Saturday, 29 March 2008

opinions after Easter

James Mawdsley writes in The Times about The proper place of the Church in debates of state.

Michael Horan writes about the Resurrection in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.

Christopher Howse writes about Pictures from a lost village in the Daily Telegraph.

Simon Barrow writes at Ekklesia about The God elusion.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that After the fire comes the resurrection.

And in last week’s Church Times Paul Oestreicher wrote This is not a religion of the book.

Also Una Kroll wrote Abandon establishment, and gain autonomy.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 9:15am GMT | TrackBack
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Paul Oestreicher claims in his article that Christians should renounce the bloody protions of the Bible and repent of violence done in God's name.

Would it not be better - more biblical maybe - to learn from those portions of scripture? Just as we see the bloody sacrifices being replaced by the final sacrifice of Christ and therefore not having to be repeated, the warfare of the past used to overcome the enemies of the people of God is replaced with the love that Jesus taught. While one may have been required at the time it has been replaced with a better, a perfect, expression of God's will. Why renounce what we learn from? Why disgard the first and therefore rob the second from demonstrating how great a shift God brought through Jesus? Paul Oestreicher, all scripture is God breathed and useful for instruction. None should be renounced.

Posted by: Chaplain Steven Rindahl on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 12:46pm GMT

Archbishop Jensen set us all to rights in a recent lecture, Chaplain Rindhal. “If you get the big picture straight, you won’t be led astray as easily by the details of Scripture.”

http://your.sydneyanglicans.net/sydneystories/holy_spirit_draws_crowd_to_jensen/

Thanks to Caliban for the link.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 1:05pm GMT

It's always pleasing when someone's view of the resurrection matches your own! Michael Horan wrote:

_Disillusioned, confused and frightened, the disciples seem to have returned north to Galilee to resume their fishing. As they reminisced, possibly over many months, recalling their extraordinary experiences with Jesus, links began to form between their mental images of him and then-current messianic expectations._

I would add that they were also observing Jewish rituals and observed the importance of food, and it is into and out of that comes the "presence" of Jesus, whatever else may have been bereavement effects.

As a matter of interest, I am looking after my elderly mother for a few days, who after a nap became convinced she was not in her house although the porch was hers she said (it is her house) and nothing I could say could convince her otherwise - the computers here, paintings on the wall. Even my sister on the telephone made no difference: that was me making it up. She was though entirely logical in her illogicality. Obviously she has a form of dementia, but even in the sanest of people the brain and its anchoring locks people in to realities according to their culture and sub-cultures (stories) of the day and conviction is a very powerful anchor.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 1:50pm GMT

"If you get the big picture straight, you won’t be led astray as easily by the details of Scripture.”

I think the problem is that people like Jensen get the big picture straight.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 3:52pm GMT

Sorry, that should have said "...don't get the big picture straight"! Duh! God's little way saying I ought not try to look so smug and superior, I guess.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 3:53pm GMT

Hmm, these bright visitors remind me that I am ever so happy to rest and move and pray and witness within the generous spaces of a worldwide communion - in which Peter Akinola, and a whole host of angry conservative believers can still come to a shared table, just so long as in their anger and righteousness they cannot also prevent folks like Simon Barrow and Paul Oestreicher from coming along, too. Or Pluralist, for that matter. Or Cheryl C.

Our generous reach as a communion is a key part of our reason for being Anglican in that other, alternative, non-conservative, non-realigned sense.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 4:52pm GMT

A beautiful set of papers, worthy and insightful comments through many of the articles.

Thanks Lapin for the link and Ford for the chuckle. You wrote "I think the problem is that people like Jensen get the big picture straight."

A play on your words "I think the problem is that some only like to look at the big straight bits of the picture".

Some have read the bible from a quantitative perspective. God is masculine because over 95% of the imagery is masculine, forgetting that there is that 5% feminine imagery. Plus 5% of feminine God is a whole lot of woman. Plus there is a saying that "behind every strong man, there is a strong woman".

Some might like to go and talk to some Jewish mystics about the differences between the masculine and feminine manifestations and traits. The feminine is more subtle, discreet. We all like the bluster and bravado of a powerful virile man swinging a sword with authority. What we often forget is that man was once merely cells nourished in a sheltered womb until able to breathe in his own right. Fed from the breast and his bottom wiped clean as in infant. Sheltered from the dangerous and guided into good thinking as a child.

Without the feminine lifeforce that encapsulates this planet and brings the seasons and the rains, we would all be dead and extinct.

That is not to say that we should or need to worship Gaia, angels or transcendant forces. That's Jesus' role and none of us are going to take that from him. But it doesn't hurt every so often to give thanks to all levels of beings and forces that contribute to making this a beautiful living planet worthy of a soul such as Jesus.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 8:15pm GMT

To me, this is the core of Oestreicher's commentary and something I wish the con-evos would learn:

"The Spirit is the contemporary judge over all that has been written. Jesus said, and the Spirit goes on telling us: “You have heard it said . . . but I say unto you.” Yesterday’s wisdom is not tomorrow’s. To the disciples, Jesus said: “There are many things you do not understand, but the Spirit will lead you to the truth.” He did not say: “Study the texts: it is all there,” and, significantly, did not write any texts himself."

