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Can you be a Christian in the Church of England and not believe anything?

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.

To conclude;

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

Christ has died

Christ is Risen

Christ will come again.


Book Review – Two young-Earth creationist books about Yellowstone expose why YECs cannot explain Yellowstone geology

An excellent review of Creationist attempts to explain the geology of Yellowstone NP. As usual they take an iconic area and twist the geology to suit their peculiar ideas.

Creatively stupid

Photos from our 2012 holiday

The blog follows my photos



Your Guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks: A Different Perspective, by John Hergenrather, Tom Vail, Mike Oard, and Dennis Bokovoy

The Geology of Yellowstone: A Biblical Guide, by Patrick Nurre

Young-Earth creationists (YECs) believe that the Bible requires that almost all features of Earth’s crust are the result of Noah’s Flood about 4300 years ago. These books are, in the words of Nurre, “an attempt to present the geology of Yellowstone from a Biblical perspective,”, as opposed to the standard geological timeframe in which the history of Yellowstone goes back a few billion years to the Archean Eon. This “biblical geology” effort is misguided, however, as the Bible does not say anything about processes such as igneous intrusion, volcanism, erosion, sedimentation, metamorphism, and glaciation. This results in a serious over-reading of the biblical text, leading to erroneous conclusions about the origin of geological features in places…

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Blind faith in Green faith

I loved this tweet from Green Anglicans. (GA are the group who claim to “represent the environmental concerns of Anglicans worldwide.)


As I say that I realised I hadn’t got a solar panel or sails on my car!

If this claim were true then much of transport, home heating and industry would be provided for by wind.

They had taken this from a Guardian article about how wind provided so much ELECTRICITY on the night of 12/13th Dec 2018.

Here are the details from MyGridGB, which give regular summaries of electrical generation each day.

mygrid131218Yes, it was about a third, but not energy but electrical power.

Now that is a serious and misleading error. This diagram below shows that in 2017, electricity was a small fraction of the total energy used, so claims of 33% eenrgy should be reduced to 5% if that


This glaring misunderstanding is very common among green commentators. It shows a serious lack of understanding of energy issues, and raise questions about their competence.

It is forgotten that ENERGY is much more than just electricity

a further problem is that those concerned about the environment will read stuff like this and think how close we are to replacing fossil fuels with renewables.

This is especially so in the churches where green experts are liable to have degrees in literature or foreign languages, possibly biology but very rarely have any training or qualifications in energy issues. When the errors are pointed out , they are usually ignored as their green faith takes over. Sadly many don’t want to know or Dunning-Kruger takes over.

This results in a belief that we can make the transition from fossil fuels in a matter of years rather than decades and associated with naive appeals for divestment from fossil fuels. This is the view of Christian Aid , Operation Noah among others and often the churches blindly follow them.

I wrote this after seeing the tweet from Green Anglicans but many secular green groups are just as inaccurate and so the misunderstanding spreads.

I suggest that many green activists need to stop and find out more about what they criticise and not cling to inaccurate and hopeful headlines, put out by those with limited understanding


P.S. After a little interchange on twitter Green Anglicans did not my point, but there are still too many who don’t/won’t grasp it





Was Jesus latte?

Here is an alternative picture of Jesus

Image result for black jesus

Compare it to the classic of Holman Hunt which is too white

Image may contain: 1 person

Now many will say that it is well-known that Jesus was not white as he came from the Middle East. Yes, I know, but too many still reckon Jesus was white as this incident fro the other local church shows.

Please consider two discussions with youngsters. The first was with our Year Sixes. One thought Jesus’ birthday was 25th December. We pointed out we didn’t know and that was his official birthday. Jesus was born around 6BC. It was light-hearted!

The second in another church a lad of eleven said that Jesus was dark-skinned and not white. He was corrected and put in his place. Our Year Six agreed with him when I told them about it. It is appalling that today some still insist that Jesus was white. And even more appalling that a child should get put down for saying Jesus was not white. One year Six said his skin was latte !! Now this is not trivial, especially a lad being put down. In the 1930s Nazi Christians were insistent Jesus was Aryan and thus white.

When in apartheid South Africa I often stressed that Jesus was coloured! Somehow it did not always go down with white Christians.

As Jesus was from Judean stock born in Israel 2000 years ago he would not be white and had the darker skin of that area. When we grasp that, we cannot be racist. It is almost that Jesus has the average skin colour of all people, and thus relates to all of us whatever “race” we are.

Image result for coloured jesus

And that leads us to consider why we celebrate the birth of a non-white baby 2000 years ago. As I explained to year 6, it was so unknown that no one recorded it, unlike the birth of the other Sons of God – Julius Caesar and successors.  Probably the best is to say it was about 6BC, though Sir Colin Humphreys of Cambridge has tried to narrow it down to a week or so. It seems most odd to make so much of this unknown wandering preacher who was executed by the Romans in their nastiest fashion.

Many want to choose what they believe about Jesus rather than accepting the whole Jesus package. This particularly applies to those who see Jesus as a great moral teacher and leave out the religious bits. Many, great and small, have done this as did Mahatma Gandhi. It’s also provided the moral basis for much of Europe, but that is now being eroded.

