Prophetic, or party political?

Sep 14, 2018 by

Justin Welby speaks to the TUC: analysis and comment.

Editor’s note: It is worth reading the Archbishop’s speech in full, rather than jumping straight to the headlines about the ‘evil’ of zero hours contracts, and the need for Amazon to pay more tax. In particular, while there has been much criticism of the speech (see articles below), it’s important to first point out some helpful themes.

He begins with the Bible, clearly attempting to get the hard-bitten Union delegates thinking about God as well as Christians and the Government thinking about concern for the poor. He warns of the temptations of privilege and power even in institutions such as the Church, and even Unions set up to help the powerless. He encourages the nation to be vigilant about ensuring that the most vulnerable are cared for, and that people work together to correct wrongs and injustices in the system rather than “destructive fatalism” which assumes that things are as they are and can’t be improved.

But the Archbishop lays himself open to criticism in a number of areas. He uncritically equates the biblical concepts of justice and righteousness with a particular economic and political programme. He appears to suggest that the good works of individual Christians, churches and charities, rather than being something to celebrate, are an unfortunate but necessary stop-gap in the absence of a socialist utopia where the State provides everything. He blames lack of community cohesion entirely on economic inequality, and every instance of financial hardship on the exploitation and selfishness of the rich.

While it would be unfair to expect an evangelistic sermon, there should surely be a hint of the biblical gospel. All have sinned and have responsibility, not just the wealthy. While salvation must have visible outworkings in society, it is primarily spiritual. Help for doing good works together, comes not just from within, but from outside, from the Lord. But according to the Archbishop, the essence of sin is abuse of power; the implication, then, is that only the powerful should repent (or be forced to change) in order to bring about justice. If the majority of the ordinary people are just victims, then there is no need to repent, and no gospel other than things might get better with a human programme: in this case strengthened Unions serving the common good.

Read in full the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech at the TUC, from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website

Recent articles; newer items at the top:

Blessed be the virtue-signallers, for they will bring the Church of England to its last judgment by Rod Liddle, Sunday Times

“It is not the job of the Church to make the poor poorer, and lead them to hell. Time to turn round Archbishop.” by Gavin Ashenden

Welby’s next stop should be a small business conference by Paul Goodman, Conservative Home

Justin Welby is an irrelevance leading his flock into the wilderness by Peter Stanford, Guardian

The religion of socialism is the opium of the elitist Archbishop Justin Welby by Jules Gomes, Rebel Priest

The difficulties of taxation advice from Canterbury: Church of England Newspaper editorial

Complicit in evil? Church of England has shares in Amazon and uses zero-hours contracts by Archbishop Cranmer

I find it very strange that church leaders seem quite happy to make public pronouncements on tax and society—but I cannot remember a single bishop ever commenting on questions of personal morality, the importance of personal responsibility, or issues which have been the home territory of traditional Christian ethics, such as the family and the importance of fidelity in marriage.

From Should Christian leaders pronounce on political positions? By Ian Paul, Psephizo

Archbishop of Canterbury wants government to ‘put Church-run food banks out of business’, by Tyler O’Neill, PJ Media

Marx, Engles, Lenin and Welby, from Anglican Unscripted

Justin Welby under fire as Church of England zero-hours contracts revealed, from Premier

Church Commissioners defend multi-million pound stake in Amazon, by Madeleine Davies, Church Times

Justin Welby’s bishops offer zero-hours jobs that Archbishop of Canterbury called ‘evil’, by Olivia Rudgard, Telegraph

Is social justice a gospel issue? By Kevin deYoung, The Gospel Coalition

Arguments against Archbishops, by Nick Spencer, Theos (attacks the idea that church leaders should not talk about politics)

Church of England will work with trade unions to hold business to account, Archbishop of Canterbury says, by Benjamin Kentish, Independent

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sparks outrage by claiming Jesus had the same values as trade unions, The Sun

Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks at launch of IPRR economic justice commission report, from the Archbishop’s website

 

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