Wednesday, 5 March 2008

PB visit to South Carolina

There have been varying accounts of this event.

Episcopal News Service On the road in South Carolina with the Presiding Bishop by Neva Rae Fox

Statement from Bishop Mark Lawrence in response to the recent ENS article on the Presiding Bishop’s visit to South Carolina (original here, URL temporary):

I have read the recent article from the ENS regarding the Presiding Bishop, The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori’s visit to the Diocese of South Carolina. It was a gracious and accurate description of much of our time together. Indeed, there was a warm hospitality which we were most intentional in cultivating through our prayers and our hearts. What the article failed to convey, however, is the depth of the theological chasm that lies between many of us in South Carolina (and others within the church for that matter) and the trajectory of so much of the leadership of The Episcopal Church. To explore these cavernous depths is indeed the great work that lies before anyone in leadership today. Along with showing hospitality and witnessing to God’s work among us, the earnest exploring of this chasm was and remains one of our chief objectives.

—The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence

Audio recordings of events during the visit can be found here.

Video recordings of Bishop Mark Lawrence’s opening remarks are here and here.

The reports of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina can be read here:

1. Bishop Lawrence Approves Release of Edited Tapes of Clergy Meeting with Presiding Bishop Katharine (3/5)

2. Day Two of Bishop Katharine’s Visit: Disaffected Clergy Challenge Presiding Bishop (2/25)

3. Day One of Bishop Katharine’s Visit: Efforts by St. Philip’s to Humiliate Presiding Bishop Backfire (2/24)

Comments on the visit by others:

The Reverend Al Zadig

The Reverend Mike Lumpkin

The Reverend Steve Wood and also here.

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"the depth of the theological chasm that lies between many of us in South Carolina (and others within the church for that matter) and the trajectory of so much of the leadership of The Episcopal Church"

Can anyone PLEASE explain to me, briefly, what the heck +Lawrence is talking about?

I feel confident in asserting that ALL of "the leadership of The Episcopal Church" profess the Nicene Creed, every Sunday.

This can only beg the question, what are they professing in South Carolina?

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 7:18pm GMT

++KJS wasn't allowed to celebrate holy communion or preach during her visit to South Carolina.
Why? Not because they were afraid of sharing HC with a heretic, no, not at all. They did this so the laity would be excluded from really seeing what is at hand. This is the a clergy driven division and keeping the people in ignorance is their goal. We've seen this kind of control in the former Soviet Union. Pravda and only Pravda gave the news reports.

They must truly fear what she could really destabilize their little empire.

bob

Posted by: BobinSwPA on Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 7:27pm GMT

Let's go back to Eliza Griswold's article for a minute.

At the end of the article, you see one evangelical Muslim, and one evangelical Christian, preaching peace together.

They struggle with their views of each other's faith. There is a chasm.

And yet, they've renounced violence.

It is a struggle just being human. It will be a continual struggle for liberals and conservatives in the Episcopal Church (although I suspect that like most of the U.S., most of the EC is moderate). It will be a struggle for Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.

But if we are willing, God gives us the grace to face that challenge.

Posted by: Weiwen on Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 7:30pm GMT

I haven't listened to the audio recordings all the way through, yet, and am thus write (more than usual) subject to correction: but listening to the exchange about Christology, I was struck by the cadence and style, by the tone, of +Lawrence's question. I didn't disagree with the content, at all, but his way of speaking didn't sound like the way I'm used to hearing Episcopalians sound (the more surprising, as we are, or were, in the habit of saying that the American church had a somewhat narrower range of churchmanship than the CofE); moreover, it didn't sound like someone asking a question of a person sitting a few feet away. It was at best sermonical, at worst borrowed from the more florid branches of debate. I noted that the PB did not answer the question about Christology directly: but on reflection, it seemed to me that she was right, in that all the high Christology in the question was in fact at the service of a question about _soteriology_, i.e. "Do you believe that Christ is the beginning, means and end of salvation, accessible only through the sacraments of the Church?" And to that the PB actually gave a pointed answer, that so high a Christology as +Lawrence had laid out in fact implies universalism (she might have cited Barth as someone who sees that implication, but shies away from it). This response may have been too clever, but it did reflect listening to the question. _And_ she, at least, sounds like an Episcopalian, and like a person talking to another person.

Posted by: 4 May 1535+ on Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 10:54pm GMT

JCF -- you asked:

"the depth of the theological chasm that lies between many of us in South Carolina (and others within the church for that matter) and the trajectory of so much of the leadership of The Episcopal Church"

Can anyone PLEASE explain to me, briefly, what the heck +Lawrence is talking about?

It appears that +Lawrence provided his own definition of what he saw as these issues. To quote him according to Steve Wood's account:

"Bishop Lawrence then talked about the four main issues needing to be addressed. He said we first need to talk about the spin that is coming out of the national church regarding the orthodox in the church…ie..how many orthodox people, churches and dioceses have actually left the Episcopal Church? The second issue being the often repeated statement by the national church that the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing in the church. Thirdly, the canons of the church and not Holy Scripture are increasingly becoming our authority, and the canons (church law) are being exalted over Scripture. Finally, the issue of the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ as savior of the world (a niche’ of theology called Christology)."

Hope that helps you, though I have to profess some surprise that after nearly 5 years of serious discord in the church you hadn't realised that there was anything theological was being disputed.

Posted by: Margaret on Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 12:46am GMT

Margaret:

The first issue is not theological (how many orthodox and have they left?); it is political and demographic. The second is theological, but to argue against it, the orthodox must attempt to prove that the Holy Spirit would never do such a thing--I look forward to what proof they can deliver. The third is also more political than theological, since it speaks to the governance of the church, not to what the church believes.

The fourth is, indeed, theological...but I think it is closely related to the second. The orthodox seem to think that the Holy Spirit acts only through personal inspiration or personal actions like speaking in tongues and the like. Many of the rest of us believe the Spirit acts in many other ways, including communal decisions about who should lead the church and how.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 11:47am GMT

So why doesn't this man leave if he is so unhappy? I am sure that the Southern Cone or other of the fundamentalist infiltrators would welcome him with open arms

he won't be missed

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 11:58am GMT

Bishop Lawrence states: "I have read the recent article from the ENS regarding the Presiding Bishop, The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori’s visit to the Diocese of South Carolina. It was a gracious and accurate description of much of our time together."

Can't anyone spell her name correctly? Or is this now one of the standard ways in which the self-proclaimed orthodox are now using to denigrate the PB?

Posted by: Deacon Charlie Perrin on Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 2:38pm GMT

Why should he leave, Merseymike, lots of room in the big tent, and all that, yes?

Posted by: trooper on Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 4:57pm GMT

"To quote him according to Steve Wood's account:
'Bishop Lawrence then talked about the four main issues needing to be addressed. He said we first need to talk about the spin that is coming out of the national church regarding the orthodox in the church...'"

Yes, Margaret, as I said over at Steve Wood's site:

"+Lawrence's questions (inquisition, really) amount to, essentially 'Have you stopped beating your wife?'"

Rude. Disgusting. Contemptible.

[That ++KJS *didn't* walk out, shaking the dust from her sandals, displayed FAR more charity than I ever could!]

These are not "theological chasms": they are *political* chasms (attempted coup by the GC minority) ***masquerading*** as theology.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 7:04pm GMT

Well, she showed up and got an earfull. For her, it was water off a duck's back. There is and can be no change unless someone gives up ground here. No one is willing to do so, so that's it.

And, that's it for me too. So long folks. In truth, I've been coming around less and less anyhow, so its not much of a change for me to say goodbye for good. My only point initially was to encourage an amicable and even-handed parting of the ways between the disputing parties. But, after a time, one does become involved in discussing the underlying issues. And, I've enjoyed my conversations with some of you. However, after a few years, its obvious that there is no progress that can be made between the two sides, just endless reiteration of positions without resolution or movement (except--as has occurred--towards more open and forceful conflict).

I wish you all God Speed in God's Way. I can do this in good conscience and pray earnestly on your behalf, though it is likely that we define "God's Way" very differently. However, I find that I simply have no more talk left in me. I'm all "listened" out and all talked out. Goodbye again.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 7:46pm GMT

It was all a overtly smoozey "pay back" directed at Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori...they continue to RESENT her in their little corner of hostle-Dixieland for questioning the first vote for +Mark (formerly of Bakersfield/+Schofield, and The Episcopal Church Diocese of San Joaquin)...oh, how they strive in South Carolina to be "different" and more "righteous" and "holy" sounding than the rest of us...I suggest they find a comfy chair to sit it out...never is a very long way away.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 11:32pm GMT

No. Trooper. I think, like Steven, that there should be a split. The views are simply too far apart to find a point of consensus

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 12:51am GMT

The irony is there will be change simply because she did not capitulate.

There will be change because key players refuse to give up ground.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 6:59am GMT

The hardening spin of opposing believer camps, often framed as a closed left vs a closed right, may or may not be the whole of the real church life story on the global ground. I am more interested at the moment in what this polarization might suggest to us as an index of ongoing change.

In small group decision-making, heightened polarization is a fairly reliable marker, along with expanded ranges of possible views/outcomes, and emotional heat stoked by hot button differences.

If this goes according to the most frequent group dynamics path, though it may not always do so, the decision made turns out to be significantly more risk or change embracing or change facilitating than it otherwise might have been predicted to be, before the phases of group process engaged.

Several hunches stand out then. First, change seems inevitable. Queer folks, empirically-minded investigators, women with leadership gifts and callings ... you name the target group, my hunch is they will not go quietly away into the growing conservative night being urged upon us all, without so much as a whimper. If a huge and violent church could not, once upon a time, finally hold back the changing of the Ptolemaic Cosmological Model including the ways it was read from scripture, then the worldwide Anglican communion (which by any fair definition is less than a church of that sort, and even now is conservative struggling with all its deliberate might to turn itself into a church of that sort?) will hardly do better.

That distinctive vision, or dream, or wish if you will, is in USA mainly a very heated Christian Reconstructionist apocalypse when Jehovah's wrath and judgment fall haplessly upon all the sinner's heads because they are not conservative enough, period.

Second, by separating to win the latest Anglican battles in the culture wars, the conservatives are setting themselves up to actually lose the larger cultural war over time. Interesting survey data reports that even the younger USA evangelical believers are much, much more gay-friendly than their parents or their grandparents ever were - as citizens, as believers. My way of capturing this angle is to remind myself that we will all still be here, together, globally, right after this or that much vaunted piece of the conservative realignment or split, even or maybe especially if/when it reaches some key part of its Anglican campaign goals.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 4:04pm GMT

"the theological chasm that lies between many of us in South Carolina ... and the trajectory of so much of the leadership of The Episcopal Church"

+Lawrence was being very polite to describe Liberal TEC's approach to religion as "theology". Most of what passes for LibTEC theology is plain humanism; indistiguishable from the beliefs of mainline Liberal America except for some religious relabelling.

I can't imagine that LibTEC commentators really believe the Nicene Creed. How about: "We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ... true God from true God ... he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human." And "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,..." And "We believe in the Holy Spirit... who has spoken through the prophets" ? The implication of the first is that Jesus Christ *really was God* who became man and lived on earth 2000 years ago. The second that he will personally return to *judge* everyone - including those already dead. The third that God did inspire the Bible! If I'm wrong I'd love someone to explain how and why!?

Posted by: david wh on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 4:29pm GMT

David:

What has anyone here--or anyone in a position of authority in TEC--ever said that leads you to think that we do not believe what we say in the Nicene Creed, particularly in regard to the parts you cite?

In particular as to the last: Inspiration is not authorship. The Spirit worked through human minds and hands, minds and hands not incapable of error, minds and hands that--by virtue of their very humanity--could not possibly thoroughly understand what the Spirit was telling them.

Further...and perhaps more importantly...to say that the Spirit has spoken through the prophets is not to say that it is no longer speaking. There are many, like me, who believe the Spirit still speaks and acts among us, leading us to a more inclusive, more ecumenical and, yes, more liberal understanding of God's will for humanity.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 8:41pm GMT

"I can't imagine that LibTEC commentators really believe the Nicene Creed."

