Tuesday, October 8, 2013


"Be obedient to your bishop and contradict him in nothing."

"Where there is Christianity there cannot be Judaism."

These words were penned by Ignatius at the turn of the second century. It didn't take long for the church to become a hierarchical, anti-Semitic institution, did it!? Calls for congregations to be "subject" to bishops and presbyters are scattered throughout Ignatius's letters. Indeed, one of Ignatius's rather novel titles for Christ is "the true and first Bishop".

It is perhaps hard for some today to shake the idea of a bishop as power-wielding, child-abuse-masking hypocrite from their minds. But - and hopefully this is stating the obvious - there are other kinds of bishop out there. Think of Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador. He was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass, an assassination very much related to his denunciations of injustice and oppression and solidarity with those on the receiving end. Bishop Ignatius was perhaps thought of in much the same way back in his day, what with him writing these letters while in chains and on the way to Rome to be executed.

Therein lies the key to Christian leadership: if you want to be taken seriously as a leader in the church, you have to be doing the kinds of things that make the government want to kill you.


  1. I cant accept this. And im not sure if I cant accept it because I know full bloodly well I am not a leader that the government would want to kill or if I think its a false assumption.

  2. I'm not so sure, Richie. Hang one of those flags you've made outside your house, or preach a sermon that would convey the same message, and you may very well find yourself a target. I guess the point I'm making with the statement in the blog is that Christian leadership is not a complimentary form of leadership within "wider society", but it is a leadership that ought to challenge other forms and ways of leading. If Christian leaders aren't doing this, if they are not preaching and embodying a message that is threatening to the powers that be, then it is not clear what difference "Christian" makes, or indeed Christ.

  3. Yeah that's a better way of putting it.