A New Dean for Grafton, Gregory Jenks: “Progressive” Christianity in yet another Cathedral

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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:

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?

see “Holy Week and Easter 2014

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.

See other pieces on Bishop Macneil here.

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  1. Dannii

    My favourite quote from Jenks’s book Jesus Then and Jesus Now:

    “For many traditional expressions of Christianity the religious value (and the truth-claim status) of the resurrection tradition rests on the historicity of a resurrection event. For such people there is the further assumption that such an event is an irrefutable demonstration of the divinity of Jesus.

    For many progressive Christians, neither of these assumptions hold. Rather, the resurrection is seen as a complex interpretative process that reframes the tragic events of Jesus’ death by crucifixion in April 30 C.E. That remarkable act of faithfulness by Jesus in response to God’s call on his life, was matched by the faithfulness of God in response to the faith-filled naiveté of Jesus. As Christians see it, the cross was not the final word about Jesus, or even the defining word. For progressive Christians, it is the life of Jesus that matters most, both before and after Easter. The transformative power of Christian faith lies in the truth of the resurrection, but has nothing to do with empty tombs and missing bones.” pps.145-6

    1. Frederick Speers

      A very late thank you for providing that quote, Dannii.It gives a lot of insight into the thinking of Jenks and his associates up here in Brisbane.

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