There Goes Hell & the Second Coming

March 1994By John Warwick Montgomery

The Rev. John Warwick Montgomery, a Lutheran, is a practicing barrister and Professor of Law and Humanities at the University of Luton in England.

David Jenkins, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, is at it again. Readers of this column will recall (Nov. 1992) that the Bishop has long denied the historicity of the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Christ, and that his adoptionist christology has so delighted Muslims in the U.K. that they have used his public comments for their own purposes.

During the past Christmas season, Jenkins announced to a conference that there is no Hell and that there would be no Second Coming. Regarding Hell, he declared that the teaching of the Book of Revelation concerning torment "day and night for ever and ever" was "pretty pathological," and that "if there is such a god, he is a small, cultic deity who is so bad tempered that the sooner we forget him the better." Indeed, "there can be no hell for eternity -- our God could not be so cruel." As for the return of our Lord at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the Bishop expressed himself no less apodictically: "I do not think it possible to believe any longer in a literal Second Coming at the end of the world."

One could, of course, dismiss such comments ad hominem. For a number of years Jenkins has had the obnoxious habit of swiping at historic Christian doctrine just before major Church holy days, especially Christmas and Easter. It would appear that he loves public controversy and the limelight -- indeed, that he is attracted to the media like a moth is drawn to flame. Perhaps, in the immortal words of the old vaudeville number, the Bishop is "more to be pitied than censured": After all, what will become of him once he has run the gamut of all the teachings of the Nicene Creed? The thought of media indifference is too awful (hellish?) to contemplate.

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Three days after David Jenkins' consecration as Bishop of Durham on 6 July 1984, York Minster was struck by lightning and was burned out. I understand the lightning came out of a clear sky at the time. A number of concerned believing Christians protested Jenkins' enthronement as Bishop.

Was this an action by a metaphorical God? Many people think the living God was making a point: Don't mess with the truth.
Posted by: wwilkie
June 15, 2010 11:44 PM EDT
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