Bishop laments lack of biblical literacy
Church of England clergy have become so blasÈ about the Bible that they need "remedial" lessons in its meaning, Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham has said.
The third most senior figure in the Anglican church lamented in an Easter message the lack of "biblical literacy" even in established congregations.
Speaking to The Independent on Sunday, he also attacked the view of the afterlife held by many worshippers.
"The great majority of people think that 'going to Heaven when you die' is the name of the game. Yet it ignores the real message of Christianity. This is about commitment to equality, justice, working in the world in the present, which the old platonic dream really doesn't give you.
"The Bible story is about resurrection and new creation, not about abandoning this world and going off to some disembodied, platonic place called Heaven. Most people in the church have only a sketchy idea of what the biblical world is like."
The bishop has already courted controversy by attacking the war on Iraq, comparing Tony Blair and George Bush to "white vigilantes going into Brixton to stop drug-dealing". His predecessor at Durham, Dr David Jenkins, caused a storm by denying the literal facts of the Virgin birth and the Resurrection.
However Dr Tom Wright, a new testament scholar, presented a programme on Channel 4 on Easter Monday, which defended the resurrection and highlighted its importance for Christian belief.