Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 12 August 2017

Paul Bayes Huffington Post UK The Life And Death Divide Which Shames Our Nation

This refers to this research report North-South disparities in English mortality1965–2015: longitudinal population study by Iain E Buchan, Evangelos Kontopantelis, Matthew Sperrin, Tarani Chandola, Tim Doran.
Nicola Davis writes about the report for The Guardian ‘Alarming’ rise in early deaths of young adults in the north of England – study

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The growing conflict between Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience

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CynthiaJanet FifeColin CowardFr John E Harris-WhiteWilliam Recent comment authors
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Andrew Lightbown
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Picking up on Colin’s article: the ‘teaching document’ I would want to suggest may well become a theological train crash in its own right. What it mustn’t become is the theological equivalent of a Haynes Manual. It must foster reflection through acknowledging the reality of different theological integrities. It must be careful in its use of language, avoiding ascribing words like ‘orthodox,’ ‘faithful,’ ‘traditional,’ or ‘apostolic’ to one side of the debate. Having accepted the reality of different integrities it must accept that different modes of practice will inevitably become part of the C of E’s lived reality. It must… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Andrew Lightbown: a big part of me hopes that a train crash is exactly what results. If biology (this is I suppose what people mean by ‘experience’) and theology don’t agree, then theology must change. Theology is a product of the human mind. The human mind is evolving. Theology must evolve. I doubt that there are many members of the HoB with the wit to see the implications of this, and perhaps even fewer with the courage to articulate it. A train crash might show up the HoB for what they are – which is, I regret to say, irrelevant.… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“Experience will decide….” – this line from a hymn gives due deference to experience as an integral part of the exercise of reason, which, in turn is an integral element of the Anglican genius. Thus, both Colin and Andrew have shown the relationship of experience to all 3 legs of the stool upon which our Church sets its integrity.

William
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William

‘The desire to separate experience from scripture and tradition is in itself a denial of theology.’

Whose experience are you talking about? What if my experience is completely different from your experience, as it will inevitably be on a whole range of issues. Who then decides how to interpret scripture in a way which is not a denial of theology as you put it? Relying on experience is a very flawed way of doing theology because it is so subjective.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Dear William; is not the readiness to accept the experience of others – as well as one’s own experience – a vital factor in ongoing koinonia relationships in the Church? This really speaks of a ‘Broad Church’, which Anglicanism has claimed to be, but sometimes fails in the execution.

Fr John E Harris-White
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Fr John E Harris-White

It is interesting that the only comments on this particular site for Opinions 12th August concerns Colin’s article, and the churches continued obsession with sex and the male tackle. While the church continues its debate young people are destroying themselves with drugs, or so lost that suicide becomes a good option for them. When will the church face up to the needs of now several generations who have lost the meaning for life, and seek escape in drugs etc. More than ever the folk of our nation do not need management speak, but real life loving speak. Speaking to their… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

When a whole group of people all report the same experience, that experience is no longer merely subjective but becomes an objective way of understanding that group of people.

It’s the uniformity of that experience that requires theology to take note.

Susannah Clark
Guest

Exactly Erika. Thank you. If theology is to be regarded as an academic subject, and not mere wizardry, it could do worse than adopt the principles of ethnography, building objective evidence-base on the actual experience of LGBT+ people themselves, and if bold enough initiate a form of ‘reverse discourse’ through which to critique the system and the status quo. There is arguably a significant lack of cultural competency in parts of the Church, extending to a discomfort and downright fear. At the heart of much of this cultural competency deficit is a lack of knowledge and insight of the actual… Read more »

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

Thanks Erika – I thought it would be assumed that I was referring to collective and non subjective experience. The trouble is that this is a very difficult form of experience to engage with for those who wish to relegate experience to a simple mine versus yours tit for tat. If the other areas within ‘theology’ fail to take note what the church ends up with is a ‘denial of theology.’

William
Guest
William

Experience is never uniform Erika and I’m thankful that it isn’t. Every time I read a novel, I enter the world of another person’s experience and I learn from it. So I return to my original question; whose experience counts here if it is so fundamental to an Anglican way of doing theology?

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Why wouldn’t experience be an integral factor? Jesus tells us that we can tell the real prophets from the false ones by the fruits of their labor. The homophobic position yields ill health, suicide, abuse, etc. The inclusive position is mostly very joyful, except for those who insist on their personal righteousness and entitlement to exclude others. Also, prayer is left out of the three legs and it should be at the very heart. It is in prayer, collectively and individually, that we best discern the Good News of Jesus, our role as neighbors, the path of Wisdom and Compassion… Read more »

Colin Coward
Guest

I appreciate the comments made about my blog. The first two, from Andrew and Stanley, referred to the possibility of a theological train crash, were experience to be separated from scripture and tradition. William, Ron, Erika, Susannah and Cynthia explore this in different directions. I’ve ‘felt’ for much of my adult life, that as a gay man, I should conform my mindset to the three-legged stool imperative of a church that likes to do theology academically, in the head. I knew I was gay when I was 11 because I desired another boy’s presence. There was no thought of sex,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

William, the experience that counts in terms of theology is that sexuality is not chosen, that trying to reverse it causes harm and that gay relationships have the same potential as straight ones. That there is no observable harm to society or to gay people themselves, but that not allowing gay people equality causes them harm.

Within that framework, every gay person’s life is different, just like every straight person’s.

