist is rummaging around in my mouth I want to know that he got his qualification entirely on merit rather than because of social factors about his origins.

    The free market in goods is actually the outstanding route to equality, because an impoverished community can produce basic goods more cheaply and thereby win business. But the free market in money is insidious and has the opposite effect, as David Graeber’s outstanding series of Radio 4 talks on debt shows (1.45pm daily last week and this week; available on iPlayer). He is a social anthropologist rather than an economist and looks at both religious and material notions of debt over the whole of human history.

  • The Explorer

    When James and John asked to sit at the right and left hand of Christ, he gave an answer that baffled them. But it certainly wasn’t, “No, because everybody’s equal.” (Although the other disciples were indignant at the attempted one upmanship.)
    Only three disciples were chosen to witness the Transfiguration; only one was chosen to head up the future church. Christ suggested there would be degrees of reward in Heaven, and also degrees of punishment in Hell. The Parable of the Talents (in either version) suggests ability is not equally distributed within the population.
    Despite what Philip Pullman may say, there won’t be a Republic of Heaven. Christ will still be KIng of KIngs. God will still be the Creator and we the created: a relationship that makes strict equality a non-starter. No wonder egalitarians are so keen to get rid of the very concept of God.

    • dannybhoy

      Agreed, apart from ” only one was chosen to head up the future church……”
      🙂

      • The Explorer

        I didn’t say what was to happen after Peter.

        • dannybhoy

          🙂

          • Grouchy Jack

            Nooooo ………

        • IanCad

          The “Rock” in Matthew 16:18 must refer to Christ not Peter.
          Had it been otherwise, the controversy at The Last Supper – as to who should be the greatest – could not have occurred.
          Luke 22:24

          • The Explorer

            My point is James became leader of the Jerusalem church, Peter of the Rome church: an individual, in each case, not a committee. My point is about hierarchy: angels and archangels. Thrones, dominions and powers opposed to the Christian.

          • Why? It was the model for Christian leadership. Jesus, the Creator, washed His Apostles feet. Nevertheless, He was and is our King. That’s why the title of the Pope is: Servant of the Servants’.

      • Fee-fi-fo-fum,
        I smell the blood of a protestum,
        Be he live, or be he dead
        I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

  • sarky

    You cannot legislate for equality because to do so you would need to legislate thought. Equality is just a concept, it doesn’t really exist and never will. Because humans are human there will always be rich and poor and those who would discriminate. Legislation may stop certain types of behaviour but it can’t change the thoughts behind that behaviour.
    This is how it always has been and will always be.

    • Jeremy Poynton

      “You cannot legislate for equality because to do so you would need to legislate thought.”

      Try telling that to a Socialist. Try telling that to Harman. You may as well talk to a brick wall, despite that history shows again and again that this is so. Equality means misery for all, bar the elite who imposed said equality.

    • The Explorer

      I’d have said (I nearly wrote ‘thought’) that PC has been a spectacularly-successful attempt to legislate thought. The nearest thing yet to the Newspeak of ‘1984’: making certain thoughts unsayable and – ultimately – unthinkable.

      • sarky

        I totally agree, PC has come scarily close!
        Thankfully the tide appears to be turning, however, it still seems to have a vice like grip on government departments.

        • Advertising and the multi-media are the gurus at this ‘game’ – then politicians. .

          • sarky

            Agreed!!! Reinstate Clarkson!!!!!

      • Uncle Brian

        They have made them unsayable in public, subject to dire penalties, but they haven’t made them unthinkable – have they?

        • The Explorer

          Because members of the older generation have unreconstructed thoughts (that marriage, say, should be between a man and a woman), they are forbidden to say them. The young are thus never exposed to those thoughts, which subsequently pass out of circulation. That is the PC concept of education: what is thought (at least by the young) can be controlled by the control of what is said. That is how Marcuse’s theory of repressive tolerance (the banning of access to right-wing opinion) came to dominate so many university campuses. The opposite sort of educational method (exposing young minds to a range of opinions and allowing them to decide for themselves) is hazardous. What if too many come to the wrong conclusion? Much better not to allow them the option of error in the first place.

          • It’s now a quasi-science – explore the roots of the ‘New Thought Movement’, ‘Emotional Freedom Technique’ and ‘Neuro-Linguistic Programming’.

            Devilishly clever and successful.

      • Exactly. Change the language – change the world.

        This age has “discovered” that if you change people’s language you actually rewire the brain and change perceptions of ‘reality’ by giving people different concepts. The great speakers and change agents of the past have been analysed and their techniques of persuasion learned and are now taught.

  • len

    Since society has moved off the Christian foundation and taken on board ‘ evolutionist thinking’ then any attempt at equality is without validity.It`s survival of the fittest now and if one has to stand on those who are regarded as lower down the evolutionary scale in order to survive so be it…
    As Gordon Gekko said “greed is good ”
    This is our post Christian culture….live with it..

    • sarky

      It’s always been survival of the fittest, try naming a time when this hasn’t been the case? You can’t blame human nature on ‘evolutionist thinking’

      • Anton

        But it became ideology among some people, such as the eugenics movement. They failed, however, to understand that Social Darwinism is not the same as genetic Darwinism. The former is evil and has no basis in science; the latter manifestly takes place within species, at least, so len cannot complain. (As to whether it is capable of inducing speciation and what the Bible has to say, that’s a separate discussion and probably best not done on this thread.)

