Friday, 15 August 2008

Lambeth: a third English perspective

This time from the Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham.

Read Bishop Michael’s account of the Lambeth Conference.

Earlier entries in this series:

Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford.
Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester.

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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England | Lambeth Conference 2008

For me, the issue came down to whether what I regard as an institutionally homophobic position was acceptable in an organisational and/or ideology to which I was affiliated. Whether the sort of compromise mentioned is one which can be accepted or lived with.

I made my choice, and that was to leave the Church.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 10:06am BST

Yet another bishop in need of the Naughton anti-virus! Dr Williams seems to be 'infecting' so many bishops with his 'Archbishop-of-Canterbury-itis' rather that his 'intelligent-theological-itis' that there will be not a single voice left to speak for gay partnered people in the listening process, so it will not matter that there isn't anybody 'listening' on the conservative (I refuse to call it 'traditional') side. And so the 'moratorium' will mean that most of our generation's gay partnered people will have died of old age before there is any allowance made for the fact of their vocation to the episcopate. And we are called to rejoice in this fact?

Posted by: Commentator on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 10:12am BST

As an American priest I was licensed to assist in the Diocese of Gloucester for nearly 20 years during holiday and retirement seasons in our home there. This service terminated coincidentally with the arrival of Bishop Michael, the arrival of the incumbent of the parish which I served, and the eventual sale of our UK home. I mention all of this to say that I find Bishop Michael's views of the Lambeth Conference very one-sided.
As a staff officer for Lambeth '98 I now realize that the final days of Lambeth '08 were similar to '98 - an ABC who co-opted the process to inject his own agenda. Like many I am tired of the American/Canadian churches being the bad boys and girls of the communion, when in fact within the Diocese of Gloucester I am personally aware of gay blessings and clergy disproportionately outnumbering those in most American dioceses. The C of E will soon discover the split within its own ranks and episcopates over issues for which we have been made the scapegoats. English denial and cover-up will be exposed.

Posted by: Robert McCloskey on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 2:23pm BST

I get the sense that the American Church will make a sacrificial offering, and maybe the Canadians should too, not for a moratorium regarding gay people, but a voluntary removal from activity regarding the Communion, even if it keeps watch at the same time. I would go further, and invite relationships from those Anglican Churches that would be in sympathy, but keep all of them loose. As they come to decisions to bless gay people and ordain openly practising gay people in intended long term relationships, then they would also feel the need to leave the Anglican Communion.

Up to this point, I wouldn't have said this, in order that those who are utterly homophobic just leave, but they have left and they are going to carry on because they are on a reformist mission no matter what else happens. Americans, Canadians and others should have nothing to do with the Pastoral Forum, and nothing to do with a Faith and Order Commission.

We have been told that inclusion is not a gospel value, but welcome is: well, neither is centralisation built upon exclusion. And on that basis, if the sacrificial actions led to the collapse of the Roman Empire being built by this Archbishop, then all to the good.

As for the latest bishop's comments, he is obviously lost in his own cheering. The outcome was as intended, plus more from the boss with his embryonic ruling institutions, and there are no cheers for these.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 2:57pm BST

The reality is that they will be outside the Church altogether. How many openly gay young people are part of the church now?

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 4:18pm BST

"How many openly gay young people are part of the church now?"

How many openly straight ones are?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 6:40pm BST

Robert McCloskey,

Of course, you are right about things within the C of E (as also about the scape-goating). But that seems to me reason for guarded optimism - whatever they say in public, many, perhaps most, bishops will make their own private accommodations with reality within their own dioceses.

Posted by: John on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 8:07pm BST

"It is hard for some of the liberal Americans and Canadians, who will find particularly the second moratorium very difficult to explain."

Not really so difficult, Bishop Michael, as such bishops know "the second moratorium" (on ss blessings or MARRIAGE!) is, in their dioceses, D.O.A.

"For an English bishop, returning home is not very difficult. There is not too much explaining to do."

