Sunday, 30 September 2007

Reform reacts to New Orleans

According to Jonathan Wynne-Jones in the Sunday Telegraph:

Conservative Christians will throw down the gauntlet to the Archbishop of Canterbury this week by demanding that he openly disowns the American church over gay bishops.

A letter to be sent to Dr Rowan Williams tomorrow by Reform, an evangelical group representing 1,000 parishes, urges him to make it clear that he opposes the American position

The group warns that his failure to do so would split the Church of England from “top to bottom” and lead to a further demand that the US church is barred from the Lambeth Council, the annual gathering of bishops…

Read the whole article, Ultimatum on Anglican church gays.

Read a statement from Reform at Anglican Mainstream Response from Reform to New Orleans Statement by TEC Bishops.

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Comments

As Rod Thomas said, the split is 'inevitable' given that Reform and the other conservative groups prefer to follow Akinola and the US schismatics.

Good riddance.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 12:09pm BST

Reform represents 1000 parishes? In their dreams! That is more than 20 parishes in every English diocese - if there are 10 in this pretty average diocese I'd be very surprised.

In fact, I'd be surprised if they represent many more individuals.

Posted by: cryptogram on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 1:06pm BST

I have just spoken to Rod Thomas of Reform. He has stated 'categorically' that the letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury does NOT raise the issues alleged in the Telegraph article, but is concerned with seeking clarification about the Archbishop's involvement with the Communion service for the 'Consultation Group'. That is my current understanding.

Posted by: John Richardson on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 1:22pm BST

"The group warns that his failure to do so would split the Church of England from “top to bottom” and....."

And, and, and...... and what?

"...and lead to a further demand..."

Oh.

Posted by: badman on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 3:11pm BST

Hasta la vista! When will overblown puritan folks figure out "threatening" isn't acceptable behavior in or outside of Church? It's NOT worked for Centuries, just ask Bush and the RC's!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 4:08pm BST

Is it not too clever by far, for conservative Anglican believers like Reform and AMainstream, to so vigorously define away any possible basis for common ground or even common discussion or certainly not common empirical peer journals inquiry? - so closed and pat are their preferred frames for reading scripture and such - then follow all that effort up by claiming that since no common ground exists, thanks to their own stubborn unwillingness to be clear about their secret hermeneutics - and their clear unwillingness to play well with others? - that now we must accept their ultimate, My Way Or The Highway?

Maybe if it is eleventh hour among Anglican believers, it is getting to be too late for this realignment Trojan-like, Christian Reconstructionist Hermeneutical-Presuppositional Horse to succeed?

If Canterbury should say anything at all at this juncture, it has to be in clear and strong service of traditional Anglican leeway for differing scholarly and lay views - and I would welcome a further clear disavowal of the well nigh exclusively presuppositional intellectual strategies upon which so many conservative Anglicans almost exclusively build their claims against everybody else, including against other believers.

If Canterbury does not soon clearly expand upon past comments about unintelligent readings of scripture, we shall soon have just the typical presupposition mess as the only remaining, realigned Anglican hermeneutic. An unintelligent outcome in my view, not least because it fails to play well with others, and adopts bullying and threatening postures at the drop of a hat.

Shall we then tilt so far, towards the dubious equation: Asking Questions About Conservatism=Sin? Or even, Non-Conservative=Sinner?

I think comments like these suggest that conservative realignment believers are set on a split, regardless of what other believers do in the communion, that might fall short of complete, utter institutional submission to realignment.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 4:19pm BST

Merseymike, haven't seen you at T19 recently - did you swear off or something?

Posted by: D. C. on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 5:11pm BST

This ultimatum from Reform has the same curious logical structure as all the others:

"(You must) split the Communion -- or else I will split the Communion!"

The response of the Establishment [and yes, the other side is the Establishment, and in America as well] has also always been the same:

"I won't split the Communion. So you must split the Communion."

To which the ultras reply:

"um ah hum hum not ready just yet..."

There's a reason the script runs this way. It's in the rulebook that the side that splits the Communion damages mainly its own position. Therefore, the ultra-conservative strategy attempts to trick the Establishment into creating the split, and damaging itself.

The Establishment side knows this. So 't won't work. Not even if Chris Sugden is appointed the CANA bishop of Mornington Crescent.

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 5:13pm BST

I've just had an e-mail from Rod Thomas, further to my earlier conversation with him, again stating that no such ultimatum containing the content reported in the Telegraph has gone in any letter from Reform to Archbishop Rowan Williams.

Posted by: John Richardson on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 5:28pm BST

I have come to the conclusion that many of the present ideological problems besetting the Anglican Communion are due to the e mail!!!

Posted by: Perry Butler on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 5:38pm BST

Having recently been in dialogue with members of Reform on this subject, I am clear that Jonathan Wynne-Jones' report is inaccurate in several respects. I would be surprised if they had either produced an ultimatum, or had suggested the use of foreign archbishops, at this stage. We're not helped by the Press trying to up the ante.

And I was unaware that the American Church had anything to do with the London Borough of Lambeth... I think JW-J means "Lambeth Conference", not "Lambeth Council"!

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 6:06pm BST

Ain't that the truth, Perry Butler!

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 6:13pm BST

I love the way people ignore Rev Richardson twice stating the the press report is wrong.....because too many here just want to bash "conservatives" regardless of whether the report is right or not (just like with +Isaac, the Nigerian bishop that so many here wished had made horrible homophobic comments .... and even when it turned out he had not, some here still wanted to whine about what he had not said!)

Anyway, please wait and see what actually happens rather than relying on press reports ....... many important meetings are yet to happen. We have not heard from the ABC, from key bishops like +Durham nor from the Primates yet.... but we will, do not doubt that.

Posted by: NP on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 6:23pm BST

NP
You do realise surely that people who post here often cannot see the preceding comments that have not yet been approved.
As it happens, I approved both John Richardson's comments at the same time, thus ensuring that anybody who had posted in the intervening time period had seen neither of them...
Or were you attacking the Bishop of Willesden?

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 6:39pm BST

"... Reform, an evangelical group representing 1,000 parishes..."

Haven't we heard this claim before?

How many did they actually manage to gather at the Surbiton irregular ordinations?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 6:55pm BST

"We're not helped by the Press trying to up the ante."

"... rather than relying on press reports"

Scape-goating the Scapegoat, he?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 6:58pm BST

Just imagine...Bishop Rod Thomas consecrated in Nigeria and Bishop Sugden consecrated in Rwanda or Sydney....that will give the C of E bishops a run for their money......

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 7:29pm BST

Indeed we will have to see how accurate these reports turn out to be in the future. However, the schismatic acts of Richard Coekin and Co Mission are already a matter of record, and an indication of intent from his sectarian wing of Bishopsgate Christianity. For which he was not disciplined within the Diocese of London as the ordinations took place in Southwark - though he remains on notice with the ABC. What is becoming clear though, and should alarm +Broadbent is that even within mainstream and even old fashioned middle of the road trad. evangelicalism the mood music seems to be going towards the sectarians. This is because they have whipped themselves up into a frenzy over the gay issue in the last 12 years. Even sensible Graham Kings seems to have decided that whatever happens, the TEC needs to be busted.
I think they are in danger of painting themselves into a corner if they follow the likes of Mr. Coekin. They should learn to live with difference - provided the CofE does not make this impossible for them. Luckily, progress in society at large has been immense with Civil Partnerships, and so there is very much to thank God for.

Posted by: Neil on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 7:30pm BST

Carry on bullying.

I don't think any Archbishops of C in modern times has had to put up wityh such undermining,
bullying and hectoring as has Archbishop Williams. They even staryed hounding him about a pagan cult he was part of before many days had passed, after the Downing Street announce,ment. It turned out to be The Gorsedd. The premier Welsh cultural insitution par excellence--and profoundly Christian since its inception to the present day. Such terrible ignorance of Wales and her culture.

Reform --whatever its size may be, is continuing to behave disgracefully. I find it hard to believe such meaness. Do they not know what it means to be snide to another ?

' I have just spoken to Rod Thomas of Reform. He has stated 'categorically' that the letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury does NOT raise the issues alleged in the Telegraph article, but is concerned with seeking clarification about the Archbishop's involvement with the Communion service for the 'Consultation Group'. That is my current understanding.'

Posted by: John Richardson on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 1:22pm BST

Posted by: L Roberts on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 7:31pm BST

But, NP, you will no doubt recall RW's call for compromise. That means from both sides. There have been compromises from the US church, but the conservatives will haver to compromise as well. That means they will have to accept that they will not get all they want either.

Sounds like you want compromise from only one side.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 7:46pm BST

There are stages to go before such an ultimatum anyway, and one of them must be for them to declare that the Archbishop of Canterbury (and the Archbishop of York) is in league with the leadership of TEC, by his actions and writings. Only then can they make the justification to start sending in their own foreign appointed bishops, introduce their own Covenant, get allegiances from congregations, recruit from the 2(+5) theological colleges. The plan is clearly underway, it just needs to get to the point where the declarations can be made. It could even be as far off as after Lambeth 2008, though even Reform and company like to jump the gun as we have seen.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 8:22pm BST

This reporter accurately warned us of the "rule book of beliefs" to be imposed on the Church by the Covenant earlier in the summer, and was the one to out Jeffrey John. He seems to be well connected, so it would be a surprise if his report turns out to be inaccurate.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 9:57pm BST

For those who are outside the communion, we do no less that what Paul did Corinthians 2:7-12 "Was it a sin for me to… elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you… I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions... will stop this boasting of mine. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about."

