Listening to Radio 4 Any Questions yesterday, having come away from the Baptist Assembly, there was much discussion about the resignation of Canon Giles Fraser from St Paul's Cathedral Chapter.
Some of the panel admired him but thought he was wrong, others admired him but thought, on balance, he was idealistic.
Matthew Parris made the observation that Jesus Christ would have been amongst the protesters, and Jesus would have been wrong. Listen to it on IPlayer - It's around the 2 minutes 20 seconds.
What surprised me was the assumption that it was an outrageous thing to say that Jesus would have been wrong to be amongst the protesters.
Of course he would have been with the protestors - and of course he would have been wrong.
That said, I think he might have had problems with a place of worship receiving around £20,000 pounds a day from tourists, and if he overturned the Donation boxes he would have been wrong.
I think there is an intriguing question about the church and its understanding of Jesus lurking behind Matthew Parris's cultured superiority in social and political realities, over the carpenter rabbi from unfashionable Nazareth. The question what would Jesus do is always asked when we want to do the right thing. I struggle with that question sometimes because I'm not sure Jesus is as predictable, or that my guesses at what Jesus might do are always accurate, disinterested, and - well, right.
Supposing instead of asking what would Jesus do, we accepted that Jesus would often do the scandalous thing, the unexpected, socially unacceptable thing. Allow and approve of his feet to be washed in a provocative gesture by a woman; touching people with leprosy; having parties with the local owners of ASBOS; healing on the Sabbath; and yes, making life difficult for the religious status quo, including an act of protest in the temple that makes the St Paul's demonstration look like a peace camp.
Somewhere in all this we have to hear what is being said. Matthew Parris has done the church an unwitting service in compelling us to stop wrapping Jesus up in respectability, and recover some of the disturbing truth that Jesus isn't our intellectual property so that we can simply always e right in deciding what Jesus would do. In the person and ministry of Jesus our best ideas are subverted, our clever strategies face the scrutiny of whether cleverness can replace radical critique, and our models for stable social relationships and an untroubled status quo collide with one who had nowhere to lay his head, who looked on the crowds and had compassion, and who knew all about symbolic acts of protest.
Thank you Matthew Parris - for reminding us that the cultured reason of the capitalist democrat has no acceptable category for those actions and sayings of Jesus that critique such comfortable forms of injustice.