Thursday, 11 September 2008

California Proposition Eight

The Episcopal Bishops of the six dioceses in the state of California have issued a joint statement calling for defeat of Proposition Eight, a ballot initiative approved for inclusion in the November 4 election that would amend the state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Read the ENS report: California bishops call for defeat of proposition that would ban same-sex marriage which includes the full text of the joint statement. Here is an extract:

The group statement, signed by bishops of the dioceses of Northern California, California, El Camino Real, San Joaquin, Los Angeles and San Diego, said, “We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage. Rather, the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike. Society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment.”

The bishops acknowledged that the Church is not of one mind on the blessing of same-sex unions, but said they are “adamant that justice demands that same-sex civil marriage continue in our state,” and noted that a resolution passed at the 2006 General Convention opposed any civil initiative that would make same-sex marriage unconstitutional on a state or national level.

The Los Angeles press conference is available online here. The Los Angeles Times report is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 September 2008 at 6:34pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Great stuff. Bishops who lead. Who protect their flock. Inspiring. Not many like that here in the C of E.

Posted by: john on Thursday, 11 September 2008 at 7:25pm BST

Bravo, yeah, and all that. Dems ma bish-ez.

A strong, clear public statement of support - no blurring the opinion ranges, pro to con, about what the Anglican ethics and theologies of same sex blessings, ought or ought not to be.

I just do not see yet, exactly why other Anglican notables - including many attending or absent this last Lambeth - cannot manage similarly clear, non-blurry preaching. How sad, it falls way beyond the ken of the rightwing Anglicans - who cannot in truth consistently conceive of queer folks as real people - with real lives, real work, real daily life ethics, real relationships, and - gasp - real parenting.

Has Rowan Williams, or Akinola, or Orombi or Venebles ever met a gay men or lesbian woman whom they could truthfully consider their equal before Jesus? It they did, could they ever dare to say so, in public?

One doubts, from the way they preach: all the same old flat earth prejudices, combined with their blindness and deafness to human rights involving queer folks, globally. If the facts were not otherwise, you would think Venebles' province did not include, say, Brazil, or Argentina.

Still - best guess is that passage of the referendum constitutional amendment - which does not have to meet anything besides a simple majority voter test in the near election - is too close to call for certain. Hence, the merit and blessing of these bishops' joint statement - especially weighed against the heavy and intense lobbying and funding of the contrary, mainly involving the state's LDS, Roman Catholic, and evangelical conservative believers.

One suspects they prefer underground queer folks with party animal sex lives, so neatly fitted with their negative beliefs, even their flat earth prejudices. Spain learned under Franco and his special mean edition of being Roman Catholic. We in California recall the lovely committed life lived among us by couples like Del Martin God rest her soul and Phyllis Lyon. We recall, before them, all the still famous couples of world history.

Do a little research, then. As if the facts of committed love mattered to the contra camps? Given the sheer animus against gay couples in particular these days, the fact that the historical list of great – and well known? - same sex loves is so long is quite remarkable. None of us are so blind as we who refuse to see – ah, the con-fraternities-sororities of our closed hearts.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 11 September 2008 at 7:58pm BST

I can't wait to hear what Schofield has to say...

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 11 September 2008 at 10:59pm BST

"...the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike. Society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment." TEC Bishops of California

At last! The Church speaking with authority on an issue of fundamental human justice! It is so sad that the forces of exclusion have seen fit to try to overturn the State Law on the issue of common rights to committed, lawful partnerships between two people - regardless of gender characteristics.

Marriage, in whatever situation, must surely be preferable to unchastity. Lifelong commitment oguht to be welcomed in our day and age, when the opportunity for multiple partnerships and sexual license is so overt. Thank God for the charity and common sense of the Californian Bishops who have bestirred themselves on a Gospel issue of common Justice, Love and Mercy - not to mention community stability.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 11 September 2008 at 11:46pm BST

Proud to be BOTH an Episcopalian, and a native Californian! :-D

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 1:47am BST

I really hope the anti-gay legislation is defeated. The witness of these leading minisiters can surely only help in its defeat. How very encouraging that these overseers are actually leading ! Rather than the kind of 'oversight' which means over-looking / neglecting !

Yes, when will Laurie Green, Bill Ind, Stephen Lowe, and others speak up in England ?

btw are bishops' voices the only ones that count these days ?

Posted by: The Rev'd LJ Roberts on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 8:08am BST

drdanfee,

You are right it is not over in California. With the bishops one can say the "back and forth" that the proposition anticipates on the matter is hard for people.

In a confused culture, where "most anything goes," that has lost the basis for making most moral distinctions (e.g. equating sexual expression with the issue of race etc), the only thing many people relate to is "rights" and "victimhood." If you can play that up you may still be heard. But beyond the hype and the superficiality of the culture a deeper sense may be developing.

