Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jeffrey John's Theology: A Scandal for the Church of England

I blogged about the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury allowed Dr. Jeffrey John's name to be on a shortlist for the open bishop of Southwark position. Well, it seems that now Jonathan Wynne-Jones is reporting that John did not get the position. (Thanks be to God!)

It appears that Wynne-Jones has an inside contact in the search committee and, as usual, liberal churchmen and liberal reporters are working together to further the liberal agenda in the Church. The story he ran the other day was transparently designed to put pressure on Williams to push John's case on the committee. (The Archbishop of Canterbury is one of 14 members of the committee.) Wynne-Jones is obviously livid that John didn't get the job and is taking it out on the hapless Archbishop of Canterbury, who comes out of this looking like his only goal is to make nobody happy and ensure that the breakup of the Communion happens slowly.

However, John's homosexuality is not the only problem with his fitness to be a bishop of Christ's Church. David Virtue reports that his theology of the cross, which is surely the center of Christian faith, is heretical as well.
Friends of Southwark wannabe bishop Jeffrey John, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and Canon Giles Fraser who tout him as a fine theologian, well trained and with all the right credentials for the job, should think twice, perhaps three times before recommending him for the job. It is not just his homosexuality they should worry about; it's his theology.

In 2007 at an Easter service, he delivered the view that Christ did not die for our sins. He went on to say that the Church's traditional teaching of Christ's crucifixion is "repulsive" and "insane".

The Very Rev. Jeffrey John, who had to withdraw before taking up an appointment as bishop of Reading in 2003 after it emerged he was in a long-term homosexual relationship, said clergy who preach at Easter that Christ was sent to earth to die in atonement for all the sins of mankind are "making God sound like a psychopath".

John went on to urge a revision of the traditional explanation, known as "penal substitution".

Christian theology has taught that because humans have sinned, God sent Christ as a substitute to suffer and die in our place.

"In other words, Jesus took the rap and we got forgiven as long as we said we believed in him," said John. "This is repulsive as well as nonsensical. It makes God sound like a psychopath. If a human behaved like this, we'd say that they were a monster." The Dean went on to offer an alternative interpretation, suggesting that Christ was crucified so he could "share in the worst of grief and suffering that life can throw at us".

The Rt. Rev. Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, accused John of attacking the fundamental message of the Gospel. Other church figures have also expressed dismay at his comments, which they have condemned as a "deliberate perversion of the Bible".

"He is denying the way in which we understand Christ's sacrifice. It is right to stress that He is a God of love, but he is ignoring that this means He must also be angry at everything that distorts human life," Wright said.

Bishop Wright criticized the BBC for allowing such a prominent slot to be given to such a provocative argument. "I'm fed up with the BBC for choosing to give privilege to these unfortunate views in Holy Week," he said. Wright went on to say that John caricatured the cross.

And this is the man who is on a short list of candidates to become the next Bishop of Southwark, an ultra liberal diocese not unlike the Episcopal dioceses of Los Angeles, CA or Newark, NJ in the United States.
Read the whole story to get further insight into the character of this man. The real scandal here is that a man who teaches that the Bible is wrong and outdated on serious issues like sexual ethics and the atonement would even be considered, let alone shortlisted, for a post as chief teacher and guardian of orthodoxy of a diocese. The Church of England is in bad shape when this sort of travesty takes place. We expect this sort of nonsense from the post-Christian Episcopal Church; is this a sign of how far the Church of England has fallen?

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