Monday, 9 October 2006

Fulcrum responds to TA comments

In response to an earlier article here which linked to a piece by Andrew Goddard, several commenters responded strongly to that piece. Graham Kings has submitted this response:

As Fulcrum theological secretary, I offer the following few points concerning the posts about Fulcrum by JBE, Giles Fraser and Steve Watson:

1. JBE has commented about the founding of Fulcrum and Andrew Goddard’s role. My Fulcrum August newsletter, ‘Founding of Fulcrum’ shows that ‘proto-Fulcrum’ gathered first in October 2002, before the Reading controversy and the founding of Anglican Mainstream, and Andrew Goddard was part of Fulcrum from the beginning.

2. For Fulcrum’s original (and still valid) statement on sexual ethics, an issue raised by JBE and Steve Watson, see:
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/centre.cfm?menuopt=1.

‘In the much-contested area of sexual ethics this means that the proper context for sexual expression is the union of a man and a woman in marriage. We will participate in debates on issues in sexual ethics arising today in the life of the Church and we identify as key references the CofE document Issues in Human Sexuality and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and True Union (a document shared with the Anglican Primates’ Meeting, Brazil 2003).’

See also our submission to the Lambeth Commission.

3. It was good to meet Giles Fraser at the launch of Fulcrum in November 2003 and yes, our aim then and now is to ‘renew the evangelical centre’. In our FAQ section, this is elucidated as:

‘It deliberately has two meanings: Fulcrum aims to renew the moderate centre of the evangelical tradition in the Church of England and also to renew the centre of the Church of England which is historically, and again currently, evangelical.

The sermon by Tom Wright launching Fulcrum may be seen on:www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=118

4. Giles Fraser also suggests that we are an arm of Anglican Mainstream. This is not the case. Anglican Mainstream is a single issue campaigning network whereas Fulcrum, as may be seen by the subjects of our articles, covers the whole range of theological and missiological issues. Although both are conservative on issues of sexuality, on other issues we differ from Anglican Mainstream eg in our attitude to the irregular ordinations in Southwark, and in that we positively advocate the consecration of women to the episcopate.

5. Finally, Andrew Goddard mentioned Michael Poon’s crucial article on the varying status of the Kigali Communique and the Road to Lambeth document. They are not of equal weight, and this whole discussion needs to take this difference of weight seriously:

‘We need to read The Road to Lambeth against the official document Kigali Communique, and indeed not the other way around. They are not two parallel statements from Kigali that bear the same authority.’

This is Michael Poon’s important comment in his perceptive response to the CAPA report ‘The Road to Lambeth’:
‘Quo Vadis? - Questions along the Road from Lambeth - A response to CAPA’s Invitation’, by Michael Poon, Global South Anglican site, 2 October 2006.

In a key passage of the article, Poon comments:

‘Shortly before the Kigali Meeting met, Canterbury issued a statement announcing that he has invited Archbishop Drexel Gomez to head a Covenant Design Group to draft an Anglican Covenant. He confirmed that this will be ‘a major and serious focus for the Lambeth Conference’. The Primates at Kigali greeted this in the most enthusiastic language. They believed that ‘an Anglican Covenant [that is now a major and serious focus for Lambeth 2008!] will demonstrate to the world that it is possible to be a truly global communion where differences are not affirmed at the expense of faith and truth but within the framework of a common confession of faith and mutual accountability’ (Communique, 7). In other words, the Global South Primates affirmed in clearest possible terms their intent to contribute in the Covenant processes. The Covenant constitutes the test of faithfulness (and membership). Lambeth 2008 will be the defining moment for the Communion.

Indeed, are not the recommendations in the Report superseded by recent events? Is not the Spirit of God at work, giving us more than we have ever imagined possible? Does not this explain why the CAPA Primates themselves did not explicitly endorse it at Kigali?’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 October 2006 at 11:00pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Just goes to prove that evangelicalism itself is the problem, conservative, open or otherwise.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 9 October 2006 at 11:40pm BST

I would like to invite Graham to take up one issue which I don't think he has covered in his response: why it has been accepted within Fulcrum that the issues around sexuality do carry the theological weight they are currently being accorded - that is, that they are sufficiently important to break communion. At least, I assume that they are so regarded: that appears to be the tenor of Andrew Goddard's piece, and his earlier reflection on the TEC Convention. This seems somewhat different from the approach taken by other founding members of Fulcrum in their response to ++Rowan's appointment as ABC. To quote the letter by Francis Bridger and others (lifted from the Fulcrum website):
"Archbishop Rowan Williams was right to resist recent attempts to force him to agree to particular forms of words to define Christian ethical teaching...
"First, no pressure group should expect a bishop or archbishop to subject himself to tests that go beyond the canons of the church. This would set a precedent that would be morally unacceptable. "Second, it is unseemly and contrary to biblical thinking to exert pressure by means of public confrontation rather than by private persuasion. Disputes among Christians should be settled in
private in a spirit of charitable reconciliation.
"Third, if we believe that God is sovereign over the processes leading to the choice of Dr Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury, then we should respect this. We may not always agree with him, but that does not erode the validity of his appointment or the calling that God has laid upon him."
Clearly we are not dealing with precise equivalents, but this letter seems to me to set out a theological method which is far more eirenic. My reflection on the first point above is that, as it would appear, a traditional position on sexuality is now being accorded canonical status. It needs more than majority opinion and a Lambeth Resolution (NOT canon, there being no such thing) to justify such a position. The second point applies to all those who prefer their negotiation via the loudhailer, on either side; the third I think is possibly even more important. We cannot know the whole counsel of God: it is essential to our life as a church that we recognise and even welcome those with whom we disagree, because otherwise we are claiming to do exactly that. What makes sexuality different?

Jonathan

Posted by: Jonathan Clark on Monday, 9 October 2006 at 11:51pm BST

"within the framework of a common confession of faith"....

I have been led to believe the Anglican Church was not a confessional church and that the Nicene Creed was a sufficient statement of faith as expressed by the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral? Is Mr. Poon speaking of the same thing or something else? I'm guessing he is referring to something else that will suit the leadership of the Global South in their vision a 'pure' church.

Posted by: Richard III on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 12:52am BST

The second last paragraph "... the Global South Primates affirmed in the clearest possible terms their intent to contribute to the Covenant processes."

Their contribution includes instructing other Dioceses to elect alternative Primates because they don't approve of the Diocese' choice. To blacklist "unsuitable" Primates before the dialogue has even occurred. To commence the establishment of alternative organisation structures before the dialogue has even occurred.

If we passively allow this to happen they can then toute the conference as being a united dialogue where the whole communion is in agreement. Well that's true if one has restructured the communion prior to the conference to exclude "unsuitable" representation.

This appalling organisation politics is up there with the union movements' or organised crime gang wars' worst histories.

Plus they dare to say that this is scripturally endorsed, invoking the name of God??? They attack annointed prophets, something that not even King David did. He fled from Saul when Saul had become perverted, and ordered the death of the messenger who had killed Saul (even though Saul had requested it) - see the book of Samuel.

Maybe they should attend a few mosques and learn some basic courtesies and fear of God from the Muslims? Because they certainly don't seem to be able to learn from the bible.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 2:19am BST

'...that the proper context for sexual expression is the union of a man and a woman in marriage.'
This is tht Fulcrum condom. It will protect them from unwanted.... conceptions. At least they hope unwanted ideas like gay rights, bodily fun and the erotic will not be conceived by bright fresh faced evangelcials--why are they always fresh faced ?!

But the condom is more of a fig leaf, as we all know. (cf Accepting Anglicans, and REACH a forerunner of an evangelcial gay rights groupo, found by Dennis Ll. Nadin about 30 years ago). Also taht gay liturgist -Michael ..... (forget surname)-- a marvellous person, since died.

...' We will participate in debates on issues in sexual ethics arising today in the life of the Church and we identify as key references the CofE document Issues in Human Sexuality..'
well, this is promisng as Issues authorised same-sex relationships for the laity--- as I never tire of pointing out. I know they'd rather oick and choose--and ignor that huge fact and step forward. It's too late to take it back now.

Posted by: laurence roberts on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 10:00am BST

No, Merseymike, the root of the problem in the AC is not evangelicalism because 95%+ of the Anglican church is largely in agreement with Fulcrum and also with +Duncan and the Network.........

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 11:59am BST

Surely there is no requirement for anybody to follow a 'party line'. After all, it is almost impossible that anyone would actually believe the party line 100% of the time. It is highly unlikely that all of a given body is going to agree totally on a given issue. So why can't each individual simply say what they think?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 1:39pm BST

'...95%+ of the Anglican church is largely in agreement with....'

ah, well if it is a numbers game-- a question of statistical data, that's another matter !

A great many parishoners are unitarian, and there are plenty of nonitarians too ! Also panentheists... and non-realists (not all in/at Cambridge, either!).... Especially British people who live in the country. There's quite a sensible, in-touch-with-natural-cycles, kind of spirituality --they'd be too modest to call it that, of course...

And then the spirituality of parishoners in our cities is hardly very Church-Pastoral Aid Society or even very Forward in Faith, either ! The parishioners tend to be rather down to earth and sensible--they see
parsons come and go!
High and low !

