Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Mail criticises Archbishop Justin for preaching like Jesus

"It was a coup for Radio 4 to secure the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to deliver its Thought For The Day on Good Friday," writes Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail. "But why did he spend so much time talking about Cyprus and the euro?" he asks. "Wouldn’t listeners have expected him to be more concerned with the traditional Easter issues such as the crucifixion of Christ and the Resurrection?"

Actually, not if the Archbishop were concerned about following the example of Jesus.

The 'musts', 'oughts' and 'expectations' of New Testament ethics bear passionate witness to the economic imperatives of Christian discipleship. In fact, Jesus spoke more about money and possessions than he did the kingdom of heaven, so to criticise the Archbishop of Canterbury for focusing on the euro instead of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is to misunderstand God's pervasive concern for the just use of money and for sharing with the poor and needy.

But this is the Mail, so one ought not to have too high an expectation of even a cursory survey of the New Testament on ethical matters.

In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus teaches that the relinquishing of anxiety about economic security must follow the seeking of God's justice (Mt 6:25-34). We are taught to pray only for our daily euros and to forgive those who owe is debts (6:11f cf 18:23-35). It is noteworthy that the sheep and the goats are divided on the basis of their treatment of those who are hungry, naked, sick and in prison.

Mark tells us that Jesus challenged a rich man to give all his euros to the poor before he could inherit eternal life (Mk 10:17-22). The message is clear: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a banker stuffed with bonuses to enter the kingdom of God (10:23-27). The poor widow, however, is praised for donating her last two euros to the God's treasury (10:41-44).

Luke is unequivocal in his message that the resurrection leads to the creation of a new community of believers who share all their possessions in common so that there are no poor among them. There is a concrete economic cost to discipleship (Lk 14:25-35), and those who store up their euros are fools (12:16-21). Zacchaeus exemplifies the authentic response to the resurrection of Christ by giving half of his possessions to the poor (19:1-10).

The Johannine literature also exhorts the community of faith to practise economic sharing: the command to love one another necessarily entails the sharing of our euros with those who have none (1Jn 3:17f). The theme is pursued by St Paul throughout the New Testament: the manna in the wilderness could not be horded and stored up for the future (2Cor 8:13-15 cf Exod 16:18), so neither should Mammon. Those who horde their euros in off-shore banks and launder their fortunes for selfish gain have fallen into the trap of self-destructive greed. 'The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains' (1Tim 6:9f).

So, when Archbishop Justin 'spends so much time talking about Cyprus and the euro', his message is just the same as that of Jesus and St Paul, whose language was reminiscent of Amos and Isaiah. Those politicians and bankers who oppress the poor will not escape God's judgment: 'You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter' (James 5:1-6). Gold, silver and euros will rust (cf Mt 6:19-21). We can only be rich in faith and good works, for economic power and prosperity have a corrupting influence.

Perhaps the Mail might care to read the words of Jesus before criticising the Archbishop for having a 'wrong concern' at Easter. There is simply no point in preaching Christ and Him crucified when people's minds are on the accumulation of wealth. Jesus was not concerned merely with how individuals might seek eternal life; rather, He was concerned with how the Church as a whole might embody the economics of the kingdom of God. One begins with where the community is at: the cross and resurrection living are a subsequent challenge.


Blogger Martin said...

I didn't listen to the broadcasts, I tend not to listen to the BBC's religious programmes unless I need my blood pressure raised, but surely the message needed is two fold.

a. to the unsaved, "you must be born again"

b. to the saved, "seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added".

The problems of the World are down to Man's disobedience. Our poor weather & economy to the governments refusal to look to God, for example.

You cannot expect anything but problems if you ignore God.

2 April 2013 at 09:37  
Blogger Flossie said...

I have a lot of time for Andrew Pierce - a true conservative, and better still a gay man vehemently opposed to gay marriage.

I can see where YG is going with this, but I, like Andrew, do feel it was a bit of a missed opportunity. People can hear about Cyprus and banking from other people. One would expect the Archbishop of Canterbury to do a bit of God stuff.

2 April 2013 at 10:24  
Blogger Brian West said...

As I remarked in this place on Friday, it perplexes me that Archbishop Justin could talk about the crucifixion on Good Friday, without mentioning that it was for our sins that Christ died.


2 April 2013 at 10:29  
Blogger Perpetua said...

Congratulations to Archbishop Justin. To be criticised by the Daily Mail means that he said something really worth listening to. I missed the broadcast, so thank you, Your Grace, for rectifying the omission.

2 April 2013 at 11:51  
Blogger Angharad said...

This is the Mail we are talking about. I am just surprised they even knew who the new Archbishop of Canterbury was!

