Saturday, 16 December 2006

Tom Wright: A Confused 'Covenant'

Following Fulcrum’s earlier initial response, now comes Bishop Tom Wright’s very detailed (over 6000 words) and very critical analysis of ‘A Covenant for the Church of England’. You can read it all here.

I am surprised that this document (‘A Covenant for the Church of England’, hereafter CCE) has been issued, and sorry that its clear grasp of some issues is not matched by clarity or wisdom on others. I fully understand what the Bishop of Rochester has referred to as the ‘strength of feeling’ which it demonstrates, but could wish that this had been matched by strength of thinking, both in the strategic decision to make this move at this time and in the detail of much of the document…

Fulcrum forum discussion here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 8:27am GMT | TrackBack
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Bishop Tom Wright writes "it has been put to me that what the document is doing is to signal support and affirmation to those parishes that feel themselves to be under attack by unsympathetic bishops".
He also writes "I am bound to see this move as a cynical stab in the side from people I thought were friends and allies".
Somehow there needs to be a restoration of trust and relationship between Conservative Evangelical parishes and their Bishops.

Posted by: Erasmus on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 12:25pm GMT

One feels somewhat of an intruder in this exchange between “old” pals.

That being said, it is rather disingenuous of Tom Wright to forget that there were two strands of development in the sights of those recruited to the Lambeth Commission.

American and Canadian developments were at the forefront of this brief, but the Sydney proposals and what lay behind them were also very much in mind. What we see in the Reform “Covenant” is the Sydney theological agenda and their belief in “inevitable realignment” given renewed (if not fresh) expression.

I can only think that Blessed Tom has his tongue firmly in his cheek when he regales these people with the Windsor Report and the prospect of a Covenant when he knows full well that they neither welcomed the first nor look forward to the latter.

Of course Reform are not alone in finding the Windsor process deficient, we argued from its inception that the course it eventually came to plot was likely to cause more problems than it solved – “the medicine is more deadly than the illness”.

It is brave for one the Windsor Report’s authors and its principal interpreter to defend the product of their labours when it seems to have signally failed to achieve the set goals. I am deeply sorry that this is the case; I am one who would like to see peace and reconciliation and abhors the reality of division.

Sadly Bishop Wright’s savage critique of the Reform demands is unlikely to have any real effect – I guess he knows that already – he has become, like many of us, a bystander as the “battle for the soul” of the Anglican Communion descends into a bitter civil war.

We are amongst a small few who believe that while Windsor has failed it is not too late to offer another solution to the “War of the Primates” – we believe that this becomes daily a more difficult task as those who see haste as their ally push their agenda forward.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 1:00pm GMT

My first reaction the Reform's "Covenant" was to think that it was undermining Bishop Wright's work of using every proposal as a weapon against the The Episcopal Church. He was able to do this by pretending that all the Anglicans in the world agreed with him over and against the Americans. His charade has been exposed.

Let me say that I have been extremely puzzled by what has seemed to have happened to "New Testament" Wright since his elevation. I was always impressed by his scholarship and his friendly dialogue with people with a different point of view, but his reaction on gay issues has seemed completely out of character & contrary to his own scholarly principles. I continue to be baffled!

I reiterate what I posited here long ago -- the primates who refused Communion at Dromantine are a good indicator of where the fault line of the schism will be.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 3:29pm GMT

Wright says: "I agree with the implied premise, that the root problem we face in the Anglican Communion is one of deeply faulty theology... The problem is basically an American (and to a lesser extent Canadian) one, since in ECUSA/TEC there have been specific and apparently binding resolutions of General Convention, and actions in various dioceses, which explicitly and demonstrably go against the unambiguous teaching of the Lambeth Conference, the ACC and the Primates."

It's striking that, after saying the problem is "deeply faulty theology," the worst he indicts us with is going against Lambeth, the ACC, and the Primates, rather than, say, going against the Bible, the 39 articles, the BCP, or traditional Anglican thought. That's really it? Offenses against the Windsor Report?

And as much as I respect NT Wright's biblical scholarship, he has not earned the right to be patronizing to DE Nineham!

Posted by: Mark on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 4:39pm GMT

I tend to agree. I think its clearly something he is uneasy with - but then, I tend to think that despite the protests to the contrary, Christian homophobia is often strongly linked to its original, psychological meaning. I've seen this in action in work I have done with those of that view - what they really can't cope with is the thought of gay sex.

Odd really. I don't fancy the idea of straight sex, but I honestly never think about it, so its not an issue. I wonder why those who clearly have such a problem with same sex physical expression can't do the same?

