It is distressing to see an old friend in trouble. It is doubly so when the trouble is of his own making. And since last year, my life has had in it one such source of distress—namely the doings of a man whom I had regarded as a spiritual ally ever since we were student counselors together at an evangelistic boys’ camp.
His name is David Jenkins, and he is the bishop of Durham, in the Church of England. He won his spurs professionally as a brilliant upholder of orthodox faith. He has written books on God, on man, and on Christ, which, despite their hectic and tortuous style, seemed to me to be top-class pieces of Christian exposition.
His recent pronouncements, however, reveal that he now thinks—and wants us all to know that he thinks—that when commending faith in the incarnate and risen Christ, it is best not to get hung up on the actuality of Christ’s virgin birth or his bodily resurrection. One should, he thinks, leave open the question of how, physically, Christ entered and left this world. Thus David finds it appropriate to sanction skepticism about what the opening and closing chapters of Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels tell us on these points. He himself, he says, is uncertain here.
Naturally, he has been lumped in English Christian minds with the great army of liberals, radicals, and modernists who, denying supernatural explanations, have surrendered belief in the eternal deity of the Lord Jesus and thus reduced him to a historical memory with role-model force, like Socrates or Winston Churchill.
But Bishop Jenkins does not belong in this camp. His books show him to be a trinitarian according to Nicaea (one God, three coequal persons), and an incarnationalist according to Chalcedon ...1
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