At the next Coronation I think we'll see a true reflection of the religous and spiritual make-up of modern Britain. Christians will take their place with all the others and it could be a happy, inspiring occasion for monarchists and sentimental hangers-on like me !....

Posted by: laurence roberts on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 1:45pm BST

Cheryl Clough --

I'm afraid there was a typo in your opening quotation:

The second last paragraph "... the Global South Primates affirmed in the clearest possible terms their intent to _control_ the Covenant processes."

There, I've fixed it.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 2:37pm BST

"No, Merseymike, the root of the problem in the AC is not evangelicalism because 95%+ of the Anglican church is largely in agreement with Fulcrum and also with +Duncan and the Network........."

Based on what evidence?

Posted by: Richard III on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 3:11pm BST

Well I do hope all the straight married couples are making out with one another and enjoying the graceful & intimate feasts of embodiment which help undo domination arrangements, perhaps even at the cellular levels of brain structure/function.

Domination & assault are no longer the basic innate truth of all sexual contact - at least for most of us in post-technological nations, and probably for many, many others as well. Ditto, for the fading & neglect & disinterest currently shown in most cultures for trying to worship gods or goddesses via sex rituals. Surely we can count it as common sense intellectual progress when most modern farmers go out to assess the Ph of their soils, instead of thinking that magic body fluids infused with divine or quasi-divine properties will fertilize the mystical fertility of their very lands.

Most of the straight sex now happening has little or nothing to do with direct sperm-egg fertilization and much to do with exactly those pairbonding foundations without which conception becomes dehumanized and even betrays our animal heritage of pairbonding. You would think, if you were just being common sensical about it, that this would offer all of us a large and comfortable middle ground upon which to agree, even though we shall continue to disagree about many particular details of sex or human nature. But no, only the new conserved know anything at all that is good and true and important about sex or human nature. If that is so, I do hope their love lives are exemplary, giving off more joy than their confessional or ethical strictures typically communicate. By now, at least, any theory or model of sex and human nature which cannot start off with pairbonding and attachment as the cornerstones of human-animal sexuality will necessarily be found partial and probably badly skewed, if not destined for outright flat earth status.

Feeling as I do about straight people and emobodiment, I see no real compelling reason to exclude non-straight people or assign them to lower rungs of creation or of embodiment. Inside or outside of our churches. Ditto, for the children being parented in straight and in non-straight families, all over the planet.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 3:36pm BST

Richard III,

I cannot believe how many people want to pretend that Duncan et al are not pretty mainstream in terms of the 77m Anglicans globally. The ABC treats him as if he is mainstream, does he not?

You want evidence? Give Jeffrey John a call. Even in England and even though he is no Gene Robinson, he could not be appointed - the ABC clearly felt the weight of Anglican opinion against that move....I feel sorry for J John going through all that but the episode clearly shows that there is a strong constraint on the ABC - remember he wanted to make that appointment but had to force his friend to withdraw.

My point is not contentious - most Anglicans are in the Global South now and the strong, growing Anglican churches in "The West" are "Alpha" or conservative evangelical - so, it is obvious that the vast majority of Anglicans in the world would find +Duncan very easy to get on with....and they would understand the basis for his views on various issues.

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 3:47pm BST

Jonathan raises an important question which I will attempt to answer. This is that issues surrounding human sexuality have become a presenting issue, a cypher, if you will, of much more fundamental issues surrounding the nature of our church, and the 'authority' it uses as its base. Put another way, to what do we turn to determine how we resolve genuine differences of opinion between Christians, and what is the process by which we do this. How do we determine the balance of scripture tradition and reason.

Human sexuality has become a touchstone on this (across the church) because of the unfortunate way in which TEC/ECUSA has proceeded in the teeth of opposition from much of the rest of the communion, and it is this fact, and this alone which has given the prominence to a single issue.

It is this which accounts for the views seen within Fulcrum, and this which has Fulcrum working for a future method to ensure that our ways of resolving matters as Christians must be tightened by a process such as the proposed Anglican Covenant. Simply put, the current muddle won't do.

Fulcrum emphatically does not wish to see a split within the Anglican Communion, but it is increasingly hard to see how that can be avoided given the refusal of TEC/ECUSA to readdress the actions it took surrounding the consecration of +Robinson, and the authorisation of services of blessing for same sex relationships, including in ++(elect) Schori's own diocese.

On the other hand we are constantly surprised by the power of the Holy Spirit to achieve the humanly impossible.

Posted by: Simon Cawdell on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 4:04pm BST

Thanks, Jonathan for your invitation question posted above. Stoke Newington and Islington discuss across the TA site! It seems to me that two subjects need highlighting beyond sexuality, which are crucial and related to the current crisis:

1. Ecclesiology

Since The Guardian letter of 8 October 2002, http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,806659,00.html Gene Robinson has been elected and consecrated as a Bishop. Since then, ecclesiology has been the central issue - of the Windsor Report and of the Covenant Process.

Oliver O’Donovan’s second and third Fulcrum web sermons, in particular, relate to this subject and really are worth reading in depth:
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2006/20060803odonovan2.cfm?doc=128
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2006/20060911odonovan3.cfm?doc=140
‘The Care of the Churches’ and ‘Ethics and Agreement’

It is also worth noting Andrew Goddard's important sentence in his article ‘Fulfilled or Finished?’:
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2006/20061006goddard.cfm?doc=144
'It remains unlikely that a statement on homosexuality would be written into any agreed covenant. It is, however, likely that the covenant will describe the nature of life together in communion and that it will do so in such a way (as in Windsor) that those who subscribe to it will have to renounce taking unilateral action against what the Communion has declared to be its understanding of the limits and boundaries for a common life, especially when those boundaries are understood to be given in Scripture.'

This leads me on the second subject of:

2. Scripture

Fulcrum has just published Oliver O'Donovan’s fourth monthly web sermon (three more to go!) 'Scripture and Obedience' and this deals in depth with the subject.
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2006/20061009odonovan4.cfm?doc=145
Discussion and debate form part of Fulcrum’s aims and we are contributing to the Anglican Communion’s ‘Listening Process’ and stance against homophobia: see Andrew Goddard’s earlier Fulcrum article ‘Homophobia’.
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2006/20060524goddard.cfm?doc=108

Posted by: Graham Kings on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 4:55pm BST

'the unfortunate TEC has proceeded'

Simon don't be coy. What has TEC / ECUSA proceeded in? You say it is 'unfortunate' but what have they done to you?

do you mean blessing same-sex relationships ? Do you mean ordaining to the episcopate, a man of great courage & integrity, who happens to be called of God to a loving relationship and home, with another man ?

Simon asks,
' Put another way, to what do we turn to determine how we resolve genuine differences of opinion between Christians, and what is the process by which we do this. How do we determine the balance of scripture tradition and reason.'

Truth to tell, we will all go on finding our own answers to these vexed questions,and our own balance of s, t & r. This what has always happened. Nowadays we tend to feel it can be done by conversations, writing and reading, rather than the reformation methods of torture and so on. Just as we now tend to approach Jewish people with politeness and not pogroms. As there is no agreement among us on such fundamental doctrines as Christology, the nature of the Priesthood, Eucharistic Presence & Sacrifice, Our Lady, the Saints, the Departed, soteriology; and the nature of the Cathlic Church etc.,and Anglicans have tradtionally agreed to differ, I do not see why the nature of relationships, and of sexual ethics,is the ONE matter on which there must be uniformity or schism.

I have been much more upset, for example, by seeing the eucharistic bread & wine being thrown to the birds, after worship, than by the happiness of loving couples.

This is surely no time to be returning to the medieval & Reformation tactics of censure, and bullying, after allthe progress we made in the twentieth century ? In Nigeria Anglicans are threatened with imprionment and mental torture, with the sanction of their Archbishop.

'Careless talk, still costs lives.'

Posted by: laurence roberts on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 5:18pm BST

Of course ECUSA should not readdress their actions. They were right and just. Nothing will change my opinion on that matter, and they should stand firm for fairness and justice, and place evangelical homophobia of either the Fulcrum or Anglican Mainstream variety in the dustbin where it belongs.

I think its clear enough that Fulcrum and Mainstream are essentially the same - the open evangelicals I know are mostly post-evangelical these days and don't really see Fulcrum representing their view.

In any case, I think the anglican Communion and the notion of the broad church is no longer viable. I'd prefer to see a split and an openly liberal denomination led from ECUSA.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 5:39pm BST

“Just goes to prove that evangelicalism itself is the problem, conservative, open or otherwise.”— Merseymike

Absolutely correct, Merseymike! Don’t people remember what happened when these Puritans were “a majority” the last time? A religious Civil War in England and America! These neo-Calvinists are a cancer; the more rapidly they spread, and grow, the closer the organism is to death! Is this what you want for the CofE? The domination of the Church by a neo-Puritanism despised by most English people?

Posted by: Kurt on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 5:53pm BST

Prior, you made me chuckle. thank you.