You might find it interesting to see how Paul continues (2:12-15) to describe those who sought to silence and thwart his ministry to others. Very similar words to Jesus' rebukes to the Teachers of the Law e.g. Luke 11:46-52 "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. Woe to you... you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did... Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

Once again we hear the threats to "...split the Church of England from “top to bottom”..." You can not placate these souls by selling out those whom you had offered refuge. Your yes must mean Yes! or it is by default a limp no.

Jesus died to nail sin to the cross, or he didn't. If he did, then the teachers of law are in error to berate women from before the crucifixion (including Cheva) or blame their daughters since the crucifixion for the errors of their mothers. Those who do so refute the fundamental victory of the cross as they cling to curses and accusations. The power of sin is the law yet death's sting is lost through God's grace as demonstrated by Christ's victory on the Cross (1 Corinthians 1:55-57).

Simon, thanks, it verifies that some are simply provocative such as Jannes and Jambres were with Moses.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 11:04pm BST

Well, maybe some of you over the UK could explain to me how Reform can split the church. I mean, it's established, right? So, do they sue the Crown to get their property? And don't they all get paid by the diocese anyhow? So what happens to the paycheck when they "leave"?

Curious American minds are trying to figure this one out.

Posted by: John Bassett on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 2:06am BST

Simon - if I can see the comments, I guess others can see them?

Merseymike - the gospel is not about compromise....we would have no need of the cross if God was into compromising. He does not call us to compromise even if the ABC desires it in order to try and keep the club together, even based on less than trustwortyhy TEC HOB statements.


Neil - there you go again....trying to pretend that it is a rabid minority which will not accept TEC(USA)'s innovations.
If you were right, we would never have had Dromantine, TWR, Tanzania or the ABC flying over to Canada and now TEC HOB to try and get sufficient compromises out of them to help him in his attempt to hold together everyone in the AC....... he would not bother doing this if it was just some mad, nasty, rabid minority who want to stick to the bible re fitness to be church leaders. Anyway, even if you do not accept this argument, as you say, even the nice, very Anglican people at Fulcrum do not seem to be fooled by TEC HOB doublespeak......very few are.

Giles Fraser and LGCM are right - it would have been much better if TEC HOB had just stood up for what they believe to be true........ rather than weaving a tangled web, trying to pretend to be in step with the AC while refusing to respond positively to the requests of the AC primates (who made requests of TEC aimed at building a real unity in the AC....i.e. on peopl telling the truth (without ambiguity - they had to make that specific point!) and trust being built up as a result)

Posted by: NP on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 8:40am BST

Cheryl - you think if St Paul was here, he would be backing VGR/TEC and saying ignore certain scriptures (which he wrote, under the inspiration of the Spirit)????

Posted by: NP on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 9:33am BST

But, NP, the ABC made it clear that there would have to be compromise.

You seem to be saying: no, we won't compromise.

Therefore, there will be a split, as the activity in the US suggests.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 10:25am BST

NP: if St. Paul was here, he would be an entirely different person - just as the bible needs to be looked at with regard to its human authorship, cultural embeddedness and epistemological limitations.
He would remain human, though, with opinions, just like in Biblical times. he wrote down his opinions, inspired by his faith (not anything supernatural) to do so.

It is JUST A BOOK. Please repeat 1000 times a day and you might finally get it.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 10:34am BST

"you think if St Paul was here, he would be backing VGR/TEC and saying ignore certain scriptures (which he wrote, under the inspiration of the Spirit)????"

I think Paul was smart enough to read the scientific literature and realize that his understanding of God's plan was flawed....

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 12:14pm BST

Leaving the C of E - a simple guide for those who wish to do so.

Pension: existing pension rights will still be held for those parish priests who are inhibited from their livings or who resign them.

(1/37th of 2/3rds of final salary from age 65 for service before 2007; 1/40th of 2/3rds of final salary for service after 2007).


Lump sum: a proportion of the lump sum will still be payable (at age 65) irrespective of how many years service is put in, but proportionate to it.

Stipends:
If they resign from their livings then stipend will cease from that date (with holidays added if the bishop is kind, maximum 3 months if a sabbatical is payable, but 1 month is more usual)


If they do not resign their living, but are taken to the cleaners under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 (very unlikely I would have thought it just isn't worth the hassle) - up to 3 years stipend if they are removed from their parish, plus if I remember correctly something added for housing (can't remember about pension, I think not)

So.... maximum would seem to be 3 years of stipend plus three years of housing allowance (12,000 is the 'value' of clergy housing according to my diocese - but that's a joke - they won't get more than 6,000 I guess).

Property: when they have resigned or been kicked out the diocese generally will allow them to live in the vicarage for 6 months in order to allow them to find somewhere to live, they might charge them rent if they are paying them housing allowance, but that's a grey area I really can't speculate on.

NB many of these parishes can afford to pay the stipends themselves, so I doubt they would be worse off in the shirt-run, maybe even better off.
But it's not a position any clergy would want to find themselves in I think.

Posted by: dodgyvicar on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 12:32pm BST

I must say, TEC's apparent double speak has had some impact, because NP revised his position and seems to be revising it again. Only days ago TEC had done what the Archbishop of Canterbury was, previously, going to be forced to do, and now it seems they haven't. So presumably now NP expects the Archbishop of Canterbury to do what he was going to do, according to him, but so far has not.

This is what happens when you keep rattling off the same old mantras.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 1:09pm BST

Compromise reminds me of firemen's strikes and the like. Make a ridiculous pay demand (even for a brave fireman) and you will ensure that a reasonable compromise will be perceived to be halfway between your demand and the existing situation. The higher your ridiculous demand, teh higher the so-called compromise will be. This is understood by those plotting how high their ridiculous demand should be.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 1:14pm BST

I believe that Reform and the others began at the point you say is yet to come Adrian.

These people declared Rowan a "false teacher" BEFORE his enthronement.

The interesting thing is to see this group develop from "fringe fanatics" to "Anglican Mainstream" over the last five years!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 1:39pm BST

Your assesssment of the situation in England is right. They can make noises and smells (but no bells!)

'Well, maybe some of you over the UK could explain to me how Reform can split the church. I mean, it's established, right? So, do they sue the Crown to get their property? And don't they all get paid by the diocese anyhow? So what happens to the paycheck when they "leave"?

Curious American minds are trying to figure this one out.'

Posted by: John Bassett on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 2:06am BST

Posted by: L Roberts on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 2:04pm BST

Pluralist:

I rattle off some of the "same old mantras"--like the creeds--all the time. That don't make me wrong. And, consequently, NP isn't wrong to repeat his basic conclusions on the underlying issues. Repetition doesn't prove him right, of course, but it is definitely no evidence or error. However, when it comes to TEC and the ABC . . . hmm.

Oh well, I can only conclude that NP isn't skeptical enough (or maybe cynical enough) by far when it comes to TEC and the ABC. But, he is definitely learning when it comes to TEC, which has made "spin" and "doublespeak" into a high art form over the years. As to the ABC . . . well, I can't blame him for wanting to hold onto some hope there.

Steven

PS-NP, I sincerely hope that you are right about Rowan. It would be wonderful to find out that I've made a mistake here. /s

Posted by: Steven on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 3:57pm BST

Pat - key difference between you and most Anglicans is that we do not think we just have Paul's opinions on things..... "inspired scriptures" is quite a "mainstream" Anglican view.

Pluralist.....you enjoy yourself but I said the ABC would push TEC HOB to compromise (as he did the Canadians).
Now we have to wait for responses (from the Primates Council too, since they asked the questions of TEC) before we see what happens.

What the ABC finally does......is some way away, Pluralist. Don't get too excited by TEC doublespeak....it does not fool anybody who does not want to be fooled!

I still say that ABC, in the end, is going to choose to keep the AC together rather than see it split for a 800k per Sunday, declining province which has caused the chaos he has lived through as ABC....this is based on his record from TWR to Tanzania when he failed to persuade many in the AC to compromise with TEC(USA) and never chose to put his personal beliefs above the unity of the greatest no possible.


Even the patient people, like Fulcrum, are saying TEC(HOB) basically said "no" to the Primates, the TEC HOB is not for turning......and now TEC(USA) bishops are confirming this reading of what they said!!! (see comments from Vermont)
http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/6522/

Posted by: NP on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 4:19pm BST

That's right, Martin, but there was a period when he was saying, "I am an Archbishop and this is what I teach", such as the backing down by Jeffrey John, and of course this has given others to look at the detailed orthodoxy of Rowan Williams' writing and declare him to be orthodox after all. Then he gave a series of interviews and made statements culminating in his visit to TEC's House of Bishops in which basically he is semi-detached and letting whatever happens happen. It may be that (listening to his interview snippets on the otherwise dreadful BBC4 programme, The Protestant Revolution) he takes the long view of what people do - and indeed he stated there that the issue of sexuality is just one example of a larger process by which Protestantism has divided in the past.