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 5:49pm GMT

+Wright's rebuttal is as much from the heart as the initial CCE was. He's upset at what he sees as a betrayal by people he believed to be, if not friends, at least on good enough terms with to have told him what they were planning.

However, putting hurt feelings to one side, the Bishop's comments seem to me pretty accurate. Reading the two side-by-side made me realise what a poor piece of work the CCE actually is. Can it really be true that the Covenant was a year in the making? There seem to be some fundamental omissions in theology, some basic errors in logic, and some very poorly disguised threats. Why were these faults not picked up and dealt with before the text was released?

Several reasons, I believe. Firstly, a small number of draftees suffering from GroupThink. It seems that there was no wider consultation, no sympathetic but critical examination of the Covenant, no formal revision process.

Secondly, the pressure of time. For some reason or other, and I don't know what that reason is, it was important that the CCE was released now. So it came out half-baked.

Thirdly, and what concerns me most, is that the draftees of the CCE just aren't that smart. Sincere, God-fearing men, yes. Concerned for the future of the Church of England, yes. Frustrated by the perceived glacial progress of their agenda, yes. Smart? On the basis of this and other episodes, no.

There is sometimes a strand within evangelicalism which is wary of (sometimes to the point of rejection), the use of the intellect - I've heard and read both Oz Guinness and Graham Cray on this subject, so I know I'm not making this up! The CCE just isn't a smart document. It lacks reason: it contains logical fallacies, it goes against basic church structure and law, it complains and threatens, it is aggressive and self-aggrandising in turns. It is not an attractive document. It doesn't seek to persuade, to convince, even to convict. It's ugly, and, dare I say it, stupid.

It's not even a particularly decent rallying cry to the troops who are already under their banner. Those they might want to draw in are repulsed. Their opponents barely have to draw breath before gutting it. I have to worry about the signatories, and just what they thought they were doing, and what they hoped to achieve.

Posted by: Simon Morden on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 9:57pm GMT

N. T. or Tom (postmodern habit or entertainment world of different names for different faces!) obviously has some spare time!

>Maurice Wiles and Denis Nineham; the 1970s report Christian Believing was probably the all-time low water mark of Anglican 'thinking'; The Myth of God Incarnate gave a similar picture. That might have been the time to protest - and some of us did, and have continued to do so not least in the normal Anglican way, by preaching the gospel and out-thinking bad theology with good.it will polarize opinion in deeply unhelpful ways, leaving many in the church to suppose that 'all evangelicals' think like this, and so driving many in the centre ground, who properly should be allies in the larger battles we face, into the arms of the liberals and radicals.<

Quite: which is why the Open, Fulcrum evangelicals are the ones faced with the awkward choice when it comes, as it may, to which Covenant they may wish to opt into. N. T. Wright may opt into a centrist one, if there is one, unlike his evangelical ex-associates. But when it comes to these Covenants, liberals and radicals better make sure that they have a Covenant that approves of the theological enterprise and the freedom of that enterprise in its answers.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 10:48pm GMT

Bishop Tom Wright may be betrayed and purged by the extremist Evangelicals in England and the U.S., but he will continue to be welcome in the Episcopal Church. I can be quite certain of that.

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 11:22pm GMT

Just a small request - can we please stop calling this the "Reform" covenant. It is not. It was drawn up by a mixed group, including some Reform members, but not a "Reform" group. I think the Reform label came from Inclusive Church who misunderstood the original source.

Posted by: John Richardson on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 8:47am GMT

I have a feeling that just like Global South communiqués we may soon see a list of those who "have not seen it" - "did not approve the final draft" - "never knew it existed" .......

But for the moment let us call it the Reform and current allies ultimatum.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 12:41pm GMT

Well Martin, here's what Richard Turnbull has just released:

http://www.ceec.info/library/positional/Covenant.htm
Statement from the Revd Dr Richard Turnbull, Chairman of CEEC "explaining the significance of CEEC's support for this sigificant document":

We welcome the responsible and thoughtful initiative represented by this Covenant. It recognizes the depth of concern across the traditions of the Church of England of those who seek to teach and live by the Scriptures as their ultimate authority, and makes a serious effort to address the current issues within a challenging but workable framework. We believe the process of consultation with all parties concerned has been thorough and transparent. We applaud the Covenant’s overriding commitment to mission and biblical and theological orthodoxy. We pray that where arrangements suggested by the Covenant should prove necessary, the good news of Jesus Christ may flourish.

