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Breakfast with Frost
Rt Rev David Jenkins, former Bishop of Durham
Rt Rev David Jenkins, former Bishop of Durham

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: David Jenkins, the former Bishop of Durham, a controversial Bishop of Durham is here. Good morning Bishop David.

DAVID JENKINS: Good morning David.

DAVID FROST: You've brought our your, not quite an autobiography here, A Calling of a Cuckoo, a quote from Margaret Thatcher, but just a reflection on what we've been hearing there from Geoff Hoon. Do you think that this would be a just war, a morally justified war, given that St Augustine said that the purpose of all war is peace, but do you think that this is a just war, if it happens?

DAVID JENKINS: I think it shows up what a new and different - totally - different world we're in and I'm not at all enamoured at the notion of a just war. I think you may have to go to war and then it may be great, near disaster but you can't avoid it. And I think it ties up with any understanding of the possibility of god, especially as in, in Jesus, through the business of risk. You can't do anything creative without risk, you can't do anything setting things free without risk and I think risk is necessary for the purposes of love. And what is, what are the balance of the risks here? And I'm on the side of people who press as hard as possible for the United Nations to support it all because the risk of the war will be bad enough in itself but what about the risk afterwards. And unless we're building a coalition to deal with the risks afterwards, I think we're probably taking the wrong risk.

DAVID FROST: And what about the situation now - you write here in the book about your period as a Bishop and you talk about getting closer, almost closer to atheism when you were a bishop than at any other time in your life. Why, what did you mean by that?

DAVID JENKINS: Well what I meant by that was that I, I plunged in with great enthusiasm thinking here was I, in my 60th year, another chance of ten years with a wider audience of telling people about the hunch I'd had about God and the hints I'd got about God and therefore the hopes I had, for God and human beings in the name of Jesus through spirit, in relation to all sorts of other spiritual things, and because I opened up, as I thought, not to believe in the differences of the Bible, how I got it opened up and plunged in to deal with the politics and economics of the miners' strike, where I was concerned with people. All sorts of people in the church simply turned in on me, quarrelled with me about the details of the Christian faith and showed that the churches are now so turned inward, they're always trying to preserve the past for the various brands of certainty, the various brands of Christianity and indeed of course Islam and Judaism have, and have quite forgotten that if there is a real god, he's the god of now for the future. You see, so how are you going to break out and come together for the future of humanity, which I believe God promises us.

DAVID FROST: Has the established church - incidentally, is being an established church a plus or a minus?

DAVID JENKINS: It's now a minus and increasingly a minus.

DAVID FROST: Increasingly a minus - why's that?

DAVID JENKINS: Well because here we have no abiding city, the world has moved on, it isn't Christendom that's going to save everybody, it's only the coming together of human beings in civilisation, hope and service, under a god who is far greater than anything we've dreamt yet, whom is going to get on. And therefore to have an established church, to have, it's said, it's necessary for Islam to be an Islamic state, to have Judaism ruled by ultra orthodox rather than more secularised sharing people, it's a disaster.

DAVID FROST: And would you say that in terms of things like the homosexual priests, gay priests or the ordination of women priests and so on, that the Church of England has got its house in order now, or is it still squabbling?

DAVID JENKINS: It's still squabbling. And I think the homosexual business is perhaps almost the most pathetic, you know, because it seems so neurotic about sex and it shows, you see, the difference between saying a text of the Bible proves something when it's only relevant in its time and where do you go from here, between thinking things are fixed when all the species are changed, not understanding that homosexuality is distributed on a bell curve and so on. And it's just picking up a central - but an important point about sexuality - and being neurotic, worried and closed about it, and simply stopping us from getting on with the real problems.

DAVID FROST: Well thank you very much for being here. We wish you well with the book - not quite an autobiography, the Calling of a Cuckoo. It's a great pleasure to see you here. Thank you for being here.


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