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I have done Archbishop Rowen Williams an injustice

Archbishop Rowen Williams has never heard of me and he never will. However, I now believe I have done him an injustice in various thoughts and comments. I am fully aware that most people on Samizdata are atheists – but you do not claim to be Christians, and I am saying that I have been unjust by assuming a man who said he was a Christian was lying (i.e. was a fraud).

Archbishop Williams is a social gospel man and I have assumed that, like most such folk, he is a disguised atheist – someone who when they use the word “God” really means “society” or “the people” (or whatever code word for the state). However, this was an assumption on my part – I never bothered to do any background research (exactly the sort of failure I attack in others – when they make statements about the “moderate” Barack Obama, or whatever, without spending five minutes doing any research).

Recently I came upon an exchange between Bishop Spong and Archbishop Williams which leads me to the opinion that I have been unjust to Rowen Williams. Although the source is Wikipedia I have spent enough time reading this thing to have a good sense of when articles are false and when they are true. Bishop Spong is the “Save the bible from fundamentalism” person (a favourite of certain liberal people I know in York) – and by “fundamentalist” he really means this word in its original sense, i.e. the “fundamentals” of Christianity such as the empty tomb (although, of course, he would be happy if innocent minded people just thought he meant stupid-southern-redneck-preacher by “fundamentalist”, which is the impression the media love to give). In any case Bishop Spong assumes that, being a social gospel person like himself, Rowen Williams also does not believe in the basic doctrines of Christianity (i.e. that, like Bishop Spong himself, he is using religion as a cover for the service of the collectivist cause).

So Bishop Spong was rather taken aback by Rowen Williams teaching the doctrine of the empty tomb, so shocked that he stated that of course Williams can not really believe in such doctrines (he must just be pretending in order to get along with the ignorant scum who make up most church goers) – but it is Rowen Williams’ reply that interests me.

Archbishop Williams replies that he is not pretending to believe in things in order to get along with ordinary people – he actually does believe in these doctrines, “I do not know how to convince him [Spong] that I do, but I do”.

Of course Kim Philby taught a course on anti-socialism in the service (i.e. what people say need not be what they believe) – but I believe what Williams says here (it rings true).

The importance of the “empty tomb” doctrine is a basic one.

Was Jesus just a great “philosopher” or a “teacher” – or was he supernatural?

Actually if one takes what Jesus says as applying to this world as a way of life then not only is he not “great”, his words make no sense. If one removes the religious (the supernatural) interpretation from such things as they toil not, neither do they spin – then one just has an arsehole (not too strong a word) advising people not to bother either working or planning for the future. Actually (or so Christians believe) Jesus is speaking theologically – i.e. that death is not the end and there is a future state (which we do not create – but will experience, due to the intervention of God). He is NOT saying do not work and do not plan for the future – he is saying that this world is not all there is. Much like the line of the rich man and eye of the needle is saying “you can not take it with you – remember that” (as a camel had to be unloaded before it could squeeze through the eye of the needle gate in the city of J.), not “rich men are EVIL because they are rich” (which is the sort of thing Bishop S. would want us to take from the line).

Now Jesus’ claim about a future state of existence may be false (from the atheist point of view it clearly is), but it is an understandable claim. Whereas if we do not see Jesus as speaking of heaven (my Kingdom is not of this world), but rather as laying out how people should live on Earth – well then his words are senseless and absurd.

That is the “interpretation” that “Jesus as great moral teacher” or “Jesus as philosopher” leads to – God or fool, Jesus is one or the other (NOT a “great moral teacher” or “philosopher”).

This is why such things as the empty tomb are so important (as Bishop S. knows well).

If the body of Jesus physically vanished (without being, for example, carried away by followers – or whatever) that is pointing us in the religious direction, rather than in the direction of “teacher”, “philosopher”, “hippie cult leader” and so on.

What I have done is make the same mistake (in reverse) as Bishop Spong.