        • sarky

          No, best not! People will, unfortunately, always try and twist science to fit their own world view, be it eugenics or creationism (not that I’m comparing the two).

      • dannybhoy

        But Christianity does not teach survival of the fittest Sarks. It teaches us to prefer one another and to put the needs of others before our own.
        That’s jolly hard to do because we are physical beings, but through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit we can change our thinking and natural inclinations.

        • sarky

          We can all change our thinking and natural inclinations, it doesn’t take the holy spirit!
          There are plenty of people who give themselves selflessly for others, who have no religious affiliations. I really hate this idea that people can’t do good without god, it just isn’t true.

          • dannybhoy

            True, but Christianity is not about being good. In a sense ‘being good and doing kind things’ is a by product of salvation.
            I thought I was good before conversion, and outwardly I was a decent enough chap compared to some…
            The heart of Christianity is accepting God’s pronouncement that ‘all men are sinners.’ That is, we all want to be god of our own life and master of our own destiny.
            The greatest insult we can serve on God is to ignore or trivialise the deliberate sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Having determined that the price of salvation would mean taking on the form of man and living amongst us, then on that day when we face our Maker he will not be impressed by ‘how good’ we were. He will ask “What did you think of My Son and His taking your punishment for you so that you might be forgiven and have eternal life?”
            That’s all that matters.

          • sarky

            And that’s what most people have a problem with.

          • dannybhoy

            You mean what YOU have a problem with!
            But true Christians don’t, and there are many millions of them around the world.
            You seem to suggest that Christianity is no good because not everyone accepts it, but that is patently nonsense.
            God Himself says He wishes that all men turn and be saved, but He knows that as man has free will that isn’t going to happen.

          • sarky

            I never suggested that christianity is no good because not everyone accepts it. That would be like saying the music I enjoy is rubbish because not everyone likes it!
            And yes I do have a problem with the fact that leading a good life could send me to hell, but being a total arse but repenting at the last minute could send me to heaven.
            Might aswell sin ’til my hearts content and have a nice little deathbed confession (gets me out of years of church attendance and hymn singing)

          • dannybhoy

            “And yes I do have a problem with the fact that leading a good life could
            send me to hell, but being a total arse but repenting at the last
            minute could send me to heaven.”
            Funny, my mother used to say the same thing..
            But why should it concern you or I if a person repents on their deathbed?
            And anyway Christianity is not just about fear. I was reading about Helen Shapiro the other day and how she became a Christian. It wasn’t about fear for her, and neither was it for me or most other Christians I know.
            I told you before my attitude to life changed dramatically when I became a Christian. I don’t think I even thought about death and hell, after all I was only 22.

          • CliveM

            Agreed DB most Christians I know became Christian because of Christ, not Hell.

          • sarky

            So why do so many preachers preach the fear of hell? It seems that the fear of hell is a stronger selling point than the love of god. That’s just messed up.

          • CliveM

            I am going by personal experience. To be honest I have never met a hellfire and damnation preacher. My impression is they are a dying breed.

            Several people on this site seem to bemoan this fact!

          • “And yes I do have a problem with the fact that leading a good life could send me to hell ….”

            Not necessarily, Sarky. Define “good life”.

            ” … but being a total arse but repenting at the last minute could send me to heaven.”

            No one said life was “fair”. Jack used to tell his children that all the time. God will wait until we draw our last breath. Now that’s love.

          • That’ll be the Holy Spirit working in them. People can meet Christ and be led by Him without knowing it.

          • sarky

            Hmmmmmm!

      • len

        The worst aspects of human nature are ‘justified’ by evolutionist thinking(which is the point I was making)

        • sarky

          They are explained not justified.

          • DanJ0

            You’re just wasting your breath truth be told, I’ve spent years trying to educate Len about that. It ain’t going to go in.

          • len

            Likewise 😉

  • bluedog

    ‘Equality as a political vision and civil imperative inclines toward totalitarian injustice because it denies liberty to difference.’
    Exactly. The nub of the matter and an eternal truth. However our elected representatives make their living by pretending otherwise.

  • dannybhoy

    “the Archbishop of Canterbury grasps that the equality of man and man and
    man and woman arises not from Parliament, but from the transformed
    hearts and minds of man. Attitudes are not modified by statute, but by
    consideration of and sensitivity to the social community: inequality and
    injustice must first be apprehended in the hearts and minds of men
    before society may be transformed.”

    Amen and amen!
    That’s absolutely where it’s at. As Christians we accept the societal differences within the Christian community. Some have enjoyed greater advantages than others, have more talents or greater intelligence. There is absolutely nothing we can do about that.
    What we can do is to lay all that we have at the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ to be used for the building and benefit of His kingdom and His people.

    So that means that we don’t look down on other Christians who aren’t as bright or as educated or as verbally fluent as we are. Instead we make real efforts to relate to them, to include them and encourage their own contributions. All because we recognise that the same grace given to us as sinners is also given to them.

    I don’t often recognise the authority of ecclesiatical hierarchies, but if Justin Welby continues to use his position to promote this kind of Christian teaching we may yet see a real move of God in our time. He has a great opportunity to promote true Christian beliefs, and whether the world embraces it or not, God will surely bless him.