And that, David Wh, is the root issue: you don't TRUST us.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 9:01pm GMT

!st visit to the site. I sit to the right of center but not far right (although fast becoming such as those on the right leave). Astounded by the vitriol nature of the comments from apparent regulars towards S Carolina. I listened and thought they were gratious, courteous and civil to a fault to the PB. Thought the PB responded more like a lawyer then a cleric. One specific comment for Pat O'Neill re proof of the Holy Spirit....if as TEC's controling faction claims the HS is "doing a new thing", why isn't it doing it with such vigor in the rest of the AC, or does TEC hold some higher calling then our brothers & sisters in Christ elsewhere?+

Posted by: Doubting Thomas on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 10:11pm GMT

You're not wrong, David Wh, many liberals believe that.
What's your point?

Posted by: ErikaBaker on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 10:23pm GMT

I'm with you drdanfee

The book of Revelation has been fulfilled as far as God wants it to be fulfilled.

There are some who are disappointed that God did not kill all the non-Christians, feisty matriarchs, GLBTs and others. There are some who purport that some souls do not belong on this planet and that they have no legitimate needs nor aspirations.

Poppy cock.

Every single soul on this planet is here because God wants them to be here. God did not form this planet to be empty but to be inhahabited (Isaiah 45:18).

Naughty priests and angels might try and dupe souls into thinking otherwise. More fool them. If this planet dies, every single soul will be held to account.

God's Will will not be thwarted. This planet and its occupants remain. The everlasting covenant of peace will be restored and Jesus will do what he was ordained to do.

By the way, one of the things that I am really loving is watching the non-Christians, the humanists, the secular and the scientists rally forth to our aid. It is a joy when there are global events (e.g. Climate Day last July) that the scientists make a point of doing something in both the Antartica and the space station, making it that wherever humanity can be found, a commitment to a collective healing can also be found.

Plus they can't change that the debates have been won in the metaphysical great assembly and there are committed alliances across all of Creation to preserve this planet. Satan might have had fun poaching and corrupting Christians. It's been rather fun to do it back in kind to his previous minions.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 10:26pm GMT

Pat O'Neil writes:
The orthodox seem to think that the Holy Spirit acts only through personal inspiration or personal actions like speaking in tongues and the like. Many of the rest of us believe the Spirit acts in many other ways, including communal decisions about who should lead the church and how.

That is not accurate. We - orthodox - but I can only speak for myself and yet am backed up by the 1979 catechism which asks how we know when the Holy Spirit has spoken. Its answer is when it is confirmed in the Scriptures. The innovations that Mrs. Schori and those that are with her attribute to the HS that which is contradicted by the Scriptures.

I agree with those that believe the split has/ought to, happen. We will not agree. Can we not each go our way gracefully rather than litigiously. The rancor is injuring us all. As for me I will retire and leave ECUSA for another province.

Posted by: Ian Montgomery on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 11:51pm GMT

I also thought that Bishop Lawrence, generally, conducted himself with some grace - as did the presiding bishop. A small number of "conservatives" appear to have behaved like particularly nasty toddlers, stopping just short of calling the Presiding Bishop a stoopy-poopy-head. And honest effort was made by liberls and conservatives to have an honest and respectful dialogue, and it managed to survive attempted highjacking by a few jackasses.

Now, David, I could tell you that I believe the creeds. I could tell you again and again until I was blue in the face.

I won't bother, because you prefer to lie about me. The lie bolsters your position more effectively that the truth ever could.

I could have far more respct for you and for your position were it not predicated on a slander.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Friday, 7 March 2008 at 11:53pm GMT

David Wh wrote: ""I can't imagine that LibTEC commentators really believe the Nicene Creed."

Well, David, I don't believe that ConEvo pseudo-Anglican commentators even understand the message of Jesus, much less are they following it in their religious lives.

And, as to the Nicene Creed, I don't know any Episcopalian who does not believe it, and I certainly do. But I also would expect that individual Christians, and Anglicans, could understand different elements of the Creed somewhat differently.

But as to the message, and as to the essence of Jesus, this is where I believe that the fundamentalists and neo-Puritans have almost no clue about Jesus and His message.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 12:15am GMT

"One specific comment for Pat O'Neill re proof of the Holy Spirit....if as TEC's controling faction claims the HS is "doing a new thing", why isn't it doing it with such vigor in the rest of the AC, or does TEC hold some higher calling then our brothers & sisters in Christ elsewhere?+"

Perhaps in other parts of the AC the authorities are so sure of themselves they simply aren't listening to the Spirit when it speaks to them.

Or, alternatively, the Spirit knows they aren't ready for what it has to say.

I don't presume to know definitively what the Spirit is doing. I can only know definitively what I hear the Spirit saying to me.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 2:15am GMT

Pat

The first is theological -- whether it is acceptable for ENS to distort the truth, if not lie either with its words or with its omissions depends on whether you believe in "You shall not bear false witness" and "Let your yes be yes and your no be no"

The second we agree is theological

The third -- whether the canons over-rule scripture or scripture over-rule canons is decidedly theological. It depends on your theological position on what the scriptures are or are not ie are they the Word of God or just some ancient text about God.

The fourth is more basically theological than that -- it depends on what your believe about God - is he the same yesterday, today and forever -- or does he change his position on matters because we change our position? It also reflects the theological beliefs about Jesus -- is he the Son of God who gave the full revelation of God, or is he just a visiting preacher whose words need to be reinterpreted if they don't fit. You know passages like about marriage and his stress on the fact that God made them male and female etc

So I think your interpretation of "political" is wrong because underlining any "political" position is a theological one about who God is.

Posted by: Margaret on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 4:45am GMT

JCF -- in response to your comment:

Yes, Margaret, as I said over at Steve Wood's site:

"+Lawrence's questions (inquisition, really) amount to, essentially 'Have you stopped beating your wife?'"

You seem to be implying with your comment that the questions were not of serious concern to Bishop Lawrence nor to the people he represented. Whatever happened to "listening" to other people's perspectives?

Actually I would have thought the answer to the "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" question was clearly "No" given the number of court cases, suspensions of orders, and dismissals of priests and laity currently underway. There is clearly a lot of abuse going on within TEC household at the moment. [PS Because you cannot tell tone I wish to state that the last sentence is written with a very heavy heart -- not in any sense of happiness.]

Posted by: Margaret on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 4:52am GMT

lIBERALISM IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

If you look at STAND FIRM and Virtue on line, you will see that many " traditionalists" view Lawrence as a dangerous liberal.

They find his trajectory on womens ordiantion unacceptable and compromise with TEC.....

Sydney Diocese would never accept him as a serving bishop in their diocese.....

No " traditional" anglicanism is a very confused and mixed bag.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 8:16am GMT

Jeremiah 8:8 "‘How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?"

Faith transcends the law. Faith existed before literacy or the Torah, see Hebrews 11.

Luke 8:43-48 or Matthew 5:24-34 “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

Jesus' response to the unsolicited Canaanite woman “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” (Matthew 15:22-28)

Luke 18:1-8 "...will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Hebrews 11:6 "...without faith it is impossible to please God..."

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 12:18pm GMT

Margaret:

By your theory, then, all disagreements become theological ones--even disagreements having nothing to do with the church. But we do not live in a theocracy.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 12:27pm GMT

Margaret:

Oh, and regarding your response to Lawrence, can you please cite specifics on liberals suspending the orders of conservative clergy, or dismissal of same, or of laity? I know many examples of conservatives doing the same to liberals in places like San Joaquin and Fort Worth, but none in the opposite direction, except where the conservatives brought it on themselves by actions such as rejecting the authority of their duly elected bishop.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 12:31pm GMT

I thoroughly believe that many, many liberal members of the Episcopal church are true believers -and, as has been denied by some here, recite the Nicene Creed, believing every word of it.

However, I folloq the HoB/D listserv and am astonished and saddened by the vitriol and sometimes disbelief that many on the listserv discuss.

Some of the liberal visitors on Titus1:9 and SFIF clearly do not, and are largely there to foment disagreement. Hence those eventually are banned since their purpose in being there is not constructive.

I agree with Malcolm+ comment. I think +Lawrence was gracious to the PB and yet articulate and clear in stating his and his new dioceses' beliefs.

"So why doesn't this man leave if he is so unhappy?" I assume that by referring to 'this man' you mean +Lawrence, Mike.
I read nothing whatsoever that said that +Lawrence was 'unhappy'. He stated what he believed. And with what authority do you state that he 'won't be missed'. I suggest and many in the leadership of the Episcopal Church have made clear that they need us (orthodox) and we need them. Once again you speak with your vengeful feelings against Christianity.

Posted by: Bill Channon on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 6:52pm GMT

"The innovations that Mrs. Schori and those that are with her attribute to the HS that which is contradicted by the Scriptures."

This argument "The Church Apostate", that the Church condemns what God (Leviticus) has blessed and blesses what God (Leviticus) has condemned, is not new - it was invented by Saint Pierre Chanteur, School Master at Nôtre Dame de Paris, in the late 12th century.

It wasn't true then, it's not true today - unless you substitute "translations" for the real thing...

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 8:02pm GMT

JCF, Erika, Pat,

Truth is the issue, trust is the outcome. How can I trust LibTEC's claim to have a Christian theology, based on the Nicene creed, if it turns out that the truth is that they interpreted it to mean something quite different from its original meaning?

Similarly, how Christian is an organisation that picks and chooses among the values of Christ and the Apostles based on the values of this age, and adopts values of this age that are contrary to those of Christ and the Apostles? - Giving everything a liturgical gloss, or voting for it to be a 'canon' when it against the ultimate canon of Scripture, is not enough!

Can that organisation be called a "church"? And how can it be pretend to be surprised that Christians who do want to follow the teachings of Christ and the Apostles rebel against the "duly elected bishop" when it has been suspended from the functions of the Anglican Communion, and had its links with several churches severed, over the very same theological issues!

Posted by: david wh on Saturday, 8 March 2008 at 9:38pm GMT

David, many of us look at the fundamentalist faction of the Anglicans, such as the Virginia Secessionists and the T19 and Viagrablog crowds, and marvel at how closely their teachings just happen to track those of George W. Bush and the Republican Party. It seems to us that they are themselves wallowing in the spirit of the age.

Posted by: JPM on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 12:27am GMT

"How can I trust LibTEC's claim to have a Christian theology, based on the Nicene creed, if it turns out that the truth is that they interpreted it to mean something quite different from its original meaning?"

Oh God--I thought we only had to deal with "original intent" and "strict constructionism" when talking about the US Constitution.

"Similarly, how Christian is an organisation that picks and chooses among the values of Christ and the Apostles based on the values of this age, and adopts values of this age that are contrary to those of Christ and the Apostles?"

I'm amazed that you believe you can definitively determine the "values" of men who lived 2000 years ago...or that they would not adjust those values based on new knowledge and understanding acquired in those two milennia. Christ defined his values quite clearly in the two great commandments...I fail to see how the conservative animus against our gay brothers and sisters lives up to either of those commandments.


Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 12:42am GMT

Hi Pat

I wasn't asked to comment on EVERY disagreement -- but these four are theological at their base, not political (ie the political position taken is determined by the underlying theological positions not the other way round).

I must admit that I find it hard to provide a strong theological base for when I argue with any of my four teenage sons about the state of his bedroom floor -- but that wasn't what I was discussing above.

While I agree we do not live in a theocracy as defined by the dictionary, I do take seriously the injunction that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength. There are few significant decisions in life then where we Christians should not reflect on what God desires of us in this decision or action.

I think your second comment that "the conservatives brought it on themselves" ignores the fact that it is the TEC that has changed the teaching of the church for the last 2000 years. In precisely what sense did the conservatives bring this change in theology on themselves?

Posted by: Margaret on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 1:26am GMT

David WH, I notice you're moving the goalposts now; your original claim was that "LibTEC" didn't believe in the Nicene Creed. Now that all of us have said you're wrong - you're wrong in my case, as well, FYI - the problem all of a sudden becomes that we "pick and choose among the values of Christ and the Apostles based on the values of this age."

Once we dispense with THAT argument, will it be something else that you object to? I really think it might be good for you to inspect the beam in your own eye, rather than assuming you know what other people's faith consists of. That was one of Christ's most often-discussed (and so I would imagine deeply-held) values, you know: we were to confess our OWN sins, not those of others.