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 8:49pm GMT

Pat,

There some assertions here that need examination:
1. Who says and what makes the Spirit "the judge of all that is written?" Whatever you say, does that some discount or negate what we have in the gospel accounts?
2. If what we received "yesterday" can simply be discarded, then it follows what is received tomorrow can be discarded the day after that (we live in simply arbitary world).
3.Does the Spirit simply operate apart from and without a place for the gospel witness to Christ? Or are "the texts" we have, represented by our gospels, the result and in continuity with what is the basic witness of the Spirit to God's work in Jesus Christ?

Note, in this very context Jesus says, "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26; ). This is said with a view to hearing and obeying the "teaching" of Jesus that will be conveyed through the witness of the disciples (e.g. 14:24;15:26,27).

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 30 March 2008 at 1:51am BST

Has anyone wondered why God didn't bother to ensure that the original writings of the Bible were preserved?

About the woman speaking in church, 1 Corinthians 14:34&35 was most probably not from St Paul but was interpolated by a later copyist. If you jump from verse 33 to 36 it will make sense. Verses 34&35 appear after verse 40 in some manuscripts. Similar ideas are found in 1 Timothy 2:11&12. It is disputed by scholars whether Timothy and Titus were actually written by St Paul. St Paul said a woman my pray and prophesy in church. It is not possible to prophesy silently.

Galatians is one of St Paul's undisputed books. In 3:27-28 he said, "For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." It is quite clear that there is to be no discrimination whatsoever in the new humanity in Christ.

Article 20 of the "39 Articles or Religion" says that the Church may not so expound one place of Scritpture, that it be repugnant to another.

Merely quoting Scriptures to prove one's point is bad theology.

Posted by: cp36 on Sunday, 30 March 2008 at 2:40am BST

"1. Who says and what makes the Spirit "the judge of all that is written?" Whatever you say, does that some discount or negate what we have in the gospel accounts?"

Where in the gospel accounts does Jesus even once mention homosexuality or anything that could be construed to be homosexuality?

"2. If what we received "yesterday" can simply be discarded, then it follows what is received tomorrow can be discarded the day after that (we live in simply arbitary world)."

Who used the word "discarded"? Why not "reinterpreted"? "Made clearer?" And, for that matter, we have "discarded" (to use your word) the bans of usury, on re-marriage of the divorced, on women teaching in church, etc. Why is this one issue a church-breaker?

"3.Does the Spirit simply operate apart from and without a place for the gospel witness to Christ? Or are "the texts" we have, represented by our gospels, the result and in continuity with what is the basic witness of the Spirit to God's work in Jesus Christ?"

The problem is, of course, that all of the argument we have regarding sexuality is not based on anything in the gospels (see my response to your first question), but on the words of the Old Testament and Paul. We have constantly re-interpreted--nay, "discarded"--parts of the OT that we no longer considered either viable or realistic in the modern world. We have done the same with much of Paul's advice (and let's remember, that's what his letters often were--advice to the far-flung churches of his era). Again, why is this OT injunction, and this piece of Paul's advice, so inviolable?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 30 March 2008 at 12:27pm BST

cp36,

I noticed you quoted a couple of scriture texts! Not a problem when you do only when somebody else does it? Interesting, it just so happens the ones you don't like are the ones you think are interpolated so you can dismiss them. Very handy way to deal with scripture! I agree Gal 3:26-29 is a basic text on the question.

You will note if you read closely that I referred to a text on the same subject in the same gospel in the same section of the gospel (in context!). So from here on can we take it as read and get down to the real issue?

Ben W


Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 30 March 2008 at 12:56pm BST

Pat,

To the contrary, what Jesus affirms about the sexual relation based on God creating them "male and female" in creation is decisive for the form of this relationship (Matt 19:4-6). The affirmation is basic and the apostle is in accord with this in marking departures from it.

Is the "modern world" as such then to be the criterion for what we will accept or not accept? Quite an array of stuff in the modern world. Experiments on humans in the "most advanced societies" and the most terrible brutality or violence through this last century! We may set ourselves up as "final authority" or "the modern world." Or we recognize God is God and read scripture in the light of fulfillment in Christ - learn from it all.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 30 March 2008 at 2:22pm BST

"To the contrary, what Jesus affirms about the sexual relation based on God creating them "male and female" in creation is decisive for the form of this relationship (Matt 19:4-6). The affirmation is basic and the apostle is in accord with this in marking departures from it."

That is, to my mind, a very restrictive and Pharisaic reading of the Matthew passage.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 31 March 2008 at 12:20am BST

Hi Ben W,

Sorry, I wasn't referring to anything you said but to "This is not a religion of a book."

It says there, "Quite rightly, we may therefore say that St Paul had a view of the role of women that we now recognise to be less than Christian."

I say it is impossible for a woman to prophesy, which St Paul said she can do in church, and remain silent. In 1 Cor 14:3, he says, " ... the one who prophesies speaks to people ...". So St Paul couldn't have contradicted himself in the same chapter. In any case St Paul had women ministers, e.g. Phoebe. So the idea that St Paul treated women as inferior to men is nonsense.