Is this true? Are CofE lay/clergy really THAT ruled over? Very sad, if true.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 8:07pm BST

Who are the real exclusivists?

Interesting that here, after +++Willaims and others call for patience and seek to make space for people, we get the response that "unless it goes my way I will take my marbles and leave." They label evangelicals as exclusivists but who are the real exclusivists (even more exclusivist just about different things!)?

Of course the mantra is "inclusivism" under the umbrella of pluralism, it works as long as those those who are not Liberal pluralists acquiesce. They are absolutist, they are adament about this, there is no clear abiding revelation from God. The church becomes a kind of eternal seminar whose standard texts keep changing. They will not tolerate the idea of historic Christian doctrinal confession, that is, agreed Christian conviction and truth.

There really is no place for the church to discern and express the truth about God through the working of reason and the Holy Spirit. Hence pluralism is by nature exclusionary. It is therefore no surprise that pluralists readily abandon their pluralism in their animosity against certain kinds of classical and conservative Christian teaching.

Who are the real exclusivists?

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 8:47pm BST

I think the situation Fr. McCloskey describes during his tenure in the Diocese of Gloucester and Lambeth pretty well describes the "Old Episcopal Church" in the United States - an unofficial establishment church that existed in our minds around 1850 to 1950. It still exists in some places but not many. The 1979 BCP was its official death knell.

It was like a stale old marriage that to preserve appearances and meet establishment approval didn't allow much to happen of any importance. Honest discussion died (if it ever started) and was replaced by a wink-wink nudge-nudge veneer of hypocricy. It died and some left. But new life entered and new things happened. The Spirit is like that. It couldn't be more biblical.

The Indaba Process seems to have started some new life in the relationships we call the Anglican Communion. However, the calls for continuation of a flawed Windsor Continuation Group and some sort of centralized pastoral oversight group put us back where we were before Lambeth and to where the Established CofE seems to be today. Little wonder that Bishop Michael found post-Lambeth to be just like home.

Many of us no longer live in this world although we are faithful Christians. In this Sunday's Gospel lesson (Matt. 15:21-27) even Jesus changed his view of his mission and ministry when challenged by the faith of the Canaanite woman's faith that the universal compassion of God extended to the gentiles whom good establishment believed to be unclean and outside of "their" God's frame of reference.

This offends and challenges people and it did back then too.

Kahu Aloha

Posted by: Kahualoha on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 8:55pm BST

What are you talking about, Ben? The problem lies with those who demand things as risible as the content of your last post - you have this naive view about 'truth' - as if anyone could possibly 'know' it for sure. You can't. So, those who claim you can do so are always going th be dissaatisfied.

AS I have said many times before - conservative and liberal religion is simply different. And I don't believe conservative religion should be compromised with - it needs to be challenged and shown up for what it is. If you are suggesting that pluralists can 'include' those who demand exclusion - of course they can't, because the aim of conservatives is to insist upon their 'truth' and that the rest of us believe it.

I can think of few sets of ideas I would find easier to reject than conservative christianity!

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 15 August 2008 at 10:38pm BST

Ben W:

Here's the essential difference--the "inclusivists" (or "pluralists," if you insist) say to the "traditionalists": Believe and act upon your belief, but do not expect or force ME to limit myself to YOUR beliefs.

The traditionalists say to the inclusivists: If you are not willing to limit yourself to OUR beliefs then you cannot be a part of our church and, indeed, we don't think you really believe anything at all.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 12:27am BST

If a moratorium is indeed needed, what about one on the ordination to the episcopate of all partnered persons? That is certainly the position of most of the church catholic. If "communion" at all costs is such a lofty goal, why limit ourselves to the Anglican world? As for "the enhanced authority of Archbishop Rowan", if it is a pope the Bishop of Gloucester wants, why not just submit to Benedict and be done with it. Now, there's someone with real authority and the guards and structure to enforce it.

Some of us who have been faithful servants of this church for a long time are getting very tired and discouraged. Now, we are being told to wait even longer to be fully accepted, and at the same time, we see our church being turned into the kind of hierarchical institution we're no longer sure we want to be included in.

