Comments: the views of Archbishop Sentamu

I basically agree with him. I thank him and Michael Nazir[-Ali] for their recent comments for speaking with such boldness and clarity

Posted by DaveW at Monday, 13 November 2006 at 9:10am GMT

I think we need to be extremely careful before allowing religion to have too dominant a place in the public sphere. I believe the State should be secular, not run according to the whims of a small minority of people who actively practice any religion.

That doesn't mean that people should not be enabled to practice their religion as they wish, but I see little reason for that to be officially recognised. Sentamu must realise that he represents one of many pressure groups, and that is how his spin ought to be regarded.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 13 November 2006 at 9:33am GMT

I agree with you there, Merseymike, and I think Jesus does too. "My Kingdom is not of this world." I believe it's called Erastianism: too close a linking of Church and State, and England has been guilty of it at least since Henry VIII got desperate for an heir.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 13 November 2006 at 2:37pm GMT

Thanks Simon for the plethora of related links. It's hard to know where to comment without repeating oneself.

Personally, I am not opposed to a pluralistic state, with secularism being one form of philosophy. As posted elsewhere, it is healthy for religion to have to justify itself and argue its merits with the "other". It means holiness becomes more than being the only one who reads and quotes a holy text, to actually walking the talk. Similarly, secularism can never be robust unless it has religions to debate against.

I was thinking about this overnight, and it reminded me of the often seen three-way love triangle. You know the one, two boys want one girl (or vice versa). One of the boys isn't really that interested in the girl, but there is the element of competition of proving they can get her to the altar. Many a soul has found themselves married to the wrong one; when after the wedding has happened their loving consort turns into an indifferent, if not cruel, spouse.

The same thing happens in debates. Would Dawkins be putting up such a high moral code if he wasn't trying to prove that his philosophy is as robust as religions'? (Plural not a mistake here)

Similarly, God set the churches up. Back in the late 1980s he sent souls like me to ground and told us to not make waves or draw attention to ourselves. The churches and other leaders were allowed to fully actualize their paradigms unchallenged. Then when God moved with the 2004 SE Asian Tsunami, we soon found out who was sincere in their faith and who merely kept up the form of "good enough". One lesson from recent times, is that "good enough" for our back slapping mates and scholars is often not adequate for God. "Busted" is the term one youth leader used in early 2005.

Both religion and secularism are dependent on each other to bring out the best in themselves. It is another form of Isaiah 49 and watching each other's backs. A bit of competition never hurt anybody; provided there is the rule of law, respect for human rights and reverence of creation.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 13 November 2006 at 7:21pm GMT

The Archbishop of York's interview in the Daily Mail sounds mostly like an exercise in nostalgia, to my ears. --Rukers 'Made in Britain' ? I remember what they were used to do !

I too get nostalgic--its a besetting thing of middle age--but because Sentamu's rulers and the wooden rulers of Empire are no more does not mean a collapse in 'spirituality'--does it ?

I miss all kinds of things (including some of JS's) and also milking by hand, and Mattins, and Round the Horn--amd all the certainties --- but surely we have to leave home some time ? --however agonizing....

Posted by laurence at Monday, 13 November 2006 at 8:49pm GMT

We had something close to a 'theocracy' in Briatian, in the seventeenth century, and it just doesn't work.

I think 'secularisation' set in with the Restoration, and it freed people up to follow THEIR own belief --not that of King or Protector etc., and included 'free thinkers', Jews, and loads of people just being or find themselves.

Once we all gets to reading the Bible for ourselves 'in the vulgar tongue'--there's no stopping us--there's no stopping the process unleashed --it has, as it happends led inenexorably to 'seculrisation' and this ain't all bad, not at all.

Posted by laurence at Monday, 13 November 2006 at 8:55pm GMT

Dear Ford Elms,
Of course Jesus also taught for the His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as in heaven, so you cant really agree to want a secular government rather than a Kingdom Government unless you dont want what He said; the two are not the same as Jesus says "My Kingdom is not of this world"

Posted by DaveW at Monday, 13 November 2006 at 11:03pm GMT

Dave is right here. Politics is not one 'world' nad the kingdom of God another. Nobody seriously believes that there is more than one 'world' in that particular sense. And no-one could seriously suggest that it doesn't matter which party gets in or what their policies are. Christians by definition will want their policies to be as closely aligned to the kingdom as possible.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 12:07pm GMT

We do have a secular government - and that's certainly something I wish to continue, as do, I believe, the vast majority of people in the UK.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 10:26pm GMT

No, Christopher Shell,

not Christians. Mixing state and church does irreparable damage to both.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 6:30am GMT

We have a government which contains Christians, so it isnt all secular. It also contains for example humanists, Muslims and Hindu and all kinds of people, awhich I believe suits the vast majority of people in the UK. Obviously as a Christian I prefer to have Christians in governement

Posted by DaveW at Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 8:20am GMT

hi Goran
So let's get this straight: you think there is a little box marked 'religion' which has no connection with the rest of life.