It is brainless quoting of Scriptures that I object to. The Bible has to be interpreted. My question is the Bible is to be interpreted by whom?

Posted by: cp36 on Monday, 31 March 2008 at 1:55am BST

"Is the "modern world" as such then to be the criterion for what we will accept or not accept?"

No, it is not. That is not what is going on here. How could it be? Except for a few pockets in urban areas in the West, the world says that gay people are less than human and worthy of imprisonment, if not death. Even in non-urban areas of the West, being gay is still associated with significant physical danger. The world believes that if someone should kill a homosexual, that is less of a crime and deserves less of a sentence. If we as a Church were allowing the world to decide what we accept, then we would be like Peter Akinola and demand the jailing of gay people. But, Ben, the "modern world" has been the criterion for what the Church accepts for the past 1700 years. We have consistently given in to what the world wants so as to get along with the world and maintain our place of power. That's just Western Church history. Now the issues are:
1) What does it mean to say the Spirit leads us into all truth? Is it merely that the Spirit gives us the ability to more closely follow a Law that our religion tells us we are free from? Or is it, as I believe the Chuirch has always believed, that we can be led to things that seemingly are against some verse of Scripture or another?

2) Why is the process of re-examining what we believe so abhorrent in this issue, but not in issues of war, usury, capital punishment, divorce, economic injustice, etc.? Why only here?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 31 March 2008 at 1:38pm BST

Pat,

I note that you pick up on the first part of what I said but you ignore the second part.

It is true, I prefer to go with what Jesus affirms on the form of the sexual relationship, rather than simply my construction out of my inclination beyond anything he said! On the second part, I think that is the critical issue between us: whether "the modern" world serves as the criterion or God is God.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 31 March 2008 at 2:46pm BST

Ford,

Have you followed the line of thought on this here? Pat made the point, on the basis of certain things that have been discarded because they are no longer "considered either viable or realistic in the modern world," teaching on homosexuality might also be discarded (see her post above). So yes Ford that is what is "going on here."

It is true, in your terms about the world, most people do not find homosexuality natural or ideal, to be held up for the coming generation or to be promoted (of course this is true of other things like "open marriage" or polygamy etc.). But that is not a reason to hate or act against people. And you have not heard me or others advocate such on this list (could we please engage the actual line of thought being presented?).

So what is to be made of your statement: "the world says that gay people are less than human and worthy of imprisonment, if not death." In some ways it might best be set aside as one more over the top statement. What world are you living in? I think Canada has more protection in place for gay people than many other groups. Among the "elites" and worldly types it is the in thing to be for this "lifestyle" and even to have dabbled in it oneself. Why does Hollywood rush to the table to market movies and TV productions that feature homosexuality? It is so "in the modern world." Just like those advocating euthanasia the criterion is what is "realistic in the modern world."

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 31 March 2008 at 7:42pm BST

Ben:

"I think that is the critical issue between us: whether "the modern" world serves as the criterion or God is God."

I do not presume--as you do--that I know precisely what God wants of me...or the world. I move as I believe the Spirit directs me. Yes, I may be wrong. But I believe if I am, the Spirit will eventually redirect me...or the world.

Western Society has been moving--for 2000 years--forward into an ever more open and accepting stance toward much that was once considered forbidden: women in power, young people controlling their own lives, social mobility for all classes and races, and, yes, greater freedom for certain forms of sexual practices. I firmly believe it is the working of the Spirit that has created this movement and accelerated it in the past half century. I believe it is the Spirit working to create God's Kingdom of equality for all humankind.

Why would I want to work against what I believe is the Spirit's doing?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 31 March 2008 at 8:18pm BST

"the "modern world" has been the criterion for what the Church accepts for the past 1700 years"

Does "the world" have a major influence on what priestly castes and their flocks accept? Yes. That's a tension that has been going on for millennium. Do God and/or "the Church" have a major influence on what "the world" accepts? Yes. That has also been going on for millennium.

Examples of the former are "just war theory", legitimizing power and authority with whatever means necessary, dismissal of God's desires for peace or reverence for this level of Creation and its occupants. Examples of the latter are espousing that the meek shall inherit the earth (Jesus beatitudes), a contempt for tyrannical leaders and their posturing priests (Moses), a desire for everlasting covenants of peace (Daughter of Zion), and a promise of covenants that applies to all occupants at this level of Creation (Noah).

Where things fall over is when souls decide that God can be contained, packaged, selectively read, ignored or made irrelevant. In that sense both "the world" and "the church" have made errors.

God is not bound by human laws or comprehension. If evolution and comprehension can occur within the normal progression of human development and there are no dire consequences of allowing things to unfold as natural, then that is the path that God takes. If, however, humanity's existence or fundamental character will cease to be or become irreversibly corrupted by sloppy theology or aggressive paradigms, God intervenes to hose down the testosterone and get humanity back on track.

The cloud that led the Jews through Exodus, around Mt Sinai, in the temple after Solomon's consecration, and at Jesus' transfiguration was the Shechina. She is cloud by day and fire by night. She is female. An Ancient of Days she does not die, she was there before humanity was conceived and will be there after this planet has been reabsorbed back into its sun. Nor is she all of God, nor does she compete with Jesus. Christians are not above being disciplined by her, and if they purport that they are, then they repudiate the very covenant that made Jesus the High Priest.

