Sunday, August 28, 2005

A small taste of an Archbishop

I have a friend that, though an Evangelical, really likes to read Rowan Williams (the Archbishop of Canterbury) he said I should read his response to some theses dreamt up by the infamous Bishop Spong (sounds like a supervillan doesn't it), though I do not know why. Archbishop Williams, like many theologians I infrequently read, seems often be playing a different game with different rules and different conventions when doing theology to what I recognise. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed some bits of his response and thought I would reproduce them for your reading pleasure:

Perhaps the underlying theme in all this is that if you don't believe in a God totally involved in and totally different from the universe, it's harder to see the universe as gift; harder to be open to whatever sense of utter unexpectedness about the life and death of Jesus made stories of pregnant virgins and empty tombs perfectly intelligible; harder to grasp why people thank God in respect of prayers answered and unanswered....

The cross as sacrifice? God knows, there are barbaric ways of putting this; but as a complex and apparently inescapable metaphor (which, in the Bible, is about far more than propitiation) it has always said something sobering about the fact that human liberation doesn't come cheap, that the degree of human self-delusion is so colossal as to involve 'some total gain or loss' (in the words of Auden's poem about Bonhoeffer) in the task of overcoming it. And that human beings compulsively deceive themselves about who and what they are is a belief to which Darwinism is completely immaterial....

But then we discover in Spong's theses that there is, after all, a non-negotiable principle, based upon the image of God in human beings. Admirable; but what does it mean in Spong's theological world? What is the image of a 'non-theistic' God? And where, for goodness' sake, does he derive this belief about humans? It is neither scientific nor obvious.

It is, in fact, what we used to call a dogma of revealed religion. It is a painful example of the sheerly sentimental use of phraseology whose rationale depends upon a theology that is being overtly rejected. What can it be more than a rather unfairly freighted and emotive substitute for some kind of bland egalitarianism - bland because ungrounded and therefore desperately vulnerable to corruption, or defeat at the hands of a more robust ideology? It is impossible to think too often of the collapse of liberalism in 1930s Germany.

1 Comments:

At 8:19 am, Blogger Alastair said...

Good quote.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home