Saturday, 30 April 2016

Opinion - 30 April 2016

Bosco Peters Eastern Orthodox Easter

James Jones BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day

Andrew Lightbown ‘Fear not’ for the C of E

Stephen Cottrell ACC 16 - A full time report: Hope triumphs

Simon Butler “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”?

The Telegraph Photographer visits abandoned places of worship, in pictures — photographs by Matthias Haker

Elaine Graham presented this paper to the Modern Church Council in March: Modern Church Between a rock and a hard place: Negotiating religious voices in public places — with links to the full 7000 word paper and a two-page summary and reading list.

Kelvin Holdsworth Six things I have learned about anti-semitism and the church

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 30 April 2016 at 11:00am BST | TrackBack
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I' sorry to hear that Bishop James Jones lost friendships when he started to change his mind of homosexuality. However, that has to be measured alongside the tragedy of gay people in his diocese losing their livings during his episcopate, something for which there has never seemed to be any apology.

It is not inappropriate to ask how long it will be before the Diocese of Liverpool pays compensation to those affected.

None of that is to take away from James Jones's work in standing alongside those campaigning for justice for those killed at Hillsborough. It has been powerful and godly. Through that campaign we have learned anew that justice delayed is justice denied.

Justice is however indivisible. There's a strong case to be made for an inquiry into the persecution of gay people in a number of dioceses. And appropriate compensation may be only one aspect of any true reconciliation.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Saturday, 30 April 2016 at 11:18am BST

Elaine Graham’s piece is especially interesting, although I do not necessarily agree with all of her remarks about the course of secularisation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (especially with respect to France). Church leaders might wish to reflect that they have impaled themselves upon the horns of a real dilemma: by espousing open borders since the late 1950s in the name of Christian social justice they have helped to facilitate the movement of a large number of people from overseas who often came to this country in order to continue living their pre-existing lives in a more beneficent economic setting and who had little or no intention of adapting their fundamental mores to suit the host culture. This has had the painful corollary of leading many people (especially those having the benefit of liberal educations, who are invariably in positions of power, and who had previously tolerated the seemingly benign social influence of organised Christianity) to question the place of any form of religion in public life and to seek to reduce, or indeed eliminate, its impact upon society via re-education in schools and the media. Dismayed by this development, certain Christians (and other theists) have endeavoured to recover the ground that was consequently being lost so rapidly by articulating their message with an increasing shrillness that has, in turn, allowed the mass of public opinion to lump much of the Christian faith with the other forms of religion that are viewed with contempt by ‘right thinking people’. Similarly, some migrants have adopted more visceral and authoritarian modes of faith in order to counter the same trend in public policy.

It is possible that the espousal of the open borders variant of social justice by church leaders has ended up subverting the cause of liberal, conventional, religion in western countries (and especially in the UK where cultural neutrality has become an article of faith amongst policymakers, who are anxious to forestall any form of civil disorder), and has done so to an almost terminal extent. So, church leaders might wish to ask themselves whether, by dint of this paradox, they have made themselves what Lenin would have described as the ‘useful idiots’ of both those migrants who never had any desire or need to adapt, as well as those [co]vert secularists who have found the rise of religious militancy a convenient justification for supressing religion in general.

Posted by: Froghole on Saturday, 30 April 2016 at 12:29pm BST

To continue, what we may need is a more coherent theology of immigration, in which the desire for social justice is tempered by a measure of political pragmatism. Naturally, this might well prove difficult, if not impossible, to develop.

As to Prof. Graham’s excellent remarks on apologetics and, having heard many thousands of sermons and homilies, there is a real need for church leaders to explain the fundamentals of the faith, and the story of their origin and development. Time was when confirmation candidates were catechised properly and many clergy had a fairly creditable, if slanted, knowledge of church history. This can no longer be assured, and I have heard scant evidence of a satisfactory level of clerical education in my travels or, at any rate, educated clergy seem chary of communicating their knowledge to their laity in the fear it may seem patronising (but then why not talk up to the laity?). Of course, many hard-pressed clergy who are remote from libraries and have limited funds for book purchases can scarcely be expected to generate a series of sermon notes that provide their congregations with a working knowledge of the Christian religion and its development. I would therefore urge the authorities to develop something akin in authority and utility to Pearson’s Exposition of the Creed in its own day, that can be used to educate congregations during ordinary time. I appreciate that the composition of such a work might prove problematic.