Merseymike, I would like to see the word "evangelism" take on a more diverse meaning, which encapsulates those who have a fundamental respect for Jesus and God's workings through Jesus, but are not self-righteous hypocritical fundamentalists.

The 95% in agreement assertion is optimistic. It ignores the reality where parishioners will say publicly (i.e. in front of their minister) that they don't condone homosexuality, but quietly affirm and love their GLBTs friends and relatives. (And invite them and are grateful to have them at baptisms, weddings, confirmations and funerals :-). The emperor wears no clothes on that claim.

The UN news service announced today the release of a 139-page report on violence against women http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/419/74/PDF/N0641974.pdf?OpenElement
Annan rightly points out that we can not stop the AIDS pandemic or overcome massive poverty unless we tackle the abuse of women http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=20186&Cr=women&Cr1= The call is out there for leaders to commit to ending tolerance and complicity to women being subjected to violence and made to feel shame.

The Anglican communion is at a crossroads. Will it be a communion that condones and aids and abets abuse against women and the rejection of children as God makes them? Or will it fulfill the calling to be shepherds to the lost and strays, encouraging souls to find love with reverence and compassion? Every mother wants their child to love and to be loved, and it is a curse from God when mothers reject their own children e.g. Deuteronomy 28:54-57

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 6:14pm BST

Kurt --
Regretfully, I must concur with you & Merseymike. History indeed indicates that there is something fundamental in English Evangelicalism (or Puritanism, if you prefer) that is self-righteous and judgemental & requires some group to demonize & exclude.

And of course The Episcopal Church is not going to reverse course on basic issues of the presence of gays & lesbians in the life of the church -- an attempt to apologize for doing what we believe is right would only ring hollow (see various comments from al points of view on Resolution B033).

In any case, the Manichean world view of the schismatics had always made serious discussion a pipedream.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 7:30pm BST

I find it odd in a Communion where synodical governance is the norm that the opinions of a group of bishops, even though they are Primates, is automatically thought to be completely representative of the beliefs of those they serve.

Posted by: Nick Finke on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 9:59pm BST

Nick

I read an excellent analysis some months ago that it was the bishops of one diocese that decided to turn back the hands of time against women. When I posted a link here, another poster commented that the Presbyterians had gotten rid of this contentious layer. At their worst, I think they qualify for the scribe and flattering seeking sycohpants described in the OT or by Jesus.

Isaiah 49 should apply to this layer - knowing this layer has a pivotal ability to hijack or transform the church, they need to be open to scrutiny from above, below and outside. (A bit like generals in an army, they have the capacity to take over government, but just because they can doesn't mean they should).

Mind you the bishops won't like it, there was a report about 360-degree management reviews for ministers in one diocese last year and one Bishop was seen to smile and mutter no-no-no to the idea that the system should also capture his layer in the church. The good news about the blatent politicking and power plays is that it is so bad that the moderate majority will probably agree to put in place suitable checks to slow down this form of weedy organisational politics.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 10 October 2006 at 10:29pm BST

Of course at any time the new conserved believers - puritans, evangelical, or biblical, or whatever else we accept in passing to tag them - could cease and desist from their energetic campaign against historic-traditional Anglican agreeing to disagree. How many of the rest of us did that particular, special institutional oxygen bring to our local Anglican faith communities?

That seems less than very likely, given the Kigali animosity towards non-straight people and unconformed believers, who as posters have noted, have come to represent in brief all that is dead wrong with everybody who is thus defined dead and wrong. Also dead wrong are any Anglican institutions which still allow them to be included, counted, or heard in good conscience as anything but preludes to what some conservative voice will proudly and loudly announce as the corrected, conformed truth with a capital Anglican T.

Alas. Even Canterbury has publicly opined that God's welcome is provisional - a startling statement of the supposed new Anglican bedrock beneath which only churning hot magmas of goodness knows what sorts of volanic flow are waiting to overflow in goodness knows what sorts of doomsday catastrophe upon us - all because we have declined to be led from the top down as believers who otherwise occupy frames of equality, democracy, and leeway for open-ended discernment as essential to any long-term common sense following of Jesus of Nazareth. If Canterbury thus accepts God's love as definitively conditional-punitive love, surely what the rest of us who remain unconformed have pledged as Anglican core values no longer holds sway. Canterbury naturally seems reluctant to detail the new enforcements that will surely be needed. But plenty of other godly leaders will be raised up among us to do the deeds, symbolically, and nearly otherwise as the ethical-theological basis for leeway in work institutions, social institutions, or citizenship follows suit in the rush to all the new, beloved penalisms.

If you think I am kidding, just read Rushdoony.

Of course historic Anglican leeway still holds sway in our hearts, our minds, our bodies, and even many of our local parishes - even if we can admit it, holds sway in many of our remaining Anglican provincial processes.

But make no mistake, it is just this core value of being an Anglican believer which is intended for death, if not legal punishments to be enforced by dark new Anglican police powers.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 4:38am BST

This is as great a shift in progress now happening as if Saint Gandhi had suddenly announced that it was centrally right and ethical, after all, to raise an army against colonial injustices from among the very people formerly pledged to non-violence.

I predict it will change the enforcers, much for the worse, just as powerfully as it is intended to change all the rest of us who are loudly and pointedly being asked to shut up or leave, in about a thousand different ways - short and long – by all the new conserved voices.

I should lament losing the deepest senses of evangelion - many not yet even clear to us, because the Holy Spirit knows we cannot yet bear those further truths - to this closed-minded hermeneutic DNA. Its reason is closed. Its readings of scripture are already set in stone and cannot be inspired beyond their penal Status Quos. Its appropriations of tradition are, above all, about power – mainly to be used as others are targeted. Look backwards then to apostolic purities as you strike out, strongly.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 4:44am BST

drdanfee - pls remember "Anglicanism" was not founded to be a broad church, contain opposing view points, include all who want to be included, provide acceptance to those who may need it......its not primarily about diversity and equal opportunities.....

maybe we are just seeing Anglicanism return to its roots (articles)

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 10:57am BST

So now we've reached the stage of describing people (and that is what they are: prick 'em and they still bleed) as "a cancer" - and I thought the posts here were moderated.

However, amid the hyperbole there are a few moments of clarity. The very fact that one can say that Gene Robinson is 'called of God' to a relationship with another man, and can hold that view with integrity (and I am not for a moment questioning that integrity) and that others (with integrity, and not just in Nigeria) would utterly reject such a view, shows the stark reality of where we are as a Communion.

The choice - to creatively hold it all in tension, or else....

Posted by: ChrisM on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 11:36am BST

"...to renew the centre of the Church of England which is historically, and again currently, evangelical."

What?!?!?! What kind of revisionism is this? Had I for one minute thought the Anglican Church was historically Evangelical, I would have gone elsewhere when God called me back to faith. The Anglican Church is historically broad, where people, who come to God in different ways can actually come to God in different ways. This is a new part of the Evangelical "we're the true Church, persecuted just like they were in the early Church, well Acts, anyway" mythology that I hadn't run into before.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 2:10pm BST

Cheryl mentioned that she didnt agree with some 95% figure because in practice most will hate the sin and love the sinner (I paraphrase). Correct, I think - but this is not something done in private. 'Hate the sin and love the sinner' has been the official and intelligent line for years (about 200 years), and I think most Christians are quite open (even sometimes vociferous) about the fact that this is a principle on which they stand.
Where flesh and blood is concerned, the more you love the sinner then obviously the more you will hate the sin.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 2:20pm BST

I don't consider that an acceptable position with regard to gay sexuality, Christopher.

No position which suggests that to either be gay or to have committed and faithful gay relationships is at all sinful will ever be acceptable.

There simply isn't any room for compromise on that one, and if it means splitting the communion, so be it.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 3:48pm BST

CS
This sounds patronising. As if one person / group is sinful and the other (sin-haters) are free of sin. This kind of splitting is to be avoided, if we are to see and think clearly. And to act with justice.

In fact , aren't we all a mixture ?

Historically, those who 'hate the sin' tend to attack 'the sinner'. c.f. Salem 'witch trials', Mc Carthyism,treatment of indigenous peoples by misssionaries,the attitude to & treatment of sick people in the pre-medical age,and also to people with disabilities, attitudes to 'barren' women, treatment of people with HIV in the early days of the virus & today, attitude to & treatment of 'unmarried mothers' and their babies. The forced separation of young mothers and their babies until recently (my life time); and the attitude to and treatment of all forms of DIFFERENCE by the Churches down the ages.

Posted by: laurence roberts on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 4:57pm BST

Why is that, at least when it comes to gay people, people say "hate the sin, love the sinner" but then behave as though they mean "hate the sin, hate the sinner even more"? Don't think so? Then why is it that they preach their message to gay people in a way that almost seems calculated to drive them away? It's not about preaching a different message, it's about finding a way to make the message heard. The behaviour of most seems to be to make sure the message won't be heard so that they can then sit back and talk about the wicked gay people being abandoned by God and given over to their wickedness. Great way to feel smug, poor way to save souls. If they truly loved the sinner, they would be able to find a better way to preach the message they already have.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 5:12pm BST

So, Christopher Shell, I guess parents of gay children love their gay kids so much they disown them? Yeah.