I assumed that because Rowen Williams takes a certain political line (the “beardy lefty” line, as he said himself) he must be a fraud – he must be a fake Christian. Cong hiding behind a dog collar, trying to deceive people into taking the left hand path (in more ways that one).

I now believe that I was wrong – and because my judgement was based on prejudice (see above), not research, I was guilty of an injustice.

39 comments to I have done Archbishop Rowen Williams an injustice

  • Tony Trauring

    I enjoy reading your blog every day, just an American checking to see if there is any hope left in the UK. I am so impressed with your apology to Archbishop Williams! It is increasingly rare for anyone with a public forum (cough politicians cough) to acknowledge an error. Your honesty is inspirational. It is good that the Archbishop is an authentic Christian. It still is bad that he’s such a socialist twit.

  • Ian F4

    Williams is actually a real die hard Christian, but one who actually and really believes in the separation of church and state, to the extent that church should not be just an alternative state, he is quite anti institutionalist.

    The role of a shepherd is to herd sheep, not lead them, in the classic Christian mythology, this is his modus operandi,

    That’s the reason he appears as such a twit, an archetype of that third kind of man who has “greatness thrust upon him”, but his own personal views prevent him from taking the challenge or opportunity to any degree, he is living in a constant schism and as such is incompetent in what he can do.

    The “society god” principles are just manifestations of his traditional Christian belief that we are all responsible and we should work together not blindly follow some dork in a robe.

    I’ve always found Williams to be an interesting character, he occupies that uncomfortable middle ground between politician and theologian, but he got there from the other direction than most have.

  • Good on you, Paul. We need more of this sort of honorable behavior.

  • “Now Jesus’ claim about a future state of existence may be false (from the atheist point of view it clearly is), but it is an understandable claim.”
    Not understandable by me I’m afraid. Please elucidate.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    It says a lot for Paul Marks that he wrote this.

  • It says a lot against the world in which we live that what Paul wrote stands out.

    As someone mostly ignorant on things Christian, I would be very interested in a discussion on the actual subject matter. I already learned from Paul’s post some things I didn’t know, and that is the other thing that is most valuable about him and his writing.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Williams:

    Jesus taught that the indvidual could (by the intervention of God) survive physical death – that there was a soul that could (by the intervention of God) continue to be that person and would be embodied.

    In short that after death a person would wake up and recognise him or herself. That not only would death be no more – but that the decay of our bodies (and minds) in this world would be undone. We would no longer be senile (or whatever).

    Now all this may be totally false – it may be a false hope, but it is hardly impossible to “understand” the claim. Not agreeing with a claim is not the same as not understanding it. But then, I strongly suspect, you know that.

    To those who praise me for admitting to an injustice:

    Errrr – it would have been rather better had I not committed the injustice in the first place.

    By the way – the wikipedia source.

    It was the article on Rowen Williams that I read (not the article on Bishop Spong – a man whose works I am aware of).

    I did not make this clear.

  • it would have been rather better had I not committed the injustice in the first place

    And here I was thinking you were human?:-)

  • I wish more writers – not just bloggers – were as considerate and self-critical as you just were. Civility will do more to change the political debate than logical arguments, I imagine.

    On the substance of your piece – who really gives away everything except the shirt on his back to the poor? And if he did, would that necessarily be a good thing?

    Personally, as a “believing skeptic” I don’t have a problem with the miracles in Christianity. I have lots of doubts about the ethics it teaches. Your explanation of the “lilies in the field” went some way to assuaging some of them.

    Thank you.

    Lila Rajiva

  • Snag

    “I am fully aware that most people on Samizdata are atheists…”

    Most, probably, but certainly not all.

  • Nuke Gray

    Well, here is one blogger who is an esoteric Christian, and finds libertarianism compatable with Christianity! Jesus exhorted us to help the poor, but He never said we should force people to pay taxes to have state-funded charity! Our own conscience was supposed to prod us to do good things, to treat other people as we would like to be treated ourselves, if the positions were reversed. the parables are all about individuals doing good, or bad. Most Libertarians would support the ideal of purely voluntary action.

