It is one of my fantasies to hear the following on an interview programme:
“Interviewer: Good morning bishop. I understand you want to talk to us about this report that you are calling a ‘prophetic call to the nation’ on this important issue. First however, I must ask you to clarify something. What is the view of the church on gay sexual relationships?
Bishop: I’m sorry, the church hasn’t got a united view, so I can’t really comment.
Interviewer: So you ask us to accept this report as prophetic, but you are unable to discern the will of God after 40 years on the gay issue. Clearly therefore the report has no credibility – so I won’t ask listeners to waste any of their time on it. You can go now, bishop.”
Whilst the quote: ‘The hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed’ is Milton, not biblical, the thought reflects Zechariah and Ezekiel concern for the uncared people of Israel. And so it is now; the bishops of the Church of England are divided on this issue, so prefer to kick the can down the road than admit they have no ability to make a decision. For how would they decide? They have no agreed basis of authority: they have nothing to which they can appeal that they would admit is the basis on which to make the decision. So they duck and dive – and look ridiculous.
And the implication that a non-Christian can rightly draw is: ‘They don’t know what God says about this, so how can they be confident of ANYTHING?’
A biblical insight
In one passage Jesus commands:
‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.’ (Matthew 23)
In another Jesus appears to contradict his own teaching by refusing to do what they say:
‘Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”
But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?”
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.”
And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”’ Matthew 21
The conclusion that we can draw from this is that if our leaders are unwilling to answer a clear question about what they believe is of God, then they have resigned their authority over us, and we have every right to ignore those who fail this test.