The world might influence the priests, but the world is shaped by God. God has agents and forces simply beyond human comprehension that freely and willingly help - including in affirming, baptizing, transfiguring and resurrecting Jesus.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Monday, 31 March 2008 at 8:56pm BST

Pat,

I think if we got past some assumptions here we might see that we are not as far apart as you seem to think we are!

I do believe this is a quite "selective" reading of the history (nicely follows the "Enlightenment" paradigm = "western society has been moving" with reason finally to the better world - WE are getting better and better - we will bring in this better world). Who are the "we" here? Trouble is it overlooks so many blind spots, so many killing fields in discovering "the new world" - in N America but even more in Latin America, the most terrible violence and brutality of the last century in "the most advanced" societies etc. Human reality is not quite like that, it has just not been all upward and onward.

I say with you "I move as I believe the Spirit directs me," but not in a vacuum! With Jesus "the Spirit will teach you ... and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26). In continuity with what God has been doing and is saying in Jesus Christ.In a vacuum what you get direction and groups like the Montanists in the early period or the Branch Davidians with the dreadful disaster in Waco, Texas not that many years ago.

Reading the history more closely and critically, actually there was more of a place for women in the early church than there was later and in many cases even now (Rom 16: as many "fellow" workers named with Paul who are women as men etc).
You speak of "greater freedom for certain sexual practises" now - man it was all there and more in the Greco/Roman world (just read the work of Bruce Winter at Cambridge, a scholar who researches and teaches in the field)!

Simply to go with these movements that come in the name of the Spirit and of freedom may be to end up in darkness and death.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 3:33am BST

Ben:

Like any society, western society has had its up-and-down moments...but the general trend has been toward greater freedom and greater equality. I think both those things are representative of the Spirit's work among us.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 11:28am BST

Ben, you are correct that the Spirit does not move "in a vacuum." The guiding of the Spirit must be discerned.

The potential problem with a liberal position, sometimes, is that it can be very easy to assume that any new thing is the guiding of the Spirit.

A recurring problem with the "conservative" position is that is seems to assume that no discernment has even been attempted - indeed, that discernment has been defiantly rejected.

When liberals point to the examples of usury, slavery or the role of women, some of them make the mistake that these examples support the position that the Church SHOULD revisit sexuality issues. They don't.

However, they do support the contention that the Church has the capacity to revisit such issues, under the guidance of the Spirit and making the necessary effort to discern where the Spirit is truly leading.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 5:29pm BST

Malcolm,

I think you make an overall clear and helpful comment.

In particular, you pick up what is a widespread assumption on this list and elsewhere (your statement: "When liberals point to the examples of usury, slavery or the role of women, some of them make the mistake that these examples support the position that the Church SHOULD revisit sexuality issues. They don't."). I am glad to see it acknowledged as such. (I have myself been prepared to "revisit" the issue of slavery and the role of women here and I think we need to do more with the issue of wealth and usury).

And I agree that conservatives on different issues do at times act as if there is no discernment to be exercised. I was pointing out simply that scripture is the larger context for this, and specifically Jesus himself (so in continuity with scripture and with Jesus)is context for discernment.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 7:31pm BST

"A recurring problem with the "conservative" position is that is seems to assume that no discernment has even been attempted - indeed, that discernment has been defiantly rejected."

An even more recurring problem with the conservative position is the assumption that the Spirit inspiring us and speaking to us a few thousand years ago...or, that if it hasn't, it only speaks to in tongues.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 7:46pm BST

While I enjoy the post-riposte at Thinking Anglicans, I wonder how often the contributors think about the people who will never post here, do not know the site exists, and wouldn't read it if they did. I'm thinking about my nephews and nieces who spontaneously started calling my partner Aunt C. But more, I'm thinking about the older women at my church who have buried their husbands, watched their children divorce, and sometimes raised their grandchildren. These ladies have witnessed and survived World War II, the end of segregation, the acceptance of divorce and contraception, the new prayerbook, the ordination of women, increasing out-of-wedlock births (even among their grandchildren), and now the growing acceptance of homosexuality. They have been hurt by old friends who left TEC outraged by the election of "that bishop in New Hampshire," but they have never said a harsh word to my partner and me. You could tell them about the positions of Akinola, Duncan, and the Network. They'd respond: "What's that got to do with us here? If pushed, they say they don't agree with or don't understand LGBTs, but they're Episcopalians, they've seen life, and they will welcome and love whoever comes to them, whoever loves their church and tries to love Jesus as they do. They couldn't tell you a thing about Biblical scholarship. You'll never see them at a diocesan convention. The only things they really know are "we're all sinners, God forgives, and love your neighbor as yourself" and they pray for anyone and everyone. Ben W, Christopher Shell, Margaret et al -- These are your real enemies. You can argue with Cheryl, Dr. Danfee, Choirboy, Ford Elms, Pluralist et al. until, as my old ladies say, the cows come home, but it isn't Gene Robinson or LGBT people that are changing TEC. It's them. All they had to do to stop what's happening was to give a cold enough shoulder to any "unorthodox" newcomer. But they didn't and they won't because they are living their faith - their faith, not yours - the faith they received in 70+ years of weekly churchgoing, Bible reading, and caring for their community. This is what you, Akinola, Duncan, etc. have not been able to overcome in most of TEC, and it seems a good bet that you never will. So, rave on.

