Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Honest to God at 50

Honest to God, by Bishop John Robinson, was first published in 1963, and has been in print ever since, selling over a million copies. To celebrate this anniversary, the publisher SCM Press is sponsoring a commemorative evening in April at St Martin-in-the-Fields and has assembled a panel to discuss its influence and contemporary resonance.

Free event — everyone welcome
Monday 29 April, 7:00pm
St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ

The panel includes popular authors Francis Spufford and Mark Vernon, Archdeacon of Canterbury Sheila Watson, and vicar of St Martin’s the Revd Dr Sam Wells. It will be chaired by BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge.

More details at

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 11:44am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Conferences

As I became more theologically educated, the book that was, in part, my entry ticket to Christianity, and then clues as to why I wasn't 'in', has been differently understood. At a glance it is a Jesucentric questioner of God, and bringing God down into the existential questions and secular sense. Later, it became a way into John Robinson's thinking, who wanted a Jesucentric faith and said it was the Church's challenge to show how it is done in the modern day, whereas actually it was Robinson's own difficulty. The question one kept asking about Robinson was 'why'? Why that core and also loose edges. Later I learnt that Robinson was anti-systematic theology, and yet Paul Tillich was systematic theology big time, a closed system. Personalist theology was more the biblical theology of Robinson, closer to Bonhoeffer but really, most, to Bultmann. But he used them, changed them, and Bultmann didn't give sufficient answers to Robinson's quest. In the end 'up there' biblical God was what Robinson needed to translate whereas the 'out there' systematic God was a distortion. But it was more than metaphors being a problem and more a fundamental change if thinking we have undergone, and the Christian scheme that Robinson wanted was never available - he'd sawn off the branch that maintained the Christian unique 'incarnation' he was so desperate to maintain and could not 'from the other end'.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 2:45pm GMT

As a theology student and part-time prison chaplain while at St. John's College, Auckland, New Zealand; I had the privilege of escorting Bishop John Robinson into the prison for a para-liturgy with the inmates. His very simple sermon on that occasion impressed the prisoners (and me) - with its palpable message of the love of God. I have never forgotten his pastoral concern for the marginalised of our society - nor the effect on those who heard him.

Bishop John also had a profound love for Christ in the Eucharist, which marked him out, for me, as a right man of God.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 9:19pm GMT

I remember the Baptist headmaster of my grammar school denouncing the Bishop and his book at assembly. That made such an impression on me that I have always though that Robinson was one of the great theologians of our time.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 10:15am GMT

I read 'Honest to God' when it first appeared and it has influenced my faith ever since though qualified by the same author's "But that I can't believe" published in 1967 as a reply to many of the criticisms made of his original book. In my view the second one is better than the first and it would be good to see it equally celebrated in 2017!

Posted by: A Christopher Scott on Saturday, 22 June 2013 at 4:11pm BST
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