5 August 2006 by Simon Sarmiento
Here is a selection of recent items related to current debates:
Nick Knisely The Michelson-Morley Experiment and the Experience of Gay and Lesbian Christians
Teresa Mathes Don’t Call Them Conservatives
Paul Zahl interviewed in the Church of Ireland Gazette
Doug LeBlanc in Christianity Today Falling Apart
Mark Harris Challenging the Archbishop: The latest report from the pack of cards.
In regard to Nick Knisely and others, it may well be that for many, if not most, Anglicans there is a confusion about what is meant precisely by ‘homosexual.’ In this regard, the gay activists have not done either party to the debate much of a favour. What is included in the term, good people with steady relationships based on mutual love and respect, or is it a great deal more open-ended than that?
There are a great many rather more ‘predatory’ gays than one might think from the sympathetic propaganda. The lonely incompleteness of gay males as they get older, still yearning for younger men’s attention, the lesbian partners who demand that you divorce your family in order to show your loyalty to them ? No one seems to mention the psychopathology which is as evident amongst gays – or moreso – as among ‘straights’, whatever that term might mean. What exactly are conscientious Christians being asked to sign on to ?
These are legitimate questions, and areas that I would like to see more fully discussed and considered. For example, I distinguish between mutually consenting sex between two mature adults; from sex with immature souls or where bribery, power, coercion or deception are used.
By bundling all GLBTs in the one basket, we have predators amongst gentle souls. While we have a group who refuses to countenance any discussion in the area, we can not tease these issues out more fully and work out how to protect people. The predators aren’t going to help us as they are using the moderates to legitimise their abusive end of the continuum.
I liked Theresa Mathes’ article, and it reminded me of article about African interfaith that I found the other day http://www.wombatwonderings.org/plugins/newsfeed.cgi?rm=content&plugin_data_id=14021 One comment was “If religious moderates keep quiet, then the extremists will have their day.”
Similarly, if religious extremists use covert strategies (especially avoiding email) then they become a mirage and can taunt those they are attacking with accusations of paranoia or delusions. Knowing that they are organised and communicating, but knowing that the evidence to support the claims is hidden. Actually, ABC also made this error some months ago when he met with some US conservatives and warned that the internet was a problem.
It reminds me of the passage from Daniel 11:36-39. The unknown god who exhalts himself above all others, says unheard of things against the God of gods, shows no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, attacks the mightiest fortresses, makes those who honour him rulers over many people and distributes the land at a price.
Especially when a couple of weeks ago us “liberals” were accussed of having presuppositions – to which I listed four of my own – and then they retorted that they did not have to list theirs as their “god” was above being made known. (Which is not at all consistent with the God of the Book of Truth who seems to bend over backwards to make Himself and His intents known, time and time again).
Cheryl, I’m disappointed that you seem not to recognize that *Harold* is the one “propagandizing” here. I mean, c’mon: “The lonely incompleteness of gay males as they get older, still yearning for younger men’s attention, the lesbian partners who demand that you divorce your family in order to show your loyalty to them ?” Where does this come from? “Focus on the Family”? (Statistics, please? Or am I being too much of a “gay activist”, to demand FACTS not LIBEL?!)
“No one seems to mention the psychopathology which is as evident amongst gays – or moreso – as among ‘straights’, whatever that term might mean.”
This is a *Straw Man*. No LGBT of reasonable intelligence would argue otherwise. It may well, in fact, be that LGBTs have *more* psychopathology . . . as one could PREDICT from the appalling amount of discrimination, hatred and outright violence they have to deal with! (Discrimination, hatred and violence that NO straight person ever receives, ‘qua’ being straight)
“I would like to see more fully discussed and considered. For example, I distinguish between mutually consenting sex between two mature adults; from sex with immature souls or where bribery, power, coercion or deception are used.”
Absolutely, Cheryl. Just as clearly, that kind of free-form discussion CANNOT take place, when predicated on the biases of the ill-informed/ill-informing. Framing debate ala “Have you stopped beating your wife?” isn’t—contra Harold—“conscientious” (much less “Christian”), it’s *prejudice*. >:-/
He probably is propagandising. But the issues of predatory behaviour applies as much in homosexual circles as it does in heterosexual circles. It is naive to say that one end is “pure” and only the other end sins. That applies to workers/bosses liberals/puritans heteros/homos male/female. Bundling allows bullies to hide behind gentle people.
Yes, there is a risk of divide and conquer. There is also a risk of a credibility gap if we do not take responsibility for the risks of predatory behaviour at the liberal end of the spectrum.
By being prepared to ask the hard questions, and point out that they apply universally, and not just to GLBTs is actually a way of distinguish the sin from the sinner and putting in place practical measures to protect the innocent (whether that be children, GLBTs, Jews, ethnic miniorities, women, the disabled, or the alien).
In this sense, the liberals can gain the moral high ground over the puritans, because they dehumanise and dismiss whole sectors and justify it on the basis of the worst case scenarios/examples. They look at the “filth” of the clothing, and do not acknowledge the fire within. Similarly, the puritans can not build true friendships or bridges, because they can not imagine that God works through sinners and thus dismiss potential allies because they are “fallen”. It has been rather amusing in the last few months to watch numerous wasteful shepherds try to make out that they are there for the underdog, while they still continue to suppress the arts, mutilate women, and ignore human rights.
I’ve been thinking about your concerns since the last posting. There’s another couple of things that come to mind. Firstly, there is a pathetic debating style of finding one weakness to then dismiss the whole of someone’s argument (similar to finding one example of a woman’s poor morality to justify raping her). Or the sloppy methodology where one compares a bad example from the enemy to the best of your own and then generalise the pattern across both groups.
The other question that is really niggling at me is “would you trust these people to negotiate on your behalf?” They are as likely as not to sell you out if it would mean preserving their own self-interests (or in this case church assets), without telling you they were doing it until it was a fait accompli.
