Thinking Anglicans

Saturday opinion columns

The Times has a review by Geza Vermes of the book Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI.

And Alan Webster writes there about Life with Lenin in one corner and a holy icon in the other.

Peter Stanford writes in the Guardian about C Day-Lewis in Face to Faith.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about Gregorian chant in Where stone comes to life.

Giles Fraser’s Church Times column is titled Community life isn’t all about pubs.

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Erika BakerChristopher ShellMynsterpreost (=David Rowett)Malcolm French+NP Recent comment authors
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Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
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Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Re: Webster’s piece – his plea that contradictions learn to live together should be daubed in metre-high letters in many places up and down the AC.

Pluralist
Guest

Well I stared for some time at Joseph Ratzinger’s book, and rather pleased I did not get it after this review in The Times. In any case, I saw that the end of the book goes on that the Greek philosophical framework was not alien to the historical Jesus, but in taking different meanings of Son of God it encapsulated it perfectly into one precise meaning. And I thought, that’s just the point isn’t it, it is an alien framework into which is bashed the variety of meanings of different stages still visible in the already Greek gospels and elsewhere… Read more »

Cardinal Wardrobe
Guest
Cardinal Wardrobe

I always think that it is a good idea to read a book before you start a critique of it and other important but related issues.The problem with some approaches to doctrine and dogma is that the “authors” are determined that they should be the sealed string around their ecclesiastical parcel, that often contains sources that are so ancient and remote that not even their supporters really know what they originally meant. Sadly Christianity is suffering from at least two extremes; the Fundamentalist “gold-edged paper papacy” and a Papacy that has the potential for meeting up with them round the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I’m fascinated by Giles Fraser’s conclusion that “the more open a community, the less it looks like a community”.

Do we have to / can we learn new ways of defining “community”? Or are we condemned to define ever narrowing circles?
At present, it doesn’t even seem to be a value that everyone shares.

Jon
Guest

I’d be more impressed by Prof. Vermer’s review if he sounded more even handed. Especially when it comes to his distrust of Greek culture, he seems to be bringing personal bias to the texts that may not be entirely appropriate. Consider, all four of the Gospels were written in Greek (as were Paul’s letters) and probably written by people who would have been familiar with the assumptions both of Greek culture and of Hebrew culture. Why should we assume that these authors got the story so entirely wrong that we can’t use an understanding of the Greek culture of the… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Pluralist You might like this article Algemeiner http://www.algemeiner.com/generic.asp?ID=288 It puts forward an explanation of why the Torah was given to a people living in a bleak desert. It is a similar concept to how you described an Islamic precept. Basically, God tries to be outside of any one culture so that God is not seen to be only for that one culture. In some ways, Jesus also tried to do this, by referring the Father as a separate and more powerful entity or by dodging compliments. Which leads us to Giles Fraser’s article. God asks us to form communities, but… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Because they are not the same, Jon.

Pluralist
Guest

Thank you Cheryl. I regard the “giving” of the Torah as problematic. The issue here is a series of locals and particulars and how something universal is achieved. Regarding Judaism as inherited and expressed now, I rather think Rabbi Sacks has it right that Judaism is a particular faith and, with no universal aspirations, can express itself in difference with others and say something (including from bitter experience) about toleration in the world. There may be something expressive about a barren place for a tradition of revelation but it does not make it universal. The article is over the top:… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Pluralist I empathise with this sentiment “…the Bible, for example, is as subject to critical methods as a human production as any other book…” One of the traps that some Jews have fallen into is a ethnocentric belief that God has made them the centre of the universe and/or humanity. The same risks apply to other faiths, including Christianity. That is one reason that God sends the Jews into exile and/or makes their state’s existence perilous. It is to remind them not to become so self-absorbed that they fall into the traps of idolatry, cruelty and/or complacency. There is a… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