Posted by: garth on Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 12:31am BST

Thank you John and Kahu for your responses to my comments.
John, it seems to me that continued closeted arrangements by 'sympathetic' C of E bishops offers little dignity and much oppression to LGBT clergy and laity alike. 'Don't ask, don't tell' is not a respectable option. Fortunately the UK military realized this long before the USA. I genuinely grieve for my LGBT friends who have to live under such oppression and discrimination.

Kahu, I think you are right on the money about TEC's history, and as a liturgical scholar I am certain that you particularly have in mind the primacy of the Baptismal Rite and its covenant in the 1979 BCP. Even as we continue to fully implement its provisions, we seem light years ahead of much of the AC in this regard, and it is of course the bedrock for the hot button controversies of the present time. Thanks again.
Bob McCloskey

Posted by: Robert McCloskey on Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 3:29am BST

Well the global communion is strongly encouraged to gear up for moratoria, so that backing off can be spin doctored as a step forward. The same queer folks who were not allowed to speak up for themselves, generally, or as Anglican believers, are still not allowed/invited to speak.

If queer folks had been invited, the similarities of following and witness might have been oddly striking. We no doubt would have heard of how the LGBTQ communities passed through the harrowing decades of the HIV-AIDS epidemic, particularly in USA, Canada, Europe-Scandinavia, Australia, and perhaps New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland. As with African witnesses who follow Jesus in situations of great complexity and danger, so also we queer folks and family and friends who passed together through the dry, numb, and spin doctored years of the epidemic - especially the early denials and confusions and prejudices. All too familiar.

Indaba bishops listening would hear - we passed through, we are passing through. We do not embody a discreet, neatly paid moratoria on care, commitment, or acting up for social justice - how in the world could we do so? We passed through the epidemic. We learned the value of connecting. We found and were found by, against all odds, ... deep moral centers of selfhood and discernment, relating to one another across all our differences, connected with friends and family, and of course with Jesus of Nazareth whom we follow.

Connecting brought us a new era of care, commitment, and public witness. We marry in a few places - Canada, Belgium, Spain, and in USA, for the time being, California and Massachusetts.

Care and commitment and public witness lead forthrightly – count several generations now of queer folks parenting. If you wonder about that sea shift, visit COLAGE - children of lesbians and gays everywhere. We queer folks have by now parented millions of children, against all odds, no thanks to Rowan Williams, or Lord Carey, or anybody from the loud conservative Anglican lobby groups to whom we are nothing indeed but facile preachments about porneia.

No moratoria for us queer folks, though. We have beloveds, extended family, friends, coworkers, and yes children to bring us out of the enthralling church life fogs of all three moratoria. Anglican bishops worldwide would know all these things, if Rowan had dared to actually invite a sufficient number of us to speak honestly, freely, from the heart.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 3:42am BST

In is continuing defence of the (non agreed) Academic traditions from Alexandria and Aachen/Fulda, Ben W wrote: “… who are the real exclusivists (even more exclusivist just about different things!)?”

Here we go again. I just read on the American HOB/D list someone claiming the English synod’s vote on Lady Bishops was a “scorched earth policy” because it was a majority one (My way or the highway, was also mentioned).

It was claimed they needed more time to think! Here Ben goes on with the idea that “libruls” should be “inclusivist” “under the umbrella of pluralism”, but are “absolutist”. But having had the time to think (WO for 60 years and more, inclusion for at least 50 (think schools, busses…) they apparently believe they follow the Gospel. Now! No need for dithering.

And this is called “scorched earth policy” and “exclusivist”! That is a word in its proper place in Ossetia or Abkhazia with their continuing Ethnic cleansings, not in the AC...

