Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 9 April 2016

Mark Clavier The Living Church Memory inscribed in stone

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia Shared Confidences – Why “It’s Good to Talk”

Matthew Cooper Apollo Drastic reform is the only way to save England’s churches

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Susannah Clark
Guest

Jayne’s article on ‘shared confidences’ touches an interesting and problematic face-off: The reluctance of some evangelicals to let feelings inform or influence dogma. “Because they will then be giving some ground, under no circumstances should their emotions sway them from the truth. They need to remain resolute in their belief.” I have had such conversations myself, with well-intentioned evangelical friends, and I feel familiar with the priority given to ‘reason’ over ‘feelings’. There is sometimes (I’m trying not to generalise) a tense mental control… an urgent need to defend biblical statements – in the face of personal and human experiences… Read more »

Froghole
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Froghole

As the owner of Rycote, near Thame, Mr Taylor (who is to chair the review on the future of church buildings for the benefit of the Secretary of State) has next to his house a famous chapel that is the size of a parish church with special pews constructed for James I and VI, and for the Bertie family. It has services a couple of times a year (very well attended and usually conducted by the incumbent of Great and Little Milton and Great Haseley) and it is often open. I suspect that the management of the chapel will inform… Read more »

S Cooper
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S Cooper

Everyone knows that after the waste of time and money, we will be told that the CofE is not ready to change its position and is mindful of the Anglican Communion’s Primates stance. This will happen & English liberals will pour another G&T but never leave the job & income. A liberal communion could be easily formed but because even TEC is desperate to be part of a global organisation with larger numbers, people & principle are thrown under various buses ….by ‘liberals’

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Susannah,
your comment leaves me with the question of how we define “reason”. Because knowing what we now know about homosexuality, about the perfectly normal lives of gay people and about the harm caused by preventing people from having stable relationships, there is absolutely nothing rational and reasonable about sticking with traditional theology.

And if people stick with traditional beliefs against all the evidence, then I would be more likely to think that there are unexamined emotional reasons for insisting the their kind of theology overrides everything.

David Runcorn
Guest

Susannah and others can I offer two comments? I realise the context for this discussion of experience and ‘reason’ is how evangelical faith manages this relationship but it is not just an evangelical problem is it? Mind and heart, reason and experience is a relationship than any and every approach to life or faith must work out. I simply note how emotional even the most intellectual and academic contributions can be on ‘Thinking’ Anglicans – and how strongly the observation is resisted if made. Brain research shows that the times we are in our thinking/reasoning function the ‘affective’ stimuli in… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

David Evangelicals are right to look to Scripture as the yardstick. For me Jayne Ozanne demonstrates the fundamental woodiness of many liberal arguments. Inherent in her argument is the proposition that since gay Christians are suffering the teaching on same sex unions must be wrong. Christ and Scripture, however, both teach that following Jesus is costly and liable to involve suffering. For me, her argument is without merit. However, Evangelicals do need to be pressed to explain how they can simultaneously read Scripture to prohibit same sex unions while not imposing Biblical punishment for sins like adultery, opposing slavery, and… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Kate, if Jayne Ozanne’s argument is without merit, could you point me to any other example in Scripture where God demands something from a whole group of people that is known to be harmful to them and that has no apparent moral benefit for them or for society? Yes, individuals sometimes suffer. That’s not the same as God deliberately imposing suffering. We know that gay people benefit from the same stable relationships straight people benefit from, and that telling them that, for an inexplicable reason God believes them to be so sinful that they must never seek love causes untold… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

Kate – suffering for the sake of the gospel and being made to suffer by others because of the colour your skin, your social group, gender or sexual identity are not the same thing at all.

Susannah Clark
Guest

Kate, you seem to imply that everything in the Bible should be taken as correct and infallible – the biblical infallibility line of argument, espoused by many (but not all) evangelical Christians. The idea that scripture is inerrant. On that basis, I would believe that man-man sex is irrevocably wrong. Personally (others disagree with me) I believe the bible condemns men having sex with men. And yet, as a human being with a God-given conscience, I believe man-man sex is NOT wrong. On the contrary, in contexts of love and flourishing, I believe it is desperately right. And I lose… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Love, as the bible also says, trumps all the other verses in the scriptures. The whole Bible should be read in the context of love, and responded to with conscience, and understood as a series of contexts, through which we can try to navigate the contexts of our own lives, and to navigate them with conscience and with love… not in robotic submission to a text “that is always right”… that would be a subjugation of the very conscience God has given us, reducing our moral capacity and potential. We are meant to worship God not the Bible; to draw… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

The world, our faith, the goodness of God, do not fall apart when we open up the book to our consciences. On the contrary, with freedom to read the Bible in contexts, we engage with God’s conscience and our consciences directly, face to face… without rigid mediation and subjugation of our minds… and yet, still drawing on many of the Bible’s insights, lots of which are profound and dynamic. We also listen to other writers, and scientists, and neighbours, and communities. We engage God through them all, which are the contexts we have been placed to live in. Gay sex… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

So the idolatry of men’s written word – the great YARDSTICK – is still overwriting the Spirit of God. What “gospel,” what “good news,” is there in pretending that harsh and mindless cruelty to a group of people for their social group, gender or sexual identity is liberating? What greater gospel is there than to suffer rather than allow such a lie to stand?