  • As one of the Christians on Samizdata, I’d have to say that was a good article Paul, and very fair.

    I’m not, I must confess, very impressed by Dr. Williams – see my thoughts on his recent sermon for the new Parliament here – but I don’t doubt that he is a sincere theist.

    A couple of minor points on the interpretation of the words of Jesus.

    1). “They toil not, neither do they spin.” (Matthew 6:28)

    Jesus does not actually instruct his disciples not to toil or spin. He instructs them not to be anxious. (Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. ) (Matthew 6:31-32.) Of course one of the reasons that his disciples are not to be anxious is, as you say, because this world is not all there is. But the more fundamental reason, in these verses, is because of the character of God. Jesus is saying that God does providentially care (in this world) for those who trust him.

    2. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25)

    This has nothing at all to do with a gate in the city of Jerusalem. This interpretation has been repeated endlessly, but is rejected by contemporary New Testament scholars (of every theological position). Rather, this a figure of speech (overstatement), as is explained in the following verse. (“With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”) The theological point is actually that it is spiritually dangerous to have wealth – not – “you can’t take it with you” – though Jesus implicitly makes that point when he says to the rich man (Mark 10:21) “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

  • Paul Marks

    Young Mr. Brown.

    On the first point – agreed.

    On the second point – I stand corrected.

  • Laird

    Young Mr. Brown, if your second point is correct (and I assume that it is; I am certainly no theologian or biblical scholar), than you have succeeded in removing one of the few redeeming points that I (apparently erroneously) thought contemporary Christianity possessed. I have no use for any doctrine which holds that the mere possession of material wealth is somehow “spiritually dangerous”. You can add that to “original sin” as being among the unforgiveable evils of the Christian religion.

  • Laird,

    I believe it is fairly uncontroversial to state that Jesus taught that material wealth was spiritually dangerous for Christians, since he did say to his disciples (Mark 10:23) ““How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!“”

  • Actually, both material wealth and the lack of it can be spiritually dangerous: being extremely poor can be very damaging to one’s spirituality, as it can become a distraction, just as excessive wealth can. I think the point is keeping the material world as a whole in perspective, no matter where you are on the scale between dirt poor and stinkin’ rich, and realizing that material things (as well as their absense) is not all there is to life.

  • Nuke Gray

    I am sure Alisa will correct me if I am wrong, but I think that whilst the Jewish sages discussed Original Sin, they rejected it because it contradicted the idea that we have free will- and they found evidence for this in God saying that man was evil from his youth up (Genesis chapter 8?). This implied that he was not born evil, or God would have said ‘born evil’. The implication seems to be that people pick up sins like they do physical illnesses, from other people. Yes, this does mean that sin can be overcome, through proper training and self-discipline (“Be Ye therefore perfect.”)
    Paul gave us this concept of Original sin, but he was wrong on lots of issues, and this is one of them. (Paul was wrong that Jesus would return very soon, and wrong about Abraham being astounded at being a father in his eighties and nineties- since Abraham’s father (Terah) was seventy before he had Abraham and Abraham’s brothers, Nahor and Haran!)
    Whilst Saint Paul was sincere, and right on many issues, like taking the gospel to the gentiles, he also deviated from rabbinic teachings.

  • Nuke, I don’t know about the Sages, but that is indeed what God says at the end of that chapter. That said, how did you get to discussing original sin?

  • Paul Marks

    Well of course the Christians believed that Jesus had already returned – in the sense of the Holy Spirit guiding the Church, that was believed from Pentecost onwards.

    Remember it is Christian doctrine that Jesus returned only three days after his death (that quick enough?) visited various people – and even allowed Thomas to examine him (as Thomas thought it might just be someone who looked like Jesus), and performed various supernatural acts.

    Now all of this could be nonsense – but it is what Christians believe (real Christians – not Spong or Jim Wallis types).