Posted by: Froghole on Saturday, 30 April 2016 at 12:45pm BST

Thanks especially to Kevin Holdsworth for his "Six Things I learned about antisemitism and the Church." My problem is that I find it hard to see the good in Christianity because of its antisemitic overlay. The New Testament is full of it, and it does not seem to me possible to disentangle the antisemitism from the Christian Message.

At the heart of it is the belief that in some sense Jesus is the heart of the New Israel, and that God had rejected the original chosen people by giving preference to those who followed Jesus. Think of this verse from the hymn "My Song is Love Unknown."

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!”
is all their breath,
And for His death
they thirst and cry.

And think of those words in relationship to First Peter's:

"Come to him, a living stone ... and like living stones let yourselves be built into a spiritual house ... [and then on to]

"The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner." (1 Peter 2. 4-7) (keystone of the arch, perhaps?)

I remember a bishop once, shortly after his consecration, using this verse (repeatedly) to illustrate his vision for the diocese, not noticing how deeply anti-semitic it really is, at its heart. Long before I had realised how offensive it was to mimic the Jewish Seder, and how ill this sits with Christian belief that Christ is somehow the sacrificial lamb, and that Christianity is really Judaism recreated, the true inheritor of the promises, something that is so clearly expressed in the dismissal of the "Scribes and Pharisees" as quintessential of Jewish faith betrayed. Yet I see no way in which Christianity can be purified of this antisemitic taint.

Thanks also for the very beautiful photography of Matthias Haker of disused worship spaces (all HDR by the look of them, and very moving).

Posted by: Eric MacDonald on Saturday, 30 April 2016 at 4:11pm BST

Secularisation has deeper causes than the commenter suggests. Chiefly at this deeper penetration beyond the intellectual, it is related to the sociology of (common) knowledge and technology. People know now that, for example, there is no God-intervention in the weather, and that computers show it is chaos theory in action and systems working. This becomes 'ordinary thought'.

Regarding theological education as a different kind of apologetic, well theology is a subdivision of religious education in general. Some decent phenomenological descriptions of religion into the public sphere might help better, and indeed anthropology of what believers in religions do. Sectarianism runs with secularisation - two sides of the same coin - and thus evangelical recruitment and extremism follow on. Perhaps BBC 4 should show (any) more contemporary religion programmes.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 30 April 2016 at 4:31pm BST

A very engaging and comprehensive article by Kelvin Holdsworth on Christian anti-Semitism.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 30 April 2016 at 5:16pm BST

Matthias Haker's photo of the overgrown abandoned place of worship - very beautiful indeed.

Posted by: Pam on Saturday, 30 April 2016 at 10:31pm BST

@Eric, "The New Testament is full of it, and it does not seem to me possible to disentangle the antisemitism from the Christian Message." Yes Eric, it is possible.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 30 April 2016 at 11:35pm BST

"People know now that, for example, there is no God-intervention in the weather, and that computers show it is chaos theory in action and systems working."

If people think that then as Christians we are failing. In contrast, chaos theory means that miraculous intervention is undetectable. God could be intervening in the weather tens of thousands of times a day and modern science wouldn't know. By intervening at the right time, He can produce great storms or just subtly change whether a shower passes over at noon or at 12:10. The problem isn't science at all but that we have become self-absorbed , concentrating on what we do, rather than glorying in God and in what he does.

That I think is why secular society is losing truck with religion. Far too much it has become about telling people what to do (or rather what NOT to do), often what even to think. If instead we spent more time - as I believe we should -highlighting God's glory, the message would be positive, compelling and inviting.