Maybe that is one reason they are so concerned about the Robinson/Schori consecrations. They might be able to tolerate people who think nice things of gays/women; but don’t make it manifest!
Personally, I would rather a group of people who were honest about who they chose, than a group who pass over the best candidate in order to preserve appearances. The latter I would not trust to advocate on my behalf when the chips were down. The former I would trust because they would be prepared to stand up for me, even if it meant some personal discomfort for themselves.
It is important to note Harold J’s comment
‘straights’, whatever that term might mean.
I would say there is no such thing as a ‘straight’ person and I am not straight or GLBT.
I am a man and I have sexual desires and attractions some of which God created for some of which God did not create for. I have a God based ‘worldview’ not a ‘sexual desire’ or ‘sexual activity’ based worldview
Well, DW’s position is obviously one way to go. However it is not the only, ethical, true, good, total, exclusive, final, absolute, eternally informed way to go.
So I respectfully decline the invitation to erase or neglect or cover up that aspect of my person and relationships which educated common sense identifes as my sexual orientation, however well-meaning that invitation probably is. Part of my choosing another path involves my ethical call to honesty, admittedly an alternative clarity and honesty, particularly with myself as irrevocably related to the rest of humanity.
I spent an entire childhood running away from my non-straight sexual orientation, and making a claim or presuming a belief much like DW’s – i.e., that such a thing as myself actually did not exist. It didn’t work out very well, for all sorts of practical and empirical and ethical reasons.
Another part of my reason is that if I neglect my sexuality, I neglect an occasion of loving potential and creaturely giftedness. I am reminded powerfully of the New Testament parable about the fearful servant who seeks to preserve the master’s legacy by hiding his treasure, safely, in the ground. Per Jesus, the master is not all that happy with the servant’s putting a no risk approach above all else, not even as presupposed by the servant’s view of the master’s good name and best interests. Why do without something good that calls me out of myself, to be involved and giving with other people?
The body is capable of good things, including sexuality, at different human developmental stages throughout the life cycle. I do not find much innate to human sexual attraction that is, in itself, bad. Combine attractions with deceptions, force, and violating the other person? Then we are not really any longer on a sexually embodied path, but on some other, meaner path. Maybe.
Acknowledging my sexual orientation is as simple and as complicated as the vocation to Tiukkun Olam.
The key distinction we may seek and need is: dare I say it again? Our hermeneutic presuppositions, taken as self-evident, and therefore not scrutinized or intentionally investigated and chosen.
When it comes to any bad data about LGBTQ Folks, the standard conservative heuristic-hermeneutic strategy simply presumes that it must have been caused – in whole or in part – by their not being straight to begin with. When it comes to any bad data about Straight Folks, the standard conservative hermeneutic strategy hardly ever bothers to presume that their sexual orientation must have been a partial or entire cause of something bad.
The cure for this intellectual defect? Cross-check presuppositions carefully throughout, so make sure that presumptive causal and other hypotheses are equally tried out, even as thought experiments, on all anchor points along the revised Kinsey Scale for sexual orientation.
Let us be really crass and take HIV-AIDS as a test case. Statistical fact is, most cases of HIV-AIDS sexually contracted around our planet are among heterosexual people. Does this prove that being straight causes HIV-AIDS? Not according to the conservative heuristic skew. In grouped cases of non-straight folks having HIV-AIDS, suddenly their sexual orientation is a partial or whole cause. Data tip: The HIV strains are equivalent in people infected, regardless of their sexual orientations.
The data? So far, large epidemiological and survey studies using empirical best practice methods under real world circumstances have not found a greater incidence of mental illness or ineffective living (not to mention, predatory sexuality) among non-straight people. People who really wish to start and continue inquiring – research is still ongoing – could begin with information from the UCLA School Mental Health Project.
[I hope I’m staying on topic, as an American w/ an opinion! ;-)]
Cheryl, I don’t know why you keep harping on “predatory behavior” (which Harold brought up). It simply *isn’t at issue*. No defends it. No one countenances it. No one says “God made some people predatory, and they’re entitled to have their predatory relationships blessed/predators should be able to be ordained.”
NOBODY. SAYS. THAT.
When Harold queries, “What is included in the term, good people with steady relationships based on mutual love and respect, or is it a great deal more open-ended than that?”, it’s absolutely *rhetorical*. It’s a GIVEN that we’re talking about “good people with steady relationships based on mutual love and respect” (though obviously, still sinners like everyone else).
To continue to be *distracted* by specious rhetoric, while more of those “good people” (good LGBT people) are getting church doors slammed in their faces, is nothing less than a Pilate-like hand-washing routine.
Rhetoric—like DaveW’s “I am a man and I have sexual desires and attractions some of which God created for some of which God did not create for.”
Well, duh: I simply refuse to believe the *non-Biblical propaganda*, that those non-God-created desires, arise merely from the bodily *plumbing* of whomever one is attracted to.
“I have a God based ‘worldview’ not a ‘sexual desire’ or ‘sexual activity’ based worldview”
Re the latter: who, sir, does? Not any LGBT Anglican *I* know!
I like your posting. It reminds us to not look only from our animal instincts.
Thank you for your response. I think what we believe is mostly opposites here. You believe what I have said is not the “only, ethical, true, good, total, exclusive, final, absolute, eternally informed way to go” but I would say compared to what you are saying it is.
But I don’t cover up my sexual orientation either in so much as I have already mentioned it. I don’t call it sexual orientation I call it sexual desires. I am tempted by many things including in sexual matters adulterous thoughts and temptations but I wouldn’t define myself by them nor would I try and claim adultery is ok if I am honest and its is natural to me…not if Jesus is the truth the way and the life. So there is no element of covering up anything for me.
I am curious to note your reference to the parable of the talents. One might ask why Jesus used treasure in the parable and not something sexual? In fact are you saying your gift is something the scriptures says is wrong?
I think its important to be able to acknowledge all of our sexual attractions though.
Its not a case of temptation, Dave, but simply whether we are orientated towards sexual attraction towards the same or the opposite sex.