    However, eventually Ascension comes – yet soon after there is Pentecost.

    Again it could be nonsense – but it is not that Christians did not have a reply to those who asked “where is Jesus?” – the reply was “he is with us right now”. I know the Catholics are big on this “the Church is the spirit of Christ” stuff – but it is not just them, Christians generally in the Roman Empire did NOT feel cheated by Jesus not physically turning up (that was NOT how they understood what Paul was saying).

    Of course there is also the Christian doctrine of the end of the world and the return of Jesus (in the BODY) at that time – but opinions on the date of that always differed.

    Original sin – we all have a capacity to sin and (indeed) we all DO sin (there is a tendancy towards it because of the desires to do various bad things we have, desires born out of such things as greed and anger).

    As far as I know no books by Pelagius survive, but according to his followers even he accepted all this (and thus the need for divine grace for salvation) and the “neoPelagians” certainly did.

    The real conflict was between what became known as “monkey theology” and “kitten theology”.

    A baby monkey can not climb a tree – but the baby can REACH UP and then the mother of the monkey takes the hand (it does not matter if this true for a particular sort of monkey – this is about giving a word picture).

    However, a kitten just sits there – the mother has to come along and take him by the scruff of the neck.

    Predestination (Augustine and especially Calvin) is kitten theology.

    God comes along and saves people (they do nothing). Which people does he save?

    Well that was written in a book at the start of time – you can not get yourself in that book if your name was not already there (and so on).

    There is a way to reconcile predestination with moral responsbility (i.e. have a non Calvinist or non Islamic view of God – God who acts out of arbitrary WILL, POWER WITHOUT LAW), and no I am not going to go into Science Fiction outside-of-time stuff (although that might be true).

    That is to say that we are ALL predestined to be saved (God wants to save EVERYBODY) – but that some of us manage (by our own choice – are own actions) to get ourselves not saved.

    However, that drives a coach and horses through the Calvinist (ect) doctrine of the elect.

    The “spiritual danger of great wealth”.

    If people are not wealthy they are normally MORE obsessed with money (with HOW AM I GOING TO AFFORD TO LIVE AND LOOK AFTER MY KIDS) than people who have lots of money (and, therefore, do not need to worry about such things).

    So it is hard to see what this idea is based on – but I will try.

    It is the case that very rich people tend to have an inflated sense of their own importance – as if one should take their opinions as one takes their cheques.

    I have noticed that most billionaries (which is what “very rich” means in the modern world) when interviewed tend to talk utter nonsense.

    Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Soros, (and so on) I have never heard these men say a sensible thing about any subject – yet their words are heard in hushed silence (which can not be good for these men).

    I suppose it would take some courage to say “Mr….. if you wish to explain how to make money please do so, as you are clearly knowledgable about that, but please refrain from talking about economics (NOT the same thing as business), or politics, or history, or literature or…….

    Because, frankly Sir, you talk a lot of utter crap when you get on to any other subject than making money”.

    I suspect this would not go down well (even though it is true), and there might well be negative commercial consequences for a print publication or broadcaster whose interviewer spoke in this way.

    However, this is hardly automatic – not every billionaire is a George Soros type.

    What about people like Jon Huntsman? (and many others).

    “But Paul the idea is spiritual DANGER not an automatic fall”.

    Well one could also talk about the spiritual danger of poverty (as Alisa) did – or the spiritual danger of being ordinary (of everyday worries).

    Some people are good and some people are bad – whether they are poor, rich, or in between.

  • Nuke:

    Paul gave us this concept of Original sin

    Well, if he did, he got a good deal of assistance from David (1000 years earlier) in Psalm 51:5 – “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”


    (Paul Marks, that is – not the Paul that gave Nuke original sin!)

    real Christians – not Spong or Jim Wallis types

    I believe that you might be doing Jim Wallis an injustice. Wallis may be a socialist, but he is traditional in his theology – more so than the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • Paul Marks

    Young Mr. Brown.