I listened to the program. I thought Archbishop Welby spoke well, but it is a difficult one. Concentrate too much on the spiritual and people will accuse you of not caring enough about society. Speak too much about what is happening in the world around you, then you are not spiritual enough.
In today's world more than ever we are conscious of how difficult life has become. Sadly, for an affluent country, we have a very high rate of unemployment, rising debt and terrible poverty, especially child poverty.
No doubt all these factors were close to Archbishop Welby's heart.

2 April 2013 at 11:53  
Blogger Preacher said...

Possessions & wealth have a very short expiry date. Better to store up treasures in heaven, as long as one is sure that one has a ticket to go there & redeem them. Otherwise one could end up like the Cypriots. loads of resources, but it's locked away where it can't be reached.
Remember Peters words to the lame man? "Silver & Gold have I none, but what I DO have I give to you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up & walk!".
Of course Cameron & co are trying to do the same with the disabled, but get up & hobble to the job centre does not have the same ring to it.
If Justin Welby can keep a balance between things spiritual & love & compassion for the poor & needy, he will at least show that he cares for their plight & that they have a spokesman with some clout to speak when & where it's needed.

2 April 2013 at 12:27  
Blogger Flossie said...

I think the comments about the Daily Mail are just plain silly - the corporate version of 'ad hominem'. The Mail is one of the few newspapers who will stand up for Christian beliefs. Try reading the Guardian and Independent, along with their readers' comments, on any religious matters, and they are pretty vile.

I speed-read most of the online newspapers most days, and the left-wing papers have some excellent articles by good writers, and so does the Daily Mail.

Why can't we just stick to what Justin Welby said?

2 April 2013 at 12:41  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Your Grace

When the crass minister for DWP can state without a blush that "I could live on £53 a week ", the words of Justin Welby ring like the sound of Big Ben amongst a nation set at odds with itself by those who should know better. Perhaps he is too old or missed the original showing of the World in Action documentary programme called "For The Benefit of Mathew Parris" where the programme had to be abandoned because matthew parris ran out of money for electricity by the middle of the week (LOL. Imagine that on today's prices for gas and leccy!!!).

These chancers seem to discover new ways for alienating themselves from every voter except the nastiest that love the visible punishing of the genuinely poor and vulnerable.
The sooner these trash are kicked out of office, the better.

2 April 2013 at 12:55  
Blogger Murray said...

Your Grace,

Is there any way that you could add a print function to your blog posts for those of us who prefer to read the longer ones on paper rather than from the eye straining computer screen? It would be most appreciated.

Happy Easter.

2 April 2013 at 15:08  
Blogger Philip said...

I tend to agree with those who say the ABC could have used the opportunity to share the Gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus. That was the message of the early church to un-believers; they didn't go on about the evils of the Roman establishment or bankers. The epistles are written to individual churches or Christians rather than non-believers. By all means preach against sin as against God's law, as that shows us our need of a Saviour (Rom 3:19-20), but it is surely better to talk about the sins, including greed, in a way most of his listeners could have related to personally, and most of them wouldn't have been bankers, nor in any responsible for decisions about Cyprus and the Euro.

2 April 2013 at 17:02  
Blogger Ian G said...

I've done something radical. I've gone and read the text of his talk on Radio 4 here:http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5042/where-you-stand-determines-what-you-see-archbishop-justin-on-radio-4s-thought-for-the-day

The ABC is using the Cyprus crisis as a metaphor. He does talk about the Cross and the Resurrection. He applies what he says, but bear in mind it is the 'Thought for the Day'. He is very limited in the time available.

Of course, he could have said something else, but there is always something else any preacher could have said on any one occasion.

2 April 2013 at 17:28  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

is to misunderstand God's pervasive concern for the just use of money and for sharing with the poor and needy…

Maybe the Bishops should see how many bedrooms in their palaces and castles are unused and invite the poor to partake.

In April 2011 the Church Commissioners announced that the Church of England's assets had increased in 2010 from £4.8 billion to £5.3 billion. Christian Aid Week with its national programme of events, high profile media campaign and backing from churches and campaigners up and down the country, aims to raise just £15 million or so for the world’s poor
In 2008, the Commissioners made payments of:
£108 million for clergy pensions based on service before 1998
£42 million for parish mission and ministry support
£28 million for diocesan and suffragan bishops' stipends, housing, office staff and working costs
£7 million for the stipends of the Dean and two residential canons in each cathedral, and grants to cathedrals, mainly for other staff salaries

2 April 2013 at 18:40  
Blogger Peter Damian said...

"Perhaps the Mail might care to read the words of Jesus before criticising the Archbishop ..."

