Welby and Sentamu: a masterclass in moral relativism

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Well, folks – especially we Anglicans – isn’t it great to know that in a time of national crisis, we can rely on the leaders of our Church to speak out the truth? To point people in the direction of faith in Jesus?  To tell people how to get themselves under the protection of God and to know His love and peace in a time of fear? Is this too much to ask?

Apparently so.

Our great leaders, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, have indeed spoken. In the Daily Mail, no less. Have they told it like it is? Explained that if you are a Christian – accepted Jesus as the Saviour and repented of your sins – you don’t need to fear death? Have they explained that God’s peace and wisdom are for His children and for those who come to Him seeking redemption? That these blessings don’t just automatically apply themselves to all people just because they are in a mess?

That God’s protection and guidance are there for those who know Him through Jesus? That following the way of life explained by Jesus is the only way to peace and real help? That the only true source of unfailing hope available to us is in God? That amongst all of today’s versions of the truth, there is only one that works?

Er….not quite.

In today’s piece in the Mail, while the nation is in the grip of coronavirus fear, they actually ask:

How do we find hope in these difficult circumstances?

That would be the Bible, right? Turning to God for help. And getting into the fellowship that comes from being in the family of God.  And getting the help of God Himself. Yes?

Er….not quite:

Hope comes both from what we can do and who we are.

Ok……that’s a novel approach.  What about getting ourselves into a place where we know we are protected by God?

We are best protected with honesty, compassion and care.

Er, right…..   Looking to the Bible for hope and courage in God?

We can find hope and courage in the goodly and wholesome spirit that is in so many ways common to all human beings, whether they are people of faith or none.

Ever heard of ‘when in a hole, stop digging’?

What about those readers looking for truth and hope in a frightening situation?

With the gift of truth and hope, we can care for one another lovingly, using words if not touch because of self-isolation.

Not quite what John Wesley or Charles Spurgeon would have come up with, is it? Let’s just ‘unpack’ some of this garbage.

The archbishops seem keen to promote the value of truth. But which truth is that, exactly? We have quite a range to choose from these days. Eco-truth, gender-truth, politics-truth, hate-truth….and those are just for starters. Any word on the truth? The Way, the Truth and the Life? Nope?

What about the human ability to offer care, compassion and honesty reliably? History has shown us how effective those are in a crisis, right? And honesty? How is honesty going to help against coronavirus?

Last week, we were exposed to the ‘wisdom’ of the Duchess of Sussex – another person pontificating down to the masses from a high and protected place – as she blessed the students at a school in Dagenham:

‘So I just encourage and empower each of you to really stand in your truth, to stand for what is right, to continue to respect each other.’

Can someone please tell me what exactly is the difference between the ‘wisdom’ spoken by the meal-ticket Duchess and the so-called Shepherds of the Church of England?

According to Welby and Sentamu, hope is now a human construct – it’s what we do and what we are.

Our best protection is our own fleeting and failing behaviours and motivations.

Our hope and courage can be found in the goodly and wholesome spirit we all apparently have within us.

That’ll be the same goodly and wholesome spirit that makes us all capable of killing, lying and stealing, presumably. Anyone care to say what motivates the swing between those aspects of our goodly and wholesome spirit and ‘honesty, compassion and care’? How exactly is this human goodly and wholesome spirit supposed to offer comfort, truth and hope when it is so unreliable?

Despite this inconvenient point, the archbishops keep digging. According to them, this ‘gift of truth and hope’ seemingly emerges fully formed from human emotions and impulses and is the answer for us all in this time of crisis.

They go on to tell us to pray.  Fine.  I agree.  But having read what they said first, many readers must wonder why they should bother.  If humanity already has the answers, what is the point?

And this is the combined wisdom and advice of the two leaders of the national Church?

Is it too much to ask that they might consider referring us to the Bible? To the words of Jesus? To God?

What does the Bible have to say about truth, hope and the human condition?  Let’s see:

We’re human – we fail. Without a relationship with God through Jesus, we’re lost. Both in this world and the next.

Human nature can’t solve anything because it is unreliable and tends towards the bad rather than the good.

Human truth is actually whatever anyone says it is.

Human hope is no hope at all because in most cases we can’t guarantee anything as we are not all-powerful.

Human courage is weak and fails because on its own it has no foundation.

Human care and ‘love’ are fallible and fail regularly. Self-interest typically wins in times of crisis.

All of these points are made in the Bible.

If Welby and Sentamu had any real ‘honesty, compassion and care’ for people, they would use every opportunity in this crisis to tell the nation exactly how they can find real and reliable truth, hope, courage and love:  in God through Jesus. Not the Bishop Curry kind of love that comes from weak and fallen humans, but the God-kind of love that actually lasts and works for our good.

Back in December 1939 when our country faced the fears and unknowns of war against Germany, George VI quoted from a poem in his Christmas broadcast:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

That’s real Christian leadership – from our Queen’s father.  Don’t rely on yourself or others, turn to God.  The poem is not from the Bible, but it’s a great bit of advice. Better by far than the wishy washy ‘woke’ claptrap emanating from our archbishops. Do they have any love for those they could help? If they did, they would tell them the truth. But as it is, they are more concerned with not offending anyone with the real truth than with actually telling it and showing real love.  They are thus exposed for what they are: a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal.

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