    What you say is quite possible – after all I have never read the works Jim Wallis, or talked with him.

    All I have to go on is his statements about Marxism (the admission of being a Marxist – without any clear statement about when and how he later REJECTED the BASIC DOCTINES of this faith, for it is a religion) – and his nasty campaign against Glenn Beck.

    Beck does make mistakes (for example confusing 12ers and Hasteners in Shia Islam – all Hasteners are indeed 12ers, but not all 12ers are Hasteners), but he has not said the things that the Jim Wallis boycott campaign claims (I know that because I have followed Glenn’s work for years).

    The whole boycott campaign organized by Jim Wallis is based on bearing “false witness against thy neighbour” I believe that to be a direct violation of tradtional religion (although it is in accord with the practice of Marxism). I do not think that Rowen Williams would encourage people not to watch a show because he did not agree with the politics of the person on the show – still less that he would lie about that person in order to discredit him in eyes of Christians.

    As for the “Social Justice” thing – there are two parts here.

    The political philosophy part – here I agree with the arguments in the second volume of Hayek’s “Law, Legislation and Liberty” namely “The Mirage of Social Justice”.

    And I agree with my old friend Antony Flew’s “Equality in Liberty and Justice”.

    However, it can be summed up by the lines in Oakshott’s “On Human Conduct”.

    “And there is, of course, no place in civil association for so called “distributive” justice; that is, the distribution of desirable substantive goods. Such a “distribution” of substantive benefits or advantages requries a rule of distribution and a distributor in possession of what is to be distributed; but lex [Oakeshott uses the Latin word for law – because the word “law” in Englsh has become debased to mean any command of the ruler or rulers] cannot be a rule of distribution of this sort, and civil rulers have nothing to distribute”.

    However, there is also the THEOLOGICAL side.

    It is clearly part of Jim Wallis theology that FORCE (government) should be used to take income and wealth from some people so they may be given to others.

    This is not just a political view he happens to hold – it is WHAT HE HOLDS TO BE WHAT THE BIBLE IS ABOUT.

    This I have seen him quoted as saying – indeed I have seen video of him saying that this is the message of both the Old and New Testaments.

    This redefintion of the Christian virtue of charity into one of FORCED (by VIOLENCE) “social justice” is not “traditional theology” in fact it turns traditional theology on its head.

    Jesus did not come to Earth to be a ruler with forced “distribution”, a police, and all the rest of it.

    This is what the Devil offered him (all the Kingdoms of the World) and he REJECTED it.

    I repeat that I have seen Jim Wallis say that this is the basic message of the Bible – that this is what it is about.

    I.E. that his religion is about building his version of heaven on Earth, and using force (government) to do it.

    This turns Christianity on its head.

  • Whatever Jesus said, or didn’t say, it’s incorrect to extrapolate from his particular teaching to particular people to any ideology that applies across the board.

    When asked specifically about a division of property between relatives, he said something to the effect that he didn’t know and he wasn’t an expert on the subject..

    He was a poet and he spoke in parables and metaphors, in hyperbole…

    He was also a human being and sometimes he was petulant (cursing the fig tree) and plaintive (complaining about not being thanked). And brusque (dismissing his mother and brothers).

    Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis” describes a Jesus that to my ears sounds much more accurate than that of the theologians.

  • John B

    It is simply about a relationship with God. Jesus said there is no way you can actually have a relationship with God other than through Himself. He is God. We are born separated from God. Through Him we can have peace and a whole relationship with God.
    Many other things come in the living of it, by the principle, as always, is simple.
    It is reality. Power here and now actioned by Him. (Not me, not any person which is where crusaders went wrong besides being overtly political.)
    It is simply reality. About reality.
    I suspect the Archbishop would find all that too radical and uncompromising.

    I Cor 4: 20 – For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

  • Paul,

    I’m interested in your statements about Jim Wallis, and would appreciate it if you could point me to your sources. I confess to not really keeping up with Wallis, and am not in the habit of reading his writings.

