Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Responses to James Jones and variety of ethical conviction

Updated Tuesday evening

In our latest weekend round-up of opinion we linked to an address by James Jones, the bishop of Liverpool, to his diocesan synod about allowing a variety of ethical conviction in the church.

The diocese has issued a press release: Bishop of Liverpool calls for Anglicans to “accept a diversity of ethical convictions about human sexuality”.

Ekklesia has reported the address as Evangelical bishop “in sympathy” with same-sex partnerships.

Colin Coward of Changing Attitude has welcomed the bishop’s address in James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool calls for Anglicans to “accept a diversity of ethical convictions about human sexuality”.

But Andrew Goddard at Fulcrum does not agree with most of what the bishop has written: Accepting Ethical Diversity?: A Critical Appraisal of the Bishop of Liverpool’s Presidential Address.

And Anglican Mainstream has Bishop James Jones muddies the waters again.

Update
Colin Coward has written a response to Andrew Goddard’s article: Reactions to the Bishop of Liverpool – Andrew Goddard on Fulcrum.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 10:40am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | Opinion
Comments

Andrew Goddard mentions 'the important work of True Freedom Trust'. I have just been reading 'Exchanging the Trusth of God for a Lie' by Jeremy Marks who set up Courage UK on the basis of trying to change gay men's sexual orientation by intensive ministry. It's obvious from reading the book and having had a brief look at some of the material used that this might be equated with a form of 'brainwashing'. Jeremy Marks, to his credit, came to the conclusion that not only did the proces not work and that it severely damaged those participating. He now offers a ministry which seeks to help men (it's always men isn't it?) to come to terms with their sexual orientation and to live happy and fufilled lives. He had the graciousness both to change his mind and to say openly that he had done so. The result was opprobium and ostracism by the evangelical world in which he moved.

It seems to me that Bishop Jones has made the same journey, though in a different way, and has come to the same conclusion. The result is the same, an outpouring of distain for some one who has been open and honest. You can see in their postings that Bishop Jones is no longer regared as reliable and an apostate and a traitor. Their new hero is the Bishop of Winchester, much good may it so them.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 11:23am GMT

Assuming that James Jones doesn't suddenly beg forgiveness from this chorus of Anglican grave diggers, what are they going to do about it? How are they going to mobilise, or will they be looking for the exit?

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 11:53am GMT

Looks like he wants to be Bishop of Southwark after all.

Posted by: Wilf on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 12:13pm GMT

Leaving to one side the fact that Anglican Mainstream continue to regard homosexual orientation as some kind of conspiracy what chills my blood is their linking of 'human identity' to some kind of understanding of gender roles. Thanks, but no thanks! I have no wish to find myself with bits of my (female heterosexual) identity chopped off in order to fit the shoe of Judeo-Christian roles as understood by Anglican Mainstream!

(For the record, I prefer Jesus's take - radically accepting women as disciples and encouraging them to let the 'nurture the men' role go hang while they studied.)

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 1:58pm GMT

It is interesting to note parallels here with what happended to the catholic constituency after the 'Affirming Catholic' movement began. Some evangelicals have begun to recognise that the issue of human sexuality is not so significant in the greater scheme of things as some of that grouping would like us all to think. And some have begun to recognise that even though people like Andrew Goddard and Peter Ould can't quite manage with other people arguing from experience without a rather limited style of proof texting, there is another way. Jeremy Marks' book 'Exchanging the truth of God for a lie' is an excellent example of that other way, and an example of the way that evangelicals can move.

Perhaps the same thing as happened to the Catholic movement within the Church of England will now happen more openly to the evangelical constituency; a significant (and eventually majority) group will recognise, as James Jones has done, that the only practical way to excercise ministry within the C of E is in collaboration with those who are not quite 'where we once were'. And then there will be a small grouping of 'traditionlist evangelicals' as there is s groupng of 'traditionalist catholics' who will behave in a separatist way and try to persuade us that they are the only 'real' evangelicals.

I am delighted that James Jones has had the integrity to write this piece and to let it be known more widely that he has written it. Whilst some are talking about breaking ranks with the House of Bishops, I suspect he is speaking the mind of the majority, and the mind of the majority of Church of England members.

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 2:36pm GMT

The truly informative thing about the responses to Bishop Jones' address is that FULCRUM is shown in its true colours. It is not the acceptable face of moderate evangelicalism. It is hard line anti-gay and argues this position on fundatmentalist biblical and doctrinal principles. It is good that FULCRUM has come out of the closet!