So, assuming that his refereeing continues to be this "I'll say my piece but you get on with it" approach, then it does lead types like Reform to attempt to pin the tail in the way that they want. Amass the evidence and make the declaration. Actually the recent presentations by the Welsh, Scottish and even Irish Churches will allow Reform to treat the UK in one go!

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 4:47pm BST

But the split is going to be a handful of extreme evangelical provinces breaking away with extreme conservative evangelicals in America.

What will remain will be far happier and more coherent. And that will be more likely to be able to live with difference.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 6:17pm BST

"[If] Chris Sugden is appointed the CANA bishop of Mornington Crescent," I suspect he won't be invited down the road to Lambeth.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 6:35pm BST

I've actually talked and corresponded with the Reform Chairman, and he is a kind and gentle person of integrity, with a deep love of our Lord. We must not demonise Reform, but love them.

Although they leave out the issue of divorce and re-marriage in their covenant...they are genuinely sincere in wanting to serve God and seek the salvation of lost souls.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 7:17pm BST

"Pat - key difference between you and most Anglicans is that we do not think we just have Paul's opinions on things..... "inspired scriptures" is quite a "mainstream" Anglican view."

Never said he wasn't Spirit-inspired, NP. But inspiration is countered by human knowledge and human understanding...Paul's knowledge and understanding necessarily limited by his being a man of the First C., not the 21st.

Just as the authors of the Old Testament were limited to their pre-Copernican understanding of cosmology when they wrote that Joshua made the sun stand still in the sky.

Or do you somehow believe that's what really happened?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 7:21pm BST

I have spoken to Jonathan Wynne-Jones and so has Bishop Pete Broadbent. Jonathan Wynne-Jones has confirmed to me, categorically, that the quotation at the end of his article attributed to Rod Thomas, Chairman-Elect of Reform, was definitely said by Rod Thomas to him.

If you read John Richardson's comment near the top of this thread (1.22pm) and later (5.28pm), it is worth noting that he is very careful in his use of language. He refers to the letter sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury and not to the interview that Rod Thomas gave to Jonathan Wynne-Jones.

It is the direct quotation at the end of the article from Rod Thomas that is the point in question:

'The Rev Rod Thomas, the chairman elect of Reform, said: "The situation in the Anglican communion is so serious now that we have to plan for an inevitable split in the Church of England from top to bottom."'

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/30/nchurch130.xml

It is clear, even from John Richardson's comments, that this quotation has not yet been denied.

If the quotation Rod Thomas gave to Jonathan Wynne-Jones is not denied, then we can draw the appropriate conclusions.

It is worth remembering that recently, on Thinking Anglicans, someone who accused a broadsheet journalist of making up stories had to apologise and retract the accusation.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 8:20pm BST

Graham Kings of Fulcrum has been in contact with Johnatahn Wynne-Jones who has reiterated the veracity of the article and especially of the final quote by Rod Thomas about the inevitability of a coming split. His post on the Fulcrum Forum makes for interesting reading, and cuts right to the heart of the issue of whether or not Reform is making plans for UDI.

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/forum/thread.cfm?thread=4819

It seems that, whatever the details of letters to ++Rowan and appeals to foreign primates, there is a feeling in the Reform camp that separation will come and plans must be made.

Posted by: Brett Gray on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 9:28pm BST

Well there is a difference between rattling off old mantras and not paying attention. My view of the TEC position from the moment given is that it extended the position they already had. NP changed his view, and now has changed it again back to the rattle. But that rattle depends on the Archbishop of Canterbury doing the change that NP expects. No evidence of that at all, rather the reverse: well, NP could be right, but it would be a huge turnaround. That's all.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 1 October 2007 at 10:02pm BST

"Pat - key difference between you and most Anglicans is that we do not think we just have Paul's opinions on things..... "inspired scriptures" is quite a "mainstream" Anglican view."

(Now, read this carefully, NP!)

So you think, NP, and we believe that Paul was a very Godly man, a Rabbi by training, and that he was indeed inspired - take his The Body of Christ theology of the Congregation as an example.

Still, he was only human, like us.

But we are sure that his redactors weren't.

It is arguable if some of them can be claimed to have been even Christian. Many rule out Marcion on principle, I Clement of Alexandria.

(read a hundred times...)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 7:20am BST

Where are we now?

With the exception of +Gene Robinson, all TEC bishops have been invited to Lambeth. +Gene’s participation is still open to review. +Martyn Minns and others have not been invited.

TEC has not been excluded from the Anglican Communion.

The majority of bishops who met in Pittsburgh under the Common Cause banner are not Anglicans, if I read the information correctly.

The conservatives, driven by disaffected TEC bishops, are planning to create their own Province, with the intention of gaining +Rowan’s approval to replace TEC. +Rowan is not going to approve such a thing.

These bishops are preparing to split and leave. They will most likely end up as a small, new, dissenting ‘Anglican’ church.

The majority of their ‘global south’ partners, Archbishops in the main, have Provinces and bishops, the majority of whom want to, and will, come to Lambeth. The Primates are likely to fall out with their American backers, between themselves, eat humble pie, do what +Drexel tells them, and come to Lambeth.

The Primates of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Mexico disagree with the Covenant in its present form. Its safe to assume some other Primates also disagree. So there is no unanimity even between the Primates about the Covenant. Neither is there unanimity about TEC and the Dar es Salaam expectations. The Primates are publicly not of one mind, and if they meet, will not be able to implement the conservative agenda.

Speculation: a realignment occurs, and those who have been making accusations and threats for the past 4 years find themselves on the outside. The American conservatives are moving themselves into a position where they have no alternative. The narrative coming from Pittsburgh reveals that they have abandoned their original master plan and are working towards fantasy number two - replacing TEC (and then other Provincial churches, such as the CofE - grand fantasy indeed).

The majority will enjoy Lambeth next year and commit themselves in an adult way to work at and through our differences. +Rowan’s calm (but I doubt he feels like this inside) holding of the heart of God around which the chaos swirls, enables orthodox, traditional Anglicanism to move forward creatively.

Posted by: Colin Coward on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 8:54am BST

Pat - unlike TEC HOB, I do not believe the Spirit contradicts Himself - so I find it hard to believe he is now suddenly saying it is just fine to have an alcoholic or an adulterer as a bishop when He made it clear (through Paul and others) throughout the bible that it was not fine in God's eyes for leaders to justtify their sins and stay in leadership.

Pluralist - you can try and claim that TEC HOB did not move under pressure from the ABC and his political advisors if you want (but they did move!)......they have not moved enough (that is a different point). Anyway, now TEC has met the deadline for responding (30/9), you really have to wait and see what responses we get from the Primates to TEC's word games and temporary promises.

Graham Kings -I agree with the careful, fair Fulcrum assessment of the TEC HOB response.... but if the ABC and the Lambeth Palace politicians try to force the AC to accept the TEC HOB statement as if it was a positive, honest reponse to TWR and the Tanzania Communique, is a split not inevitable as Rod Thomas says? He, like you, is an evangelical who has stayed in the CofE....ie he has shown commitment (all the Reform people have) - but there are limits to what we can accept for the sake of unity, I am sure you would agree.

Given the statements of TEC bishops Bruno and Ely (to name just two) who have made it clear ssbs will go on regardless and given we only have a weak promise of "restraint" re the next VGR, can we really have "unity" without truth, honesty and trust in the AC?

Graham Kings – also, do you have some sympathy for +Duncan et al? They seem much more like St Marys, Islington people than most of the TEC HOB do - are we to shun them and stick with VGR, standing with TEC HOB who have been deliberately causing chaos in the AC for 4 years, pushing their revisionist agenda regardless of our unity? If you were in TEC, given its current HOB and little prospect of change in its direction, would you really be staying with VGR rather than joining the CCP? Unity matters….but I am sure you would agree that truth matters too.


Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 8:54am BST

Goran - there are real biblical scholars who you should read eg NT Wright (+Durham) .....I will stick with them and think you will learn a lot (given you say you are so unsure about so much in the bible) from reading their work

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 10:15am BST

Colin - you are jumping the gun a bit- all we have had is TEC's response to the Primates......

Let's wait and see what reponses we get from the Pimates (the important ones - not ireland et al) and also from leading CofE bishops like +Durham

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 11:05am BST

But we have already had many responses, NP. The expected ones from the far-right conservatives, who are likely to be departing with their American refusenik colleagues ( and good riddance to the lot of them!)

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 11:50am BST

"Pat - unlike TEC HOB, I do not believe the Spirit contradicts Himself - so I find it hard to believe he is now suddenly saying it is just fine to have an alcoholic or an adulterer as a bishop when He made it clear (through Paul and others) throughout the bible that it was not fine in God's eyes for leaders to justtify their sins and stay in leadership."

You see, this is exactly where we differ, NP. I don't think it's the Spirit contradicting itself (please don't apply gender to the Spirit). I firmly believe the contradiction lies in the fallible humans misunderstanding what the Spirit has told them.