Part of the bishops' statement may be intended to be perceived as affirming the civil rights of homosexual people. So in that setting rather than coming up with a nuanced Christian statement they do the easy thing (perhaps especially since some of "the loudest voices" in their own churches are there).

And who is using the language of suspicion, contempt and prejudice? Your words: "One suspects they prefer underground queer folks with party animal sex lives, so neatly fitted with their negative beliefs, even their flat earth prejudices."

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 3:33pm BST

In a confused culture, where "most anything goes," that has lost the basis for making most moral distinctions (e.g. equating sexual expression with the issue of race etc), the only thing many people relate to is "rights" and "victimhood." If you can play that up you may still be heard. But beyond the hype and the superficiality of the culture a deeper sense may be developing. Ben

More careless fear/hate mongering...not a specific in the mess of assumptions about "other people" and their "culture" of "anything goes"...get this, Ben W., anything doesn't "go" except for the reckless antics of Bush/Chaney Rumsfeld and their ability to tell bold faced "lies" and take "illegal" actions abroad...this, is the emotionally/spirtiaully damaged "culture" of "anything goes" that we can specifically point to...all under sick banner of Christian fundamentalism.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 4:50pm BST

More fuel for the fire, and just as well probably. At this point, I think we will all be better off if the split settles out quickly.

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 5:21pm BST

Oh dear, Ben W, you still just don't get the whole justice and human rights thing, do you?

Perhaps it all starts with empathy for people who are being/ have been oppressed. I don't know why you don't have any empathy at all for us, given the oppression that us gays have been suffering all this time, but I think your not having it is probably why you're so much on a different wavelength from most of us on here.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 5:37pm BST

Hello Ben W, I am still faily amazed, given the usual social orders, that we find ourselves in the same global Anglican Communion, no?

Now, I think my basic point is rather simple:

In order to really test - transparently weigh, and adequately discern in our modern Anglican ethics and Anglican theologies (note the plural global Anglican S, please?)- what is or is not going on over time, with the committed same sex relationships that real people, real believers are really pledging now among us - let's restrict for the time being to California and Massachusetts and Canada and Spain and Belgium and Norway? - we have to have them.

We have to have them, openly, honestly, transparently, lived out by just those queer folks who are believers among us to whom those committed relationships mean the most, most centrally.

To have a fair test, I assert for mutual consideration that: 

(1) we have to do the test, without laying a priori burdens or disenfrachisements - as test methods? - which we do NOT put to the amazingly similar opposite sex/gender committed relationships.

(2)we have to allow the test, mainly administered by the real people involved, including all their parish family and friends who know them best, up close and personal.

Ditto, for any fair, open, and honest testing of queer folks parenting? If you want witness about queer folks parenting, you cannot exclude, say, COLAGE as first-hand evidence that matters? If the children who spend twenty years or so, growing up under your daily two daddies or two mommies parenting do not bear relevant witness, what sort of test are we conducting?

Note, I deny in no way the change to renewed discernment that such a test represents. I only assert the timeliness, the usefulness, and the care with which we should as believers conduct such a test. After all, very real people with very real lives are involved who are making very real commitments to one another, even if they are two men or two women?

How you twist or presume all that to be nothing but equivalent to sheer, foolish prejudice and discrimination against you or against conservative believers is quite beyond me at the moment.

Note: I am not barring you from the Lord's Table for the time being, even if you bear profoundly negative beliefs which predict all manner of awful outcomes from our very public test?

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 9:08pm BST

Fr Mark,

Please do not make this what it's not. There is a place to speak up for the protection and rights of people in varied settings. And that might well have been part of this.

From bishops I expect a nuanced Christian statement, that can at least take account of what has been historic Christian teaching. Hear what I said: "Part of the bishops' statement may be intended to be perceived as affirming the civil rights of homosexual people. So in that setting rather than coming up with a nuanced Christian statement they do the easy thing (perhaps especially since some of "the loudest voices" in their own churches are there)."

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 10:03pm BST

It should be noted that Prop 8 would overturn a recent case in the State Supreme Court granting equal marriage rights to gays and lesbians, so it is a change to the status quo (at least as of this summer)

Posted by: andrewdb on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 11:54pm BST

"the only thing many people relate to is "rights" and "victimhood.""