    As evidence for his orthodoxy, (or at least his desire to be considered orthodox!) I submit the following quotation from a 2008 interview in Christianity Today:

    But there has never been a doubt that I am an evangelical. In fact, the Sojourners community had its fatal split many years ago when a number of people in the community, including some of my fellow elders, really wanted to change our theological orthodoxy and were attracted to people like Matthew Fox, the creation spirituality theologian. And I just said, “Matthew Fox is a heretic, and we’re committed to the central lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Scriptures.”
    And they said, “Well, we’re not. Not all of us.”
    I said, “Well, Sojourners is. Even if you’re not, Sojourners is and it’s going to remain that way.” I was accused of hierarchy and patriarchy, they quit, and we split. And that was the end of the residential community in some ways. But I took a stand, as I always did, for orthodoxy.

    While Wallis may, in some respects, not be traditional in his beliefs, I would submit that he is a far cry from John Shelby Spong. But I’m open to being proved wrong.

  • Lila,

    He was also a human being and sometimes he was petulant (cursing the fig tree) and plaintive (complaining about not being thanked). And brusque (dismissing his mother and brothers).”

    Brusque I’m willing to accept. Though I think “plain speaking” is more accurate. With regard to the other two references, I think that you have misunderstood the passages concerned.

  • Nuke Gray

    Alisa, I was commenting on a claim by Laird, at the end of one of his articles, that original sin was a horrendous crime, or some such claim.

  • Nuke Gray

    If you think that David believed in Original sin, young Mr. Brown, what do you make of Psalm 2, verse 7?
    “I will declare the decree. the Lord has said to me, ‘You are my son- this day have I begotten you'”
    Who is this holy son? It can’t be Israel, or the psalmist would have said ‘to us’, and ‘my sons’. Is it David? If it is, would god have said this to such a sinner?
    Or is it Asaf, the chief psalmist of that age? Is this a coded message that Asaf is the Son of God, the heir to the throne of David?
    Or should we ignore psalms when theologising?

  • Thanks Nuke, I seem to have missed that. Now I have to go back and see how did Laird get to discuss original sin…

  • John B

    The only person born without sin (separation from God) was/is Jesus. He took sin on Himself, separated (“why hast thou forsaken me?”) from God, He died, but death, the result of sin, could not hold Him.
    He has established the bridge into heaven. He is that bridge.

  • Paul Marks

    Young. Mr Brown – I have seen the video (in fact more than one film) of Jim Wallis saying that social justice (which he defines as I indicate above) is what the Bible is about.

    Not life after death – social justice, defined as the use of force (or the threat of it) to distribute goods.

    Now it is quite true that I watched the film on the Glenn Beck show – but had he faked the film (I do know that one can do all sorts of things with modern technology) OR taken words out of context, I am sure that Jim Wallis and his powerful friends (he is the “spiritual adviser on political matters”, an odd position in its self, for the President of the United States) would have had their supporters point this out.

    Yet in all their attacks on Glenn Beck (mostly for things he has never said – which, as I have pointed out, violates the Commandment) they have not claimed that the films were faked – or shown a different context that changes the meaning of the words spoken.

    As for the quotation you give – sadly it is a very “inside baseball” one, it is about “we did not follow this guy” not “Jesus offers life after to death to individuals” or any other fundemental doctrine of Christianity.

    The central message of Christianity is the empty tomb – that Jesus rose from the death, in a literal way (not “in a very real sense” or whatever), not “social justice”.

    And the Christian virtue of charity is not about using violence (or the threat of it) anyway – “forced charity” is a contradiction, it is no virtue at all.

    Actually I think you could find better quotations from Jim Wallis – even if he does not believe what he is saying any more.

    After all – it is standard move by social gospel (or liberation theology) people to cite orthordox doctrines (if challenged), but not to make them the central part of their teaching. Indeed they are taught to cite Christian doctrines (if their position is under threat).

    I must stress that this does not mean that a socialist can not be a Christian – quite the contrary.

