Monday, 6 July 2009

FCA: further coverage

Updated again Tuesday afternoon

Religious Intelligence FCA threatens Church run by “Satan” by Toby Cohen

Reuters Orthodox Anglicans won’t leave Church of England by Harpreet Bhal

Cif belief Anglican schism? Bring it on by Theo Hobson

The Times The spiritual battle for the soul of Anglicanism by Ruth Gledhill on Articles of Faith.

BBC Church group ‘not planning split’

The full text of Archbishop Peter Jensen’s presentation is here.

And the presentation on behalf of Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council delivered by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Bendel, Nigeria, is here.


The Times
Ruth Gledhill Britain in battle for its soul, says Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen
Leading Article: Bishop’s wrong move

…Bishop Nazir-Ali is a longstanding critic of modern mores and church accommodation with them. He has become increasingly outspoken as his early retirement from Rochester approaches. But his willingness to provoke splits and risk schism within the Anglican Communion serves neither Church nor nation. He commented before yesterday’s gathering that homosexuals should “repent and be changed”. He thereby inflamed an issue on which social attitudes have changed radically for the better within a generation, and signalled insubordination to the authority of Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. To adapt the words of Clement Attlee to an obstreperous Labour critic: a period of silence on his part would be welcome…

Telegraph Martin Beckford Bishop of Lewes: Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans formed to counter ‘heartache’

And an earlier report that I missed, Religious Intelligence Bishop attacks ‘lurid’ headlines

The Bishop, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, had given an interview to the Sunday Telegraph ahead of today’s launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in London.

In the interview he was reported as calling for gay people to repent and change, and his comments provoked a strong backlash from gay groups, liberal Christians and from the media…

Two items from Changing Attitude:
Davis Mac-Iyalla reports on Archbishop Okoh’s visit to Christ Church Beckenham
Schismatic bishops obsessed with gays

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 6 July 2009 at 7:04pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Archbishop Venables:

“This is about the essentials of theology, and that’s where the division is coming. Those who say there is only one way; Jesus Christ, stand with us, stand with him, and those who say there are a lot of ways, Jesus is one of them. That is what this division is about and it’s not schism, it is real separation over Gospel truth.”

And here I thought the "essentials of theology" were the triune God, the divinity of Christ, his role as our savior and not stuff like the gender of priests or what the congregants do with their naughty bits.

Silly me.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 6 July 2009 at 10:59pm BST

I had a look at the main photograph posted on the Ruth Gledhill site. Westminster Hall is a big place but the 'congregation' at the 'Be Faithful' gathering doesn't look particularly big. Also, even when I enlarged the photograph and screwed my eyes up to look more closely, many of those there seemed rather elderly

Posted by: penwatch on Monday, 6 July 2009 at 11:26pm BST

"Consecrating women as bishops in the Church of England without proper provision for those opposed to the move would prompt FCA UK to challenge the current Church leadership. The Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, maintained that the fellowship was hopeful that this would not be necessary."

"He said: 'I think we are hopeful that the Church of England will see sense and provide properly for loyal Anglicans of both integrities.'"

So the blackmail begins! On behalf of the majority membership of TEC, we say to our CofE family, "Welcome to our world!"

Those of you in England have a clear roadmap for how FCA will proceed and what their real goals are. I pray that you will not be foolish enough to give in to their demands. One demand met just leads to another, higher order more costly demand. FCA, like ACNA, just different names for the same group, seeks to make an Anglican Church which is misogynistic, homophobic, and blithely indifferent to human science. This worldwide Church will be led by them, and there will be more bishops than can fill a large carpark. Some of you should go out right now and see if you can corner the market on appropriate purple cloth and ecclesiastical dressmakers.