Ben, I agree with you entirely, though I'm not as sure as you are about the cause. The way I put it is that society only truly validates those who identify as victims and fight against it. This last part is vital, identifying as victim isn't enough. One result is that such people can't actually win. To win is to be less of a victim, and that paradoxically damages their personae, so they have to find something else to be victimized by. It is made worse when there is an actual basis. Look at gay people in North America. We are still not equal, but we don't have to hide in fear of our lives like we would in Sudan or Iran, the threat to our freedom is not as great as in Nigeria. Yet, try saying that we are not as persecuted as gay people elsewhere and see what happens. What's even worse though is when people identify themselves as oppressed victims and fight against that oppression when it is a total fiction and they are not being persecuted at all. They will, of course, not acknowledge that they are not persecuted, it is incredibly romantic to fight against the oppressor, that's what rebel songs are about. Thing is, this is precisely what I see conservatives doing, inventing persecution so they can fight against it and "defend the Gospel". It ties in with a trend among some Evangelicals to identify with the early Church. For the life of me, I can't see persecution of Conservatives, which is why I get so angry and snotty when confronted with it. I don't think I can call myself persecuted in the face of what gay people in the some places have to face, despite the inequality in Western society, you can imagine what I think about a bunch of middle class people claiming persecution because they can't say hateful things about us in the name of evangelism, or because they can't take their church building when they go into schism! Two years of asking here, and I've only been told one example of a parish being believably mistreated by its "liberal" bishop, but I've heard a lot of similar examples that didn't pan out when I checked into them, so I'm not entirely convinced by this latest example.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 3:10am BST

"From bishops I expect a nuanced Christian statement, that can at least take account of what has been historic Christian teaching" - Ben W -

What, Ben, such teaching as Jesus wants us to set forth in the Church and to the world? Like, for instance :-

"Love one another, as I have loved you" - Jesus

"Judge not, that you be not judged" - Jesus

"Father, (I pray) that they may be one, as you and I are one; they in us, as I am in you and you are in me" - Jesus (anti-schismatic)

Where, Ben, in your on-line statements, is there any evidence (at all) of your 'taking account' of historic Christian (of Christ) teaching?. Don't expect any more of the leaders of the Church than youn are prepared to act out for yourself.

As it happens, though, in the context of their statement, the California Bishops have followed Jesus in his acceptance of everyone as children of a Loving God and worthy of inclusion.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 3:23am BST

"More fuel for the fire"

That would be the Holy Spirit.

"and just as well probably. At this point, I think we will all be better off if the split settles out quickly. - Posted by Steven"

Lord have mercy, but leave if you must, Steven.

I don't suppose though, while you're "splitting" from the Episcopal Church, you could desist using the terms (in addition to "Episcopal") "Anglican" "Christian" and "follower of Jesus Christ"?

[Well, I had to ask.]

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 4:17am BST

In the wake of the Robinson consecration in 2003, the Vatican suspended the work of IARCUM...I think that this calls for another suspension...

Imagine the Catholic bishops campaigning for the vote and the Episcopal gainst...

Joint mission and unity..what a mockery

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 8:43am BST

Robert, given your recent conversion to Rome, one can't help wondering what point you are trying to make in your recent entry (13/Sept @ 8.43am)

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 12:41pm BST

JCF:

No need for a snit, and no need for the insults. I think there are a lot of folks on both sides who would like things to settle out and be over with.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 3:05pm BST

drdanfee,

First, my question to you was, "And who is using the language of suspicion, contempt and prejudice?"

Not the direct language about people or about evangelicals, what we have instead is contempt and put-downs. You attribute what no one on this list or I have ever said in general about homosexuals. It is embedded in your very words: "One suspects they prefer underground queer folks with party animal sex lives, so neatly fitted with their negative beliefs, even their flat earth prejudices."

As for your "test", that is not the issue and is beside the point.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 10:56pm BST

Ron Smith,

Your question again little more than rhetoric. You ask, "Where, Ben, in your on-line statements, is there any evidence (at all) of your 'taking account' of historic Christian (of Christ) teaching?." If you have not heard it till now what would lead anyone to expect you will get it now? No point in citations of evidence, they are there in the record if you want to know.

You refer to teaching Jesus like, for instance :

"Love one another, as I have loved you" - Jesus

"Judge not, that you be not judged" - Jesus

"Father, (I pray) that they may be one, as you and I are one; they in us, as I am in you and you are in me" - Jesus (anti-schismatic).

In appropriate context I AFFIRM it all!

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 12:37am BST

Ben
"In appropriate context I AFFIRM it all!"

Where did Jesus say "Love one another but only in an appropriate context"?

Where did he say "Do not judge one another, but only after you've judged whether the context is appropriate"?

I'm afraid, his commands here are absolute.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 10:32am BST

"In appropriate context I AFFIRM it all!"

But you don't get to set the context, Ben. "Who is my neighbour" has a very clear answer in Scripture: everybody. Do you really think there are situations in which you are NOT required to love your neighbour?

