Quite rightly, there has been an outcry over the latest bit of propaganda issued by the Guardian-readers-at-prayer otherwise known as the Church of England Bishops. Their ‘pastoral letter’ issued yesterday ahead of the election was a thinly-veiled support for the left-wing parties.
I am not much of a believer, but I like a lot of what the church stands for. Nice country pubs, a cricket green and a pretty church: its what makes Britain Great.
But also the spiritual comfort they provide can be useful. I am pretty well off and have done well for myself, but Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a good sing-along at Midnight Mass after a few jars. The name C of E sums it up: I really appreciate the church at Christmas and Easter and I am more than happy to stick a few quid in for the new organ or roof or whatever.
But the point is that Churches should focus on spiritual matters – the after-life and that kind of stuff. And I don’t mind them helping people – if they knuckled down they could still play a good role in the PM’s Big Society. But the problem is that instead of sticking to theology, they keep issuing ‘statements’ about the kind of stuff politicians and economists know loads more about.
In recent months, the Bishops have kicked off rows about so-called food poverty, debt and inequality. And now they are telling us how to vote.
But this latest furore got me thinking, and for the first time in years I got my old Christening Bible down from a dusty shelf and started reading some of the New Testament. It dawned on me that the problem goes deeper than just the Bishops: it’s Jesus who is dangerously left-wing.
I opened my Bible at Luke’s gospel and immediately read the following:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (6:20)
Then a few verses later:
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.” (6:24)
Excuse me? Why so harsh on those who have worked hard and earned a few bob?
Disregard for wealth creation
Even worse is Jesus’ blatant disregard for wealth-creation. Later on, I read a story he tells about a hard-working and successful man who grows his business and saves carefully for himself and his family. But then he promptly dies and never enjoys any of it! Jesus is hardly sympathetic:
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions…This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (12:15 &21)
It is not just this snideness towards those who have done well, but a completely naive approach to how welfare. How about this:
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” (12:33)
Give? I don’t think so. How will simply giving stuff to poor people motivate them?
But the worst bit I read was when a sincere bloke, done everything right, comes up to Jesus and asks how he can get into heaven. Instead of talking about spiritual matters, Jesus tells him that he has to sell everything he has and give it to the poor.
Of course this chap is gutted – it can’t do this because he is loaded. It may be alright for people who don’t have much to talk like this, but this is someone with responsibilities. And once he has left, Jesus says
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” (18:24)
So, yes, let’s have a go at the Bishops, but the real problem is really Jesus himself. You can see where they get all this lefty-clap-trap from.
Harry Chomley, affectionately known as ‘HSBC’ to his mates, works in the finance sector and loves reading The Daily Telegraph