In celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Authorised Version the Reverend Geraint ap Iorwerth of St Peter ad Vincula Church, Pennal, burnt some pages of the Bible which he didn’t like and also cut up pages from the Bible to create an artwork. According to Mr ap Iorwerth he did this because it revealed “a cruel and vile God”.
He said he also planned to create a “wall of shame” at the church naming all of God’s “cruel actions”.
In response his superior Andy John the Bishop of Bangor said: “Destroying
parts of the Bible we don’t like is disrespectful and will offend many people.” No public mention from the bishop of any offence it might cause God. The whole situation presented as a problem because some will be offended.
The bishop did, however, say that he would not let the matter rest. He said: “I have therefore written to the Reverend Geraint ap Iorwerth and will be investigating the matter further.
“There are parts of the Bible that we struggle to understand today because culturally our life is so far removed from that period in which the Bible was written.
“However, it is not given to us to pick and choose – sometimes the most challenging parts are those which we need to wrestle with most of all.”
This is something which his subordinate has not been taught in seminary or has failed to realise on his own throughout his life in the church. A priest since 1975 ap Iorwerth has been incumbent of Pennal for thirty years.
ap Iorwerth is clearly a highly confused man with little acquaintance with theology or of rational thought processes. The Reformation and the Enlightenment both seem to have slipped him by unnoticed. However, he clearly didn’t come to his views overnight. His parish has long been a centre for what might be charitably described as eccentric religiosity.
In 1997 he celebrated Yuletide with his parishoners with a circle dance around the church to acknowledge the coming of the midwinter full moon. Stepping out with the best of them, ap Iorwerth was pleased to celebrate the splendour of the moon, the cycle of the seasons and the power of nature in a series of dances which drew on pre-Christian, Hindu and Jewish traditions.
The real problem is not that one man has taken an action which after all is in
accordance with his beliefs but that he is only taking to its logical conclusion what has become commonplace in progressive neo-Protestant thought, God must be made acceptable to man.
His views are the inevitable consequence of what happens when we shift from a God-centred view of faith to a man-centred view of faith. ap Iorwerth is merely one very public step ahead of many who share his basic premise, that God should be forced to accommodate to man.
Centring his objection to Scripture on his own emotions ap Iorwerth said: “I find it highly offensive that people would think I have given my life to serving that type of God and that I would regard the words of the King James Bible as sacred truth.
“I cut out all the nasty bits of that Bible, the language of which is being celebrated all over the place this year, because I don’t think you can separate that language from the God it is representing. I was gobsmacked no programmes or articles are representing the cruelty, revenge and hatred of this version of God.”
The rector of Pennel is of the opinion that, “The King James Bible should be
praised for its language but not for the God it represents – the two need to be seperated.”
ap Iowerth has made very visible what the church has known throughout it’s existence, when we try to seperate God from His revelation of Himself we create our own god. The name of “Christian” and the outward trappings are there, the reality has vanished.
What will the Church in Wales do? What would any other mainstream church do?