And, what does it mean to "affirm" something? I think this highlights a major issue between Evangelicals and non-Evangelicals: we don't speak the same language, and we don't even have the same assumptions of meaning. You have used this word many times, I cannot conceive of ever using it. It seems that a public statement of belief is very important to you. On another thread, reference was made about a bishop who "wasn't definite enough" on issues like resurrection. I suspect that has meaning for you, but it doesn't for me. This isn't a criticism, just a warning for both of us that we may not have the same basic assumptions. We ought not assume that the words we use mean the same to each other, nor that our understanding of things is the same. Sometimes what we might think is pretty basic means nothing at all to the other. This is what I have been getting at, poorly, in asking what it means to claim "Jesus is Lord". Other Evangelicals have used the phrase as though it has some sort of specific meaning that I can't grasp. My attitude is "Of course. That's like demanding that I acknowledge God is God." What else would He be? It is like the question "Are you saved?" For some Evangelicals, though I suspect not you, that's a very clear, simple question, for me it's incredibly difficult and nuanced, and I can't conceive of asking it to anyone.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 2:08pm BST

"It is like the question "Are you saved?" For some Evangelicals, though I suspect not you, that's a very clear, simple question, for me it's incredibly difficult and nuanced, and I can't conceive of asking it to anyone."

I can't conceive of asking it because none of us truly knows the answer. We all have faith that we are saved through baptism...but we cannot "know" it in any rational sense. God's plan for us is unknown to us.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 5:22pm BST

"I can't conceive of asking it because none of us truly knows the answer. We all have faith that we are saved through baptism...but we cannot "know" it in any rational sense. God's plan for us is unknown to us."

It may or may not apply to Evangelicals here, but I have run into on Evangelical websites the idea that this statement represents lack of faith. They heap scorn on the idea that to solidly affirm redemption is presumption of the grace of God. They DO know the answer in fact. And God's plan for us IS known in the "plain word" of Scripture. Again, the idea that faith is certainty, not only that, but we must express that certainty. It appears, and I would really like for some Evangelical to clarify this, that what I would call humility they would call faithlessness. If I say that I trust in God's mercy when the day comes, I am doubting God's promise. But all this comes from what I see as an obsession with justification, with "getting right with God". I've been on some Evangelical websites where that seems to be all the Gospel is about for them. The whole mystical aspect of the Incarnation, the whole Creation transformation aspect is lost, since the whole purpose of the Incarnation, it seems, was to provide an innocent victim to suffer for our crimes so that God's righteous anger at us could be satisfied somehow and He will let us get away with what we have done. That and to give us an example and rules to live by so we don't screw up again. The idea that freedom from sin and guilt is just part of something far larger and even more amazing just isn't there. Personally, I find it uninspiring, but for them, it seems to fuel their spiritual life. If I scorn it because it leaves me cold, that a sin on my part, but I can't see anything inspiring or comforting in it, personally.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 7:02pm BST

To Ron Smith ... I don't call Easter Sunday , 1991 recent! As to my motive ..if any man glory .....let him do so in the Lord.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 7:33pm BST

Pat and Ford
I struggle with this sentence: "but we cannot "know" it in any rational sense. God's plan for us is unknown to us."

It seems to be mixing up two concepts.
What we cannot know in any rational sense is whether God exists and whether he is as Christianity portrays him.
What we have is faith, not knowledge.

But, once we have come to faith, and once we have decided that the Christian answers appear to us the most likely - whether because it's our culture, because it makes intellectual sense, or because we have a religious experience that confirms us in this perception - we have consciously opted for a religious view that includes the belief that we can be saved.

One of the central statements of Christianity is that if we have faith, we are redeemed through Jesus' dying on the cross.

We can argue about the meaning of any of those words - what faith might be needed, what does redemption mean etc. But once we are thinking from within the Christian "system" we can no longer question the idea of personal salvation.

Or am I misunderstanding you both?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 8:56pm BST

Ford,

What I see in your exposition of evangelical is largely "figments of imagination." Now if you are interested simply in going in circles in your own imagination not much I can do about that.

I suppose it should not be surprising, you said you had not heard of evangelicals in the AC until recently? You had not heard of archbishop G Carey??

First, there is always a context for commands or teaching in scripture. The Ten Commandments have the context of God having delivered the people from slavery and calling them to himself in covenant (Exod 19:3-6; 20:1-17).

So the call to love the neighbor has its context. It does not simply excuse sin in the name of love for example, e.g. the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11), it is "you have sinned and out of love you can be forgiven." Not,"I love you and so we ignore this;" rather, "go and sin no more." In parable of the the Good Samaritan also (Luke 10:25-37)Jesus is responding to a lawyer's question about what to do to have eternal life, and the parable is not about loving everybody in general but loving people that have been our enemies (the Samaritans). Instead of just going off on some line of your own hear what the scripture is actually saying.