That is sexual orientation: what you talk about applies to people of all sexual orientations. The Bible has no understanding of sexual orientation, which reflects the knowledge of the men who wrote it. It emphasises why it is such an inadequate document on which to base our ideas on this topic.
Dave, you would not define yourself by these sexual temptations simply because they do not define. Most every adult person has these kinds of thoughts from time to time. It defines nothing.
On the other hand, being gay does define someone. It certainly makes a difference to the street thugs who will beat up a person for no more reason than being gay. It defines something when someone feels the need to deny it.
Everyone has sexual feelings — it is part of the human condition. But only part of the group — by far the largest part of the group — have an outlet for these urges in marriage. We deny this outlet to gay folk and yet we condemn them for failing to live up to the only alternative we permit them — lifelong chastity.
The overarching theme of Scripture is Love in all of its varied forms. When we find a relationship characterized by fidelity, mutual interdepoendance and love, we should be celebrating it, not peeking to see if the participants have our preferred arrangement of parts.
“One might ask why Jesus used treasure in the parable”
Perhaps because it’s a parable? You know, a story designed to produce reflection and thought and creative interpretation, not an end-of-year report on Judaean banking?
Yes DW I think we have different ideas about what sexuality/embodiment is, and how it is, and what value – if any – it has at different stages of human life (from birth to death).
So far as the parable goes, maybe my approach would be equally clear (or equally disputed and confusing) if for sexuality, you simply substituted an alternate gift, intelligence.
Intelligence/thinking can on occasion facilitate all manner of meanness. Or goodness, too.
That capacity for meanness does not result in my adopting an approach wherein I presume – based on scripture and/or tradition – that the brain, CNS, PNS, psychohormonal systems, neuromuscular articulations, and so forth – are innately shameful and something very near to being nothing but a clear sign of original sin.
On the other hand, so far as I understand your approach, I think I could manage pretty well to give the human brain and its possibilites of meanness the same treatment your views give the sexual/body.
Moving the frames around, I can then try out what sexuality/body looks like, if I treat it more or less as I would otherwise treat the human brain and all its related systems/structures/functions.
Such thought experiments allow me to intentionally scrutinize in each case – what is predictable from the given frame, what is helpful and accurate and accurately positive/negative (so far as I can know inside the frames I am investigating), and what is not helpful or is inaccurate or is unnecessarily negative (so far as I can know).
I am not sure just how to speak to your views, except to acknowledge that I am alternative to them, and to try to express some of the key differences, clearly and rationally. As this compare/contrast emerges, then I get opportunities to explain a bit of my own rationale without necessarily getting much nearer to your self-evident approach. This makes it difficult to talk an important hot button topic over very well, very consistently. That is why we are so culturally different. I take almost nothing that you say you take, for granted, as self-evident very much in the way you seem to take it. You take almost nothing as a topic of inquiry, unless it is something way besides the hot button issues where our differences clash.
More about our frames compared/contrasted in a bit. Maybe.
drdanfee. I loved your comment “Acknowledging my sexual orientation is as simple and as complicated as the vocation to Tiukkun Olam.”
J.C. The issue of predatory behaviour comes up because it is the issue that has most discredited the Christian churches in the last few centuries. Pedophilia cover ups, burning of midwives as witches, Klu Klux Klans led by ministers, accomplices to State repression aka Oastler. It is the kind of stuff that Jesus despised, and is also despised by the OT God.
If we don’t acknowledge the issue, they still use the issue behind our backs. Just because we might dodge the minefield within TA does not mean that others are not blundering into mines in other forums or one-on-one. The only way to neutralise the ultra-puritans in this regard is to prove that their mines are hot air and vitriole, and that when their challenges of sin are closely examined they are often guilty of such appalling behaviour – just in less honest fashions e.g. communicating verbally and avoiding emails so there is no legally admissable evidence of their attempts to predatorily bully parishioners or steal their assets…
Again, thinking about it since the posting (you raised a good question). I think there are two other major motivators. Subjectively, personal experience makes this a passion – God’s training ground. Secondly, there is an illusion that once one gains favor with God, then one is above being reproached. That is a dangerous illusion, and one I personally had to deal with recently when the local minister told me that his church was above corruption because “they knew Jesus”. That is, Old Testament priestly errors did not or could not occur in Christian churches because of Jesus’ grace. Phooey to that idea. And phooey to anyone who says that because you belong to a certain sector/clique/institution that your behaviour is automatically above reproach and above questioning. The minute any institution makes that error, you can bet your bottom dollar that every power hungry predator in town will be jockeying for position in that place!
Dear Mersey Mike,
I would say it is a case of temptation, so I disagree with you.
As to the Bible reflecting the knowledge of men and not adequate, well it is for Christians sir, though we cant expect non-believers to base their ideas on it. I guess that is where we will ultimately differ as we have different truths and worldviews
I do not define people by sexual temptations but as people define themselves as gay I think that is defining by temptation. I rebuke violence by the way.
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but I would suggest same-sex sexual relationships aren’t in Christ Jesus.
As to the overarching theme of Scripture is Love in all of its varied forms, No I disagree with you you are inculding things that God has not intended
I made no mention of intelligence concerning the parable. If Jesus is the truth it doesnt mattter what man describes CNS, PNS, psychohormonal systems, neuromuscular articulations, if its in line with God’s word then its good. Who created man in the first place?
The gospel isnt some highly intellectual exercise, it was realised by physicians and fishermen.
1 Corinthians 1:25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
1 Corinthians 2:14 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” It seems we have two different gospels and faiths
Bless you all
What is “predatory behavior?”
One may encounter both gays and straights looking for one-night stands depending on what bars one frequents. Just say no or go to nicer bars.
The other is pedophilia, statistically overwhelmingly committed by adult men who identify as straight against prepubescent children of whatever gender is handy, often their own family members.
Just as most straight males are not rapists, most gay folk are not pedophiles.