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Kate – suffering for the sake of the gospel and being made to suffer by others because of the colour your skin, your social group, gender or sexual identity are not the same thing at all.” Agreed and I did not (intend to) suggest otherwise. But if someone experiences deep pain because they cannot marry their true love, being an individual of the same sex, then that pain and suffering is for the sake of the Gospel. If gay men refrain from relationships because of their faith – or Church teaching – then that sacrifice and suffering is for the… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Erika: “Yes, individuals sometimes suffer. That’s not the same as God deliberately imposing suffering.” Well according to the Bible, God did get a bit narky with Ai. He ordered Joshua to wipe its citizens out (Joshua 8:2) and do what they did to Jericho… i.e. “they destroyed with the sword every living thing in it – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys” (Joshua 6:21). Part of the ethnic cleansing of Canaan. Or you could argue that God’s mandate was claimed by the victors, and by the authors of the Bible, but actually God would not desire… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

Susannah Your assertion ‘I believe, on this topic, quite simply, THE BIBLE IS WRONG’ is based on a prior understanding of what kind of revelation/literature the Bible is. Fine. But when I say I don’t agree with you it is not because I am afraid of the idea. I of what the able is as revelation and so I simply do not believe the Bible actually teaches what you assume it teaches on this subject. In the appendix of the Pilling report I outlined how many, like me, from the evangelical tradition believe the Bible teaching leads to an ‘including’… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Susannah I have not said that the Bible is inerrant. But the Bible is unambiguous in stating that the Word is God (Gospel of St John). In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says he is not come to take any the law of Moses, but to fulfill it. So while the Bible is not inerrant in things like history, in terms of the revelation of God and his expectations of us, at the least the Bible itself claims authority. Of course it has to be read carefully and sensibly. If it is then it certainly does not speak agAinst lesbianism. Male-male sex… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“if Jayne Ozanne’s argument is without merit, could you point me to any other example in Scripture where God demands something from a whole group of people that is known to be harmful to them and that has no apparent moral benefit for them or for society?”

Erika, we need look no further than the tribulations of the Jews. Although they were, and are, God’s chosen people they were still dragged into slavery which had no direct moral benefit for them or for society.

Susannah Clark
Guest

David, when people try to ameliorate what the Bible says about man-man sex, and its impossibility anyway outside the authors’ views of marriage, I am tempted to suppose this softer view of gay sex – involving alternative interpretations of words – may be kind of ‘letting people off the hook’ to appease their sensitivities. Evangelical Christians I have known are often generous-spirited towards gay and lesbian people in their congregations… at least loving the sinner, and at best, wanting to accept that their sexuality is alright. However I am not convinced the Bible and its authors are fine and dandy… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Just to add, David, of course, I am just arguing my point of view. I am not trying to critique your personal faith, or your right to hold your views. I believe in diversity of conscience and Christians holding conflicting views. I may disagree on this matter, but our hearts may of course both be inclined towards Jesus Christ. It’s just that I do feel that lesbian and gay people face marginalisation because of the enforcement of biblical inerrancy and bible statements, strongly asserted in some Provinces, which both they and I believe are condemnatory of guys having sex together.… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

So, people who wrote stuff told us that what they wrote is The Word of God, and you buy that, entirely, while discounting what people tell you now, because it is now?

That’s not faith.

David Marshall
Guest
David Marshall

Kate: “the Bible is unambiguous in stating that the Word is God” I don’t know what value there is in making statements like this. It uses coded language (very particular meanings for “unambiguous”, “God” and “the Word”) that no-one needs to decipher unless they want to debate with someone unable to think in ordinary language. For most of us, is that really worth the effort? Is anyone with that disability likely to be convinced by argument? Evangelicalism may be oblivious to the disconnect, but perpetuating it effectively advertises that you don’t want outsiders bothering to talk with you. It achieves… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest

Susannah thank you for trouble in responding. I totally agree that the only examples of bible teaching about man-man sex it is condemned. But the key questions to ask are – what precisely is being condemned in this or that text and why? There has been a growing awareness that in ancient patriarchal society central where the priority for sexual relating where procreation was (where the man was the seed bearer and the woman the fertile soi)l, the abomination lay in what was perceived as one man taking a feminised, non-procreative role. This as seen as overturning the created order.… Read more »

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

The Word of God is Jesus Christ incarnate. If the Bible is the Word it is only so in a secondary sense.