Posted by: Pisco Sours on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 5:25pm BST

Anglicanism was not founded on a confessional document. The Articles were not intended to be a comprehensive statement of Anglican belief but to make clear the ways in which the English Church differed from the Roman one.

I would locate the "roots" of Anglicanism in the Elizabethan Settlement rather than in the Articles. Instead of sticking to the strict Evangelical policies that characterized the reign of Edward VI, Elizabeth broadened the tent to bring in the whole spectrum of the English Church.

The whole point of the Settlement was that the Church of England was not narrowly Evangelical.

Posted by: Nick Finke on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 6:16pm BST

All that 'hate the sinner, love the sin' stuff is indeed loathsome. Its one of those self righteous platitudes that protects evangelicals from the realisation of their own cruelty. That's why they defend it so strongly. If they didn't have that sleight of hand, they would come face to face with their own viciousness. It comes from the same stable as that creepy evangelical smile. I prefer an honest homophobe to those who dress their hatred up as if it were respectable theology.

Posted by: Giles Fraser on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 6:30pm BST

'Hate the sin, love the sinner'. I think such attitudes have more to do with those who are doing the hating feeling good about themselves rather than really loving anybody. What is it that they love about me as a gay man? By the time they've stripped eveything out they hate, they are not left with me as I am but some content-less cypher, a manikin, a souless simulcrum of what they believe it is to be truly human. Treating another human being thus - now that's the real sin. Their 'love' is an exercise in self-delusion.

Posted by: AlaninLondon on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 7:14pm BST

"No position which suggests that to either be gay or to have committed and faithful gay relationships is at all sinful will ever be acceptable. There simply isn't any room for compromise on that one, and if it means splitting the communion, so be it."

But, you can't accomplish that goal by fiat. You have a responsibility to change other people's minds on the subject by witness and through reference to Scripture. That's how these things get done in the Church. And sometimes it takes a long time. You can't shortcircuit this discernment process for the entire church through an ultimatum just as the Global South can't close the door on the question through ultimatums.

Posted by: ruidh on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 7:24pm BST

Giles, Have you noticed the glazed eyes that comes with that creepy smile yet? Once you recognise that, you can recognise when they are moving, even when they refrain from the smile.

Ford, I have heard ministers state that they intend to make the parish inhospitable to gays. Not surprisingly, they were also lamenting at diminishing tithes as attendances were falling at the time.

Drdanfee, what we are doing now could not have been done when Anglicanism was formed, or Ghandi made his stand. The legal protection and human rights and public scrutiny were not in place. Mind you, thanks to the justification of "war on terror" we have establishments running full pelt to try and dismantle those protections. This is a collusive sin from two fundamentalists camps, they both relish war, suffering and diminishment of "the other" (particularly women who are the narcisstic sexual fantasy source for when they die, or the passive wombs to be torn open by their fruits from rape). They hate contraception because it deprives them of the opportunity to paint women into a lose-lose corner: condemned to character assassination or recrimination depending on which path of rubble she chooses.

They hate gays and ambiguity about sexual organs: because it makes it hard to make women fully "the other" when the boundaries between male and female become blurred. When they are trying to reform serial violent offenders in jail, they have found that those who can feel empathy for their victims have the best chance of overcoming their violent past. Those who are unable to relate to their victims contain psychiatry's worst-case scenario anti-social oppositional-defiant conduct disorder. These people are sociopathic and have absolutely no empathy with their victims (although they can put on a semblance of caring if that camoflauge is necessary). But they will not if it is not required, and they will work to destroy any kind of social regulations that would deprive them of their prey. The current war on terror is scary, because these people used to be lone wolves shunned by society, but romanticisation of apocalyptic scenarios means they are now colluding. (Some within the corridors of Statehood, others from their domestic situations). Both are guilty of the same sins, and they are doubly guilty because they are aiding and abetting their counterparts to fence ALL humanity into nihilistic economic paradigms, narcissm, wars, and other power plays.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 8:29pm BST

Dr. Giles Fraser, you mean "hate the sin, love the sinner stuff", don't you? In your comment you reversed the two.

Posted by: John Henry on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 9:27pm BST

"Great way to feel smug, poor way to save souls. If they truly loved the sinner, they would be able to find a better way to preach the message they already have." (Ford Elms)
Thank God, then, that we are not the ones to save souls. Jesus saves souls. Sorry, wrong tense. Jesus saved all souls, once and for all time, on a cross outside the city wall of Jerusalem. And it is Jesus who continues to reveal the salvation already given, to souls that have had it pounded out of them, or have been convinced by others that they have no part in Him, or who for various reasons feel unworthy, and to those who believe their salvation is more sure than that of others.
Peace,
Lois Keen, Priest

Posted by: Lois Keen on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 9:36pm BST

OK, Giles, you made up your mind a long time ago about the moral status of homosexuality and diligently seek to convert Anglicans and others to your viewpoint. For you, in this matter there is no sin to hate. I hope you will keep ministering among nice middle class people, and steer clear of prison ministry that may involve contact with molesters, rapists and murderers. The cognitive dissonance involved may be dificult to bear.

Posted by: Steve Watson. on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 9:52pm BST

John Henry. Sorry, you are right.

Posted by: Giles Fraser on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 10:02pm BST

Actually, I believe that Giles had it right on the first go (& wasn't Freud a great man?)

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 11:33pm BST

Again the comparisons of same-sex partnerships with molesters, rapists, and murderers? Just as not all heterosexuality is good, neither is all homosexuality. But neither are these actions of same-sex partnerships, molestation, rape, and murder to be conflated.

As I wrote recently:

We are still unable to distinguish ethically and morally and faithfully between committed same-sex pairs/same-sex rape/same-sex gratification among those otherwise heterosexually oriented/same-sex exploration among heterosexual and questioning teens/same-sex exploration among homosexual and bisexual teens/same-sex pedophilia and ephebophilia, blathering on in church-chatter as Mark Jordan calls this empty repetitive non-engagement with deeper ethical principles, of how we engage with Love in our finitude, for the slick gloss of celibacy in singleness and chastity in marriage which is only between one man and one woman as divinely instituted (never mind that friendship, that category within which many same-sex pairs—and even opposite-sex pairs, place their relationships is the only type of relationship Jesus Christ specifically endorses and institutes among us), we don’t seem to be having conversations about healthy sexuality in terms of Christian practice of virtues or framing within the broader category of loving touch.

If we repeat the same tired line enough, it must simply be true no matter evidence to the contrary or complexity beyond this simple divide. We’d rather have orders of our creating than attend to the complexity of creation with the variety of gender outlaws and same-sex pairings, those creatures “counter, spare, original, strange” which even the Talmud makes more room for than most Christians, we’re finally able to face more honestly in the scientific world, having lowered the heterosexual lens to recognize variations, variations that some might argue are evolutionary dead ends (being non-reproductive), but then again our faith is not about reproducing—the perfect babe has been born,. We humans are not inseparable from that evolutionary stew. Intergendered realities and same-sex attractions are intertwined in our instincts and desires, and enforced heterosexuality regardless of this complexity fails basic principles of honesty, transparency, and truthfulness while being unable to find compassionate ways for these unusual among us to live healthy lives and faithful responses to Christ.

Posted by: *Christopher on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 12:08am BST

Cheryl Clough--while you paint being “the other” in very derogatory terms, God is the complete and ultimate Other. Perhaps that is why the Great Commandment is stacked-up the way it is: love of Other and love of other. Of course, sexual complementariness is also love of other which seems simpler than an agape love of other or love of Other.

May God bless you. Remember me in your prayers.

Posted by: trog on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 1:08am BST

hmmm ... I normally come here just looking for some balance to my evo leanings, but tonight all I seem to find are lots of people throwing mud at evangelicals.

Loathsome .. self-righteous ... viscious ... a cancer ... hypocritical fundamentalists ... cruel ... condoning abuse against women. These are rather insulting things to say. I guess most of you must know at least some evanglicals who don't condone abuse against women.

Please, guys, practice a little love and toleration, even in cyberspace. Matthew 5:43-48 :-)

Posted by: Just a passing evo on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 1:24am BST

Okay, I stand corrected in my misunderstanding that the Elizabethan Settlement crucially shaped what I had heretofore pledged (from college years onwards) as Anglican/Episcopal Church leeway, comprehension, or that Anglican ability to provisionalize so many differences - still brilliant in my mistaken opinion/discernment - while emphasizing common witness/worship and letting that worship/witness flow out generously into common Tikkun.

I still cherish the mistaken mystical vision of just, yes exactly pretty much, that sort of faith community.

So I hope even though Anglicans worldwide were never really pledged to this mistaken sort of faith vision, and that none of us need take such terms as we previously thought to refer to it, at all seriously; somebody somewhere - still - will feel called of God to uphold, found, maintain, and carry on to build that sort of church.

I still consider it just lovely and fabulously brilliant that a theology and ethics should (could?) show the intentional restraint not to definitively and closed-mindedly insert and enforce itself, bifurcating that most intimate relationship between the soul/psyche/body of one person and the soul/psyche/body of other people, along with the individual-communal relationship with the undefinable fullness of God in Jesus of Nazareth.