One feature explored in linked ekklesia article is the concept of God’s presence dwelling with humanity. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/5272 It is an interesting things in that I have not seen a lot of recent Christian studies asking how or when will God’s presence again dwell with us. e.g. Psalm 85:9, David has a vision of God’s glory again dwelling with humanity. I think David’s son, Solomon, realised that the Shekinah’s feelings had been hurt when her anointed one was dismissed so easily and that part of Solomon’s womanising was trying to reassure the Shekinah that he did care about her feelings and… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

A Messianic Jew correspondent regards the Shekinah as a support when walking with the one she calls Jshua. For her Jshua has fulilled the Law in advance. Somehow her tiny group has avoided all the Pauline influences. How far back its members go in unbroken line is hard to say, but their stories do. It is interesting how far this group has fallen out with notions of Israel as presently constituted (how different from fundamentalist and new Messianic Jews that are basically fundamentalist Christians playing Jewish games). They have more time for Islam, especially the mosque as a kind of… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

Geza Vermes points out the obvious flaws of the Pope’s book (already noted by several German-speaking and Brazilian exegetes and by theologian Hermann Haering — see my review at josephsoleary.typepad.com). Vermes does not tackle the question of the Hellenization of the kerygma in his review, but the Pope on the last page of his book does talk as if Nicea were a simple transcription of what Jesus says about himself (taking the discourses of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel as historical — as Benedict does). I believe in the truth of Nicea, but we must note that the Christians has… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Pluralist I have never heard of this group. Biologists would refer to this as possible convergent evolution. Do you have any links to their websites and/or ideas and/or historical studies? Sometimes an evolutionary dead end is actually really sensible, it just doesn’t survive a more aggressive species. Maybe that is why God locked away the mother whilst humanity dealt with its transgressions? (Isaiah 50:1) Personally, I would rather be happily locked away in a box for 1000 years or even 100,000 years rather than watch humanity kill itself due to arrogance, cruelty and complacency. As long as God gives me… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

There are about 200 self-knowing individuals left in this group called the Kanai. Sophia Siedlberg is making a big effort at recording what it is about. Her thoughts are somewhat from within and sometimes need some sorting out, given the oral and pathcily written transmission of the tradition, so I effectively edited what she wrote for me and from some other of her writings in a number of other places. Some links then here: http://www.change.freeuk.com/learning/relthink/kanai.html And some textual bits here: http://www.change.freeuk.com/learning/relthink/kanaicmn4.html I placed these in Judaism in my Learning – Religion area but it is a problematic placing; furthermore, the… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

You have written a substantive review Fr Joseph O’Leary that works reading it on its own terms. It is worth a number of reads.

So how, in the light of all that, do you believe in the truth of Nicea. We know how the Pope does.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Pluralist The links are interesting but fragmented. Justice can not be done within the 1 week lifespan of this thread. I am going to permalink this thread and contemplate the material over time. With prayer and meditation, we might see elements come up in further discussions. Fr Joseph. That was a great posting. There is a DVD series called “Peter and Paul” where Anthony Hopkins plays Paul which is produced by Vision Video. It is an excellent series and I think gives a good portrayal of Paul the man. It is clear from this series and his writings that Paul… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Well I warm to much of that writing, but I see it as compromising Nicea, not supporting it. It is not my method: I would not quite play with the language like that myself, wondering what it means. The first issue is ourselves and what spiritual traditions offer, which is a complex language of means to reflect and consider direction – a pragmatic version of the road to salvation. Traditions offer inherited language, and of course we can add and take away. One tradition offers a path, and a path is a useful discipline, and a discipline is a means… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

“In other words, I’ll run with Nicea and Chalcedon as means to an end, but stop and there is nothing much there.” Very interesting suggestion — I think we would be in agreement; see http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/03/religions_as_co.html The fetishization of Nicea and Chalcedon is a long story in itself, and would fall under the rubric of “attachment to views”. “I see it as compromising Nicea, not supporting it. It is not my method: I would not quite play with the language like that myself, wondering what it means.” It’s enough to say that Nicea and Chalcedon were right and true in their… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