Posted by: Commentator on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 3:08pm GMT

And there was I, thinking Rev Goddard had had an almost tearful, moving conversion - an epiphany I thought he had reported about his relating to lesbian and gay Christians.

When he wrote that piece on Fulcrum not so long ago (name eludes me)--what On Earth was that All About ?

Not many things upset me more than heterosexuals with the power --the posts, the influential postions, the teaching and preaching and writing posts, the stipends, the esteem, the security for their partners and families --chopping and changing their minds about us !

Really gets my goat does that !

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 3:28pm GMT

Evangelical Diocese paves the way ! -

'Bishop James talked about the ability of the Diocese of Liverpool to continue in partnership in mission with the Dioceses of Virginia and Akure despite the differing positions on gay relationships. He also restated the condemnation issued by church leaders in Liverpool of a number of homophobic attacks stating that church leaders “stand together in condemning the use of violence and other forms of intimidation against minority groups which are especially vulnerable.” '

Seems Evangelicals are pretty keen to get hands dirty, flex muscles and get stuck in, in a really useful way. Rather than holding to antique positions and keeping lilly-white hands -- untroubled by effort and sweat of reality.

Posted by: Revd L Roberts on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 3:32pm GMT

This is good news. It's wonderful to see evangelicals understanding that loving thy neighbour and wanting to see souls love others needs to be fairly and consistently available to all.

The alternative leads to thinking that justifies excluding and denying others. It requires advocating that souls be denied rights that would lead to an uproar if applied to themselves. If we deny GLBTs the rights to have loving intimate relationships, it is the same as denying other minorities the right to breed or exist (e.g. forced sterilisations of Guatamalean women by "peace corps", or the attempted assimilation of Australian Aboriginals under the White Australia Policy).

The bible sees God as wanting a pluralistic diverse planet with many different nations and relgions understanding that they are in a context of coexistence. It is right to protect innocents from violence and abuse, but it is important to not overstep the boundary and become abusive by denying others the ability to love and live. Violence by GLBTs is not acceptable, but nor is violence to GLBTs.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 4:26pm GMT

I have just looked again at 'Exchanging the truth of God for a lie' Amongst the commendations is one by one Andrew Goddard, not a fullsome one, admmittedly, but one which recognises the book's importance fo evangelicals. He obvioulsy finds difficulty in accepting the possibility that he might be wrong after all.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 8:17pm GMT

This one series of interventions (not just the address to the diocesan synod) is, I feel, very important and I shall try to think of the bishop of Liverpool whenever I slide into tarring all evangelicals with the same brush as I tend to do from time to time.

I in particular value two things about the speech.

Firstly he has reflected on the nature of violence and brought that into the theological space in thinking about sexual orientation. This is very important, indeed capital for Christian theologising on sexual orientation which is usually left to one side (to read either Rene Girard or James Allison or both is to see straight away that violence can't be covered, forgotten or otherwise sublimated as is often done - I think the homophobic project is deeply intertwined with violence going right back to the stoning injunctions of Leviticus and continuous ever since).

Similarly, he has made a clear and direct condemnation of the Ugandan proposed law.

Secondly Bishop Jones has, I think, done something that not many people do (though some do achieve it) which is to rise above caucus and faction and relate to the whole.

No doubt the two are connected but I think his diocese is a more united and healthy place now and certainly more able to think, talk and pray through our divisions.

This can, if we let it, become a point of healing in the Communion.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 8:59pm GMT

"Bishop Jones is widely regarded as a prominent evangelical. His CV includes being a former chair of Wycliffe Hall Council and a senior figure in the Church Pastoral Aid Society and Scripture Union. In 2003, he was one of those who successfully protested against the attempt to appoint Canon Jeffrey John, a high profile advocate of the gay lesbian movement in the Church of England, as Bishop of Reading. But since 2003 Bishop Jones has changed his views."
- Anglican Mainstream -

This is a good example of the Catholic strategy after Vatican II - 'Semper Reformanda'. For Bishop James Jones to be honest enough to admit he was wrong about Jeffrey John and, having made himself privy to the mounting evidence in favour of the inclusivity of the LGBT community in the Church, he now exhorts the Church to examine the evidence of Gays themselves within the Church, in order to come to the same conclusion as he has; that sexual diversity is not a sin, but is subject to the same sexual discipline as the heterosexual majority.