Posted by: karenmacqueen+ on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 12:53am BST

Hobson's piece seems to me almost deranged: prey to the stupid and crippling polarisation mentality that seems hell-bent on destroying our church. He may be right that Liberals have been smug, but he badly underestimates the difficulties of securing a church-wide acceptance of homosexuality as legitimate. This is not always to do with homophobia. The difficulty is that it locks you into fairly radical reinterpretation (in this case, effective dumping) of the Bible. Many, many people are afraid of that, because it seems almost infinitely destabilising. Their fear is not irrational. Handling the gay and WO issues is extremely difficult. Of course, I think mistakes have been made (Jeffrey John etc.), but that is tactical, not strategic. On that level, I think there have been two errors by our leadership: (1) failure to argue loud and strong that neither of these issues should be church-dividing; (2) failure to proclaim confidence and faith in the C of E. There's far too much embarrassed 'who knows what will be the future of the C of E'? stuff (Marilyn McCord Adams was absolutely right about that as against Tom Wright), far too much of 'We're Evangelicals first', and, of course, far too much of 'We look to "the Holy Father" really'. Sentamu seems to be the only one of the top leadership who understands this. This is not so much an 'ecclesial deficit' as a failure of loyalty and - in some cases - a failure of 'cojones' (of which Marilyn McCord Adams cannot be accused).

So there.

Posted by: john on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 6:37am BST

Doctor Jensen stated that FCA and GAFCON....

...exists so that evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics and mere Anglicans can continue to be Anglicans without compromising Biblical truth.

Yet he believes what Anglo-Catholics believe is not biblical.. see his personal web site!

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 6:37am BST

The one Truth of Bishop Venables is a Hellenist truth, immovable, immutable, that is Heathen.

The Dynamic Creator God of both Testaments stand for a whole other reality. Or am I mistaken?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 7:07am BST

"And here I thought the "essentials of theology" were the triune God, the divinity of Christ, his role as our savior..."

Amen Pat.

A question for Christians. When God authorised the dethronement of Satan and discrediting of his followers - was that based on the name of the tyrant - or was God making a stand against tyranny per se?

Christians who behave tyrannically testify that the issue was the name of the tyrant. The souls who are responsible for life on this planet (in all its diversity both seen and unseen) testify that God's stand was against tyranny itself.

In which case, why should Jesus and his followers be allowed to do worse than Satan or his followers? Satan's followers claimed the right to global tyranny based on being God's most favoured. Jesus' followers claimed the right to commit global genocide using tyranny based on Jesus being God.

When Jesus claims all he does is for the Glory of God, then these Christians make that mean that Jesus has done that for the glory of himself. Christians want to call Jesus a god, fine, this planet isn't short of them - Hindus and pagans have quite a few already. A new planet conceived through deceit, extortion, intimidation, ultimatums, theft, abuse, tyranny, lies, complacency, or selfishness will be no better than this planet. Christians who attempt to destroy this planet and tyrannise this planet's occupants testify they are against the Book of Life.

If souls consider God to be irrelevant with immaterial feelings, needs or wants, then they are irrelevant to God. Like Satanists, extinct species no longer can legitimately materialise their feelings needs or wants at this level of reality. Repent or perish takes on a whole new level of meaning.

The principles of the covenant of peace stand, even if Jesus and his priests are pushed off their perches - just are the covenants with Zion, Noah and Moses. Who won the argument? Zion and the prophets because life in all its mish-mashy messiness continues on this planet.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 10:02am BST

Penwatch - all Anglican gatherings are rather elderly, so maybe FCA was just a representative sample!

Posted by: David Keen on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 12:14pm BST

Well, now, our cousins across the pond are finally getting a little taste of what we American Episcopalians have had to put up with for years if not decades. Pretty soon, these folks will be demanding a new “Province” in England, staffed by bishops consecrated in Africa. Then they will try to take possession of the family silver. How anyone can take seriously backward-looking windbags like Duncan and Jensen is beyond my understanding. (TEC supports “the sanctification of sin” Dr. Jensen? We American Episcopalians were preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, baptizing sinners saved by Grace and celebrating the Holy Mysteries when Sydney was a collection of canvas tents and mud huts scattered along the Tank Stream). These people are the last theological gasp of the 19th century mind confronting the 21st century.

Posted by: Kurt on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 12:25pm BST

Schism and separation are the same thing, both etymologically and in usage (apart from the fact that 'schism' is a more formal and resonant term).