Susannah Clark
Guest

Desire. I should like to pick up on Colin’s open and vulnerable remarks. To add this: God, also, desires us. One morning, 35 years ago now, I woke in my attic bedroom to an experience of rushing wind. The windows of the room were shut. I’d gone to bed the previous night full of guilt for something I’d done, and feeling unworthy. As I pulled off my shirt, my cross snapped off from my neck, and I went to sleep feeling miserable and worthless. What I woke to, seven hours later, was wind. It started gently, but it quickly increased,… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Obviously I feel exposed by my last post. But there was something very important about Colin’s article, and Erika’s comment incited me too. I have had so many Christians lecture me over the years about the problem with ‘feelings’. Feelings are an essential part of experience, and God deals with us through experience. But particularly some ‘conservative’ evangelicals seem to see feelings as subjective and needing to be controlled and subordinated to cold, hard dogma. I disagree. I think experience (and feelings) are an important component in a balanced approach to spirituality and theology. Including the experience and feelings of… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I don’t know if my last comment came through:

William, all our experiences of our lives are individual. But there are commonalities too. For the sake of doing theology, the experiences that count are that sexuality is not chosen and cannot be changed, that trying to change it can cause harm, that permitting people to be partnered opens up the same possibility of happiness straight people have, and that forbidding loving partnerships causes mental distress.

A theology that does not take this experience into account is not worth the paper it’s written on.

William
Guest
William

‘the experience that counts in terms of theology is that sexuality is not chosen, that trying to reverse it causes harm and that gay relationships have the same potential as straight ones.’

This proves my point Erika; the only experience that you accept is the experience that fits your own particular world view. And you have no choice in this. As I said before, experience is never uniform and one person’s experience has to trump another if we are going to use such a subjective tool for theological thinking.

Fr John E Harris-White
Guest
Fr John E Harris-White

Colin I read with understanding your additional comment to your article. Theology for me is made up of my knowledge from reading and study; my experience from life, and my spiritual journey fed from my prayer life, my sacramental life, and life in the body of Christ. I very much respect the office of Archbishop and Bishop, but I care nothing for those Archbishops, and Bishops who are so narrow minded they are concerned only for their own safety. Whilst a London hospital chaplain, I had to put up with a diocesan Bishop who thought Hospital Chaplains were outside the… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

‘It is interesting that the only comments on this particular site for Opinions 12th August concerns Colin’s article, and the churches continued obsession with sex and the male tackle.’ Thank you, Fr. John. The Church is one of the very few institutions which has the ability to speak into a major issue like the north-south divide – and we have a gospel imperative to do it. ‘He sent me to give the good news to the poor…’ Maybe if we worked together on something like this, we would get better at putting our differences aside and seeing what we can… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“As I said before, experience is never uniform and one person’s experience has to trump another if we are going to use such a subjective tool for theological thinking.” How exactly can a gay person’s experience “trump” another’s experience? Straight people simply won’t have the same experience, it isn’t a matter of trumping, it’s a matter of difference, which brings in all that stuff about “the other.” And there is ample theological fodder for contemplating how we treat “the other.” Pain and agony and suffering of all sorts should be central for any meaningful theology – after all, isn’t theology… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

William, you say “the only experience that you accept is the experience that fits your own particular world view.” No, that was not was I was saying. I was saying that this experience is the same for all lgbt people, and that it therefore differs from the purely personal. It’s like with straight people: they discover that they are straight without ever having chosen. What happens then is purely individual: some marry, some don’t, some marry several times, others remain celibate all their lives. Some have children, others don’t .Some are happy in their jobs, others aren’t. Some are healthy… Read more »

William
Guest
William

Dear Erika, The experience of gay people is vastly more complex than you suggest. They don’t all fit neatly into the LGBT box of your own world view. For example many gay people are opposed to same sex marriage. Why? Because their experience tells them that children function best with both male and female parents. Other gay people embrace tradional biblical teaching and at great personal cost live chaste lives. Again, a different experience and viewpoint from your own. For the purpose of this thread, I am not arguing about the rightness or wrongness of this different experience. I’m simply… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Maybe if Philip North preached on the North/South divide at a big evangelical festival, it would get some attention….?

Fr John E Harris-White
Guest
Fr John E Harris-White

Janet, I very much agree with you. The Gospel imperative of care and love for all God’s children is our God given task. Hence my blog. This Mornings reading from St Marks Gospel records our Lord’s early ministry of all folk being brought to him, regardless of who they were. But as we seek to obey his command, we must be mindful of many folk who have been hurt, and side lined by the official church, because they were different. A difference that was part of God’s creation for them. God does not make a mistake, and in His creation… Read more »

Colin Coward
Guest

Janet Fife reminded me about Fr John Emlyn’s earlier comment that “It is interesting that the only comments on this particular site for Opinions 12th August concerns Colin’s article, and the churches continued obsession with sex and the male tackle.” Paul Bayes’ article for Huffington Post about the North-South divide which shames our nation concerns me as much as the impact on my life of the failure of the church after 50 plus years to honour my sexuality and my desires. If we were able to put our differences aside and see what can be achieved by working to together… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

‘But as we seek to obey his command, we must be mindful of many folk who have been hurt, and side lined by the official church, because they were different. ‘ Fr. John, I very much agree with you and with Colin Coward, and have several times posted to that effect. There is still a lot of ground to be won re. recognition of LGBT+ (and of women’s) standing within the Church. (I was tempted to reply to William myself, but felt that Erika was more than capable of handling it.) But like Fr. John I note that issues such… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“For example many gay people are opposed to same sex marriage. Why? Because their experience tells them that children function best with both male and female parents.” First of all, I have never heard a gay person say or write this, but I have seen straight, non-affirming, people make the claim. Second, the data show that children with gay parents do just as well as in hetero families. So that is the truth of the experience. To say otherwise is nothing but bias and prejudice and is no basis for theology or any wise and compassionate decision making. LGBTQI in… Read more »