Posted by: Susan in Georgia on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 8:08pm BST

"What world are you living in?"

I live in a world where the Anglican archbishop of Nigeria wants to put us in jail for 5 years where many of us will be killed. Where, just a few weeks ago, a young Iranian man was fighting not to be sent back to Iran on an immigration technicality because he would be executed when he got there. Where one of the major financial backers of those who would exclude me from the Church has publically advocated the stoning of homosexuals. Where someone can kill me, claim I made a pass at him, and get at least a lighter sentence, if he got a sentence at all. Yes, Canada has some protections for gay people, better than most, but are you confident those protections are secure? I'm not, when members of the governing party can claim they shouldn't have to hire me if I am going to be in contact with the public, me being such an abomination. I live in a world where a conservative Christian pastor can claim that I am an abomination and then have a significant amount of support when the government chastises him for hate speech. I live in a world where I can be pistol-whipped, tied to a fence post, and left to drown in my own blood just for being gay. I live in a world where, despite your claims of moderation, you can still refer to the "promotion" of homosexuality as though it were something one got up one morning and choose to be, and even imply that media attempts to show us as human are actually part of this "promotion". The fact that you use that word says a lot. The fact that you do not know why says even more. I live in a world where people actually think I am such a monster they claim it is against their conscience to allow me to stay in their B&B. I live in a world where you can behave as though these things do not matter. That's the world I live in.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 8:36pm BST

"An even more recurring problem with the conservative position is the assumption that the Spirit inspiring us..."

That should have been "...the Spirit STOPPED inspiring us..."

The dangers of editing on the fly...

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 11:26pm BST

Susan:

Brava! Exactly so...the vast majority of Episcopalians (and Anglicans worldwide) know only their own lives and their own parishes. And within those lives and parishes they have seen that the "other" is not a thing to fear.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 11:28pm BST

Ford,

Injustice is wrong wherever and whenever it happens. You and I live in a world where thousands of children live not just under threat but starve every day! We are trying to do something about that and want to do more.

And there are wrongs done to homosexual people that need to be addressed. But we, I thought were talking about where you actually live, I do think you dramatize the situation generally and certainly for Canada or the US - do you not remember the outcry from people and in the media against those who brutally attacked a gay person a few years ago? I personally know people who go to work and are accepted and loved as part of their families and communities. I don't need a collection of cases from Africa or elsewhere and then conclude that this is the way things are in general.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 11:35pm BST

Thank you Susan et al

Pat

It was exactly the claim that "Spirit had stopped inspiring us" that precipitated my breaking the boundaries of my dioceses for assistance.

In February 2005 I witnessed first hand a bishop announcing that the gifts of prophecy were no longer required nor meted out. That anyone who claimed to do so was either insane, delusional, a money mongerer. If any confirmations were to come their way that was proof that they were evil incarnate and not to be heeded.

Specifically, that even if such gifts did exist, there is no way that God would ever bequeath any such gifts to a female, and if they demonstrated such gifts it merely proved they were fundamentally evil.

That outrageous sermon precipitated this paper http://www.wombatwonderings.org/files/peace_in_our_time_sanitised.pdf

Which is part of a context of these corroborations http://www.wombatwonderings.org/page/testimony.html

There's been more since, and regular TA subscribers have witnessed them. Enough to satisfy any right minded Jew that they are dealing with a prophet.

So when someone says that no one metes out the gifts of rebuking prophet nowadays, Cheryl Clough is the evidence to the contrary. "What about Cheryl Clough", who outguns all the prophets bar Jesus and Moses (and they both know that we have pulled punches to avoid confusion and to demonstrate the feminine rather than masculine traits).

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 8:52am BST

"What world are you living in?"

Let me tell you about my world.
I am very tired this morning because I spent the night worrying about and praying for a gay friend who was attacked two days, and none of us has been able to make contact since.

As I posted here only about 2 weeks ago, I live in England, where:
A man can 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.
Where a group of street pastors in training can be shown a video of real life situations they might come across, including 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.
Where a young woman can 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.

All these things happened recently not too far away from me.

When I posted this on TA I was accused of a hate campaign.
I have since tried to get one particular conservative on this list to stand shoulder to shoulder with me, condemning these clear examples of “hate the sin, vilify the sinner”. After 5 promptings the only response I got was that it was time to close this pointless conversation.

Fortunately, I also live in a world where people around the world have responded privately to my post, with offers for prayer, for practical support of the victims, offers for friendship.

Not a single conservative has contacted me.

I personally have had enough and am considering establishing a retreat for people who have been chewed and spat out by the church. Not just lgbts but anyone who doesn’t fit, who is not considered pure enough, who feels lost in this strange new Anglican Communion.

