From the Revd Dr Thomas Plant
Sir, - The Revd Dr Hugh Rayment-Pickard (Comment, 3
January) may be right that "for Hegel, Jesus is essentially an
ethical and political prophet." But for a Christian, Jesus is
essentially God Incarnate. This is a religious doctrine that
entails certain religious demands, demands that Jesus himself made:
repent, be baptised, and, most importantly, continue to realise his
sacrifice throughout time by celebrating the eucharist.
The last is the only form of worship that Jesus personally
mandates. Its Jewish paschal context is incontrovertibly
"religious", despite Dr Rayment-Pickard's assertion that Jesus was
unconcerned with such things.
Jesus did not read Hegel, and it is probably for the best, since
Hegel naïvely believed that Jesus was part of a plan of inexorable
progress, not only from past to present, but also from East to
West. Western liberalism would represent the apogee of history. Not
much space for the end of the days or the Second Coming, then, or
really even for Jesus, who was, after all, the product and
proponent of an Eastern religion.
The Church is the vehicle through which God works if we rely on
him in faith, through fitting worship. Only by attention to
spiritual growth, through the sacraments that Jesus our God himself
ordained, will the Church be resourced to make any lasting change
on the world. Christian ethics and politics derive from our
encounter with God in religion, not the other way round.
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From the Revd Paul Hunter
Sir, - I was glad that I took time to read the Revd Dr Hugh
Rayment-Pickard's article on the Church of England's need to
refocus outwardly in 2014.
While I wholeheartedly agree with his argument, that we should
put the Kingdom of God back at the centre of our mission, is it not
true that many churches, where they take the lead from God's Spirit
and not the human agenda, have already been wrestling with this for
We have much to learn from those "newer churches", and those
Christians from other nations, who have sought to follow the words
of scripture, "not by power nor by might but by my Spirit, says the
Lord". Such radical New Testament and Early Church Christianity,
where God is at the centre, naturally looks at this world from
God's perspective. The mission statement of the Church is always
then the one Jesus spoke of, "to bring good news to the poor". This
is always the interface between religion and politics.
It appears that he is drawing different parts of his Bride
around this central focus of mission to the poor.
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