That is the starting point for thinking of evangelical (it comes from "gospel" and letting that be the direction for thought and action). You say in that connection, "It seems that a public statement of belief is very important to you." Completely misses the point. True, faith is about whether one affirms the incarnation or the resurrection, scripture itself states about incarnation (1 John 4:2,3) and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-5,14). Are you saying this does not matter? Quite simple really, do you accept the gospel or not? Now as then some people deny Christ. I can find all kinds of nutty stuff on websites about liberals and conservatives, if you want to learn about widely representative evangelicals read **George Carey, N T Wright or his website etc.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 10:40pm BST

Erika:

I think you may be misunderstanding me. To me, "knowing" is a rational thing. I know that if I drop something, it will fall to the ground...because I have experienced it again and again and I understand the theory of gravity.

But "faith" is not rational, it does not depend on experience or understanding of natural phenomena. I have faith that I am redeemed through baptism, but I do not "know" that I am. It cannot be proven in any rational manner.

And I cannot know God's plan for me, or for anyone else, because God's mind is unknowable to mortal minds. To claim knowledge of God at that level is hubris, it is almost blasphemy.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 12:37am BST

"What we have is faith, not knowledge."

This is what I'm saying. Faith is not knowledge, faith is faith. We cannot prove that we are saved. It is all faith. What I can't, and won't say, is that I will go with the sheep when the time comes. I can only say that I trust in the mercy of God and put my fate in His hands. I know some have problems, for instance, with the Prayer of Humble Access, all that presuming and all. Well, I'm sorry, but it is pretty presumptious for a finite, fallen creation to stand before the Creator, AND I might add Redeemer, of all that is, and say "I have a right to be here." The most I can express is gratitude that He counts me worthy to be there, and isn't that what the POHA is about? Does that help clarify my attitude? Honestly, I don't think about it all that much. I think much of what manifests as conservative judgementalism and legalism comes from a continual fretting over their "justification". For me, it's more important to try to live the Gospel, and I know I don't do it all that well, and leave what happens at the End to God's mercy. If Christ gives us the victory, then accept the victory, acknowledging that He is the judge in the end, and it's presumptious to anticipate that judgement. But it's futile to keep wondering and fretting whether or not your baptism somehow "stuck". Now, Evangelical theology as I understand it says that salvation can be lost for bad behaviour, and I guess that would make someone fret, but isn't the message of the Gospel that we are free from those kinds of worries? But, and this is the only way I understand "Jesus is Lord", whether or not I go with the sheep depends on Him, and I just have to trust that He will apply the sacrifice of the Cross to me. I certainly can't demand it, and I think it's presumptuous to assume it, all I can do is trust it. Do you know the hymn "Souls of Men, Why Will Ye Scatter"? That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 2:49am BST

Ben
"So the call to love the neighbor has its context. It does not simply excuse sin in the name of love for example, e.g. the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11), it is "you have sinned and out of love you can be forgiven." Not,"I love you and so we ignore this;" rather, "go and sin no more."

Actually, there are two linear conversations going on in the story of the woman taken in adultery.
One is between Jesus and the accusers.
The other is between Jesus and the woman.

There is no conversation at all between the woman and the accusers, the accusers are not the ones who tell her not to sin any more.

They weren't then, they should not be now.
God does the judging, we are called to love.

I've never come across your interpretation of the Samaritan story before. It's usually taken to mean that we should not ONLY love those who are close to us, but ALSO our enemies - i.e. everyone.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 10:33am BST

Pat,
Thank you for your explanation.

Ford,
I suppose my theology is slightly different from yours. I do not believe that there will be a sorting into sheep and goats depending on whether we’ve been good boys and girls. If anyone ends up on the goat trail (and I don't believe that anyone will), it will be of his own choosing.

A Roman Catholic view I have translated recently says: And “hell”? Unlike Heaven God does not assign people to hell (as punishment). Of himself God only communicates himself, but only as love that desires nothing but salvation for everyone. Yet, human beings have been given the absolute freedom to say “no” to God’s mercy, however improbable such a choice may seem. For example when they are so in love with their own achievements that they will not accept God’s salvation as pure grace but request it as their due. Such a “negative finality” can only be comprehended as a frozen fossilisation, a negation of life and all relationships, as an egocentricity that sees itself as the only absolute. We may and must hope that there is no-one for whom this will be the final word about themselves and their lives. But we cannot exclude the possibility with absolute certainty. Because the ultimate relation of God’s endless mercy and mankind’s endless freedom remain a secret to us. As long as we are still on our way, they are part of the mystery of faith and hope”.

Working out my salvation with fear and trembling has no place in my experience of God as pure love. In fact, accepting his love (not as my right, but as an amazing, undeserved gift!), frees me from my obsession with myself and allows me to concentrate on God and on the world I live in.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 10:53am BST

"figments of imagination."

Strange way of describing things I have been told by selfproclaimed Evangelicals or read on Evangelical websites. And yes, I have heard of Carey, but I never knew he was Evo till a few years ago.