Surely, you don't think alcoholism is a SIN? It's a disease, an addiction, one that modern science is convinced is at least partially genetic in origin. And Paul never talks about alcoholics at all (it's a term he'd never heard of, after all), but of "drunkards" (at least as translated in modern terms).

As man uses reason to explore the scientific basis of this world God has given us, our understanding of what the Spirit has told us improves.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 11:51am BST

NP

Just to be clear - I take it you are including Scotland in the 'et al' ie. not important. I'll let +Idris know when I see him next.

I wonder on what basis you allocate importance in the Primate's meeting. I understand that each primate has an equal voice/vote. So in listening for the response from the Primates surely each one's response is as valid and important as any other.

Or is it just those to conform to your agenda?

Kennedy

ps. I think the idea of NP setting up his own blog is an excellent one. It would allow him to address issues pro-activley rather than always having to wait and react to something that is posted here. I understand it's very easy to do.

Posted by: Kennedy on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 1:43pm BST

You know, the bizarre thing NP is that you might actually agree with me. TEC extended its present position. That extension means in time and a shift of language but nothing permanent, nothing that reversed anything at all. The difference is that I see it as consistent with Anglicanism, its diversity and its evolution, and with other parts of the Anglican family.

I never claim it is orthodox, because "orthodox" is becoming devoid of meaning and that is a word game if there is one. Currently I am gathering and writing many pieces to bring into one hopefully coherent narrative about wandering bishops and congregations from Old Catholic/ Liberal Catholic and Unitarian related sources that have created a Free Catholicism in patches here and there, and are functioning at the moment. There is an overlap but quite a difference of ethos between what TEC presents and what comes from these two streams.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 1:50pm BST

oh dear will there now be a ban now on bishops with heart problems, diabetes, over-weight or reduced energy in office (etc) ?

Posted by: L Roberts on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 3:11pm BST

Does Jesus (still) want me for s sun-beam ?

Posted by: L Roberts on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 3:17pm BST

Ah, dear apollos, surely Jesus is not averse to having all of his followers use their brains, as well as their hearts embodied, as well as their spiritual functions? Thus, scholars serve us all by helping us know the methods and best practices via which we have provisionally discerned our best understandings, weighed and being weighed, ongoing, open-endedly.

Surely a wide variety of scholarship, not back-grounding empirical scholarship, roots and shapes all modern knowledge in our current era. And surely quite a few highly trained minds in church and outside of church - are reading both the peer reviewed journals reporting on research, as well as reading scripture and the communities of inquiry which now inevitably shape our readings of scripture?

You can, you may - wish - that all of this inquiry were not quite so often, just to the point of our modern understandings. But wishing we didn't know a lot of things, according to best practices of empirical hypothesis testing, doesn't undo the inquiry and best practices foundations for almost all of any modern understanding that matters to us. In professional work, public policy, medicine, higher education, human and health services, government, - you name it - we make immense efforts to investigate, check and clarify and test our hypotheses, and then check again.

And, pretty much every time we realize we understand something just a bit better than before, or understand both new and old applications in some domain, we change for the better.

Surely any interpretive strategy, any theological strategy that would simply presuppose that all of this is irrelevant, immaterial, and too earthly to matter to the biblically minded - is maybe too narrow, too closed, and too uninformed about the status and shape of modern understandings?

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 3:31pm BST

NP posted: "Let's wait and see what reponses we get from the Pimates (the important ones - not ireland et al)..."

How precious.

NP is now refining the Anglican Communion, so that we may have a hierarchy of "importance," and thereby define whose views are to be regarded with favor, and whose should be relegated to the trash heap.

What unbridled claptrap and hubris!

Sorry, NP.

Give me Ireland, rather than Rwanda.

Give me South Africa, rather than Uganda.

Give me Scotland, rather than Nigeria.

Give me Brasil, rather than Kenya.

In other words, NP, just in case I have not been sufficiently clear for your singularly-focused mind, the traditional Anglican Communion will continue, and all Provinces may continue to be a part of it, with equal rights and not a hierarchy of "importance."

But if the "Church of Runk", as a previous poster has penned it, wants to depart the Anglican Communion, then so be it.

But please, NP, please go with them when they do depart.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 4:04pm BST

"Jesus wants disciples not scholars. He has scholars among His disciples."

And your point is? Should we ignore the scholars?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 4:19pm BST

NP is wrong, dead wrong, when he claims that scripture disqualifies an alcoholic from being a bishop.

Neither the word not the concept of alcoholism existed at the time Paul was writing, and the word he uses (generally rendered in English as "drunkard") refers to a person who continues to abuse alcohol.

Unlike classical evangelicalism, it is clear that NP rejects the possibility of God's grace.

But I believe in God's grace, for it is by God's grace that I have not had a drink today - nor several previous todays dating back some 16 years.

However, since I have no desire to wear a pointy hat, I shan't worry myself too much over NP's preference for law and rejection of grace.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 5:23pm BST

NP:

I was interested in Pat O'Neill's last comment, though I think it proves things quite different than he is willing to acknowledge--namely the fact that our genetic predispositions and twisted upbringings (or nature and nurture if you prefer) don't seem to make any difference to God in terms of the rules He sets. It doesn't seem to matter whether nature and nurture have given us a propensity for booze, violence, illicit sex, or etc.--God sets the same rules.

Hmm. It seems to be assumed that we live in a fallen world with a fallen nature among other people with fallen natures. (What a surprise!) Consequently, it is rather to be assumed that most of us will face some problems of this type. And, despite the fact that God has compassion on our weaknesses, God still continues to insist that we seek to "toe the line" both within and without, i.e., both in terms of our spiritual life and our life in the world. Of course, we fall constantly, but He continues to forgive the repentant child.

Thus, I see the modern tendency to dispense with repentance and embrace the things that God has told us not to embrace to be a bizarre modern aberration and nothing more. What do you think?

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 6:22pm BST

God hasn't 'told us' to do anything, Steven. I assume you are talking about the human beings who wrote the Bible?

When I think their word on my relationship is worth anything at all, then I will let you know. till then, it will be regarded as the opinion of ignorant premoderns who had no knowledge of a phenomenon they could not understand.

The Bible is just a book. All conservatives should be made to repeat it until the message sinks home....

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 9:13pm BST

'I've actually talked and corresponded with the Reform Chairman, and he is a kind and gentle person of integrity, with a deep love of our Lord. We must not demonise Reform, but love them...they are genuinely sincere in wanting to serve God and seek the salvation of lost souls.'

Oh please! Is this sarcasm? Do keep playing the world's smallest violin. The same has frequently been said of Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Jerry Falwell and a host of other chrisitan leaders. I would certainly hope that these people are sincere in wanting to 'save' our souls, but it doesn't seem to prevent them from political posturing, a lust for power, and brinkmanship. Charity also involves telling those whom we are charged to love when they are behaving uncharitably.

In 2003 Rod Thomas said after the election of VGR
"But there will be a split in the Episcopal Church in America and this will be a warning signal to us in the UK because the split will also come here."

In 2005 Rod Thomas described the meeting between ABC and VGR in the following terms: 'I am running out of superlatives to describe the outrage that I feel'

In 2006 Rod Thomas' response to VJJ's questioning of penal substitution was as follows: 'He is attacking the fundamental nature of the Gospel. Denying the wrathful nature of God is an attempt to play down the importance of sin and allow a more liberal approach to sexuality.'

Presumably a wrathful God requires wrathful ministers?

Posted by: John Omani on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 9:51pm BST

"Jesus wants disciples not scholars. He has scholars among His disciples."

A statement with many connotations.

Can scribes be in relationship with God? Yes of course, Jesus accepted them. Conversely Jesus greatest enemies were teachers of the law. Not the first time they've annoyed God, I might add e.g. the lying pen of the scribes Jeremiah 8:8-10. Or Isaiah 59:4-8 "They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace."

Both scholars and lepers were amongst Jesus' followers, as were adulterers, prostitutes, tax collectors, Jews, Samaritans, the dead (e.g. Lazarus), mothers, children, the elderly.

All were made equal before God and were able to be with God. Being a scholar bestowed no extra advantage, actually when Jesus shared the parable about the problems of the rich man being able to pass through the eye of the needle, it could have easily applied to those teachers who held high position in the Roman endorsed synagogues.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 10:32pm BST

"I was interested in Pat O'Neill's last comment, though I think it proves things quite different than he is willing to acknowledge--namely the fact that our genetic predispositions and twisted upbringings (or nature and nurture if you prefer) don't seem to make any difference to God in terms of the rules He sets. It doesn't seem to matter whether nature and nurture have given us a propensity for booze, violence, illicit sex, or etc.--God sets the same rules."

Why would a loving God allow us to be born with an in-born propensity for something that sets us apart from God? Or are you suggesting that some of our genetic gifts come from somewhere else, that part of our life is not God-given, but given by something else?

That's an interesting theology, but it doesn't match any Christianity I'm familiar with.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 10:34pm BST

Steven - thanks for the insight

Pat / Merseymike - faith and repentance go hand in hand in the OT and NT.......... please have a look at Romans 6-8 and

James 2 v14 following

"14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good [2] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works"

This can be summarised as "walk the talk" if you are a genuine believer

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 7:13am BST

Compare these two statements: "Christmas is coming. We must get ready!" and "We are getting ready for Christmas." In what do they differ?

