“Media seem to be going for gay sex and Queen funeral angles in my @BritishGQ interview with @JustinWelby,” tweet-gripes Tony Blair’s former spinmeister Alastair Campbell, ” – loads more in it. One of my faves,” he adds, somewhat aggrieved that the media aren’t focusing on:
It doesn’t seem to occur to Alastair Campbell that the principal reason the media are focusing on gay sex and the Queen’s funeral is because GQ Magazine (ie the source medium) has released an excerpt of the interview which focuses exclusively on what the Archbishop of Canterbury says about gay sex and the Queen’s funeral. Oh, and Alastair Campbell has tweeted out this excerpt to his 406,000 Twitter followers, most of whom probably don’t subscribe to GQ Magazine and so can’t read anything about what Justin Welby has to say about anything but gay sex and the Queen’s funeral.
Anyway, it’s gay sex and the Queen (not so much her funeral) which keeps the British media going. Gay sex and the Queen is why a lot of journalists bother to get up in a morning. Gay sex and the Queen dominate discussion in this blog’s comment threads (okay, not so much the Queen), even if the topic of the blog post is post-neoclassical endogenous growth theory or man’s cruelty to Syrian hamsters. It is the religio-political blogging equivalent of Godwin’s Law: ‘As an online discussion on Archbishop Cranmer grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving gay sex approaches 1.’
But it is surprising that someone so adept at political spin and knowledgeable about the functioning of the media (as Alastair Campbell surely is) can’t discern something causal between GQ‘s chosen excerpt on gay sex and the Queen’s funeral and the media “going for gay sex and Queen funeral angles”. That was precisely where they were pointed, for maximum media traction, as Alastair Campbell undoubtedly knows. Spin, spin, spin.
No doubt the ensuing comment thread to this post will also focus on what the Archbishop said about gay sex (not so much the Queen’s funeral). It will take precisely 1 minute 48 seconds from the time of pressing ‘Publish’ for someone to berate the Archbishop of Canterbury for failing to call sin ‘sin’, or for having his very own ‘Farron moment‘, or for having the audacity to presume that he’s going to heaven, for if he doesn’t follow the letter of what the Bible says about gay sex being a sin… etc., etc. Notwithstanding that prophecy, this post will focus on the Archbishop’s confidence that he is going to heaven, and his doubt that Alastair Campbell might not be.
Firstly, the Archbishop of Canterbury is a Christian, and Jesus is his Lord. O, you’re going issue a swift riposte aren’t you? Something like: ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ And you’re going to say that Justin Welby isn’t actually doing the will of his Father which is in heaven because he isn’t calling gay sex a sin, aren’t you?
So you’re going to set aside his testimony of conviction by the Holy Spirit, aren’t you? And you’re going to pour scorn over his conversion experience of repentance and salvation because he isn’t calling gay sex a sin, so he isn’t obeying the Bible, so he isn’t preaching the gospel, so he is, in fact, preaching a false gospel, and so he’s actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a false prophet worshipping another Jesus, and therefore, far from going to heaven, he’s probably going to hell. You’re going to say something like that, aren’t you?
Or maybe: ‘Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven‘.
But having confidence in one’s own salvation is scriptural, isn’t it? ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine…’ and all that. Justin Welby trusts in Christ, repents of his sin (daily, it seems), prays, loves, serves… Not that salvation comes through works: he knows he is forgiven because of what Jesus did on the cross. He is completely assured of this forgiveness (Acts 10:43), and forgiveness is life (Col 2:13). He believes in the Son so he has eternal life (Jn 3:36). He has the Son so he has life (1Jn 5:11-13). He will not be condemned to hell (Jn 5:24; Rom 8:1) because he is made righteous by faith (Rom 5:1), and is saved through faith (Eph 2:8f). He knows the time and place when he gave his life to the Lord: ‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name‘ (Jn 1:12). He makes public confession of his faith in the saving grace of his Lord. The Holy Spirit is at work in him and through him: ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God‘ (Rom 8:14).
Hm..? What’s that you say?
He’s not sure that gay sex is a sin?
So because he’s not sure that gay sex is a sin, he’s damned for all eternity?
Justin Welby hasn’t judged anyone’s salvation: he seems to have expressed a possibility that Alastair Campbell might not be going to heaven, which, given his avowed agnosticism and his preference for not doing God, is a pretty fair bet, isn’t it? It isn’t worth paying £3.99 to get a copy of GQ Magazine to read the Archbishop’s precise words: Alastair Campbell’s tweet is sufficient to establish that he’s not overly bothered about his eternal prospects. Indeed, if he became aware of them, given a choice he’d probably rather spin for Satan than sit tediously at Christ’s right hand for all eternity.
So, Welby is a sheep, and Campbell is a goat.
Isn’t that discussion actually far more interesting than gay sex and the Queen?