"So the call to love the neighbor has its context. It does not simply excuse sin in the name of love for example"

It isn't for you to reject, excuse, or punish sin, Ben. It's for you to love unconditionally and let God do the judging.

"the parable is not about loving everybody in general but loving people that have been our enemies (the Samaritans)..... hear what the scripture is actually saying."

See, I was taught that it was about love for others being way more important than ritual purity and others thinking you were holy, and that even those who the tradition said were unclean and outside of God's love actually showed this to be false in the acts of love and compassion the Gospel demands of us, and that no-one can claim to be righteous because of adherence to a particular set of rules, or birth in a particular class or tribe or nation. This was in northern Newfoundland in the 1960s, not exactly a hotbed of Godless liberalsim! It had to do with the obvious righteousness of someone society considered to be unclean and unrighteous. That IS what the Scripture is saying here, Ben.

"faith is about whether one affirms the incarnation or the resurrection.... do you accept the gospel or not?"

No, faith is about whether one believes. Making some kind of public statement means little. Just because you say you believe something doesn't mean you actually do. Belief in the Gospel is shown in how one acts, not in what one says.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 1:29pm BST

Ford,

The statement is telling, "I have heard of Carey, but I never knew he was Evo till a few years ago."

G Carey was only the +++bishop of Canturbury for about a dozen years before R Williams! And what about all the other evangelicals long ago or recently(Wilberforce, John and Charles Wesley, N T Wright etc etc that you do not know, but you are sure you can pronounce with complete finality on evangelicals!)?

By referencing scripture I am judging?! Meanwhile you say, "It isn't for you to reject, excuse, or punish sin, Ben. It's for you to love unconditionally and let God do the judging." What do you think that is? You certainly make a judgment about what I have said, that I am judging. And by saying I am not the one to judge you are judging! This just exposes the empty rhetoric you resort to (the text you refer to, Matt 7:1-5 actually talks about order or context for it). You would not be so banal with your own family or in your work. Jesus himself in the same gospel says when a "brother sins ... you go to him..." (not possible apart from making a judgment about the action and not possible by ignoring it, Matt 18:15-18). And in referring to context in the earlier post I was of course not putting in details of the context.

If you want to go on making great generalizations you can (chase these rabbits if it pleases you). I do not and will not respond to them - yours or others' general charges or "great rhetorical challenges."

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 7:03pm BST

Ford said:

"The whole mystical aspect of the Incarnation, the whole Creation transformation aspect is lost, since the whole purpose of the Incarnation, it seems, was to provide an innocent victim to suffer for our crimes so that God's righteous anger at us could be satisfied somehow and He will let us get away with what we have done."

The final triumph of Puritanism, I suppose. Remember that they abolished the liturgical calendar, even Christmas, so we won't have to remember the whole point of the story.

And Erika, I think that one you were citing on 15 Sept. was Edward Schillibeecx. I recognize that quote!

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 3:03am BST

Ben
“that you do not know, but you are sure you can pronounce with complete finality on evangelicals!?”

Ford has not pronounced with finality on evangelicals, but he has repeatedly told you of his understanding of them and asked you detailed questions in order to discover whether his judgment is right or not. Sadly, you appear to take his (and my) questions as rhetorical or judgmental and have so far not replied to a single one.

Maybe you’d like to consider that we’re not out to get you but that we really would like to understand you better?

Take this “judging” argument you’ve developed in the same post.
You started by saying you affirm the command to love others, in the right context, but that it does not mean you have to excuse and accept their sins.

We replied that according to our understanding, we are not called to decide in which context something is to be affirmed or not, but that we are required to love everyone. And that, also according to our understanding, God judges other people’s sins, not we.

And now you accuse Ford of judging you because you feel that he’s accusing you of being judgmental and of chasing rabbits.

But it’s an important conversation! Are we to love unconditionally or not? Is it our role to decide who is a sinner and who isn’t? Are these things where evangelicals and people like Ford or liberals like me actually have different theology?

Isn’t it part of the “what can we affirm?” conversation you started a while ago?
I did post a tentative beginning of what I can and can’t affirm. Sadly, you didn’t respond to that either.

It would be really good if we could stop being so suspicious of each other and start a genuine conversation.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 9:22am BST

Ren
It's possible!
I got the quote from: Medard Kehl SJ in: W. Fürst & J. Werbick (Hg.), Katholische Glaubensfibel. Freiburg: Herder, 2004, p. 87 ff

but I didn't check their cross references.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 11:20am BST

Erika:

A conversation requires that both sides think the other has something important to contribute to the discussion. Ben W doesn't want a conversation; he wants to make pronouncements about the (lack of) faith of others and the greater orthodoxy of his own faith. He doesn't realize it, but he is the Pharisee observing the publican in the temple, and declaring his pride in not being like that.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 11:53am BST

Pat
At least he should be willing to explain the orthodoxies of his faith to those like Ford, who ask with genuine interest.