I think the point they made was that the authority of Jesus is an essential, albeit it can be disregarded in numerous quite different ways.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 12:35pm BST

What I found most interesting was the posts on "Anglican TV" These are folks who had hopes of attending, and, if unable, actually watched the presentations. They are posts from people who were predisposed to support and affirm what they hoped would happen here. But... From the posts, of which I admit I was taken back by how few, there seem to be a couple of themes that were surprising.
1. The posters were turned off by the tone of the opening day as so negative 2. The posters were discouraged by the cost of the attendance, how admission and its price were handled.

Posted by: EmilyH on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 12:44pm BST

"The difficulty is that it locks you into fairly radical reinterpretation (in this case, effective dumping) of the Bible."

How does changing our understanding of homosexuality do this any more than changing our understanding of ordination of women, or usury, to name but two? I think this whole "If we do this we are rejecting the Bible" thing is actually untrue. We have reinterpreted many things in the last 2000 years, how is this reinterpretation different? This is something that conservatives throw out there all the time, and I don't see why we are huldering them into it. This is not a more radical reinterpretation than any of the others we have carried out in the past. It's bad enough when Catholic minded Anglicans say this. When Evangelicals say it it's even sillier, since Evangelicalism in general is a product of a far more radical "reassessment" of Christianity than anything happening now, and it's a bit much to have the spiritual descendants of the most radical "reassessors" in Christian history use that term as a means of casting doubt on the faith of others. This gets back to the basic conservative driving force: fear of change. It is so strong that they cannot admit that this kind of "reassessment" is not new. To do that would be to admit that their dire predictions of what will happen if we "reassess" whatever their pet litmus test of "orthodoxy" is this month are in fact completely unfounded. We have been reinterpreting our Scriptures for the past 2000 years, and the sky is as high as it ever was. I just can't figure out why that isn't rubbed in their noses every time they get on with this nonsense.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 3:00pm BST

"How does changing our understanding of homosexuality do this any more than changing our understanding of ordination of women, or usury, to name but two? "

I would have gone with "women being silent in church," myself. But your point is well made. We go against Biblical mandates - not to eat blood, not to charge interest, veiling women - and no one says we're "dumping the Bible."

And for a group that swears up and down that "it's not about sexuality," that's all they ever really seem to come back to time and time again.

Posted by: BillyD on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 4:13pm BST


Calm down. I am not saying one shouldn't do this: I am saying that for many people it's a difficulty, especially when it's stated as a general principle. People are very afraid of 'the slippery slope', and in a way, from their point of view, they're right. If Paul is crackers about homosexuality (as he is), why isn't he crackers about the resurrection, his own conversion, etc. etc.?

Not everybody who is 'anti'-homosexuality is a homophobe; not everybody who is anti-WO is a misogynist. Not all these people can be persuaded, certainly not within any foreseeable time-frame. Many of them are very virtuous. Many of them are staunch Christians. Many of them are staunch Anglicans. Many of them are staunch members of the C of E (my particular concern). Some of them are my personal friends. Some of them aren't very bright or very sophisticated. Some derive real comfort from a 'simple faith' and do much good because of it. It cannot have escaped your notice that Anglican churches generally aren't doing awfully well. We live in an imperfect world. I'd just like to keep this particular show going.

All this is blindingly obvious.


Posted by: john on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 4:35pm BST

I should like to see a breakdown of the number of people attending and the ratio of clergy to laity. It was hard to tell from the photo, but the Hall certainly didn't look full.

Posted by: MKP on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 5:37pm BST

"Jesus Christ, stand with us, stand with him"

To equate standing with a certain group of human beings, an "us" (sinners all!), with ***Jesus Christ*** is nothing short of BLASPHEMY.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 6:40pm BST

How long the Conservatgive Antigay Shock and Awe wars will serve as the effective, vivid demonstration of conservative righteousness?

Remains to be seen.

If following Jesus of Nazareth - and by what authority? - is the core divide?

Then I think we are hearing the last gasps of closed, winner takes all penal atonement authority over believer discernment and conscience. Again and again, beneath or woven through nearly all the presenting either/ors constantly preached by Anglican rights as ultimate and divisive - is the underlying message, Penal Atonement or hit the highway you pagans aka New religionists.

