Friday, September 01, 2006

‘Damn’ ‘bloody’ bishop banned

When David Jenkins was Bishop of Durham, he argued passionately against the physical resurrection of Jesus (dismissed as ‘a conjuring trick with bones’), rubbished the virgin birth, the literal truth of the Bible, and even the continuing existence of the Church of England. He kept his job throughout the furore his sermons caused.

But after using the words 'bloody' and 'damn' in a sermon, he finds himself banned from a number of pulpits.

Cranmer just loves it when the Church of England knows its priorities.


Blogger Peter O said...

As we see being played out at the moment in California (with the ludicrousy of 4 liberal bishops impeaching their neighbouring traditionalist bishop for "abandoning the faith") for some doctrine is nothing and money, property and "looking good" is everything.

1 September 2006 at 17:16  
Anonymous Rick said...

David Jenkins is a typical university academic who has no real belief in God but prefers to see it as an intellectual abstraction and to be condescending towards those who hold a deep and intense personal faith.

It is an intellectual arrogance which does not change the fact that he is ageing and is not immortal; when set against the Infinite and the Boundless he becomes a paody of himself does poor Dr Jenkins............rather like the flea who is impressed by how high he can jump.

1 September 2006 at 17:57  
Blogger Joe Otten said...

If disagreeing with Rick is arrogance, I must admit to quite a lot of arrogance.

1 September 2006 at 18:47  
Blogger istanbultory said...

Well, Dr. David Jenkins is notorious for being of the view that policy in the Church should move with the times and not rely on other people's interpretation of the Bible. He is predictably a leading supporter of the Anglican gay rights group, "Changing Attitude".
It strikes me that Jenkins should long ago have parted ways with Protestantism altogether. And perhaps pursued a career in the political arena. He would have been welcomed with open arms into NuLabour. Indeed, We have only to recall the ilk of Chris Bryant MP....

1 September 2006 at 18:48  
Blogger Tom Tyler said...

I would like to see the entire text of this sermon before I would pass any judgement upon it, as there might conceivably be a context in which such words could be appropriate in a sermon.
However, how can a man who does not believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ remain a Bishop of any denomination of the Church? "If Christ was not raised, then truly, we (Christians) are to be pitied more than all other people", Paul said.
I'm sure Dr Jenkins is a wise and learned man, and a compassionate one too. But the church is not meant to be a sort of "social services" department with ghosts and fairy stories thrown in for good measure.
Luckily, I've known several Anglican vicars/ministers of both genders, and so I know that his views are not typical of those in the Anglican Church.

2 September 2006 at 02:32  
Anonymous stakeholder said...

He can preach heresey; that's OK, but 'bloody' and 'damn' offend middle class sensibilities.

Isn't that what this is all about.

2 September 2006 at 10:08  
Anonymous Rick said...

Joe Otten - thank you for your adulatory words about you in addition have any thoughts on Dr David Jenkins, formerly of The Queen's College, Oxford and Durham Cathedral ?

Your contribution neglected to address the subject of the thread.

2 September 2006 at 12:04  
Blogger istanbultory said...

Hat Tip to “Pastor Sparky”, a full-time pastor on the Isle of Man for this witticism:

The ex- Bishop of Durham visited a remote African tribe and was invited by the Chief of the village to preach. He got up and began by saying that actually all humans evolved from apes and Adam and Eve never existed. Nine natives jumped up and shouted "COMBOLO". The bishop thought "they really like me". So he went on to say that the miracles seen through Moses and the other Old Testament prophets were fabricated hoaxes. When he said this 38 natives screamed "COMBOLO COMBOLO". The bishop was really feeling good about himself now and started to get excited with the response... so he continued by saying that Jesus never rose from the dead and that it was a conjuring trick with bones. Two hundred and fifty natives jumped in the air screaming "COMBOLO COMBOLO COMBOLO"...soon afterwards the sermon ended with similar outpourings by the listeners.

After lunch the ex-Bishop was invited to a guided tour of the village farm and was personally escorted by the Chief. As they opened the gate the Chief said to the ex- Bishop, "Please Bishop be very careful here that you do not step in any combolo......

Did Jenkins really declare that Adam and Eve never existed???

2 September 2006 at 18:27  
Anonymous ignorant peasant said...

I rather liked the phrase

"Despite his retirement as a frontline bishop..."