Turnbull's current day job is never mentioned in this context but he is Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. Bio details at
http://83.138.172.116/content.asp?id=67

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 1:02pm GMT

John is right...it's not the "Reform" covenant...it's a group of individuals who are trying to bolster their views by placing the names of impressive-sounding groups after their own names. As far as I'm aware, none of the groups they 'represent' have given anything like approval of this. My own view is that this announcement is badly-timed and poorly thought-through..most of these complaints have been aired by many of the most conservative evangelicals for decades.

Posted by: Simon Butler on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 3:12pm GMT

We got the idea that Reform was behind it from their website - http://www.reform.org.uk/restore.php?page=http%3A//www.reform.org.uk/pages/press/press.html as posted by Simon!

Are we at IC alone in thinking that the "Covenant" (whoever was responsible for it) was rushed out to coincide with the Tanzania and Uganda declarations and the Virginia vote?

That would explain some of the inadequacies in its drafting.

I know we've heard a lot about conspiracy theories this week but the number of announcements and Communion-threatening events in one week is surely too high to be a coincidence? And if they are connected, should we also be thinking about what the game-plan is over the longer term? Martin's "Battle of the Primates" stretched to Star Wars length?

Posted by: Giles Goddard on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 3:27pm GMT

Sure John, I am happy to call it The Confused Covenant instead :-)

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 6:51pm GMT

"Bishop Tom Wright may be betrayed and purged by the extremist Evangelicals in England and the U.S., but he will continue to be welcome in the Episcopal Church. I can be quite certain of that."

Well, Charlotte, per Cantuar, perhaps not "welcomed" but certainly invited. Included. NOT excommunicated. ;-/ (And, unlike ++KJS in many quarters, even addressed as "Bishop"!)

Simon S, if the *worst* thing one could say about this "covenant" was "confused", that would be undeserved tribute indeed!

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 9:40pm GMT

Well, I was, in my simple, homespun way, just pleased to see that Wright was in England commenting on something happening in England, considering how he seems to spend all his time in the U.S. lecturing us benighted colonials on how we should behave.

Still, it's hard for me to get all choked up on his betrayal by his fellow fundamentalists.

It reminds me of the old story about the frog and the scorpion.

Posted by: JPM on Monday, 18 December 2006 at 7:16am GMT

Maybe after reading the personal abuse directed at him here, Tom Wright will feel a lot more at home with his "old friends" again.

nope the document perfect but you can sympathise with the intent of humble and effective bible teachers such as William Taylor and Vaughen Roberts when compared agaisnt the constant bile poured forth against them on these pages

Posted by: dave williams on Monday, 18 December 2006 at 12:35pm GMT

Dave said, 'Maybe after reading the personal abuse directed at him here, Tom Wright will feel a lot more at home with his "old friends" again.'

I've just looked over the comments on this page and I don't see much in the way of personal abuse or "constant bile" (as you say later on). There is disagreement, but it all looks pretty polite to me. This is not a rhetorical question, Dave: What are you objecting to?

Posted by: Mark on Monday, 18 December 2006 at 2:34pm GMT

Until now, Tom Wright has not been a bishop I would have seen as an ally of Changing Attitude - quite the reverse when it comes to Civil Partnerships! But he has become an ally in challenging all groups and individuals who want to do their own thing without any respect for the authority or tradition of the Church of England.

At Changing Attitude, we might be accused of wanting to do our own thing when it comes to the place of LGBT people in the church, but we do within the church and closely with General Synod and bishops. We are not strategically planning a breakaway, gay-friendly, TEC and Canada-aligned church. We are faithful, committed Anglicans.

Reform/Church Society/Anglican Mainstream are now clearly disloyal Anglicans, and the Bishop of Durham says so.

We continue to hear rumours from inside Nigeria, rumours that Peter Akinola is trying to get Anglican Nigerians in the UK to set up independent congregations and that a certain George Carey is frequently on the phone to Abuja (Andrew, as disinterested person, I'm sure you'll deny this on behalf of your father). If the rumours prove to be true (and the events of last week suggest this madness is now more rather than less likely, an alternative Nigerian Anglican Church of England is going to have powerful forces ranged against it - London and Southwark as well as Durham. But Michael Nazir-Ali will be offering his support and alternative epsicopal oversight to the rebel secessionist church. (And yes, Andrew, I did read your comment from last week, and I've now read N T Wright).

Posted by: Colin Coward on Monday, 18 December 2006 at 2:40pm GMT

So, Colin - doesn't this add up to a split? I know the principled stance you take and you know I disagree with it - a a breakaway, gay-friendly, TEC and Canada-aligned church is the only Anglican thing I would now want anything to do with!