That a faith community should come to exist, which deliberately does not insert and enforce confession, doctrine, and all manner of institutional phenomena as the closed, exhaustive be all and end all of God's fullness - well it seems marvelous and mystically great to me. Nevertheless.

As the worldwide Anglican Communion corrects these mistakes, I trust that some other doors will open - so that maybe we can try who still care to do so, to attend the birth/rebirth of just that other sort of faith community.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 5:08am BST

So far as hate the sin, love the sinner - I am not hearing much that is new, or even helpful.

You cannot love me in any real sense by telling legacy/traditionally authoritative lies about how deeply awful and allegedly distorted my personal embodiment, my committed relationships, my best professional work, my citizenship, or my parenting is.

You cannot love me as a queer man by inveighing against my access to equal opportunities and resources that everybody else who is straight takes almost completely for granted as the givens that help people lead the best lives they can lead. Inside or outside the church. You cannot take the best of me, and in all self-proclaimed and superior love relentlessly demean everything that is good and even best about me as a queer man, by characterizing it in resoundingly negative terms as filth, danger, or regrettable human incompetence.

No doubt the religious folk rubric of hating the sin and loving the sinner still sound good and plausible.

Just doesn't pass my grandpa's common sense test, let alone the walk a mile in my shoes tests.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 5:16am BST

well - on the "logic" of some people, you should be ordaining practising thieves, fraudsters, liars......after all, you don't want to hate the sinner, do you?

And if you don't embrace them and separate the person from the sin, you are being ever so cruel and showing no care for their welfare and sense of self-worth.

Pls don't come back saying those sins are different....even Bishop Harries has said that the theological argument has not been won to say that something is good which the Bible consistently and clearly describes as wrong.

And please don't say, "but Jesus spoke to sinners and offered them acceptance" - he did, but he was the one who said "go and sin no more" in his mercy - it is a lie to pretend he said, "go and carry on sinning, we understand how tough your life is" - it really matters that we tell the truth about what he said

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 7:41am BST

Steve,

Sorry, what have molesters, rapists and murderers to do with homosexuality? Are you suggesting an equivalence? Shame on you. Shame.

Posted by: Giles Fraser on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 8:16am BST

Trog. "the other" was meant in a derogatory term. One of the things I am fighting is xenophobia. Actually, I was thinking only today that was probably one of Jesus' core intentions. To break down the idea of acceptability to God through blood lineage. The issue of tolerance to GLBTs is only one variation in that tangled knot. Jesus' acceptance of the Gentiles was like a sword cutting through a unsolvable knot - he would have made an Eastern Master proud.

NP, but what lawsuits have shown is that our priestly castes do comprise thieves, fraudsters and liars; who collude to hide the evidence and fail to protect their victims unless shamed or financially penalised into doing so. The same priests who have aided and abetted such people for these sins have no right to then demand exclusion for other sins.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 9:21am BST

Giles perhaps you should take your own recent advice and get out among evangelicals a bit more - have a game of golf with them and a beer. You'll quickly find that the glazed and over-earnest smile is soon replaced by something more natural. Indeed I have found that the barely concealed loathing and that tell-tale frown of disapproval and disdain disappears from the faces of liberal Anglicans when they get talking to me.

I would have thought it was obvious though what Steve was saying. The idea of 'hate the sin, love the sinner' is a category that everyone in prison ministry (and I would have thought in parish life) has to adopt. That even when you are meeting with someone involved in something you thoroughly disapprove of you attempt to show the love of Christ to them. The point is that you don't consider homosexual practice to be sinful and therefore for you the phrase has no application in this area. But does the phrase have any meaning for you when you're dealing with something that you might consider outrightly sinful - child molestation for example?

Posted by: Andrew Carey on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 9:41am BST

Cheryl - just because other people do wrong things, even if they are priests, we still have to try an get it right

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 11:15am BST

Hi Giles F-
Practically everyone in the world (most of all Christians) hates 'the' sin - because the alternatives are unthinkable: namely loving sin or being indifferent to sin. Not only are the alternatives unthinkable, but it is positively right, appropriate and logical to hate what is bad.

Every Christian agrees that we love sinners (among whom we are numbered), because again the alternatives are unthinkable. Hating people is wrong (as Flanders and Swann almost sang); and being indifferent to them is if anything worse! Loving them is not just the only remaining (default) option, but something very positive and life-affirming.

Therefore every Christian hates the sin and loves the sinner. What is the proposed alternative? If the above logic holds, no alternative is available; and (more) importantly) one wouldn't want any alternative to such a good thing anyway.

Everyone also has the actual experience of hating the sin of a much-loved sinner. Namely: themselves (as CS Lewis pointed out). And of course loved family members and so on.

The real point at issue may, however, be a different one. Namely, should homosexual practice be classed as a sin? That question, like other similar questions about individual sins, does not affect the principle 'hate sin, love sinner' in any way, since we would still be hating whatever was agreed to be a sin (whether or not homosexual practice was so classified: this would need to be separately argued) and would still be loving its perpetrator.

So the very formulation which is so objected to (a) is one of the least objectionable possible; (b) admits of no alternatives in any case.
Which leads us to the deeper (and darker!!) question: what are the real motives of those who claim (surely incorrectly) to disagree with it?...

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 12:06pm BST

Christopher,
I for one would like to see those who say it actually mean it. I have yet to see anyone who piously mouths this canard actually show any love for gay people at all.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 7:55pm BST

Andrew

As a survivor of child incest by my father. Yes, we do try to save the sinner. This man continued to be in my life - with strong boundary management. He would be sent home and told not to talk to me until he could be respectful that would lead to months of non-dialogue.

The only reason he was fully ex-communicated from my life was that he "lost it" when I was pregnant with my first child and sent a series of obscene letters and was then particularly cruel just after my daughter was born. His first words were "so, when are you going to give me a grandson". Presents which came every month I was pregnant did not appear until my daughter was six months old.

It became clear that although he had a new wife and a new life that his misogynistic and pedophilic ways were no longer "circumstantial" and that my baby girl would not be safe from this man. In fact, it has only been in the last two months that I found out he had violated my cousins too.

That said, I have not made his life a misery or sought retribution. What I have done is warn the family of the risks to their children (done years ago) so that there are limits to his damage. I had to make a hard choice whether to try and warn everyone who came into contact with him, and then realised that would make me a paranoid stalker and I would end up being no better than him. So I have warned who it is reasonable to warn, I do not allow him in my family so he can not abuse my children or friends and I do not have to apologise to others for his behaviour.

I also distinguish between reverential sex - freely given between mutual consenting adults, and abusive sex - where there is coercion or immaturity (the latter covers the intellectually disabled as well as children).

Yes, it is possible to be nice to the people with the glazed eyes and smile, it's just that these people do really horrible things behind your back. They then toute out the bible to say that it is okay that they have slandered you. They use your inadequacies as evidence that God does not love you, oblivious that it is a miracle and grace from God that you function as a normal human being. Go do some research, it is no mean feat to be able to have a normal relationships when you come from my kind of childhood.

And I am sorry, but I have watched the churches invest huge amounts of money to harass souls who freely enter into mutual sexually satisfying relationships, whilst colluding with child molestors and predators. Their credibility would have been higher if it had been the other way around.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 8:19pm BST

Andrew C and Christoher C & whomever it may concern

Should 'heterosexual practice' be classed as a sin ? Or what about marriage after divorce ? Is heterosexual condecension part of heterosexual practice ?

Also, I wonder if the word 'love' should be bandied around, so easily. Loving is very hard. If you imagine you love everyone...... I find it hard to believe--especially if you are holding your noses coz of the 'hateful sin'.....Find someone you don't feel superior to--and maybe, try loving them / or just treating them equally....

As separation & divorce approach what becomes of love ? Where is it to be found or located ? Is it divisible ? Can it be spread around ? After separation or divorce what happens to love then ? The first woman, and the last ? The first children and the last ones ? I think these everyday questions and concerns, are also deeply moving and may concentrate our minds -- and hearts. Sin, and blame and love and hate may become more real to us, less academic.....more messy, ....now take this empathy and use it for the inter-personal and erotic agonies of others...

Now t h a t would be loving in my book.

Posted by: laurence roberts on Thursday, 12 October 2006 at 9:04pm BST

The path I mainly follow as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth has little to do with hating, not even sin.

Changing for the better is not helped along much by hating, at least in my own personal and professional experience so far, not even by hating whatever it is that one realizes is wrong, failed or inadequate in one’s life.

One does not show repentance/metanoia to Copernicus or Galileo or Bruno as neighbors (far removed and yet abiding in our great community of empiricist saints), mainly by hating. What’s so important about hating one's mistaken allegiance to flat earth cosmologies? What’s so important about hating one's erring reception of those legacy reading of flat earth cosmology in scripture?

It's not all that different so far as I can tell when one is dealing with oneself changing for the better, or with other people changing for the better.