If anyone from the UK reading this has practical advice (legal status, tax, insurance, DDA compliance.....) I would be delighted if you could contact me. Simon, I hope, will give you my email address. Offers of a house in the West Country, maybe a holiday house that isn’t used all year round, would also be wonderful.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 9:03am BST

Ben:

I live in a comparatively centrist eastern suburb in the US. Yet, the students in the Gay-Straight Alliance in the local high school had to go to the school board to stop a school administrator from treating them as second class...keeping them out of the yearbook, tearing down the posters advertising their meetings, etc.

Yes, it's not violence, but it indicates that all is not as rosy--even here, in the suburbs of the City of Brotherly Love--as you would have it seem.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 12:08pm BST

"I don't need a collection of cases from Africa or elsewhere and then conclude that this is the way things are in general."

Ben, we in the Anglican Church are constantly being reminded that those who are accepting of homosexuality are in the minority in Anglicanism, indeed, in the world. Given that, with which I do not disagree, I would suggest to you that the situation I describe IS the way things are in general, TEC, and to an extent Canada are the exceptions. You refer to "a gay person" who was brutally attacked a few years ago. Can you give me his name? I think I know to whom you are referring, if so, the fact that you do not know the name of such an iconic figure is, again, telling. Do you tacitly assume that that was the most recent brutal atack on a gay person? That one made the news. Do you have any knowledge of how many don't make it to the news? The information is not hard to come by. Google 'anti-gay violence'. It is not something that happens once every few years and then makes the news. This was the purpose of the "listening process" called for by Lambeth that conservatives have been ignoring for 30 years. It was not to change your minds about our sinfulness, but to put a human face on us, to inform you. You seem to think homosexuality is something that can be "promoted" as though people can be enticed to "turn gay" in some sense, implying we are all just a bunch of rebels who have rejected "normal" behaviour. (Conservatives have referred to such "rebelliousness" here, BTW).There is nothing wrong, nothing, with conservatives quoting the 7 clobber verses. I am not convinced by the theology that seeks to interpret them positively. But if you are going to hold these over people's heads, you should at least understand the people over whose heads you are holding them. Christians ought not judge, but we fall, so, judge us for what we are, not for what your stereotypes tell you we are. Trouble is, most conservatives, including you, seem far more interested in defending their stereotypes than in finding out who we actually are. By so doing, you show how little you have listened, how little you understand, and thus cast yourself in a bad light. Someone who knows what he is talking about if far harder to counter in an argument than someone who is obviously ill informed.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 1:15pm BST

Ford,

I accept that this is the great concern for you(has nothing do to do with with how much I know or don't know about it). I have no interest in getting into some kind of contest with you about this (especially since it seems no matter what I say you will assume the worst even when I basically affirm your concern).

I have clearly said: Injustice done to any group needs to be addressed and certainly even when we disagree "that is not a reason to hate or act against people. And you have not heard me or others advocate such on this list." And the main point here again: "could we please engage the actual line of thought being presented?"

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 5:00pm BST

For me, this issue isn't quite so personal.

For Ford, and for some of the others on this list, it really is about the fact that their lives are at risk simply for being who they are.

Consider Matthew Shepard:
"Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left to die . . . . Still tied to the fence, Shepard was discovered eighteen hours later by a cyclist, who at first thought that Shepard was a scarecrow. Shepard was still alive, but in a coma, at the time of discovery. Shepard suffered a fracture from the back of his head to the front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body's ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support . . . . He was pronounced dead at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998 at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins."

Here in Canada, the federal government deported a gay man to Malaysia. Most of the media coverage of this focussed on the fact that Outremont Member of Parliament Thomas Mulclair lost his temper when heckled by a government MP.

Only the Montreal Gazette - one newspaper - was prepared to present the rest of the story.

Read the story. http://communities.canada.com/montrealgazette/blogs/onthehill/archive/2008/03/07/mulcair-s-outburst-the-inside-story.aspx

The check out the video that the story tells you how to find but doesn't link to:
"The video on www.liveleak.com entitled Malaysia Caning Judicial Corporal Punishment (video 1172940415) is so disturbing and so graphic that we have chosen not to directly link to it."

These are things that are happening in North America, where Ford actually lives and where countless gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons live.

And this is North America where, relatively speaking, they are much safer than most of the rest of the world. Yet still, hundreds and thousands of them are beaten or murdered every year.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 6:50pm BST

Ben,
My points are:
1) The acceptance of gay people is not about complying with the world, but rather with trying to understand if the world might have a point. Sometimes the world sees things we Christians do not. I, BTW, am not a supporter of SSBs, wouldn't have one if I was allowed to, and am slowly soming to the position that the Sacramental aspect of matrimony is connected to reproduction. This is disturbingly pagan to me, and would also imply that we ought not marry those not of reproductive age.

2) In so far as societal trends MIGHT be an impetus for this re-evaluation, that is not a new thing. Society provided us with the impulse to come up with a theology of a "Just War", to declare usury no longer a sin, and to permit divorce and remarriage.