  • Watchman

    This morning I read Paul’s letter to Philemon. It is a great epistle in the Godly way to address difference. The status of Onesumus, in this world, was that of a slave, and Paul respected that along with the rights of Philemon as master. In the Kingdom of God, however, Philemon and Onesimus were brothers in Christ. Loving your neighbour is about respecting the differences in social and financial status but accepting their equality in the eyes of God.

    • And a responsibility on Philemon to love his brother and meet his physical needs as well as participate in spiritual worship?

      • dannybhoy

        Meet his immediate needs, forgive him and re-instate him (being as they were living in a slave society at the time.) Or he might have offered him his freedom?
        What would you have done had Onesimus been your slave HJ??

        • Watchman

          Danny, you pre-empted me. I was just going to ask Jack if he and Paul would share the same concept of social justice (whatever that is).

          • dannybhoy

            I think Paul accepted the estate into which he was born, as did our Lord of course. It wasn’t a case of preaching social reform but individual re-birth.
            Now our generation lives in a democratic system which is far better, but also has its problems. For example the consumer society means that we are much more self indulgent and thanks to advances in technology have many more gadgets to divert our attention away from the things that really matter.
            Jack will agree…

          • “It wasn’t a case of preaching social reform but individual re-birth.”

            Individual re-birth will alter one’s predisposition towards any mistreatment and neglect of one’s fellow man in the society in which one lives. Mathew 5:9 and Mathew 25:36 compliment one another.

            “Now our generation lives in a democratic system which is far better …. “

            Hmmm …. is it? The ideal of Feudalism has great attractions to Jack.

          • dannybhoy

            Yes cause you would get use that whip.. 😉
            I am grateful for the benefits that this society affords me, despite the ugliness and banality we see.
            But I’m more than happy for you to trot off back into the Middle Ages Jack.
            We’ll have a whip round for you…

          • Jack wouldn’t want to be a Lord in such a system – to much temptation to default on one’s responsibilities. A Vassal maybe.

            A Knight might be cool.

            Hmmm …. El Jack

          • dannybhoy

            Sir Hapless Jack..

          • Jack El Tazona

            Tienes la cara como una nevera por detrás.

          • Miles Christianus

            Etonces limpielo

          • It’s something he needs to learn to do himself.

          • Miles Christianus

            Verdad, el puto.

          • *gasp*

          • Miles Christianus

            Sorry – bit strong, admittedly; but I don’t know the Spanish for “slut” (como Senor Bloom)

          • Grouchy Jack

            Grrrr ……….

            Are you a fan of Max Moseley?

            “Sticks and stones may break Danny’s bones but whips and chains excite him”.

          • dannybhoy

            Oswald’s brother?

          • Jack El Tazona

            El burro sabe mas que tu.

          • dannybhoy

            superando a mi mula me hace feliz, dice Jack..

          • “The donkey knows more than you.”

          • dannybhoy

            Yo no hablo Espanol Jack, but I’ll take your word for it.
            You see Jack, I trust you.
            I really do.

          • CliveM

            The ideals maybe, like all human systems the reality was a bit different.

          • Watchman

            Not sure I can go along with your enthusiasm for democracy, Danny. The materialism and worship of money have resulted in political parties auctioning off their integrity with promises of benefits for votes. Our current economic plight is a direct consequence of this auction. A benevolent dictatorship under me is what I would recommend!

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, true, but do you as a Christian take for granted, regard as your right the benefits we enjoy?
            No, and no more do I. I experienced ten years of Christian voluntary work without a salary, and six years as an unpaid town councillor. In those ten years I had no car, no house, few belongings; yet God provided for my needs. Then at the end I was able to come back into a society with all sorts of opportunities and find paid employment, learn to drive and get a house.
            I am grateful for all I have.

          • Watchman

            Then be grateful to God, Danny, not mammon.

          • dannybhoy

            Exactly Watchman, a Christian gives thanks to God, not Mammon.
            But, we also have to acknowledge the good things that we enjoy don’t come directly from God, they come through the agency of man, whether Christian or otherwise.

          • Watchman

            But God uses the agencies of man to meet our needs, so our gratitude should still be to Him for making those agencies available to us. Throughout my life I’ve had jobs that were inconceivable for me to have but which where a fit for my abilities and which have been a result of miraculous intervention. It is only with hindsight that I have seen this intervention. If we seek to glorify Him in all that we do He will honour us in ways that are beyond our imagining.

          • Inspector General

            One has no objection to the sovereign ruling by decree. ‘Democracy’ has resulted in an England changed out of recognition in a few decades. And the blighters are still selling us the unborn generations inheritance to keep themselves in power. The Inspector feels there is only one sane choice out there now – UKIP. If they fail, strike this man off the democracy list.

        • As a slave owner the responsibility would be to give him reasonable work and to ensure he and any family he might have were clothed, sheltered and fed. So far as freeing him goes, that would really depend on what Onesiman himself wanted, what God had called him to do and whether his status as a slave impeded this.

          • dannybhoy

            You mean you wouldn’t give him a good whipping for inconvenience caused?
            I’m impressed Jack..