Much of the inapproporiate bahavior by RC priests was against little boys because they were handy – they – but not little girls – could be acolytes. RC schools often had sex-segregated classes, with priests and brothers teaching boys and sisters teaching girls. A good deal of the male/male sexual predation was men violating post or near pubescent boys – ephebophilia – a very evil abuse of power but a different one from pedophilia. Neither is excusable, but they are different.
To say pedophilia is a gay crime makes as much sense as to say that all straight males are rapists.
“I do not define people by sexual temptations but as people define themselves as gay I think that is defining by temptation. I rebuke violence by the way.”
In the days of the Civil Rights Era (in the U.S.), African-Americans would often march w/ signs that simply said “I AM A MAN”—to counter the emotional and spiritual (as well as physical) *violence* of those who would *redefine* them as subhuman.
What you are doing, DaveW, in *redefining* those who identify as gay, as “defining by temptation” is just more of this kind of violence: a different gospel indeed. 🙁
I’d also ask whether the RC priesthood attracted people with problems regarding their sexuality, which were exacerbated by RC rules
“The only way to neutralise the ultra-puritans in this regard is to prove that their mines are hot air and vitriole, and that when their challenges of sin are closely examined they are often guilty of such appalling behaviour – just in less honest fashions e.g. communicating verbally and avoiding emails so there is no legally admissable evidence of their attempts to predatorily bully parishioners or steal their assets…”
I think it’s up to me how I define myself, actually. I mean, I could define conservative religionists as deluded and unthinking, but that would not be very fair!
However, it certainly emphasises all the more than no gay person with a modicum of sense would choose such a worthless religion to follow
When are we liberals going to drop this nonsense about our all following the same faith and speak out clearly – liberal Christianity has NOTHING to do with conservative Christianity.
“I’d also ask whether the RC priesthood attracted people with problems regarding their sexuality, which were exacerbated by RC rules”
It’s likely not so much RC rules as the culture of the RC Church in this country in the 1940s 1950s and 1960s when many of the offending priests were educated and ordained.
That was a time when the RC church’s teachings about sexuality and celibacy were not very sophisticated, and when many priests went from RC high schools directly into diocesan seminaries, skipping college and much contact with a non-RC world. I would guess that RC young men with pedophile leanings might actually have been attracted to the priesthood, doing the kind of magical thinking that addicts often use: “If I take a vow of celibacy, I won’t be attracted to children.” Guess what? The vow was not a magic pill, and their work put tham smack in the middle of temptation.
It probably didn’t help that RC sex education in that time was less than helpful, when it existed.
Dear J. C. Fisher
“What you are doing, DaveW, in *redefining* those who identify as gay, as “defining by temptation” is just more of this kind of violence: a different gospel indeed. :-(“
As I said before I am not defining anyone but you are still doing it. Having done your defining I would say its a definition by temptation. I am sorry if you don’t like that. As to your ‘violence’, I would say its more like an attack against the gospel of Jesus Christ… that is your choice… we are all entitled to our opinions I hope.
You talk about liberal Christianity and conservative Christianity as two different things. That’s probably one of the more helpful comments here, the two beliefs are clearly mostly very different to the point that they differ more than they have in common in core points.
What is rather more revealing is that you have recently commented that you place little if any trust in the Bible. Can I therefore assume that you speak for liberals rather than liberal Christians or am I to assume liberal Christians dont place any trust in the Bible?
Dave reminded us
1 Corinthians 1:25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
I would humbly point out that the logic of that is that the gulf between God’s foolishness and humanity’s complete stupidity is even wider.
This has to be one of the most abused texts in the Christian canon — privileging non-sense (and not in the Zen understanding) over wisdom (another good OT theme), encouraging the rejection of reason (ironic in a faith which alleges fidelity to the Logos), rather than being allowed its proper purpose of reminding us of the limits of human reasoning powers.
Is there anyone out there who still holds to the ‘simple fisherman’ authorship of three of the Gospels? To do so seems to do down the tremendous sophistication and literary skill which lies behind them, does it not?
DaveW ; I speak for myself and no-one else.
I think the Bible is a book which contains some insightful material, but it all needs to be approached in the light of what it is – a human production writeen by men of another age who had very different levels of knowledge and assumption framed by their culture.
I don’t generally ‘trust’ books which are inanimate objects.
Cheers to Cynthia for taking on the hard issues and trying to tease out some of the assumptions.
Alan M seemed confused about predatory behaviour being more than homosexuality or pedophilia. Predatory behaviour can be entrapment e.g. pimps ensnaring women (or young boys) into sex trade by confiscating their money and using violence to keep them under control. Some spouses also use the same tactics, as do some parents over their children. We also see such behaviour being used against the intellectually disabled, the physically weak (old age pensioners are popular targets for con artists). We see such behaviour in cults which can lead to appalling consequences e.g. Jonestown.
If the conservatives are confused by these concepts, that might explain why they don’t realise that some of their behavior is predatory. But then again perhaps it is foolishness pitting itself against solo scripturalists’ wisdom…
“What is rather more revealing is that you have recently commented that you place little if any trust in the Bible. Can I therefore assume that you speak for liberals rather than liberal Christians or am I to assume liberal Christians dont place any trust in the Bible?”
If I may quote from an official, if much-neglected, document, the 1922 Commission on Christian Doctrine published 1937 under the chairmanship of William Temple…
“The authority ascribed to the Bible must not be interpreted as prejudging the conclusions of historical, critical and scientific investigation IN ANY FIELD (my caps) not excluding that of the Biblical documents themselves.
Christian thinkers are not necessarily bound to the thought-forms employed by the Biblical writers”
and so on (op cit p32.)The observations which folow give scant comfort to anyone trying to turn Anglicanism into a narrow biblicist cult, eg
“The actual teaching (sc of Jesus) was called forth by particular occasions and was conditioned by the thought-forms and circumstances of the time”
“The record cannot be accepted as always reproducing the ipsissima verba of our Lord”
“There is some reason to think that in some cases the words attributed to our Lord reflect rather the experience of the primitive CHurch, or the utterances of Christian prophets, than actual words of Jesus.”
