The Spectator

What would Jesus buy?

The Bishops of England and Wales have excelled themselves in their efforts to promote the Church of England’s ‘Back to Church’ day (this Sunday).

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The Bishops of England and Wales have excelled themselves in their efforts to promote the Church of England’s ‘Back to Church’ day (this Sunday).

The Bishops of England and Wales have excelled themselves in their efforts to promote the Church of England’s ‘Back to Church’ day (this Sunday). The Bishop of Sheffield has recorded a video on YouTube, Canterbury has presided over a rap-style radio ad: ‘No need to make no innovation. Please accept this as your invitation.’ But the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, has done best: he has opened up a theological can of worms. Jesus, he stated with great confidence, would not have shopped exclusively at Marks and Spencer, but would have been more comfortable in the aisles of Asda instead. While we applaud the Bishop’s message — that church-going isn’t just for the avocado-eating classes — we worry that he is dabbling in deeper waters than he realises. The 5th-century church had the Arian controversy: Jesus, man and God? The great 21st-century debate: Jesus, Asda or M&S, may prove just as divisive. Yes, Jesus loved the poor, but would He really have eschewed the pricier but more ethically sourced Fairtrade goods in Marks? Then there’s the tricky question of whether Jesus would have brought His own carrier to the checkout, or whether He would have opted for a humbler but less eco-friendly plastic bag instead. And why is the Bishop of Reading so sure that a 21st-century Jesus would choose to be born in England at all? Well perhaps He would. He’d enjoy the comedy.