However that ignores so much of the gospels on Jesus. To some it just leaves out the mumbo-jumbo, as the religious bits are sometimes called, especially that about his Incarnation, being Son of God, the atonement and the resurrection – not to mention the Holy Spirit. If it had not been for them, Jesus would have soon been forgotten, as he would have been just another wandering eccentric Jewish teacher. The message of those early Jesus followers was not an appeal to morals but trust in a person who is our saviour in contrast either to the teachings of Judaism or the customs of the Roman Empire.

The message was that humans are in a mess and need saving and this happens because this Jesus died on the cross and rose again and thus we should follow his moral teaching. Thus Jesus was seen as the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, saviour and King. Now today that is a standard formula about Jesus but in the first century it was radical as it cast a snook at the Roman Empire where the emperor was known as son of god, lord, king and saviour. That is often lost on us today, but in the roman Empire it resulted in the deaths of those Christians who would not recognise the emperor as God and offer him a sacrifice. Today Jesus is so tame and domesticated that we miss his radical challenge.
So back to Christmas, beyond all the tinsels and donkeys, we need to see that we celebrate the obscure birth of someone who transformed the world and billions of people.

Hopefully he has transformed each one of us.
So this Christmas period let’s ask how Jesus needs to change us.

But how?


Darwin’s Deathbed conversion and Lady Hope

Charles Darwin and religion don’t go together for some people. On one side disciples of Dawkins agree that Darwin made it intellectually possible to be an atheist and then on the other Creationists reckon that for religion Darwin was the worst thing since sliced bread.  (I loath sliced bread and only eat real bread which I have to slice myself.)

Much can be made of Darwin intending to become an Anglican vicar, an idea with fell overboard on the Beagle voyage. And so from either extreme it is claimed that Darwin used his science to support atheism. You also find it in some guides to Church History for unsuspecting theological students. It often takes the form of  “[Darwin} apparently undermining the account of creation in the book of Genesis”. (SCM Study Guide to Church history 2013 p165)

In his Autobiography Darwin reflects on his religious views and from that we can see that Darwin ended up as a vague theist or a rather agnostic agnostic. Rather than repeat myself this is an earlier blog on Darwin’s religion.

Any my favourite letter of his.

and to see how Darwin and religion panned out in the next 150 years here is a book chapter of mine.

To get back to L.R. Croft who is a creationist living somewhere near Chorley and to some is a local expert on Darwin. Thirty years ago in 1989, he wrote a short biography of Darwin. I have flipped through and found it so appalling that I did not buy a copy. It makes A. N. Wilson’s biography seem quite good in comparison.

Here is an Amazon review 🙂

As a trained biologist I have read dozens of books on Charles Darwin, and wanted to read more about the life and especially the death of Darwin, as the title of this book suggests. I can only say this work is definitly one of the worst Darwin books I have ever read. The author must be a creationist although this is not admitted, but every single aspect of Darwin`s life is twisted in order to ridicule his theories and work. The book is full of quotations which are taken completely out of context and are used to emphasize Darwin`s alleged craziness. Darwin is portraited as a heartless lunatic suffering from schizophrenia. At the end for example there is a remark about his alleged death bed conversion and about a book James Moore (Darwin biograph) was “forced” to write about it. Well, Moore of course comes to the conclusion that there is no historic evidence to support this death bed conversion at all. I can only recommend Croft`s book if you are interested to see how one can distort the truth with quotations taken out of context and consequently omitting facts. Waste of time and truly annoying!

Croft has long been fixated by the Lady Hope story of Darwin’s deathbed conversion. This old chestnut claims that a few months before Darwin died an evangelist came to Downe with Lady Hope in tow. During the visit Darwin had a conversion and rejected his scientific theories on evolution.  Popular accounts go back a century and always have a ring of untruth about them. They illustrate how some devout Christians are so desperate to believe certain things that they will either make them up, fantabulise or repeat the ramblings of others.

Way back in 1994 Jim Moore shredded the whole story with clinical precision in The Darwin Legend.

But Croft carried on and in 2012 wrote a book on Darwin and Lady Hope. Somehow one of the senior Lancashire clergy came across it and, in passing during some pastoral contact, asked my opinion – which I gave as gently as possible! I do wonder how many have fallen for the story, especially in evangelical churches. (He once sent me an e-mail at 6 a.m. where among other things he said I was wrong to agree with Richard Dawkins , who said bishops should do more to criticise Creationism. Well, bishops should be doing so forcibly and follow the example of their conservative Victorian predecessors, especially William Buckland and Adam Sedgwick !

Sedgwick had great fun with Creationists in the 1830s and 1840s!!

This fantabulising about Dawin and hopeless Lady Hope 2012 makes me despair of some Christians, who forget that Pontius Pilate asked “what is truth?”

And now we have a biography of Lady Hope. We find the Lady married into a title  and trailed after evangelists on both sides of the pond. Moore gives us what we need to know, but, perhaps, a more serious and scholarly study, would illuminate an obscure facet of Victorian religion.

[Too often the history of evangelicals has been ruined by pietistic hagiographers and then the scepticism of liberal Chrstians and those of no faith.

If you want more then read this review. I will read the book if someone sends me a free copy.

Lady Hope

Perhaps a decent short study of Lady Hope is needed to illuminate much on the religious life of late Victorian England and how that mutated into anti-Darwinian fundamentalism.