Defining non-straight sexual orientations as sin doesn't really and truly change the non-straight people involved for the better. It only remains apparently so, as long as one is exclusively limited to the legacy closed hermeneutic that tells us this is so, definitively. Abstaining from loving same sex relationships doesn't actually make one better, despite these closed and final legacy definitions.

The celibacy/abstinence that flows definitively from such frames is in reality often less than good or wholesome, precisely because of its fearful (or mistaken or guilty or ashamed) categorical refusal of the vulnerablity and freely chosen self-giving in care of the other person and undefended complex intimacy that same sex sex entails. (Because so far as we know empirically, this queer living/relating is deeply grounded at multiple levels in the same sort of animal-human embodiment that straight sexual orientation/sex is.)

All the alleged legacy harms are in truth not innate to non-straight sexual orientation as such. Queer men do not cease to be real men, whether in particular people their gender identities are simpler or more complex. Ditto for queer women. There is nothing more innately lascivious about desire embodied in a queer man or woman than about desire embodied in a straight person.

And much that is good and wholesome originates in our attractions to other people, since these feelings or drives call us deeply out of ourselves, away from domination arrangements and exploitations, elevating the beloved to equal or greater realness and worth as we take for granted in ourselves.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 13 October 2006 at 3:37am BST

One of the great sea changes now upon us, so far as many queer folks and allies are concerned, is that we can no longer in ignorant good faith pledge to this circumscribed legacy understanding error which our sciences have long since shown to be wrong. If all that still seems doubtful and strange, just wait. We shall soon shortly learn even more astounding empirical things about sexuality, sexual orientation, and human nature as current research unfolds.

We shall no doubt be as surprised at all that new news, as we have been to learn, definitively yet open-endedly, that two male penguins pairbonded in penguin devotion, or that two female sea gulls paribonded for the season.

None of that new science will be able to be read from scripture, or from any other ancient near eastern authority for that matter. Those who seek their contemporary biology, psychology and so forth, directly from some allegedly plain (and closed? and final?) reading of scripture are only going to be making themselves look very silly in the long run.

Stepping outside the legacy penalisms about sex/sexual orientation does not in fact leave one with nothing but Anything Goes, any more than sorting through the errors of flat earth cosmology makes real cosmology impossible.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 13 October 2006 at 3:46am BST

Hi Ford
So in other words you do agree with the principle. (a) 'I agree with the principle' and (b) 'I suspect that people don't keep to it' (on which second point I agree with you up to a point; though I dont agree that the people who explicitly uphold it are necessarily the ones more likely to break it) are two quite different claims. It will cause only confusion for them to be confused or identified with one another. This is, however, symptomatic of the present tendency to reduce broader factual claims or imperatives to personal and local issues, as though they were one and the same. Obviously, they are not.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 13 October 2006 at 12:03pm BST

Hi Cheryl-
What's all this about glazed eyes? Surely those who caricature, stereotype and cliche are also guilty of a further thing: ignorance. One sees this all the way from the school playground upwards.

Cliches like this can only be anecdotal and unscientifically small-sample. I think glazed eyes are a feature of many groups to a small degree, especially absolutists who have closed their minds (or are being encouraged by those above them to close their minds) to further insights. That is precisely why I have been advocating that those on all their sides be self-critical, check out the tenability of their presuppositions, and don't just beieve what they are told.
Glazed eyes are not pretty; I don't think they are generally evil either.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 13 October 2006 at 12:09pm BST

For a view outside, my (rigorously agnostic) eldest sent me this link http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2006/09/what_would_trum.html

For those inside the sorry mess we call the Christian church there are some sobering observations - one favourite being (admittedly from a Christian)
"If Christians treated the abstention from sex outside marriage rule with the same nonchalance as they do the anti avarice rule, we might look like, well, like radical Mormons ( who I also love)"

Witness? What witness?

Posted by: David Rowett (=mynsterpreost) on Friday, 13 October 2006 at 3:37pm BST

"well - on the "logic" of some people, you should be ordaining practising thieves, fraudsters, liars......after all, you don't want to hate the sinner, do you?"

Exsqueeze me, NP? When has the Church ever NOT ordained "practising thieves, fraudsters, liars"?

All they have to do, is *not believe* they are "practising" same.

To wit: "Love the sinner, hate the sin"---as currently expounded *exclusively* vis-a-vis homosexuals---is patently a FRAUD.

...but because said fraudsters DON'T BELIEVE it to be a fraud, they are still being ordained, throughout the AC!

[Yet if homosexual ordinands don't believe spousal love, per their orientation, to be sin, they face hard questions from the hierarchy almost everywhere. Outright denial of ordination in most AC provinces. And in Nigeria? Run for your life!]

*****

On a completely different note: prayers for you, Cheryl C. May God grant you peace and healing.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Friday, 13 October 2006 at 6:54pm BST

Christopher S

God works in fractals. The pattern of a churches behaviour and endorsements is the sum of all the individual interactions. My story is not unique, nor is it isolated. The beauty of the secular state is the tendency by church leaders to dismiss and deny what has occurred is now being documented and put in the public record. But the culture of discounting and intimidating silence continues. For example, telling people that their personal experience is meaningless in the larger picture denies that their personal experience is part of the bigger picture.

In that sense, souls who have suffered rejection and abuse find it easier to reach out and empathise with GLBTs. What a lot of puritans fail to realise is that their utopian vision of protected grace is meaningless to those who have been violated and rejected from childhood e.g. incest survivors, children from violent homes, aliens, the afflicted. When a vision is painted that God will only save those that are suitable, we can not relate to that vision because the people who usually spruck what is suitable have made it clear outside of the church sermon that we are not suitable.

Yet God still finds us and we can relate to Jesus of Nazareth, because he associated with the outcastes, the aliens, the afflicted. We will build a communion that draws in not only the outcastes, but those who would dare to affirm beyond what is "blessed". Our communion will be built on empathy, tolerance, compassion, mercy, patience, endurance and faith. Souls who who are quick to dismiss and deny the difficult realities and difficult decisions will not be comfortable there, because life will be messier and conversations more convoluted. We will talk about what is the best way to handle the couple where the woman is being beaten by her husband. We will agree that it is better that they come to church as it will protect the woman more (he can't leave bruises that might be seen on Sunday) but at the same time pray and find subtle ways to reform the abusive behaviour. We will not guarantee safety at the door, because the world is not safe. But we will guarantee to do our best to look out for each other and to protect from duress being used within the church community itself. That means sometimes we will exclude people, but like in my own personal story, it will be vexed and not without regret or remorse.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 13 October 2006 at 7:33pm BST

Christopher C should been Christoher S, sorry.
Perhaps the moment has now passed anyway.

David R
that's funny. Makes me think of Paint Your Wagon with Lee Marvin & Clint Eastwood, and the mormon woman who ends up with 2 husbands ! --you got it LM & CE! Worth watching again, come to think of it--it shows the dangers and delicious absurdities of religions--and the joy of life, sex and frienships--in no particukar order!

Posted by: laurence roberts on Friday, 13 October 2006 at 8:11pm BST

Hi Laurence

You ask 'Should heterosexual practice be classed as a sin?'. I don't get the meaning of the question. If it were not for 'heterosexual practice' which of us would be here at all to dispute it?

Marriage after divorce? Why are you asking me? If this is a forum of Christians then you know the name of the person whose opinion should be sought on this.

Your post treats divorce almost as a norm. It never was remotely a norm (2-3%) before the liberal presuppositions that made it so (30-40%). Even now the more stable and happier societies / subgroups have the lower levels. Don't the said disastrous presuppositions need to be simply rejected? Whereas you don't even question them.
Good root: good fruit. Bad root: bad fruit.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 14 October 2006 at 9:05am BST

My comments were originally intended to be addressed to Andrew Carey & CS --but I got the initials wrong, and subsequently corrected them.

When I treat of heterosexaul practice, I am practsing equality --and giving you a chance to know what your kind of insulting language feels like (whether you take that empathic step is up to you). Heterosexal desire certainly isn't the only path to our being here, as you eem to imply (Read Marie Mauire on sexuality and gender). But even if it was-- that would hardly make it RIGHT -- anymore than same-sex loving and post menopause loving is not thereby, rendered wrong. There's nothing unethical about sex which doesn't bring more babies into a world in an (over-) population crisis.

Separation, divorce and re-marriage are endemic among evangelicals ( who ignore Paul's strictures on first marriages!) and among theological 'conservatives'. Real life always qualifies the theoretical positions people espouse --fair enough --- but let's ahve a bit of honesty and modesty --and generosity towards others.

I wrote :
'As separation & divorce approach what becomes of love ? Where is it to be found or located ? Is it divisible ? Can it be spread around ? After separation or divorce what happens to love then ? The first woman, and the last ? The first children and the last ones ? I think these everyday questions and concerns, are also deeply moving and may concentrate our minds -- and hearts. Sin, and blame and love and hate may become more real to us, less academic.....more messy, ....now take this empathy and use it for the inter-personal and erotic agonies of others...

Now t h a t would be loving in my book.'

I was an invitation to you and Andrew to explore something inside yourselves, about an aspect of 'heterosexaul practice'.