It’s a fascinating report, and really torpedoes any attempt by the biblicist to deregister the rest of us as Anglican.
Sorry, Dave, but this document, greatly antedating the bogeyman-laden 1960’s, acknowledges people like Merseymike (and maybe even me) as faithful Anglicans. Now, you may take the view that to be a faithful Anglican isn’t to be a faithful Christian, but that could really stir up a hornet’s nest, don’t you think?:-)
Poor Cheryl has a rather warped view of the world if she imagines that conservative Christians are routinely engaging in the behaviour she describes.
It would be helpful if, before hitting the keyboard, she would first write it out on paper and ask herself, is this reality which I am describing, or merely polemic?
I think conservative Christians’ ideology almost inevitably leads to controlling behaviour, Alan. Part of the territory.
Well it would be really nice to live on a planet where I could expect support for my family life and parenting, as well as for my professional work, my daily dependence on and involvement with something from the sciences, and so forth.
To live alternatively and ethically is not a contradiction. My work is sufficiently complicated that we who pursue it must stay open-minded, and able to learn from and correct our mistakes, or simply grow the good into something better. My life, my work, my care, and my person are not exhaustively encompassed or discerned, only in the six or seven clobber passages from scripture. Alas. We are not living on that planet.
The gospel which here, now, among us claims it is the only total good news approaches me, so we are told, with nothing but suspicion, fear, and even loathing. My strict obedience is asked as fodder for its traditional hegemony. I can best follow Jesus, so we are told, by putting my human gifts or talents or potentials – defined as nothing but sin – in escrow until they can be purely and safely exercised in heaven where no sin mars the utter, eternal perfection. Leaders by virtue of their superior virtue may live in somewhat greater leeway, but maybe not that much more leeway. Maybe that is because they are like the football team scholars who need to eat fine steak to keep up their strength and win the game on Saturday. As the old Jewish saying goes, The rabbi gets a pass on ….
This all seems way too small to me. Surely the God who creates such an unifinished and mysterious cosmos as we inhabit also creates our human natures, replete with unfinished potentials and mysterious reality – among which mysteries surely is the ability to learn and investigate and weigh and grow in understanding. The God I am being preached is too small a deity, because the cosmos that is implicitly being preached (including the human/animal nature being located inside that cosmos) is a pre-modern cosmos, not least when it comes to empirical complexities of both the far stars and of human nature. Here I provisionally stand. Lord have mercy.
PS. Thanks lots for the Temple. I dimly remember Maurice and Temple, thinking, now that is part of why I am an Anglican believer. In fact, there is a book from 1979, The Spirit of Anglicanism, edited by Professors Wolf, Booty, and Thomas.
Odd, that comment, MM. All the evidence I see from the USA is that the liberal wing is in such complete control that it has even dispensed with basic rules of justice, such as a fair trial in public. Or is this just untypical, aberrant behaviour by one unrepresentative set of “liberals”?
“I speak for myself and no-one else.”
That’s what I was questioning, if you speak for yourself why did you write ‘we liberals’ and do liberal Christians believe the Bible is simply a product of man as you say?
In my view of course the Bible was written by men but although it contains for example history, parable, prophesy, poetry as well, it also contains the words and teachings of Jesus and of course written that it is by impartation from God by His Spirit. So then in this way it is not dependent on men’s knowledge, their assumptions or their culture. That is why for we Christians it is in this respect God’s word.
Dear Dave Rowett,
“I would humbly point out that the logic of that is that the gulf between God’s foolishness and humanity’s complete stupidity is even wider.
This has to be one of the most abused texts in the Christian canon — privileging non-sense (and not in the Zen understanding) over wisdom (another good OT theme), encouraging the rejection of reason (ironic in a faith which alleges fidelity to the Logos), rather than being allowed its proper purpose of reminding us of the limits of human reasoning powers.”
If you mean what the scripture says about the issue is nonsense compared to man’s reasoning then I am afraid your comment is exactly what I believe the scripture refers to as foolishness. I quoted the reference in relation to CNS, PNS, psychohormonal systems and neuromuscular articulations as in line with God’s word then its good… are you saying you dont agree?
As to your reference to the 1922 Commission on Christian Doctrine under the chairmanship of William Temple, I tend to agree with its pronouncements and you but you have missed my point, one cant do anything with a document one doesnt trust or believe in.
Poor Alan seems to think that either all conservatives must sin or no conservatives have sinned.
I have no respect for any group, especially a religious caste, that tries to deny that there are any problems by setting unreasonable standards of assessment. The court cases and scandals of priestly abuse demonstrate that priestly castes (including conservatives) do have people that do sin.
That conservatives seek to insult people by denying their experiences with insults merely condemns themselves as complacent and self righteous.
Dear Cheryl Clough,
“That conservatives seek to insult people by denying their experiences with insults merely condemns themselves as complacent and self righteous.”
Jesus says that His disciples will be insulted on account of Him. I dont think anyone is denying experiences, just denying the experience is what God wants… besides I would say righteousness can only be attained through Christ, self righteouness is where we try and attain it ourselves or follow our own ideas.
“All the evidence I see from the USA is that the liberal wing is in such complete control that it has even dispensed with basic rules of justice, such as a fair trial in public.”
To what do you refer? If you want to look at how TEC runs itself, you have only to go to its web site and find the Canons and Constitution – admitedly not always easy with our current allegedly ‘cool’ website. Many but not all dioceses also post their constitutions and canons on their web sites.
I refer to the widespread abuse of the abandonment procedure – which four bishops are now attempting to apply to the Bishop of San Joaquin.
Deposition without trial is grossly unjust. It is the ECUSA equivalent of Guantanamo Bay.
“Jesus says that His disciples will be insulted on account of Him.”