I completely fail to understand why he doesn't reply constructively to genuine questions about his faith.

And after asking what we can affirm and getting a constructive reply, why not engage with that and inform us what, within the framework of his own faith, might be possible?

Even if you only want to show that your own view is superior, isn't there an incentive to explain that view?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 6:52pm BST

Erika:

Oh, I quite agree with you. But, based on what he posts here, Ben W doesn't really have an explanation for his faith; it just "is". He affirms things because he has been convinced they are necessary to prove he is a Christian.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 at 11:07am BST

Ben W:

As for your insistent whinning about also being on the receiving end of others' rage at injustice, my reaction is that if you dish it out, you ought to be able to take it as well. It's disingenuous at best.

And for your claims on "context" per the Ten Commandments et. al., I'm sure you can apply this logic to Paul's Letters to Romans and Levitical code as well.

"You attribute what no one on this list or I have ever said in general about homosexuals." That's an accusation that hides a lie, all your diatribe is precisely that, making generalities about homosexuals and backing up the disgusting place of lies and discrimination the church forces onto us queer folk. _You _are _the _group _that _is _tearing _the _church _apart _against _change _for _the _better! Deal with it and eventually perhaps you will wake up and see the true light of God's love for all.

Meanwhile, your bigotry is showing behind that facade of foppiness, and it's a laughing stock on this website.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 at 1:05pm BST

"I completely fail to understand why he doesn't reply constructively to genuine questions about his faith."

Is it possible that this reveals sometihng basic? Look at it this way: I have a knee jerk nasty reaction to fundamentalists/evangelicals. I have given in to it many times. I see "Bible believing" and I immediately have an image of someone and what they believe. It doesn't help that many people feed that bigotry, but it is still MY issue, not Ben's or anyone else's. I'm the one embarrassed when it is pointed out to me, not someone else. I see Ben in the same light. I don't know if it's a word necessarily, if maybe "progressive" is for him what "Bible believing" is for me, or if it's particular ideas. But he certainly seems to have a sense of being under attack and threatened by all kinds of things. In me, this kind of thing has put me in a position where I can't credibly point out an issue I have with Evangelicalism because I've been so nasty in the past that no amount of prefacing with "I don't mean to be snotty but..." is going to make what I say look like anything other than sneering to someone for whom these very issues are dearly held beliefs.

"isn't there an incentive to explain that view"

Not if what's important is repeatedly stating that view in the face of people you believe are persecuting you and opposing God's truth. In that instance, explanation might bring understanding, making it harder to maintain the fiction of oppression. Which is why Consevos didn't listen to gay people either, though they claim, and I think on some level believe, they have.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 at 2:09pm BST

Ford,
again, you are being far too hard on yourself. Yes, you fly off the handle against consevos, but you always reign yourself in afterwards, you always return to constructive conversation, and you always apologise to anyone you feel you might have upset.

I suspect that Pat has a strong point. If your faith is fairly unreflected it is probably impossible to explain e.g. what "accepting Jesus as Lord" means precisely, other than by resorting to equally rigid and unreflected statements.

Having said that, I would like to say that I do have a number of evangelical friends who manage to be loving and inclusive in their theology.
They like the form of evangelical worship, the songs, the freedom, they'd also proclaim "Jesus as Lord", whatever that might mean, believe in PSA, but the parts of the bible they give more weighting to are those that ask us to be loving and non judgmental. When they quote Paul they quote "Love is kind...".

There is also an evangelical fellowship for lesbian and gay Christians, they're not all homophobic.

We're in danger of tarring all evangelicals with the same brush, when we really have a problem only with the right-wing conservative version.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 at 4:29pm BST

I have moved on, checking back I find the "surmising" and "imaginary scenarios" all a bit strange!

I said to Erika about a week ago after her upset, "I think I will make this my last post to you on this." Then Simon S posted to say that we were some way off topic and he would not accept further unrelated matter from us I turned back to the subject of the thread and tried to sum it up. Areyou now surprised that i have moved on?

I sent to Ford saying I will not respond to blanket charges or "rhetorical challenges." Not because I am not prepared to answer questions, but because I have already answered, often more than once! (But it was either not heard or accepted because it was not what was wanted or did not please). Enough.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 at 5:41pm BST

"to prove he is a Christian"

To whom? And why is it necessary? God surely knows, and isn't He the one who counts?

"it's a laughing stock on this website"

This is a bit harsh, I think. Frustrating, yes, but laughing stock? His determined mischaracterization of the scientific method is frustrating, and at times makes him look bad, but not laughable, to my mind anyway. I do believe he wants serious dialogue, it's just that his persecution complex gets in the way. He talks the talk, but finds it hard to walk the walk. So do I. We do much the same to each other, him and me, and for much the same reasons, I think, he no more trusts the heathen liberals who he thinks believe nothing and are out to destroy the Gospel than I trust the Evangelicals who I think have starved their souls for the sake of Law, and betray the Gospel in their zeal to defend it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 at 6:31pm BST

Ben
That's not quite true.
You did say you would not talk to me any longer, that's true. But it was not on the thread Simon later closed to comment, but on a subsequent one.