    But Christianity and socialism are different things.

    A socialist Christian would say “I am a Christian – who also happens to believe in social justice defined as the collective owning income and wealth and distributing them in a way that I think correct”.

    Not – the central message of the Bible is social justice (defined as above).

    “Paul, you have made my task impossible – as even if I quote orthodox doctrine from Jom Wallis you have just implied you will not believe him”.

    Not impossible no – for it is a matter of time and energy.

    How much of his time does Jim Wallis (a minister after all) spend spreading the good news of the empty tomb and individuial life after death, and how much of his ENERGY does he put into that?

    And how much of his time and energy does he put into his “social justice” mission?

    On which does he concentrate?

    And remember by “social justice” he is NOT really talking about changing the hearts of people.

    We are not talking about getting rich men (such as Joe Biden – a rich man who has given virtually nothing to poor over the years, or Barack Obama himself before he ran for President – who has a record similar to Vice President Biden) to be more like (for example) Jon Huntsman.

    We are talking about POLITICS – Jim Wallis does not define social justice as individuals having a change of heart and practicing the virtue of charity, he defines social justice as different political policies (using the the threat of violence to do things that he wishes to do).

    By the way with my examples of Joe Biden and Barack Obama – I fully accept that their are conservatives who do not have a good record on the virtue of charity either.

    But, I repeat, this is not the primary concern of Jim Wallis.

    I some ways it is like Father Coughlin.

    In the 1920’s Father Coughlin was a good man – now those words will be thrown (out of context) in my face “Paul Marks says Fascist Father Coughlin was a good man”, but there we go.

    Not only (in the 1920’s) was Father Coughlin quite orthodox in his theology (as far as I know) – he also said decent things about other matters (yes on his radio show).

    He said that parents should love their children and treat them well, he said that children should love and respect their parents.

    In politics Father Coughlin denounced the crimes of the KKK (he really did – and not just because they were anit Catholic). And so on.

    But the Great Depression changed him – his radio show became more and more about politics, and NOT how people in politics should still respect the rules of decent behaviour (a legitimate thing for a priest to say) NO – it was about what policies should be followed.

    Contrary to the myth (the LIE actually) spread by the education system and the “mainstream” media, Father Coughlin politics were not of the right – they were of the left. First he denounced businessmen and supported F.D.R. – then he started to attack F.D.R. as NOT RADICAL ENOUGH. Father Coughlin demanded an end to “capitalism” (i.e. free enterprise) entirely – he wanted a nonMarxist socialism (similar to the more extreme definitions of Fascism). This is what his publication, “Social Justice”, came to be about.

    But it would not matter if the folk of the education system and the msm were telling the truth about Father Coughlin (although it is bad that they lie about him) – what matters is that he became a politician pretending, perhaps even to himself, to be a priest (he “lost the meaning” as the saying goes).

    Did he formally ever break with orthodox doctrine – I do not think so, but it became less and less important to him.

    He stoped being in the “business” of saving souls – and moved to the activity of coercing bodies (or calling for other people to use force and fear).

    What the Great Depression did to Father Coughlin I think that “education” did to Jim Wallis.

    Remember – the Rev. J. Wright was a good man (and the son of a good man) before he went to college. Only after he went there did he become an anti American, hate filled person – filled with “black liberation theology” (which is not really theology at all) rather than Christianity. The corruption (such as them vast sums of money from Shore Bank) came later still – at first Rev. Wright was an honest man.

    Is there a way back for people like J. Wright and Jim Wallis – I have to believe there is. But they first must accept (in their own minds and hearts) that they have a problem.

  • Nuke,

    No, I don’t believe that we should ignore the sins when theologising.

    I take it that the Holy Son of Psalm 2:7 is the LORD’s Annointed – with a capital A – i.e. the divine Messiah.

    And, being a fairly traditional sort of Christian, I agree with John B’s statement that Jesus Christ was the only person born without (original) sin.

