In the Church Times today , a certain G.B. asked a question, which I snapshot below.
(To those who don’t know the Church Times is the leading Church of England weekly, described once as a sub-Christian horror comic!)
I bet this person is echoing the views on many members of all churches of all denominations and not only the Church of England.
I am sure if I grilled every church member in any church a high proportion would say they agree with G.B. I suggest some would be church wardens, on the PCC, Choirmembers, organists etc – and even Sunday school teachers or equivalent.
I n response I’d say these view are widely accepted within our churches. However G.B. is not so much heretical as essentially someone who does not believe in Jesus Christ.
I can now hear the gasps of horror! But Fred has been a loyal Church warden for ten years. May has taught in Sunday School for 20 years – that’s service.
So what of his four points?
Original Sin. There is a bit of confusion here. Original Sin was put forward in about 400 AD, but the Orthodox and Coptic churches do not accept it. Neither do I. However all humans are sinful and marred by sin and thus need to be redeemed/saved by Jesus Christ
Jesus died to atone for sins. This is one of central planks of the Christian Faith along with the Resurrection. Remove it and there is no Christianity. Simples. I could either spend pages explaining or briefly say it is the heart of our faith. Once we realise what we are like – i.e sinful to use church lingo – then something needs to be done about it. This is the heart of the Christmas story which comes to fruition on Good Friday.
It is through Christ’s death on the cross that we are forgiven. The accounts of Jesus’ death in the four gospels should move us and it’s the substance of many hymns – old and new. It is something we never fully understand.
His bodily resurrection. Why is Easter the most important day for Christians? Not because of bunnies and chocolate eggs!! It is all about the fact – and fact it is – that the very dead executed Jesus rose from the dead, in a transformed body to show he’d conquered death and started a new life for all
The two – Jesus’ death and his resurrection – are the two sides of the same Christian coin and are the most fundamental beliefs. They are not negotiable. Without both Christianity is just another vague moral way of life – which would have gone extinct in 30 AD.
Right from the first Easter day the essential message of Christianity was that Jesus died and rose for us. This is put in many different ways in the New Testament and in the 2000 years since, but always focuses on Jesus died for us and rose again.
There is no other way.
Lastly The Virgin Birth. This is clear in the birth narratives of Luke and Matthew, but a good number of Christians in the last two hundred years have rejected it – wrongly in my view. However it is not as important as the death and resurrection of Jesus.
We need to accept that to say all people are sinful sums up the human condition as we are bloody-minded and unreasonable creatures who need sorting out. Fortunately God chose Jesus and not a whip. And the leads to the heart of Christianity