Monday, 20 June 2016

Amazing Love: a new book published

Darton, Longman and Todd has published a new book: Amazing Love, Theology for Understanding Discipleship, Sexuality and Mission.

Read the publisher’s press release describing the content of the book.

You can also read the preface, written by Mark Russell: available here.

…This book is a resource that will stimulate and encourage us to form questions in a new way so we don’t talk past each other or, worse, shout at each other. You may agree with the book or disagree with it, but it will help you consider how we can help LGBT people to know the Good News of Jesus Christ in their lives. I am grateful to Andrew and his colleagues for this new book and I commend it to you.

The LGBTI Mission has published a press release, Christians called to accept same-sex relationships:

LGBTI Mission, the recently formed Church of England campaign organisation, welcomes a new book, Amazing Love, published by Darton, Longman and Todd. This is the first fruit of the programme we launched in February. A working group met in Cambridge last January to plan this book, which has been edited by Dr Andrew Davison, Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

The book shows that there is a clear theological rationale for Christians to accept committed same-sex relationships. It is aimed at readers who may not have any formal theological training.

It does not take a specific view about how the Church should respond to same-sex marriage and thus it is hoped it will win over many of those who are not already irrevocably opposed to same-sex relationships.

Publication is timed to make the book available for the forthcoming sexuality conversations being held at the Church of England’s General Synod in York (10 to 12 July) but it should interest Christians of all denominations in Britain, and is ideal for use in discussion groups by local churches.

Copies are being sent this week to all members of the General Synod, thanks to grants made by three of LBGTI Mission’s partners: Changing Attitude, Inclusive Church, and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.

The formal launch of the book will be at a reception in the State Rooms of the Speaker’s House at the Palace of Westminster on 29 June.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Recent events highlight the timeliness of this book. Christians need to consider urgently whether the traditional conservative attitude towards same-sex relationships is still a sustainable view in today’s world. This book shows that it is possible to disagree.”

The book is mentioned in this report from the Church Times New books say that taking a hard line on sexuality will damage mission which also discusses Journeys in Grace and Truth.

…The book includes reflections on science. While emphasising that the sciences “can never provide a ‘trump card’ in ethical discussions,” the authors warn that: “We would lose credibility in mission if we still proclaimed that the world was made in six 24-hour days. We risk looking foolish if we talk about same-sex attraction and relationships without paying full attention to the full range of what there is to know on that score.”

They also draw on previous shifts in the Church’s teaching, including beliefs about slavery (“It took time — far too much time — for Christians to connect their understanding of the good news with their views on slavery.”). A study of key biblical passages concludes that they pose questions that “make it difficult to build a solid case against same-sex relationships”.

The book addresses perceived weaknesses in the arguments of both sides, warning that “many of the loudest voices . . . have been arguing in a one-dimensional way”. While one side has “talked about scripture as if interpretation was not a demanding task”, the other has “too often made experience its one source, and has too often treated scripture as a problem, rather than as the Christian foundation.

“Similarly, it has often treated reason as almost synonymous with feelings and fallen foul of what C. S. Lewis called ‘chronological snobbery’ in its willingness to elevate itself above the tradition of Christian theology, philosophy and ethics.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 20 June 2016 at 10:47pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

I'm not wishing to judge a book by its cover but I do like the design of this particular volume shewing the various pieces of a coloured stained glass window held together by strips of lead. Much mention was made in the debate over the ordination of women into the three-fold historic orders of ministry of breaking through the "stained glass ceiling". The breaking of such a work of art could be regarded as an act of vandalism or iconoclasm. Such a beautiful creative image must truly be looked upon with love, respect and admiration. Surely the jig-saw pieces of the stained glass window should be preserved not smashed or broken and we should endeavour to see, as best we can, how the coloured piece of glass representing those who are attracted to their own gender can best find its place within the entire window's structure.
The Bishop of Liverpool spoke well and persuasively on the Sunday programme about this whole issue but was reluctant to give an answer to the question of what happens next after all the talking is done.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 at 5:51am BST

Didn't we hear the same thing about women's ordination.."the mission of the C of E was threatened without it"....no spectacular growth since 1994.Quite the reverse actually.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 at 10:32am BST

For me the decision of whether or not to affirm same sex relationships s nothing to do with numerical growth / decline. It is an ethical issue and we (the church) should do the right (ethical) thing for no other reason than we should do the right thing.

Posted by: Andrew Lightbown on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 at 5:33pm BST

I suggest that General Synod members should also read "Good Disagreement? - Grace and Truth ina Divided Church (ed Andrew Atherstone and Andrew Goddard, Lion Books, 2015); "The Plausibiity Problem: the church and same-sex attraction" by Ed Shaw (IVP, 2015) and "Journeys in Grace and Truth" (ed Jayne Ozanne, ViaMedia 2016).

Posted by: David Lamming on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 at 6:47pm BST

RIW: no spectacular growth since 1994.Quite the reverse actually.
Of course, Ian, I don't know, and neither do you, how much worse the decline would have been since 1994 if women had not been ordained. But I think we can safely assert that the decline was not CAUSED by the ordination of women.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 at 9:12pm BST

"No spectacular growth since 1994." Are there any churches which HAVE posted spectacular growth since 1994?

Posted by: Richard on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 at 9:13pm BST

Let's hope that every member of the upcoming Church of England General Synod will carefully, read, mark, learn and digest the articles in both books that will have now been given to them (without charge) to reflect upon before the GS discussion of the outcome of the 'Conversations' on Human Sexuality.

One good reflection comes from the Bishop of Liverpool, whose own conversion into supporting the LGBTI community in the Church was closely influenced by his own experience of living with families who are actually involved. That usually helps people to better understand the true situation of the prejudice against LGBTIs.

I pray that the G.S. will be generous in its willingness to vote for radical inclusion of ALL in the Body of Christ.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 at 10:13pm BST

I am, without a doubt, biased: I have the job of publicising 'Amazing Love' on behalf of the publisher — but it's not a job I'd have taken on if I myself did not share the author's and contributors' convictions. Like +Paul, I too was converted to LGBTI acceptance and affirmation by experience: getting to know LGBTI people and seeing God working as powerfully in their lives as in mine, like Peter seeing the Holy Spirit descend on Cornelius, who was I — indeed, who are any of us? — to withhold blessing from those whom God quite clearly accepts?

If anyone reading has difficulty obtaining the book, please feel free to give me a shout, especially if you need multiple copies for a reading or study group.

Posted by: Phil Groom on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 at 4:38pm BST

Simon - ((respect))

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 at 5:53pm BST

@ Richard - indeed there are churches that have grown since 1994; most notably the pentecostal groups in Africa, including those pentecostal groups whose leaders wear miters and refuse to make Eucharist with anyone who doesn't hate GLBT people in proper fashion. As the Donald Trump campaign and the Nuremberg rallies demonstrate, people love having someone to hate.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 at 6:04pm BST

One issue with the shared conversation process planned for GS is that it is highly likely that there will be nobody in some groups of 20 who can speak from personal experience. The books are a really great way of addressing that problem. A credit to those responsible.

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 at 8:47pm BST

Is it just my imagination or has the ABC been keeping a low profile since Orlando?

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 at 11:13pm BST
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