Posted by: Kate on Sunday, 1 May 2016 at 10:09am BST

Well, Rod, it is nice that you are confident that the untangling can be done, but it is hard to see how. The crossover from Judaism to Christianity is so central to the Gospel message overall that it is very hard to see how we can disentangle Christian belief in Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), from the ongoing messianic expectations of the Jews, or how we can tone down the law vs. – well that's the problem, isn't it, when we use the Pharisees as typical of Jewish legalism, when, in fact, the Pharisees were really more like Jesus in many respects. What is the Christian alternative to the law, since Christianity expresses itself in laws too – moral law, laws of belief (orthodoxy), the creeds, articles, catechisms, etc.?

The way that the NT is still read, Holy Week by Holy Week as a showdown with the Jews, instead of the Romans (despite the cosmetic changes in the imprecations), and the reading of the gospel for Good Friday (and Palm Sunday) which follow so closely the theme of "My Song is Love Unknown" – "sometimes they strew his way ... Then Crucify! is all their breath, and for his death they thirst and cry."

Maybe we can make cosmetic changes, but sacred texts are permanent possibilities of precisely the contrary. So long as they continue as sacred, antisemitism is a permanent possibility too, and will be expressed as such. That faith is less grounded now, for many Christians, in the sacred texts – where faith takes on the colour of a less intense affirmation and more liberal expressions of good will – makes it possible for us to overlook some of the most serious traditions of violence in the text, but (i) it does not remove the sources of antisemitism, and (ii) it provides the permanent possibility of a rebirth of antisemitism (which now seems to be spectre haunting Europe once again).

Antisemitism in Christianity may sleep awhile, but all the elements are there for its reawakening. That bishops today can use patently anti-Jewish passages of Christian scripture in an effort to build up the body of Christ, without at least latently communicating antisemitic or anti-Jewish content, does not seem possible, especially as these texts are taken as "The Word of the Lord."

Posted by: Eric MacDonald on Sunday, 1 May 2016 at 1:27pm BST

The Kevin Holdsworth column is excellent, especially:

2 So called “Christian Seder” meals are offensive and unhelpful

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes.
I have heard of Christian seders, of Christian Yom Kippur celebrations, and these are all co-opting Judaism.
There already is a Christian seder: It's called the Eucharist or Mass or Lord's Supper.
There already is a Christian Yom Kippur: It's called Ash Wednesday.

This is solely my opinion, but I feel the Christian denominations most likely to engage in Christian seders, etc., are those protestant Christian groups who have removed themselves from most of the traditional Christian heritage. It would be greatly to their benefit, if, rather than co-opting Jewish concepts, they tied themselves back into their own Christian heritage.

Also, Mr. Holdsworth is spot on about the New Testament or Christian scriptures. It is shot through with an underlaying theme of anti-Semitism. In my opinion, the Gospel of John is especially so. "The Jews" this, or "the Jews" that.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Sunday, 1 May 2016 at 8:59pm BST

@ Eric MacDonald, Eric we had this conversation a few months ago here. I'm not sure there is value in reprising it. I agree. Anti-Semitism from NT texts into Christian liturgies, certainly up to the middle of the last century, is of a whole.

I was once, about 30 years ago, the recipient of vile ostensibly Christian anti-Semitism sent anonymously in the mail. Probably because I had addressed anti-Semistism publicly.

Kelvin Holdsworth notes in his excellent piece that he did not learn about this in seminary. Fortunately, those of us who went to our divinity school did have the opportunity to learn about this.

There are clear anti-Semitic texts in the Christian NT. I'm not sure I would point to I Peter 2: 4-7. That text references psalm 118 (rejected corner-stone) which the New Jerome notes is a proverb which probably pre-dates the psalm.

Texts are malleable, used at the praxis level, often at odds with their origins. That is what the bishop ( formerly yours/mine) was doing. The guy did not have an anti-Semitic bone in his body. In fact. given your romantic attachment to photos of abandoned and dilapidated churches, I'm surprised you cannot make a similar connection about the people of God qua people.I think it an apt if not ironic reference for our current predicament.