Calling any change, Dumping the scriptures?

Well, track it back to Copernicus, Galileo, or Bruno if you like. Or go back ever further, to the imperial embrace offered by Constantine. Yes, we are living through a real crisis of authority; but that crisis is affecting any and all of our closed authorities, not just Anglican doctrines.

A closed truth model for nearly any reality which we humans regard as important to us is hard to sustain these days. That does not prove the constant, misdirected rightwing clamor against Anything Goes. It does equal a good clue to the sickness at heart which rightwing Anglicans have sadly mis-diagnosed.

Having gone whole hog-bet it all, on their beloved penal atonement mis-diagnosis, our rightwing Anglican treatment is more fatal than the symptomatic crisis in closed authority to which the campaign responds.

One saves a closed legacy orthodoxy in this view by killing off empirical investigations, critical thinking, and above all open-ended truth and truth-seeking - with all deliberate haste. How we can have human brains and hearts fully turned on when it comes to hacking the genome or the epigenome; yet have those same organs closed down when it comes to believer life, doctrines, and love for all neighbors being mugged on the global highways - way beyond me. What absurdity, pretending to be good news?

SO. A cure much, much worse than the real symptoms conservative Anglicanism seeks to alleviate.

Gee a historically-minded armchair-ist in a summery back yard gone all lush and green has to go back, way back - to the Church vs Copernicus or Galileo to get such a rabid, mind-killing defense of what was supposed to be a closed, golden, eternal faith understanding.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 7:42pm BST

Re: BBC, Church not planning split.

I can only make sense of this denial if I take pains to reconstruct its possible conservative campaign context.

That means I reconstruct the primary aim of the conservative realignment campaign: Take over, everything. So in that sense, the campaign is not meant to split or divide, though that is its most likely outcome. A takeover campaign says it is not seeking splits but its special, closed, conformed brand of so-called repentance.

Since conformity to a closed set of beliefs is the prime demonstration or indicator of real repentance, the whole thing fits together once you grant the starting premises.

If we do not grant the closed starting premises, usually framed in either/or terms; then of course we weigh the conservative campaign according to its most likely impact - tearing apart the global, broad big tent Anglican Communion.

Alas, as is the case with the antigay rhetoric, all dressed up in penal atonement repentance finery with nowhere to go, engaging with the premises or the impact is vexed and painful. Penal atonement believers cannot distinguish between cornering you and impaling you on their self-righteousness - such believers after all know the only real true wonderful God in ways you do not at all know this deity? - and persuading you in depth to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. Every believer is exactly three years old at best; and God is kind enough to tell all of us exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Small wonder such conservative Anglicans are struggling with Islam: Who gets to corner the I know it all believer markets?

Expect to be cornered, impaled, then. In your own best interests. Having been given this excruciatingly mind-numbing opportunity to repent, you burn in hell for all eternity at your own request. It is simple and pat, see how it works.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 8:11pm BST

Colin Coward is, obviously, incorrect to assume that Michael Nazir-Ali does not also oppose those 2 other fruits of secularism, divorce and premarital sex. He has already made clear that secularism with all its fruits is the root enemy. Unless CC can disprove this with evidence, e.g. a quotation.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 at 1:03pm BST

Christopher, you seem to have misread Fr. Coward's column. His point, as I understood it, was not that Bishop Nazir-Ali doesn't oppose divorce and premarital sex, but that homosexuality is singled out from the catalog of sins for the vigorous campaigns of folks from FoCA. Of course Bishop Nazir-Ali opposes divorce and premarital sex - in a rather subdued sort of way...but he and his fellow-travellers are absolutely exercised about homosexuality.