It would be expected that the Puritans of the so-called 'Anglican Mainstream' would denigrate the good Bishop's conversion towards the accommodation of sexual diversity within the Church. After all, that is one of Mr.Sugden's main platforms in the under-developed world of GAFCON & ACNA. However, the tide is turning towards the opening up of the Gospel to ALL, and Bishop Jones' Synod Charge is evidence of this Godly reformation. Where Charity and Love are - there is God - Anthem of holy Week

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 9:10pm GMT

It looks like some evangelical/conservative/orthodox (or whatever the conservatively correct term is this month) Anglicans are using the logic of "Diversity is fine -- as long as you agree with me!" or "We can disagree -- except on my issues!"
Their logic isn't.

Posted by: peterpi on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 9:29pm GMT

Re: the Fulcrum response to Bishop Jones and the tell-tale mistake.

Andrew Goddard, in his posted response to Bishop Jones, seems to make a common mistake, i.e. that the CofE and TEC have not done or presented to the Anglican Communion the theological work that would justify a position of inclusion, or the toleration of a diversity of viewpoints re: blessing of same sex unions/marriages and the full inclusion of LGBT persons in all orders of ministry.

I am always surprised to read this comment since it is simply not the truth. In the last forty years, and continuing, serious scholarly work in the fields of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, as well as Christian ethics have flooded the universities, seminaries, and publishing houses on the topics of same sex loving relationships and inclusion. I am including citations to bibliographies covering hundreds of articles and books on these subjects, as well as scientific and psychological studies:

1. http://www.jeramyt.org/gay/gaybib.html 116 articles and books including all major perspectives.

2.http://www.anglican.ca/faith/hs/hsrg/bibliography.htm, Bibliography of the Anglican Church of Canada covering all perspectives, including works of science, psychology, scripture and hermeneutics.

3.https://archive.elca.org/theologicaleducation/pdf/Homosexuality_Bibliography
From The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, selected and annotated comprehensive bibliography.

4.http://www.brandeis.edu/projects/fse/christianity/chris-bibliography/chris-bib- homosexuality.html. A comprehensive bibliography from Brandeis University focusing on scripture and sexual ethics as they pertain to same sex loving relationships.

The problem is not that serious theological work has not been done. It is that we are not agreed about the conclusions of this work. We are not agreed about the weight to give to scripture, about the overall teaching of scripture, and, perhaps most importantly, we do not have an agreed upon hermeneutic.As to scripture, these are the real issues.

For me, it is just as important that conservatives in our churches misunderstand LGBT persons. Conservatives continue to refer to "homosexual behavior" and "practice", seeming to disregard decades of evidence from scientific studies about the significant physiological differences between gay and transgender persons as compared to non-gay and non-transgender persons. It is simply anachronistic to talk about LGBT persons in the way that church conservatives continue to do.

Further, when we in the churches talk about same sex loving relationships that is exactly what we are talking about; not "homosexual behavior" or "acts".

We cannot find common ground until we talk to each other, rather than past each other.



Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 10:12pm GMT

Karen. I am sure you are right. Evangelicals particularly seem to regard homosexual men (and it's always men, women never seem to get a look in here) solely by their sexual acts. Indeed they seme obsessed by this as they are by their assertion that somehow homosexual sexual acts are inherently more likely to result in disease and indeed physical harm. I do sometimes wonder about what seem to be their overheated imaginations and their unhealthy fascination with physical side of sexual relationships. Perhaps it is because the Bible doesn't seem to have anything to say particularly about same sex love and faithful same sex relationships that they cannot conceive that it can actually happens and that such things are possible.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 at 9:28am GMT

I think these knee jerk reactions are poor and illadvised.

The foolishness of the Internet is the "rebuttal unit" mentality it inspires in people who frankly should respect far more their own integrity and any modest academic pretensions they may have.

Bishop Jones has been doing what bishops should, he and Liverpool have somehow rediscovered the meaning and wonder of bonds of affection and how they can hold even these two Anglican positions together.

I know that it is most likely that the Primate of Nigeria has been prompted to write to his fellow Nigerian bishop telling him to cease and desist - but it is that type of interference that "muddies the waters" not the genuine relationships across theological and cultural divides that so characterises the Anglican way.