Posted by: bls on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 1:53am GMT

David W wrote: ”… if it turns out that the truth is that they interpreted it to mean something quite different from its original meaning?”

Everybody does that, you know. I

t seems to be because indeed they i n t e r p r e t differently: Neo Platonism, or… something else ; = )

It’s the same thing (I suppose) with the picking and choosing ;=)

Different interpretations.

Take for instance the Creed-S:
We say A Holy General Church; the Society of the Holy…
Rome says ONE Holy CATHOLIC Church – making it Rome and only Rome…

The picking and choosing has, of course, become much worse in late modern times…

and worse still, in the Age Of Bush And Cheney.

When people (in power) – well, you know – Spin…

; = )

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 10:23am GMT

Margaret wrote: “… the political position taken is determined by the underlying theological positions not the other way round.”

By the degree of Neo Platonism of the parties involved, Margaret!

And the Idea that the Male Academic can c o m m a n d (and judge/condemn) what others do… (derived from the Gnosticist Idea that the celibatarian can – and must – do so).

; = )

Margaret wrote: “I think your second comment that "the conservatives brought it on themselves" ignores the fact that it is the TEC that has changed the teaching of the church for the last 2000 years. In precisely what sense did the conservatives bring this change in theology on themselves?”

Bad manners, Margaret. Just like the bedroom floor. ; = )

Besides, the anti gay Social & Sexual Policies of the last quarter of a century (Rome and Colorado), and the Fundamentalism and American Arminian pretended “Inerrantism” of late modern “translations”, starting with the radical c h a n g e (inversion) in the 1960ies Roman Cambridge version of the Codex Sinaïticus – not, I remind you, the official Roman 1564 Versio vulgata – and its accompanying “Grammatical Analysis” NOT by Pater Zerwick SJ, Rome 1966 and, simultaneously, by Focus on the Family and a host of well-funded Socio-Political pressure groups, into “Headship” and the like) are quite un-known and un-heard of in these parts, I can assure you.

And I remind you, that the 1966 New Catholic Encyclopaedia still stood by the traditional Western Neo Platonist/Gnosticist view – as does the East.

Here in its Scholastic form (Lateran IV 1215):

Chastity for all (tra-la-la o n l y with the intent of making children), Celibacy for the Ordained (Lateran II 1139) and (total) Abstentions for the Holy (always beginning with water and soap ; = )

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 10:54am GMT

"I think your second comment that "the conservatives brought it on themselves" ignores the fact that it is the TEC that has changed the teaching of the church for the last 2000 years. In precisely what sense did the conservatives bring this change in theology on themselves?"

The question is whether an acceptance of same-sex unions is a change in theology or merely a change in our understanding of humanity. If theology is, literally, "the study of God" then our theology has not changed--only our interpretation of what we have learned.

To ignore the past 50 or so years of inquiry into human sexuality and psychology is to ignore reason, that great third leg of the Anglican "stool"...which would be, to me, to reject all that Anglicanism is.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 11:40am GMT

David in re to "LibTEC" (sounds like a combined two year associate's degree): "...if it turns out that the truth is that they interpreted it to mean something quite different from its original meaning?"

Now David, you surely realize that ALL of us, you included, interpret things that are not necessarily what the authors intended. That's the problem with the written word.

Secondly, it is SOME very few "factions" (oh god, do I sound like Bush & Co?) of the AC that have objected to our "duly elected Bishop".

Face up to it David wh, you sound just like those written about in the latest issue of The Living Church, down in South Carolina who refused to admit blacks back in the mid-1960's.

Your "interpretation" (and it is just that, no difference than ours) of scripture is dying, and you are missing the light of Christ in my opinion of the guidance of Holy Spirit in your fear filled little mind.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 12:15pm GMT

Margaret wrote: “… the political position taken is determined by the underlying theological positions not the other way round.”

By the degree of residual Neo Platonism of the parties involved, Margaret!

And the Idea that the Male Academic can c o m m a n d (and judge/condemn) what others do… (derived from the Gnosticist Idea that the Celibatarian can – and must – do so).

; = )

Margaret wrote: “I think your second comment that "the conservatives brought it on themselves" ignores the fact that it is the TEC that has changed the teaching of the church for the last 2000 years. In precisely what sense did the conservatives bring this change in theology on themselves?”

Bad manners, Margaret. Just like the bedroom floor. ; = )

Besides, the anti gay Social & Sexual Policies of the last quarter of a century (Rome and Colorado), and the Fundamentalism and American Arminian pretended “Inerrantism” of late modern “translations”, starting with the radical c h a n g e (inversion) in the 1960ies Roman Cambridge version of the Codex Sinaïticus – not, I remind you, the official Roman 1564 Versio vulgata – and its accompanying “Grammatical Analysis” NOT by Pater Zerwick SJ, Rome 1966 and, simultaneously, by Focus on the Family and a host of well-funded Socio-Political pressure groups, into “Headship” and the like) are quite un-known and un-heard of in these parts, I can assure you. Change.

And I remind you, that the 1966 New Catholic Encyclopaedia still stood by the traditional Western Neo Platonist/Gnosticist view – as does the East.

Here in its Scholastic form (Lateran IV 1215):

Chastity for all (tra-la-la o n l y with the intent of making children), Celibacy for the Ordained (Lateran II 1139) and (total) Abstentions for the Holy (always beginning with water and soap ; = )

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 12:41pm GMT

The funny thing is that the Scholastics “proved” their Heathen teachings (pretended “Christian”) with Bible quotes (these had to be manipulated, to be sure).

The “need” to “prove” Scholastic Socio-political and Ecclesiological Policies from the Bible is the reason for the great differences between the Vetus Latina, the old Latin translation from North Africa of the 2nd century onwards, and the late 12th century Verso Vulgata of Paris ; = )

Lev 18:22 was re-written abandoning the Greek for the damaged Hebrew (a thousand years younger) and transformed into Latin. Koimethäsä; to lie, to sleep (also to die), was changed into “commiscearis”; commit.

Koitän; the Bed (of the wife; the only bed there was in a household in Antiquity – other household members slept on cots or mattresses on the floor, or on the roof), a Noun, was sexualised into an other Verb (to do tra-la-la ;=), innocently moving the focus from the Bed to the persons… There were other changes to the rest of the chapter (which was Latinized as Biblical “proof” for Emperor Louis the Pious’ 829 Council of Paris “teachings” on “incest”), notably “Moloch” and the charge of Bestiality (of the woman, of course ; = )

Likeways, several other verses including 1 Thess 4:2-7 (which in the Danish Bible has remained about Honesty in business transactions) were claimed for Mandatory Celibacy (Lateran II 1139) and used for the consecration of bishops...

In late Modernity (that is, after 1955), most of these obsolete Scholastic Ecclesiological and Socio Political “proofs” into crowd control (“Hetero”-sexualizations), have been “Homo”-sexualized, and re-circulated as anti Gay – not so few made up from scratch, cf 1 Thess 4:6 in some “translations” – in the interest of novel Social and Sexual Policies ; = )

It was in fact Pater Zerwick himself, who put the brand new 1960ies Idea of “sexual Orientation as Identity” in the Biblical Text, when he changed the traditional Academic (from the 10th century, both East and West) translation of 1 Cor 6:9 malakós; soft (of textiles; cf Luke 7:25 and Matt 11:8), “sloppy”, into a Latin synonym for Ganymedes, catamita; passive gay man (a definitely M o d e r n interpretation ; =)

Late modern Essentialism.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 12:43pm GMT

Anyway, do any of the "authority of Scripture" folks actually READ the Bible? God commands Holy War in there, you know. It's also OK for men to raid neighboring villages to steal women for wives, and of course slavery's not a problem. Abraham impregnated his maid and then, with the help of his wife (who may have been his half-sister) kicked her out of the house to die in the desert.

And of course everybody's a polygamist; there are rules about how that works, too.

So then: you were saying?

Posted by: bls on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 2:07pm GMT

bla
I suggest you do a very, very, very, very basic course in Biblical interpretation and then you will be able to answer the questions you have raised. I am currently doing the issue of progressive revelation, and the relationship of the Old and New Testament, with the 10 and 11 year olds in my youth group, so I assure you it is not hard.

As I said above many of these discussions go back to the view the person making the comment has on the Bible. Your view is very clear.

Posted by: Margaret on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 7:30pm GMT

"Bad manners, Margaret. Just like the bedroom floor. ; = )"

and

"By the degree of residual Neo Platonism of the parties involved, Margaret!"

Goran -- what are you saying ???

It may be that the idiom of English is different hear in New Zealand than wherever you are typing from but:

1. We do not have any saying that relates to bedroom floors so I have no idea what you mean

2. I was not in any case talking about manners, but about theology. I hope you haven't caught the "you must be wrong because I am offended by what you say" type of logic, which is utterly bizarre but quite common.

3. Neo Platoism ?? sorry Goran I know what Platoism is and what Neo Platoism is but this comment defied my analysis. Can you explain please?

Posted by: Margaret on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 7:37pm GMT

Pat

"The question is whether an acceptance of same-sex unions is a change in theology or merely a change in our understanding of humanity."

If the question was the acceptance of same-sex unions then I would agree with you (and in fact I supported the legalisation of same-sex civil unions in New Zealand).

But that is not the issue.
The issue is whether a Bishop can be in a same-sex union ie whether his behaviour is acceptable to God

and

the issue is whether the church pronounces blessings in the name of God on same-sex unions.

Both of these have therefore a direct link on how God views same-sex relationships -- and hence is theological.

Posted by: Margaret on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 7:40pm GMT

PS to Pat

I realise I have presumed in my most recent post that the Episcopal church intends to bless in the name of God. These days that presumption is perhaps a bit dangerous.

Posted by: Margaret on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 7:41pm GMT

"I realise I have presumed in my most recent post that the Episcopal church intends to bless in the name of God. These days that presumption is perhaps a bit dangerous.", says Margaret.

How irrational, delusional, disingenuous, and diabolical can Margaret be?

I have what may be as vitriolic a view of neo-Puritan fundamentalists, like Margaret, as she obviously has of most Episcopalians, but I would not presume to say that those neo-Puritan fundamentalists do not act in the name of God, as they interpret scripture to be correct.

Each of us is acting according to our belief about what God would have us do, so snide comments such as Margaret's final sentence are entirely inappropriate.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 10:26pm GMT

I had written: "Bad manners, Margaret. Just like the bedroom floor. ; = )"

and "By the degree of residual Neo Platonism of the parties involved, Margaret!"

Margaret wrote: “Göran – what are you saying ???
It may be that the idiom of English is different here in New Zealand than wherever you are typing from…”

We speak Swedish over here ; = )

Margaret wrote: “We do not have any saying that relates to bedroom floors so I have no idea what you mean…” “I was not in any case talking about manners, but about theology.”

You can’t be serious. Un-Charitable behaviour, slander and falsehoods are bad behaviour coming from a Christian. They are about Manners (and the Heart, and Conversion ; = ), not about theology.

Margaret wrote: “ Neo Platonism ?? sorry Goran I know what Platonism is and what Neo Platonism is but this comment defied my analysis. Can you explain please?

Well, not that you don't know, but the Western Academic tradition is Neo Platonist, to this day.

It derives ultimately from the mixis of Philosophical schools at the Alexandrian Museioon in the 2nd century – 500 years after Plato himself, in a different city, in a different part of the World…

Via Imperial Byzantion, where it was the State Ideology, and the Academy at Aachen/Aix la Chapelle of the Carolingian Renaissance and Fulda it became the Western Academic tradition (Oxford, Bologna, Paris).

The second Renaissance that ended the “Middle Ages” (the Ages between the 2
“renaissances” ; = ) was a new, yet more (pseudo) Platonist influx from the World of Ideas...

Now, embarrassingly, Neo Platonism is not Christian, but Heathen – Hellenism. A different Religion, invented by Plotínos in the 3rd century.

Its Ideas are based on Gnosticist (and Indian) pre-suppositions.

But at Universities you still find people, who actually believe in it. Actually b e l i e v e it.

They also believe they are Christian – and that their (time-honoured) Hellenist thought-frames about hte need for (total) Abstentions are Christian and Biblical.