          • Why impressed? Surely it’s the same outlook that a Christian owning and running a business would have too? Slavery takes many forms.

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, but most Christian businessmen wouldn’t get that steely slightly fanatical glint in the eye as they reached fir the rawhide….

          • Grouchy Jack

            Grrrr ……….

          • CliveM

            For shame Dannybhoy, I am sure Happy Jack would be a kindly slave owner!!

          • Grouchy Jack

            Grrrr ………

  • “Government action does not make the unequal equal: the starting point is the acknowledgment of the equality of all men before God – a belief which stems fundamentally from a Protestant reading of Scripture.”

    Isn’t this also a Catholic understanding of the Gospel? As Jack understands it, the pursuit of social justice reflected in CST, is not the pursuit of uniformity by the state but the responsibility that all have a share in wealth created and minimum protections from selfish exploitation.

    • Watchman

      I presume that this verse from that wonderful old Anglican hymn “all things bright and beautiful” wouldn’t sit easily into your theology?

      “The rich man in his castle,
      The poor man at his gate,
      God made them high and lowly,
      And ordered their estate.”

      • IanCad

        The anthem of the Predestinationists.

        • CliveM

          People forget also the world is fallen. Just because things are the way they are, it doesn’t mean they are right.

      • Why would Jack not view this favourably?

        • Watchman

          Because to accept that our stations in life are preordained negates any need for “social justice”.

          • Does it? Isn’t it the responsibility of the rich man in his castle to meet the needs of the poor man at his gate?

            That is “social justice” – providing work that enables a man to live with his head up and to care for his family; providing assistance when he falls on hard times; and meeting the needs of those who cannot fend for themselves.

          • Watchman

            You mean noblesse oblige?

          • As Shakespeare had Brutus said to Lucius:

            “The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.”

            Or in ‘street language’:

            “Didn’t Gandalf say “With great power comes great responsibility”? (If it wasn’t Gandalf, maybe it was Thomas Jefferson. Or Spider-Man’s uncle.)”
            (Tom Angleberger)

          • CliveM

            Again I agree.

            Also simply to accept the status quo, forgets we are a fallen world. Just because that’s how things are, doesn’t mean that’s how things should be.

            I Welby’s words on the subject.

          • Busy Mum

            And that is how it used to be – nobody can pretend that the new wealthy classes of models and footballers (I cannot bring myself to call it a new upper class) are more socially just than the old landowning class.

      • Busy Mum

        This verse was scrapped in schools a few years ago because it wasn’t in keeping with a classless society…….

        • Watchman

          The Frankfurt School strikes again! Why do we need a classless society?

          • Busy Mum

            Exactly.
            There is no such thing and never will be.
            Promoting the idea and selling it to the lowest specimens of the human race – i.e. taking advantage of their lower intellect to make them discontented with their lot – is the only way that the power-hungry can prevent those more meritorious from holding the reins.

          • Watchman

            Are you sure you’re not sarky2?

          • Busy Mum

            I’m absolutely sure….. but why do you ask?

      • Linus

        Oh the wonder of God’s creation! Monty Python understood it well in their revised version of the saccharine and Pollyanna-ish “All Things Bright and Beautiful”

        All things dull and ugly,
        All creatures short and squat,
        All things rude and nasty,
        The Lord God made the lot.

        Each little snake that poisons,
        Each little wasp that stings,
        He made their brutish venom.
        He made their horrid wings.

        All things sick and cancerous,
        All evil great and small,
        All things foul and dangerous,
        The Lord God made them all.

        Each nasty little hornet,
        Each beastly little squid,
        Who made the spikey urchin?
        Who made the sharks? He did!

        All things scabbed and ulcerous,
        All pox both great and small,
        Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
        The Lord God made them all.

        Amen.

        • Busy Mum

          It’s good news for you that as Christians, rather than followers of another ‘major world faith’, we will leave God to take vengeance.
          Thankyou for proving the truth of 2 Peter 3 v 3.

          • Linus

            Ah, I see. My scoffing proves we’re in the Last Days, does it? Never mind that Monty Python penned those lines almost two generations ago and we’re still here. Or that hordes of other Atheists have been laughing at Christian craziness for two thousand years. No, it’s MY words that prove Armageddon is just around the corner…

            Well, thank you for the vote of confidence in my ability to signal the end of the world, but I assure you, I’m no different from any of the other Atheists who’ve scoffed at Christianity’s ridiculousness throughout the entire history of the religion. The world didn’t end because they laughed at you and it won’t end because I’m laughing at you. It will just keep on spinning as usual and tomorrow you’ll wake up like you normally do and have to deal with yet another unfulfilled prophecy that has to be put off until tomorrow for the umpteenth time.

            The verse you quoted at me is true in only one aspect. Yes, you’ll be scoffed at, because your beliefs are so absurd that scoff is all the average person can do. At least Peter was smart enough to realise that. Where he stops being smart and starts to get all creepy and sinister is when he tries to manipulate his reader into accepting the constantly rescheduled nature of the coming Apocalypse. It will happen, but only tomorrow. You’ll know it’s coming by the scoffing, but still it won’t come today, but only ever tomorrow.

