Thinking Anglicans

Nashville Statement: CofE clerics among signatories

Updated

This week, a grouping of mainly North American evangelical Christians, which in the past has been noted mainly for its espousal of complementarianism, issued a new statement, which is about sexuality and gender identity. This has been named by them (to the chagrin of the city’s mayor) as the Nashville Statement.

You can read the full text of the statement as a PDF over here. That file also contains the list of initial signatories.

They include two Church of England licensed clergy, both in the Diocese of Oxford:

Although Mr Roberts lists himself on the Nashville statement website as shown above, Mr Allberry lists himself as “Editor, The Gospel Coalition” and has additionally provided the following endorsement of the statement:

Sam Allberry
Speaker & Apologist, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
“I am signing The Nashville Statement because I stand with Biblical orthodoxy, the only witness for hope and peace and God’s blessing. By God through the merit and power of Jesus Christ, here I stand.”

Mr Allberry is an elected member of the General Synod from the Oxford diocese, and has recently been appointed to the newly formed Pastoral Advisory Group.

There have been a number of responses to the Nashville Statement:

Christians United Statement (signatories include several from the UK)

The Denver Statement

A Liturgists Statement

Media coverage has included:

Jonathan Draper has written The Nashville Statement – a theological failure.

OneBodyOneFaith has published a response: Supporters encouraged to challenge the Nashville Statement

OneBodyOneFaith notes with grave concern the issuing of the so-called Nashville Statement by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, based in the US. The Statement has been signed by over 150 conservative evangelical leaders, overwhelming male, and including fewer than five based in the UK. It asserts a fundamentalist and uncompromising perspective on both gender and sexuality, one which dismisses LGB people, trans and non-binary people, and those who identify as intersex. It hurts and harms those of us who know ourselves to be uniquly created and loved by God, a God who is revealed, and delights, in the diversity of our humanity….

Do read it all.

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Peter StarrRod GillisDavid RuncornInterested ObserverJCF Recent comment authors
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scott
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scott

Am I missing something, or is this so called “Nashville” statement a strong condemnation of marriage after divorce? That would seem like a big thing for a lot of folks. I am frankly tired of the homophobic rant – that drumbeat is going to go on for some time, but society and, in increasing numbers the church (however loosely defined) has moved on. It will find its way to the same dustbin in which opposition to marriage between races and opposition to marriage between different denominations or religions have been deposited. But I would have thought that divorce and remarriage,… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“I find the insinuation that evangelicals don’t think to be insulting in the extreme.”

And as if by magic, the Nashville Declaration comes along to show just what they are thinking.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

One of the chief movers behind this is John Piper. If you look on Wikipedia under “Theological views” you get an insight into the world view that informs this statement.

Leonard Clark
Guest

Scared silly. Silly, silly, silly as they apparently know little about ALL of Gods children and the abundance and depth of Gods love…there are many different versions of love that grows into into a holy bliss. Some of us have NEVER had to conform to a cross legged/tight lipped heterosexual Puritanical position (tight/squirm and many of OUR ancestors were Puritans who escaped to America)…gracias a Dios, diversity in humanity (even at Church) has blessed ALL of us. Let’s keep growing in our understanding of one another and let’s not leap backwards/blindfolded into the dimly writ pages of the chest-beating cowardice… Read more »

Ann Reddecliffe
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Ann Reddecliffe

Article 7 doesn’t make sense to me. ‘WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture. WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.’ In the WE AFFIRM part they are talking about gender only. But, in the WE DENY part they are talking about sexual orientation and gender. It suggests that they do not fully understand the difference. The use of WE AFFIRM and WE DENY is just trying to enforce a completely unnecessary… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

‘The path of short-sighted alternatives’ (to conservative Christian views) ‘that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonour God.’ (Preamble) My love for another woman has not ruined my life; it has preciously and tenderly enriched it. To allege I dishonour God seems to me to be an arrogant and judgmental claim. As a nurse, I try to honour God in service and care towards others. In my sincere faith, I love God, and try to open my heart to God’s grace and compassion. My life is not ruined at all by my love for my partner. If being ‘counter-cultural’… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