To me, and from the vantage point of the History of ideas, this is what the Anglican Un-pleasantness is all about.

A dying World view: Pride, Prejudice, Privilege, Power; a Hierarchy of persons/genders/whatever.

An Ideology which proclaimed that what i s, is Right, is drawing its last. It’s never a pretty sight.

Any help?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 11:19pm GMT

Margaret:

Your PS is libelous, IMO. There is no indication that TEC has ever or would ever bless in any other name.

I'm not arguing that the controversy regarding same-sex blessings is not theological...I'm arguing that it is a question of whether to do so is to change existing theology or merely to consider it in light of new information.

Rather the way we all changed our theological view of Genesis after geology and biology proved that a literal interpretation thereof was scientifically impossible.

Or are you part of the luddites who refuse to accept Darwin?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 11:21pm GMT

bls wrote: "David WH, I notice you're moving the goalposts now"

No I'm still with +Lawrence on this one. I don't believe that LibTEC folk believe the Nicene Creed. You aren't really believing it if you insist on "reinterpretation" of the true divinity and humanity of Christ, His forthcoming judgement of everyone, and that God has spoken through the prophets - including the Scriptures.

LibTEC folk now feel they have inherited the right to reject any Christian morals they think wrong, and assert anything the believe as 'canon'ical truth.

The real laugh is that what they are asserting is nothing other than the beliefs of the liberal america; with a small religious label stuck on the outside. :-O

Posted by: david wh on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 12:11am GMT

Pat asks of Margaret, "Or are you part of the luddites who refuse to accept Darwin?

In addition to Pat's question, I would also ask Margaret whether she holds that the sun revolves around the earth?

Furthermore, are we to take all parts of Scripture literally? Should we still consider slavery acceptable, and should we refuse to accept interest for our loans to others (deposits to banks), and so on?

Where does it begin, and where does it end, Margaret?

Should the Church Universal now deny the many changes in its understanding of Scripture as determined over the millennia?

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 12:35am GMT

Pat O'Neill wrote "I thought we only had to deal with "original intent" ... and ... "strict constructionism" when talking about the US Constitution" and "adjust those values based on new knowledge and understanding acquired in those two milennia"

Pat, How can you folk follow Jesus if you don't try to discern original intent!! You'll just end up following yourselves.... as I keep saying... (hence the "two religions in one church" accusation).

As for "adjusting values", I guess you mean on sexual morality. Why are you so obsessed with sex? (Actually I'll tell you - it's because liberal society is). The Anglican church has always taught that ALL sexual relationships outside marriage are wrong. I know plenty of Christians who abstain from sex because they are not married and believe the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. It's not just people who love people of the same sex who are supposed to refrain from sexual relationships...

Anyway, lack of a sexual relationship is hardly life-threatening. Why do you rail against people who believe in "abstention" and yet say nothing against people who promote or excuse sexual promiscuity? Irresponsible sex is doing huge violence to thouands of people every year in terms of disease, infertility and death - and disproportionately hitting gay men!

A bit of effort put into reducing irresponsible sex would save a lot of real harm.

Posted by: david wh on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 12:37am GMT

Actually, I've been reading the Bible religiously, Margaret, cover-to-cover. That's how I know what it says.

I do wonder, though, why you apparently believe that "progressive revelation" stopped dead forver in 33 CE. (But of course, the so-called "orthodox" don't really believe that, either. See C.S. Lewis on "usury" for a good example of that....)

Posted by: bls on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 1:15am GMT

Pat

"Libelous"? Hardly!

Jerry -- "irrational, delusional, disingenuous, and diabolical"? -- not those either

I was merely reflecting on the Episcopal trend to have Islamic/Episcopal and Pagan/Episcopal priests (sorry I can't remember the exact group that Oakwise and partner belonged to), neither of whom seem to cause their Bishop any grief until their activities became public. And then there was the little matter of the liturgy to Astarte posted on the national website -- again only an issue once it became public knowledge -- and those books that were withdrawn rapidly -- again not an issue until someone made it known.

Now one swallow doesn't make a summer, but rather a flock has developed over recent years, so I realised that my well-meaning assumption was just that an assumption and that I could well be criticised for assuming God was to be involved in the blessing and that therefore it did have the theological nature I attached to it.

Posted by: Margaret on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 3:09am GMT

WRT Margaret's slanderous PS.

It really is quite sad. Whenever anyone challenges the "conservatives," they inevitably revert to slander. "You don't really believe in God. You don't take scripture seriously." Or, as I saw on another blog "You loathe Christianity."

Margaret, I'm not sure what all you and David Wh loathe, but clearly neither of you is a big fan of truth.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 3:50am GMT

David W wrote: “The Anglican church has always taught that ALL sexual relationships outside marriage are wrong.”

Can you give us a reason? Why (if not for Gnosticisms sake) would it be wrong? Isn’t the issue rather un-interesting instead? Neither hot, nor cold.


“I thought we only had to deal with "original intent" ... and ... "strict constructionism" when talking about the US Constitution”

The interesting thing is that the Political anti-Moderns claim “original intent” in an effort to keep the awful Modern Times out, whereas the Fundie self-acclaimed Anglican Inerrantist have c h a n g e d the Bible with every new edition from 1947 putting the awful Modern times IN the Text…


Margaret wrote: “… again not an issue until someone made it known.”

Would be fun to watch the alternative (someone m a k i n g an issue of something they don’t know ; = )

Sorry, they do it all the time… My bad : - (

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 9:36am GMT

How about “The real laugh is that what they are asserting is nothing other than the beliefs of Right wing America; with a small religious label stuck on the outside.”

:-O

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 9:39am GMT

"You aren't really believing it if you insist on "reinterpretation" of the true divinity and humanity of Christ, His forthcoming judgement of everyone, and that God has spoken through the prophets - including the Scriptures."

Please point--with specific citation and a link, if possible--to any TEC authority supporting any "reinterpretation" of such...especially the first two. As to the third, "reinterpretation" of Scripture has occurred throughout history. Indeed, it could well be said that the Gospels were doing a pretty radical reinterpretation of the prophets (especially Isaiah), in comparison to standard 1st Century Jewish belief.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 10:57am GMT

"The Anglican church has always taught that ALL sexual relationships outside marriage are wrong."

Right--so why do you deny that status to our gay brothers and sisters? Because by doing so you relegate them to being sinners when they act upon their God-given sexuality? Why would a loving God set somebody up for such failure?


Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 11:00am GMT

Remember that Charleston and its largely Episcopal social elite - a very significant factor in the SC diocese - continue to be, as they have been for the better part of the last two centuries, a DEEPLY reactionary force. Charleston was the cradle of political Secession in 1860 and has never looked forward since that day.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 1:15pm GMT

Pat O'Neill-"Right--so why do you deny that status to our gay brothers and sisters? Because by doing so you relegate them to being sinners when they act upon their God-given sexuality? Why would a loving God set somebody up for such failure?"

I suspect God would look at human made religion as an exercise in often achieved failure and weep.

To watch a few "Christians" work so hard at something so ultimately inconsequential as expanding the marriage rites is disheartening, and to see the missed opportunities of the Church is truly wasteful. No amount of scripture quoting by the Margarets, David whs and NPs is going to convince me otherwise. Call it an exhaustion of listening, but I've heard enough. If Christiandom can't wake up to what the Holy Spirit seems to be speaking in a significant minority, they can take their irrelevant already-dead dinosaur to the garbage dump.

There are many of us who have heard the call, and you can't take that away from us. Ever.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 1:33pm GMT

Yep, right on cue! The Pagan/Muslim charges get trotted out. Pretty soon we'll hear about TEC being "the whore of Babylon" and that it's a "sodomite cult." All this because we happen to disagree with them on a matter that's not even remotely Creedal.

I guess people can see and understand things a lot more clearly from - what is it? - 12,000 miles away, by reading "Stand Firm."

Posted by: bls on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 3:28pm GMT

bls:

It's the Muslim one that really gets to me...as if the Muslims were worshiping a different God from the one we worship.

For that matter, if God is in and of all things, then even Druidic worship of oak trees is worship of the same deity, only in a different form.

But the conservatives can't accept that...because it would ruin their claim to an exclusive right to salvation.

And exclusivity is where it's really at.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 4:29pm GMT

I worked as a tanker mate in a shipyard job in nearby North Charleston. While there, the need came up for a tenor (another story, another time) in a large well known church there (big white building, second oldest, sitting in the oldest neighboring church's graveyard, and it's Wren-like spire an official steering mark on the nautical charts).

My one day off of 12 hour watches was spent singing the Howell's Col Reg at Evensong and can attest that although as closeted as I am, I was not the only LGBT member in that choir.

Charleston is a major logistics point on the U.S. east coast (a container port that far exceeds anything between Port Everglades and Philadelphia), a shipyard that closely rivals what is up in Norfolk, Virginia, and is home to many retirees from the north. It is no longer a backwater, and if the "con-eves" are in power there, it can't be for much longer.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 5:06pm GMT

Margaret, as a communications professional in my secular life, I advise you that lies make for very bad spin.

By your "logic," I might argue that illicit sexual activity in airport toilets is endemic among conservative Republicans.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 5:16pm GMT

I think we're going to have to develop some tongue in cheek expressions for "The Church" or "Biblical Teaching"

Where with a wink, we know we are talking about a cult that have a pre-defined perspective of the world and the bible that may or may not bear any correlation to anything that actually happens in the real world.

There are some who advocate they stand for what Christianity has become. That's true. But it is a bastardized corruption that became co-opted by the ruling powers. "That" Christianity is as disgusting as the forms of Judaism Jesus advocated against in his lifetime.

I am a Christian, but I am a "that" kind of Christian. I am a Christian who wants what Jesus wanted and despises what Jesus despised. "That" kind of Christian might not want me in "The Church". That's okay by me, I'd rather be in the wilderness than one of their sycophants.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 6:17pm GMT

In a past missive I should have said something about a few "Christians" working AGAINST expanding marriage rites. Thinking faster than my hands on the keyboards, my apologies.

Very well put Pat O., it IS all about exclusivity, and speaks volumes about their insecurity.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 9:03pm GMT

Hi Pat

Your most recent comment

"...as if the Muslims were worshiping a different God from the one we worship.

For that matter, if God is in and of all things, then even Druidic worship of oak trees is worship of the same deity, only in a different form. was the most illuminating of this entire discussion."

was highly revealing.

I would be interested to learn who else is of this view. Is there general agreement on this?

Posted by: Margaret on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 8:18am GMT

Margaret:

Two questions: Do you disagree that the Muslims worship the same God we do?

Do you disagree that there is only one God? And, therefore, anyone who sincerely worships must be worshiping that one God, no matter how the individual perceives that deity?

Actually, the second is entirely rhetorical...I know very well that you disagree with that one. But you see that is where you and I differ as to Christ's message to the world. You interpret "No one comes to the Father except through me" as an admonition: Believe in Christ or be damned. I interpret it as a simple statement of fact: All who are saved are saved through me...and all are saved.

Christ redeemed the world...not just certain parts of it.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 10:52am GMT

Pat,
The question is what does it mean to say that we all worship the same God.
Of course, there is only one God, so every act of worship is for him.

But if we genuinely see this God in starkly different terms, what practical meaning does it have to say we all worship him?

After all, God doesn't need our worship, we need to worship him for our own journey towards him. So if we were to consistently follow a harmful vision of God, would the effect of that on us not be to turn us away from the core truth of our faith?

Of course, I see this split even within Christianity, where some appear to be worshiping a vengeful, hateful God that I don't recognise at all. And it does appear to turn the worshippers into quite vengeful and hating people.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 12:03pm GMT

"So if we were to consistently follow a harmful vision of God, would the effect of that on us not be to turn us away from the core truth of our faith?"

Absolutely--which is why I spoke of "sincere worship". No worship of a loving, caring deity--the God *I* worship--can be a harmful vision. Those who worship the vengeful, hating God you describe--whether they see him as the great Jehovah or Shiva the Destroyer or the local nature god--are not sincerely worshiping the true God of the Universe.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 1:29pm GMT

I would turn that around, Erica.

