Justice for Bishop George Bell of Chichester – Seeking Truth, Unity and Humanity's Survival
The summary of the report by the Church of England into ‘Christian anti-Semitism dating back centuries’ gives immediate cause for concern on at least two counts. First, it is staggering to read that hymns that ‘convey the teaching of contempt for Jews’ include Charles Wesley’s renowned Advent hymn ‘Lo, He comes with clouds descending’. The reference in that hymn to Christ’s crucifixion cannot be interpreted as in any way anti-Semitic. For one thing, it was the Romans, not the Jews, who crucified Jesus; and for another, it is meant to imply that all of us – who, like the multitudes who heralded His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday – could like them turn against Him at a moment’s notice, especially if being seen to follow Him might place us in any danger ourselves. We are all, especially at this time of year, waiting to see the ‘true Messiah’, who we believe will indeed one day return (as Revelation 1 states) in clouds of glory. Or are we to take from this report that Revelation itself is anti-Semitic?
Secondly, it would appear from this summary that there is no mention in the report of those Church members, including senior clergy, who spoke out in this country against the persecution of Jews under the Third Reich during the 1930s and 1940s. Such individuals rank among their numbers the late Bishop George Bell of Chichester, who personally supported many Jews and non-Aryan Christians to come to this country, including my own father. Bell had a difficult time persuading politicians and Church colleagues alike that not all Germans were Nazis, and it is likely that his stance cost him the most senior post that the Church had to offer. It would be an act of true Christianity if more of the present-day Church of England leaders were to follow his self-sacrificing example.