Other more difficult texts can be addressed with hermeneutics and proclamation. Of course, we have to get past the notion that everything in the Scripture is dictated from heaven. Some of it is actually malicious. Hence the challenge to preachers. Besides, we learn from the Hebrew scriptures that truth is less about propositional rationalism and more about fidelity to both God and humankind.

Perhaps you have decided that the Christian faith is moribund. Perhaps therefore leaping to the radical tangent you articulate on this issue seems no great matter. You do a disservice to the many people who have worked hard on Jewish- Christian amity.

I acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, and could not for the life me understand what Jesus who is not the Christ might mean, especially in terms of the understanding I have of God as trinity.

As long as there are Christians who are not anti-Semitic it is possible indeed to separate out anti-Semitism from Christian faith.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 2 May 2016 at 12:15am BST

Rod, I understand the wish to go on saying that Jesus is the Christ, that is, the Messiah (let's please not forget that), which leads to the accusation that the Jews rejected the Messiah when he came. The Gospel of John, which is the most obviously antisemitic of the gospels, and so much else in the Christian canon, is not only in conflict with Christianity's Jewish origins, but effectively characterises the Jews as the people who rejected their Messiah.

As I studied the Holocaust, I could not but become aware of this tendency in the Christian scriptures, deliberately eliding parts of the gospels, especially during Holy Week, which expressed this antisemitism most forthrightly, and I began to recognise that it is very difficult to express Christian belief without an implicit criticism of Jewish belief. If you acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, then you have effectively denied the validity of Judaism which still awaits, with ardent expectation, the coming of the Messiah.

As for the bishop in question, my suggestion never was that he was antisemitic. I don't think he was. My concern is that he could use, as a vision for the diocese under his leadership, a passage from the first letter of Peter which (whatever you may say about its being an ancient proverb), is effectively, in the Christian context, an explicit rejection of the Jewish people as a people, who rejected the cornerstone on which Christianity is founded. My real concern is that the bishop in question did not seem to notice this, which, if he had, he would have needed to reflect on its meaning in relation to his vision and hope.

Of course, recent (very recent indeed) moves to make peace with the Jews, in the light of the horrors of the Holocaust, are positive, but Christian antisemitism is still a permanent possibility for Christians. I never suggested, however, that Christianity is moribund, but I would say that the implicit antisemitism of Christian scripture makes it difficult to express Christianity as a living faith, for I do not see, given your characterisation of your own beliefs, how "it is possible indeed to separate out anti-Semitism from Christian faith," since the New Testament documents are saturated in conflict between Jesus and the Jews (most clearly, of course, in John's gospel, which, however spiritual, seems to me the most offensively and continuingly antisemitic).

And here, of course, I must neeeds disagree with Kevin Holdsworth. It is not only interpretations of Christian texts that are antisemitic, but the texts themselves. And this is precisely the problem, for, reinterpret them how you will, they will still bear that message on their surface. Just calling Jesus the Christ is to express an intrinsic denial of the justice of Jewish expectation, and implies their perfidiousness respecting what seems so obvious to you. And I do not see how, try as one might, it is possible to remove from the Christian canon the implicit condemnation of the Jews without uprooting Christianity itself, root and branch. For if the Christian Seder is obscene, is not Christianity itself, and for the same reasons, something of an obscenity for having assimilated to itself so much of Judaism, with the implicit denial that it belongs now to the Jews themselves. Just the naming of the Jewish scriptures as Old is enough to imply this. This was so clear to Luther. How is it that we do not see it so clearly?

Posted by: Eric MacDonald on Monday, 2 May 2016 at 1:58pm BST

@ Eric, "If you acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, then you have effectively denied the validity of Judaism ..." What contorted nonsense. Eric, no matter which hobby horse you are riding you consistently bring to the exercise the same dogmatic heuristic structure. Rhetorical extremism closes the door on any kind of meaningful dialogue.

The kinds of questions I find compelling are inter-faith dialogue, ecumenism, the relationship of social justice to human rights, and alternatives to biblicism and so called "biblical" ethics. I'm interested in engaging these questions as one who confesses Jesus the Christ within an Anglo-Catholic tradition. If someone wants me lay awake at night worrying that Christianity is responsible for every sparrow that falls, I'm not that guy.