Posted by: laurence roberts on Saturday, 14 October 2006 at 1:35pm BST

CS observed:
"Marriage after divorce? Why are you asking me? If this is a forum of Christians then you know the name of the person whose opinion should be sought on this."

And since I accept the priority of Mark, I shall henceforth excommunicate all married divorcees without exception, and remind women who have fled abusive relationships to find hope and salvation in a new marriage that they are sordid adulterers.

"Your post treats divorce almost as a norm. It never was remotely a norm (2-3%) before the liberal presuppositions that made it so (30-40%). Even now the more stable and happier societies / subgroups have the lower levels."

Well, when divorce was a thing only available to the rich, it's hardly a surprise that rates were low. On top of that, we now expect more of a marriage than bed and board in return for occasional sex. And saying that happy societies have lower divorce rates is about as compelling a statistic as saying that well-fed people are less hungry!

Posted by: David Rowett (=mynsterpreost) on Saturday, 14 October 2006 at 2:49pm BST

When divorce rates were low, wives and childrens' lives were even more miserable than they are now. Similarly, when it was law that married women were not allowed to hold certain jobs (e.g. in Australian Government after World War II and into my lifetime), then women were trapped into their marriage, irregardless of their husband's conduct.

One of the beauties of secular liberalism is that there are a layer of men who now behave themselves because their wives would walk out on them if they were abusive. There are another layer of men who do not marry because they do not want the responsbilities of marriage, and thus many lonely women. But that reflects an inner dysfunction that we are not grooming our men to be good husbands and fathers. That dysfunction was not changed by the secular state, it is now merely more honest. That dysfunction has deeper roots and humanity's consciousness would be healthier if men were to refind their maleness in fully actualizing their potential as LOVING husbands and fathers.

A piece of state or church endorsed paperwork does not bring love into the relationship.

And it is all of humanity's interest for all mature adults to attempt a life-long monogamous relationship. Just as it in humanity's interest to build economic and social systems that are just and where it is normal to to raise healthy children and live with sufficient to eat in relative safety. At the moment, we seem to have build systems which rely on us being super(wo)man or having divine intervention to be able to achieve just the minimum. That condemns our religious leaders for abdicating their responsibilities to the poor, the alien and the afflicted; not least it demonstrates their failure to advocate for the greater good. (Self-preservation and flattery appears to matter more than what is moral or good - including for those who are not tithing parishioners).

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 14 October 2006 at 10:50pm BST

I have many warm smiling and self-confident evangelicals amongst my close friends. I think I have come across one or two who fit the caricature Giles gives us, but I have also met one or two “liberals” who I guess might fit the unpleasant caricature I find on other blogs.
I also spent ten years in prison ministry. The morning started with interviews of those who had arrived the day before, on my first day the third man to step into the office was the guy who had burgled my mother’s house – he had taken a locket I had given her on my 21st birthday. In the years that followed he visited our family home in different circumstances, my family came to know his family and we were able to help his wife and children in difficult times. I cannot actually remember “hating” anything, my problems came when I felt fear, I could sense the love crumble …..
I read the material published by Fulcrum and it is good in parts, it suffers from being overwhelmingly the work of a couple of big hitters who are now a little passé and one or two minor players who are their acolytes. I think it was unwise and hasty in its analysis of GC2006 and I was interested to see their American counterparts pulling back having made the same mistake.
In general what I read there feeds my fears rather than inspires my love and there is too little that I would return to later, while other material coming from newly emerging evangelical sources is printed out and read and read again.
In my opinion the biggest failing of those in this group has been to move the Windsor Report from process to judgment and the shortcomings in the Report will not sustain this, it may have seemed the “only option” but I fear we are already paying the price for this haste.
My only real benefit from reading at Fulcrum has been to realise that I am not a “liberal” as defined by Oliver O’Donovan – I am grateful to him for it.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 15 October 2006 at 10:11am BST

Christopher Shell,
Of course I agree with the principle, it's just that it is like any other fundamentalist catch phrase. It sounds good and one needn't stop to think about what it actually means. I rank it right up there with "going to a church where Jesus is preached" (as opposed to all those Christian churches that aren't fundamentalist and therefor preach.....what, exactly?) or "a Bible believing Church" (as opposed to us ACs who believe....again, what exactly?). It is a mindless catch phrase used by people who don't want to examine themselves. They believe the Gospel message for gay people is: that they should be celibate, end any loving relationship they are in, despite the fact that this would mean breaking the heart of someone they love and, at least in my case, would mean repudiating something they firmly believe to be a gift from God. Can they not preach this message in a way that the sinners they purport to love can actually hear it? They preach it in a way that seems more and more to me to be deliberately designed to turn their audience off so that the preachers can then sit back and judge how God has abandoned the evil gays to their sinfulness. But they can still feel like good little Christians because they "hate the sin, love the sinner". Well, they don't. They don't have to approve of gay sex or gay relationships to love gay people, but they can't see that at all. Some of them love us so much they actually beat us to death.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 16 October 2006 at 2:58pm BST

Hi David R-
I didnt say happy societies had lower divorce rates. I said (or certainly meant) that stable and traditional societies who had an agreed and tested moral code had lower DRs.

Hi Cheryl-
R u kidding? ;o) Marriage is not just a piece of paper, as you know. Do you know a single married couple who would agree with this proposition? It is a sign of commitment, which is precisely what is needed. No sign of commitment regularly means one thing: no commitment. If you don't believe this, can I ask you to quote me comparative statistics for stability of cohabiting and married couples? The discrepancy is gargantuan; and also gargantuanly predictable.
The society which you describe and which we all experience, with all the lonely women and uncommitted men, you suggest is the best available option. This reminds me of Plato's cave people who saw only shadows in a cave and thought the real world was only a myth and the shadows were the best thing avaiable.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 12:53pm BST

Hi Ford-
Not so: there are plenty of churches who would quite openly agree that they were not bible-believing. (There are others who play the Humpty-Dumpty game of defining themselves as bible-believing and giving the lie by their preaching and/or their actions.)

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 12:56pm BST

Which Anglican churches would claim they don't believe the Bible? I have never run into that, unless you qualify "believe" by making it mean belief in the literal truth of Scripture. Besides, you know as well as I that the people who use that phrase aren't directing it at fringe groups, they are directing it at those who don't agree with them. In my local experience, it includes all Anglicans, with the possible exception of the new, for us here, phenomenon of psuedofundamentalist Evangelicals. They are starting to use it too, and it still refers to us non Evo Anglicans, among others. Just because I don't believe the Bible is some sort of Divine dictation and infallible in all it's points doesn't mean I don't believe the Bible. I'm not faithless because I claim insects have six legs, not four, or if I believe in Evolution. I can still say the Creed without crossing my fingers. I still believe Christ died for me.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 2:17pm BST

But surely if someone asks you 'do you believe that Bible?' how is it possible to say yes (or, as it may be, 'no', or 'partly') to such a huge question without unpacking what you mean?
It is clear enough from what you say that your own answer ought to be 'partly' rather than 'yes'. Bearing in mind that 26.5 out of 27 NT books are written in genres that demand literal interpretation, albeit containing parables etc..
Anyone asked to answer such a question is forced into making impossible generalisations, which is the road to inaccuracy. One would never guess that the Bible is actually a library of 66 books rather than 'a book'.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 1:30pm BST

Well, I don't believe Genesis is literally true, but I still believe God created all that is, seen and unseen. I still believe in the Fall. The historicity of the story of King David is debated, but I still believe the story is a true representation of God's actions in the world on behalf of His people, whatever the historical and archaeological facts. There is little archaeological evidence for the Exodus, yet I still believe in God's deliverance, and that the Exodus is a type of Christ's acts of redemption. Surely, if there were so many stories about Jesus that all the books in the world couldn't fill them, you have to ask why we are told the ones we find in Scripture and not others. They were making a point, telling the stories that illustrated that point, and then finally writing them down, and all of it under the inspiration of God. It wasn't meant to be history, but the Truth. If you hang your faith on the historical accuracy of the fine points of Scripture, you will find yourself in an ever more uncomfortable position, jumping through more difficult hoops than the "reappraisers" are accused of now.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 5:22pm BST

Sorry to double post. Christopher, you said: "there are plenty of churches who would quite openly agree that they were not bible-believing."

Which ones? I have never heard of an Anglican church repudiating the Bible. We might interpret it differently, but to openly state we don't believe the Bible? I've never heard it. Please clarify.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 5:29pm BST

CS said:
26.5 out of 27 NT books are written in genres that demand literal interpretation

0.5???? So which bits of Revelation are literal?

Given that there's an ancient tradition that John's Gospel was a commentary, doesn't that diminish it to 25.5?

And as soon as you say, "well, leaving out parables etc" then you leave holes quite big enough for modern critical Christians to saunter through do you not? All it amounts to is 'some bits of the NT are to be taken literally.' What a surprise, it'd never occurred to me....

Posted by: David Rowett (=mynsterpreost) on Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 10:57pm BST

hi David-
(1) Which bits of Revelation are literal? It depends whether John is telling the truth about what he saw (assuming the writer is really called John). If so, it is all literal: he is describing what he precisely and literally saw. But if not, it is at least intended literally as a description of visions actually received.