            What sort of a credulous and gullible fool do you have to be to fall for a prophecy that provides its own get-out clause in the form of a constantly pushed back delivery date? Even Harold Camping gave up in the end. But not you, apparently. So when can we expect this rolling earthquake that starts in New Zealand as the sun rises on Judgment Day and then ripples around the world keeping pace with the dawn? Tomorrow, perhaps?

            The sun will come up Tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar you’ll be shaken down to hell, come what may! Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love you Tomorrow! Your existence lets me threaten my opponents with imminent destruction if they don’t obey me, without ever having to put that threat into action, and you’re only a day away!

          • Busy Mum

            What sort of a credulous and gullible fool do you have to be to fall for the belief that there will always be a tomorrow? For all of us, one day, it will be our last – we may not all share the same last day on earth – and we will not wake up the next morning as we normally do, regardless of whether or not the earth is still spinning.

          • Watchman

            Well said, I spent breakfast this morning with a friend discussing what would be the reaction to many of us simply disappearing as we are caught up in the clouds. We seem to be approaching a crunch point with many of the end-time prophecies coming to pass ( eg Matthew 24) as never before in world history.

          • Linus

            Tomorrow will always come whether you’re here to see it or not. Or whether the earth is here to keep on spinning. The arrow of time doesn’t grind to a halt when you die. You’ll no longer be able to perceive its action, but act it will. I know this because nobody else’s death has brought the world to end, so why should yours or mine?

            There may be an end to universe, but there’s no reason to suppose it will happen tomorrow. Or the day after that.

            You however claim to know that the end of the world is just round the corner. Because one Frenchman has scoffed at your childish superstitions, which warned you about scoffers, they must be true.

            While you’re certainly correct in your assumption that the French are right about most things, unfortunately you invest us with a lot more power than we actually hold. We’re not heralds of the Apocalypse. We’re just ordinary people reacting in ordinary ways to extraordinary and ludicrous claims based on ancient mystical writings, and nothing else. No evidence.
            No repeatable experiments with consistent results. Just writings.

            Why should my scoffing signal the end of the world when my father’s did not? Nor my grandfather’s? What’s so special about me that I get to be the one who confirms Peter’s words?

            Or is the truth of the matter that YOU are the one who thinks she’s special? You seem to think the bible was written especially for you, so whenever YOU hear someone scoff, that must mean the world is about to end.

            Sorry to burst your bubble, but you really are nobody and creation wasn’t set up for you and your sole benefit. You’re just a random woman who defines herself by her maternity and believes that the old stories in the Bible are all about her.

            The narcissism of Christians never fails to take my breath away. That someone so ordinary could place herself at the centre of dramatic and earth-shattering events is tribute to the power of the human mind to fool itself with delusions of grandeur. Are you a big reader of romantic fiction, perhaps? Mills and Boon and Jean Plaidy novels strewn around your home? You’re so adept at mixing fantasy with reality and then placing yourself at the centre of the action, I can’t be wrong.

            You’re not the ghost of Barbara Cartland come back to haunt us, I hope!

          • Busy Mum

            “…. know this because nobody else’s death has brought the world to end, so why should yours or mine?”

            YOUR death will bring YOUR world to an end; ditto mine.

            And no, certainly no Mills and Boon etc in my house; we much prefer fact to fiction.

            And it wasn’t your scoffing that warned me about scoffers; the Bible did.

          • Linus

            YOUR world? Since when did the world belong to you?

            Really, you show a worrying narcissistic streak with all of these possessive pronouns. It’s all about YOU and what’s YOUR’S, isn’t it. Those words written in the Bible were written especially for YOU, weren’t they? When YOU hear scoffing, the world is about end. Never mind that generations have heard it before you (and generations will hear it after you too), what counts is YOUR experience, not anybody else’s.

            Good thing your profile is anonymous. Wouldn’t want the British child care authorities to read it and take steps to remove YOUR children from their worryingly self-obsessed mother who seems to think that biblical prophecies are somehow centred around HER.

          • Busy Mum

            If an adult lived to the threescore years and ten and ,say, first ‘heard’ scoffing at about 30 years old, their ‘world’ came to and end very soon after hearing it…40 years is nothing in the grand scale of things, is it?

            And the whole point is that for me, it’s God’s world. Whose is it for you?

          • Linus

            It’s THE world. We know of no other.

            And my, what glibness and insincerity Christians use to paper over the cracks in their holy book. If a literal reading is clearly wrong, try a figurative interpretation. When that doesn’t work, try another. It doesn’t matter how fanciful or far-fetched it gets. Except of course when we’re dealing with the anti-gay clobber passages. Everything in the bible can be freely interpreted apart from those texts, which must always be taken literally.

            What hypocrisy! What you like, you accept. What you don’t like, you reinterpret. A more typical example of Christian Phariseeism would be harder to find.

          • Grouchy Jack

            Your comments are the pitiful ramblings of an emotionally immature child, Linus. Anyone with any awareness of the developmental stage reached by a three year old would recognise this.

          • Linus

            Oh good heavens, not only is Sad Jack a self-proclaimed psychologist, but he also interferes with young children! Is there nothing this old idiot won’t stick his untrained nose into if it means being able to manipulate others and cause as much discord and suffering as possible?

