It is possible to have some sympathy with the part-time protesters outside St Paul’s. They may be naïve and incapable of forming a coherent alternative to that which they term evil, but they are right to be angry. The anger is justified when we consider that those who had to foot the bill for the utter financial mismanagement of our economy are facing recession, fast vanishing pensions and growing unemployment. Meanwhile so many who have caused so much harm go on their merry way whilst continuing to pay themselves massive amounts. This is sin.
It is far more difficult to have sympathy for Revd Dr Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s and icon of the progressive church, who has just resigned. He is neither naïve nor incapable of coherent thought.
To the acclaim of progressives in the media Grandstanding Giles welcomed the protesters and warned the police off. According to many he was a true representative of Christ. Giles later agreed that the protesters should move on. Now that the Cathedral seem to be taking steps to ensure that they move on Giles has decided to make another gesture, resignation announced via Twitter.
The Dean of the Cathedral issued a statement on the resignation praising Fraser for his “humanity and humour.”
This is the same Giles Fraser who labels conservative Anglicans as ‘homophobes’ and ‘extremists.’ In his view traditionalist Anglicans opposed to homosexual marriage are, “narrow minded Puritans seeking to impose their joyless and claustrophobic world view on the rest of the church.” Despite being lauded for his humanity Fraser seems incapable of grasping that it is possible that those who disagree with him might be both sincere and thoughtful.
Fraser wants to appear tolerant and be Christian at the same time but Christianity is not primarily tolerant. In the most important aspect of life Christianity, thankfully, is unashamedly intolerant. Christianity, based on the Bible, defines what is right and what is wrong and refuses to change its standards to accord with the spirit of the times. Where the Church does get it right is that it forgives when a person repents of wrongdoing, even bankers and Canons.
But it is not the patronising intolerance towards any who differ from him displayed by Fraser which is most troubling. His self-righteous arrogance may be annoying but it is not fatal. What is much more serious is his open denial of much of Christianity. As well as denying the immortality of the soul Fraser takes dead aim at the soteriology held by those ‘extremists’ he so despises.
This is his view on the atoning death of Christ:
“For too long, Christians have put up with a theory of salvation that has at its core the idea that God requires the sacrifice of his own son so that human sin can be cancelled. “There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin,” we will all sing.
“The fact this is a disgusting idea, and morally degenerate, is obvious to all but those indoctrinated into a very narrow reading of the cross.”
True, such is the awesome magnitude of what happened on Golgotha that there is more than one way of approaching the complexity of what happened on the cross, but for a purported leader of the church, and especially a leading light of the Inclusive Church, to indulge in such intemperate language would indicate that Fraser is more interested in playing to the gallery than engaging in theological debate.