It might also help if they listened to the words of Archbishop Welby too!
Indeed, 'Where you stand determines what you see'.

2 April 2013 at 19:19  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

“The message is clear: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a banker stuffed with bonuses to enter the kingdom of God (10:23-27).”

Nothing clear about that statement at all. It used to be in the top ten enigmatic sayings of the bible, but in the last few years a credible explanation has been offered. The eye of a needle was the term used to describe the arch that spanned the street at the end of a built up area which lead into open space. For reasons best known to camels, they have a particular disinclination to pass through these arches and have to be cajoled, often accompanied by the unmistakable grunts of disapproval which is just so, well, camel. What’s more, you can re-create the experiment today here and now. All you need is a zoo with a camel and an archway. So we find, it is easier to enter heaven in a state of being skint, than it is with the ‘burden’ of wealth, but not impossible for the latter. Apparently more awkward though.

Jesus and his disciples were NOT the blasted Bolsheviks !!

If anything Jesus was an early modern era economist to recognize the need for a money supply to circulate an economy to generate growth that will provide for services to the sick and poor…

2 April 2013 at 19:40  
Blogger IanCad said...

I'm getting to like this guy.

Would he have been silent as so many preachers were while the Nazis were practising their vile persecutions?
What if he were a vicar during the days of slavery? Better not say too much, after all these chaps put so much in the collection plate.

Any advocate for the most helpless in our society is doing the Lord's work.

More power to him.

He is not a dumb dog that cannot bark.

2 April 2013 at 20:01  
Blogger Matt A said...

Murray: Try "Ctrl" "P"

2 April 2013 at 21:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Murray. When you open up Cranmer, ignore the ‘comments’ link and open up the ‘permalink’ instead. There you have it. The post, and whatever comments have followed...

2 April 2013 at 21:17  
Blogger MFH said...

Unusually the DM is correct and Your Grace wrong.
the first comment says all i wanted to.

2 April 2013 at 22:10  
Blogger non mouse said...

Murray @ 15:08 - As OIG says; alternatively...

Use the "Zoom" function at bottom right of HG's page/frame ... that will magnify HG's posts.

To do same for comments:
Right click the comment link;
Click "Open in New Window"
Use the "Zoom" (+) function at the bottom right to magnify the comments.

To Print any of the material: highlight it;
hit Ctrl C [that is, Copy];
go to Word Processing Document;
hit Ctrl V [that is, Paste];
Save and Print.

2 April 2013 at 22:27  
Blogger isenguard said...

@office — wrong, I'm afraid. Apocryphal story, and Jesus does in fact point out that it is "impossible" rather than difficult in verse 27: "With man this is impossible."

3 April 2013 at 08:26  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

isenguard. In full

I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26


From Wiki…

The saying was a response to a young rich man who had asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied that he should keep the commandments, to which the man stated he had done. Jesus responded, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." The young man became sad and was unwilling to do this. Jesus then spoke this response, leaving his disciples astonished.


A real TEST of faith then. Sell off everything you have, wait to die, and if you find yourself in heaven, you’re going straight to the front. Who about us is going to do that ? Not this man here, I can tell you, and probably neither will you. So, all of us to wait upon the mercy of God then. Why Jesus had to mention camels and needles is beyond this man – just causing confusement, is all.

3 April 2013 at 19:22  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Jesus was referring to the mega rich who can only acquire wealth by ruthless business practices and lack of principles.
Mammon has always ruled our world.
People prostrate themselves before those with power and money. They are bestowed with knighthoods and
other awards for their sins.
When people are poor they are forced to forge more meaningful relationships in the interest of survival. Our wealth has alienated us from each other brought us misery and mental health problems
that are unheard of in the third world.

4 April 2013 at 00:43  
Blogger Steropes said...

The Bible refers to rich men but never mentions how they or their families became wealthy in the first place. Just something I have always wondered about...

4 April 2013 at 11:17  
Blogger Mr Veale said...

Er...I thought his Easter message and Radio 4 "Thought" focused on the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. He used politics and economics to illustrate his points.

Preachers are still allowed to use illustrations, right?

4 April 2013 at 17:37  
Blogger len said...

Mammon is a spiritual force.

Drugs, prostitution,the modern slave trade,the arms industry, pornography,Corporate greed,
The list is endless and 'mammon' is the spiritual force which drives men to accumulate wealth regardless of the human misery caused by their lust.

4 April 2013 at 19:01  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Welby was on classic FM on Easter morning and managed to cite John 3:16.

He has the right stuff IMO.

4 April 2013 at 20:05  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older