            One of the reasons I’ve never believed in the existence of Christ is because I’ve never seen anyone exhibit any kind of Christ-like characteristics. I can’t apply the same logic to my disbelief in Satan however. Evil old power-hungry demagogues like Sad Jack really only lack horns and a tail…

          • Grouchy Jack

            Jack trusts this is not yet more projection of your own faults and ‘troubled’ behaviours onto others, Linus.

            “Oh good heavens, not only is Sad Jack a self-proclaimed psychologist, but he also interferes with young children ! “

            This would be a serious matter indeed and Jack will be monitoring your comments.

          • Grouchy Jack

            Busy Mum, Linus’ comments are the pitiful ramblings of an emotionally immature child. He presents as a spoilt three year old. Treat him as such.

          • Busy Mum

            I have tried to treat him with the tolerance and respect to which he feels entitled and with the politeness which my Christianity demands. Unfortunately, he is the evidence before our eyes that anti-Christianity is conducive to bad manners and intolerance and shows us all this country stands to lose – and is losing – by abandoning its historic Christian position.

        • Watchman

          This is silly and childish and quite unworthy of any serious repost.

          • Linus

            Not childish at all. If God made all things bright and beautiful, who made the ichneumon wasp and allowed it to lay its eggs in live and sinless animals so that they would be eaten alive? Not much that’s bright and beautiful about that scenario, is there?

            If God created all things bright and beautiful, he also created all things dull and ugly. Will you sing his praises while the ichneumon wasp’s victim dies a slow and agonising death?

        • ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken: for dust you are, and to dust you shall return’ (Genesis 3:17-19).
          .
          ‘For I consider the sufferings of the present times are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ (Romans 8:18).
          .
          ‘And there shall be no more curse’ (Revelation 22:3).

          • Linus

            “To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and ‘improved’ by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries.”

            Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.

          • If either Dawkins or yourself knew anything about the Bible you might be worth listening to. The Bible is infinitely better documented than any other ancient literature, its manuscripts more complete, the facts it relates more frequently verified by archaeology.
            But why should little things like facts distract you from your prejudices? ‘The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Corinthians 2:14).

          • Linus

            At least you recognize that the non-religious viewpoint is the default position of the natural man. Which of course makes both you and your viewpoint unnatural.

          • Indeed, and it also makes you and your viewpoint culpable (John 3:19).

          • Linus

            My viewpoint is only culpable if the character the bible calls Jesus was real and was who he said he was.

            All there is to go on is a story in a book. No artefacts or independent writings supported by archaeological evidence survive to prove that a man called Jesus lived in Roman Judea. Take away the bible and there’s no trace of him anywhere.

            Huge claims need to be backed up by solid evidence. And another basic principle of our justice system is that we’re innocent until proven guilty. You say my viewpoint is culpable, yet you offer no proof of any culpability, just unsubstantiated claims and third hand hearsay.

            You wouldn’t get a conviction in court based on such an extremely weak case.

          • You are obviously ignorant of the writings of Jose[hus, tacitus and Suetonius, not to mention the fragment attributed to Thallus. With reference to archaeology:

            The English scholar, William Ramsay, traveled as a young man to Asia Minor over a century ago for the sole purpose of disproving the Bible’s history as described by Luke in his Gospel and in the Book of Acts. Ramsay and his professors were convinced that the New Testament record must be terribly inaccurate. He believed that Luke could not be correct in his history of Christ or in his account about the growth of the Church during the first decades following Christ. Dr. Ramsay began to dig in the ancient ruins of sites throughout Greece and Asia Minor, searching for ancient names, boundary markers, and other archeological finds that would conclusively prove that Luke had invented his history of Christ and His Church. To his amazement and dismay, William Ramsay discovered that the statements of the New Testament Scriptures were accurate in the smallest detail. Finally, Dr. Ramsay was convinced by the overwhelming evidence proving the Bible’s accuracy. As a result, he accepted Jesus Christ as His personal Saviour. He became both a Christian and a great biblical scholar. As a result of his conversion to belief in Jesus Christ, Sir William Ramsay’s books became classics in the study of the history of the New Testament. Another great scholar, A. N. Sherwin-White, was a great classical historical scholar at Oxford University who studied the extensive evidence for and against the historical accuracy of the Book of Acts. Sherwin-White wrote his conclusion after studying the evidence, “For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming . . . any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd” (Quoted by Rubel Shelley, Prepare To Answer [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990]).

            Dr. William F. Albright was unquestionably one of the world’s most brilliant biblical archeologists. In 1955 he wrote: “We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after circa A.D. 80.” However, additional discoveries over the next decade convinced him that all the books in the New Testament were written “probably sometime between circa A.D. 50 and 75.” Significantly, Albright concluded that the writing of the New Testament within a few years of the events it described made it almost impossible that errors or exaggeration could have entered the text. He wrote that the duration between the events of Christ’s life and the writing was “too slight to permit any appreciable corruption of the essential center and even of the specific wording of the sayings of Jesus.” In other words, Professor Albright, one of the greatest minds in the field of archeology and ancient texts, concluded that the New Testament records the truth about Jesus Christ and his statements

          • Linus

            Josephus’ work dates from 50 years after Christ’s death. It is not a contemporary account of the alleged events.

            Tacitus’ work dates from around 70 years after Christ’s death. Even less contemporary.

            Suetonius was even later.

            None of them witnessed the alleged events. Their accounts are historical hearsay backed up with no concrete evidence whatsoever.

