It may have been pure chance or, given where I ended up, it may have been the Holy Spirit tapping the computer keys. I prefer the latter explanation, especially since this interview took place over a year ago. Why else would it pop up on my screen? Whatever happened, I found myself watching a Vodcast, put out by “Unbelievable” on Premier Christian Radio.
A bright, cheerful, personable young man in a casual shirt was interviewing the youngish, well known, popular historian, Tom Holland and an older, bearded gentleman called Tom Wright. (It turns out T. Wright is also known as N T Wright when he’s writing erudite, heavyweight theology.) Tom Wright is right up there with Martyn Percy (see my last blog “No, No, No!”) being a retired Bishop of Durham and now a Professor at St Andrews University. But there is a difference.
The two Toms were discussing Tom Wright’s book, “Paul A Biography”, and what resulted from that discussion kept me riveted for a whole hour. Since then, and a second listen, I’ve tried to work out what made it so powerful. I came to the conclusion it was because it made sense. There was no pushing of a secret agenda, no twisting of simple facts to suit a particular ideology. Good, old-fashioned Common Sense. The words rang true.
Words don’t ring true anymore. Think of the beginning of John’s Gospel.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
That’s how important words are. They matter. We’ve got away from that awesome fact and we’re suffering because of it. Words are twisted and contorted or have become downright lies.
Take the word ‘Marriage.’ Fifty years ago everyone knew what marriage meant. A man and a woman joined together in holy, or at least, civil legal marriage. I’ve always thought marriage was one of those bedrock words that was included in any description of civilized society. Now it seems to mean any sort of sexual coupling that any individual, of any sex or none, feels is a marriage. How on earth can you build any sort of stable civilization on such a foundation.
Another Bishop who talks a lot of sound common sense is Gavin Ashenden. He recently wrote an article for a Jersey newspaper – for which he has written for years. He happened to mention that children brought up in a family with a mother who is married to the father do better on the whole than any other coupling. That is a fact that has been proved in scientific studies over and over and over again. He got the sack.
It’s getting worse. I suppose it wouldn’t matter very much if one individual decides she/he is the father of the child she/he produced from his/her retained women’s bits. (To complicate things still further it involves denying the existence of a male sperm donor.) The true horror begins when the High Court is asked to endorse this individual as legally not only the ‘father’ but the only parent. That is heaping lie upon lie upon lie.
Tom Holland is not a Christian though he was heavily influenced by his Anglican mother. He also knows a lot about Islam. At one point there was an interesting discussion about how Islam is imposed from above, whereas Christianity grew up from the bottom. It struck me then that that is exactly what is happening in Anglicanism today. Bishops are imposing their modern, leftist, liberal, secular, sexual ideas on to their hapless congregations. It’s not difficult for them. They have the power and the money, to say nothing of the support and active intervention of the government and the media. The tiny congregations of most of the remaining churches are so busy struggling to keep the roof on or stop the damp that they never have time to put their heads above the parapet to notice what’s truly happening.
Jesus has become a soppy, social worker. “All you need is love.” Unless it’s tough, disciplined love, in which case forget it. Cathedrals, once sacred spaces for worship, prayer, rejoicing and contemplation, are now fun fairs with helter-skelters and crazy golf.
If you take the time to listen to the two Toms and then listen to almost anything from either of the Archbishops, Welby or Sentanu, or almost any other bishop, you will be able to hear exactly what I mean.