Now compare, "We have to plan for an inevitable split in the Church of England" with "We are planning for an inevitable split in the Church of England." Think about it.

Posted by: John Richardson on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 9:54am BST

But we have made it clear that we don't believe in your religion, NP!

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 10:26am BST

Steven and NP

"Thus, I see the modern tendency to dispense with repentance and embrace the things that God has told us not to embrace to be a bizarre modern aberration and nothing more."

Three very genuine questions.

1. Do you believe there is any virtue in modern biblical scholarship (the last 150 years or so), and in the various ways of biblical criticism they produced.

2. Do you believe that the reading and understanding of Scripture should take into account modern scientific and psychological insights, or are they always irrelevant.

3. Do you believe it is possible for liberals to read Scriptures with integrity, but differently to you and come to different conclusions, not because they want to justify decadent lifestyles, but because they genuinely believe in what they're doing?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 11:03am BST

NP:

And what does any of that have to do with a loving God not cursing his creations (at birth) with desires they are forbidden to fulfill?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 11:42am BST

Erika

1) Yes...there is great value in scholarship - do you realise that most scholarship is not supportive of some of the innovations some want accepted in the AC?? The bishops of the AC know all about scholarship....and we got Lambeth 1.10, TWR and Tanzania.......maybe you assume scholarship naturally leads to accepting VGR but it really does not. Pls see the Fulcrum site for lots of papers from respected academics like Dr Goddard, Professor O'Donovan and Dr Wright (+Durham)....


2) I did my degree in Cambridge University and spent a lot of time with a couple of world-renowned scientists (including a genetics professors) in my church - they know a bit about science and tell me that their faith in God is only strengthened through scientific research. They never found a scientific reason to reject biblical morality.
Very few people reject scientific progress or believe in a flat earth, Erika!! The point is, again, there is no science which says that we must ditch biblical morality. If you are thinking of “nature vs nurture” etc, as I have said, I have “natural” inclinations to be greedy and to have affairs.....shall I satisfy them just because I have those "natural" inclinations which are contrary to the bible?

3) I believe it is possible for Christians to have different interpretations, certainly, but within reason......for example I struggle with people ignoring verses which say "do not" do something when the vast weight of biblical scholarship today (see point 1) still says the scripture is saying "do not" rather than "go ahead, it is holy".

Interpretation is fine.....but we have to avoid interpreting the bible to say what we want it to say and work hard to interpret the bible to see what God said and what he means.

Since you ask about scholarship and interpretation, this may interest you:
"A discipline of biblical "hermeneutics", ie of interpretation, has no point unless we are resolved to be obedient." - Professor O'Donovan. His article may help you.
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2006/20061109odonovan5.cfm?doc=151

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 12:39pm BST

Pat - do you not believe God is loving?

Read Romans 6-8.
You will learn about his love.
You will learn about our struggles with sin.
You will learn that we have no excuse to abuse God's grace through continuing to sin.

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 12:42pm BST

Hi Erika-

You seem to me to be reading the bible like a fundamentalist, i.e. interpreting it differently from how you would interpret any other book.

If Romans 1 or 1 Corinthians 6 were written in any other book, you would have no trouble in affirming that they are against homosexual practice.

So why are you treating the Bible in this special way?

Don't you see that that opens the door for people to try and make the text mean what they want it to mean. That is the opposite of scholarship. And we have already established the point that, although hundreds of commentaries have been written on both Romans and 1 Corinthians, there is not a single one that makes Paul out to be a crypto-21st century western liberal, as you would (I guess?) prefer him to have been.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 1:06pm BST

Pat said to me above: "You see, this is exactly where we differ, NP. I don't think it's the Spirit contradicting itself (please don't apply gender to the Spirit)"

Pat - I think it is ok to "apply gender to the Spirit".....pls read John 14v 15-17

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and HE will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees HIM nor knows HIM. You know HIM, for he dwells with you and will be in you."

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 1:32pm BST

Christopher,
I don't think I said anything at all about how I read the bible.

And I don't think I said anything about homosexuality either.

I'm getting very frustrated by these conversations that are nothing more than slanging matches, in which I feel constantly put down for my views and beliefs by people who claim they know the only truth, and who claim that it is “obvious”. And I deeply resent the not so veiled implication that I'm wilfully disobeying God or creating him in my image because I’m selfishly veering away from the obvious path.

Despite that, I'm still hoping that we will be able to have a constructive conversation, at least some of us, but to do that I need to understand where our real underlying differences are, and why they arise.

But since you ask, I have never taken the bible literally, I have never been encouraged to do so in any of the many churches I attended since childhood.

When I read the bible I read a story of how people came to an increasing understanding of what God might be like, and how he is active in their lives.

Like many here, I believe that God is unchanging and that he does not disapprove of something today only to change his mind tomorrow. But I do believe that our own understanding of him changes and that the Spirit is there to guide us in this process.

And I don't believe that St Paul was infallible. He said many very wise things, but his word is not gospel truth, if you excuse the pun (and that’s leaving aside all the many translation problems through the ages Göran always points out, which many here seem to believe don’t exist because they believe that God has given all translators a divine understanding of his word that normal humans cannot possess).

So where NP would claim that I'm saying "don't means do", I'm saying "what we thought was a clear don't is, in the light of biblical scholarship and modern science, not necessarily a don't. It is up to the church as a whole to discern whether our previous understanding has to be altered in the light of this.

If we can agree on continuing discernment at least as a principle, we have the basis for a conversation. If we can’t, then we might as well give up.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 1:53pm BST

Pat:

RE: "Why would a loving God allow us to be born with an in-born propensity for something that sets us apart from God? Or are you suggesting that some of our genetic gifts come from somewhere else, that part of our life is not God-given, but given by something else?

That's an interesting theology, but it doesn't match any Christianity I'm familiar with"

Pat, if your last statement is true, then you are not very familiar with either Judaism or Christianity. Both teach that we are fallen, fouled up people living in a fallen, fouled up world. This doesn't mean that the beauty of the creator's touch is not evident in all, though marred by sin.

As to your first statement, if God's good gifts include every genetic trait we are born with, then I suppose he also lovingly dispensed fatal genetic diseases and deformities to children. Your statement as well as its implications are absurd.

God may give us the grace to cope with our deformities, poverty, bad-parenting, etc., and ultimately use them for our benefit (e.g.-as trials that develop patience and wisdom), but he does not ask us to embrace and practice the sins that can grow out of any of these.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 2:11pm BST

Steven ; thats what CONSERVATIVE Christianity teaches.

You surely know the difference between that and the liberal perspective.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 2:29pm BST

Erika:

1. The statement/question is too broad. There has been some good Biblical scholarship and some bad "scholarship" over the last 150 years. Hmm. Perhaps you should skip the lead-in and just get to the point of whatever it is you want to say or ask. I assume you want to ask me about some particular brand of "scholarship" that you believe will support your position. So . . . ?

2. Of course they are not always irrelevant. My background is in science and I work with science and innovation every day in my profession as a patent attorney. However, that is not what you're looking for. This paragraph is also a lead-in, please get to the point.

3. It is possible for people to be sincere and believe what they are saying and to still be dead wrong. "Sincerity" does not equal "truth". Objective reality does exist. Thus, not all viewpoints are equally true and valid--sincerely held or not.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 2:40pm BST

And, Steven, in reality:
1. Liberals favour recent liberal scholarship, conservatives do not
2. Liberals are disposed to think that the Bible can be overruled on matters scientific, conservatives would be hesitant in doing so given their view as to the authority of the Bible which liberals do not share.
3. Yes, but we think you are wrong, and you think we are wrong. The issue is, given that reality, can we co-exist?

I think the answer to 3 is 'not without mutual acceptance of each others right to believe as we wish', and that means not in the same denomination.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 2:57pm BST

Steven,

I assume you posted your comment before you read mine to Christopher.

Please don't be so suspicious.
I have no agenda other than trying to find a common basis for our conversation.
I'm not asking you about a particular brand of scholarship.
And I have no hidden trap laid depending on your answer on whether science should change our ways of reading scripture.

You see - if scholarship and science CAN influence our way of reading Scripture, then we can start a debate about what various scholars have to say, and we can try to work out whether science affects a particular point we're disagreeing on. A conversation is possible.

But too often here I've been told that something has been written in stone 2000 years ago and that I therefore have to accept it. Implied in that is the view that neither biblical scholarship nor science can ever be allowed to modify our understanding of God. There can be no conversation at all with people who believe that, because they will never even consider any other contributing argument.

Do we have a starting point for a conversation, or might we as well not bother?


Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 3:11pm BST

Erika - I am not free to ignore biblical commands so if we are to talk, I am afraid it is on that basis. AS I have said before, if it were up to me, I would not mind (I have an Elton John CD, you know) ...... but it is not up to me decide what is and what is not a sin and I have seen no "scholarship" which is convincing in reclassifying certain things which are clearly marked as not acceptable to God in the bible.

If you can show me that St Paul would be supporting VGR and telling me that I have misunderstood scripture - I would be interested in that.

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 4:25pm BST

Pat said,
"Why would a loving God allow us to be born with an in-born propensity for something that sets us apart from God? ...