By “self-conception” they presumably mean what is sometimes called “self-image”: the way one thinks of oneself, or the way one conceives of oneself. So what they’re saying is that you’re not just damned by doing whatever those horrible things that those gay people do when they are being horrible, you’re damned for just thinking of yourself as gay, even if you don’t do anything about it. So in the world of Nashville, it’s sinful to even be a celibate, closeted gay person: the mere fact that you think of yourself as gay is a sin. See, they _have_ been thinking.… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

‘We affirm that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.’ (Article 5) That is to elide sex and gender. In most cases, they operate fairly congruently, though gender could be seen as fluid and a spectrum in its experience and expression. Some women drive trucks, some men do knitting. It doesn’t matter. For some people, genital sexual physicalities are deeply incongruent to a person’s lived (often lifelong) experience of themselves, and it is not simply ‘expression’ of ‘lifestyle choice’ but integral experience of ‘who they are’. Some research… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

‘Sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and towards sexual immorality – a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.’ (Article 9) But if gay people can’t get married, then ALL the sexual expression of tender gay love is ‘immoral’ and ‘sinful’, and a distortion of good (heterosexual) sexuality? Does Justin Welby believe this? Why can’t he just say? This vilification of gay and lesbian sex – sinful, immoral, twisted – is exactly what he reassured his Primate friends was the position of the Church of England today, when he told them (to try… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

‘Pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires.’ (Article 12) Conversion therapy then? Just condemned by the Church of England, by UK psychologists, by most other people. ‘Putting to death’ who you are is likely to lead to repression, diminution, sometimes breakdown. Gay is not a ‘lifestyle choice’: it is who you are. It’s you. The way God happened to make you. And a conduit for love, and joy, and health, and deep well-being. ‘We affirm that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender self-conceptions.’ (Article 13) My gender is… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re Perry Butler, “…you get an insight into the world view that informs this statement.” Or more accurately, misinformed this statement. Just more religiously based culture warrior ignorance. It is all politics.

However, It did remind me of this great tune about Nashville, i.e. “Nashville Cats”. Don’t let demagogues ruin the reputation of a perfectly iconic town.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcL8yFzHd8o

David Runcorn
Guest

Interested Observer It is still insulting actually. And if you really think that the Nashville Statement is in any way an expression of the mainstream evangelical tradition in the CofE I would invite you please to show more interest and observe more closely.

Susannah Clark
Guest

I think perhaps the critical issue is not the label ‘evangelical’ but the concept that the Bible texts are infallible and inerrant. Arguably the heart of the crisis is not latent homophobia, or the issue of human sexuality at all (though that is obviously a crisis in its own right). But the real background crisis is the way we read and understand the Bible. That is the crisis. To that extent, I suspect quite a lot of benevolent evangelicals actually participate in an approach to the Bible that opens the door to the more harmful excesses of believing the Bible… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re: Tim Chesterton, thanks for the links to various alternative evangelical opinion. The Jim Wallis piece, predictably, is very insightful. Notwithstanding, problems with “evangelical” Christianity, including Anglican brands of the same, go deeper than the kind of anti-social extremism articulated in the Nashville Statement. Much of evangelical Christianity seems ill equipped to model constructive community making to a fractured and increasingly polarized world–although a recognition of the latter state affairs is clearly present across the spectrum of opinion in the articles you linked. I have attached a link to the September issue of Anglican Journal. If readers scroll down to… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

With a couple of hours to kill, I have read all all of the links Tim provides. In passing, they are prolix in the extreme: the first is 3800 words, the length of a substantial undergraduate essay; this is hardly “forceful”. They appear to boil down to “Trump is bad”. They mention Trump a total of thirty six times (if we assume “the President” means “Trump”), including “But behind all the details was one overarching one: Trump.” They are as obsessed with Trump as the Nashville lot are with sex. Their logic, and I use the word loosely, appears to… Read more »

Brad Purdom
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Brad Purdom

Susannah Clark, let me preface this by noting that you used the word “arguably” before stating that the “heart of the matter” is not homophobia or sexuality but instead Biblical inerrancy. I think in this case the heart of the matter really is about non-hetero human sexuality, as is witnessed by the fact that the dramatic loosening of heterosexual norms over the past half-century is so widely accepted in conservative evangelical circles. Those of us who are privileged to do premarital counseling and officiate at weddings know that virtually no couples of any age (twenties, forties, seventies) or orientation get… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I honestly don’t know what else to say.