I then posted again, asking you not to dismiss as rethoric what is meant to be genuine questioning.
And I then took your question about what we can affirm seriously and gave an answer.
I have no idea why you did not respond.

You have previously asked whether we can affirm that Jesus is Lord.
In reply, Ford has repeatedly asked you on several threads what "Jesus is Lord" means for you, and has outlined why he finds it difficult to understand the statement without any further explanation from you.
His question clearly is not rethorical.
I have no idea why you did not respond.

Enough?
If you say so. But I truly don't see why.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 18 September 2008 at 8:18am BST

Calling one of the contributors a "laughing stock" might indeed be harsh Ford, and in retrospect I could honestly call myself highly prejudiced against many, if not most that call themselves "evangelicals", as it brings visions of half-hysterical people waving hands in their worship services, being roiled up by a charismatic leader that is spending more time encouraging the participants to engage in urging legislators to bring laws to control others and to outright limit freedoms. To me they've gone from being sect of distasteful worship practices to the powerhouse that they surely are in the U.S. today.

But it comes down deeper to this. Evangelicals choose to be what they are. LGBT's do not, and we are born such, and I tend to judge a person by what they do, and not what they are. So forgive me for being harsh with people who get wrapped up in a distorted form of Christianity, who start obsessing about minor points in Scripture in what is a thinly veiled form of persecution. It reeks dangerously of what happened in Germany many years ago, and seems to be heading that way in the U.S. again. Just yesterday an adopted child was taken away from a queer couple in Kentucky per a judge's ruling that was surely swayed but what is coming out of these people's mouths. And you know Ford, that there is a backlash developing in Canada over your Gay marriage rights, especially in the western provinces.

Harsh? Hell yes!

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Thursday, 18 September 2008 at 1:42pm BST

"I have already answered, often more than once!"

Ben, you may feel that way, but I really can't say that I have received any answer at all to what it means to "affirm" anything other than to simply make a public claim that could easily be nothing more than talk, nor as to why that should have any bearing at all on what one's faith actually is, nor have I received any answer to what it means to say that "Jesus is Lord", nor why such a statement is meaningful to you, since, as I say, every rapper that ever wins a Grammy thanks "Jesus who is Lord of my life" while singing about sex, drugs, murder, and violence, so how can it be meaningful, nor to how such an "affirmation" is any different from standing in the presence of God Sunday after Sunday reciting the Nicene Creed in the local ecclesia, nor how you can understand how so-called "liberals" do not make such an affirmation. Sorry, I still have no idea about these things, I do not feel you have answered any of them, at least not in terms I can understand, (which is what I am getting at by saying we have different mneanings for words, different assumptions about the faith, etc.). I also, by the way, don't understand the difference between an Evangelical and a fundamentalist. How would you differentiate yourself from a Pentecostal, for instance, especially given that some (?many?) Anglican Evangelicals wouldn't see much difference at all between themselves and Pentecostals?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 18 September 2008 at 3:53pm BST

"Calling one of the contributors a "laughing stock" might indeed be harsh Ford, and in retrospect I could honestly call myself highly prejudiced against many, if not most that call themselves "evangelicals", as it brings visions of half-hysterical people waving hands in their worship services, being roiled up by a charismatic leader that is spending more time encouraging the participants to engage in urging legislators to bring laws to control others and to outright limit freedoms. To me they've gone from being sect of distasteful worship practices to the powerhouse that they surely are in the U.S. today."

Refer to hysteria in worship, self delusion as to Church history and doctrine, a need to feel persecuted like the Christians of the Early Church, and a soulless rejection of anything mystical and spiritual, and a legalistic understanding of redemption as nothing more than getting away with crime, and you've pretty much got my long held prejudices that all get switched on every time someone uses the word ""Evangelical". I force myself to see these things as prejudices on my part, not accurate descriptions of Evangelicals, despite all those I meet who fit. As to politics, that is surely the greatest threat. We now have someone poised to become not merely second in command of the most powerful nation on Earth, but, possibly Commander in Chief of that nation's not inconsiderable military, who believes the Earth is 4000 years old, dinosaurs are "devil lizards", and who "doesn't judge" people who believe homosexuality is a choice, while remaining mum on whether she judges those who ARE gay. And, we have a party in this country that actually seems to want to pattern itself after her party in the US, and that might well form a majority government on Oct. 14. OLW, pray for us!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 18 September 2008 at 7:56pm BST
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