It is vengeful and hating people who create a vengeful, hateful God - in their image ; = )

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 6:13pm GMT

Pat, Erika, Goran,

Don't confuse hate of sin with hate of people, or you will end up persuading yourselves that it is ok to hate and despise people like me (who are 'sinful' in your eyes).

I don't think God is hateful - He loves everybody, sinners all. But He is Holy and will judge the living and the dead (according to the Nicene Creed which everyone here insists they believe with Papal rectitude!).

Posted by: david wh on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 11:55pm GMT

"He is Holy and will judge the living and the dead"

But the question is what he will judge them on. You (apparently) believe he will judge them on their adherence to a set of laws. *I* believe he will judge them on their faith and their sincerity in living by that faith.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 12:51am GMT

I think David wh and Margaret that what in the Nicene and Apostle Creeds that the rest of believe or choose to not believe is very much a private matter between us and God. Furthermore Margaret, why do you want to know?

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 2:37am GMT

Hi Pat

Thank you for your questions.

I take it from your comment you do agree with this statement - since you think I don't

"Do you disagree that there is only one God? And, therefore, anyone who sincerely worships must be worshiping that one God, no matter how the individual perceives that deity?"

Now I have some follow-up questions:
1. Would you say the ancient peoples who used child sacrifices were worshiping the one God?
2. Do you think such worship was acceptable to God just because it was "sincere"?
3. Would you think it appropriate to stop a "sincere" worshiper today who wanted to sacrifice a child?
4. If so, how do you justify not accepting their beliefs since their "experience" of God has led them to sincerely believe this is what is right?

Posted by: Margaret on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 5:48am GMT

Dave Wh wrote: “ ... or you will end up persuading yourselves that it is ok to hate and despise people like me (who are 'sinful' in your eyes).”

Now, that was a collapse ; = )


Christ will judge (not Condemn) the living and the dead (that includes you…).

You will not. That's the big Difference.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 6:41am GMT

Oh David,
you really have to stop to second guess what I believe.
I don't hate you. In fact, I have never hated anyone in my life, I don't think I know what hatred feels like.
As for being sinful in my eyes - no. You're genuine, you truly believe what you believe. What you are is seriously misguided, but that won't stop God from loving you and wanting to draw you in.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 8:16am GMT

"1. Would you say the ancient peoples who used child sacrifices were worshiping the one God?
2. Do you think such worship was acceptable to God just because it was "sincere"?
3. Would you think it appropriate to stop a "sincere" worshiper today who wanted to sacrifice a child?
4. If so, how do you justify not accepting their beliefs since their "experience" of God has led them to sincerely believe this is what is right?"

No "worship" that includes human sacrifice involves an experience of the true God...because he would not accept such worship. Therefore it cannot be sincere. I've never said that ALL non-Judeo-Christian worship was sincere worship of our God in another form. And the number of pre-modern religions that involved human sacrifice (as a regular part of worship, not as extremes in moments of panic or disaster) is incredibly small. In fact, the ancient Aztecs are about the only ones I can think of who did it as a regular part of their religion.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 10:51am GMT

Erike wrote: "... misguided ... won't stop God from loving you and wanting to draw you in."

I'm glad we agree on that!

Posted by: david wh on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 8:30pm GMT

Pat -- I did not pull the child sacrifice issue out of thin air. While you clearly did not know it, it is generally accepted that the worship of Astarte -- the one you recall that was part of a liturgy on the Episcopal website -- did involve human sacrifice.

I agree with you that God does not accept all worship, but if you recall earlier you said

"And, therefore, anyone who sincerely worships must be worshiping that one God, no matter how the individual perceives that deity"

which did not seem to place any limits. You now say sincerity places a limit, however, I would have thought any parent who sacrificed a child was being utterly sincere in their beliefs according to any dictionary meaning of that word. It seems to me that you are interpreting "sincerely" to mean "what I approve of" and I am wondering what right either you or I have to be doing that approving.

Now I accept God has that right, and that is the problem that I have with what the Episcopal Church is doing with homosexuality. I would much rather say "It's fine -- let's be inclusive" but it is not my Church -- it is God's -- and God has not said its alright but rather on every occasion He has said the contrary.

That is why making someone in a gay relationship a Bishop has caused such fuss -- because it is saying that the Episcopal church can vote to override God. It is also why the issue of blessing gay relationships is so contentious, because it is God who gets to say what is to be blessed, and He has repeatedly and consistently said that this does not. Even the General Convention of the Episcopal church does not have the right to overrule God by vote.

Being a Christian has never been a "you can do whatever you like and God will still love you" religion. God always had limits on what was acceptable to Him and it does not matter how "sincere" or "loving" we claim to be in breaking those limits, it is still breaking them.

Posted by: Margaret on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 8:30pm GMT

Margaret,

What liberals say in their generalisations about religion, morality etc is not what they mean. It just sounds better to say "all religions have value" than to say "all religions that do not violate my liberal opinions have value".

The fun one to ask liberals is on their espousal of the equal value of all cultures and the practice of female genital mutilation... The usual liberal equivocation is to assert that it is NOT cultural!! They find it hard to say that it is just a bad cultural practice... because that suggests that some cultures are better than others...

All doublespeak of course!

Posted by: david wh on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 8:40pm GMT

"...God has not said its alright but rather on every occasion He has said the contrary."

Really? Where? Find me a direct quote from God's mouth on the matter.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 1:59am GMT

David Wh
If you want to win a debate you should know your opponents. Closing your ears to every point they make just results in the kind of silly responses you keep making here.

Who says that genital mutilation is right? Are those who fight to have it abandoned all staunch conservatives? Evidence, please.

To say that all cultures have value is not the same as also saying that all cultures have rituals and practices that are wrong.

To say that all religions have value does not mean that they don't also proclaim beliefs that are deeply wrong.

After all, it's the view you hold yourself - Christianity has value for you only if it excludes the liberal views.

In an intelligent conversation the starting point should be: all cultures and all religions have value. But what are the values we respect and where do we hope that cultures and religions will change.


You know what would be fun? To have a conversation with you in which you actually participated by responding to the points people make, not those you would like to hear and then claim to actually have heard.

If you want to be taken seriously here, it would help if you could take your conversations partners seriously too.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 8:24am GMT


Margaret,
"God always had limits on what was acceptable to Him"

Absolutely.

And what we're doing here is trying to discern what those limits are and what may or may not be acceptable.

This alone is where we differ. Not in the premise itself.

Like I said to David Wh - it would help the conversation enormously if you could stop carricaturing what we say. Just dismissing us as immoral and dismissive of God is a childish response and not likely to encourage a proper conversation.

If you want an adult conversation and if you want your views to be respected, treat your conversation partners with respect.

Why are you all so terrified of taking us seriously and engaging properly?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 8:28am GMT

Hi Erika
I actually am not sure what you have taken to be carricaturing, not dismissive, not disrepectful. I have re-read my posts, and they are not any of these things. So would you like to be more specific please?

It would also be helpful if you could state whether Pat's most recent posting (Thursday at 1.59) is the standard of debate you are looking for.

Posted by: Margaret on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 9:08am GMT

Margaret wrote: “Now I accept God has that right, and that is the problem that I have with what the Episcopal Church is doing with homosexuality. I would much rather say "It's fine – let's be inclusive" but it is not my Church – it is God's – and God has not said its alright but rather on every occasion He has said the contrary.”

God has not addressed what is now (since 1869/1890) called homosexuality.

Maybe he will some day?

The novel Concept has changed 3 times over, by the way. Which means that it doesn’t mean in late modernity what it once meant (sexuality = sickness) to innovating Dr von Kertbeny in 1869, not what it meant (symmetrical concepts hetero – homo) to Dr von Sacher-Masoch’s creative English translator in 1890…

Surely Margaret, you understand translations (no matter if well intentioned) are just translations. Not the actual words of the authors?

That they express the translator’s own agendas?

Certainly not the Word of God (=Jesus of Nazareth), never the words of God personally?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 9:22am GMT

Margaret:

What exactly was wrong with my last posting? You made a forthright statement--"God has not said its alright but rather on every occasion He has said the contrary"--and I asked you to provide evidence of the truth of that statement.

Admittedly, I consider it a rhetorical question, as I know quite well no such evidence exists.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 10:51am GMT

Margaret
"because it is saying that the Episcopal church can vote to override God. It is also why the issue of blessing gay relationships is so contentious, because it is God who gets to say what is to be blessed, and He has repeatedly and consistently said that this does not. Even the General Convention of the Episcopal church does not have the right to overrule God by vote."

This is the caricature.

No liberal I know has ever said they want to override God (and if you believe that I’m wrong here, I would ask you again to provide actual evidence of anyone who has ever done so. Proper quotes, dates, occasions, please. Verifiable comments, not just opinion.).

What we do is interpret his laws differently to you.
We genuinely believe that we are following him and his laws.

What you do is to claim that there is one obvious way of interpreting what God "says", and that everyone who doesn't agree is deliberately and arrogantly putting themselves above God and making their own rules.
This dismisses our intellect, our conscience and our moral values and simply groups us together with naughty children trying to get away with what they know is wrong.

It may make you feel superior to dismiss us like that, but it remains a caricature of what we truly are.


As for Pat's argument - I agree with you that I feel a little uncomfortable about it.
Pat seems to say that true sincerity always implies moral goodness, and I'm not quite sure I follow that train of thought.

My own view would be that people who want to sacrifice children for God are still worshipping the same God I worship (after all, there IS only one God), but that they have a deeply flawed view of him.

In practical terms that means I respect their belief but cannot stand by to allow their actions.

A bit like I see the same sex debate here. I respect the consevos understanding of God, but I will not stand back and allow them to actively discriminate.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 11:25am GMT

Margaret
Sorry, I referred to another one of Pat’s postings, not the one you asked me to look at.

But his is a valid question.
We always claim to know exactly what God wants and what he doesn’t, and we use very human words, such as “God says”.

Sometimes it’s important to step back and be aware again that he doesn’t actually “say” anything, but that we are dealing with the writings of people who talk to us about what God is like. Inspired they are, indeed. But to equate their writings literally with what God “says” is hubris.

Or do you believe that he has actually “spoken” in the sense that Muslims believe Allah has spoken through Mohammed?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 11:29am GMT

So some people know what GOD says! Through their telephone, television, the podcast from St. John's Cambridge, out of the ventilation port on the 737 heading for Dulles, wherever. That's fine and dandy. Both liberals and conservatives think (more accurately "feel") they have experiences like these all the time.

What are we doing with it? Are we trying to bring stability to people who at their worse may have an "intrinsic disorder" (not my words), or are we trying to argue that being separate, alone and isolated is "God's" way? The latter's not cultural, it is blatant bigotry and blasphemy. I've seen the results from the latter, in bars, baths and other disgusting places I wished I had never known about.

The ultimate question, why is what other people do -when it doesn't include yourselves-so darned important to you? That's my question, and it's d***ed important to me.

But for now I'll wait for God to speak to you from your easy chair and answer the question that Pat O'Neill about WHERE and WHAT did God say to you directly two same sex partners living a loving, nurturing and in a long term relationship. Direct quotes (Cherl VA's very good at this, if you need an example), not anger/fear-filled rhetoric and holier-than-art-thou pronouncements (between one another no less) please.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 1:17pm GMT

Quoth Margaret: “Now I accept God has that right, and that is the problem that I have with what the Episcopal Church is doing with homosexuality. I would much rather say "It's fine – let's be inclusive" but it is not my Church – it is God's – and God has not said its alright but rather on every occasion He has said the contrary.”

--------------------------

I wonder, then, Margaret, how you can have no problem yourself in violating another of God's clear commandments, given us through Scripture. Check 1 Timothy 11-12, for example:

"11 A woman must receive instruction silently and under complete control.

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet."

Now, there are certainly men posting on this board. And you are certainly attempting to instruct them. Why, Margaret? Surely you recognize that God has said that this is not OK? Is it not God's church in this case? How did you come to that conclusion?

Posted by: bls on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 2:55pm GMT

Erika, I do respond to points people make; but sometimes I don't respond to every point.

With regard to the conversation between liberals and conservatives, I think the various reports on ++Scori's visit to SC demonstrate the difficulties. Each "side" hears the other from their own perspective, and can easily misinterprete what the others are saying.