Susannah Clark
Guest

The Bible is a wonderful conduit for the living Word who is Jesus Christ – the God who called creation into being and who calls each one of us to be the best and whole of who we are uniquely made to be. He calls us into our being and our becoming. However, it is a conduit for Jesus Christ, a container, not the thing it is containing. The Bible is like a water channel through history, through the lives of fallible human beings, who like the rest of us have “tried to make sense” of the divine mystery and… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

When Jesus was challenged about healing on the Sabbath He could have responded by saying that the Law of Moses had to be considered as relevant for its time but He didn’t. To my mind that undermines the use of the argument today that Scripture has be to considered in the context of its time. Man-man sex is clearly prohibited in the Law, but so are many things which Christians accept but modern Jews don’t. Jesus though (and to some extent the Epistles) taught that we need to look beyond the letter of the law to do a moral balancing… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Dear Susannah, of all of your many contributions on this thread, I can certainly agrre with this epoc paragraph: “The bible was written by fallible human beings like you and like me. Human beings “trying to make sense” of profound encounters with the living God. Human beings, trying to express encounters with deeper reality. But doing so, not as robots doing automatic writing, but as ordinary fallible human beings, writing from within their own contexts, from within their own culture, from within the limits of their own science and understanding… “trying to make sense”. – Susannah – Christ is risen,… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“The Word of God is Jesus Christ incarnate. If the Bible is the Word it is only so in a secondary sense.” – Posted by: David Emmott –

Alleluia! AMEN.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

When Jesus was challenged about healing on the Sabbath He could have responded by saying that the Law of Moses had to be considered as relevant for its time but He didn’t. First, I’m not sure you can conflate the rabbinic interpretation what was both religious and state regulation for Israel with simple reiteration of Scripture as it stands since the Christian canon was compiled. It would be sort of like taking Roe v. Wade and elevating it to Holy Writ. Second, by appealing to the process of halakhic (and, in some cases, aggadic) interpretation (i.e. – the question of… Read more »

David Marshall
Guest
David Marshall

“The Word of God is Jesus Christ incarnate.” Nah. It’s a wonderfully imaginative idea, God becoming man to reveal God to humanity. But like Alleluias and Christ is risens it’s become a flag of convenience for Christian tribes. It so overloads coherent language that it has no sense-making value now, if it ever did. Without at least an explanatory “in Christian mythology” or “we know God is not really a man”, it’s another brick in the wall of incomprehension around the value in Christian tradition. I’ve said it before, but a Church with a worthwhile future will have to do… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Mark, I don’t follow what point you are making. Sorry – I’m being a bit dense I am sure.

Kate
Guest
Kate

David

I think you are suggesting that the world is too prosaic to entertain Jesus as both human and divine, but in quantum mechanics a photon can be simultaneously a wave and a particle so maybe science is catching up with some Biblical memes?

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

The point is found hidden here, in this statement:

“Christ did, indeed, show willingness to argue the irrelevance of certain provision of Mosaic law.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Thank you Mark, but His view was that the then prevailing interpretation was wrong not that the correct interpretation varied over time according to cultural factors.

David Marshall
Guest
David Marshall

Kate In one sense quantum mechanics does resemble the idea of Jesus being both man and God. Both are incomprehensible from a common sense point of view. The essential difference is that quantum theory produces results that measurably describe reality at the level of sub-atomic particle physics. There are no “measurements” of Jesus’ divinity. The idea clarifies nothing; it’s a form of words concocted to resolve a political dispute that makes no sense now, because we do not take seriously claims by present-day emperors to be god. What it is does is make a non-sense of God. Instead of society… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

David Marshall, there you go! In your attempt to demystify the Divinity/Humanity of Jesus. Arrogating to yourself the ability to ‘plumb the depths of God’, reminds us all of the challenge of Scripture: “Where are your wise-men/philosophers now?” or, equally, “The wisdom of God is wiser than men”.

Any reputable Christian apologist would not try to mess with the simple acceptance of the traditional accummulated wisdom concerning the Incarnation of Christ. This sort of arrogance is normally left to militant atheists.

David Marshall
Guest
David Marshall

You’re very predictable, Ron Smith! “Not mess with the simple acceptance of accummulated wisdom”? Why on earth not, if it no longer makes sense. Our knowledge of the universe, our capacity to access and debate that knowledge, is way beyond anything available to the scripture writers.

Real wise people/philosophers have always been open to new ideas. They become wise because they listen and reflect on both tradition and innovation in their context. Anyone who relies on received wisdom can only parrot what they have heard. Sooner or later, they go the way of the dodo.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Anyone who relies on received wisdom can only parrot what they have heard.” – David Marshall –

David, I am not defending ‘received wisdom’ as the ‘only’ way of living out our Faith. However, neither can it be ignored, for to do so would be to reject the God who is at the heart of it all. I do agree with you, that Scripture can no longer be thought to contain ‘all that is necessary’ to live the Christian life. We have to be open to new activity by the ‘Holy Spirit.. given to us”