"It is not only interpretations of Christian texts that are antisemitic, but the texts themselves." There is no text, only interpretation. There is no solid evidence that the author of I Peter was not himself a Jewish Christian. What ever its origins the living stones metaphor applies handily to the church as the people of God in a post institutional age.

When psalm 118:14-24 rolls around on Easter Day I proclaim it lustily. "On this day the Lord has acted.."

You may wish to keep driving nails into the coffin of Christianity; but it is empty. Christ is alive.Those gathered around him are quite capable of rising to the challenge of respecting and conversing humbly with other religions, especially the other religions of Abraham.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 2 May 2016 at 6:18pm BST

"Just calling Jesus the Christ is to express an intrinsic denial of the justice of Jewish expectation"

Eric MacDonald on Monday, 2 May 2016 at 1:58pm BST,

I agree with much of what you say here, but the above quoted text, I find overbroad.

It has been in the past, but it does not have to be in the future, that just because Christians have their Christ, their anointed one, that devout Jews can't still wait for their Mashiach, their anointed one.
When people have a Revelation of Truth, a revelation so profound that it alters the very core of their being, naturally, they want to share that Truth with others. As the history of Christians and Jews demonstrates, the difficulty lies when those others say, "That is swell for you, but, frankly, your Truth is not for me."
To borrow a phrase that seems to be en vogue, why can't Christians and Jews walk together, rather than apart, each celebrating the joys of their own unfolding revelation?

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Monday, 2 May 2016 at 7:59pm BST

Sorry, I think the problem of Christianity and Judaism is much deeper.

When you Peter, make a linguistic distinction, and speak of the Christian Christ and the Jewish Mashiach, it's called bait and switch. 'Christos' and 'Mashiach' mean the same thing: Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, all the same. This is the question of Marcion. What is our relation to the Jews, and to their holy texts?

Nor is it fair or relevant, Rod, to accuse me of wanting to put the last nail in the coffin of Christianity. Quite untrue. I want a conception of Christianity not subject to the reckless views so often expressed in scripture. John's gospel spells it out: the Light came into the darkness (of Judaism?), the Word came to his own (people?), and his own did not recognise him. We could say that it was not so particular. But no: hermeneutic can’t so easily take the sting away.

It is all very well, Rod, to say confidently, that

"Texts are malleable, used at the praxis level, often at odds with their origins."

How very postmodern of you! This is simply to misunderstand the limits of hermeneutic, and how hermeneutic can deceive as well as enlighten. We can speak in human terms of much Christian belief, about love and faithfulness, justice and peace, but the words of Scripture cannot be used just to inform praxis. It is simply not true that texts are interpretation all the way down as Derrida thought. Of course, Don Cupitt may be right. It may be best to interpret Christianity all away. But I’ve been Christian long enough, to seek though still not to find, a better way, and defensive remarks don't help either.

The scriptures have been interpreted repeatedly in antisemitic ways, and they remain open to that interpretation. You say that you wouldn't have chosen the passage from Peter to which I allude, but that text has a clearly christological meaning, just like the Light and Darkness in John. The stone the builders rejected is like the one who came to his own and his own did not accept him (rejected him).

The meaning or reference of ‘Messiah’ doesn't change in the transition from Judaism to Christianity, and in Christian scripture it’s always a judgement on the (perfidious) Jews. Justin Martyr, Chrysostom, and Luther (and the Good Friday liturgy) didn’t come out of nowhere.

So my problem remains, and all the soft-sauder in the world won't help resolve it. There's far too much history in the words – a permanent possibility of antisemitism.

Posted by: Eric MacDonald on Wednesday, 4 May 2016 at 12:48am BST

@ Eric, " ...the problem of Christianity and Judaism is much deeper." Never said there was not a difficult problem; but the kind of dogmatic stance you take, if taken into Jewish-Christian dialogue, would be a disaster, for both dialogue partners. Your rhetoric here is passion devoid of horizon and may actually make the problem worse.