3) It is laughable for a divorced and remarried prelate to claim that we cannot revisit our understanding of Scripture WRT homosexuality as that would be giving in to the world. Indeed, any claim that this represents something new in the history of the Church is laughable.(see#2)

4) For all your claims to moderation, I have my doubts. You "affirm" my concerns, then turn around and claim homosexuality is something that can be "promoted". You downplay the presence of anti-gay violence, and ignore the evidence presented to you. The first is ignorance of the issue, the second is avoidance, and both give me little reason to trust your understanding or your sincerity. You number yourself among those in the Church who are horribly abusive to gay people, you have not said anything that you have done to try to stop this in your compatriots, except "affirming" the "concerns" of people here. You even use the same language and give evidence of the same attitudes towards gay people as those I mentioned. And which recent brutal beating of a gay man were you talking about that caused such uproar? As I said, there have been many.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 7:01pm BST

Erika,

I don't quite live where you do, but what you report is atrocious. I think as Christians we reject this hatred and behavior in the strongest terms.

And evangelicals I know would not for a moment countenance this. Is there any question whether "mainstream" evangelicals associated with former ab Carey, John Stott, N T Wright and others would stand for this? There is polarization around this issue, so you have the language of hate and extremist reaction on all sides (the fires of hatred have been fed from more than one source).

The best to you.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 7:07pm BST

Has anyone wondered why the Lord Jesus Christ, after spending 3 years teaching and training the 12 apostles, had to return and call St Paul, who was then an anti-Christian, and commissioned him to preach the Gospel. Think about it. What exactly is the Gospel?

It seems to me that lots of modern Christians, just like the earliest Christians, are lost somewhere between Moses and Christ.

Posted by: cp36 on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 2:17am BST

Ben
thank you.
You have no idea how much a post like this from a conservative like you means to me. I wish there were more like you.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 9:12am BST

"Is there any question whether "mainstream" evangelicals associated with former ab Carey, John Stott, N T Wright and others would stand for this? "

Ben, I appreciate, like Erika, what you said, but words are just words. Unfortunately, yes, there is evidence they would stand for this, and more. Indeed, they are standing for it right now. They have said nothing against the move in Nigeria to jail us. They said nothing in support of Mehdi Kazemi, or anyone else in his situation. They supported those who claimed that it was an infringement of their civil rights to rent us a room in their B&Bs. They have neither said nor done anything in support of us, and have stood in the way of us getting full equality, not in the Church, but in society in general. All we ever get is pious platitudes about how the Church ought not to be unkind to gay people. Sorry, but until I get evidence of Evangelical leaders actually defending gay people instead of mouthing pretty words while stabbing us in the back, or ignoring those who do, then I can't trust them. A few managed to squeak out a response last year when an African bishop made some outrageous statements, but that was just because what he said was so far out there that even they felt obliged to distance themselves from it. That's the point. They can't say "Oh we don't think people should be bad to you" and expect to be believed, when they do nothing to stop people being bad to me, indeed, when they defend with those who are bad to me, and are often bad to me themselves. Can you understand why it is that most gay people would listen to those you mention and hear only empty words? How can I trust a Church when, in it's deliberations about what to do about "the gay issue", they consulted authors like Gagnon, and give credence to people like Paul Cameron? There's no evidence they have any compassion for or understanding of gay people at all, and precious little evidence they want to change that situation.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 2:08pm BST

Ford,

What can I say to you? I think about all I need to say I have said.

On your point 2 I think we are quite prepared to revisit different issues like "just war" or "usury." When we do I think we realize that to the extent that the church simply abandoned the main line of Jesus or NT teaching in these areas it lost the the good news. What was intended in the teaching has to be clearly discerned as well as how it can be implemented in particular social contexts.

And who disagrees with the basic point in 3? Divorce has become a serious issue, but is it something we then take lightly or justify as a "good thing?" And you know in light of previous discussion it is a serious consideration when it comes to one serving as bishop.

In point 4 you are hung up on my use of the word "promotion." We will hold up certain things in society, I think we have done it through Hollywood movies now for generations about love and marriage. Hugh Hefner through his media empire and "lifestyle" has been promoting a certain way of life. Do we want to hold that up? The word as I use it has nothing "sinister" about it! And I would say your further statement about me is not only untrue (you judge and assume what you do not know), but can only feed into the hatred we deplore.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 2:41pm BST

Ben,
What you call "promotion", I call portraying us as normal human beings, subject to all the good and bad of ordinary human beings. What do you propose as an alternative? The media can ignore us, it can portray us in a negative light, affirming stereotypes as it does so, it can portray us as normal human beings, or it can portray us as an ideal to be striven for. I think it is doing #3. You seem to feel it is doing #4. Am I misreading you? If not, can you explain how homosexuality is something that straight people can aspire to? A straight person can no more "become" gay than I can become straight. You mention Heffner. We are not talking about the Church blessing promiscuity or hedonism, so why make that comparison? Unless you are implying what some on this website have said openly: that to be gay is to be promsicuous, and that gay people want the Church to bless promiscuity. My point about Just War and usury was that it is wrong for conservatives to pretend that we have not changed our position on things once thought sinful in order to get along better with the world. Right or wrong, we have. If they are going to make that argument, then they have to say why it is wrong in some contexts but not others. That is my basic point in #3. Lord Carey, for example, supported the change on divorce. How can he now say it is wrong to do the same thing WRT homosexuality? If we are not saying divorce is acceptable, what ARE we saying when we remarry a divorced person? And is it a big issue WRT bishops? I haven't heard much about people being denied consecration because of divorce, and no broken communion as a result, but I admit I may just need to be educated on that. As to what to say to me, well: do you understand why it is that gay people do not trust conservatives on this? I think I've been clear on that score, but perhaps I haven't. You clearly are interested in dialogue. I reacted angrily to what I see as your resistence to letting go of your stereotypes. For example, your seeming belief that anti-gay violence is relatively rare in Western society. I still don't have any indication that you accept you were wrong. I apologize for getting all hot under the collar. You're right. It doesn't help.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 6:00pm BST