That is certainly not the case in the real world. So which world is it the case in?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 1:26pm GMT

It's not about the nasty secularists. We have always confused the Kingdom of God with the Kingdoms of Earth, most spectacularly in the Byzantine Empire. We Christians are called to work for the Kingdom, but we also know it won't happen till the return of Christ. Of course our faith should inform our voting and our particiation in society, as well as our commenting on society, but just because we elect a party that goes along with what we think the Kingdom's values are doesn't mean we're doing anything particularly holy, and it certainly doesn't mean we have some sort of "Kingdom government" whatever that is. Do you seriously think "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done" means "give us a Christian government"? History has well shown that tying the State to the Church results in selling out the Gospel in the interests of politics. The various political entities of this world always fade away, always will. We really shouldn't look to earthly politicians to set up the Kingdom, that's for God to do, when He wants to. Our job is to live the Kingdom's values in our lives and work for the day when He returns.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 3:01pm GMT

No Christopher Shell,

I said nothing of the sort. I am not a Calvinist, but that does not make me a Pietist.

I'm Church of Sweden and the ecclesiology of the Church of Sweden since the 1460ies is "in the World but not of it".

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 6:33pm GMT

Dear Ford Elms,
Your wrote "We have always confused the Kingdom of God with the Kingdoms of Earth,"
Some may well have but the point was we know God's Kingdom isnt of this world, so kingdoms of this world can only mirror His Kingdom to any degree.
I also disagree with you in that the Kingdom of God is near Jesus said, and not far. When we do His will and acknowledge His rule and reign I believe the Kingdom is manifested here on earth as in heaven.
but you wrote "Our job is to live the Kingdom's values in our lives and work for the day when He returns." I say Amen to that :-)
bless you

Posted by DaveW at Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 7:04pm GMT

Jesus separated church and state. See Matthew 22:12-22, which includes:

"But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?... “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”"

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 7:26pm GMT

I have just returned from the lecture given by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the launch of the Manchester Research Institute for Religion and Civil Society which has been mentioned in another thread here and is relevant to this one. I found the Archbishop's lecture, which developed themes in his recent Times article, disappointing and conservative. Rather than seeking a real debate with secularism, he identified a narrow (=bad) public secularism and a broad (=good) version. Characteristically, he used the long words - "programmatic" and "procedural" - to identify them! From the "good" version, he developed a theory of civil society which justifies faith schools and bishops in the House of Lords. Notably absent was any reason why the majority who do not practice a religion should buy into this theory.

Posted by Leslie Fletcher at Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 9:37pm GMT

"the Kingdom of God is near Jesus said, and not far"

Indeed, DaveW, it's all around us, and if we weren't so frail we could see it. I didn't say the Kingdom was far away, just not something that our political manouverings can establish.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 11:44pm GMT

Dear Ford Elms,
Well I would say that the Kingdom of God is where God's rule and reign is manifested which is in heaven but can occur on earth.

Posted by davew at Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 9:06am GMT

"the Kingdom of God is where God's rule and reign is manifested which is in heaven but can occur on earth."

And will be on Earth, at the parousia. I believe Revelation is a very complex allegory, but the City comes down from heaven to the New Earth, that, allegory though it may be, means to me the Kingdom is as much about creation made new as it is about going to some place else.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 12:38pm GMT

Goran-
Great, so if we are in the world and not of it, then you are definitely in it. That means that you are included in what we call the state, and nonChristians have no more right than Christians to decide how the state runs.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 12:46pm GMT

Yep CS. I agree with "...nonChristians have no more right than Christians to decide how the state runs".

That's called democracy. One soul. One vote.

Affirmation for the principles of the suffrage movement. A rejection of gerrymanders, of apartheid. Contempt for electoral fraud, rigging and bribing.

A preference for preferential voting as it forms a more diverse parliament that more truly reflects the diversity of opinions in the community. Plus, (shock, horror) souls have to learn to co-operate and communicate to get bills passed. Which means bugs get ironed out, difficult issues get the extended debate they deserve, contentious or draconian excesses are deferred or overturned.

I don't have a problem with your suggestion.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 4:19pm GMT

No less, Christopher.

But you seem to forget that the advocates of any kind of Theonomy are in the minority ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 4:24pm GMT
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