Monday, April 2, 2018

Two Archbishops Up Yonder

I am working - slowly - on a post on the resurrection but my perambulations around the net have yielded an interesting interview with ++Justin Welby and a here we go again, it's Easter, so there must be an Archbishop with doubts article, for which the Archbishop of Wales John Davies steps up, or is that down to the mark.

Natch the Anglican version of the apostolic succession means we always have Doubting Thomas bishops in our ranks :). I will come back to ++Davies when I finally post on the resurrection ...

12 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter. This is, indeed, a sad moment for the Church in Wales. Is this an example of a Pastor of the Church backing the power of human intellect (and its attendant capacity for doubt) - against a simple, God-mediated faith in the sovereign activity of God, the Creator?

Whatever a 'clever' bishop's opinion on the miracle of Christ's Resurrection, s/he has no God-given mandate to undermine the Faith of the flock of Christ, for whom Christ's resurrection is pivotal for their spiritual nourishment.

The most important FACT of the resurrection is that each of the biblical witnesses' experience of the Risen Christ left no room for doubt that it was Jesus - different, in some way yes, but Jesus all the same.

As The Apostle Paul said: "If Christ be not risen from the dead, then we are the most unfortunate of people" - we might just as all give up!

Christus Resurrexit! Alleluia!

Anonymous said...

Vere resurrexit! Alleluia!

"As The Apostle Paul said: "If Christ be not risen from the dead, then we are the most unfortunate of people" - we might just as well give up!"

Just between you, me, and the web, Father Ron, I hope that Doubting Thomas bishops everywhere either take your advice or else read Tom Wright's book, The Resurrection of the Son of God.

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

Easter Blessings, BW - my brother in Christ. Alleluia!

Perry Butler said...

Im not too sure about newspaper accounts of sermons. It repeats David Jenkins and the conjouring trick with bones when +DJ said it was NOT a conjuring trick etc( tho i would say his views were not sufficiently robust on the bodily nature of the resurrected body. I suspect though if questioned the journalist would equate a physical resurrection with a recusitated corpse, which isnt the Church's Resurrection faith either.

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter,

What's all the fuss about? The Anglican Communion is a "broad one" and accommodates a wide range of opinions.Anglicans who share the ++'s opinion may well be sitting in your pews and just read the Scripture differently to you.He just stated publicly, what a number of English clergy, who were surveyed, said was their private opinion.And I guess the same would apply in NZ.

The past leader of Knox,Lloyd Geering was known for his statements on this subject in 1967.In fact the leadership of TEC are well known for such statements.Did you never see any of the Easter or Christmas billboards put up outside St. Matthews in Auckland? So perhaps your post will havbe a line or two about why ++Moxan and ++Richardson never brought the ACANZP into line even though we made official complaints. Oh, I just remembered,the Bishop of Auckland informed us in writing the ACANZP was a "broad Church" and would remainm so.

Anonymous said...

++ John Davies' words are a breath of fresh air, especially to those who have been marginalized and oppressed by fundamentalist, literalist readings of Scripture. Those who interpret Scripture in a wooden, literal way have missed its essential liberating meaning - 'Ubi caritas, Deus est' - and caused great harm to women, people of color and sexual minorities. But since we now know that 'marriage' (for instance) has a broader meaning that simple binarity (think of 'the marriage feast of the Lamb'), it is clear that 'resurrection' also has a range of meanings, including the livingness of Jesus in his disciples' faith, as the late +David Jenkins of York memorably put it. Those of us baptized Episcopalians and Anglicans who find the idea of an interventionist God messing with the laws of science and nature irrational and unhistorical have an equal place at God's Table. I wish you every blessing through the Great Fifty Days.

Harry M.

Father Ron Smith said...

in response to Glen's last commenty. Has he never heard of the Anglican hymn:

"There's a wideness in God's mercy; like the wideness of the sea...." ?

Narrow-mindedness was a problem among the Scribes and Pharisees that was behind the crucifixion of the Son of God. Now; Christ is risen, Alleluia!

Anonymous said...

So far, every comment here makes some sense.

Peter is right that the secular media cover annual Easter celebrations as public news-- but why...?-- and an aspect of that coverage is a Clergyman With Doubts trope that any other religion would take as an attack.

Percy is right that this is not in fact a Clergyman With Doubts story. There is a disturbing gap between the impression that one gets from the report about John Davies and the actual interview with Davies in Christian Today. Please bear in mind that an allusion (eg Davies's) to a Bultmannian view of the significance of the Resurrection (eg Jenkins's) can make perfect sense even to one (eg myself) who is certain of the historicity of the Resurrection.

Harry is right that "the livingness of Jesus in his disciples' faith" is as much a part of the whole biblical narrative as the empty tomb and the appearance stories, and that theologies driven too exclusively by *particular election* and *PSA* distort the apostolic witness when they airbrush that out of view. And that individualism has made them reckless with the actual embodiment of the Body. Those left and right see different harm from this, but those of both psychological temperaments see it.