Ford,

The original issue was simply the promotion of certain forms of life in society (has nothing to do with whether homosexuality or heterosexuality as such is simply a "choice" or not). I do believe culture forms people and they are affected in their direction by the media etc. So in that sense sexuality is not simply like being blue eyed or brown (but leave that aside for now). Hollywood or Hefner fit here only as cultural icons through which certain things are held up (that form thought and life).

We have thought about various issues anew at differernt times, and my point was that to the extent that the church simply abandoned the main line of Jesus or NT teaching the church lost the good news (I hold that be true on matters like war or usury etc). So we may think again about certain issues, to understand more clearly or to implement more meaningfully, but there is no necessary implication that we then leave behind NT teaching.

You make a point about divorce. I do not simply justify it and if a divorced person came to me seeking my blessing on a new marriage after divorce I would ask about how he has dealt with this in his life. If that person sees it simply as "one more thing," without insight on the brokeness it represents or without repentance and seeking anew the faithfulness of marriage, we have no business blessing it.

Ben W

Posted by: ben W on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 8:46pm BST

"It seems to me that lots of modern Christians, just like the earliest Christians, are lost somewhere between Moses and Christ."

Too true.

There are some who think the way to deal with eunuch, GLBT type dilemmas is to deny and shun the evidence of their existence, and if discovered either heal or destroy it. Jeremiah 18, God the Potter makes the pots as and how and when God sees fit. We do not come from a computerised robotic factory production line. We have variances in same shape or colour and blemishes and flaws.

Sydney's 2008 Mardi Gras was entitled "Brave New World". It was titled that because Sydney's GLBT community has caught on to the imagery that we are all part of this planet and that we all have a place in it. The parade was led by two gay men who the last time they had walked Oxford Street before they had been bashed for holding hands in public. There was a contingent called "100 Revs", a motley group of Christian ministers making a public apology for past injustices and mistreatments against GLBTs. There were placards asking "Who would Jesus reject?"

The world is catching on that we are all in exile and that no one (not even the "holy" priests) are going to escape without the others.

There are some who think that the ends justify the means (they pursue a "pure" heaven where no one is sad, unhealthy or rejected - and will commit genocide against anything that they see stands in their way). The other perspective is that the means forms the ends (aggression, insults and vandalism create sadness, sickness and loneliness).

I am of the latter opinion, and think that the world will be healed through our means, and that means accepting whatever God has planted within this biosphere and working to make each piece harmonize within itself and with those it interacts. I cannot change if a soul is GLBT, but I can tell them that respecting themselves, being monogamous and not behaving like a rogue animal is better for themselves and those around them; the same in kind can be said to the "holy" priests.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 9:16pm BST

“I don't need a collection of cases from Africa or elsewhere and then conclude that this is the way things are in general.
Ben W“

You don’t need??? especially to conclude “in general” – because you don’t want to.

You want to go on dreaming that your responsibility as a human being “in general” doesn’t exist. Yet.

Your only answer (repeated) is "could we please engage the actual line of thought being presented?".

The “actual line of thought being presented”??

Have you ever heard of “spin”??? I think you have.

You yourself said: “The word as I use it has nothing "sinister" about it!”

The ultimate denial of human responsibility.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 4 April 2008 at 5:33pm BST

"So we may think again about certain issues, to understand more clearly or to implement more meaningfully, but there is no necessary implication that we then leave behind NT teaching."

Which is what the Church is now doing about gay people. Why is it that revisiting our understanding of homosexuality as we continue to be led into the Truth of the Divine economia is so wrong? We did it for other things. We have no problem when, after much prayer and consideration, we decide we are led by the Spirit to contravene the words of Scripture, as long as we don't contravene the MIND of Scripture. Why is it wrong to do this WRT gay people, but not WRT divorce or usury? Surely the same pattern of responding to society can be seen in each case. It doesn't matter what you or I say. It matters what the Church says, and it is silly for conservatives to suggest that the process whereby we are reconsidering "the gay issue" is in any way different from the way we reconsidered other things.

I agree that society determines what's normative, and sexuality is not a simple genetic trait, though genetics obviously plays some role. But, the vast majority of us experience it as basic and unchanging. If one is gay, one is gay. Seeing positive images in the media is not going to make people become gay. It will give some gay kids some hope that they are not evil, sick, and unworthy of even the love of God. I don't see why giving some encouragement to a gay kid growing up in a society that hates him/her is such a bad thing. Gay kids are three times more likely to attempt suicide than straight kids. Don't you feel a Christian responsibility to relieve some of that suffering? If so, what is your issue with positive media images of homosexuals?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 4 April 2008 at 7:08pm BST
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