Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, submitted this written question to the General Synod:
‘In the light of a recent public showing in a cathedral of the Martin Scorsese film The Last Temptation of Christ (which contains material graphically showing Jesus succumbing to temptation and involved in an explicitly sexual act with Mary Magdalene) has the House given any advice as to the application of the requirement of Canon F 16.1 that the words, music and pictures involved in any plays, concerts or exhibitions of films and pictures in churches “are such as befit the House of God, are consonant with sound doctrine, and make for the edifying of the people”?’
The person asked to respond was the Bishop of Chelmsford who said:
“I think I’ve been asked to answer this question as I’m the one Bishop who has seen the film. Not one of Martin Scorsese’s best films. But the answer to your specific question is no. But I’m sure if we were to do so I’m sure we would want to lay emphasis on the potential that serious art, theatre, music, poetry, cinema has for provoking reflection on the big issues around the meaning of life and of God’s purposes for his world. St Paul says that to the pure all things are pure. While it is hard to say this of such a challenging film its intentions as with the book it is based upon are to make us think deeply about Jesus’s own vocation and the ultimate purity of His intentions.”
Andrea’s second written question was:
‘Why, in light of the Statement on the Pilling Report by the College of Bishops (issued 27 January 2014) which emphasises upholding the Church of England's commitment to biblical orthodoxy on God's purpose for sexual expression (within marriage between one man and one woman), is a two-year process of facilitated conversation taking place, if such a process is not intended to change the orthodoxy?
The person who responded was the Bishop of Sheffield: ‘There is no predetermined outcome to the conversations nor is there any intention on the part of the bishops collectively to steer them to a particular conclusion. It is our aspiration to have ‘good disagreement’ that testifies to our love for one another across the church in obedience to Christ.’.