The narrative of Revelation is therefore intended literally. (Obviously, there are unquestionably literal bits too: e.g., 'I was in Patmos' is not a symbolic way of saying 'I was in Egypt'). The imagery is often metaphorical and imaginative; but the imagery is not the narrative, but merely cotained within it. All that the narrative claims is: 'I saw XYZ'.

Precisely the same goes for the parables, whih in toto are a clear minority of the gospel material. They are not themselves the narrative, but are framed within it and clearly signalled so that no literal/figurative controvwersy arises here either.

If Rev and the parables are your two best cases, then you have still to answer the point that all 27 books are either historical narrative or epistles, both being genres which are universally (give or take) intended to be taken literally.

What would your estimates be of percentages of literal and non-literal in the NT, & based on what?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 19 October 2006 at 1:08pm BST

A few extra points:
David-
Only if we accept that minority tradition that John's Gospel is a commentary. I have been studying John for years (& own about 25 critical commentaries on it) and never heard of such a tradition - so why would one privilege it above the vast majority of commentators who disagree?

Cheryl-
Your point on the wounded is true and unexceptionable in biblical and historic Christianity. All would affirm it. But surely if the abuse really was abuse then the abused would want to distance themselves as far as possible from anything remotely connected with it. Which seems to be far from what you are suggesting.

Ford-
To believe very general propositions behind Genesis and Exodus is to believe only a small proportion of them. Whether you are correct or incorrect to do so, this does not amount to 'believing the bible' without further qualification.
The main question is: How do the biblical writers manage to be so correct in all their general propositions and so incorrect in their details? Why dont you allow them to be wrong in their general propositions too? Doesnt' being wrong (or right) in general propositions more often than not go together with being wrong (or right) in details too?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 19 October 2006 at 1:19pm BST

CS: I think that the analysis on literal/non-literal as you have expounded it risks lurching into meaninglessness. "X presents his (experience) as a narrative" says nothing about how that narrative is to be interpreted.

It rather smacks of fudging the issue, Dr. S, a phenomenon I've encountered in many dogmatically-driven works - by diverting attention onto a minor issue of genre and by thus maintaining that the genre is one of literal reporting, the impression is given that the writer has demonstrated that the events recounted are historically trustworthy/accurate, whereas nothing of the sort has taken place.

It was John Fenton who came out with the comment about John's Gospel, in characteristically outspoken style. However, even such a non-excitable authority as Barrett acknowledges the huge theological overburden which is found in the fourth gospel and which is theological reflection on events — the obvious one is the redating of the curcifixion within the Johannine time frame.

Posted by: David Rowett (=mynsterpreost) on Friday, 20 October 2006 at 11:27am BST

Hi David
John's dating of the crucifixion has as many advocates as Mark's. Why? Because Mark seems to portray Jesus as being killed actually during the feast (since he portrays the Last Supper as a passover feast), which seems unlikely.
In my opinion John is highly theological. That is unrelated to how historical or unhistorical he is. It is well possible to be both - or neither. His work is designed to demonstrate to the Jews that Jesus must have been God because of the works of God that he did. So if the events he describes are known to him to be unhistorical, then he is knowingly shooting himself in the foot.

On the face of it, Gospel and Acts and Revelation are historical narratives, which frame (at times) clearly-signalled figurative material. If you disagree with this, what is your alternative?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 12:21pm BST

Christopher:
to take the second point first, the Gospels and Acts are certainly not historical narratives (sonce their concern is not with history) but (and I apooogise for the neologism) didacto-kerygmatic documents which make use of an apparent historical narrative in much the same way as (say) the book of Job, which is clearly 'fictional'.

I think we can demonstrate this didacto-kerygmatic genre by noting the real divergences in chronology between John and the Synoptics, or the irreconcilable differences between Acts and some of Paul's own writings. 'Apparent history' is being used in a plastic manner to make theological points, often rendering the 'objective history' (ie what the video camera would have seen) totally beyond verification.

(Revelation I'm leaving out of the frame because I think it finds its genre in the oracular prophetic word and vision of the OT)

With regard to the rival chronologies of the crucifixion, I seem to recall that the ritualistic problems of enacting a death sentence on the day after the Passover meal are no greater than those presented by John's chronology.

I thiink we can go further than the 'stalemate' approach, though, and by adopting the 'dificilio lectio potior' method of textual criticism we may ask which is the more problematic: that the Synoptics should turn their back on the useful symbolism of the Johannine chronology to no apparent gain or that John should adapt the Synoptic chronology to match his theological purpose?

I can see little advantage in the Synoptics overturning the Johannine chronology! John, after all, is happy to shift the cleansing of the temple to a more theoogically satisfactory position.

Posted by: David Rowett (=mynsterpreost) on Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 4:07pm BST

Apologies - I seem to have wandered rather a long way off topic. mea culpa....

Posted by: David Rowett (=mynsterpreost) on Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 10:55pm BST

CS:
"To believe very general propositions behind Genesis and Exodus is to believe only a small proportion of them. Whether you are correct or incorrect to do so, this does not amount to 'believing the bible' without further qualification."

CS, am I to take from this that, in order to be a "Bible believer" I must accept the literal truth of Genesis? Being correct in the general propositions and incorrect in the details should be no obstacle. Much of Scripture has the nature of oral tradition. Much of the OT would likely have been oral tradition before it was written down, and even the message of the Gospel was transmitted orally well before it was written down. If Homer, whose inspiration was only oral tradition and his own creativity, could be correct in the generalizations but incorrect in the details, how much more likely is it that the material inspired by God should be true in its generalizations, and not suffer by being wrong in the details? For me, the fact that God made all that is is not diminished by the fact that Genesis gets it wrong when it describes six days. Why should it? God inspired fallible, fallen humans to write and compile Scriptures, it doesn't diminish His truth to acknowledge that those same humans got some of the details wrong. Finite human minds can never comprehend the fullness of the transcendant God. Imagine if God had inspired a prophet 3000 years ago to tell people that Creation took millions of years and numerous species had come and gone before humans appeared. No-one would have listened.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 22 October 2006 at 7:34pm BST

Hi David-

Why is Jn 2 more theologically satisfactory for the temple-cleansing than Jn 12?
When one has two divergent pictures it is not always obvious which is to be preferred.
Your view of the gospels' genre is not a curernt standard among NT scholars, and therefore needs further defence which weighs its merits against those of the historical/biographical (while also kerygmatic) approach.
'Their concern is not with history' is a breathtaking (nto to mention unsupported) statement. What good would a kerygma not based on history be?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 23 October 2006 at 1:13pm BST

CS:
Sorry, don't quite understand. I thought the issue I was raising primarily was that of the chronology of the crucifixion and the theological implications of John's retiming, not the temple-cleansing.

As soon as we go down the historicist path, the problems of divergency become significantly greater for Christians. If we interpret those divergencies as being for kerygmatic/theological reasons the problem is resolved immediately. If we persist in pinning our hopes on historicism we come unstuck. It is supremely unimportant historically (in my preferred model) when and how Iscariot died. In a model which insists on historic veracity, so much effort has to go on explaining why the stories diverge without undermining the claim of historical reliability.

Simple as that, really. But I'm no scholar, just a simple parish priest trying to get it to add up!

Posted by: David Rowett (=mynsterpreost) on Monday, 23 October 2006 at 7:47pm BST

Ford-
I totally agree. That is why I said that people should not describe themselves (in an unqualified, absolute manner) as bible-believing without unpacking what they mean by that. Because otherwise they are being wilfully inaccurate. I certainly wouldn't. Also that when they have unpacked, and the cards are on the table (to mix the metaphor) they may see that bible-believing is not the best way to describe themselves, or even an accurate way at all. The bible is not necessarily a package. It is a library, and to believe some things that some of the authors say is quite different from believing all that all the authors say.

What it reminds me of is when people use 'true' and 'truth' in two quite different senses without pausing to distinguish between the two (e.g. 'John's gospel is true'). Clarity goes together with honesty and unclarity with dishonesty.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 1:14pm BST

David-
I also think it's a good ground rule that when John diverges he will do so for systematic and theological reasons. The trouble is that the examples given are not necessarily examples of this pattern. The temple cleansing does not ahve to be early for theological reasons. As for the crucifixion, John is generally at least the second most historical of the four exangelists re details pertaining to Jerusalem, the temple etc..

What I was insisting on was not that the gospels have to be taken as historically veracious in all matters. It was that historicity/unhistoricity is (like it or not, fashionable or not) an issue of supreme importance in and of itself, if one is going to have anything to base one's theology / theories on in the first place. I don't get the reasons for downgrading it.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 1:20pm BST

CS,
"Bible believing" is indeed a loaded term. We all know of the churches that call themselves "Bible believing" and leave the hearer to infer the meaning. This still leaves the question of which Anglican churches would "quite openly agree they are not Bible believing", as you stated. It also raises the question of what they would mean by that, I guess.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 8:41pm BST

The moral of all this is that whenever a church or individual of any theological stripe or none describes themselves as bible-believing tout simple, they are practically never being honest or truthful.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 12:44pm BST
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