The time-honoured phrase 'up to my neck in muck and bullets' springs to mind. Defending the atheists of Durham from marauding Presbyterians, perhaps.

2 September 2006 at 19:57  
Anonymous Rick said...

Defending the atheists of Durham from marauding Presbyterians, perhaps.

More like Gnostic bishop occupies northern outpost to ward off Christian influences.

It is funny that Durham as a diocese needs an annual £2 million subsidy from the parishioners in Oxfordshire to keep afloat

3 September 2006 at 08:56  
Blogger Joe Otten said...

Ok Rick,

I see nothing arrogant in Jenkins' theology.

However your theology does seem arrogant. You are saying that you are right because God agrees with you.

If theological perspectives like Jenkins' aren't going to be discussed in the church, where on earth are they going to be discussed? Is the church so afraid of learning anything? Is faith so weak that it cannot stand scrutiny?

When did prayer last resolve a question of doctrine?

3 September 2006 at 11:33  
Blogger Fruning Graplecard said...

joe otten, what bollocks.

jenkins does not hold a "theological perspective". If he has a coherent set of thoughts at all they are patently humanistic.

As for scrutiny, I would have thought that 2000 years of trials, tribulations and the martyrdom of true believers was sufficient scrutiny for anyone.

Jenkins is merely a wet liberal fop, dressed as a vicar.

Stop being a tit.

3 September 2006 at 13:09  
Anonymous Rick said...

However your theology does seem arrogant. You are saying that you are right because God agrees with you

I was not aware I had expressed a theological position............but I know Jenkins for what he is..........and you Joe Otten are not even a practising Christian much less one with any theological comprehension which is why you are superficially drawn to Dr Jenkins apostasy

3 September 2006 at 15:48  
Anonymous Rick said...

Had Dr Jenkins not spent so much time in academia he might have found work as a parish priest redeeming and maybe more appropriate to his functional responsibility:

Born in Bromley, Kent, Jenkins had been a lecturer in theology at the University of Oxford, Chaplain and Fellow of the Queen's College, Oxford and had worked for the World Council of Churches and the William Temple Foundation before his controversial appointment. He had written numerous books on Christian theology, and had been Professor at the University of Leeds from 1979 until 1984.

3 September 2006 at 15:51  
Blogger istanbultory said...

Ditto to Mr. Graplecard's earlier declaration.
The ex-bishop of Durham is a nothing other than an agent of appeasement in the struggle against rampant secularism and moral relativism.
His "views" signal a betrayal of all that was achieved by the Reformation and all for which the Martyrs of that period sealed with their lives and blood.

3 September 2006 at 16:53  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Quite so, Mr GC, quite so.

3 September 2006 at 17:18  
Blogger Joe Otten said...

I saw Dr Jenkins speak once, in Sheffield Cathedral. He suprised me by actually trying to argue his corner, which is not what I was used to hearing in a church. I wouldn't say his arguments were very compelling, but at least he tried.

All I am seeing on this blog is personal attacks. They convince nobody reasonable of anything, and generally make the attacker look worse than the victim.

(Er, sorry about calling you arrogant, Rick.)

3 September 2006 at 23:06  
Blogger Joe Otten said...


I was talking about intellectual scrutiny, as well you know.

There are always people willing to die for bad ideas as much as for good ones.

Or unwilling, but deemed heretical or infidel by the powers that be, Christian as often as not.

3 September 2006 at 23:13  
Blogger Fruning Graplecard said...

Joe Otten

I have narrowly avoided a personal attack, if you read my post carefully, and it was never intended to be so.

"intellectual scrutiny" is a tricky one when it comes to Religion. You are getting into the arena of epistemology and ontology. You have, like most people of your era, the inherent belief that God is an intellectual proposition or some kind of idea that is to be debated like communism or something. This approach has been handed down to you by a philosophical line of thinking, some say from Aquinas (or at least interpretations of Aquinas), that has resulted in a separation of the temporal and the spiritual and latterly, the idea of God and Jesus Christ as characters in a dodgy story.

And yet to a Christian believer, everything is spiritual, everything is touched by God. I said that Jenkins is a humanist. He is. His pronouncements are relativistic and post-modern:-

"No statement about God is simply, literally true. God is far more than can be measured, described, defined in ordinary language, or pinned down to any particular happening", says Jenkins.