Whatever you think Ben W, of the Alexandrian inellectual traditions, "agreed" they are not.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 7:18am BST

"They are absolutist, they are adament about this, there is no clear abiding revelation from God"

What!?!?!?! Just because people don't believe the Bible is to be read as literally true doesn't mean that they don't believe it to be a clear abiding revelation from God. This actually gets to the core of this: conservatives/traditionalists/whatever you want to label those who have this attitude, Ben, have a need for concrete authority. "Liberals" for want of a better term, find this concrete authority destructive to their spirituality, inconsistent with their experience of God, and incongruent with the Tradition we have received. I believe God is Creator of everything that exists: "without Him was not anything made that was made," "By Him all things were made." But I don't believe Genesis is anything more than allegory. I believe the story of God's relationship with Israel depicted in the histories has a lot to tell us, and we need to pay close attention to it, but it isn't historical, Ben. That doesn't mean I don't think God has clearly revealed Himself to us. Part of the problem is that Christian Tradition tells us Christ is the Word of God. He is the fullness of the Divine self revelation. Evangelicals, unfortunately, have redefined "Word of God" to mean the Bible, not Christ, and thus look in the wrong place for God's self-revelation. He reveals Himself to us in Christ, Sunday by Sunday we encounter the Incarnate God in the Eucharist and all our lives are spent in trying to understand and come closer to that Incarnate reality. The Scriptures are, after Himself Incarnate in Jesus, the most important aspect of that self-revelation, but they can only ever be a "usuer's manual" if you will, an explanation of His self revelation in Christ. The Scriptures are not that self revelation, Christ is. The Scriptures explain it, but they aren't the total of it. Look at it this way: the Orthodox call the Scriptures, especially the Gospels, an icon of Christ painted with words. They treat the Book of the Gospels the same way they would treat an icon. But an icon only points to the thing it represents, and that thing is Christ. You feel this is faithlessness, it is not. If feel the Evangelical position is worship of a book, and misses much of what Christianity actually is. I may well be wrong in that latter position. Can you not accept that your attitude towards non-Evangelicals might also be wrong, might be as offensive as you feel their attitude is to you? Can you not stop this slander that those who are not Evangelicals do not believe anything? perhaps if we both listened more and judged less, we'd be better off, but neither of us seems able to do that, me as much as you.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 2:58pm BST


Amen! This has become the fundamental problem, that Scripture is THE Word of God rather than pointing us to THE Word of God when proclaimed. Our understanding "contains all things necessary to salvation" is meant to maintain that tension. Not all things in scripture are necessary to salvation, though all things may instruct us in the light of God's self-communication in Jesus Christ. It is ironic that Luther--the Evangelical par excellence, maintained that Jesus Christ is the hermeneutic, and yet, many who would claim his insight as heirs have swallowed sola scriptura without the limits Luther placed on such with sola Christi.

Posted by: Christopher on Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 5:29pm BST

God bless you Robert McClosky "English denial and cover-up will be exposed."

Amen and praise be to God. Finally, we get the proof that denial and cover-up have been exposed at the highest level. No wonder all the complaints (including my own) disappeared into bureaucratical red tape.

Isaiah 47:3 "Your nakedness will be exposed and your shame uncovered. I will take vengeance; I will spare no one."

Ezekiel 16:36-39 "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you poured out your wealth and exposed your nakedness in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children’s blood, therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see all your nakedness. I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring upon you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger. Then I will hand you over to your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you naked and bare."

Hosea 7:1-2 "whenever I would heal Israel, the sins of Ephraim are exposed and the crimes of Samaria revealed.They practice deceit,thieves break into houses,bandits rob in the streets; but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me."

John 3:20-21 "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 7:19pm BST

Maybe this is why I quit giving to the church/TEC. I have this funny suspicion that TEC will wind up paying most of the bill for Lambeth. I'm tired of my money being used to support an agenda which I'm opposed to, full inclusion of all people regardless of sexual orientation, color, sex etc....

Posted by: Bob in SW PA on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 12:18am BST


You present the conservative view as: "If you are not willing to limit yourself to OUR beliefs then you cannot be a part of our church ..."