"...understand the limits of hermeneutic.." Your hermeneutic suffers from the most fundamental and fatal of flaws, i.e. making a reading bear your own political bias.

I repeat ( yes I am modern) , there is no text, only interpretation. This is a good rule of thumb when dealing with mythological material like the Bible in those instances where material is advanced from context to context to context and with varying applications.

The use of the OT by NT writers, subsequent use in the age of Greek theory, use yet again in modernity, and then application in current pastoral praxis is illustrative. The opposite would be true, for example, when dealing with Euclidean geometry. There, we have the reverse. There is no interpretation. Whether now or thousands of years ago, You either understand Euclid correctly or not (Lonergan).

"Christian scripture it’s always a judgement on the (perfidious) Jews." This a propagandist assertion devoid of perspective and nuance.

This is really about your problems with the Christian faith. Until you sort that out, there is little chance of productive conversation about the problem of Christian anti-Semitism.

Otherwise, as to my previous comments above, quod scripsi, scripsi.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 4 May 2016 at 12:22pm BST

Rod. It is clearly not worth arguing these points with you. I don't know why you bother, since you despise my approach so much. Since you make it so personal, perhaps it is I you despise. You even misquote me to show how foolish I am (just a reading bear with a political bias). I did not write: "Christian scripture it’s always a judgement on the (perfidious) Jews." The word 'it's' should make that plain, since in accord with your interpretation (here is a case where there is text and not only interpretation), 'it's' should be 'is'.

What I clearly wrote was, "The meaning or reference of ‘Messiah’ doesn't change in the transition from Judaism to Christianity, and in Christian scripture it’s always a judgement on the (perfidious) Jews." The parenthetical 'perfidious' is a incidental reference to the tradition of Christian antisemitism, closely related to the Christian idea of Messiah, which the Jews simply misunderstood. There is nothing propagandistic about this. It's what explains nearly two thousand years of Christian anti-Judaism. Nor is it devoid of perspective or nuance. It referred to a use of one word, and its relation to antisemitism. As the Jewish objections to the erection of a cross outside Auschwitz show, the cross has for Jews a deeply anti-Jewish resonance.

However, having said that, I decline to discuss further with you. You have an idea of my own bias which nothing I say will eradicate. So be it. What I have written, I have written. Besides, as to my problems with the Christian faith, if there is no text, only interpretation, there is no faith either. Don Cupitt has made that abundantly clear. As to dogma, check out the log in your eye. My absolutely last word on Thinking Anglicans.

Posted by: Eric MacDonald on Wednesday, 4 May 2016 at 4:13pm BST

As a follow up to Kelvin Holdsworth's article, folks interested in the anti-Semitism issue may be interested in this article titled, The Gifts and Calling of God Are Irrevocable, a Jewish Perspective.

It pertains to the latest R.C. document, The Gifts of God Are Irrevocable (December 2015). That document is available from Vatican Radio or otherwise easily located online.

The document and the Jewish response present two very interesting perspectives on a complex issue moving forward. Both are lengthy and intricate, reflective of the issues at hand.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 4 May 2016 at 5:22pm BST

re "Love the sinner, hate the sin" - CS Lewis pointed out that this is what each of us does for himself/herself. I love myself, I wish myself well, I wish I didn't do many of the things I do do - so I hate the sins that I do (some of them at least.) It's all a reasonable attitude to myself, so it's a fair attitude for me to have towards others also.

Posted by: Jamie Wood on Wednesday, 4 May 2016 at 5:48pm BST


Personal conviction of one's own sin is an act of self-responsibility and (in turning from it) self-determination.

On the other hand, attributing sinfulness to someone else runs the risk of wresting their self-determination from them, and trying to re-define for them exactly who they are and how they ought to act.

I think scripture hints at that being better left to God.

And if a Church, as an organisation, projects 'sin' on the actions of an individual, then there is a risk that an individual's conscience and who they are may be crushed, overridden, marginalised, diminished, veto'ed, or threatened with 'consequences'.