The question I ask, always of people who say this sort of thing is, "There is a sign over there, mate, that says DANGER CLIFF EDGE". Can I ask what sort of interpretation you put on that sign, and what, precisely is the bit you find fuzzy and ambiguous or non-literal? What kind of semiotic hoop do you want to leap through to misunderstand a basic proposition?

David Jenkins believes that "no statement about God is simply, literally true" because, like yourself, he does not believe anything is literally true.

Joe, you are caught in a spiral of your own received philosophy:

"We can now see why it is impossible to find a criterion for determining the validity of ethical judgments. It is not because they have an absolute validity which is mysteriously independent of ordinary sense experience, but because they have no objective validity whatsoever. If a sentence makes no statement at all, there is obviously no sense in asking whether what it says is true or false." -- A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic

Can you escape this elipsis of despair?

Stanley Fish, a literary critic whose works I am reasonably familiar with, says frustratedly, "The best we can hope to do is convert someone from their set of beliefs to ours. This is persuasion. It has nothing to do with transcendent truth or knowledge." He understands the preposterous logic of pluralism.

A true Christian reads the Bible and asks God to show reveal its truth. If this sounds crazy, and perhaps it does, I suggest you read C.S.Lewis, who not only gives an account of his own conversion but articulates the real issues with deep insight.

As you teeter on the brink of damnation, consider just one thought of C.S.Lewis, which should provide for you the seeds of mistrust of your involuntary philosophical underpinnings...

"Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can't really get rid of it".

If Jesus came into the world to forgive it, as he himself said, it presupposes the world was doing something wrong.

Go figure.

4 September 2006 at 01:33  
Anonymous Rick said...

Unfortunately Joe Otten having emerged from the Green Movement with its Pantheism to the Liberal Democrats with their Atheism you seem to have forgotten that central to religious belief is FAITH.

Last night German TV looked at various "shrouds" the Roman Catholic Church held as relics including the Turin Shroud but also one called the Veil of Veronica.

Why these relics hold such significance is unclear - it proves nothing one way or the other.....and indeed proof is irrelevant.

The problem is best illustrated in Physics where we can establish principles and causation but not reason...........ultimately we end up in the world of Lisa Randall and brane theory and whether Einstein was correct to see the universe as a 4-Dimensional Parmenidian Cube...........and what flows from that.

It is why the politicised debate of "Intelligent Design" versus "Darwinism" is so heated........simply because the latter case in extremis is used politically to argue there is no need for a First Mover and that no moral components flow from human existence..............this is what Marx derived from marrying Darwinism to Hegelianism.

The "Intelligent Design" school tries to claim that what Darwin described was a mechanism not a cause and that intelligence was embedded in the development thus there is a reason to speak of a Creator.

The issue comes down to the issue of 'Grace' expressed in the American T-shirt logo "God does not believe in Atheists"........or if you are a Berkelian Idealist you hold that reality exists only in the Mind of God.

The problem for Dr Jenkins is that his inquiry reflects his own doubt - as a Doubting Thomas he has precedents - but not to utter heresies from the pulpit - there are very few secular organisations which would tolerate say Liberal Democrat Conferences being assailed by Platform Speakers debunking LibDem doctrine in favour of Conservative Party ideas.

Those who affiliate with Greens or Lib Dems are also Believers in a Faith system of dubious validity and lacking any sound theological base, but their belief is fervent and ridiculous to outsiders.

4 September 2006 at 07:05  
Blogger Joe Otten said...

Thankyou Fruning for your considered reply.

Unfortunately you have jumped to a false conclusion if you think me post-modern or relativist.

I have read the Screwtape letters, some time ago now, and the Lion, Witch, etc, to my children, of course.

Your quote from Ayer seems to be arguing for ethical non-cognitivism. That is not a proposition I support. I would interpret ethical statements about acts in consequentialist terms, and judgements about people as statements within a system of virtue ethics.

What, I must say, I find fairly incomprehensible is the religious view of ethics - that things are right because God says so. (Or God says so because they are right. Euthyphro's Dilemmma.)

The danger of religious ethics of this sort, is that, as a solution to the problem of evil, it invites the believer to distrust altogether their own capacity to judge right and wrong. This, in some heads, turns an ethical system into an amoral one, based purely on following the rules however good or ill the consequences.

4 September 2006 at 14:38  
Blogger Joe Otten said...


Thankyou for that potted biography.