But if we have Reform et al, Nazir-Ali etc. essentially behaving in a secessionist way, is a split going to happen?

I have always thought that what happens within the CofE may well be key. Looks as if we have our home-grown Bishop willing to lead the conservatives towards the New Reformed Anglican Church Communion of Akinola after all!

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 18 December 2006 at 4:01pm GMT

Colin Coward wrote:

"We continue to hear rumours from inside Nigeria, rumours that Peter Akinola is trying to get Anglican Nigerians in the UK to set up independent congregations and that a certain George Carey is frequently on the phone to Abuja (Andrew, as disinterested person, I'm sure you'll deny this on behalf of your father)."

Colin, having spent a little bit of time with you over the years, I have to say I really am disappointed with this. This sort of rumour-mongering does not square with the decent person who I've met. You seem to imply that even if I deny it on my father's behalf you won't believe that denial. I hope that others will, because frankly it is mischievous and unfair to make such a suggestion in this context. My father has had no contact with Abuja/Akinola since his retirement (and this I have just checked with him). You are completely misinformed, Colin, and I really am surprised that you are passing on such ill-founded rumours in such a public way.

Posted by: Andrew Carey on Monday, 18 December 2006 at 4:49pm GMT

I too have been reviewing the comments for abuse etc and can find none.

But then I have not Dave Williams' eye .......

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 18 December 2006 at 5:59pm GMT

Dave Williams: I don't get it either. Many of us have welcomed +Wright's comments. Where there is disagreement of sections, the words haven't been harsh. Unless, of course, you see anything other than fulsome praise and nary a murmur against as "personal abuse".

Colin: if you can substantiate your rumours, go ahead. Otherwise, you're looking more than a little vindictive.

Posted by: Simon Morden on Monday, 18 December 2006 at 9:19pm GMT

since some of you are struggling to find the abuse Dave referred to - I think +Durham might well feel somewhat abused in JPM saying: "Well, I was.... pleased to see that Wright was in England commenting on something happening in England, considering how he seems to spend all his time in the U.S. lecturing us benighted colonials on how we should behave."

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 11:30am GMT

Simon and JPM,

I was responding

1. To the specific comment that described Bishop Tom and his fundamentalist friends. It seems that for all the complaints about strident evangelicals that the folks here have a blind spot as to what constitutes very offensive comments! That was by JPM so I assume he will come back and assure us that he didn't intend to label Bishop Tom or those people on that list including John Stott, Dick Lucas, William Taylor as "fundamentalists"
2. The general tone of many comments on these pages -which I think Andrew Carey was also perhaps picking up on. Comments that go unchecked and unrebuked including serious allegations against church members in America, the use of the word bigot, a recent post accusing conservative evangelicals of having psychological problems. And when I've responded to these comments I think the only person who had the decency to clarify their comments was Cheryl. Generally it is assumed here that you can say what you like about others without regard to accuracy or love!

Posted by: Dave Williams on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 12:48pm GMT

Dave Williams,
Allow me to paraphrase, just to point out the situation:
"The general tone of many comments on these pages..... Comments that go unchecked and unrebuked including serious allegations against church members in America, the use of the word 'pervert', a...... post accusing 'gay people' of having psychological problems."

My changes are in quotes, yet this statement is still true. My point is that you see things as offensive to Evangelicals (I honestly don't know what the difference is between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, I mean no insult here, I genuinely don't know) while many on the other side see equivalently offensive statements made against them. Maybe we should all stop looking for offense. One thing the conservative Evangelicals have failed to address on these pages is the feeling of gay people that Evangelical statements against gay people relegate us to second class status. Our relationships, our families don't count, and the only thing we are permitted to be is ashamed of ourselves. Your argument that all have sinned is weak, since for most comfortable conservatives, their awareness of their own sinfulness seems an abstraction. I for one have little patience with the investment banker who has the nerve to sit in judgement on me.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 1:46pm GMT

Ford - since when is being an investment banker a sin?

I suspect investment bankers give through their taxes very much more to the poor through the Welfare State and the NHS etc than you or me.....but even if this were not true, it is a bit silly to relegate a legal job to sinner status

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 2:08pm GMT

NP, Tom Wright has missed few opportunities to interfere in the Episcopal Church and has given considerable aid and comfort to our schismatics. It is not abuse to say the truth, even when the truth is unpleasant.

To paraphrase one of your favorite documents, the Bishop of Durham hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of America.

>>>That was by JPM so I assume he will come back and assure us that he didn't intend to label Bishop Tom or those people on that list including John Stott, Dick Lucas, William Taylor as "fundamentalists"

Fundamentalist is as fundamentalist does.

I have read the so-called covenant and, except for the CoE bureaucracy "_____-shaped" jargon, it sounds like the work of a committee of Southern Baptists.

Posted by: JPM on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 2:40pm GMT

Whatever happened to the blessed idea of a Broad Church and Communion? Is it outdated to not want to bully God's people into a party line? We all share in our biblically-based creeds and baptismal covenants, in our heritage of acceptance of different customs in different places, why can't that be enough?

I know I'm just whistling into the wind, but the Holy Spirit has done some amazing things and I'm not ready to give up on such amazement. Ever. Nor are most of us ordinary, church-going types. No one knows God's Will, but there is a rumor it tends towards love. But since we ordinary Broads do not court publicity, issue manifestos or seek power, we do not get counted in. But in we are, in we shall stay and so we continue to pray; pray, pray and pray like Christmas, Easter and Pentecost combined, to be amazed in this our ordinary time.

Posted by: Kay Wisniewski on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 3:10pm GMT

NP, loaning money at interest was a sin for roughly 1500 years. Scripture, the Fathers, and many in our own Anglican tradition are quite clear on that point. It ceased to be a sin a few centuries ago when the Church compromised yet another of Her principles in the interest of being popular with society. You may think it is no sin now, but that's just because you have forgotten how it happened, or you don't want to acknowledge it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 3:12pm GMT

Ford - since when is being an investment banker a sin?

Umm... something about taking interest on a loan..........?

FWIW I seem to remember that at one point, more of the moral strictures of the Church were levelled against usury than against sex, on the grounds that there was something 'against nature' about money 'breeding' but then the emerging middle classes managed to switch much of the 'interest' opprobrium on to sex. I'm sure someone with knowledge will correct me.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 3:59pm GMT

The Church had quite a lot to say about usury, back before they decided to give in to secular culture:

St. John Chrysostom on lending at interest:

"Nothing is baser, nothing is more cruel than the interest that comes from lending. For such a lender trades on other persons' calamities, draws profit from the distress of others, and demands wages for kindness, as though he were afraid to seem merciful. Under the mask of kindness he digs deeper their grave of poverty; when he stretches forth his hand to help, he pushes them down. . ."

St. Leo the Great on the same:

"This point, too, we have thought must not be passed over, that certain possessed with the love of base gain lay out their money at interest, and wish to enrich themselves as usurers. For we are grieved that this is practised not only by those who belong to the clergy, but also by laymen who desire to be called Christians. And we decree that those who have been convicted be punished sharply, that all occasion of sinning be removed."

John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury, on interest (16th Century):

"If I lend 100 pounds and for it covenant to receive 105 pounds, or any other sum greater than was the sum I did lend, this is that, we call usury; such a kind of bargaining as no good man or godly man ever used; such a kind of bargaining as all men that ever feared God's judgment, have always abhorred and condemned . . . It is the overthrow of mighty kingdoms, the destruction of flourishing states; the decay of great cities; the plagues of the world and the misery of the people. It is theft, it is the murdering of our brethren, it is the curse of God, and the curse of the people. This is usury, and by these signs and tokens ye shall know it."

Canon 17 of the Council of Nicaea (325 AD)

Since many enrolled have been induced by greed and avarice to forget the sacred text, "who does not put out his money at interest", and to charge one per cent on loans, this holy and great synod judges that if any are found after this decision to receive interest by contract or to transact the business in any other way or to charge fifty per cent or in general to devise any other contrivance for the sake of dishonourable gain, they shall be deposed from the clergy and their names struck from the roll.

More here: http://anglocatholicsocialism.org/excursus.html

Posted by: JPM on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 8:39pm GMT

chaps, fyi - "investment bankers" do not make loans (they do mergers and acquisitions) so please do not smear the poor boys and girls who work so hard - they pay for lots of social services when their bonus-millions get taxed, you know!!

I do not loan money at interest......I agree, the Bible prohibits it

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 7:47am GMT

Oh....before I get negative responses to mergers and acquisitions and capitalism in general, remember if you see a field with buried treasure in it or find a pearl of great value, you are supposed to buy it - for the profit it will give you

JC used capitalist parables!!! Shock horror!

Yikes, his language was not always as "inclusive" as some would like and now he is positive on capitalism too.....after all, he told us we would always have the poor with us and his great commission (have a look TEC!) was not go into all the world to fight for human rights and feed and clothe the poor, was it??

Anyway, we are way off the point.....I understand +Durham feeling hurt as he was not consulted but just as TEC lost patience waiting or the AC to come round to its way of thinking and acted unilaterally, many people are losing patience with the continuing delays and fudge from the centre in responding to that rebellion and failure to repent since......some decisiveness needed for everyone's sake.

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 11:01am GMT

"investment bankers" do not make loans (they do mergers and acquisitions)

Ah, so these are the folk who enable asset-stripping, 5-cents-an-hour outsourcing and all the rest, but retain moral integrity by doing so at arm's-length.... Sorry to have accused them of usury.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 11:13am GMT

JPM,

So just to check.

Because I personally know one of the signatories and have appreciated the preaching and writing of many of them, you consider me a fundamentalist? Do you also agree with the comments of previous posters calling Evangelicals Bigots? Do you consider me a bigot.


Posted by: dave williams on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 12:12pm GMT

Ford,

Thanks for your comments -and I agree with you that comments using abusive language against gays should not have come through either.

My point is that

1. Simon claims to vet the posts to stop this happening
2. There is this superior attitude here that we have a group of liberal, thinking, tolerant, nice people against the "nasty" "intolerant" "bigoted" Evangelicals -but what we are seeing is that the language is as harsh and exclusive from the other side -only merseymike seems willing to admit this exclusiveness. So my message to them is either drop the language or drop the pretence. In the meantime -it seems that the language used here is a key weakness in the "Thinking liberal anglican" case and it obviously makes a few people uncomfortable to hear that pointed out every so often.

Posted by: dave williams on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 12:21pm GMT

As for loans at interest -what a fantastic topic -what should we be doing as churches to make sure that doesn't need to happen?

Posted by: dave williams on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 12:22pm GMT

NP,

Sorry, I used the worng word. So, if you agree the Bible prohibits usury, why are you so vocal about gay people and so silent on the damage usury has done to society? Surely all sins are equal, don't you think usury deserves as much attention as you are paying to gay people? And do you really think that paying taxes in a socialist democracy somehow fulfills our responsibility to feed the hungry and clothe the naked? Taxes are merely rendering to Ceasar the things that are Ceasar's. If Ceasar spends some of that money helping the poor, that shows the influence Christianity still has on Western thought, but it hardly represents our duty to our neighbour.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 12:50pm GMT

Dave, I do not consider all evangelicals bigots and from what I have seen posted here, I do not think that you are a bigot.

It is undeniable, however, that many bigots do dress up their hatred in piety. If you don't believe me, pay a visit to Virtue Online.

Posted by: JPM on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 9:29pm GMT

"JC used capitalist parables!!! Shock horror!"

No He did not use "capitalist parables". They would have been absolutely incomprehensible to a pre Modern audience, had He tried.

"Yikes, his language was not always as "inclusive" as some would like and now he is positive on capitalism too..."

A free market, that is the p e r s o n s being free to go to the market unhindered to sell whatever, is a rather late phenomenon. 19th to 20th centuries.

So again, no.

"... after all, he told us we would always have the poor with us and his great commission (have a look TEC!) was not go into all the world to fight for human rights and feed and clothe the poor, was it??!"

Where to begin? The Anachronisms, the picking and chosing, the schewed Balance.

A false gospel if ever there was one.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 9:59pm GMT

JPM,

Thanks -perhaps then we can get on with discussing significant issues -and please I ask again let's get onto some wider subjects- without trying to second guess who is and isn't a bigot.

I'm sure there are Evangelicals who are bigots just as there are liberals and catholics who are bigots too.

The Virtue site isn't one I visit -but take your word for it. There are some nasty sites out there but it's nothing to do with them being "Evangelical" indeed there's always someone to the right of you and one delightful site lists a lot of those churches considered conservative by many here and pronounces them apostate!

Posted by: dave williams on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 11:41pm GMT

Goran - your comment is laughable - I merely pointed out that there was no left-wing, anti-capitalist bias in JC's words.....it is quite amusing how predictable it was that I would get left-wing bias in response to my comments (and since I am an economist, even though I studied at left-wing Cambridge, I know how misguided the comments against mergers etc are since they are part of creating an efficient, healthy economy - and I am pleased England had reforms in the 1980s which leaves us with a very much stronger economy today than France and Germany - just ask their millions of permanently unemployed people who cannot find jobs even if they wanted them!)

Ford - I said I don't think lending at interest is right.....and I do support appropriate, effective relief for poor people / countries in reducing the burden of interest....as long as aid does not largely end up in the Swiss bank accounts of politicians.

...and if you look back over everything I say, I do not go on about any particular group because my only issue is the authority of scripture (not any symptom of the rejection of that authority)
- so I am just as much against the "prosperity" gospel as the "inclusive" nonsense as both are man-made "gospels" and contradict directly, deliberately and obviously what the bible says and means.

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 7:54am GMT

So if we are going to talk about usary then there should be a practical approach to dealing with the issue (assuming we genuinely mean we want to do something about it)

First thing -from memory, I think there has been some historical debate about what it means -does it exclude all interest or can it be charged in order to cover things such as inflation, administration costs etc -so not at an excessive rate?

Secondly -what then should Christians do when they need money?

Thirdly -should Christians use the banking system and if not what practical arrangements should be made for paying salaries etc

You might be interested that Evangelicals are involved in groups such as Care For the Family and Christians Against Poverty that take poverty and debt seriously. Craig Blomberg's book "Neither Poverty nor riches" might be a good discussion starter.

As with other issues then there are going to be a range of people from those who believe usary is a sin and quite happily engage in it, through those who use it but want a way out to those who are beginning to reform or have found effective methods for dealing with it. It is in that context that we need both discipline and grace

Posted by: dave williams on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 8:37am GMT

David Rowett,

I think you are confusing a role with a corruption of that role. In other words -yes some Investment Bankers are assett strippers who wreck lifes in the same way that many other people use unethical business methods.

However, it is as much about helping businesses to invest effectively to strengthen their ability to operate. For example my previous company spent some time investing in the US to consolidate its position in certain markets whilst selling some elements of its European business to other European businesses.

Posted by: Dave Williams on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 8:48am GMT

Dave Williams,
I believe the argument that usury is OK as long as the interest isn't excessive goes back to Wesley. By that argument, homosexuality is OK as long as it isn't excessive. The Bible uses words that have been taken to mean homosexuality but may not have that precise meaning, unlike usury, so if we can debate what the Bible means by usury, surely we can debate what it means by homosexuality.

As to Christians taking part in usury, I believe it was Augustine(or Aquinas) who said that paying interest is not sinful, just the charging of it. Further, Muslim run banks tend not to practice usury, some Christians use such banks for just that reason.

The bigger issue is that Christians long ago compromised with the world on this issue, and the 'debate' over word meanings and excessive interest is merely the way in which the compromise was made. We used to say it was a sin, now we do not. Why is homosexuality any different? I would argue that usury has done far more damage to individuals, the family, and Western society as a whole than two loving people in a monogamous life long relationship ever could. If we are going to oppose the latter, we definitely should be opposing the former. We had a hand in the transition of usury from sin to status quo, we should repent of that.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 2:35pm GMT

Ford - I am still following the bible and will not lend at interest

Posted by: NP on Friday, 22 December 2006 at 7:17am GMT

Too many threads and too many comments flowing on TA for me to keep up with them all. I'd missed Andrew Carey's challenge to me to withdraw what I described as a rumour about the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, being in frequent contact with Archbishop Akinola in Abuja.

I've returned to my sources in Nigeria, and they confirm that what I wrote was true. Therefore I should withdraw the word 'rumour', and if Andrew says he's checked with his father, and he hasn't made contact with Peter Akinola once since he retired, then I am being lied to by the Nigerian contacts. And, for the benefit of Nigerians reading this, I said 'if'.

Andrew and I last met at General Convention, and I, perhaps unfairly, said that his father wasn't helping +Rowan too much with his activities and interventions in the USA. I still think his father hasn't been very helpful, certainly not to those of us working for a more honest, open, LGBT-affirming church and the maintenance of a Communion recognisable as Anglican.

Changing Attitude, and myself personally, have always tried to maintain an integrity about what we say and publish. It has become more and more difficult as other groups blatantly abuse language. I refer to 'mainstream', 'Windsor-compliant' and other words hijacked to mean what conservative groups want them to mean. I confess to using the term 'seccessionist' deliberately to name those who claim they are in the continuing Anglican tradition and seek to create alternative structures in the USA in particular. I think they are seccessionist. The conservatives' abuse of language is rebounding on them now, as their abuse last week of the term 'covenant' has demonstrated.

There is a massive dishonesty going on, which I find utterly at variance with my own Christian faith. If I have published something which is not true, and those in Nigeria who forwarded the information can be proved to have lied, then I apologise.