    But I’m not quite sure what Psalm 2:7 has to do with the doctrine of original sin.

  • Paul,

    Thanks for that.

    I take your point. And I must admit that my inclination is to agree with you that Jim Wallis has, at least to some extent, departed from the Christianity of the apostles.

    Likewise, I have no quarrel with the view that it is possible to cease to be a Christian (or at least an orthodox one) without denying a single doctrine.

    And I will admit that when I looked for evidence on the internet to show that Jim Wallis was an “evangelical Christian” (as that phrase has been historically understood), I found it difficult to find much. (Yes, he is always described as an “evangelical” but I want to know if it is just a label he likes, or whether there is more to it.) The Sojourners Website certainly didn’t help.

    It’s just that I would have liked to see the words of Jim Wallis in writing – or hear them from his own lips.


    When I wrote “No, I don’t believe that we should ignore the sins when theologising,” I, of course meant “No, I don’t believe that we should ignore the psalms when theologising. ”

    Oh dear.

  • Nuke Gray

    Young Mr. Brown, Since you seemed to be theologizing from psalms, I just thought I’d see if you could explain that one to me. If it is more than just poetry, then God seems to be saying that the annointed one has just been created! Or is this a worthy human who has earned the right to be called a son of God? Neither of these seem acceptable to current Christian Theology.

  • Nuke Gray

    Alisa, comment #14 is by Laird, and the last sentence mentions O.S. as a crime.
    Young Mr. Brown, Whilst the Jewish sages respected the Psalms, they drew major lessons from the first five books of the Hebrew Testaments, called the Pentateuch, or the Books of Moses. Thus the statement said about mankind at the end of chapter 8 in Genesis, which I already quoted, would outweigh statements outside the Books of Moses.

  • Nuke Gray

    John B., a question for you. Was/is Jesus a part of God? Paul tells us in 1 timothy chapter 2, verse 5, that there is one God, and one mediator between men and God, the man Jesus. This seems to say that Jesus is not a part of God, which would fit in with what Jesus said (“No man knows the time, only the Father who is in Heaven knows.”, etc.)

  • Nuke

    I take your point about view that the Jewish sages considering the Pentateuch to be more important for theologising than the Psalms. (I would tend to question their reading of Genesis 8:21, but I don’t imagine they’d be interested in my opinion!)

    Re Ps 2, I take it that you are referring to the word ‘today’ (or ‘this day’) in verse 7. I think that this would usually be taken by Christians as poetic language – i.e. it is using the language of an imaginary coronation ceremony which takes place in the eternity before time began. The phrase is quoted in Hebrews 1:5, and there it appears to be understood in that way, since Hebrews 1:2 says that God created the world through this same anointed Son.

  • p.s. Please ignore the words “about view” in the first sentence of my post.

    (As I’ve been saying to myself for years, “I must proof read my posts more thoroughly before posting.”)

  • John B

    Nuke, Jesus is God who became man, took on mortality, ie, died, but being perfect could not stay dead.
    Jesus is God who was willing to take on the requirements to reconcile us with Himself. He took on that mortality, died, and lived. That is God’s gift to us.
    Anyone who accepts the way made open into eternity, into the presence of God, made available by the Lord Jesus, has free access to God.

    However, for personal experience (reality), I very much prefer to get away from words and to rather invite reality. Ask Jesus to speak to you personally and explain Himself to you, and see what happens?

  • Paul Marks

    Young Mr. Brown

    The films still exist.

    And they were broadcast – so it should not be a matter of paying money to get on “Insider Extreme” on Glenbeck.com to see them.

    They should be floating about on the internet – for anyone to see.

    If I was not so useless and ignorant about the internet I would suggest where you could go to see what I have already seen.

    As for whether Jim Wallis believes in the Empty Tomb (and so on). I do no know whether he does any more or not – but certainly he does not spend much of his time on Christianity (he spends his time on his political version of social justice).

    “Neither do many of us Paul” – yes, but Jim Wallis is supposed to be a minister.