Share

Doubting Durham

At the other end of the Christian landscape are those modern-day inheritors of the "re-examinations" of Jesus and the Bible in the 19th Century. There is a general term for these folk, ultra liberals, as in "liberated from the revealed truth of the Word of God and all that it implies".

I remember in my pre-Christian days chuckling at the burning of York Minster, the cathedral in the north of England. No, this was not born out of my negativity towards God, but, in fact, the opposite. Now I realise that it was one of the stepping stones that eventually led me to the feet of Jesus Christ. On July 9th 1984 the church was hit by lightning and the resultant blaze did enormous damage. This fact hit the headlines of the daily press in the UK because of one intriguing detail - just three days earlier David Jenkins had been consecrated in that very place as Bishop of Durham. And David Jenkins was the highest profile Anglican who was not afraid to admit that he did not believe in the virgin birth nor the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can imagine the newspaper headlines, the press had a field day! The conflagration and the consecration boomed The Times. The tabloids were a little more succinct.

Way to go! cried I at the time, on a search for the truth and mightily impressed at the idea of God - in this day and age - showing His displeasure. This is the kind of God I like! The shock I felt at the time that the Church of England dismissed the whole episode as a coincidence and that God doesn't do this sort of thing any more, is still with me. The Bishop of Durham stayed in the job for ten years, during which time he was one of the first to bless a gay civil partnership and managed to get himself banned from preaching in some churches, for swearing in a sermon. What a glowing witness!

Now I realise that that Doubting Durham was simply representing a form of Christianity that I wrote about a few articles back; those Christian rationalists who were happy to relegate God to some vague role at Creation. They may call themselves liberals, as if this is a label to be proud of, but in fact they are just modern-day Deists, inheritors of the Aristotelian tradition.

Many modern liberal Christians, whether they know it or not, follow the ideas of a German theologian, who lived at the start of the 20th Century. Adolph Harnack was canny enough to discern that Christian doctrine was thoroughly infected by Greek thought. His solution was to throw out the lot and concentrate on three selected aspects of Jesus's teaching. He stressed the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man and the value of the human soul. He desired to strip out the supernatural elements of Christianity, but emphasised what has become known as the "social gospel". It was man's reason put ahead of divine revelation. It was fed by new "advances" in science, particularly the theory of evolution that was now being used to prise God's fingers away from the only place the Deists found room for Him - the Creation.

This kind of liberal Christianity now has a firm foothold in the modern Christian mind, thanks to the rise of rationalism, the new religion in our secular humanist society. Scientific apologists, helped by our secularised educational system, make their views so attractive so... reasonable and it is a tragedy in today's Church that so many have just rolled over without a fight and allowed Aristotle to claim victory.

There must be another way. Yes, there is. Can true Biblical Christianity fight back? In the words of a very famous modern statesman, "yes we can!"

The fight back begins in the next part of our journey, but it's going to be messy! It is time for God to speak through His Word.

Steve Maltz
January 2014

(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book How the Church Lost the Truth: And How it Can Find it Again

You may also find the following interesting

Watch the above video by Steve Maltz - "Hebrew Roots - Bondage or freedom?".

Watch the above video by Steve Maltz - "Jesus from a Hebraic Perspective".

You may also like...

In the run up to Christmas the Durham University Christian Union... More

Do you reflect Jesus? More

When is a Christian not a Christian? More

Tourism in Durham City is set to benefit from a new Churches,... More