For instance, in our case, I have not said that: "Christianity has value ... only if it excludes the liberal views." I think there are some great insights that have come out of the "liberal" camp ... but there has also been what I see as a lot of rubbish like: "God is dead", pure situation ethics, "God doesn't do juggling acts with dead bones", and the idea that divine inspiration of Scripture doesn't mean anything is necessarily true for all time. As I've said before, this neatly leaves *everything* to be decided by human volition - which is just post-modernism.

The sort of thing that irritates me (and I'm not the only one) about the Liberal approach in debates here is the huge amount of unspoken assumptions. For instance, you said above that "I respect the consevos understanding of God, but I will not stand back and allow them to actively discriminate."
So, on your Gay Rights, you think it is perfectly fair that I should not be able to refuse to provide services that I would see as aiding homosexuality. But, presumably, you wouldn't say that I should not be able to refuse to supply services that we *both* would see as aiding something that is wrong (the marriage of two 15 year olds for instance).

So, to me, when you call something "discrimination" you are really saying "discrimination on something that I (or liberal society) approves of"! You are imposing your moral beliefs by calling any act of disapproval "discrimination"! That is what I mean about unspoken assumptions. It is invidious because I don't think many Liberals don't even notice what they are assuming any more... so you still think you are respecting others freedoms!

My analysis is that Liberals are happy to allow others to have freedom as long as the framework within which that freedom may be expressed is Liberal. Do you disagree?

Posted by: david wh on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 6:38pm GMT

Erika:

To be fair to Margaret, there are some places in the Bible, where God does speak directly--notably the incident of Moses and the burning bush, as well as the giving of the Ten Commandments in the OT, and Christ's baptism and the Transfiguration (where he uses almost identical phrasing) in the NT.

But in none of those cases does he make a flat statement regarding human sexuality (other than the commandments not to covet thy neighbor's wife and not to commit adultery).

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 7:37pm GMT

To say that God does not speak is to refute the essence of the bible. It refutes the prophets and even Jesus.

John 8:26 "“I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

Isaiah 21:10 "I tell you what I have heard from the LORD Almighty, from the God of Israel."

The Lord appeared and talked to Abraham e.g. Genesis 17.

Just because God speaks does not mean God reveals all to any one soul or at any one point in history e.g. Genesis 18:17 "Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?""

Nor is God passive and remote. Jacob wrestled with God until dawn Genesis 32:24-30 “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

Then there's the voices in the clouds e.g. at Jesus' transfiguration and with Job, the burning bush, the small quiet voice after the storm for Elijah.

Some Muslims' criticism is that Christianity became a worship of Paul's teachings rather than Jesus. When Christians refute Jesus and the Old Testament and justify that by a hyperbole of Paul's writings, then that is a valid criticism.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 8:07pm GMT

To say that God does not speak is to refute the essence of the bible. It refutes the prophets and even Jesus.

John 8:26 "“I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

Isaiah 21:10 "I tell you what I have heard from the LORD Almighty, from the God of Israel."

The Lord appeared and talked to Abraham e.g. Genesis 17.

Just because God speaks does not mean God reveals all to any one soul or at any one point in history e.g. Genesis 18:17 "Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?""

Nor is God passive and remote. Jacob wrestled with God until dawn Genesis 32:24-30 “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

Then there's the voices in the clouds e.g. at Jesus' transfiguration and with Job, the burning bush, the small quiet voice after the storm for Elijah.

Some Muslims' criticism is that Christianity became a worship of Paul's teachings rather than Jesus. When Christians refute Jesus and the Old Testament and justify that by a hyperbole of Paul's writings, then that is a valid criticism.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 8:22pm GMT

Cheryl, we might add Paul's comment: "To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. (1 Cor 7:10),. But Paul obviously believed that he wrote under the inspriration of God: "In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God." (1 Cor 7:40).

Both Paul and Peter believed that God inspired the OT Scriptures: "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

And so there seems to be no reason why He should not also inspire NT Scripture. After all, the Apostles themselves had experienced God speaking through them: "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." (Acts 4:31)

All this stuff about limiting God speaking through Scripture to records of divine speech is, in my opinion, what Ruth Gledhill recently called "wilful confusion".

Posted by: david wh on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 12:39am GMT

Yes, David wh, we assume most on this blogsite are alive and have a sense of judgment that is based on what a person does with what they are born with, and not with what they are made. Call it what you want, but it IS a commonly held "unspoken assumption" in most educated people. To not is to judge without regards to merit; i.e. to engage in discrimination.

So to get your bible out and condemn in a sweeping fallacy about people you have NO freaking clue about is an obnoxious act of discrimination, and it is also as I said before, blasphemy against Christ's creation.

Just like the others, you like to label and put into the category LGBT people as all sinners that run the range of one night tricks to eighty-year relationships that endure horrific hardships (a-plenty from their faith institutions for sure!).

You look at your few LGBT's in your "churches" and of course, they're non-threatening, being self-imposed eunichs (at least as much as they'll tell somebody like you), you're comfortable in your self-appointed system of sexual hierarchy, so all's swell with your biblical cookbook/proceedures manual fiefdom.

Yes, as somebody else on this string pointed out, you may have a some CofE (CE-CONS?????) churches filled with euphoric types in the greater London area, (I'll bet the larger parishes/cathedrals that worship in the style once known as 'cathedral standard' still outnumber your types) but you can't deny that Christianity is failing miserably in Europe, and has morphed into something evil here in the U.S. that has tried to start a religious war with the equally evil zealots of another hijacked faith. Then there's that fifty percent divorce rate that plagues both of our nations, which is considerably higher in the "evangelical" denominations here in the U.S.

You sit there and act aghast that the word "discriminate" is used differently than you want it to, but your blindness to the fact that most Britons and a rapidly increasing amount of Americans choose to sleep in on Sunday mornings is the telling fact that we in Christianity would rather have spent countless years splitting hairs about gays going to hell because they love one another, than to grow up and get motivated about the things that really count.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 2:41am GMT

"which is just post-modernism."

Post-modernism is a political phrase in England and America. However, the referrent is French.

I have never heard either concept or referrent in France.

; = )

Which makes me think the whole thing is an Anglo-Saxon (willful and political) mis-understanding.

The Spirit of the age of Bush and Cheney.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 6:52am GMT

Erika

Thank you for a thoughtful reply to my comments. I do not agree with it all but I think if we were able to converse face to face we would find there is much we hold in common, and only some we hold apart.

Unfortunately what we hold apart is significant - in particular that we do not agree on what the Bible is and what it conveys. I do not think it is just the writings of people who talk to us about what God is like -- that is what current day writers of religious books are, but it is not what the Biblical writers were. I doubt I could convince you of that if I spent all night on the keyboard so I will leave it at that.

As for the question of whether any liberal has ever wanted to overrule what God through the Bible has said, I could go on and on and on and on quoting example after example after example. But again I doubt it would change anything you thought. So I will save time and quote just one example that I have seen in the last 24 hours.

This is from the liberal theologian Luke Timothy Johnson, published 15 June 2007 -- is that specific enough:

"I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality-namely, that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human corruption, and disobedience to God’s created order."

http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=1957

As for the idea that everyone who worships by definition is worshiping God, I think you need to talk to a Satanist and see if they feel they would agree with your viewpoint. I think you will find they are far from convinced you are right --- as I am also -- but again I won't waste your time trying to convince you when you won't be convinced.


Bls
I recommend that you look at a good book on Biblical exegesis -- as I have no intention of spending my time on local vs general teaching etc and other very basic principles that you should have been taught in your youth. It is usually the conservatives who are accused of cherry-picking bible verses out of context!

And finally Pat
We stopped being able to communicate when you posted "Really? Where? Find me a direct quote from God's mouth on the matter" That might be a joke to you, but it certainly was not one to me. It was highly offensive but I doubt you even begin to understand why.

David wh -- thank you for your thoughtful and helpful comments.

Best wishes to you all. Margaret.

Posted by: Margaret on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 7:02am GMT

David Wh
“The sort of thing that irritates me (and I'm not the only one) about the Liberal approach in debates here is the huge amount of unspoken assumptions. For instance, you said above that "I respect the consevos understanding of God, but I will not stand back and allow them to actively discriminate."
So, on your Gay Rights, you think it is perfectly fair that I should not be able to refuse to provide services that I would see as aiding homosexuality. But, presumably, you wouldn't say that I should not be able to refuse to supply services that we *both* would see as aiding something that is wrong (the marriage of two 15 year olds for instance).”


I think there is a deep misunderstanding of what we’re doing.
I love your quote about both of us rejecting the marriage of two 15 year olds. Yes, we would!
But in biblical times, such a marriage would have been common place.
So something happened in the meantime to make you and me recoil at such a thought, and to use Christian arguments to fight against it.

This is how faith develops and takes new social and psychological realities into account.

What is happening now is that I believe that our attitudes to homosexuality have to change, just like those to marriage have done, whereas you believe they don’t have to change, indeed, that they must not change.

We disagree. It’s nothing more sinister than that. And no insults, no caricature, no denigration of each other is necessary. We can just look at this as mature adults, as faithful Christians and say “we disagree”.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 9:09am GMT

Margaret
Thank you for your generous reply.

You know, what really chimed was that we would find much we hold in common if we were to talk face to face. It has always been my experience that we are people first, liberals and conservatives second, and I have always been able to have close relationships with people who disagree with me deeply on some issues. It’s only when we talk in the abstract and without seeing each other as whole people, that our views become polarised and occasionally vicious.

Having read your reply, I believe the underlying misunderstanding between the two of us is what we mean by “the word of God”.

I agree, the Bible is not “just the writings of people who talk to us about what God is like” – if that is taken to mean that they just arrive at their conclusion by some kind of wishful thinking. I would not want to say “that is what current day writers of religious books are”, because some are deeply inspired, guided by the Holy Spirit and prayerful people. The challenge is to discern who is truly bringing us a new insight into God and who isn’t. And I agree that this is so dangerous and fraught that the current heated debate is quite understandable.

But, and this is aimed at Pat and Cheryl too, do you really believe that God spoke in the Bible, in the same way that Muslims believe God dictated the Qur’an to Mohammed? When it says “God said” – do you really believe that a truly embodied voice spoke something physically audible which the writer then noted without any additional interpretation, and that this was preserved verbatim through the millennia?
If that is what you believe, then we truly part company here. (to be continued)

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 9:15am GMT

(continuation)
But I would like to guess that you are not quite so literalist. And if you are not, then the only question remaining is where do we draw the line when interpreting what we mean by “God said”.
Clearly, you will draw a different line from me. But we could then, at least, start a conversation based on mutual respect, because we truly acknowledge that we’re both on the same quest.

And so I can agree with Luke Johnson’s quote when he (not we! Nothing annoys me more than people writing about “us” when they mean “I”!) rejects the premise of scriptural statements condemning homosexuality. He simply does not believe that this is a true moment of “God said”. Because to him, it conflicts with the image of a loving God that permeates the Bible, it conflicts with what we now know about psychology, and the relationships condemned in the Bible are nothing like the ones we are experiencing today. He simply does not believe that God has “said” this.

Now, I have no problem with you saying “I don’t agree that the line can be drawn here”. What I do have a problem with is the jump from there to “He wants to overrule what God has said”.

It’s a shame you live so far away – I should very much enjoy meeting you and talk about all this for hours!
Thank you for engaging.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 9:16am GMT

David Wh

“My analysis is that Liberals are happy to allow others to have freedom as long as the framework within which that freedom may be expressed is Liberal. Do you disagree?”


The question is, is it possible to do anything else?
Neither you are I are dictators or wish to be. Neither of us wants the power to rule over the minutiae of other people’s lives. We both recoil at societies like North Korea where someone has, indeed, assumed that kind of power.

So we both agree that there has to be a certain level of freedom for everyone.
Where we don’t agree is where that freedom has to be curtailed for the good of society/to protect other's rights/because of religious beliefs.

And what we are faced with is a perfectly normal human conflict: I would like to stop your freedom where I believe it harms my principles and beliefs.
You would like to stop my freedom where you believe it harms your principles and beliefs.

We both do it, there’s no point complaining about it.
What we need to do is to acknowledge that we would both like to do more imposing than the other is happy with – and then get on with trying to work it out.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 9:48am GMT

Margaret wrote: “... that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human corruption, and disobedience to God’s created order."

