David Jenkins

I was sorry to hear of the death of the former Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins. He has for years been one of the two Anglican bishops I cite as evidence for the fact that I might be able to call myself an Anglican (the other being John Shelby Spong), and was certainly an influence on me deciding that, of the available churches (which locally to me is a very restricted set) I should situate myself in Anglicanism.

My reasoning was that if these two distinguished and extremely controversial theologians could be Anglican bishops, the denomination should be able to accommodate someone with my theological ideas. As per my immediate previous post, Anglicanism is where I’m located at the moment, though I’m now in a fairly conventional congregation in which I don’t have the opportunity to talk radical or progressive theology significantly – in my previous much larger evangelical congregation, there was for a while scope for that (although almost entirely within the framework of Alpha discussions).

The radical and the progressive has to happen online – which is fine, but it lacks something which physical proximity brings, even with the aid of Google hangouts or Skype.

I should also mention another, rather lower ranking Anglican clergyman who was an influence, the late Canon John Kent, who was vicar at Selby in my teens. He notoriously preached on “God is Dead”, referencing Niezsche and Altizer, not just in a normal sermon but in one which was transmitted by the BBC nationwide. As usual with such things, it was the title rather than the content which attracted all the scandalised protests – his actual conclusion was that God was, in at least some sense, very much alive and living with us – but the whole thing was a huge encouragement to the teenage Chris – who was probably even more sceptical than I am now!

In passing, I’ve found another excellent article which focuses on the original cause of the Jenkins controversy. I’m pleased to see someone significantly more conservative than I am myself arguing that a “conjuring trick with bones” is not what we should read from the resurrection. OK, the author seems to think that there was something actually physical in at least some of the resurrection viewings (and I don’t) but the point remains the same.

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