An Open Letter to John Saxbee
From the Rabbi Gamaliel
Dear Bishop of Lincoln
Congratulations on your election to a Christian bishopric. I am amazed, I have to say, that the threadbare bunch of enthusiasts whom I defended so long ago (in an off-the-cuff sort of way, as I am sure you understand) has so established itself as to give you security of tenure in an ancient office, and the possibility of a seat in the legislature of a great nation. My, how things have developed!
Whilst I cannot go along wholeheartedly with any of these things (as you will understand), I take some pride in the fact that they are largely the result of the hard work of one of my own pupils. You must have come across Paul.
Young Paul was a diligent pupil, and, so far as I can see, a Pharisee to the end.
I gather that you have had a recent dispute about who can preside at the Passover Seder (which you, quite properly, call ‘Eucharist’ in Greek). Like a good Pharisee (Mishnah, Peshahim 8.1 – I am myself quoted in the succeeding section!) Paul said that women were ineligible for such a role. But some of you, I gather, now think otherwise. You were, I am told, foolish enough to quote me as an authority in your argument.
I do not deny Luke’s account of my part in the Sanhedrin affair (Acts 5.34–40) – in fact I take some pride in it! – but it really is rather rich to make me responsible for your subsequent and unwarranted innovations. I was not for innovation – far from it! – I was simply against persecution. I was for being patiently attendant on the providence of God.
Now, I gather, you have grown impatient. You want the Act of Synod, which put my famous dictum into practical effect, to be rescinded by the end of next year.
This letter is to ask you to take me off the mailing list of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union. I never quite knew how I got on it; but now I clearly see that you do not share any of my own aims or objectives.
With all good wishes,
Your friend in the Abrahamic Covenant
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