For generations they have operated with a whole range of differences. On the good faith that they had a place to speak and belong in the communion, that historic lines of Christian doctrine and moral teaching would be upheld in the AC. So people have stayed (even when there were deniers of Christian faith like J S Spong around because they knew this did not represent Anglican teaching and they could basically in their context confess the faith with integrity). That at some point there is a line or boundary might still be apparent to some here if I asked, who is ready simply to include the book of Mormon at the eucharist or the person who practises polygamy but wants just to be accepted?

Now on the other side let's see . . . the pluralist says this is an absolute matter of right and wrong = inclusion of homosexuality is equated with an issue like slavery. He will use both rational and irrational means to push for acceptance (who is the absolutist here? Just absolute about something different). He knows before hand that this will lead to the exclusion of a great number of people who have held to historic Christian teaching on this matter (R Williams saw it specifically as the outcome). Regardless, the pluralist will insist on his own way and drive them out. He may speak of reconciliation and perhaps even hide from himself the effect that his position is one of EXCLUSION. That is all part of "the cost of doing business" for him ... now who did you say says, "If you are not willing to limit yourself to OUR beliefs then you cannot be a part of our church ...?"

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 4:43am BST


You say about pluralists that just because the Bible is not to be read as "literally true doesn't mean that they don't believe it to be a clear abiding revelation from God."

Try to read some of the pluralists. Many, when you get right down to it, will say it is really the expression of human experience (not in any definite sense the word of God - they get very good at using pious language when it suits). They are not called revisionists for nothing! This is not simply by evangelicals but by their own acknowledgement when they are honest and open about it.

But to the point the here, I have said to you before that first Jesus Christ is the WORD from God. I simply seek to take the Bible seriously, in its own intended terms and in accord with historic Christian tradition. I could also refer to the apostolic or Nicene creed, as I said, "The pluralist will not tolerate the idea of historic Christian doctrinal confession, that is, agreed Christian conviction and truth." It is up for revision as occasion arises, just ask J S Spong and others of like mind in TEC.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 5:27am BST

Spong, Spong, Spong...


Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 8:31am BST

Ben, Ben, Ben! Yes, Scripture is formational in our faith as Christians. However, until the Word became flesh, we have not met God fully - in Christ. The Word had to become flesh And live amongst us, before we could experience what it meant for God to fully identify with our common human condition. (Unless you eat my flesh...etc)

In the Eucharist, wherein Christ promised that he would be with us personally; at the Offertory of bread and wine, when the water is mixed with the wine, I am emboldened to say - in accord with catholic Christians the world over, these words:
"By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity".

To my mind, that is an invitation for Christ to become flersh in us - today. Like he became flesh in the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose Feastday we again today celebrated. Like Mary, we are encouraged to become 'Theotokoi' - God-beraers, in and to the world for which Christ died.

Thus, from words in the Scriptures, we actually become physical and spiritual bearers of the Word, who is God. But until we take that step of welcoming the Word to become flesh in us, through our participation in the Eucharist, we may not fully understand what the words of Scripture are meant to reveal to us:

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory - the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of Grace and Truth".

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 10:50am BST


The difference, again, as I see it, is that the traditionalists are saying to the inclusivists, "We cannot abide you...either you change your position or we go." The inclusivists are not forcing anyone to do anything--the choice to leave is entirely on the other side.

Can you not see how unChristian this is? Christ profoundly disagreed with the Pharisees and Sadducees--yet he worshipped in the temple and synagogue with them, broke bread with them, shared conversation with them.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 11:42am BST


Are you prepared to face the real issue? Are there any lines or boundaries for you? One reason some are up in arm sabout +++ Williams is that he think there are and that we can think and discern them. As I said? "That at some point there is a line or boundary might still be apparent to some here if I asked, who is ready simply to include the book of Mormon at the eucharist or the person who practises polygamy but wants just to be accepted?"

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 1:51pm BST

Ron Smith,

Again, what about the real issue? This is just peddeling around it.