Well, that is PSA; an Interpretation. A late modern one, basically. But it is based on ?

Margaret wrote: “It is usually the conservatives who are accused of cherry-picking bible verses out of context!”

No, but they are the ones doing it.

Margaret wrote: “I recommend that you look at a good book on Biblical exegesis -- as I have no intention of spending my time on local vs general teaching etc and other very basic principles that you should have been taught in your youth.”

Oh, oh, the snarkiness ;=)

Now, I do not think it is the cherry-picking that is the real problem, really, but this idea of “local vs general”. The Inverting.

The Generalisations. Making most passages General (Bible Greek is specific) – for Socio-political ends... This started already in 1st Millennium Academia (Clement), which miss-read Bible Greek (Koíne) n o r m a t i v e l y: as Academic Greek (of the Platonist Academy).

In short: Ideology and Social Politics.

; = )

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 10:32am GMT

Margaret
I admit I do struggle with the question of whether we all worship the same God.
My first response is – we HAVE to, because there is only one God.

You point to Satanists, and I can see that they worship something that is so alien to God that it is almost meaningless to say they worship the same God.

But then I think of your earlier point regarding child sacrifices, and I remember God asking Abraham to sacrifice his own son. What now? Do we say Abraham was not worshipping the God of our Bible? Was he not worshipping “our” God because he was willing to sacrifice Isaac? Isn’t his offering held up as THE symbol of trust in our loving God? Is his intention any less abhorrent to us because we know that God stopped him in time? Does that lessen our revulsion at what he was about to do?
If there are any child sacrificers today, I'm sure they would say that God requires this of them, just as Abraham was sure that God required it.

Clearly, our view of this God has changed over the millennia, and we now abhor child sacrifice and believe it to be deeply un-Christian. But it’s the same God – Abraham’s God is our God, although our thinking about what pleases him and what he abhors has changed dramatically since the times of burnt offerings.

And so, reluctantly, I return to my initial premise – we do all worship the same God, but we all have different views of what he is like. Some deeply perverted, desperately wrong, some a bit closer to the truth. Possibly none encapsulating the whole truth.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 10:54am GMT

"And finally Pat
We stopped being able to communicate when you posted "Really? Where? Find me a direct quote from God's mouth on the matter" That might be a joke to you, but it certainly was not one to me. It was highly offensive but I doubt you even begin to understand why."-Margaret

We do take this fact very, VERY seriously, because it underlies the entire concept of the Mystery of Christ and His creation as being unfathomable to each and any of us. There is not an answer to it, despite what many try to infer from Scripture.

Luke Timothy Johnson's quote stems from the commonly held belief in Anglicanism of the "three legged stool". That precludes an unbalanced shift towards scriptural authority in our denomination, a fact of reality that started with scripture being commonly communicated since the advent of modern mass printing techniques.

That the LGBT people wish to be included in the leadership and marriage rites of the AC are a progression of reason (and tradition for that matter, we've always been around) overtaking the perceived (and mis-perceived) limitations in scripture. If it is a contradiction, then I would start reading scripture again in the context that authors meant it to be.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 11:39am GMT

"We stopped being able to communicate when you posted "Really? Where? Find me a direct quote from God's mouth on the matter" That might be a joke to you, but it certainly was not one to me. It was highly offensive but I doubt you even begin to understand why."

I'm sorry you feel that way, Margaret, but I still maintain it was a legitimate question, and not a joke. You are very good at finding statements about human sexuality in Paul's writings or in OT texts like Leviticus...but neither of those are words directly from God.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 11:51am GMT

"But, and this is aimed at Pat and Cheryl too, do you really believe that God spoke in the Bible, in the same way that Muslims believe God dictated the Qur’an to Mohammed? When it says “God said” – do you really believe that a truly embodied voice spoke something physically audible which the writer then noted without any additional interpretation, and that this was preserved verbatim through the millennia?
If that is what you believe, then we truly part company here."

As I think I've made clear, I think there are specific parts of the Bible in which God speaks directly--the burning bush, Christ's baptism, the Transfiguration are examples. In others, notably when prophets such as Isaiah write "the Lord said to me," they are describing--as best they can in their pre-modern understanding--the experience of the Holy Spirit giving them direction.

But in all those cases of Spirit-directed writing, we must remember that the writers are filtering the Spirit through their own cultural and human faculties...which may distort the Spirit's intentions. The same is true of any such Spirit direction today. And we have to be aware of it.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 11:58am GMT

"And so, reluctantly, I return to my initial premise – we do all worship the same God, but we all have different views of what he is like. Some deeply perverted, desperately wrong, some a bit closer to the truth. Possibly none encapsulating the whole truth."

Thank you, Erika. You express the point I was trying to make more clearly, and more succinctly, than I was able to do.


Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 12:01pm GMT

Says Margaret: "I recommend that you look at a good book on Biblical exegesis -- as I have no intention of spending my time on local vs general teaching etc and other very basic principles that you should have been taught in your youth. It is usually the conservatives who are accused of cherry-picking bible verses out of context!"

-------------------

Yes, Margaret; I thought probably you wouldn't bother responding. You might stop for a moment to wonder, though, how the "Biblical exegesis" you recommend came to be, since the Timothy passages, and others, were taken to be general teaching for literally thousands of years.

As were the "teachings" in Matthew and John that led to the vicious and horribly damaging anti-Semitism of the Church throughout much of its history. And, as I've already mentioned on another thread here, see C.S. Lewis on the topic of "usury." Here's the relevant section, from "Mere Christianity":

----------------

"Now another point. There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest--what we call investment--is the basis of our whole system. Now it may not absolutely follow that we are wrong. Some people say that when Moses and Aristotle and the Christians agreed in forbidding interest (or 'usury' as they called it), they could not foresee the joint stock company, and were only thinking of the private moneylender, and that, therefore, we need not bother about what they said. That is a question I cannot decide on. I am not an economist and I simply do not know whether the investment system is responsible for the state we are in or not. This is where we want the Christian economist. But I should not have been honest if I had not told you that three great civilisations had agreed (or so it seems at first sight) in condemning the very thing on which we have based our whole life."

---------------------

But of course there's no Crusade aimed at eliminating the lending of money at interest - only one aimed at a few individuals who are unlike the "majority" and therefore an easy target.

Your arguments are, in general, completely ahistorical and they in fact DON'T take into account the whole thrust of Scripture and of the life of God. Apparently you're unaware, but TEC asks this of its partnered gay members: that "such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God."

The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Your argument disregards those fruits, and also demands that other human beings - not yourself - live subhuman lives.

BTW, I did not spend my youth in the Church - something for which I'm ever more grateful. I believe that very fact has allowed me to come to a love of Christ without all the damaging baggage that so many others carry around; it has allowed me to basically ignore the Church in favor of listening to, and following, Christ. I feel quite sorry, actually, for people who seem unable, in their fury, to delight in their faith; I do feel quite lucky in that regard.

Posted by: bls on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 4:25pm GMT

My understanding is that the archangel Gabriel dictated the Qu'ran to Mohammad. Gabriel was given permission to do so. Mohammad was not backed up as much as Jesus to keep the pecking order in place (e.g. the Shechina refused to help him in battles). Mohammad acknowledged Jesus. I feel sorry for Mohammad and Gabriel, they've got some big messes to clean up in their camp.

I'm working on fixing up the ones from my own.

God knows we are all working to fix up our own backyards, and we all know that our butts are going to be kicked if humanity becomes extinct.

The time for testosterone posturing is past.

Archangels, celestial beings and transcendent forces are not all of God. They might seem like that to lesser beings; but they, their peers and God know they are not. They sometimes make laughing stocks of themselves by allowing their disciples to overstate the case. No one is going to take this planet away from Jesus, we're laughing too much at how he risks losing a whole biosphere due to the theology of his "holiest" priests.

Actually, I like and quote Paul a lot. Myopic misquoting of the bible, especially when combined with snarkiness, works when you are in an insular community. Go outside into the bigger world and the same "expert" suddenly looks like an aggressive small minded bigot.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 7:39pm GMT

Erika
I did not mean to re-enter this conversation because I cannot see any gain coming from it. However your post is again the kind of thoughtful one that does suggest it is worth engaging in this short dialogue.

I strongly recommend you read the WHOLE story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Issac and not stop half way through. Then consider what God was teaching him in the context of his time when so many surrounding religions sacrificed children.

Yes, God did teach Abraham that He also demanded total dedication which wasn't any lesser than those "gods" that demanded child sacrifice. There was no comfortable "Do anything you want and I will love you anyway" message. But the end of the story tells us that He taught Abraham that child sacrifice was NOT what He wanted and God HIMSELF provided the animal replacement.

The teaching is the same as we have held since, and indeed the same as the Jews have held ever since - God does require total dedication (consider Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength) but that God does not want child sacrifice as it is abhorrent to Him. There is no "change in our view" from the time of Abraham on this point even if there is a development of understanding on some others. Indeed this teaching to Abraham was clearly an important forerunner of the animal sacrifices in the Temple, and though this to the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which we celebrate ever Eucharist and every Easter.

Posted by: Margaret on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 7:52pm GMT

Goran -- If you reread the post you will find it is clear that the passage you find offensive was a quote from Luke Timothy Johnson. Please at least give credit where it is due.

Posted by: margaret on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 7:54pm GMT

PS Erika
I did mean to add to my comment that I agree with you that the basic difference between the two sides (if you want to characterise it like that) is what we believe the Bible is.

For one side the Bible carries the authority of God (as NT Wright so well describes it).

For the other it is an ancient text, perhaps (though sometimes it doesn't sound like it) to be respected as having some wisdom, but which can be ignored if it doesn't say what we believe it should. I do wonder why those who hold to that view believe this generation is so wise after reading their daily newspaper!

Posted by: Margaret on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 7:59pm GMT

"For the other it is an ancient text, perhaps (though sometimes it doesn't sound like it) to be respected as having some wisdom, but which can be ignored if it doesn't say what we believe it should. "

And I genuinely thought you might have read what I said.
I'm sorry you do not want a real conversation but simply insist on reiterating your preconceived ideas.

Oh well - have a good weekend anyway.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 10:22pm GMT

Margaret

Yes, I know the end of the Abraham story.
The point I was making, however, is not that God did not really want the sacrifice and taught us something new. The point I was making is that Abraham believed God wanted the sacrifice and was willing to make it.

As for:

“"For the other it is an ancient text, perhaps (though sometimes it doesn't sound like it) to be respected as having some wisdom, but which can be ignored if it doesn't say what we believe it should. "

And I genuinely thought you might have read what I said.
I'm sorry you do not want a real conversation but simply insist on reiterating your preconceived ideas.

Oh well - have a good weekend anyway.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 10:23pm GMT

Margaret: "For one side the Bible carries the authority of God (as NT Wright so well describes it).

For the other it is an ancient text, perhaps (though sometimes it doesn't sound like it) to be respected as having some wisdom, but which can be ignored if it doesn't say what we believe it should. I do wonder why those who hold to that view believe this generation is so wise after reading their daily newspaper!"

But you see, Margaret, for me and many liberal -- indeed all the liberals I know, including those who support the concept of Christian same-sex marriage -- your picture of what we believe the Bible to be is quite, quite wrong. You seem to have picked up an image of Liberalism that in no way corresponds to what Liberal Anglican Christians actually believe.

For me and for others, the Bible is unquestionably divinely inspired and carries the authority of God.

Where Liberals I know would part company with you is in our understanding of what God meant.

We're more likely than you, for example, to say that when the Bible says God told the leaders of Israel to commit genocide, just possibly -- because that is inconsistent with what else we know about God -- maybe those leaders were lying to the people (as leaders will do) about what God told them, or even that God spoke to them at all. Or maybe that in the 500-600 years between when the leaders spoke and when their words were written down, some of what they said got changed.

Because, I believe, Liberals at least try to understand and follow a God who is -- who doesn't say one thing today and its opposite tomorrow intending both statements to be taken as accurate, universal and unchanging. That means not giving every word of the Bible un unquestioned, invariable, literal and equal value.

As they say on some websites, YMMV.