Dodgy ground, a dubious syllogism looms. ‘I am insulted’ may often be connected with ‘I am faithful to Christ’, but may from time to time be connected with ‘I am behaving like a prig/idiot’. I am sometimes insulted for Christ, but far more often people rightly take the proverbial out of me because I’m being a right prat.
The Circumcellions’ attitude to martyrdom is an instructive case….
Dave W said;
“one cant do anything with a document one doesnt trust or believe in.”
I don’t think there are many Christians around who would reject Scripture (whatever that is) as a faithful and painfully honest account of human-divine interactions in a particular area of the Middle East from the LBA onwards.
The devil (if you’ll pardon the expression), though, will always be in the detail, and detail is something which a large number of conservative evangelical commentators are remarkably reluctant to engage with. The word ‘slippery’ comes to mind.
What does ‘trust’ or ‘believe in’ amount to? (I believe in God and trust in Christ. Do I ‘believe in’ the numbers allegedly involved in the Exodus? Do I ‘trust’ that Balaam’s donkey spoke?)
You are using ‘believe’ and ‘trust’ as vague, emotive terms which are in their unqualified sense devoid of meaning. Tighten your language, sir!! 🙂
For those concerned about the “widespread” application of the canon on the abandonment of communion (and I would scarcely call the very few instances of the application of this canon “widespread”) I would simply observe that anyone who is charged under the canons (IV.9, or IV.10 for Bishops or Priests/Deacons respectively) all that is needed from them is a good faith statement that they have not in fact abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church by a renunciation of its Doctrine, Discipline or Worship. The problem, of course, is that stating that one is not bound by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church if one believes them to be in conflict with ones private (or diocesan!) understanding of the Faith, and that one does not in these instances accept the authority of the General Convention does appear, to reasonable eyes, to constitute a renunciation of the discipline of the church, which is enshrined in those very documents (and the rubrics of the BCP).
It is really a rather simple matter: either one is willing to abide by the decisions of a body with which one is voluntarily affiliated, and to which in ordination one promises to be conformed — or not.
Dear Dave Rowlett,
I have to answer to Jesus on His return whether people think I am a prat or not is secondary.
“You are using ‘believe’ and ‘trust’ as vague, emotive terms which are in their unqualified sense devoid of meaning. Tighten your language, sir!! :-)”
No I am clear what I believe and trust I was addressing the comment made by Merseymike that he didnt ‘trust’ the Bible. He thinks the Bible is merely dependent on man’s knowledge. In my view thats not a Christian position let alone an Anglican one so I was asking whether he can speak for others when he says ‘we liberals’ Can he speak for you?
You wrote “I don’t think there are many Christians around who would reject Scripture ”
I dont think there are any.
“I refer to the widespread abuse of the abandonment procedure – which four bishops are now attempting to apply to the Bishop of San Joaquin.
So far as I can tell from press reports, the four bishops are following the procedures available to them in our system. You may not like the system, but we are all bound by it. That seems to be an issue for many conservatives who, having not prevailed in the regular processes of General Convention, wish to be exempt from what the majority of the church has voted for. I did not vote for the current occupant of the White House, but I did not stop paying my federal taxes and I did not threaten to hold my breath until he gave up the presidency, either.
“Deposition without trial is grossly unjust. It is the ECUSA equivalent of Guantanamo Bay.”
To compare their actions to the legal travesty that Dubya and those who think for him are perpetrating in Gitmo is a gross exaggeration.
Ah. But souls are not being insulted on account of Christ, because they have not honored his intentions. They use the words of Christ if and when it suits their arguments. They gloss over the teachings that Christ was meant to honour (the Torah and God himself). They ignore and insult Christ’s faithful one who proved her annointment of him at the transfiguration.
They are not being insulted because of the Christ that was anointed. They are being insulted for assigning the same name to the idolatrous paradigm of their own construction.
Dear Cheryl Clough,
“They are not being insulted because of the Christ that was anointed. They are being insulted for assigning the same name to the idolatrous paradigm of their own construction.” Or they are being insulted because the word of Christ denounces their idolatrous paradigm of their own construction.
It remains to be seen which is right. Personally I am confident the word says what it says
All books are reliant on knowledge, understanding and culture, DaveW. The Bible has to be read through the eyes of social construction, just like any other book.
The problem in trying to analyse the legal system in ECUSA is that nothing is ever what it seems. It is already somewhat deficient in its ability to deliver justice impartially and effectively, and for that reason alone ought to be thoroughly revised at the earliest opportunity. When abuse of the plain meaning of canon law is added to the already disturbing picture, it is time to act rather than wallow in complacency, or worse, ascribe an unchallengeable authority to General Convention.
Most urgent of all is the need to devise some kind of appeal procedure, so that abuses can be identified and injustices struck down. Some kind of ecclesiastical supreme court, accompanied by an administration which ensures action, would help to drive forward reform.
ECUSA has a great deal to say about justice and human rights, but its own record, like that of the US legal system, which continues to dispense barbaric sentences, brings it into disrepute. Justice is justice, whether in Guantanamo or in San Joaquin. But the American legal system fails to deliver justice, time after time, and ECUSA identifies itself with injustice when it fails to administer its own laws fairly.
Dear Dave Rowlett,
DO drop the intrusive ‘l’, please! The family’s managed without one since the 1300’s….:-)
“the comment made by Merseymike [was] that he didnt ‘trust’ the Bible. He thinks the Bible is merely dependent on man’s knowledge.”
But he said no such thing. He said it’s a human production, and unless you’re assuming that the AV fell out of the sky in 1611, some with and some without apocryphas, you really have to agree.
The question — which I don’t think you’re addressing — is the one of how we understand ‘inspiration’, and there’s no doubt from my reading of people like Keith Ward (hardly a dangerous radical) that MM’s definition falls well within Anglican mainstream (as opposed to Anglican Mainstream!!) understanding, though it would probably get one kicked out of the Christian Union.
