In the course of one week I listened to and watched a whole Billy Graham broadcast from Los Angeles and read a book by John A. T. Robinson, Bishop of Woolwich, called Honest to God. This is a concatenation to be wondered at. When one ponders the gamut of Protestantism from Bishop Robinson to Billy Graham, one wonders just what Protestantism is.
Billy Graham says quite flatly, “The Bible says,” and the good bishop leaves us wondering what the Bible is, making us very uneasy about what the Bible was. The whimsical John Bald, a professor of theology from Pittsburgh Seminary, was wont to say, “They tell me Tillich speaks to our day. The only trouble is the people of our day go to hear Billy Graham.” But with the publication of Honest to God and its fabulous sale, one has the feeling that crowds of people are listening to Tillich by way of the Bishop of Woolwich.
Honest to God is a much more serious and important book than I thought it would be from its somewhat “smarty” title. One comes away with the impression that the writer is indeed honest, and toward the end of the book there is a kind of pensiveness about his own spiritual pilgrimage which is almost touching. Robinson has struggled in the deeps with his spiritual experience. He does not have easy answers, because he knows the questions are very difficult; and he carries the added burden of being an official—indeed a bishop, indeed a pastor—in a church which carries its traditions loyally and usually with great firmness. There will be those in the Anglican communion who will call him a heretic, but it is pretty hard to be a heretic in any church (try yours, for instance) in which the leaders who might pursue the heresy trial ...1
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