Calling of a cuckoo
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Date: 16 January, 2003


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'Therefore you’ve got different approaches. People are suffering different things and are very anxious about different things, but the West has no more right to lose its head than the South has to demand that everybody thinks like they do.'






 

There is much panic as the Anglican Communion faces schism, with provinces
cutting ties with each other, following the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson.

Bishop David Jenkins, not known for toeing the official Church line, explains to Charlotte Haines Lyon, why he is not too worried about the splits.

You have said that you “don’t care much about what happens to the Anglican Communion” can you explain a bit more?

In the more developed and possibly corrupt Western society, we now know the world is not a fixed thing laid down, dictated by God in the Bible. We know that it’s a whole long process of evolution and development.

We understand that homosexuality and heterosexuality are spread over a bell curve and some people are different and so on. This of course effects how you have the rules about sexuality.

If you are living next to Muslims in Nigeria, the way you have to try and work your way forward in Christian doings, with both the bible and
sexuality, is a much more cautious and difficult one than what the people in the West have faced up to.

Therefore you’ve got different approaches. People are suffering different things and are very anxious about different things, but the West has no more right to lose its head than the South has to demand that everybody thinks like they do.

Therefore I don’t think it matters whether the Anglican Communion holds together legally and formally. It does very much matter that we all keep in touch with one another and try to explain to one another and work it out together, an Anglican website so to speak. God gives us hints as to how we deal with one another but you don’t necessarily come at the thing with the same angle and approach.

You seem to be concerned that the churches are concentrating on their differences rather than working for the betterment of humanity.

The great message of the New Testament is summed up by Paul in Galatians: “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female.” In other words these divisions of culture and even sexuality are things that have developed in history and human living and are not definitive.

What is definitive is growing together in a developing world to discover one another as equal persons, equal contributors and we hope equal sharers.

Can the future really be ecumenical?

I think that it can, now that we see that the world is one world, that what happens with AIDS in Africa is of vital importance to the state of the world, the peace of the world, the hope of the world. A lot of Christian Aid stuff is very important in this way, serving in the world, to improve the environment, to build up health and to be a neighbour to the people who are more in the mire.

That means that you’ve got to ask the various versions of religion how they may contribute to the future of being human in the real world.

But that doesn’t mean we have to agree?

If we belong in order to agree it shuts things down. As for going into great detail as to whether you sign on this or that dotted line, it seems to me to say that God laid it down in the Bible long ago and there’s nothing more to learn, suffer or do, which is quite wrong. God is living, moving and a very glorious possibility.

So revelation is still continuing?

God hasn’t stopped. He’s going somewhere. And we’ve got to both catch up with Him and stop getting in His way with our religion. We can’t get on by somebody laying down a line, which we are now all supposed to agree to. We’re too scattered, too different. So we’ve got to keep in touch and work it out in pilgrimage, with all women and men of good will, as to where we go from here. We must be very clear that Revelation takes time. The end is not yet. These are the things that we have to live with for the sake of God, humanity and hope.

David Jenkins' latest book, The Calling of a Cuckoo is now available in paperback. To buy it, and raise money for Christian Aid projects, click here.





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