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 at 2:44pm BST

"People are very afraid of 'the slippery slope'"

But my point was that this no more represents a "slippery slope" than any other "reassessment" we have carried out in the past two millennia. It is fear that drives all this, and it's pretty clear that the leadership of the conservatives manipulates that fear to their own ends. I appreciate that many conservatives are devout and sincere. I also have respect for what you refer to as "simple faith". We can't all be theologians and scholars, we understand as God gives us the ability. I also agree that opposing gay marriage is not in and of itself homphobic. I'm not all that fired up over it either. I don't see why we have to define ourselves in heterosexual terms. I'm hardly a homophobe. But, I have yet to see one thing written by a conservative that does not reveal homophobia at some point. What's more, those sincere Christians of whom you speak certainly seem to think that given the choice between accepting me as a Christian or jailing me for 5 years, the latter is the better choice. If they didn't think that, why would they support +Akinola? How many of them have ever spoken out against the falsehood and misprepresentation of gay people that is the stock in trade of their leaders? I put it back to you, if Paul is crackers about OOW (which he is) why is he not crackers about those other things? What about remarriage after divorce? Who was crackers in condemning that, and why is he not crackers about other things? We don't do enough to counter the fear that is so strong in these people, but those who lead them certainly do a lot to use it to their advantage.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 at 5:51pm BST

Bishop Benn happily exists in a gay diocese and diocese where the 39 articles are flouted by his diocesan bishop and most of the clergy.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 at 9:00pm BST

Hi BillyD-
Of course that has to be the case, because homosexuality is the presenting issue at present, as well as being the most hotly divisive issue.

In any age, you'll agree, the presenting issues and hotly divisive issues are the ones that generate most talk. Could it be otherwise? Should it be?

If they were really obsessed with it, they would have talked just as much about it even when it was not the presenting issue. Yhe truth is that the amount people talk about it is in ratio to how far it is the presenting/main contested issue at any one time.

Should one not talk about the controversies of the day? The only alternative would be for one lot of people to lie down and let the other lot walk all over them. No: rather, obviously everyone has the right to debate, and should do so.

One cannot talk about all the controversies of the day simultaneously, as C. Coward demands. That would be similar to writing on both sides of the page at the same time, with apologies to Sellar and Yeatman.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 9 July 2009 at 12:23pm BST

"homosexuality is the presenting issue at present"

Homosexuality is NOT the presenting issue at present, and many many conservatives will tell you so. Indeed, in some of their public statements they claim to have gotten beyond that issue. Their issue is what they see as the creeping influence of what for them is a godless liberalism that will sell out the Gospel in the interests of gaining the approval of the world. It's right there in the Jerusalem Declaration, all that "another Gospel" nonsense. Indeed, even here conservatives have been quite vocal in stating that what they see as the liberal sell out of the Gospel to court the gays is just a symptom of something much larger. Liberals ignore this as well, to the detriment of the debate. But they have, in their minds, "tolerated" liturgical reform. I suspect that you, not being Anglican, don't have a grasp of how painful that was, and still is, for some people, nor of all the issues involved in making it so painful. Then they "tolerated" OOW, but only with provisions. They see themselves as continually under attack because of that, and many of them do not think they can remain Anglicans anymore if they are subjected to something that they feel breaks Apostolic Succession, thereby invalidating the sacraments that are central to thier practice of Christianity. Again, I don't expect that you, not being part of that sacramental tradition, would understand what that feels like. I can't imagine how I could be a Christian if I could not take part in the central act of Christian worship. They are also informed by African post colonial bigotry, not all of it unjustified, at the influence of White Westerners in their society, influence that has caused, and causes, huge damage to Africa. Nigerians just have to point to the way Westerners are pretty much stealing their oil leaving them in penury, to confirm that. They are also supported by wealthy conservative Americans, many of them not Anglicans at all, but all of them having a fear and hatred of "liberals" and "Demoncrats" who they feel are destroying Western Society, "Christendom", if you will. Acceptance of gays is the last straw, but there have been many others. In some respects, I sympathize with them, though I disagree with their position, and I find their behaviour over the past few years to be absolutely reprehensible, and am quite scornful of it. But it is a big mistake to see this as being about nothing more than homosexuality.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 9 July 2009 at 7:45pm BST

Hi Ford-
Precisely. The way they are typically using the term 'presenting issue' is that one issue happens to have caused the rift in contingent historical terms (been the straw that broke the camel's back), but any number of other issues might have done so, since the root problem is something deeper: the nature of authority and whether we think it possible to disobey Christ (who in his attitude to the sinfulness of sexual sin -as opposed to his attitude to forgiving it when the sinner was repentant - was a typical Jew of his day:Mk 7 - or sometimes more strict than a typical Jew of his day:Mk 10) quite so blatantly.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 10 July 2009 at 1:47pm BST

"the nature of authority and whether we think it possible to disobey Christ.....quite so blatantly."