The Greens certainly had more than their share of New Agers and pantheists, but also large numbers of atheists and Christians, just like other parties.

There was at one point a 'Green Sprituality' group trying to get their undertanding of spirituality adopted by the party conference and included in the manifesto. I went to one of their meetings and said that I wasn't really bothered by all that stuff and just wanted to save the planet. They were horrified and said that I must be in the wrong party. (Correctly as it turned out, I suppose.) Eventually the group all left in disgust at all the heresy they heard, but their proposal was adopted anyway in their absence, as some sort of attempt to win them back.

But I digress.

The Lib Dems have Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, Muslims, etc; but nobody - that I've heard of at least - quite as bad as the Green Spirituality lot.

I take your point that organisations rarely invite hostile speakers. But deeming Jenkins hostile is begging the question. Few political parties aggressively vet members, and so people are allowed to join and argue their own views, even if they are arguing for redistribution in the Tories, or for tax cuts in Labour.

To you it may be clear that Jenkins is hostile to the church. But is there any objective test available?

4 September 2006 at 15:08  
Anonymous Rick said...

The danger of religious ethics of this sort, is that, as a solution to the problem of evil, it invites the believer to distrust altogether their own capacity to judge right and wrong. This, in some heads, turns an ethical system into an amoral one, based purely on following the rules however good or ill the consequences.

I would submit that a reading of the Four Gospels would show that the Jewish Jesus leaned more towards the Pharisaic viewpoint in this than that of the Sadduccees and as such he was critical of the Pharisees for an over-reliance on rules-based compliance rather than their origins as the 'Perushim'. The Sadduccees had neglected their religion in favour of social aristocratic position.

The Christian notion is of individual accountability to God and is perhaps one more reason why one man had to die to redemption rather than the whole population as in flood where Noah and his boatload alone were saved.

The problem with David Jenkins is that he attempts to deconstruct as his own faith crumbles. It is a real problem for the way the Church itself is structured. I find it far easier to believe in The Resurrection as a physical manifestation than in the notion of a man dressed in robes pretending to be in some lineal descent from those disciples around Jesus Christ.

I do not accept David Jenkins or indeed any Bishop as having any special role, and I do not believe any priest has a superior connection with God than any of his parishioners.

Therein lies the problem of the redundancy of men like David Jenkins who have undertaken no work beyond reading and writing and expounding - he has not been a school-teacher, nor has he had a day job.

Leviticus is the only part of the Bible to justify a full-time clergy devoted to God and living off the tithe. It is because the caste of priests - the Cohanim - was to be closer to God than to man and to be in modern times this derived priesthood boasts about being "representative" of the public at large and therefore defiled - yet it wishes to retain a full-time salaried status as if it was still the Levite priesthood of Aaron.

This is the true farce of Dr Jenkins - that he cannot see how absurd his own position is and that bishops are in fact an irrelevance, in fact little more than civil servants appointed by The Crown to keep control of the parishes.

4 September 2006 at 15:48  
Blogger istanbultory said...

Other than the Venerable Cranmer's distinguished blog, how many blogs concern themselves with Plato's challenge concerning the nature of goodness: Is an act right because God says it's so, or does God say it's so because it's right?

What God commands is inherently right because God will only command that which is consistent and harmonious with his own inherently good moral framework; what we term right may be right because God commands it, or because it is harmonious with a human judicial framework.

As a Christian, I believe the Bible is the sole and supreme authoritative revelation of God to man. David Jenkins would do well to comport himself thus......

4 September 2006 at 15:54  
Anonymous Lena Mouse said...

That's also my view GC. The Christian faith is weakened, and other faiths laugh at it, when its own leaders don't defend its foundations. If Paul himself affirmed that the resurrection was the crucial event, who is David Jenkins to argue with that?

One reason why Islam is so strong and the Church so weak is because we are seen to compromise on everything. The Bible is now little more than a demeaned take-it-or-leave-it guide book. The Koran, however, is never disrispected in the media. David Jenkins contributed to this sort of malaise, and he should have been banned decades ago.

5 September 2006 at 07:19  
Anonymous vikki said...

Whats wrong in following in the footsteps of the Pharisees and the... Scribes? Or would Saducees be apt? Is it not ok for Dr Jenkins to be 'biblical'? C'mon guys there is nothing new under the sun!

6 September 2006 at 12:05  

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