So I don't think hating my own perceived sins (which is very much my business) can be equated with hating what we perceive as someone else's 'sins'.

In the case of gay men, or lesbian women, to hate a characteristic that is intimately understood by them as part of who they are, is to risk only loving the version of 'who they are' that we tell them they ought to be.

As I say, it risks stealing self-responsibility for exercising conscience, and self-determination of the lives people try to live.

I think it may be better to love somebody, and simply suspend judgment on their sexual orientation, seeking instead to respect their right of conscience and identity... and affirming their own journeys with God, wishing them wholly well.

As a principle adopted church-wide, this could result in a church of unique and diverse individuals, all valued and treasured by God, all affirmed, all self-determining... and finding unity together in Jesus Christ, we could try to open our hearts to grace and love, to love one another unreservedly, unjudgmentally, and each valuing the conscientious identity of the other.

If someone does things that take away the freedom of another person (such as violent crime) then of course that may be a different matter, contravening the very freedom of self-determination that I am advocating here.

What we should not ever do is to 'dominate' another Christian, and that is what I disliked about the Anglican Covenant, the Episcopal Letter, and more recently the Primates' Statement. Instead of dominating other people's consciences, or attributing/judging 'sin', I think it is better to major on love and respect for who a person identifies themselves to be, and try to love and affirm them for who they actually are, not who we tell them they ought to be.

None of this is criticising you, because I know nothing about you, but just my thoughts on 'loving the sinner, and hating the sin'.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 4 May 2016 at 11:33pm BST

"It's all a reasonable attitude to myself, so it's a fair attitude for me to have towards others also."

I disagree. It's a "reasonable attitude to myself"...because I am SUPPOSED to be looking at my own sins. I think people miss the point of Jesus's "log/splinter" analogy, if they view it as merely quantitative: "well, my owns sins may be a bit bigger, but the Ol' College Try will get that log out, then I can move onto everyone else's no-less-loathesome-in-the-Eyes-of-God splinters."

No. Removing one's log is a life-log, **all-consuming** task. If you EVER think you have the moral highground to look for other's splinters, your own log of PRIDE has just grown!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 5 May 2016 at 5:02am BST

So are we allowed to hate other peoples' sins, in the cases where those sins are racism, or anti-Semitism, or Islamophobia, or homophobia?

Posted by: Jamie Wood on Thursday, 5 May 2016 at 11:26am BST

Jamie, to the extent that racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and homophobia curtail other people's lives and freedoms and self-determination... I should say that they are different from gay or lesbian love, which is freely expressed, freely shared, and frankly, simply a matter for the individuals concerned.

In a sense, hating gay sex is a kind of homophobia, albeit one based on conscientious belief - and so it is more likely that the examples you offer are best aligned with the very act of hating gay sex which you started off with. In short, such views potentially harm and restrict and marginalise people's lives... in worse cases leading to vile legislation and imprisonment (even supported and endorsed by some African Primates, who also - as you say - "hate the sin").

Do you regard gay sex as a sin, by the way (just to understand where you're coming from)?

Don't get me wrong: I believe in our Anglican Communion, people should be able to regard gay sex as sin, on biblical grounds. But only to the same degree that people should be able to affirm gay sex, on conscientious faith grounds.

I simply feel that the phrase "love the sinner, hate the sin" is kind of patronising. It determines people's lives for them. It only loves people... to an extent... not for the whole of who they are (and the best and loveliest of who they are in relationships of fidelity and care).

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 5 May 2016 at 11:08pm BST

"So are we allowed to hate other peoples' sins, in the cases where those sins are racism, or anti-Semitism, or Islamophobia, or homophobia?"

You're allowed to hate your own racism, or anti-Semitism, or Islamophobia, or homophobia---as I'm allowed to hate mine. Kyrie eleison, TBTG!

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 7 May 2016 at 3:59am BST

Dame Julian of Norwich said: "Sin is inevitable, but all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well" - true or false?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 8 May 2016 at 2:07am BST
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