Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dodgy Liberal Theology of Anglican Priest Jeffrey John

I have just read, on another blog I sometimes read (by a liberal-ish Anglican Priest), an article about the Sermon that was aired on BBC Radio 4 by Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans. You can read his sermon here. The Telegraph ran an article commenting on it. Of course there is spin on the reporting but it makes good reading.

Now I am not a Biblical Scholar but I do read the scriptures. I know Liberal Theologians have very different understandings of the Bible but this interpretation is simply not correct. In my view it is only half right. It sounds to me like a man trying to have a rather fluffy view of the Love of God and forgetting the other totally Biblical attributes of God such as Justice and Holiness. The evangelical view is not '...Jesus reconciling an angry God to us'. It is Jesus reconciling us to not an angry God, but a Just, Holy and Loving God. He seems to think that God demanding Justice for our sins somehow overshadows His great Love and makes him angry. Father issues anyone? Though him being originally from a Welsh Calvinist church I can understand where he would have picked up such views, however inaccurate.

Sorry Mr John, 'penal substitution' is biblical, Christ did bear the right and just punishment for our sins on the cross, that is death! However by being raised again He overcame death and therefore we can live under Grace and do not have to face that same punishment if we believe in Christ as our Saviour. If he didn't pay the price for our sins then He didn't save us from anything, He merely shared our suffering. Mr John seems to not have read the old testament law nor understand Christ's fulfillment of that same law.

How sad such a prominent man in the Anglican church doesn't understand the Gospel he is supposed to be a minister for. Sounds more like a belief that allows him, in his own head, peace with God for his own sin without facing the absolute Holiness demanded by God and the consequences for not measuring up. No wonder the Anglican church has lost its way so much with views like this. If there is no punishment for sin there is no moral absolutes. You cannot pick and choose the bits of the Bible or the characteristics of God you like.

I just want to make it clear I do not tar the whole Anglican church with the same brush and am fully aware there are many clergy who hold to a more conservative view of scripture and hold the teachings of the Bible in the highest regard. Hats off to you for standing up for biblical truth and the authority of scripture and not watering down the message of the Gospel in the face of wishy washy liberal interpretations.


Unknown said...

Do feel like sometime you must real say something but dun want to end up judging someone else? The verse... "Do not judge or you will be judge. For in the same manner you judged, you will be judged." ... How can we bring up our point of view and not being critical at the same time anyway? Sigh....

Andrew said...

Hello to you.

I am not judging on my own views but those of the Bible, the inerrant word of God. If you can defend Jeffrey John's view with scripture or that of your own, whatever that may be, then please go ahead. I am very happy to debate different points of view regarding interpretations of scripture.

I do not think I was being judgmental at all, I certainly don't wish to be. However I cannot possibly see how his view is biblically correct.

Those verses you quote must be taken in context and it is perfectly biblically acceptable to point out apparent error in another 'Christians' views.

Nick Payne said...

Jesus was condmening people's judgement of people... not ideas or theology.

If you believe someone is in error, you should tell them it is so... if they refuse to accept what you are saying, that is their choice... and ultimately their responsibility.

Our responsibility is to speak the truth without condemning the person.

Alastair said...

Appreciate the response, I don't feel condemned, and am happy to debate the issue! Not sure I would call myself a liberal per se but if we need labels then please do give me one. I would usually call myself an evangelical, but not conservative!

I'm not deadening the impact of sin, or refuting the fact that Jesus paid the price of sin, nor do i think Jeffrey John does. I just don't see (Biblically) why it has to be for the satisfaction of an angry God.

This is not to deny that Jesus bore our sins, nor the impact of evil, nor the power of sin and death, but it does offer a biblical alternative - where Jesus suffered and died in our place, not to placate a wrathful father (with God punishing his only son) but to bear the very real cost of sin for us.

For me, the wrathful father is a more of a biblical contradiction of 'God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them' (1 John 4.16). It causes me to as 'why does love demand someone be punished for sin?' St John continues 'There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love' (1 Jn 4.18)

Peace & love in Him


Andrew said...

I posted a response to Alastair's reply on his blog at the following link:

Nick Payne said...

The late Selwyn Hughes has published his views on why the cross had to be so violent at the end of the last edition of EDWJ