That's an interesting theology, but it doesn't match any Christianity I'm familiar with."

Has Christian formation in the AC really gotten to such a point that we don't understand basic concepts like the Fall and our sinful nature?

We were created in God's image and we still bear that image. But we are fallen and that image is marred. All of creation suffers for our sin. From cancer, to acholhism to social issues we see the effects of sin in human weakness.

Could it be that even human sexualtiy has been affected by out fallen nature?

Posted by: Chris on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:10pm BST

Re: scholarship
Why are we so willing to reject 2000 years of serious thought and study based on the questions that have already been answered? Every liberal objection or new finding is actually something that has been addressed and rejected by orthodoxy at least once (and often many times over) in the past 20 centuries. Liberal interpetations are not new - they are just newly warmed over ideas that have been found wanting time and again. If one is to seriously consider recent liberal objections the honest reader should also consdier the recent orthodox responses. There's more than enough apologetic material avaiable to make this a quick exercise.

Does this matter? I would suggest a serious reading of Gen 2:4-7 to get an understanding of God's view of the importance of doctrine, proer worhsip and obedience. I'm sure Cain thought we was sincere; that doesn't change the fact he was wrong.

Posted by: Chris on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:28pm BST

NP dear,

The “Letter of James” is a second century pseudo-epigraph, one of the so called “Catholic” letters of Alexandria, which Antioch refused to acknowledge for so very long (and for good reason).

It’s into Works; an Epistle of Straw, as Dr Martin justly called it.

Verse 2:21 is particularly damning.

(but it’s interesting that you think of repentance as “Works” ;=)

… and yeah, as ever... what you call “biblical morality” is neither.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:41pm BST

John Richardson wrote: “Compare these two statements: "Christmas is coming. We must get ready!" and "We are getting ready for Christmas." In what do they differ?
Now compare, "We have to plan for an inevitable split in the Church of England" with "We are planning for an inevitable split in the Church of England." Think about it.”

Dare I suggest; disingenuous?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:43pm BST

Dear lost NP quoted some anti-modern translation or other: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and HE will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees HIM nor knows HIM. You know HIM, for he dwells with you and will be in you”

Dear NP, for your most certain non-benefit I will transcribe this from the Greek:

“15 Eàn agapâté me, tàs entolàs tàs emàs täräsete 16 kagå eråtäså tòn Patéra kaì állon Parákläton dåsei umîn, ína meth’umån eis tòn aiåna ä 17 tò Pneûma täs Alätheías, ó o kósmos ou dúnatai labeîn, óti ou theoreî autò oudè ginåskei, umeîs ginåskete autó, óti para’umîn ménei kaì en umîn éstai.

Which makes: 15 Whoever loves me, holds (to) my commands, 16 and I too will ask the Father and He will give you a Helper, that it be with you as long as this Time this (= lasts), 17 the Spirit of the Truth, that the Creation may not send, what he (the Cosmos) may not contemplate nor know, you will know, for with you it will abide with you and be with you.

NOT worthy to be called translation.

Further; the Spirit is NOT masculine in Greek, it is NEUTER (that is neuterED for you, NP!) just as it is in Swedish.

Moreover it is FEMININE in Hebrew.

You will have to learn Greek, and some History of Ideas - clue: Can this concept be 1st century?)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:52pm BST

Erica wrote: “and that’s leaving aside all the many translation problems through the ages Göran always points out”

I most certainly don’t, dear Erica. It would bore you stiff (and me too ;=)

But thank you for noticing!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:53pm BST

“Steven wrote: “Pat, if your last statement is true, then you are not very familiar with either Judaism or Christianity. Both teach that we are fallen, fouled up people living in a fallen, fouled up world. This doesn't mean that the beauty of the creator's touch is not evident in all, though marred by sin.”

I don’t know where you’ve got this from (Calvinist legalism? anti-moderns in university? Bible-school?), but this does not resemble any form of Judaism that I am familiar with. The Gnostic Idea of a Fall is nothing mainstream Judaism ever fell for…

In short; I know that this will shock you, but Judaism doesn’t do “sin”, never has, never will.

(“sin” is a 12th century Scholastic concept in the first place…)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:54pm BST

Steven wrote: “3. It is possible for people to be sincere and believe what they are saying and to still be dead wrong. "Sincerity" does not equal "truth". Objective reality does exist. Thus, not all viewpoints are equally true and valid--sincerely held or not.”

A Mirror! a Mirror! a Kingdom for a Mirror!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:55pm BST

"Pat - do you not believe God is loving?"

Absolutely. Do you?

In my mind, a loving God does not tempt his people by giving them inherent desires (that is, desires they have from birth, hence given by God) that he then declares sinful to fulfill.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:55pm BST

Chris asked: “Has Christian formation in the AC really gotten to such a point that we don't understand basic concepts like the Fall and our sinful nature?”

The concept of the Fall is not “basic”. It’s Gnostic.

Chris asked: “We were created in God's image and we still bear that image. But we are fallen and that image is marred. All of creation suffers for our sin. From cancer, to alcoholism to social issues we see the effects of sin in human weakness.”

Easy, easy…

Chris asked: Could it be that even human sexuality has been affected by out fallen nature?”

Human sexuality, yes. But not only that of “others”.

Yours first!

Selfishness, greed, non-consideration, self-seeking and so on and so forth.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:55pm BST

HOW, not what.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:56pm BST

"Pat - I think it is ok to "apply gender to the Spirit".....pls read John 14v 15-17

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and HE will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees HIM nor knows HIM. You know HIM, for he dwells with you and will be in you."

I'm not well-versed enough in ancient languages to know...but can anybody here confirm that the pronoun in the original language of John (presumably Greek) was decidedly male...or was it simply translated that way because it's easier in English?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 5:58pm BST

"As to your first statement, if God's good gifts include every genetic trait we are born with, then I suppose he also lovingly dispensed fatal genetic diseases and deformities to children. Your statement as well as its implications are absurd."

Being born with Down's Syndrome or spina bifida does not create in one an inclination for any specific activity. Being born homosexual does. You're comparing apples and oranges.

I hold to my belief that a loving God does not tempt his people by endowing them from birth with feelings he forbids them to enjoy.


Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 6:01pm BST

Göran
"I most certainly don’t, dear Erica. It would bore you stiff (and me too ;=)"

And there was me hoping you'd publish them all in a book or something soon!
A history of biblical translation, now THAT would be worth reading!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 6:55pm BST

Generally, Greek doesn't "do" pronouns the way we do.

And may that be a lesson to us all.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 7:00pm BST

When definite articles (the) are used however, it's ó for grammatical masculine (not = masc. gender), ä for fem. and tó for neuter.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 7:03pm BST

It was translated that way to promote anti Modern Heterosexism cum Fertility Cult from Rome and Colorado.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 7:04pm BST

Chris wrote: "Re: scholarship
Why are we so willing to reject 2000 years of serious thought and study based on the questions that have already been answered? Every liberal objection or new finding is actually something that has been addressed and rejected by orthodoxy at least once (and often many times over) in the past 20 centuries."

In your dreams, sonny.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 7:07pm BST

Pat the pronoun is neuter in the Greek. Your hunch is right !

Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 7:58pm BST

Merseymike:

1. Agreed.
2. I wouldn't state it this way, but you're getting close.
3. Agreed.

I also agree with your statement regarding not being able to co-exist in the same denomination (at least without one side giving in to the other)--and we go way back on this. Where we differ is in the mechanics of separation.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 9:30pm BST

Erika:

Thanks for the nice post. Yes, I posted without the benefit of your comments to Christopher.

As to scholarship and science, I believe they can definitely enrich our understanding of Scripture, but they cannot nullify/over-rule Scripture. Consequently, as this may be your primary interest in carrying on a conversation, you might consider that you were wasting your time in talking to me. However, despite this proviso I nonetheless have some good conversations with Ford and some other folks. So, if my understanding of matters doesn't terminate the "conversation" before it has begun, feel free to proceed.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 9:40pm BST

Pat:

There is no comparison of apples and oranges, though I used some examples of genetic defects to make the point that not everything we receive genetically is a "gift of God" to be enjoyed. The main point is that our innate desires and drives are disordered and have to be brought into line with God's will. E.g., almost every man I have ever met is naturally promiscuous--sorry, no can do. Many folks have natural propensities and desires to be wrathful, drink to excess, be jealous, etc.--sorry, no can do. We are all born with innate desires that a loving God forbids us to enjoy. Get used to it. Most of the Christian life involves going against and struggling against/with our natural desires, selfishness, and propensities.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 9:46pm BST

"I hold to my belief that a loving God does not tempt his people by endowing them from birth with feelings he forbids them to enjoy."

And to add to Pat's comment: I don't want anyone to start talking about paedophelia now, or the intrinsic urge to be a mass murderer.
Some inclinations have nothing but damaging consequences, and are NOT in the same category as same gender love, which is the exactly the same love heterosexual couples have for each other: morally neutral, but with the same possibility for holiness on the one hand, and corruption on the other.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 9:49pm BST

Erika,

You're trying to define the debate in such a way that one can only come to one conclusion - yours. In doing so, you're ignoring the entire conversation. The conversation is all about the idea that homosexual love and heterosexual love are the same. Never mind showing all sorts of presuppositions. A little more intellectual integrity would be helpful in this conversation.