But here is where we disagree. We have to think with the mind of Scripture, to follow the spirit, not the letter, of the Law. Are we actually following the spirit of the Law when we refer to two caring, committed, monogamous individuals as being sinful? Christ might have been a typical Jew of His day when it comes to sexual sin, but He never mentioned homosexuality. Or, if He did, those who recorded what they were inspired to think was necessary to record of the things He taught them in that three year span didn't seem to think it was necessary to record His attitude to homosexuality. Jesus did not think like a typical Jew of His day about a lot of things, so while I wouldn't argue with starting with the supposition that He considered what I just described as sinful, it is not a foregone conclusion. Indeed, the passages in the NT that do talk about it may be later additions, perhaps even a couple of centuries or more after the Resurrection. I don't think that disqualifies them outright, but I think we need to look to the Gospels for Jesus's actual attitude, and we don't have any evidence one way or the other. What we DO have, in spades, is that Jesus saw the inherent good in people and did not judge them by their obedience to the Law. To Him, all hearts are open, all desires known, and from (Him) no secrets are hid. That's what He judges. So, I guess the question is: is there something about being homosexual that puts something in our hearts that would lead to an adverse judgement from the only judge that matters? I have to tell you, Christopher, the only people who claim that are people who, as far as I can see, do not behave in such a way as to give me any kind of confidence that they know what they are talking about. I've said it before, if a person honestly believes it is acceptable to do the kinds of things we see being done by the Right, that person is not well equiped to "rightly divide the words of god's truth". It's not about whether or not they "validate" my "lifestyle", and I suspect we both see an undercurrent of that in the present debate. It's about whether or not by their lives they give witness to the Gospel. I simply can't see that they do, so I can't trust thier guidance.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 10 July 2009 at 7:30pm BST

Hi Ford-
It's not often that you say something that is *certainly* wrong, but you are talking nonsense (and I use the word advisedly) when you speak about said NT passages being added hundreds of years later. Not only would this leave a trace in at least one strand of the manuscript record, but we would also have to contend with the fact that we can derive the NT as it stands from the writings of the early church fathers alone. In addition I have been in NT studies for 15 years and have never even heard the view you mention. There are hundreds of NT scholars in the societies SNTS and SBL - can you find even one who would give credence to your statement as it stands? On what is it based? Wishful thinking is (of course) the enemy of scholarship, of truth, and of integrity.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 13 July 2009 at 12:46pm BST

"In addition I have been in NT studies for 15 years and have never even heard the view you mention."

Is it not accepted that only seven of the Epistles accredited to Paul were actually written by him? Does not Goran repeat this over and over? He has clearly heard of this, if you haven't. Bit, I am no Biblical scholar, much less a theologian, so I bow to the expertise of those, like yourself, who ARE educated in this area. But I believe Goran is also educated in this area, and his opinion seems to disagree with yours. So, is the provenance of the New Testament as we are told it is, or are there issues with who wrote what, and when? And, BTW, while I have pretty much accepted that what Goran has been saying about later additions is true, both from here and from other reading I have done, I do not see that as a good reason to disregard said writings. But surely, if what Goran and others believe as to the authorship of at least some of the NT is true, then that adds an extra complexity to SCriptural interpretation.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 13 July 2009 at 8:48pm BST

Hi Ford-
You are speaking as though a consensus exists. Quite the contrary. It is quite impossible that there would be agreement or consensus on such a matter as the authorship of Paul's epistles. You must have a very unusual view of the scholarly community if you think that they will form consensus on many things. There is always healthy disagreement. That is just in the nature of the scholarly community.

