I’m a bit rushed, but Bishop Alan Wilson (the original and best blogging bishop) has posted some excellent stuff in the last week or so. I just want to link them so they get a (hopefully) wider audience:
On Good Friday as well as quoting a poem he posed some questions about how we think of the Jesus who was crucified.
On Saturday he reviewed Philip Pullman’s new book under the title The Goodman Philip and the Scoundrel Pullman? In this post he takes seriously Pullman’s challenge to the institutional Church, but refuses to let the writer get away with easy correlations – commenting up as follows:
This is, culturally, a rather “C of E” style of ecclesiology. The Church is anything but perfect, but always in need of necessary reformation. This comes from its interaction with the society it serves, not some infallible magisterium. Its teaching is found to be authoritative insofar as it is authentic and recognizably transmits the story and values of Jesus as fully as possible. The Church is authentic insofar as it allows its every activity to be judged by the Carpenter of Nazareth. Infallibilism, along with other fundamentalisms, neutralizes this discipline to vanishing point, weakens accountability, and thus becomes compelling but dangerous fantasy — a mere playing at Church-by-numbers.
Then on Monday he posted a wonderful reflection on what needs to be termed ‘Dead Horse Theology‘ – bringing together questions about the institution of the Church in the light of Easter and the real Jesus for whom Pullman is waving a flag.
Today he has gone further and quoted chunks of the conversation on Start the Week between Pullman, the Archbishop of Canterbury, David Baddiel and Mona Siddiqui. Holding it up as a great example of intelligent discussion, he picks up the particular question of how the Jesus of the ‘Story’ can survive the ‘institution’ – precisely the point Pullman is questioning in his new book. He concludes:
The measure of its success is not that it swells into a mighty institutional empire, but that it is still possible, even after all the refractive and corrupting influence of the human beings who make up the transmission chain, to distinguish Jesus’ message from its original context, and to attempt to live it in another. The story continues to judge the medium through which it is transmitted. This is the key insight of the Reformation, and the essence a Reformed Catholic Church, to hold that the Church is always accountable to the Word and its original founder.
I make no further comment other than to commend these posts for your perusal.