Theological examination needed
The Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, has become a figure of controversy ever since he ‘came out’ for gay ‘marriage’.
He blogs regularly and entertainingly on his changing views. In his latest blog he reflects on the ‘500 or so messages he has received since he first put his head over the parapet. He concludes from his mailbag that: “it is simply false to claim there is no homophobia in the Church. There is plenty of it, apparently, and if church leaders do not wake up and act to tackle it, the Church will become, even more than it already is, a last ditch for soft or hard prejudice that has now faded elsewhere in society.”
Putting to one side the fact that I know of no one who seriously pretends that hatred and prejudice does not exist in the Church, I have to question what his postbag really tells us. He rather spuriously concludes that because the vast majority of his respondents are Christians this implies that non-Christians have moved on. The thought that Christians are more likely to write to bishops is a more likely conclusion to be drawn.
About 400 of his respondents are in sup- port of him, leaving 20 per cent in opposition. Thankfully this does not lead him to explicitly conclude that 80 per cent of Christians are in favour. Of the 100 negative replies he points to 90 per cent which can “only be seen as expressions of crude prejudice and bigotry.”
He writes that he has had a respectful and interesting dialogue with about 10 of his hostile respondents. It strikes me that very little can be concluded from an email postbag.
I am making a plea to people like Bishop Alan Wilson, rather than resorting to personal attacks and the use of terms like ‘bigotry’ to explain in clear theological terms how and why he has changed his mind. He cites only ‘five’ key passages associated with the subject of homosexuality but surely his previous theology cannot have been so impoverished that key Christian concepts of anthropology escaped him? I applaud the fact that his change of view is driven by a burning desire for justice and compassion, but it seems to me that the vision he offers is imperilling to the salvation of the very people he should be safeguarding.