Dr. Sentamu does Scarborough

IMG_8073_Scarborough_Sixth_Form_College_Scarborough_Deanery_Mission_LAWe were very lucky at Scarborough Sixth Form College to have a visit a few weeks ago from the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu. Whilst on his tour of the local area, visiting places such as St Catherine’s hospice, a selection of local schools and of course sampling the famous fish and chips, he stopped by to answer some pressing questions from my students. Here is a summary of some of his most notable quotes that could be used in an exam, as all questions were linked to parts of the spec:

Salvation/ Death and Afterlife:

  • “Nobody is outside the love of God”
  • “Hell is the description of unimaginable emptiness”
  • “I have studied many religions, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism and Islam and yet I chose Christianity as my path. Salvation is a gift from God that is not attainable through good behaviour. Hell is a place where God is absent, when we are separated from God, the results are pretty dire.”
  • “Salvation is a gift, you don’t earn it. You either receive it or reject it”
  • “Salvation is now not in future” (similar to Gutierrez ‘Kingdom of God’ in Liberation Theology)

Christianity in a Multi-Faith Society:

  • “Religious belief comes from an encounter with God, it is a relationship with God. It is a way of life, not a set of beliefs. Most other religions share the ideas of God and loving others, so they can lead to salvation. However, other religions simply list actions that must be taken to find God such as praying several times a day etc. but the Christian God offers salvation to anyone who is willing to accept his guidance.”
  • “You can’t force someone into faith”- diminishes God given free will (links to whether or not Christina should convert/ missionary work)
  • “Christianity is a lifestyle choice”
  • “Christianity offers solutions”
  • Loving neighbour – “message is still as important as was before”

Problem of Evil:

  • “God is in every person. In those gas chambers God was violated because God is within us all. Where was man when the gas chambers were happening? Not just God”
  • “How come there’s lots of good in the world? Goodness out ways the terrible.”
  • “All faiths have ethical principles, but these can be abused by individuals and violated creating evil.”
  • “Natural disasters do not exist, merely hazards, these bad things occur because the world is so finely balanced and small actions can unbalance this which then causes a reaction resulting in suffering. Suffering is caused by a separation from God.”
  • “Bertrand Russell would ask God why He did not make evidence of him clearer. But this does not go in line with free will and with this truth so blatantly exposed there would be no real freedom in making the choice to accept God.”

Christianity and Ethics:

  • “Law, religion and morals need not be separated”, “All religions have ethical principles at heart”.
  • “Christianity is not about good behaviour, I do not do good because I am Christian, I do good as a result of being Christian. When you have a relationship with God you do good things not because you want to be good but because you just do, it is a result of loving someone” (He uses an example of an apple tree. An apple tree isn’t called an apple tree because produces apples, it produces apples so it’s called an apple tree- same with Christians and relationship with God = person isn’t a Christian because they’re good, they’re good because they’re a Christian)

Views on the roles of men and women/ gender inequality/ women’s place in church:

  • “Women are quite as important as anyone else, they are a gift from God that is unique. In my opinion women are much stronger than men and they do deserve a place in the church. We are all children of God”
  • “No one is less holy” ( referring to men and women)
  • “Stupid nonsense” (that men and women have different roles)
  • “Women are stronger than men, his mother made more effort”
  • “Don’t buy that at all” (women not being able to be priests etc.)
  • “Male and female in all of us”
  • “God doesn’t say a difference in gender is a difference in ability or capacity to serve God”


  • “I question their lifestyle but they can still find God”
  • “No one is outside the love of God, being homosexual does not mean someone cannot be Christian, the definition of a homosexual person is not someone that does not or cannot have a relationship with Christ.”


  • You should read all scripture and then interpret it, rather than picking random passages. Scripture is the whole scripture = “not bits and pieces”


  • Church services need to be new and interesting- the church can’t keep assuming that the way they have preached for hundreds of years still works. “church has not woken up” cannot have services that are “constantly boring” some better cooks elsewhere

One of my student’s summarised their experience:

IMG_8094_Scarborough_Sixth_Form_College_Scarborough_Deanery_Mission_LA “I thought the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, was a funny and charismatic man with a very liberal view of his own faith of Christianity. I was surprised at how much time he spent answering everyone’s questions in depth and how he spoke to us like the young adults we are without patronising us. He spoke very wise words and even included metaphors in his answers which appealed to us in regards to modern day politics and technology i.e. Donald Trump and the iPhone. Sentamu was not insulting even in regards to questions involving homosexuality which may have been seen as controversial and I found this to be a refreshing quality in which the Archbishop of York possesses.”


Quote of the day:

“The higher the baboon climbs the tree, the more it reveals its rather unpleasant parts”  (Linking to the idea of people who crave power e.g. Trump)


Thank you to all of my students who took part in the event, including asking your questions and sending me your top quotes.

DMA_o2YXkAAfydnTo find out more information about Dr. Sentamu’s visit to Scarborough or his future events please see: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/tags.php?action=view&id=217





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