Having been frozen out of the Christian Union myself back in ’73 for suggesting (on the basis of the Petrine epistles) that God might just have mercy on Jews and others who didn’t sign up to Jesus in this vale of tears, I wouldn’t regard that exile as particularly burdensome!)
Theresa Mathes makes a good point:
If you have to be secretive about it, then (short of security threats) you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.
“Most urgent of all is the need to devise some kind of appeal procedure, so that abuses can be identified and injustices struck down. Some kind of ecclesiastical supreme court, accompanied by an administration which ensures action, would help to drive forward reform.”
In other words, since you anticipate not agreeing wiht the outsome, you want a way to void it to suit you.
“…the US legal system, which continues to dispense barbaric sentences, brings it into disrepute.”
If you mean the death penalty, you have my total agreement. I live in a state that at least recently was second only to Dubya’s own Texas in frequency of executions, and with severe limitations on appeals procedures – the latter have been somewhat changed for the better, much to the disgruntlement of the many ‘good Christian’ [as they describe themsleves] ultracons who infest the state.
Yes indeed all books are reliant on knowledge, understanding and culture, but Christians believe it is the word of God and indeed contains the teachings of Christ Jesus who we follow.
I wouldnt expect a non believer like yourself to necessarily base trust in the Bible. Forgive me if I implied this.
No, DaveW, only evangelical Christians have the view that the Bible is the literal ‘word of God’
I acknowledge you as a believer and a valuable regular contributor to this forum. Have faith, these people can deny reality, but the world will move around them.
My other chuckles over the last few days has been that no one has contemplated that they have no right to tell God who or how many angels to send to check out what is going on. The angels that went into Sodom and Gomorrah obviously didn’t stand out, and they didn’t walk around with big placards warning the locals to not do unto them as they would do unto others. God simply has to prove that they would do to His messengers what they would do to others to prove that the system has run amock. That only takes one reliable witness. That witness, their evidence and recommendations only have to be accepted by God. All the squabbling, posturing, sychophantry, suppression and intimidation by humans or dissenting angels isn’t worth squat.
“….contains the teachings of Christ Jesus who we follow.”
Like the injunction to hold to the whole of the Jewish Law? Or the Marcan ban on divorce? Or……..
I very much agree with your comments.
I love to read Deut. 23:1-6 and how the rest of the Bible controverts the ‘Law’ as we read the stories of Tamar/Judah, Ruth/Naomi who are David and Jesus’ ancestors. The Jewish biblical writers really enjoyed getting even with Bible-whackers and biblical literalists, who regarded Torah as a ‘law-book’. One of the revered OT scholars and one-time ++ABY, Stuart Blanch, taught that ‘torah’ means ‘teaching’ rather than ‘law’ in our sense of LEX, that is, “Yahweh teaching Israel, his little child, how to walk.”
That deals a death blow to the Reformation heresy of SOLA SCRIPTURA, without the Church interpreting Scipture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
“In other words, since you anticipate not agreeing wiht the outsome, you want a way to void it to suit you.” [sic]
Your comment, Cynthia, seems to me to sum up the American approach to justice, as demonstrated at Guantanamo Bay. If these guilty men are entitled to a fair trial without delay, well hey! let’s put them in a prison offshore where we can hold them without a trial.
If there is no prospect of a fair trial deposing a priest or bishop who is deemed guilty of refusing to conform, then let’s look for a way to depose them without a trial. Ah, yes, there’s the abandonment canon! That will do!
Guantanamo is far more serious, but the principle is the same.
There is no appeal to the US Supreme Court against the actions of your church courts, as I understand it. There is much to be said for being an established church – in England all decisions by the church courts can be reviewed by the High Court, ensuring the strict application of justice by an extremely professional judiciary.
If ECUSA could find a way to review its own justice system and the operation of its canons, it would avoid much of the disrepute into which a number of bishops have brought it by way of the abandonment method.
BTW I am glad that you disapprove of the death penalty. I hope abolition will finally come about some time soon, along with prison sentencing which is more restorative and less retributive.
(You see, I am secretly very liberal!)
Writes George Conger in the Church Newspaper, 11 August 2006: “Conservative leaders in the US have declined to endorse Canon Minns’ election and have quietly backed the statement released last month by Lambeth Palace, which held the June 28 election ‘was not a welcome development. It is neither timely nor constructive as it further complicates an already complex situation.’”
Very interesting. The Network ‘long-knives’ bishops are going after one of their own, Canon Minns of Truro, VA. What is the rationale behind their nefarious action: pander to ++Rowan Cantuar in order to obtain the ‘Anglican franchise’. ++Rowan Williams would be a fool to fall for it!
You wrote “No, DaveW, only evangelical Christians have the view that the Bible is the literal ‘word of God'”
Are you here to debate or cause trouble? Thats clearly a nonsense. Firstly your statement has nothing to do with the Anglican position let alone evangelical Christians.
Merseymike if you dont trust the Bible you simply arent going to have the same worldview as I have
In response to your comments to Merseymike. I have no doubt Merseymike has faith and plenty of it, he just doesn’t have faith in the Bible or the gospel of Jesus Christ.
DaveW concluded thus
” he just doesn’t have faith in the Bible or the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Dave, when were you appointed God’s official auditor? You’re starting to sound like one of those Christians whose natural congregation size is one!
You know the old gag, the Welshman, who, shipwrecked for five years is finally rescued and insists on taking the First Officer of his rescuing ship around his little empire.
“Here’s my house, look you, and my chicken run, see, and my chapel, all built out of driftwood, now.”
The First is most impressed, but then points to a very ecclesiastical-looking building a hundred metres away.
“What’s that?” he inquires.
“Oh, that’s the chapel I wouldn’t be seen dead in….”
Dear Dave Rowett,
“Dave, when were you appointed God’s official auditor? You’re starting to sound like one of those Christians whose natural congregation size is one!”
Never, Christians believe Jesus will return to judge.
What exactly are you saying my friend, that Christians don’t trust the Bible?