Fulcrum cronies are so wedded to the ultimate failure of the Covenant Process they cannot and will not see the answer before them.

Bishop Jones has made a gracious speech - it deserves far more than what we see above as a reply.

Besides how can we trust anything Andrew Goddard says when he so willingly spreads inaccurate stories in his earlier Fulcrum piece on Civil Partnerships.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 at 10:18am GMT

Consider Rowan Williams's profound lecture in Lincoln, on a podcast, and summarised by me, in the light of something behind what James Jones was saying. The lecture transcends James Jones's speech, but it is of a different vision of the religious community than is the present day reality.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2010/03/magnificent-lecture.html

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 at 5:15pm GMT

And Mary Glasspool has received the necessary consents of the standing Committees. Surely the bishops also will back her.

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/25706

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 at 10:10pm GMT

"The truly informative thing about the responses to Bishop Jones' address is that FULCRUM is shown in its true colours"

I suspect Fulcrum is quite mixed in terms of its supporters, (and what is Fulcrum really apart from a web forum?) but I had an exchange with Bishop Graham Kings on THIS forum which showed that he was hardly likely to be supportive of the position James Jones has now adopted. Graham is, of course, likely to differ from his Diocesan bishop about the matter, and Graham couldn't quite be clear about the reality he finds himself in now he is a bishop - that he has pastoral care of those who are in faithful, committed same sex relationships. So he finds himself in company with every bishop in the C of E both in this decade and the last several decades. Such bishops have simply to recognise that fact and although some will use scripture and tradition to try and prove it should not be the case, they are faced with simple experience and clear reason which they can't quite deal with. In this they are rather like the wise men from the East visiting God's word in human flesh; all they can do is keep silent and wonder. All the wisdom and 'power' is humbled by love in action.

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 8:11am GMT

Canon Godsall is right I think. There is quite a bit of evidence that suggests even the most conservative bishops can be suprisingly pastoral in this area.If they werent we would presumably see a lot of licences revoked-but it doesnt happen.
It was inevitable that the response to James Jones from the conservative evangelical blogs would be swift and harsh...they hate nothing more that those who stray from the true path, though of course the Church of England is actually littered with ex-evangelicals.I remember dear old Bishop Brian Masters once saying to me apropos some spat years ago, "You must always remember they hate each other more than they hate us" Sadly it is true...though in fairness I suppose the same animus exists between traditionalist and affirming catholics.I wonder what it will all look like in ten years time? From my perch in retirement i sometimes feel like Jonah under his gourd.But then i think, well..its given me a lots of laughs!!

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 12:43pm GMT

Rev L Roberts, thank you for the good news about Mary Glasspool. Hallelujah -- Praise God!!

Posted by: peterpi on Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 5:46pm GMT

I've always taken the view that with the departure of the traditionalist Anglo-Catholics the dividing knife goes through Fulcrum in the bipolar (tug of war) Church of England.

In this, Andrew Goddard has shifted himself to the right of the knife. James Jones is well to the left of the knife, if not exiting this grouping altogether (and rapidly overtaking Baptist Steve Chalke). The knife goes into Tom Wright, with his mouth and throat to the right and some of his hands to the left. The knife also goes through Graham Kings, with his ears to the left but most of the rest on the right.

Others might like to think where the knife cuts regarding other personalities according to what they say and how they say it.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 8:30pm GMT

Whatever way you look at it, James Jones has travelled a huge distance from where he once stood - and I think that does offer some hope for those who wish to see change

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 8:34pm GMT

This post relates right back to the first comment by Richard Ashby. While it is true that Jeremy Marks' book "Exchanging the truth of God for a lie" does mainly focus on men, Jeremy's organisation- Courage - is open to both men and women and has seen an steady and very welcome increase in women joining in recent years. It is not the case that it is "always men". The True Freedom Trust also has female/ lesbian members and there are female ex-gay survivors as well!

Posted by: Sue on Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 9:16pm GMT

Both Martin Reynolds' and merseymike's comments are - from very different perspectives - right on the button.

Posted by: john on Friday, 12 March 2010 at 2:06pm GMT

Well, Liverpool has long been an ecumenical stamping ground for both Roman and Anglican Bishops. If this is not a sign of 'Unity in Diversity'. I've yet to encounter one. One would hope that +James' stance might rub off on his Brother R.C. Bishop (even if only in private).

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 13 March 2010 at 2:17am GMT
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