The Archbishop of Canterbury is being asked replace a new ambassador to the Vatican after reports surfaced that he doesn’t believe Jesus physically resurrected from death.
After Dr. John Shepherd was appointed as the new representative to Rome last week, a 2008 Easter sermon resurfaced in which he said: “It’s important for Christians to be set free from the idea that the resurrection was an extraordinary physical event, which restored to life Jesus’s original earthly body. The resurrection of Jesus ought not to be seen in physical terms, but as a new spiritual reality.”
He added how the disciples merely “felt his presence after his death” and the Gospel accounts in the Bible were not “historical records as we would write history today,” The Telegraph reports.
In his sermon, Shepherd claimed that the disappearance of Jesus’ body from the tomb, Jesus’ appearance behind locked doors and His vanishing from sight, His appearance as a gardener, inviting Thomas to place his hand into His pierced side, and the recognition of Jesus by disciples during a meal as documented in the Gospel accounts were simply “images of the triumph of the Spirit of God over all that physical thwarts and damages us in this life.”
“However, if some find it helpful to attach a physical dimension to the image of the resurrection, so be it,” he said. “It would be wrong to place limits on the extent to which the New Testament images can be helpful. But faith in the resurrection of Jesus need not require us to believe in the physical resuscitation of Jesus’ earthly body. People who find that concept difficult are by no means excluded from the Christian faith and the celebration of Easter.”
Shepherd’s comments were met with disapproval by leaders of Anglican churches around the world, including Rev. Lee Gatiss, who heads the Church of England’s largest evangelical group. He told The Telegraph the situation was “utterly bizarre and absolutely inappropriate.”
“If it is true that he does not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, then I don’t think he should have been ordained as a minister in the Anglican Communion in the first place,” he told the paper.
“The Bible is absolutely clear, as are the Anglican formularies, that Jesus died and rose again — it is the whole point and center of our good news for the world,” he continued. “He should stand down immediately or be replaced, for the honor and integrity of the Church of England.”
The Rev. Dr. Ian Paul, a member of the General Synod, questioned whether it was wise to “appoint someone as the Archbishop’s envoy to Rome someone who doesn’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett