Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Hereford case: judgment published

The Employment Tribunal in Cardiff will formally publish its judgment tomorrow in the case of John Reaney v the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance.

TA’s previous report on this was in April: see Hereford case: hearing concludes and my Church Times article is here: Reaney judgment awaited.

Subsequently, the following article was published in the Hereford diocesan magazine: DIOCESE AWAITS YOUTH OFFICER TRIBUNAL DECISION.

Today, the Hereford Times carries this report:

Bishop of Hereford loses case
By Mark Bowen

A gay man has won his discrimination case against the Bishop of Hereford.

John Reaney,who was backed by gay rights group Stonewall, is celebrating today’s (Thursday) employment tribunal decision.

Mr Reaney was interviewed by a panel of eight people for the post of Youth Officer in the Diocese of Hereford last summer.

But an unanimous decision to appoint him was blocked by the Bishop of Hereford after a meeting Mr Reaney looks set to secure substantial compensation.

In its judgement, the Tribunal said: The Respondents discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation.The case will now be listed for a remedy hearing.’

John Reaney said: ‘I’m delighted that the Bishop of Hereford has lost this case. It demonstrates to many lesbian and gay Christians working for God within the Church of England that they are entitled to fair and respectful treatment.”

The case was heard over four days in Cardiff in April.

The diocese called a press conference for 9.30 am. More information about that will be published here when received.

Meanwhile, Mr Reaney’s solicitors have published this press release:John Reaney wins case against Church of England:

…His solicitor Alison Downie, partner at Bindman & Partners said:
“My client is pleased that he has won his claim. The Bishop and the Diocese were wrong and unlawfully discriminated against him because he is a gay man in refusing to appoint an excellent candidate to the post of Youth Officer. In this landmark test case the Tribunal found not only that he suffered direct discrimination but that if necessary they would have found indirect discrimination in the Diocese imposing a requirement of celibacy for lay people in employment within the Church. It is highly regrettable that the Bishop acted as he did and that my client lost a year of his life in bringing this claim to right the wrong done to him”.

And Stonewall Cymru has published this one: Stonewall Cymru celebrates tribunal victory against Bishop of Hereford:

…Matthew Batten, Stonewall Cymru’s Policy Officer, said: ‘This outcome is a triumph for 21st century decency over 19th century prejudice. We’re very happy for John. The tribunal has rightly made clear that the Church of England cannot discriminate against gay people with impunity. No one, not even a Bishop, is exempt from the law.’

And the BBC reports the decision as Bishop loses gay employment case:

…The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, said he was “naturally disappointed” and may appeal…

…speaking to a news conference in Hereford on Wednesday, the Bishop said: “I still think the decision I made was the right one.”

“I regret the polarisation of view which takes place when these things happen,” he said, adding he had made the decision after a “great deal of prayer and contemplation”.

Press Association report: Gay man wins Church tribunal claim

For the diocesan press release go here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 10:00am BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Not surprising - the law of the land is decided by a liberal government ......the more important question is whether the bishop did the right thing in terms of biblical teaching re appropriate leaders/workers in the church.

The law in England may disagree with the bishop's stance....but would St Paul??

I bet the court would not have given the same decision against a mosque!

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 10:53am BST

This man was treated apallingly. Of course he was refused the position because he was homosexual and on what the Bishop thought he may do in the future, which is ridiculous. It is disgusting that the Bishop of Hereford on being found guilty of discrimination still claims he believes his decision was the right one. A little contrition may go a long way. This bishop has treated this man badly and cost the church a considerable amount in compensation, he should now be disciplined. The Church of England is not above the law of the land and is in fact part of the system of government and the thus the legal system. If it wishes to remain part of the state then it must abide by the legal system.

Posted by: David Reid on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 11:37am BST

“I regret the polarisation of view which takes place when these things happen,” he said, adding he had made the decision after a “great deal of prayer and contemplation." The Bishop.

Yes, he fails to see that his behaviour and attitudes caused the polarisation, in the first place;and he is still claiming a rectitude, which the Law and most parishoners refute.

Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 11:41am BST

Paul has been dead a long time.

The same Laws apply to Mosques.

AS for 'biblical teaching;' 'appropriate to church leaders / workers' I was interested to notice when I recieved an update on my CofE pension projection, an accompanying booklet which included a section headed Civil Partnerships.
The bishops, the Archbishops' Council accepted civil partnerships into Church Law without a murmour. GS of course wasnt consulted, but we now know it would rather leave such matters to Father anyway (Synod's 'Covenant' cop-out).

They are too cowardly or lazy to take on the Government, but job applicants are fair game. Is that It ?

Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 11:49am BST

The Bishop added: "Such sexuality in itself was not an issue but Mr Reaney's lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese."

This is the devious double talk and deceit we have had to put up with for years.

Sexuality IS an 'issue'. There is no 'lifestyle' just life. Just people living their lives. Priddis means that a youth worker must not fall in love with another.

'Outside marriage' ? Please, the Church blocked marriage for all--or at least the use of the M word, but civil partnerships do enable lesbian and gay people to live out their relationship in a public civil partnership.

Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 12:39pm BST

NP, that's a difficult argument you're trying to make since it's questionable whether Paul's society would recognise homosexuality as identity in the way ours does.

The conservative (for want of a better word) line is that they have no problem with gay people, only with gay sexual behaviour. So, logically, once the youth worker had given assurances that he was not and had no intention of being in a sexual relationship with another man, that should have sufficed for the bishop. That it clearly didn't rather gives the lie to the line that it's all about behaviour and not people.

As for the youth worker's possible future conduct, I doubt very much that the bishop would hesitate to appoint a single heterosexual man or woman on the grounds that, at some time in the future, they might begin an illicit relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

Posted by: Fern on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 12:58pm BST

Pretty good NP, coming from someone who announced hereabouts a few months back that he is a Labour supporter. If you answered the question I asked at that time as to whether by "Labour", you actually meant "Blairite", I missed your reply.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 1:02pm BST

L Roberts - you mention your CofE pension and Civil Partnerships......maybe the church would not have to deal with the issue if it had only ordained people who did uphold the teaching of the church, as they promised to do when ordained?

I am sorry but one of the things we so called "conservatives" find hard to take is that people have made vows which just have not been kept by many.....unless people made vows to uphold only the teaching of the church with which they agree? (not the case, the last time I looked)

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 1:06pm BST

Fern - yes, but the bishop was probable being wise given that the man had recently come out of a relationship.....he did not have a track record of being Lambeth 1,10 compliant.

I think you will find that St Paul lived in a time in which Greeks and Romans were more open to things he preached against than even our Western societes are today....he knew what he was talking about (remember, he is the revolutionary who told Peter that he had to accept gentiles - he was no traditionalist and certainly no fool - he knew he was talking about something which would be a strong temptation for some.....just as he talks about other things which are very strong tempatations for me)

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 1:45pm BST

"The Respondents discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation"

Just twelve words demolish the Church's policy to distinguish between orientation and practice. At least in relation to a small number of lay posts. How can you separate a person from a person's life? Utter folly.

It remains to be seen whether the judgement will influence the Church's fudged thinking on gay clergy.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 2:05pm BST

But the bishop can't do that, NP. Its illegal!

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 3:27pm BST


What voews ?

I do not recall being asked to take any vows--least of all one of celibacy.

I explain on the other thread how my partner and I were open at theological college and with my gay ordaining bishop and the Southwark DDO. And with my training rector too----of course.

Our 34 th anniversary approaches NP --why not rejoice a little with us or for us ? We have found that of God in each other. You have nothing to fear.

Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 3:36pm BST

"I bet the court would not have given the same decision against a mosque!"

Keep going, NP. Do you need more rope?

"he is the revolutionary"

I agree St. Paul is a revolutionary, but I'm surprised to hear you say so. I would think that such rebelliousness as Paul showed would be enough to make you condemn him roundly. I mean, he actively disobeyed Scripture!

"just as he talks about other things which are very strong tempatations for me"

But you obviously don't take what he said seriously, NP.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 4:18pm BST

Ford - I will ignore your insult given it is based on no evidence.....but as for St Paul "disobeying scripture" - you will know that 2000 years of church history has given his teaching a certain authority which not many think is equalled by Spong or VGR who want to contradict Paul - so, yes, I am happy to follow Paul's revolutionary ideas but that does not mean one should be open to innovation as a result.

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 5:15pm BST

+VGR *doesn't* contradict St. Paul, NP, so your point is?

Congrats to Mr. Reaney. Since justice upheld for the people IS the work of the Gospel, then ALLELUIA!!! :-D

[L Roberts: Mozel Tov, to you and your partner! :-)]

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 12:52am BST

Many thanks JCF !
Much appreciated.

Baruch haShem !

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 9:18am BST

JCF asserts "+VGR *doesn't* contradict St. Paul, NP, so your point is?"

JCF - very few, even in the AC, are convinced by your assertion......even the ABC admits that and he is closer to you than me on this issue.

Right - am I missing something here?
People on TA are telling me conservative views are in a minority and now St Paul would be quite happy with VGR.....You do know St Paul wrote that leaders must not be drunks? You do know what he wrote about marriage....and divorce?

I guess I am getting "revisionist" replies....but please do look at what has ACTUALLY happened in the AC from Lambeth 1.10 to Dromantine to Windsor to Tanzania to the can pretend all you like that the AC is moving to accept VGR but the FACTS do not really support you hopes, JCF.

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 9:45am BST

"your insult given it is based on no evidence"

See elsewhere.

As to the rest, NP, there was no Christian Scripture before Paul. You are aware that the Old Testament was the only Scripture Paul recognized, right? Jesus didn't come from Heaven with a book under His arm. What Paul wrote was radically different from the Scripture he knew. Jews in his time, just like now, weren't Christians, NP. Thus, by virtue of the fact that Paul wrote, preached, taught, and died for things that were contrary to Scripture, which in his day was the Old Testament, he was a rebel. Sorry to disabuse you of what appears to be a deep seated fallacy, but Paul started out a Jew, became a Christian by means of a miracle, then preached by word of mouth, nothing written down, for years before he wrote his Epistles. I'm surprised that you, who claim such respect for Scripture, don't know this, it's in the Bible. That means the people he converted had no Scriptures either, other than the OT, and they were in quite a state of rebellion against it, most of them being uncircumcised Gentiles and all. I can only imagine what you would have said about that at the time. As to Spong, not many today think he equals Paul either, so who are you referring to? The fictitious heathen hoards the right wing has made you believe exist in TEC? I believe this is a good example of the evidence you claim above was lacking in my "insult". The KJV I bleieve, refers to it as "reviling" and lists it along with your favourite sin to oppose as one of the things that keeps us out of the Kingdom.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 11:42am BST

Ford - you are so should know that actually the whole OT is completely consistent with the gospel of Christ as he explained to very blessed people on the road to Emmaus....Paul was preaching this message ie Christ as the fulfillment of the OT.....have a look at "Gospel and Kingdom" ( by G Goldsworthy)

Posted by: NP on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 8:59am BST

"from Lambeth 1.10 to Dromantine to Windsor to Tanzania to the covenant"... to Cardiff

5-1 ;-)

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 10:07am BST

"the whole OT is completely consistent with the gospel of Christ"

So why was He attacked so vehemently by the legalists of His day? Why was He accused of breaking the Law? (I know the answers to this, BTW, I'm just inquiring as to how you understand it) Why do I get the impression that you would have been one of the ones accusing Him? Paul opposed circumcision in opposition not only to the Law, but also to some of his fellow Christians. What about the obvious rebellion against the dietary laws? Come on, NP, this isn't about justifying innovation here, it's about actually understanding our history and being honest about it. You can't claim that Paul was an observant Jew after his conversion, and thus he was in rebellion against the Law. That's all. It doesn't mean we should be nice to gay people, don't worry. You don't need to lie about what we were in order to justify being bad to people now. You're a better Bible miner than that.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 2:40pm BST

Again is about authority, as you know.

- I can take St Peter saying I can have a bacon sandwich but I really do not see the authority of VGR or KJS or Spong to change the bible the end, this is why we have had Windsor and Tanzania - most of us in the AC just do not see the authority TEC has for its innovations (which is why we do not respect their actions)

Posted by: NP on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 5:19pm BST

"it is about authority"
Indeed. Why do you want to force the Church to accept your innovative belief that all authority rests in Scripture? The Bible is the second most important way in which God reveals himself to us, but it isn't the only one. If you want to go against 1500 years of Church teaching, that's your right, and you might even be correct in doing so, but it means you haven't got any room to accuse others of disobeying the Church. I know you have been made to believe that the Reformation wasn't an innovation. That's sad. It says something about your beliefs that you have to deny reality in order to hold on to them.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 6:04pm BST

The problem with the conservative church and its religion is, quite simply, the bible and the authority they give it.

See John Spong and the jesus seminar. They have it right.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 10:38pm BST

"See John Spong and the jesus seminar. They have it right."

I would argue they have it dispiritingly and uninspiringly wrong.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 4:41pm BST


"I would argue they have it dispiritingly and uninspiringly wrong."

Oh please, can we not stop separating people into those who have it right and those who have it wrong? I thought that's what the extreme conservatives accuse us of so wrongly all the time.

Can we not accept that there are as many ways of "hearing" God as there are people, that God finds a way of making himself known to each of us in the one way we are able to listen to him?

Spong is clearly full of faith and passion, as you are in your own way. I personally find both slightly bemusing at times because they don't always speak to me of God. But wrong? Of course not.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 5:48pm BST

I too think that people come to God in different ways. It isn't for me to deny them their approach to God. Yet I cannot accept, for myself, two mutually exclusive positions. Unlike NP, I can accept such a thing within the Church. I can't claim that it informs my belief in any way to say that I believe in an Incarnate God who rose from the dead, while at the same time denying that God beame a human being or that He rose from the dead. Spong was an example of someone who preaches things I can't accept for myself. If you want to believe it, I'm not going to stop you, much less drive you from the Church, but the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and all the rest of it, they all inform how I practice my faith. I find things lke Spong's 12 theses utterly uninspiring and untransformational, EXACTLY as I find Evangelicalism, particularly as it is expressed by many here. That doesn't mean I want them driven out of the Church or that I will call them apostate or, most importantly, refuse to celebrate the Eucharist with them. That doesn't mean I agree with them, though. How can I at the same time disagree with them, yet not consider them on some level wrong?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 8:17pm BST

One of the most inspiring teachers I've ever known distinguished firmly between literal truth and theological truth.
Thus, whether Jesus' miracles actually happened or not is irrelevant, it's the deeper truth they point to that matters.

Put simply, a house can have many entrances, a grand portal, a shabby back door and a few side entrances too. It doesn't matter which way you use to enter. What's important is that you continue to be focused on the centre of the house towards which you're going.
If you stand still and believe that the door matters, rather than the journey or its focal point, you stop growing in faith and in awareness, and therefore in truth.

I trust God that he will accompany all of us on our personal walk, whether we believe in a literal Incarnation, or whether we see it as a powerful metaphor, like an icon to a truth that none of us can understand.

One of the things that trouble me on TA is that, over time, many of us seem to become less tolerant and more and more determined to explain that "our" version of God is the right one. As though we could pin him down!
I suppose it's because the more we're being told we're wrong, the more we have to hold on to what we believe to be right, so we end up becoming more focused on right and wrong, instead of focusing on the spiritual journey towards the one God beyond ALL our understanding.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 22 July 2007 at 8:37am BST


Our faith is just that – faith, not physical science. So at the heart of it we cannot possibly know which of our beliefs is right or wrong. We can prayerfully walk the road we hope to be right, but we cannot with any degree of honesty say that we are right and someone else is wrong.

As you pointed out to NP before, do you think that God will reject you because your brain couldn’t accept some item of doctrine that is crucial for some other people? That God cares one bit about us having the right theology? Needing the “right” thoughts is a human failure and it says much more of our need to understand, to explain, to pin down. All it does is make God small and narrow so we can understand him, rather than allow him to work in us so we can grow towards him.

By their fruits, not by their right or wrong thoughts, shall you tell them. Where Cons Evos are the most loving and charitable people you can wish to meet, I have no issue with their faith. It clearly leads them to the one loving God.
And where Anglo Catholics get lost in ritual and ceremony, I have to hope that they will at some point find that truth again which alone gives meaning to the external expression and the theoretical structure behind it.

Isn’t it that touch of humility, that sense that we might be wrong, that God is always larger and more mysterious than any of us can fathom, and that many paths may lead to him, that allows the church to be the broad tent that it is?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 22 July 2007 at 8:59am BST

You seem to think that I feel what is wrong for me is wrong in some absolute sense. I don't. I agree with everything you posted. I'm not sure what we are talking about here, since I see your post above and my post to which is was a response as saying the same thing.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 22 July 2007 at 1:54pm BST

I think I objected to you calling Spong "wrong", when you really meant "not credible to me". Maybe I'm just a bit too sensitive because I'm so tired of being called absolutely and objectively wrong by so many on this site. Apologies!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 22 July 2007 at 6:03pm BST

Hmmmm - now we cannot say that anything is right or wrong???

- you know the Lord was not a postmodernist?
He not only taught there was right and wrong (and terrible consequences for being wrong, by the way), he also taught there is truth and falsehood and some would teach in his name but be false teachers...he even taught that he is the Truth......but I guess Erika would have told him that he should moderate his statements and add the caveat that what he said was merely his view?

Posted by: NP on Monday, 23 July 2007 at 8:57am BST

Ford - re your points re authority.....please recognise that I have 2000 yrs of church tradition on my side too....and even the CofE official line (as well as RC etc etc) would not want to see VGR as a bishop - yes, I think the bible is more authoritative than the sinful church made up of sinners like me.....but you are not right in claiming that it is the only authority on which I am relying - not sure why you want to bring up the church's view as is exactly that authority which TEC has rejected in 2003

Posted by: NP on Monday, 23 July 2007 at 9:01am BST

We all have our triggers, Erika! No worries.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 23 July 2007 at 11:16am BST

"terrible consequences for being wrong"

And you try to tell me your faith isn't based on fear? God will roast you for all eternity if you believe the wrong thing. But how is anyone to know what the right thing is amid all the clamour of voices claiming to be right? Even those whose answer is that it is written in Scripture can't agree, so how am I to know? Oh, right, Jesus said "by their fruits shall you know them". So, who is bearing the fruit of the Gospel, those who actually show love and forbearance and compassion for their fellow humans, "the least of these My brethren" or those who scheme and plot and revile and oppress their fellow humans and condemn the sins of others while ignoring their own?

"it is exactly that authority which TEC has rejected in 2003"

What a nice little fantasy world you have!

"I have 2000 yrs of church tradition on my side"

No, you most certainly do not. You might agree on "the gay issue" but that hardly makes you compliant with 2000 years of tradition. In fact, being that you so solidly support the Reformation, you pretty much have abandoned the tradition of the Church.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 23 July 2007 at 1:36pm BST

Hmmmm - now we cannot say that anything is right or wrong??? NP

NO I am saying there is right and wrong ; and that on this issue, you NP are wrong and unbiblical. QED

That clear enough for you ?

Posted by: L Roberts on Monday, 23 July 2007 at 5:29pm BST

NP observed magically
"I think the bible is more authoritative than the sinful church"

Umm, so who wrote the Bible? The Archangel Gabriel? Or did the sinfulness of the writers magically switch off whenever they picked up their stylus? And have you considered the implications of a God who can switch off sinfulness when he wants to (so we get Leviticus perfectly, but Mugabe stays in power....)

Typical magical thinking - have you been on the Harry Potter again?

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 24 July 2007 at 1:37pm BST

L Roberts - I am relieved that some on TA still accept the notions of right and wrong so thanks for saying you think I am wrong.....and I guess you think Lambeth 1.10 is wrong too?

Ford - do you want to blot out what the Lord said on judgment? Would you accuse him of using fear tactics? Should we not today tell people what he said about the consequences of not following him and taking up our crosses in order to do so?

Ford and Mynster - I know you realise that before we had the church institutions from C2 to now, there were the scriptures and you know I give them much more weight than human tradition and instituions.....sinful people like us have made a mess of leading the church and made up all sorts of traditions and institutions - so what? We are free to go back to the orignal message, are we not?

What I try to imagine is given all we know about his will in the Bible, if the Lord Jesus were here now, what would he say to the AC. Honestly, I cannot imagine him saying that VGR or Spong or the impostor in Harare are fit to be bishops.....can you ?

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 24 July 2007 at 5:30pm BST

The Bible itself is tradition - verbal tradition. It is also human. It does not escape the circle we all live within, that we create.

I/m not sure Jesus would recognise much of this religion as to do with what he was (likely) talking about.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 1:41am BST

Pluralist I agree. Jesus would be speechless at this religion.

Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 10:05am BST

THe reason we (libs and evos) go round in circles when we try to engage is that some think, like Pluralist, that the bible is merely "human" and others believe it is inspired by the Spirit of God....this is the at the heart of the split we see occurring in the AC.......bring on the covenant so we know whether the AC is for those who believe we have God's revealed will and those who say he is telling them something new

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 10:16am BST

No, NP, the reason we keep going around in circles is that we have two different concepts of SCriptural authority. One, the older, traditional concept, is that the Bible is the Church's book, given to Her by God. It was God who inspired it, God who helped the Church discern which writings were inspired, and God who guides us to interpret it. It is comples, multilayered, and because the revelation came through men, flawed. That is, unless you believe insects have four legs. The other attitude is that the Bible is some sort of Divine Dictation, that it may contain poetry and allegory, but that it is to be read as literally as possible, that individual verses have of themselves authority and thus can be lifted out of context and applied as law, and that, essentially, the Spirit does, what exactly? Some vague statements about "filling the Church" but, except for those who believe the Spirit makes them fall to the floor and babble hysterically, I have no idea how the former sees the Spirit working in the world. It is indeed a question of authority. The traditionalists are believed to have gotten it wrong in this, so the revisionists claim they have no belief in Scripture since their approach to Scriptural interpretation is non-literalist. Well, putting all authority is Scripture is still revisionist for all that, and no more reliable, to judge by the huge number of DIFFERENT groups all claiming the Bible is the final authority and agrees with them against all the others who think the same way.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 11:51am BST

NP "I know you realise that before we had the church institutions from C2 to now, there were the scriptures"

Aha! So only the first generation of Christians were sinless when they picked up the pen! And presumably all the OT authors were blameless as well.....

This is the theology of the fortune cookie.....

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 12:47pm BST

"others believe it is inspired by the Spirit of God"

please distinguish between 'inspired' and 'dictated'. I think you will find that most Christians believe Scripture to be inspired.

You really have swallowed the ConsEv line, haven't you? Where on earth did your parish presbyter train?

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 12:49pm BST

It's not just fortune cookie theology, it is a rewriting of history. I'm trying to get at what NP thinks Scripture is and how we got it. His attitude seems to be similar to that of Muslims towards the Koran, that it was essentially dictated by God and existed from eternity. I'm not sure how he can think that people had the New testament before it was even written, but I hope, likely in vain, to get an answer. I get the feeling he has this image of people eagerly thumbing through their Bibles for a verse to take out of context while Paul was preaching. I think the necessity for clearly written laws supercedes all else, even historical fact, not to mention causality!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 1:31pm BST

The problems with the category 'theological truth' are many:

(1) What if one person says something is theologically true and another says it is theologically false?

(2) Are we living in a bifurcated world: the 'theological' bit and the 'normal' bit? When I woke up this morning I was in only one world.

(3) The door is open to esotericism and hucksters. Now this may 'look' like a piece of bread, but actually.... 'Stone the crows, it still looks like a piece of bread to me.'

(4) The door is open for people to impose their own preexisting ideologies and give them the title 'theological truth'. May I ask this question: How many of these so-called 'theological truths' do each of us agree with, and how many do we disagree with? If we agree with them all, they are probably nothing but our own wishes and ideologies.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 1:43pm BST

Mynster - the answer to your question is Ridley Hall

Yes - "inspired"....i.e. not to be read as merely St Paul's or Moses' opinions

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 5:25pm BST

1) We have a schism, or, if you prefer, a Reformation.
2) I don't see why you think theology somehow separated frm reality. Surely God is the only reality that truly matters, so attempts to understand Him can't be divorced from reality. Is it the abstraction that bothers you, if you can't relate to it in some concrete sense, then you can't relate? I really worry about your seeming desire to understand God in concrete material terms, as if He must be governed by the things we can perceive and understand.
3) Well, someone once said of a piece of bread, "This is my body". I wouldn't call Him a huckster, and the miracle by which simple flour and water become the means of Grace, the badge of unity, and the bringing into being here and now of the once only sacrifice offered 20 centuries ago but eternal none the less might sound esoteric to you, but for me it is the core of faith.
4) an odd comment. I observe the same thing about those who claim the Bible is so clear on what it teaches. Why are there so many kinds of Biblical literalists, all disagreeing about one point or other? Might it be because they have used the Bible to impose their particular ideologies? I rather think so.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 9:33pm BST

"1) We have a schism, or, if you prefer, a Reformation."

Or we continue to worship side by side, safe in the knowledge that God will love both of us regardless of our differences.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 9:53am BST

Yes, Erika, but, as St. John Crysostom said "The desire to rule is the mother of all heresies." I find it sad, yet somewhat funny, how those who most loudly denounce Holy Tradition as "the traditions of men" are those who most stand to learn from it. Ah well, those who demand a community of the pure are destined to fail, since very few of us reach such a state this side of the grave, and, for the past several centuries, it seems most of them are in the Orthodox East.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 1:40pm BST

NP gi ves my understanding of the Bible for me. Perhaps I ought to do this, in a roundabout way.

On Tuesday might this group had a discussion discussing the eucharist (in passing) and what sense it was really or otherwise transformed. The best analogy we came up (eventually) with was whilst the RCs believe that at consecration the woodpulp, glue and ink has the ink rearranged within to become the work of Shakespeare, an Anglican view of real presence would be that via the liturgy Shakespeare was being performed. But of all these explanations I gained a small amount of agreement that nothing was "happening" in a realist or supernatural sense, other than a variant of a practice known in social anthropology where people give of themselves materially in a kind of gift-exchange setting, where some otherwise (useless or decorative) token is being passed from one person to another, the effect of which is a hoped for spiritual gift that has the effect of binding the people passing the token to one another and them to their societies.

There are dangers (for me) of a univeral structuralist position here: and each case matters in its detail, and in some cases the practice or variant either doesn't happen or won't work.

Similar then to the view of the Bible and inspired. The Bible is inspired. So is Mozart. So is the Bhagavad Gita or Buddhist Suttas. "Nothing" is different about them as a result. However, each should be seen in what the text releases, in its dramatic sense and its ability to lead on to reflection and change of stance. We can discuss the qualities of these. Of course the Bible is a human set of documents: these writings didn't come from the zoos of the world did they?

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 4:05pm BST

"I gained a small amount of agreement that nothing was "happening" in a realist or supernatural sense"

Interesting. How would you prove if something WAS happening? Even the 39 Articles say that Christ is eaten in the Eucharist "by faith". You seem to be starting from the point of view of whether or not something is provable, I start from the assumption that it is not. How would we prove the existence of God? Even my certainty that I see His activity in my life is only my understanding. I get the sense that this is uncomfortable for you, perhaps because it might lead us to give our autonomy over to some unprovable, and thus doubtful, being? I'm not mocking this, I actually have great respect for it. It certainly opens you up much more easy to the understandings of other faith traditions. But it is the unprovability that is the attraction, it then allows the exploration of that side of the human experience which is equally unprovable and abstract. I'm just tired of trying to understand life from the point of view of the provable. I don't trust it, frankly, neither in science nor religion. Give me doubt over certainty any day.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 5:39pm BST

Yes, very interesting folks.

I like the notion of 'trans-signification' for the eucharist gift.

So -- here's a piece of paper it is blank at present

now I put it thru the printing-press and
now here we have a £100 note !

It is its meaning which has changed.

That which it signifies ....

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 7:53pm BST

Yes that term, trassignification, was used, but used in the context of the Roman Catholics, which left me uncertain it was enough, and why I pushed for the view that I wasn't reducing the eucharist to woodpulp, glue and ink, when the important thing was the signification of the ink, but that in the RC view it was the ink that was transformed into the words of Shakespeare at consecration - so unsure of "transsignification" I did a lot of looking around afterwards but only now have found this useful description (poor memory - "consignification" found nothing, so thanks L Roberts).

The Roman Catholics refer to facts, and transubstantiation is a fact, they say. They reject Luther's consubstantiation (I knew of this) but transignification is too reliant on the believer - that (in this example) the believer would see a mass of ink but start to see Shakespeare (whether such or not).

Yes, transubstantiation is not provable, but it is set up as if it were. It is another example of pseudo-science, like psuedo-history when something is mythic. An example is Jesus saying I am the way, the truth and the life, which is a mythic statement being put about often as if it is historical. Again it is unprovable, but you can be reasonably sure he didn't say it, just as you can be reasonably sure nothing "happens" in the eucharist.

I'm not going to treat the unprovable as if it is as "as if fact". It is not necessary.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 27 July 2007 at 3:53am BST

"you can be reasonably sure he didn't say it"

I'm not sure I can. Why say that He didn't?

"I'm not going to treat the unprovable as if it is as "as if fact". It is not necessary"

Absolute agreement here! It seems we are saying much the same thing from radically different directions. And the idea that transubstantiation is set up as if it were provable also resonates. That's why I prefer the Orthodox attitude that it is better to acknowledge the Mystery than it is to try to explain it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 27 July 2007 at 1:22pm BST
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