From The Daily Telegraph, December 14, 1993
Christ will not return, says Dr Jenkins
By Damian Thompson
THE Bishop of Durham, Dr David Jenkins, has ignited a new row in the Church of England by claiming there is no such thing as eternal damnation or the Second Coming of Christ.
It emerged yesterday that Dr Jenkins, speaking at a recent conference for Anglican lay readers, went further than ever before in challenging orthodox Christian doctrines.
"I am clear that there can be no Hell for eternity - our God could not be so cruel," he said.
"However, I think for some people who have wasted every opportunity for redemption, there may be extinction . . . I do not think it possible to believe any longer in a literal Second Coming or the end of the world."
His comments were condemned last night by the Rt Rev Noel Jones, Bishop of Sodor and Man, who accused Dr Jenkins of "undermining one of the central tenets of Christianity".
He said: "Belief in a Second Coming is one of the prime statements of the faith."
The latest outburst by Dr Jenkins, who retires next year, will ensure that his career ends as controversially as it began. ln 1984, shortly ofter his consecration, he caused outrage by using the phrase "conjuring trick with bones" in a discussion about the Resurrection.
He also expressed doubts about the Virgin Birth and claimed it was not necessary to believe in the divinity of Christ to be called a Christian. Thousands of traditionalists petitioned against his consecration, and when York Minster was struck by lightning there was much talk of divine intervention.
In a book published last month, the Archbishop of York, Dr Habgood, strongly defended Dr Jenkins.
"He has said nothing which would have surprised or shocked his fellow theologians," he wrote. "In raising questions about the stories in which these fundamental doctrines are expressed, he has done no more than every theological student is required to do."
The Rt Rev David Lunn, Bishop of Sheffield, accused Dr Jenkins last night of making "unhelpful" comments. "The Church may not require us to believe in the physical torments associated with Hell, but that is not the same as saying it does not exist," he said.
A copy of the published article is here (JPEG file, 73KB).
Related material on this site:
Discoveries in Subatomic Physics Completely Vindicate the Bishop of Durham - an article by Michael Roll about Dr David Jenkins