What you say about Christ and the eucharist, with some context and nuance, I affirm with you. Actually, more deeply, I think he is to be received in whole, his teaching in word and deed and the gift of himself.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 2:03pm BST


Yes, there are lines and boundaries, but they tend to have to do with things like theft and murder and false know, the things God specifically told us we shouldn't do in no uncertain terms. They do not extend to people in committed relationships with others who happen to be of the same sex.

I think the difference between you and I is that I prefer to read the ambiguous parts of scripture in a way that opens the Kingdom to as many people as apparently prefer reading them to open it to only those who completely agree with you...and close it to everybody else.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 4:02pm BST

>>>Are there any lines or boundaries for you?

Personally, I draw the line at Graham Kendrick.

Posted by: JPM on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 5:38pm BST

"I simply seek to take the Bible seriously, in its own intended terms"

Since when does a book have intentions?

You anthropomorphize, Ben, en route to *idolatry*: hardly "in accord with historic Christian tradition".

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 10:06pm BST

Ben, there's not, much point in us continuing this. We both identify an "other" that we can fear. You have a particular set of beliefs that I use to put you into my "other" set,and you do the same. You ask what are we going to do if someone wants to read the Book of Mormon at Mass. I ask what are we going to do when we are forbidden to call it Mass? What are we going to do when we are forbidden to wear vestments, or to believe in baptismal regeneration, or the Real Presence, or to practice liturgical worship, or to venerate icons, or to ask the saints for their prayers, or prevented from reserving the Sacrament? Benediction is an important event for me, Ben, what will I do when conservative Evangelicals ban it? There are already disturbing signs of this in Evangelical dioceses. The current behaviour of conservatives, most of whom are Evangelicals, supports this fear. They can't associate with what they see as errors in others while those others are quite happy to tolerate what they see as the errors of Evangelicals. There's a lot to say about your statement on human experience, but I'll try to be short. I am sure that you, like me, have lots of evidence of God working in your life. Is there any single incident that you can prove is the action of God? I can speak to answered prayers, but I have no way of proving that it is anything more than coincidence. I choose to believe otherwise. How can I prove to you what I solidly believe: Our Lady of Walsingham intercedes for me, and that intercession has been effective on more than one occasion? How can you prove to me that your concrete experiences of God are anything more than a product of your perception? People get all upset when others talk about faith being part of our brains, that we believe because our brains are wired that way, it's all just delusion. The first part might well be true, but that doesn't make faith a delusion, it just makes it part of being human, and it's just as likely that God made our brains that way so we COULD perceive Him as it is that we are just kidding ourselves about coincidences the structure of our brains makes us give meaning to.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 18 August 2008 at 1:10pm BST


More and more clear on this list, assumption blinds people, you know next to nothing about my attitude to scripture but you make great leaps of assumption!

In as much as documents have purposeful authors they can be said to be marked by intention. The works of Shakespeare are intentional as plays (you can use them as doorstops but that is to miss utterly their purpose and intention!!). Scripture not only involves authorship it also involved a purposeful process of canonization within the early church. So marked deeply by intention from beginning to end.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 18 August 2008 at 4:05pm BST

"Scripture not only involves authorship it also involved a purposeful process of canonization within the early church. So marked deeply by intention from beginning to end."

But whose intention? The Spirit's--who inspired it? The multiple authors'? Did the author of the first creation account in Genesis have the same intention as the author of the second account? The even more multiple translators'?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 18 August 2008 at 10:30pm BST


So you do recognize some boundaries. You see in what "God specifically told us we shouldn't do in no uncertain terms." Do you limit that to the Ten Commandments? If so why?

The commandment on immorality already includes reference to a range of things, certainly in Old and NT there is reference to homosexuality in clear terms. And what about Jesus' teaching related to marriage defined in the relation of male and female? Or Paul in Romans 1:24-27 or 1 Cor6:9,10? Are they not "specific" enough?

You are nicley filling out the point I made above on the actions of pluralists (even to going for tangents and distractions)! We examine scripture in immediate and larger context. Do ANY of the texts affirm or validate the sexual relation other than in the context of male and female in marriage? Is it possible we can read scripture in the context of the larger canon we have received? And what about the larger context of historic Christian teaching?

