A Spirit of Endless Disagreement? Bishop Chessun’s Suggestion

Nov 22, 2022 by

John 10 is an excellent text to reference in discussions about the Church of England bishops lining up to promote teaching that is contrary to God’s Word (or the teaching of the Church since the New Testament and the Law and the Prophets before then).  It not only reminds us that there are dangerous thieves trying to steal and devour God’s sheep and sheep that need to be separated from those who truly follow Jesus.  It also reminds us that a good shepherd’s role is to feed the sheep with the teaching of God.  The abundant life that Jesus offers is not what Bishop Chessun offers, a mixture of truth and error in eternal conversation.  If one seeks the abundant life, one will find it in listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd, who has spoken in His Word, and by following Him and Him alone.

A Spirit of Endless Disagreement? Bishop Chessun’s Suggestion

Dr Rollin Grams, Bible and Mission blogspot:

As bishops in the Church of England emerge with statements promoting same-sex blessings or marriage in preparation for a change of view for the Church next year, I find it interesting that they point the faithful to relevant Biblical texts that uncover the truth despite their misuse of the texts. Two weeks earlier we had the bishop of Oxford, Stephen Croft, try to apply Jesus’ comment about knowing a tree by its fruit (Matthew 7.15-23) to the alleged ‘good fruit’ that comes from homosexual partnerships.[1] Jesus’ statement was actually about false prophets who misguide people by urging them to live against God’s will. The passage actually spoke rather well to the misguidance the bishop of Oxford was giving as a false prophet teaching against Biblical sexuality and marriage.

Now we have the statement by the bishop of Southwark that obliquely references only a single Biblical text, but a relevant one for orthodox Christians. Bishop Christopher Chessun’s concern is for the Church to be a ‘safe place for all,’ meaning an inclusion of opposing views on sexuality and marriage.[2] (One is awkwardly reminiscent of Paul’s call, in regard to the man openly living in sin with his father’s wife, for the church to deliver him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, 1 Corinthians 5.5, or the danger of guilt and punishment by God for those partaking of the Lord’s Table unworthily, 1 Corinthians 11.27.) Divergent views are acceptable in the Church because, Bishop Chessun avers, views on sexuality are not pertinent to the Church’s mission.[3] (Again, awkwardly, one is reminded that our calling as God’s people entails not being conformed to the passions of our former ignorance but being holy in all our conduct, 1 Peter 1.14-15.) For the Church to make a clear and definitive statement on what it believes about marriage—something it has actually done since the beginning—would be wrong, he insists:

It is not a Bishop’s job to stifle the work of the Holy Spirit – and shutting down good, healthy and prayerful conversations is a sure sign that the Spirit, who enlightens our God-given reason, is being silenced.

Apparently, the Spirit is now the Spirit of good conversation despite what He said about sexuality and marriage in the Scripture He inspired, and apparently He is no longer involved in sanctification, empowering believers to live holy lives. For Bishop Chessun, the end goal for the Church is for it to be ‘a welcoming and safe place for all, somewhere [where] all can flourish without fear of discrimination or prejudice.’ He then offers his single Scriptural musing, ‘Anything less falls short of the abundant life Christ came to bestow (John 10. 10).’

In John 10.10, Jesus says, ‘I came that they [His sheep] may have life and have it abundantly.’ This statement comes in His metaphor about the good shepherd, his sheep, and the thieves that climb over the wall to steel the sheep. The passage is very relevant, but not in the way that Bishop Chessun hoped, for when we look into it we realise that the passage applies to false teaching from overseers of the people of God.

To see this, we can first look at John 10 and then at the Old Testament allusions that Jesus has in mind. John 10 uses the metaphor of the shepherd to say several things:

· Jesus is the door to the sheepfold—there is no other entryway than Him (vv. 7, 9; cf. v. 2)

· Thieves—those not entering by Jesus the door—climb over the wall and try to steal, kill, and destroy the sheep (v. 10)

· The sheep only listen to the Shepherd’s voice, not to others trying to steal them; He knows them, and they know Him (vv. 14)

· The Good Shepherd lays His life down for the sheep, but the hired hand runs away when the wolf comes and leaves the sheep to be caught or scattered (vv. 11-12)

· Jesus also has other sheep to bring into the fold so that there might be one flock and one Shepherd (v. 16)

· The Jews who do not accept that Jesus is the Christ are not among His sheep (v. 26)

· Jesus gives His sheep eternal life, and they will not be snatched from His or His Father’s hand (vv. 28-29)

In these points, Jesus makes clear distinctions that speak against a blanket inclusiveness for overseers or for sheep. The thieves and wolves are enemies of the sheep. Also, while some sheep that are excluded will be included, others who think themselves to be included are excluded. The criterion separating the two is devotion to Christ expressed as ‘hearing’ His voice. Bluntly put, the sheepfold is not made up of sheep who follow the voice of the thief or who spend their blessed days in bleating about their sexual diversity but who listen to the voice of Jesus. Later, Jesus will say, ‘You are my friends if you do what I command you’ (John 15.14). Jesus, fulfilling the hope of a New Covenant whereby God’s people will once again obey His commandments, is calling Israel back to obedience to God. The commandments of God, written in the Old Testament, are equally what God the Son commands.

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