Father Ron is right that there is another airbrush on the sacred image. Those who pit Bultmann's insight against the concreteness of the accounts we have do real harm. It does not appear to me that the original remarks of John Davies reported in Christian Today actually do that.

Glen-- speaking ironically, I assume-- is right that not every notion of the Resurrection equally supports saving faith, union with Christ's divine life, participation in the Body, etc. Neither of the two airbrushed Easters is enough. Again, there are not many views that would be unchanged by Tom Wright's Resurrection of the Son of God.

It's an awkward moment-- with secularisation of the public realm, Easter reacquires its ancient privacy rights, and the old media are being pushed into the tomb by the new faster than they can adapt. Returning to Peter's point, the most charitable way of understanding the article at the link is that an editor wanted to run an Easter story and a reporter who does not understand either religion or theology well was for some reason assigned to write it-- two bad ideas-- and they pounced on Davies's allusion to Jenkins as a way to introduce some conflict into a report that a religious group is celebrating their holiday that is almost as dull as a headline that the sun has risen. However, my forecast is that in this identitarian age, some year will see Christians boycotting or maybe even suing news media for the soft bigotry of assuming that just anybody can report on what those with the eyes of faith can see with help from God.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you all for comments. Two from me:
Glen: the Anglican church is broad and the Archbishop's views are not exceptional within that breadth BUT I think we can expect more from our Archbishops than from (say) our clergy. Thus ...

Bowman: notwithstanding your fine help to recall the ways and means by which we grapple with the mystery of the resurrection, from Bultmann to commenters here at ADU, I think the Archbishop qua archbishop could offer something more positive about what the scriptures say than he does. What, precisely, was transformative for the cowering disciples? The scriptural witness is that the tomb was empty and thus the appearances were received as appearances of a risen body, a new phenomenon which changed the cowering into courage.

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter and Ron,

Yes I have heard that hymn and like His "love",I understand it to be broad enough to fulfill His Will; but I do not see it as being without any conditions.

When one sees the ACANZP as the "broad Church and exempts Bishops from discipline for allowing clergy to perform "blessings" which are inconsistent with its legal doctrine; then what right has one to critique other Bishops comments.Lloyd Geering went much further and was knighted for his efforts.Surely we can expect much more from the leaders of our Church educational Universities.

Why would anyone who sees God's magnificent works of love,mercy and redemption as messing with the laws of science want to be at God's Table.
The empty tomb shows forth God's power to transform our lives.The empty tomb led to Pentecost and Pentecost leads to a vibrant and living Church.

Jesus answered:"Verily,verily,I say unto thee,Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,he can not enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of
flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Marvel not that I said unto thee,Ye must be born again".John 3:7&8.

Anonymous said...

"...the Archbishop qua archbishop could offer something more positive about what the scriptures say than he does."

Yes, Peter, that would have been better.

To me, the Christian Today interview reads, not as an Easter interview, but as though the ABW were commenting on the Resurrection in the context of a discussion of his sometimes controversial social ministry. Now if CT had been interviewing me in the same way, then my answers even to their social questions would have followed the pattern familiar to some of your readers here--

Resurrection --> inaugurated eschatology --> social ministry.

But if the ABW has not considered the first arrow, then he is unlikely to have seen the second either, and so the Resurrection motivation for his remarks on politics will be hard to explain or follow.

BTW these articles and thread comments are a small example of why I see a rich Anglican centrism with occasional eccentrics, but not at all a vast Anglican "breadth" that requires strained accommodation. Ecumenism and the passage of time have narrowed the strictly theological differences among the old schools of churchmanship. After all, if Pope Benedict XVI can commend The Resurrection and the Son of God, and even Bart Ehrmann can at least acknowledge it, then what excuse does any well-read Anglican who likes David Jenkins have for ignoring the work of Tom Wright? Is one Bishop of Durham less Anglican than another?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishop_of_Durham

In Anglican churches today, we do not see a wide variety of well-developed and nearly irreconcilable views on theology. Rather, we hear voices caricaturing views that are not actually that different from their own, largely to repress awareness of a similarity that embarrasses some vain pretension. This is the social pathology that Freud called "the narcissism of small differences." From the letters of SS Paul and John, we may expect the Son to judge this sin and the Holy Spirit to heal it.

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

Yes, Glen; "The great love of God as revealed in the Son" has been described by some of the most important faith-building theologians as 'unconditional'.

I remember one of my former Franciscan preacher colleagues asking an Easter congregation "How much does God love you?" There was an audible gasp when he spread his arms our wide in the form of a cross, together with the words; "That much!"

Of course, to encounter such love, you have to be looking at Jesus, face to face - "Behold, I - when I be lifted up - will draw ALL people to myself" - Jesus.