On June 4 the Bishop of Grafton, Rt Rev Dr Sarah McNeil, announced that academic Gregory Jenks would be the new dean of the Cathedral in Grafton.
Jenks is a well-known scholar amongst the Jesus Seminar movement – that branch of historical Jesus study that is incredibly sceptical about how reliable the New Testament can be in telling us truth about Jesus. He has a website full of his work which is a classic example of deconstruction of Biblical authority in the church along the line of other “Progressive Christians” (a label that Jenks regularly uses of himself).
Jenks’ youtube channel contains a large amount of his work with many lectures available in audio or video form, along with some of his writing. Perhaps a good introduction to his methodology is this:
Even in this simple introductory video one can see the flavour of Jenks’ position:
- We can’t assume that Moses, David (and “certainly not”) Solomon existed.
- ““Critical” readings of the gospels can generate insights about Jesus and Christianity that challenge traditional ways of imagining Jesus and practicing Christianity“
- “Christianity must move beyond “exclusivism” and “mortgaging truth to the uniqueness of Christ”. We’ve just got to grow up and realise that God has bigger and other things to do in the world besides Christianity.“
In other areas (as expected from his position), Jenks denies the clear historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus (and much of the events surrounding it) preferring, in classic “progressive” style to state,
Our modern question (But did it happen that way?) is ultimately not as urgent, nor its answer so satisfying, as the ancient question: What truth is in this story?
Jenks was the organiser of the visit by (now retired) Bishop Spong, author of numerous books denying key Christian doctrines, back in 2003. More could be written, but those interested can follow up Jenks’ own material on gregoryjenks.com. Those interested in a thorough deconstruction of the Jesus Seminar approach to historicity might like to begin here (and particularly the cross examination beginning here).
Once again we have an appointment by a bishop to a senior position of someone who, in all good conscience, simply cannot subscribe unfeignedly to the fundamental beliefs of the Anglican Church.