“DaveW concluded thus
” he just doesn’t have faith in the Bible or the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
I didnt conclude that I was told that by the gentleman himself
“DaveW concluded thus
” he just doesn’t have faith in the Bible or the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
I didnt conclude that I was told that by the gentleman himself
Hm, I didn’t see it myself, but I’m sure I can leave Merseymike to defend his position without my amateurish interference.
Be careful, the comments against the US apply in other parts of the world against the conservatives, and in some parts of the world they have been quite covert in their strategies. At least the US have been honest in their appointments. May they, please God, continue to choose the souls they think are most suitable, rather than embracing the dishonest strategy of passing over the best candidate to appease a misogynistic homophobic faction that have no intention of ever treating women or “afflicted” with decency. I think that many only behave themselves because secular states provide mechanisms to protect us “unworthies”. It has been secularism that has prevented many “Christian” countries from reverting to the barbarism of the middle ages. Look at some of the comments within this thread alone, Merseymike being called an “unbeliever”. In the middle ages he would have been trialled and burnt at the stake.
And, since John Henry referred us to Ruth, remember that the Davidic line came from Boaz marrying an unworthy Moabite women (the same caste that Nehemiah agonised about expunging from the Jews). Redemption comes from adopting the unworthies and providing them with refuge, in God’s vision, even the “rebellious” worship and honour Him – quoting King David from Psalm 68:18.
I certainly do not have faith in the variety of Christian belief nor the type of approach to the Bible that Dave and his fellow fundamentalists favour.
I certainly do not think that all Anglicans subscribe to Biblical literalism.
Cheryl, I was not discussing appointments, but the way in which justice is afforded or denied to people within the USA, apparently ad hoc, especially in the church’s own tribunals there.
“I certainly do not think that all Anglicans subscribe to Biblical literalism”
I don’t think any of them do.
SOME may aspire to a harmonised and smoothed out mock-literalism, often taking refuge in hermeneutical tricks like ‘as orignially given (surely the most compellingly nonsensical attempt to maintain biblical authority there ever was — ‘I have this forty-third hand copy of an instruction manual which was flawless originally so I’m going to pretend the missing pages, blots and undecipherable words still aren’t there’ ).
Such tricks collapse the moment you open the blessed book and read it properly, of course, but it keeps some folk happy. The last biblical literalists, though, evaporated round about 1950.
Just to expand, if I may, to justify the comment about the last biblical literalists having evaporated 50 years ago.
Until about then, there was still a sort of refusal to engage with the modern in some Christian circles: if there were six days of creation mentioned in Scripture, so it must have been. You can, perhaps, see parallels in some forms of Islam.
But perhaps because of people like Albright, some conservative Christians started to find ‘science’ and ‘reason’ on ‘their’ side. This is the heyday of books like ‘The Bible as History — Archaeology confirms the book of books’.
This is now turning into a Faustian pact: once it was admitted that it was reasonable to believe in the Bible because it was susceptible to proof from historical enquiry, a point of no return was reached. ‘Who moved the Stone’ and all those 1970’s ‘A lawyer looks at the evidence for the resurrection’ did a similar thing, I would argue.
As soon as conservative Christinianity said ‘our texts stand up to the scrutiny of logic and science’ a watershed moment occurred, a tacit admission that the Bible was a suitable subject for historical tools. And for every Albright there is a Lemche and a Davies….
Unfotunately, once you’ve signed up to having your texts rigorously scrutinised, you can’t cry ‘foul’ if the scrutiny starts to raise awkward questions. You can’t stop the enlightenment at the precise point where you find it most comfortable, that’s infantile, yet I can’t help but thinking that this is what many of the current generation of Conservative Evangelical Christians are trying to do, and it’s fundamentally dishonest, much more dishonest than those who used to say ‘Our faith is not open to the inquiry tools of science’.
Merseymike has raised a big issue here
“I certainly do not have faith in the variety of Christian belief nor the type of approach to the Bible that Dave and his fellow fundamentalists favour.”
I certainly do not believe that disbelief in the Bible is Christian. I think what Anglicans believe is as follows:
“the Old and New Testaments ‘as containing all things necessary for salvation’ and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith. “
“We understand the Apostles’ creed as the baptismal symbol, and the Nicene creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.”
I mean are we now discussing whether Anglicans are Christians or are we saying Anglicans now dont believe what Anglicans believe.
Dear Merseymike, you are an Anglican are you?
Anglicans usually start off with no beliefs and limited cognitive skill !
Most of us and our fellow citizens were brought in our mothers’ arms and Christened. And that wass that ! It’s what the Prayer Book requires.
Later in the life cycle, where possible – the BCP exhorts youngsters to be presented to the bishop for Confirmation, on one of his infrequent visits to the area. (No public transport; & private transport only for the rich, until recently). Those youngsters were to try to learn to say the Our Father, Ten Commandments and Catechism, ‘in the vulgar tongue’ — if at all feasible. Otherwise the Our Father would suffice. People came to Matins and the Communion was celebrated 2 or 3 times a year.
That’s being a member of the C ofE. That’s English for you. That’s our traditional parish, pastoral system. And as HA Williams says in his autobiography Some Day I’ll Find You it wsn’t a bad religion at all — but rather good.
People’s faith wasn’t pulled up by the roots to be scrutinised, and with that basic approach the population of England’s shires, villages and towns got on with it. Just because we now live in or near huge cities and connurbations, and there is no longer milking by hand, is not reason to make more and more credal and moral demands on folk–is it ?
So Mike has to believe nothing in particular. But he’s Christened and can say the Pater Noster in the vulgar tongue –so there we go !
I’m with the BCP on this one.
Dear Laurence Roberts,
I have found your response rather confusing. If the CofE website says what Anglicans believe is that the OT and NT is sufficient as a rule of faith and Merseymike doesn’t, what makes an Anglican, a Christening?
Also what if someone didn’t believe in God or had become a Muslim, would that still mean they were a Christian if they had been Christened?
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.