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 18 August 2008 at 11:33pm BST

Ben W,

I am even more interested to know your take on what you misleadinly call "... a purposeful process of canonization within the early church..." It was the fights between Calvinism and Trident which "canonized". Mid 16th century. The different "canonical" Bibles came out of that, not through "... a purposeful process of canonization within the early church..."

The different Bibles compass different Books, and exclude or ignore others (think "Apocrypha"), they also stress differently, even when they have the same books.

It is mid 16th century.

Contemporary American "Integrism" comes from Arianism, a small Calvinist sect (1610) which later moved to America. It is contemporary.

(and quite unknown in these parts, jus'ques au nom).

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 at 7:10am BST

Ben W,

The view of the Early church, of the First Millennium, was that every scripture could contain “logoi spermatikoi”, seeds of truth; that is witness to Christ.

Any scripture, including heathen ones.

The First Millennium was not antagonistic as late modernism is, but had a harmonic vision: any scripture or world view could – and did – witness to Christ. Unlike in our Times, there was NO THING to be feared. But Hellenist Philosophy wasn’t regarded as Christianity.

That only came around 1100 with Anselmo of Aosta (later ABC), who claimed that Philosophy w a s Christian! The chuch at Paris refuted that as late as 1300.

During the First Millenium Christianity and its holy scriptures were considered different, because of God.

God, the maker, and of his Christ.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 at 7:31am BST


What commandment on "immorality"? The only one of the ten commandments that touches on sexual things at all is "Thou shalt not commit adultery". Are you expanding the plain meaning of that to include all "immoral" activity?

And the other passages that--to you--clearly proscribe homosexual activity are not so clear to me. That is why I said, in my original post, "in no uncertain terms". Can't get more definitive than "thou shalt not..." can we?

The OT prohibitions are largely part of the Hebrew cultural law that we no longer bind ourselves by. Why do you insist that we follow one particular line in Leviticus when we no longer follow any of the others? Wearing any mixed-thread cloth today? Had any shrimp lately?

As for the NT parts, that Jesus talks of marriage in the male and female does not preclude other forms. He also only spoke of animals and plants and cultures his audience in ancient Palestine knew. Does that mean the rest of the world was unholy? And we've been round and round on Paul here before. Suffice to say, you have not convinced me that the cultural prejudices of a first-century Jew should control what we do today.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 at 11:34am BST

Ben, Jesus clearly taught that remarriage after divorce constitutes adultery, but that has not prevented even the most fearsomely "orthodox" among us from warmly embracing serial polygamy.

In fact, ironically enough, the most anti-gay among the so-called "orthodox" tend to be the most pro-adultery. Why do you suppose that might be?

Posted by: JPM on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 at 2:50pm BST

Pat wrote: “What commandment on "immorality"? The only one of the ten commandments that touches on sexual things at all is "Thou shalt not commit adultery". Are you expanding the plain meaning of that to include all "immoral" activity?”

Sorry, but Ou moixeúeis! does not mean "Thou shalt not commit adultery", it means Don’t be disloyal (to your House)!

The word has nothing to do with “sex” or sexual morality, but everything with the House (think Count Almaviva, the disloyal Husbander, who does nothing to promote the fortunes of his House, but only thinks of his little pleasures).

Talking of disloyalty or falsehood, the word may in Koine be applied to a wrongful judge, judging wrongfully – but there are no instances of this in the holy scriptures of the Bible.

The Latin translation “adultera” talks of deceit, and in Carolingian times of a second, exogamous, wife, “adaltrach” in 1st Millennium judicial lingo (at least in Ireland).

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 20 August 2008 at 8:25pm BST

It is the 10th Commandment epithumía, which "touches" on things "adulterous" (though not "sexual" desire, but m a t e r i a l for the relations and dowry of neighbour's wife's), but only the Roman Catechism seems to remember that these days...

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 21 August 2008 at 8:21am BST
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