            And as for the historical accuracy of Acts, all that is proven by the references to specific places, titles and customs is that the people who wrote the texts were familiar with the society they were describing. In no way does this mundane form of accuracy provide evidence for supernatural miracles.

            For example, the cathedral of Notre-Dame and the ancient quartier de la Grande Cour des Miracles here in Paris are described pretty well in Victor Hugo’s work “Notre-Dame de Paris”. But that doesn’t mean Quasimodo and Esmeralda ever lived. Nor does it mean that I started to worship Dan Brown when I was taking a visiting English relative around the church of Saint-Sulpice and she found the meridian line set into the flagstone floor that he describes in that potty book of his.

            Setting fantastic events in an everyday context is an effective literary device designed to draw readers in with verifiable fact and gain their confidence before slapping them over the head with fictitious invention. The unusual becomes usual when it can be placed in a familiar context.

            The bible contains no historically verifiable information about Christ. It might accurately describe the staircase leading from the tower of Antonia to the Temple precincts, but Dan Brown accurately describes Rosslyn Chapel in his work too. So does that mean the descendants of Christ and Mary Magdalene walk among us today?

            I think not…

          • Linus, your scepticism is of the order of those who deny that men ever went to the Moon. It has nothing to do with evidence, for no amount of it will ever convince you. It has to do with your unwillingness to accept an authority above yourself. ‘We will not have this Man to reign over us’ (Luke 19:14).
            .
            There is only one (allegedly contemporary) account of the invasions of Britain by Julius Caesar in 55 & 54 B.C. The earliest surviving manuscript is dated around 800AD. There is no archaeological evidence. However, no one doubts the events because the account has been proved to be accurate in other matters and is corroborated by Suetonius, Tacitus etc. 100+ years later.
            .
            There are four detailed contemporary accounts of the resurrection, plus the witness of Paul and Peter. This number of witnesses is unique for any ancient event. Paul states that there were 500 witnesses to the risen Christ (1 Cor. 15:6) and more or less challenges his readers to check him out at a time when travel around the Med was easier than it would be for another 1,800 years. Other details of the written accounts have been found to be accurate as detailed in my last post.

            ‘We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard…’
            (1 John 1:3; cf. 2 Peter 1:16-18). The witness to Christ is vast. You reject it because to accept it will mean that you have to repent.

  • IanCad

    Well, he sure won’t get it in the neck from me.
    On the back – a great big slap – if one is permitted to do so to an archbishop.
    Most excellent commonsense.
    Equality; The plea of tyrants. Goes right along with the other favourites of the fearful: Safety, and the notion that the law serves to protect us from our own foolishness.

  • Busy Mum

    …maybe he is just saying it to lull us all into a false sense of security……getting a bit cynical in my middle age!

  • Thank you, His Grace, for referring to the equality of sin. I think it is important to emphasise that the equality which the Bible focuses on is the equality of sinfulness which all man share, eg “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. This is the equality which must be proclaimed, that there is none righteous, no not one. There is in fallen man an equality of condemnation (John 3:18) and of wretchedness.

    However, Is this the equality which the nation is hearing about from the mainstream churches?

    • Why start with fear, sin and damnation – rather than a God of love who meets us in our sinful state and embraces us?
      These recent words of Pope Francis are very powerful about the work of evangelisation:
      “Everything in your life, today as in the time of Jesus, begins with an encounter. An encounter with this Man, the carpenter of Nazareth, a man like all others, but, at the same time, different. We think of John’s Gospel, where he recounts the disciples first encounter with Jesus (Cf. 35-42). Andrew, John, Simon: felt that they had been looked at in their depth, known intimately, and this generated surprise in them, a wonder that made them feel immediately bound to Him … Or when, after the Resurrection, Jesus asks Peter: “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15), and Peter answers: “Yes”; that yes was not the result of will power, it did not come solely from the decision of the man Simon: it came first from Grace, it was that “primerear,” the preceding of Grace. This was the decisive discovery for Saint Paul, for Saint Augustine, and so many other Saints: Jesus Christ is always first He “primereas” us; He awaits us. Jesus Christ precedes us always, and when we arrive, He is already there awaiting us. He is like the flower of the almond tree: it is the one that flowers first and announces spring.

      And this dynamic, which arouses wonder and adherence, cannot be understood without mercy. Only one who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy really knows the Lord. The privileged place of encounter is the caress of mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin. And it is because of this that you have heard me say sometimes that the post, the privileged place of the encounter with Jesus Christ is my sin. It is thanks to this embrace of mercy that one feels like answering and changing, and from which a different life can flow. Christian morality is not the titanic, willful effort of one who decides to be coherent and who succeeds, a sort of solitary challenge in face of the world. No, this isn’t Christian morality; it’s something else. Christian morality is an answer, it is a moved answer in face of astonishing mercy, unforeseeable, in fact, “unjust” according to human criteria, of One who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me anyway, esteems me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, expects from me. Christian morality is not ever to fall, but to get up always, thanks to his hand, which takes us. And the way of the Church is also this: to let God’s great mercy manifest itself. In past days I said to the new Cardinals: “The way of the Church is that of not condemning any one eternally; to spread God’s mercy to all persons who ask for it with a sincere heart: the way of the Church is, in fact, that of going out of her enclosure to go and seek those far away on the “peripheries” of existence; that of adopting integrally the logic of God,” which is that of mercy (Homily, February 15, 2015). The Church must also feel the joyful impulse of becoming a flower of the almond tree, that is spring, as Jesus was or the whole of humanity.”

