Nick Spencer

The true meaning of Jesus’s radical message

Biblical scholars, one of the greatest of them once remarked, go looking for Jesus only to find themselves staring at their own reflection down the bottom of a very deep well. As with scholars, so with cultures. The Victorian Jesus was meek and mild and proper and principled. There’s a rather good sketch of ‘GOP

Who was to blame for the death of Jesus?

In 1866, the Russian historian Alexander Popov made an astonishing discovery. Leafing through a Renaissance Slavonic translation of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, Popov found detailed notes on the trial of Jesus written by none other than Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus to death. The notes, finally published in a German edition

The delicate balance between God and Caesar in modern Britain

At a well-reported political meeting at London’s Queen’s Hall during the first world war the preacher and suffragette Maude Royden used a phrase that would pass into history. ‘The Church shall go forward along the path of progress,’ she argued hopefully, ‘and be no longer satisfied to represent the Conservative party at prayer.’ ‘Conservative’ would

When atheists stole the moral high ground

In 1585, Jacques du Perron presented to the court of the French king Henry III, as a kind of after-dinner entertainment, a formal logical argument for the existence of God. Du Perron, formerly a Protestant, was now well on his way to becoming a cardinal. He was a highly intelligent and rhetorically gifted man and

The strange birth of liberal England

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the one to heaven may be surfaced with bad ones. We like to imagine otherwise. We are rational, sensible, moral creatures. If we only think scientifically and apply ourselves, we can achieve anything. Hence the recent secular historiography of the Enlightenment and modern world, which,