Posted by: Colin Coward on Friday, 22 December 2006 at 12:53pm GMT

NP,
I assume you're still following the Bible and won't have a gay relationship either. If that doesn't stop you from telling gay people they shouldn't practice the "sin" of homosexuality, why aren't you as vocal against those who practice usury?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 22 December 2006 at 1:01pm GMT

NP wrote: “Göran – your comment is laughable – I merely pointed out that there was no left-wing, anti-capitalist bias in JC's words..... it is quite amusing how predictable it was that I would get left-wing bias in response to my comments …”

O dear, “left wing bias” indeed…

I merely pointed out that
1) there is not any Chicago School Anarcho-Capitalism new speak in Christ’s Gospel, and that
2) such – being entirely a late modern phenomenon – would not have been comprehensible to anyone in pre Modernity.

Simple as that.

NP continued: “… (and since I am an economist, even though I studied at left-wing Cambridge, I know how misguided the comments against mergers etc are since they are part of creating an efficient, healthy economy…”

I don’t know how “left wing” Cambridge may be, but I do remember that Cambridge were the ones to change malakós from Masturbation to passive gay man in 1966 ;=) however I too am an economist but also a historian and a theologian.

Not least, I have some experience from r e a l life, not just from the World of Ideas.

Take, for instance, the claim “an efficient, healthy economy”.

The little word “healthy” is what gives the game away… Efficiency is a good thing, but (as always) an over dependence on “efficiency” generally proves anything but efficient... In fact it is not at all “healthy”, but quite the opposite.

People being people, the World being what it is.

NT wrote: “ – and I am pleased England had reforms in the 1980s which leaves us with a very much stronger economy today than France and Germany – just ask their millions of permanently unemployed people who cannot find jobs even if they wanted them!)”

“… even if they wanted them!”

Well, here we are. Vulgar, old fashioned, Social Biologism.

The poor are week, degenerate, morally execrable – and, not least, l a z y ;=)

We’ve heard that one before – Calvinism, Spencerism, Eugenics… It came from America a century ago, the English followed, the Swedes were proficient, and the Germans were the last to fall…

And yes, it is most prominent in these latter day Superstitions from Chicago.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 23 December 2006 at 1:40pm GMT

A useful link (perhaps needing a further look into whether the biblical words correspond to "usury" or "interest") on usury is here:

http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/jones.usury

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 23 December 2006 at 1:53pm GMT

And in the midst of all of this here is the one thing I don't see being discussed: In most parishes of the Episcopal Church in the US, and in many parishes of the CofE that I've seen, there are active and caring and faithful gay and lesbian Christians who are working hard on the vestry, teaching, volunteering for community service, typing fliers and repainting church halls, etc etc etc, and yet the traditionalists insist on driving them out. They must be chased from the church and called wicked sinners, all because the traditionalists can't stop thinking about what same-gender sex entails. They must be thrown out, never mind their devotion and demonstration of the fruits of the spirit. Why do conservatives get the label of "bigots"? Not because we dislike their politics or because we want to be elitists, but only because when we compare the dedicated spiritual service we see demonstrated by gays and lesbians in the church with the secret meetings, angry pronouncements, demands and whisper campaigns that the traditionalists pull in parish after parish, when that comparison is made the traditionalists look like bigots. It is a common sense test: if it looks like bigotry, then the term applies. These are not abstract issues at debate here, this involves people and their lives, and I and others will not stand by while traditionalists try to throw out good kind caring Christians from this church.

Posted by: Dennis on Sunday, 24 December 2006 at 7:54pm GMT

Ford,

My point is not that it's up for debate -but rather that it's something that we have to work on pursuading people on and also doing something practical about. In the same way that I have acknowledged a difference of views on the homosexuality issue.

Anyway if you want to discuss this or any of the other issues a bit more thoroughly -then drop me a line (email address below))-I feel my New Years resolution should be to spend a bit less time on blogs!

Posted by: dave williams on Wednesday, 27 December 2006 at 11:32pm GMT

Thank you, Dennis, for your good and just summary. In my 70+ years I have known many gays and lesbians, often perceiving them as such only after the fact, especially in my naive younger years. There's no doubt in my mind that they are who they are by genetic inheritance, not by choice,and there's an increasing amount of genetic evidence for this. So they were created that way. Am I to say to God, "Sorry, Lord, you made a mistake with these people, and I cannot accord to them the rights and privileges of us straights"? (And are the large number of infants born with indeterminate sex also God's "mistakes"?) I would consider that the sin of blasphemy. And now you know how I view some of the previous respondents.

Posted by: Joan on Friday, 29 December 2006 at 7:33pm GMT
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