Location and Times

Featured Book: Honest to God

“It would be difficult to describe the publication of Honest to God on March 19, 1963, as anything but a sensation,” sofia.org.uk attests. “The book was almost universally condemned by traditionalists,” Wikipedia acknowledges. “It’s not every day that a bishop goes on record as apparently denying almost every Christian doctrine,” The Church Times lamented. Back to Sofia: “It also gave John Robinson the distinction of being reprimanded by two archbishops of Canterbury.”

Author John A.T. Robinson, at the time bishop of Woolwich, argued in The Observer in the run-up to the book’s appearance, then in HtG itself, that “our image of God must go.” Little wonder that progressive Christianity pioneer Jack Spong called Robinson “one of the great mentors of my life,” crediting him for having “forced me to face the fact that…my faith had to grow, or it had to be abandoned.”

But here’s the thing, as Sofia’s writer ventured on the volume’s 50th anniversary: “Sadly, if the book was published today, I feel it would still receive the bitter criticism that it had in 1963 because of the inability of the church to properly discuss and debate those issues that Robinson brought to its attention 50 years ago.”

Honest to God
By John A.T. Robinson
The Westminster Press, 1963