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

Surely at least one of the issues is that there is a difference between an evangelical who says, “Pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires” and one who says, “I rejoice that in the cross of Christ my sins are forgiven — as are those of all other sinners.” I can hardly think of a more opposite theological perspective. The problem is that both are free to call themselves “evangelical” — but only one of them seems to have a solid grasp on the good news of the gospel, or indeed on the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Interested observer, your critique en masse of the articles referenced by Tim Chesterton is rather caviling with all the tone of Hoodoo McFiggins Christmas. The Jim Wallis piece, just for example, makes cogent points about both the timing of the Statement, about relative priorities, and about the social and cultural climate in which it has been released. Wallis also provides a theological critique with regard to the lack of a premier evangelical value in the Statement i.e. repentance, especially repentance within institutions and movements. The notion that the various authors are “…as obsessed with Trump as the Nashville lot… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“My gender is not a sin. It is just a gender. Nor is it a self-conception. It is who I am.” What the Nashville Statement is saying, Susannah, is that they (the Nashville signatories) know you, Susannah, better than you know yourself (because God’s on THEIR side: neener-neener-neener!) It’s really clear that LGBTs—and even LGBT Christians—aren’t the principal target of the Nashville Statement. It’s *straight Christian allies* (and even straight Christians merely in doubt). THEY are the ones the Nashville Statement is trying to “read out” of the Church (broadly). We LGBTs are *already* going to hell. The Nashvillains want… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

JCF, given the precipitant fall in evangelical church-going numbers in the US amongst those under 40, one might say that the Nashville Statement is a good thing: it won’t make bigots any more bigoted, and for everyone else it clarifies where evangelicals stand. Evangelicals who don’t like being lumped in with bigots can find themselves a clear way to articulate that distaste, one which isn’t 3800 words of hair-splitting and refusal to condemn bigotry.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Oh, and Rod, that Jim Wallis piece starts by saying, that is to say its first sentence is, “The timing of a new “manifesto” aimed against LGBTQ Christians and their allies — in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville and in the midst of Americans rescuing each other in Texas — is more than unfortunate.” So the content, presumably, isn’t as bad, and had it been published last month, or next month, all would have been well. It goes on to say “This “Nashville Statement” exemplifies a grave mistake of public discernment and creates a more polarized division that seriously is… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: JFC, “It’s really clear that LGBTs—and even LGBT Christians—aren’t the principal target of the Nashville Statement.” Right on. That is one of the reasons that criticism from moderate evangelicals is useful. While it will fall on the deaf ears of the Nashville extremists in the American right, such criticism is a counter measure to attempts to “unchurch” moderate voices. It also contributes to a strengthening of church land voices which are expressing opposition to your President’s divisive identity politics.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/08/28/religious-leaders-gather-in-washington-to-show-unified-moral-opposition-to-trump/?utm_term=.41290e669a3c

David Runcorn
Guest

Evangelicals are called many things these days but ‘atheist’ really is a new one on me. I would agree with Jonathan Draper that the understanding of the incarnation is key. I would also agree it presents a particular challenge to evangelical understandings of the world and of faith. But in claiming that those lacking his summary of this doctrine are effectively atheists and idolaters – well that is worryingly close to the approach of the Nashville statement isn’t it? But it is not just evangelicals who will want to question a précis of this doctrine that sees no need to… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Interested Observer, Jim Wallis also writes: “Many Christians, including evangelicals, have been seeking to repent of the damage done to LGBTQ people by our churches, even if they still wrestle with theological issues around sexuality. In this statement, there is none of that spirit…” The Wallis piece does not seem to offend Dr. King’s view that, “… the judgment of God is upon the Church as never before. …I am meeting with young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust” (Letter From Birmingham Jail) I’m mot an evangelical. I disagree with Wallis when… Read more »

Peter Starr
Guest
Peter Starr

The Nashville signatories need to reject this vile binary approach, and come into the modern world. In our parish we are even ahead of the times, and do not confine ourselves to the gender-neutral liturgy and bible translations. We reject the subliminal racism of associating blackness with evil. Instead of “people who walked in darkness” (Is 9:2) we use “people who walked in negativity”, and “cast into outer darkness” is “deprived of positivity”. In the compline, the reference to “defend us from all perils and dangers of this night” is “defend us from all perils and dangers of lovelessness”. Clearly,… Read more »