It would be like starting a debate on evolution vs. creationism and saying the fossil record is out of bounds.

Posted by: Chris on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 11:33pm BST

"I don't want anyone to start talking about paedophelia now, or the intrinsic urge to be a mass murderer."

Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence...nor any part of the scientific community willing to argue...that such urges are present from birth. That is not the case with homosexuality.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 12:24am BST

Interesting you mention evolution, Chris, as a little knowledge of this can help us in our understanding that homosexuality occurs in many many species, not just our own. Both North American Primates are biologists, so their experience could help their counterparts a great deal!

Better to allow science, ie. reason, to inform ethics than dodgy translations of a tiny number of obscure verses of Scripture.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 12:35am BST

What Général de Gaulle said:

Vaste projèt Messieurs, Vaste projèt.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 7:09am BST

It is dear Chris. I don't know how you (coll) can ever think otherwise.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 7:13am BST

Steven wrote: "The main point is that our innate desires and drives are disordered and have to be brought into line with God's will. E.g., almost every man I have ever met is naturally promiscuous--sorry, no can do. Many folks have natural propensities and desires to be wrathful, drink to excess, be jealous, etc.--sorry, no can do. We are all born with innate desires that a loving God forbids us to enjoy. Get used to it. Most of the Christian life involves going against and struggling against/with our natural desires, selfishness, and propensities."

Actually, you calvos seem to move in the most extraordinary circles: "E.g., almost every man I have ever met is naturally promiscuous--sorry, no can do."

Moreover, you seem to take all this on a far too subjective level, I believe.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 7:15am BST

L Roberts - not aware that you are an eminent bible translator but you must make your insights about Pat's "hunch" known to the eminent translation committes of RSV, NRSV, ESV, NIV......... they don't seem to be aware of Pat's "hunch".

I know you guys can just revise verses to get whatever meaning you want anyway...... and you would not mind the Spirit being called "she" so much - but let's not start pretending that ALL the respected bible translators somehow have got it wrong because Pat's "hunch" escaped them. (The ESV, in particular, does try to stay very close to the text, sometimes at the expense of "flow".)

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 7:42am BST

Chris
"You're trying to define the debate in such a way that one can only come to one conclusion - yours"

Sorry, I don't follow. Which of my posts are you referring to? I have posted extensively on this thread asking what basis there may be for conversation. I don't think I have defined anything, although, yes, I have given my own point of view on how I read the bible. And everyone on this forum knows my view about same gender love. But then, we know yours too, you clearly presuppose that homosexual and heterosexual love are not the same.

But I'm not even sure what we're talking about when it comes to the core of it.
Is the gay issue just a hook for a conversation about the authority of Scripture?

Or do we use Scripture as a convenient scapegoat to hide our distaste about the mechanics of same gender sex (those of us who are much less vocal about the sins of “their” side), while the others use Scripture to defend their lifestyle?

Or do we agree on the authority of Scripture, but are debating about what extent of interpretation may be possible?

I would really like to get to the core of this, because I am so very bored of people shouting acronyms and Lambeth 1.10, as though that in itself solved anything.

I found the conversations between Steven and Ford fascinating, because they show that we can civilly discover agreements and disagreements, and get to like and respect each other – as soon as we move away from talking about sex. Suddenly, all rigidity is gone, and a real spirit of wanting to know how the other believes and why enters in.

If we don't have opposite views, a conversation is not necessary.
If we can't find a basis for starting the debate, a conversation is not possible.

What's so contentious about that?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 9:28am BST

Erika - I am "bored" with people pretending Lambeth 1.10 was not voted for by a majority of AC bishops....and that there is integrity in just ignoring it

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 11:13am BST

"...let's not start pretending that ALL the respected bible translators somehow have got it wrong because Pat's "hunch" escaped them."

Well, since my "hunch" has been confirmed by those around here who actually read and understand Greek, are you suggesting that all those "respected bible translators" were more Spirit-inspired than the actual authors, who carefully kept the Spirit gender neutral?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 11:42am BST

no Pat - I am suggesting that you do not think your "hunch" and L Roberts dismissing serious bible scholars means a whole lot.....

anyway, do you not realise that people have to claim that translation is an impossible business when they have an agenda eg trying to say that when the bible says do not do X, it is actually good and holy to do x

Is it really a surprise that it is those who want to justify certain sins (not materialism etc, just certain sins) have to say the bible does not mean what it says???

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 3:24pm BST

It is difficult for English speakers to label any person as an "it".

English--with a very few notable exceptions (such as ships)--does not gender-fy inanimate objects and impersonal forces as him/her. Only things that actually have some discernable sex/gender are designated as him/her, so we end up using "it" for everything from tables to tidal waves--but not for people.

Consequently, calling any personal being an "it" in English tends to be seen as de-personalizing and denigrating. To my recall, the only living creatures I've ever heard referred to as "it" were lower life forms or (in the movies) monsters.

Thus, it is no surprise that English speakers are uncomfortable with designating the Spirit as "it". This would seem to make the Spirit either an impersonal force, an inanimate object, a lower life form, or a monster--all unacceptable.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 3:33pm BST

"If Romans 1 or 1 Corinthians 6 were written in any other book, you would have no trouble in affirming that they are against homosexual practice.

So why are you treating the Bible in this special way?"

Who is treating the Bible in a special way? Romans 1 speaks to the proposition that promiscuity has negative consequences for those who participate in it. Where do you get off generalizing that to all homosexuality is wrong? This is the unwarranted generalization. It is a logical fallacy to argue form the specific to the universal.

Furthermore, you treat the Bible in an unusual way by completely ignoring the exhortation in Romans 2:1 "Therefore do not judge."

Posted by: ruidh on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 3:43pm BST

ruidh - do you expect to be taken seriously when you claim that St Paul taught us never to judge.....despite the fact he did teach us not to accept false teaching (which entails making certain judgments, mate - see 1 Cor 5:12)

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 4:08pm BST

And NP, the rest of us are "bored" with people pretending that Lambeth 1998 1:10
a) was a one-liner, and
b) has juridical authority.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 5:37pm BST

ruidh:

Am I understanding you correctly? Do you see Romans 1:26-27 as only condemning a certain limited subset of homosexual sex acts, rather than homosexual sex acts in general? If so, what is the basis for this interpretation? I certainly don't find it in the verses quoted, hence, I must assume that you are importing concepts and conclusions from elsewhere.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 6:04pm BST

Accept - to receive
Accept - welcome
Accept - to tolerate
Accept - to believe

Discuss...

Posted by: Stephen Roberts on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 6:31pm BST

“… are you suggesting that all those "respected bible translators" were more Spirit-inspired than the actual authors, who carefully kept the Spirit gender neutral?”

This dear Pat O’Neil, is the original argument given for the Heathen Idea of an Inspiration of Scripture.

Justin Martyr, mid 2nd century, claimed that the c h a n g e d Christian Septuagint quotes current in his day, as changed were more inspired than the original Jewish Septuagint, which in its turn was more inspired than the Hebrew originals (if be).

;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 9:05pm BST

Steven wrote. “Thus, it is no surprise that English speakers are uncomfortable with designating the Spirit as "it". This would seem to make the Spirit either an impersonal force, an inanimate object, a lower life form, or a monster--all unacceptable.”

“This would seem” to some…

What Steven presents here is the Doctrinary reading of texts current in his tradition. That is, what is “all unacceptable” to the doctrines of some, isn’t to be allowed for any of us.

Right or wrong – my Doctrine.

Next he will be acknowledging and defending all of the hetero-sexualizations/homo-sexualizations, the generalizations, the abstractifications & c. of every translation of the Bible between the Parisian Versio vulgata of the late 12th century and the Dynamic Equivalence excesses of the late 20th century.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 9:06pm BST

NP,

Pointing out that y o u r translations are "impossible" and don't deserve the name translation, is not saying that faithful translating is in itself impossible.

On the very contrary ;=)

Now, grammatical masculine is neither grammatical neuter, nor grammatical feminine.

So: Is calling the Holy Spirit masculine correct or not? Yes or No?

Is calling the bluff right or wrong?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 9:17pm BST

Pneuma is an appropriate translation of ruah. The gender changed during the translation of course. Not that any of it matters the least in this quibble.

Please forgive the intrusion—quibble on!

Posted by: trog on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 3:10am BST

Why are so many here so adamant that the modern English translations must be correct, and that bits have not been added to be bible at later stages?
Would it really shake your faith so deeply if Göran was right?

Surely, if you honour Scriptures you want to ensure that no errors have accidentally or inadvertently been introduced. So if anyone points out that there might be problems, why would you denounce that person, instead of trying to discover whether he's right and whether Scriptures have to be read differently.

If the one true God was behind the original versions, then there can be no fear, no danger.
And if someone raises this as a possibility, then surely, the correct response is to engage with it constructively?

I don't understand this aggressive response against Göran's postings at all.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 8:57am BST

Erika - the reason is quite simple... certain pseudo-academic musings round here are not very persuasive and certainly do not pour doubt over eminent, careful, bible translation from real academics.

