Churches preaching the Bible as the word of God “are the ones that are growing” in the UK, a Church of England minister has said.
Revd Robin Weekes – of Emmanuel church in Wimbledon – made the comments in a stern riposte to comments from a former Bishop of Edinburgh.
Richard Holloway wrote in the Spectator magazine that Jesus was merely a “spiritual and prophetic genius” and the New Testament just an “untidy bundle of writings”.
Holloway, who led the Anglican church in Scotland in the 1980s, was reviewing a book on the history of the Bible by academic John Barton.
In it, Holloway himself acknowledged that growing churches are “usually those that take a conservative approach to the interpretation of the Bible”.
But he called for people to “settle for” a relaxed attitude towards their beliefs, concluding: “After all, which of us really knows what’s going on?”
In a letter published in the following edition, Revd Weekes said that he was “disturbed” by Barton and Holloway’s conclusions.
“One doesn’t have to be an anti-intellectual fundamentalist to believe in orthodox biblical Christianity”, he wrote.
In fact, Jesus “consistently upheld the Old Testament” as the word of God and “made provision for the authoritative New Testament”.
“Of course the Bible must be read and interpreted carefully”, Revd Weekes said, but emptying it of its authority “will inevitably lead to Holloway’s depressing conclusion”.
Such preaching “empties churches”, he said.
“Churches like the one I serve, which seek to preach the Bible in line with the historic Christian creeds and the formularies of the Church of England, are the ones that are growing.”