Posted by: John Holding on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 10:34pm GMT

Erika, I think you misunderstood what Margaret is saying. She (and I) believe that God inspired the Old Testament, so we have to interprete it in that light. Hence we can't just reject bits we don't like - without having reasons that are based on good theology, and that can be applied throughout the OT.

"We now know that..." arguements are not adequate. They are based on elimination of bits that current thought disagrees with, rather than consistent theology - which needs to reinterprete, and not just reject, texts.

In all my studies I've not yet come across anything that is core to understanding Christianity that can't be handled in a theologically consistent manner. How else can we respect the supremacy of God, and scripture, over human volition?

---------------------

"What we need to do is to acknowledge that we would both like to do more imposing than the other is happy with – and then get on with trying to work it out"

Erika, that might work - but what are you willing to concede to "work things out"?

You seem to think that you are a nice reasonable person who respects other people, but last time we discussed gay rights, you could not accept that I should have *any* rights that might directly affect your life, and thought that your right to express your homosexuality should affect the way I live my life. That sounds like "working things out" in one direction only!

I do hope that you repent of your sinful same-sex sexual relationship, and gain forgiveness and salvation.

Posted by: david wh on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 1:47am GMT

Dawid
"Erika, I think you misunderstood what Margaret is saying. She (and I) believe that God inspired the Old Testament, so we have to interprete it in that light. Hence we can't just reject bits we don't like - without having reasons that are based on good theology, and that can be applied throughout the OT."

No, I think you misunderstand what I'm saying.
I also believe that God inspired the Old Testament.

But as he didn't dictate it literally, we still have to interpret what he meant.
We no longer believe that God asked people to commit genocide - many in the OT believed they were called by God to wage wars. That's just one example.
We no longer believe that God really wanted us to have slaves but to treat them humanely.

We're quite certain that God hasn't changed his mind on these things, so people's awareness of what God wants must have changed. Otherwise we would still be living with all the OT moral and social codes.

All I'm saying is: accept that this process of new awareness has always happened and consider that it might still be ongoing now.


As for your second question. I don't know how we can work it out in practice, it really is difficult.
But not by dismissing each other, not by caricaturing each other, not by pretending that the other is faithless.
I think we're actually still at the very base line of establishing some kind of respect for each other. And without that no constructive talking will be possible.

As for your last sentence:
I thank God every single day for the wonderful loving partner he has given me to share my life with, and the gravest sin would be to throw that priceless gift back at him.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 10:42am GMT

David:

No one's "rejecting" anything--just saying it doesn't mean what we used to think it means...a conclusion reached through REASON. You know, that part of Anglican tradition you and your fellow conservatives consistently ignore and disparage.

"...you could not accept that I should have *any* rights that might directly affect your life, and thought that your right to express your homosexuality should affect the way I live my life. That sounds like "working things out" in one direction only!"

An old American adage: "Your right to swing your fist ends at the point of my nose."

I have difficulty imagining how anything about Erika's (or anyone else's) private sexual affairs could affect how you live your life. What Erika does in a bedroom changes you how? Erika being able to marry her partner affects you in what manner?

It makes you psychologically uncomfortable? Well, boo-hoo.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 11:22am GMT

David
"...you could not accept that I should have *any* rights that might directly affect your life, and thought that your right to express your homosexuality should affect the way I live my life. That sounds like "working things out" in one direction only!"

How about we start by listing, precicely, how my life affect you, and how your wishes for legislation and church acceptance affect me.

Then we look at the list dispassionately and see if the two have equivalent impact on each other's actual daily lives.

At the moment, we're talking about impact without ever having specified, precisely, what that means.

So I invite you to start the list.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 1:00pm GMT

Yes David wh, how in any way does Erika's relationship effect you directly or indirectly. How does it limit your life, your right to pursue happiness and wholeness in your own personal religion?

We're waiting for the list.

John Holding- YMMV-?????????

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 6:15pm GMT

Erica Baker wrote: “Margaret
"because it is saying that the Episcopal church can vote to override God. It is also why the issue of blessing gay relationships is so contentious, because it is God who gets to say what is to be blessed, and He has repeatedly and consistently said that this does not. Even the General Convention of the Episcopal church does not have the right to overrule God by vote." This is the caricature.“

“A Conference of Rabbis changes the Torah” we were told our first term at University…

Thusly, the Charging of Interest was allowed, opening the Banking profession to the Jews barred from Trade and Commerce… and Polygamy was abolished making them more like unto the Franks – and less unto the Saracens…

; = )

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 8:38pm GMT

Erica wrote: “I love your quote about both of us rejecting the marriage of two 15 year olds. Yes, we would!
But in biblical times, such a marriage would have been common place.”

And long after… and even with the one under 15 (i.e. girl) and the other (man/uncle) 2 or 3 times as much.

Erica wrote: ”So something happened in the meantime to make you and me recoil at such a thought, and to use Christian arguments to fight against it.”

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 8:42pm GMT

Choirboy:

YMMV=Your Mileage May Vary

(it's a play on a phrase used in car commercials)

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 11:23pm GMT

Dear Erika
What a reaction to that Johnson quote! I cannot believe that you really did not know that this was the only way many people (and in particular, many theological thinkers) can reconcile their pro-gay stance with what is in the Bible?

I assumed that you, like most people following this dispute, realised that it is all about the authority of scripture. Homosexuality is merely the issue that has called that the church's acceptance of that authority into question, but it has no particular significance beyond being the presenting issue. The underlying discussion is about, and only about, the status of the Bible for the Church today.

Posted by: Margaret on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 6:45am GMT

Margaret
"The underlying discussion is about, and only about, the status of the Bible for the Church today."

It is... sort of.

We all believe in the authority of scripture.
Only, liberals believe it has to be interpreted in the light of tradition and reason.

But the conservatives claim that they never interpret the bible and that it contains God's commands clearly understandable and clearly applicable to today.

I happen to believe that the conservatives are, on the whole, closing their eyes to the truth: that they, too, have always interpreted the bible and adjusted their reading of it and their understanding of God.
It just so happens that homosexuality is the one point where modern conservatives cannot do that.

It's fair enough. But it would be fairer to admit that than to claim that conservatives have NEVER discovered new truths about God, and that liberals ALWAYS deny the authority of scripture.

Those are sand pit arguments.

And yes, liberals have their own stereotypes of conservatives too, their own prejudice. It is just as silly, just as pointless, just as hurtful.

But I had you down as an intelligent woman willing to engage properly. While we both remain behind our self imposed barriers of understanding each other, we cannot have a constructive conversation, only a more or less polite slanging match.

Yes, it IS about the authority of the bible.
No, it is NOT about one group of people following the bible the other group rejecting it.
Yes, it IS about different groups of people trying, honestly, genuinely and faithfully, to discern what being a biblically grounded Christian means today.

Unless you grant me the repect of seeing me as seeking, searching and faithful as you are, we really cannot continue this conversation in any meaningful form.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 8:32am GMT

Dear Margaret
"Homosexuality is merely the issue that has called that the church's acceptance of that authority into question, but it has no particular significance beyond being the presenting issue"

Let's assume that this is true.

Then please tell me why it is that conservatives love the sinner so much that Davis Mac-Iyalla is living a lonely live in exile, receiving death threats for being homosexual.
Why can a man walk tearfully into a Christian listening centre after his male partner died in a car crash, only to be given a lecture about his sinful life.
Why can a group of street pastors in training be shown a video of real life situations they might come across, that includes a scene of a Civil Partnership registration, and someone in the audience can clench her fist and shout she'd like to effing push their effing faces in - without being taken to task. This lady is now out there evangelising for Jesus.
Why can a young woman be stalked by a man and when asking her priest for help, be told that it is God's way of telling her to go straight.

If this is genuinely only about theology, why is it so hard for conservatives to distance themselves from these abuses? Where is the loud condemnation of these things on the conservative blogs? Where on TA? Where is the firm guidance from the conservative leaders that treating sinners like this is much of a sin as their homosexuality?

I am sure you want to convince us that this is a mere theological problem.
If it is - where are all the conservatives who keep making that point? Who keep condemning abuses and hatred of gays as much as they condemn homosexuality?

Would it not strengthen your argument enormously if you did that? Would it not show to all of us, very clearly, that this is truly a theological issue only, not one of hatred?

Or are conservatives not doing that because it is, actually, about hatred?

This is a genuine question.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 9:55am GMT

You assume wrongly Margaret. The Anglican Communion churches do not limit their authority to Scripture alone. Period. You should know that. You need to assume that not everybody is like yourself in how they see the light of Christ.

I am assuming that you are listening to the other comments on this site about usury and underage matrimony. I must be assuming wrongly.

What is it about making an a-- out of "you" and "me"?

Still waiting for that list, David wh.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 10:40am GMT

I too had thought you were a considered and thoughtful person ... until you started on a diatribe of hatred.

Posted by: margaret on Monday, 17 March 2008 at 4:22am GMT

Margaret

Sorry, were you talking about me?
I'm genuinely puzzled. Please tell me where you saw hatred, even a whole diatribe?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 17 March 2008 at 12:32pm GMT

Margaret, until you deliberately cross streets to avoid roving "toughs" who like to "beat up on fags", listen to the "queer jokes" at your workplace and watch as the leader of your country appeal towards the warped populace in an attempt at undermining the rights of it's citizens in changing the constitution, to get re-elected, please spare us the comments about being hated.

You have no idea whatsoever.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 1:23am GMT

Margaret
I've kept thinking about what you could possibly have found hateful in my replies to you, and the only conclusion I can come up with is that you resented my list of examples of mistreatment of gay people by Christians, and that you thought I held you responsible for this.

If my perception is right, then let me thank you.
Because, clearly, we both believe those are truly hateful examples of treating people.
I am delighted that we agree and stand shoulder to shoulder on this.

Sadly, Margaret, these are first hand accounts, all occurred in the last few months.

And because you clearly abohor them as much as I do, you must be as desperate to stop them as I am.

After all, you believe that the churches anti-gay stance is perfectly acceptable and moral. But that means you must want all hatred to be removed from your "camp" and for people to focus on the theology with an otherwise pure heart.

And in that context, I ask you again, why you think this isn't happening? Or is it happening and I just don't know it? Are there strong voices of leadership that I have missed?

Could you and I do something together to stop it?

Just imagine - both of us standing up against a motto that, to me seems to be: hate the sin, vilify the sinner.

You can still campaign for homosexuality to remain unacceptable in the church. I can still campaign for it to be accepted.
But we can both stand shoulder to shoulder in an attempt at protecting actual people, and in raising the debate to an acceptable standard.

What do you think?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 8:04am GMT

Erika

I did not want to bother with continuing this pointless discussion -- but since you have indicated that you are desperate for an answer on another thread I will give one.

This is the part of your comment that I was commenting on:

"Would it not strengthen your argument enormously if you did that? Would it not show to all of us, very clearly, that this is truly a theological issue only, not one of hatred?

Or are conservatives not doing that because it is, actually, about hatred?"

I will not engage in what I see as a pointless discussion with someone who does not know me who characterises my theological viewpoint as based in hatred. Quite apart from being insulting (which is the least of my issues with the statements), it is the another example of the "if your feelings are right, your theology must be right" argument that is utterly meaningless.

The feeling of "love" no more justifies a particular theology than the feeling of "hatred" makes another one wrong. The two are independent - just as in maths the most hatefilled person can get 1+1 right, and the most loving one can get it wrong.

I will not be continuing the discussion because I believe we have no common ground on which to base a discussion -- something I thought we did have at the beginning or else I would not have begun typing in the first place.

Posted by: Margaret on Thursday, 27 March 2008 at 4:47am GMT

Margaret
you have neatly sidestepped the main question.

Whatever our theology, we need to protect those who are suffering actual harm. And so I asked you:

"Could you and I do something together to stop it?

Just imagine - both of us standing up against a motto that, to me seems to be: hate the sin, vilify the sinner.

You can still campaign for homosexuality to remain unacceptable in the church. I can still campaign for it to be accepted.
But we can both stand shoulder to shoulder in an attempt at protecting actual people, and in raising the debate to an acceptable standard.

What do you think?"
And you truly have NOTHING to say about that?
You make me weep!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 27 March 2008 at 8:39am GMT
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