You write 'He has clearly heard of this, if you haven't.' This is what we call a bias or a tendenz, your particular bias being towards negativity. How could a New Testament PhD not be aware of the discussion, and have been so aware for many years even before they began their doctorate?

All agree that Galatians, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians are by Paul.
50-60% agree that Colossians and 2 Thessalonians are.
40% agree that Ephesians is.
30-40% plus 60-70% of full-length critical commentaries (Fee, Kelly, Knight, Towner, Mounce, Marshall, Johnson etc.) believe that Paul wrote the Pastorals and/or broadly that Luke wrote them at Paul's behest.
The very opposite of a consensus, in other words.

Everyone basically agrees that

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 at 3:58pm BST

"You are speaking as though a consensus exists."

In which case I made the point a bit too strongly. Sorry. I am well aware of the nature of scientific debate. I was of the impression that it was fairly widely accepted in the community that studies such things. I am not in a position to know otherwise, so if people who study in that field tell me it is still an open question, so be it. But in Medicine and in Linguistics there are theories that have wide acceptance, though not complete. It would certainly be a mistake to say there is a concensus. But it would also be a mistake to consider the issue an "open question". I was under the impression that this was the case with the authorship of Paul's writings. I have no reason, and certainly no evidence, to disagree with you if you say otherwise.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 at 7:14pm BST

The point is, also, that even those letters which some think not to have been written by Paul are almost universally considered to emanate from the first century. The only exceptions are the Pastorals. though these are widely dated in the first century, dates up till around 135 AD are also possible. Although one does not generally find the fullest treatments coming to such a conclusion. In truth, people often do not come to conclusions at all; they just assign proportional probabilities to various options. Portions of Paul being actually written 100 or 200 years later does not rate as one of those live options, so people rarely bother even to mention the possibility. If they do, it is only to dismiss it. The strongest evidence consists in the quotations of Paul in the first-to-second-century apostolic fathers (Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp...).

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 3:51pm BST

"The point is, also, that even those letters which some think not to have been written by Paul are almost universally considered to emanate from the first century."

I don't really care if God inspired one of Paul's disciples to add something to flesh out one of his writings. The significance of the inspiration of Scripture is in its inspiration, not in the person inspired. Besides, the Church discerned the Scriptures from the writings of their day, so if the Church decided that the pastorals reflected the Gospel, then what odds if parts of them were written a bit later? They might even have acknowledged the authorship among themselves, and seen no bar as a result of that. I'd see this as a bigger problem for an Evangelical, actually.

But, at the same time, there is the possibility of something being introduced after the fact and being accepted because, by the prevailing "orthodoxy" of their society, it just made sense. So, in reading the Scriptures, it might not matter much if something was written by Paul or someone else who studied with him, but we need to read "with the mind of Scripture".

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 8:29pm BST

There I don't follow your argument. Inspiration is a clear phenomenon (tunes and solutions and insights coming to one out of the blue), but your view that the *whole* of the Bible is inspired in that way sounds to me more dogma than reason. For example: the gospel-writers Matthew and Luke[-Acts] used their existing sources and personalities to compile their accounts with a background of prayer and Christian community. The term 'inspiration' is clearly too strong for that process. The writers never mention receiving inspiration. And so on.

You are right that all sorts of people, not just apostles, can receive inspiration. But there is a clear difference between first-generation and later writers, which is the difference between having first-hand knowledge of Jesus (or at least of his close confederates) and not having it. For you the key disjunction is between inspired and not inspired; for me it is between eyewitness and not eyewitness - an important factor also recognised in the formation of the canon of the New Testament. Come off it - by your criterion Augustine and CS Lewis would be in the Bible.

The whole idea of reading with the so-called mind of scripture in order to decimate the bible is (by definition) self-contradictory. It is certainly riddled with difficulties, given that the canon was in any case formed on the basis that those documents which formed the mind of scripture were included. It is possible that those close to the events were missing something, but it is more possible that those far from the events are missing something.

We may find actual mistakes, but those mistakes will not always be determined by our personal individual prefences, ideologies, worldviews.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 12:30pm BST
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