If some of Goran's musings round were persuasive, he would rock the world of theology and would be appointed Regius Professor in no time.....but he ain't, you know.

Also Erika, notice, there is an interesting correlation between wanting to justify behaviour the bible says God does not permit and wanting to say the bible is not clear in what it says. Why do you think that is?

Posted by: NP on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 10:21am BST

Erika:

Because the fundies are positive that all translations are inspired...to show that the translations are wrong, or careless, or mistaken, would be to show them that their own beliefs are the same.

Can't have that. Their whole life in faith depends on certainty. To them, to be skeptical is to be faithless.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 11:44am BST

Erika-

The reason is that there are many qualified textual critics of all faiths and none, and none of them even remotely agrees with Goran.

The only reason you are citing him as an authority is because you have come across him on here. The best thing to do is cultivate knowledge of the work of some of the main textual critics - e.g. Aland and Metzger etc..

On 'takin gteh Bible litearally' you are again speaking as a fundamentalist would speak: ie you see all teh biblical books as being in the same category as one another but simultaneously in a different category from all other books. How to justify that?

Surely most books have bits that were intended literally and bits that were not. Taking the whole entirety of a book (meaning: a book such as a historical narrative or a letter) non-literally is a novel and dogmatic approach. Not a single qualified scholar of literature would have any time for it.

On these two counts your approach is too fundamentalist and not sufficiently nuanced.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 1:11pm BST

Some people may need to read the Foreward to the Common (Ecumenical) Bible to get an over-view of the status (and state) of many biblical texts in theri MSS.

The text is far from clear in many places, and maeaning contested.

But then there are no reliable intellectual reasons for treating the Bible like Olde Moore's Almanack !


BTW

Theis Common Bible * makes it clear that there is no agreement among the world Churches on the canon itself. Rome, various Orthodox bodies, various Protestants, Anglicans,Quakers, and representatives of Jewry-- all recognisng different books as canonical.

It shows many of the variant readings in notes, and places werhe the meaning is, literaly, anyones gues ...

* Version used in the Daily Office Book of the 1990s.

Posted by: L Roberts on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 1:34pm BST

'ruidh:
Am I understanding you correctly? Do you see Romans 1:26-27 as only condemning a certain limited subset of homosexual sex acts, rather than homosexual sex acts in general? If so, what is the basis for this interpretation? I certainly don't find it in the verses quoted, hence, I must assume that you are importing concepts and conclusions from elsewhere.'

Steven'
Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 6:04pm BST

Paul's letters are of course, inspiring in places. And he has no special understanding of may matters, including human sexualtiy. It would be be (is) preposterous to tip-toe around his letters, as if he did.

He comes into his own as a kind of witness, an activist & one who can improvise & think on his feet ! We do his creativity a disservice, by canonising the man or his occasional letters. That is not the way to use them ...

Posted by: L Roberts on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 1:42pm BST

Christopher,
I have no idea whether Göran is an authority in his field or not. But I know that the arguments made against his points here have preciously little to do with refuting him on the actual points he makes, but generally slight his character, his motives and his authority - without providing a shred of evidence.

I don't know why you would find that acceptable.

I know translation is a painstaking field and not given to brushstroke comments. So maybe the scholars you quoted do have answers to Göran. Maybe they don't. I've no idea. But it strikes me that nor have you or any of the others here criticising Göran.

I long for someone here to come back and say: Göran, the translation you gave in this or that post is wrong for this or that reason.
But no-one ever has. So I assume that it may not be as easily done as NP pretends above.

As for having to find nuances in the bible and discerning what is to be taken as more weighty than the other – I couldn’t agree more!
That’s why I can’t abide those people who claim the truth is obvious because there is a one liner in here somewhere....


Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 2:22pm BST

Erika:

Re: Goran--It's usually just easier to ignore Goran's posts. He recently got bashed for calling the RSV a Calvinist translation. One of the posters here took the time and trouble to eviscerate his "scholarly" arguments and he finally shut up. For me, life is too short for that kind of nonsense. Consequently, I ignore Goran's posts, especially when he attempts to be "scholarly".

On the other hand, if he'd eliminate "spilling of semen", "gnosticism", and a variety of other pseudo-intellectualisms and pseudo-scholarly twaddle I think he would make an interesting poster and an interesting person to converse with. He sometimes displays a quirky wit and a sense of irony in his posts that, in someone less pretentious and (dare I say it) pompous, would make him a fun sparring partner and possibly a fairly brilliant conversationalist.

Steven

PS-Yes, I know that I am also pretentious, pompous, and prone to pseudo-intellectualisms. Still, I don't think I can hold a candle to the master.

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 6:33pm BST

NP wrote: “AS I have said before, if it were up to me, I would not mind (I have an Elton John CD, you know)…”

And all my best friends are Jews…

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 7:55pm BST

Steven wrote: “Am I understanding you correctly? Do you see Romans 1:26-27 as only condemning a certain limited subset of homosexual sex acts, rather than homosexual sex acts in general?”

The Bible is almost never “in general”, but specific.

Indeed the Bible Greek of the Septuagint (which is valid also for 1st century scriptures of the NT, but not for the glosses, additions and most pseudo epigraphic scriptures of the 2nd century) is nearly always specific.

Steven wrote: “If so, what is the basis for this interpretation?”

Se above.

Steven wrote: “I certainly don't find it in the verses quoted…”

Might be because it is a Doctrinary reading/translation into “application”?

Steven wrote: “… hence, I must assume that you are importing concepts and conclusions from elsewhere.”

Only if you wish so.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 7:57pm BST

Well... is the Spirit grammatical Neuter or grammatical Masculine?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 7:58pm BST

NP: "ruidh - do you expect to be taken seriously when you claim that St Paul taught us never to Judge.....despite the fact he did teach us not to accept false teaching (which entails making certain judgments, mate - see 1 Cor 5:12)""

NP, do you really expect us to take you seriously when you refuse to distinguish between judging another's sinfulness and discerning the truth of a proposition?

Simon: "Am I understanding you correctly? Do you see Romans 1:26-27 as only condemning a certain limited subset of homosexual sex acts, rather than homosexual sex acts in general? If so, what is the basis for this interpretation? I certainly don't find it in the verses quoted, hence, I must assume that you are importing concepts and conclusions from elsewhere."

Why are you narrowing your focus to one or two verses? Why are you not reading the whole section in context? Specifically 28-32 "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." (KJV)

These are the consequences of the acts referred to earlier. Yet, when we get to know our gay and partnered fellow Christians, we find none of these negative consequences of their actions. Instead, we find people who are blessed in their committed relationships. We find people who exemplify the qualities found in First Corinthians 11.

Clearly, these people are NOT what St. Paul is talking about. In any event, Romans 2, which immediately follows this recitation, exhorts people to not make exactly the kinds of maral judgments you are making.

Jesus suggests that he who is without sin cast the first stone while you have already thrown your first armful and are reaching down for more.

Posted by: ruidh on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 10:03pm BST

Hi Erika-

NT studies is my field, and trust me, Goran is not aan authority in that field. But if you don't believe me, seek out the international list of NT scholars of all beliefs and none at the back of an issue of the journal New Testaments Studies. All you need to do is find just one among these hundreds of scholars who considers his position scholarly, and I will backtrack.

The Bible is no more and no less difficult to understand than any other document. Its age makes it slightly *more* difficult than average; the staggeringly large amount of attention devoted to it over the years by interpreters makes it slightly *less* difficult than average. SO overall about average. Precise interpretation on minute points is not always possible. But defining a *range* of possible interpretations is always possible in the sense that we can always know with 100% certainty that certain interpretations are impossible.

For any given passage, the vast vast majority of available interpretations are going to be 100% impossible. For example, we know with certainty that when Cain says to Abel 'Let us go out to the field' (as he does in the Septuagint) he does not mean 'Let's buy some Stella Artois'. Nor 'Let's go to Margate'. The possibilities for correct interpretation are very narrowly constricted.

If you are honest, you will agree with me that when people claim an interpretation that seems distant from teh surface meaning of the text, it often turns out taht they ahve a vested interest in doing so: ie that interpretation is by 'coincidence' the very onme they would have wanted to come to in the first place. That is anti-scholarship. Scholarship is disinterested and impartial, and one comes to provisional conclusions, whether welcome or unwelcome conclusions, whether one 'likes' those conclusions or not.

Ask yourself: is there a single Bible passage which you have to admit says something you do not want it to say? If you are an honest person, there will be many.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 8 October 2007 at 9:22am BST

OK, Erika and Goran - you are right.... even if questions do not seem serious, one should respond constructively.

HOLY SPIRIT - him, her or it??
- pls read the work of Prof D A Carson in his excellent commentary on the gospel of John.
(this man is a real academic, knows his Greek and has a gift for explaining his ideas. I greatly enjoyed his lectures at Cambridge.)

http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-According-John-D-Carson/dp/085111749X/ref=sr_1_9/103-8694265-6443854?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1191833102&sr=1-9

(worth also reading him on John 14 - you can see how the pluralism of the PB of TEC(USA) is contrary to the teaching of Christ

Posted by: NP on Monday, 8 October 2007 at 9:50am BST
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