      • CliveM

        Happy Jack

        Well said. Balance in all things. You can’t talk about sin without mentioning the love, otherwise you are misrepresenting the Gospel.

        Good words by Pope Francis.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace,
    A very important piece that shows the Media is not interested in anything conservative in thinking which is not a radical thought. In fact it is quite radical from ++Canterbury.
    It is indeed a very refreshing to hear Justin speak with what we might call common sense. This is a rare occurrence from the CofE.
    There is no equality in this world, only before God are we equal. Those who endeavor to artificially create equality through legislation are indeed Marxist in their subconscious thinking and create incredible anomalies which only benefit the lazy and perverse who seek to make 1 + 1 = 3.
    A street preacher is prosecuted for being offensive. Some witnesses can’t remember what he said “but it was offensive”. Where is the equality in that, when the police ask the public in the press for video recordings to be used as evidence.
    Political correctness has turned sense into nonsense and so called ‘equality’ out of the natural order of things.
    God has not made all things equal in nature and these twerps are trying to appear better than God. Well done Justin.

  • Inspector General

    I say, this is encouraging. Can he really wake people up from this damnable equality business, whatever equality means.

    We are surrounded by malcontents who are not satisfied with their lot and sincerely believe they deserve more. And there is a plan they can follow to achieve this. Hard work, application and a general improvement of the self. The Victorians had it, and admired it, but we’ve lost it today. A good example is dress. The English dress appallingly, and yet it’s never been cheaper to dress well.

    One does believe it all fell apart thanks to the intensity of the welfare state. People just gave up in many cases as it was too much hard work, and anyway, what they believed were rightfully due to them would come to them eventually, while they had their feet up, thanks to other poor sods efforts.

    So there you have it. Let the people dream of better, and encourage them, but don’t provide it for them. Their want, so their efforts needed. All achievable, you know, and without a priest in sight too…

    Pip! Pip!

    • dannybhoy

      I agree, although having benefitted from our health service and welfare benefits I think it’s very much down to the values of the people using these things.
      Somebody mentioned the other day that some lady rued the the birth of the welfare state and the death of charity,and I understand what was meant.
      Yet we enjoy so many more benefits as society which accepts giving up some of our earnings for the general good. I think the malcontentism of which you so eloquently spoke is prevalent because we have replaced Christian ethics with humanistic ones.

      • Inspector General

        Someone’s going to have to do the jobs the English don’t want when we send the unskilled EU types back. And it looks very much like it will be the English who are hanging around church halls expecting hand-outs….

        • CliveM

          Hmmm would you employ them?

          • Inspector General

            They’ll be employed, and employable. We’ve turned out some monsters, but most are suitable.

  • Inspector General

    One cannot leave this subject without referring to an off shoot of self-improvement of interest to priests. Along with the improving of the body and mind and situation, came an interest in the soul. And we have today many fine Victorian churches built to cater for this religious revival that would have left the early nineteenth century population somewhat bedazzled. The movement from the countryside to what in most cases would be the grinding poverty of life in newly built shoddy housing that would in little time turn into slums failed to stifle completely the spiritual, as one might have thought it would. Thus the future of Christianity in this country is dependent on enabling people to prosper by their own efforts, and not providing short term relief by charitable works in entirety.

  • Kiran Page Singh Lotay

    ” All are worthy of respect, but the head ought not to be treated like the big toe: some parts of the body are simply more worthy of honour than others, and that is natural law.”

    It should be noted that in 1 Corinthians 12: 21-26, Paul actively subverts our natural response to “natural” law of giving more honour to the parts that are more “worthy” of it:

    “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” (emphasis added)

    If the big toe is normally considered less worthy of honour than the head, we are to treat it with greater respect. Transferring the superiority of spiritual gifts into hierarchical superiority/inferiority of people is not borne out in the text, I think. The point the article is making is good, regardless.

    • Inspector General

      Greetings you two. Isn’t it marvellous that two hearts are so in tune that they can speak as one. So, with that in mind, this man is going to put his back to the wall and inch towards the door.
      Good evening everyone…

    • dannybhoy

      It should be noted that in 1 Corinthians 12: 21-26, Paul actively
      subverts our natural response to “natural” law of giving more honour to
      the parts that are more “worthy” of it:

      Well said Kiran.
      HJ finds great comfort in this..

  • Doctor Crackles

    Your Grace, are these ‘Tories’ who bash Welby real or imaginary?

  • 1 Timothy 6:17-19. ‘Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, eager to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.’

    That is all one needs to know about equality, really. There will be some people who are richer than others (gasp!), but there is an onus on wealthy Christians to be generous. No longer Noblesse oblige, but rather Richesse oblige.

  • Miles Christianus

    YG. If true conservatism effects change organically while socialism does so by revolution (diktat, as you say), has any party been other than the latter in the last thirty years? Conversely, even if one is uncomfortable with the direction in which the C of E is moving, is it not at least doing so conservatively?