Church of England traditionalists, wearied by the battles over homosexuality in the church and the clergy, are about to take it on their spiritual chins once again when a leading “gay” cleric will tell listeners to BBC Radio 4 that Christianity’s traditional teaching on Christ’s crucifixion for the sins of mankind is “repulsive,” “insane” and makes “God sound like a psychopath.”
Rev. Jeffrey John (Courtesy of BBC)
Rev. Jeffrey John, who was forced to withdraw before assuming a position as bishop in 2003 after it was learned he was in a longterm homosexual relationship, is scheduled to appear on Wednesday and will criticize ministers who use their Easter messages to preach that Jesus was sent to earth to die as an atonement for sin, reported the London Telegraph.
Christian theology has taught the doctrine of “penal substitution” – that humans, alienated from God by their sins and unable to save themselves, could only be forgiven by God sending Christ as a substitute to suffer and die in their place.
“In other words, Jesus took the rap and we got forgiven as long as we said we believed in him,” said John. “This is repulsive as well as nonsensical. It makes God sound like a psychopath. If a human behaved like this we’d say that they [sic] were a monster.”
John, who currently serves as dean of St. Albans, raised a furor when he and Rev. Grant Holmes, a hospital chaplain, entered into a civil partnership last August.
Church of England clergy may enter into “gay” marriage if they assure their bishop they are to remain celibate.
In rejecting penal substitution, John will reportedly propose a different interpretation of Christ’s death, suggesting Christ was crucified so he could “share in the worst of grief and suffering that life can throw at us.”
Too many Christians fail to understand God is about “love and truth”, not “wrath and punishment,” Johns said.
Rev. Tom Wright, the bishop of Durham, blasted the BBC for giving John such an influential forum to make provocative claims on traditional beliefs, saying John’s statements attacked the central message of the Christian gospel.
“He is denying the way in which we understand Christ’s sacrifice. It is right to stress that he is a God of love but he is ignoring that this means he must also be angry at everything that distorts human life,” Wright said.
“I’m fed up with the BBC for choosing to give privilege to these unfortunate views in Holy Week,” he said.