To be honest the angst over the philosophy doesn’t worry me. I hadn’t even heard of these people. What I do know from Jewish mythology is that the Shekinah was the higher soul annointed to protect this planet and all its inhabitants whilst many of the other angelic orders went to “better” places. If you know anything about angelic beings, they can not rest if their core mission is in jeopardy. Nor will they bow down to any humans or other elements who try to destroy that which they have been annointed by God to protect. If God didn’t want… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Cheryl,

Actually Luke did not meet Jesus in the flesh. Many believe he was converted by Paul shortly after the Council of Jerusalem while Paul was in the Phrygian region.

Paul did have a resurrection encounter with Jesus.

Pluralist
Guest

_When we hear John’s Gospel in Church the exalted Christ is speaking to us in the Spirit from the Glory of the Father — this reality is what is important and the dogmas are only protective fences around it._ Well the Christ of that gospel’s expression. Same? The protective fences have a few holes in them. The Church in Wales has an interesting alternative response following Old and New Testament readings: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church – Thanks be to God. I rather like that as an alternative to the awkward This is the word of… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi David R

Contradictions should learn to live together? Sounds great, until you think about it. By your argument, those who approve sin and those who do not should simply (and freudianly) ‘learn to live together’. Those who believe lies are better than truth and those who believe the reverse should ‘learn to live together’. Community is everything; truth is nothing.

?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Christopher,
I don’t know anyone who approves sin and who believes lies are better than truth.

But I do know a lot of people who genuinely have a different definition of sin (like you do, from my point of view), and who believe that their view is right. I don’t have to share your views in order to accept that they are your sincerely held beliefs.

I can happily live side by side with you, as long as you do me the courtesy not to accuse me of deliberate sin and intentional lying.

Community is very much, humility is everything.

NP
Guest
NP

Erika says “But I do know a lot of people who genuinely have a different definition of sin…”

That’s the point Erika!
The only definition which matters is that of God.
You and your mates declaring holy what he calls sin is not credible.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

The point, NP, is that I believe that God’s view of sin is not the same as the evangelical view of sin.

That may make me wrong in your eyes, I can live with that.

What I object to is being called a liar and someone who does not value truth.

Malcolm French+
Guest
Malcolm French+

But isn’t the point, NP, that we should all seek to align ourselves with GOD’s definition. But the other part of that point, NP, is that honest and faithful persons seeking to discern God’s will may come to different conclusions. At least, that’s what used to happen amongst Anglicans. People would come to different conclusions and then argue about it in the pages of the Times – or perhaps the Church Times. No longer, if you and the Prince Bishop of Abuja get your way. Then we’ll have the Primate of All Nigeria telling us exactly what God thinks –… Read more »

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

One of my nicer lines in the last few days in a homily was to point out the importance of having a SD/confessor/soul friend: their function being (among other things) to help distinguish between what God is saying and what David Rowett WANTS God to say.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Mynsterpreost,
that depends on how mature you are in selecting your Spiritual Gude and your willingness to be open to guidance!

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

My original point was misunderstood. Sin and lies were just two examples I plucked out of the blue – I could just as easily have said murder or oppression of the poor. What were they examples of? They were examples that demonstrated that the principle ‘contradictions must live together’ doesn’t always work, and that it is puzzling why anyone should make such a generalisation if they were not an out and out unthinking pluralist. The examples I chose were not necessarily relevant to the present case. But here is one that may be: Supposing three people disagree about something. Some… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Christopher, OK, so we all agree that criminal and law abiding people cannot always live side by side. So? You seem to believe there is only one objective truth and that all those who don’t see it are deliberately on the wrong side of the law. What I am talking about is different people genuinely trying to follow Christ, but having different ways of doing that. That each thinks the other is “wrong” (I’d prefer the term misguided), is obvious. That one defames the other as being so immoral that they can’t live side by side is at the very… Read more »