by Adrian Thatcher
from Modern Believing Vol 54:2

Still Honest To God

This edition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of John Robinson's Honest To God in March 1963.

The Revd. Dr. Michael Brierley (our Reviews Editor)  and I began the planning for it well over a year ago (and proved the importance of allowing  a long lead-in time for special projects). We were determined to produce an edition worthy of Robinson,  of his life and work, and of the impact he made in and far beyond the Church. We recalled  that previous publications remembering the 25th and 40th anniversaries were in the main negative  or preoccupied with reminiscence. We were determined not to give more space to the nostalgic recollections  of elderly Christians who, like this Editor, were inspired by the book and astonished by its impact.  Neither did we want to indulge in yet more moans about what wasn't in Honest to God,  or more complaints about the incompatibility of the authors on whom Robinson drew.

We thought the best way of avoiding these pitfalls and achieving a positive up-beat edition of Modern Believing was to ask six well-known theologians each to develop the theme  of one of the chapters, and to demonstrate how each theme has retained its importance  half a century later. There are, of course, seven chapters in Honest to God, and room  for only six articles in Modern Believing. While one longer article combines the themes of two chapters, all the original essays of this edition mirror the contents and the chapter headings of Robinson's work and are published in recognisable order. We were determined to achieve a balance of gender and (more arbitrarily) of age, in commissioning authors to write for us. Modern Church is most grateful for the entirely voluntary contributions of the invited authors.

We hope the essays celebrate the achievements of Honest to God, and promote new contributions to liberal Christian  theology. That is what this journal exists to do.


Adrian Thatcher is Visiting Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter.