Saturday, 5 November 2016

Opinion - 5 November 2016

Mike Eastwood Renewal and Reform Neglecting the gifts

Martin Thomas The Spectator Vicar, will you clean my drains? — The things people ask for at an urban rectory

Andrew Lightbown R&R: it really is in the numbers!

Madeleine Davies asked five churchgoers who had not been brought up as Christians for their experiences and their advice. Church Times Faith from a standing start

Mark Hart If only the Church of England didn’t believe in genocide

Hayley Matthews Viamedia.News The Making of Beautiful Women

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 5 November 2016 at 11:00am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion
Comments

Mark Hart's comments on biblical justification for ethnic cleansing are insightful and needed. We face a church culture where in some quarters scripture is almost reified and elevated to the level of inerrant word of truth.

While I have no doubt that truth flows strongly through the lives and words of the Bible authors and their communities, in successive encounters with God, that does not mean that the truth always resides in the surface words and understandings of fallible humans, who often had limited knowledge of science, of evolving concepts of social justice, and who - like us, all fallible - were feeling their ways towards understanding encounters with divine mystery.

In short, at surface level at least, the bible may sometimes be mistaken, and contradictory. And if so, you could argue that makes it more authentic, not less authentic, IF we recognise that.

It is inconceivable that the command to ethnically cleanse enemy peoples - including slaughter of the old, the handicapped, the children, the babies, even the household pets - actually came from God or was in God's heart. The God we know who later said "Let the little children come to me" did not conceivably order an ethnic cleansing that would be repulsive even by our own flawed human values.

The cleansings were ordered by the victors, who wrote the texts, and claimed God's mandate for their actions.

And once we understand that surface text is fallible, the same methodology can be applied, not only to creation accounts, noah's ark and ethnic cleansing, but to issues of human sexuality too. As Mark says, fundamentalism and surface textual literalism may be an enemy of tradition and not its champion. It diminishes the exercise of our own consciences, and it diminishes the bible, making it despicable at points to decent, truth-seeking modern minds.

The whole scripture needs to be read through the lens of the greatest commandment, the primary impulse of God: to love, and love, and love.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 5 November 2016 at 4:50pm GMT

Hayley Matthews makes good, and sensible, points about society's expectations of feminine 'beauty'. The ones who love us - truly, madly and deeply - know what we look like first thing in the morning, in childbirth and in sickness as well as health. And are still by our side. One small point though Hayley: when speaking of your four year old daughter the words "For beautiful as she is (and even a stranger would concede me that point)" maybe thoughtful revision would come in handy?

Posted by: Pam on Saturday, 5 November 2016 at 8:28pm GMT

"Do we have the resilience and stamina to accept a 90% rejection rate?" - Andrew Lightbown

From my experience this type of evangelism pushes a significant proportion of that 90% further away from accepting God. I don't think that is a price worth paying. It seems Andrew cares more about the 10% who can be quick wins than he does the other 90% who need a gentler, more patient approach. It's an aspect of evangelicals which really upsets me.

Posted by: Kate on Sunday, 6 November 2016 at 5:40pm GMT

"And once we understand that surface text is fallible, the same methodology can be applied, not only to creation accounts, noah's ark and ethnic cleansing, but to issues of human sexuality too. As Mark says, fundamentalism and surface textual literalism may be an enemy of tradition and not its champion. It diminishes the exercise of our own consciences, and it diminishes the bible, making it despicable at points to decent, truth-seeking modern minds.

"The whole scripture needs to be read through the lens of the greatest commandment, the primary impulse of God: to love, and love, and love."

And what then is left? And how do we tell what that is? You will say it's the commandment to love but others will say that doesn't sit comfortably in the context of a jealous God outlined in the Old Testament and that the Apostles carried swords. Your reasoning is precisely the reasoning which led to the Crusades and the Inquisition.

I also don't think that is what Mark was saying. I think he is saying that such passages are in the Bible and we have to deal with them, not ignore them.

In short, I disagree. The problem with fundamentalism comes when people pick and choose, not from literalism.

Posted by: Kate on Sunday, 6 November 2016 at 10:20pm GMT

Thank you for your comment, Pam. I used the word 'beautiful' specifically to describe my daughter's physical appearance as first, she is so considered by current cultural definitions, and second, she is often called it within earshot or to her directly. Third, it is important that her (mere) youth and beauty do not define her self-image and self-worth (for who knows, she may not meet the current cultural criteria of 'beauty' aged 14) but that her *inner* beauty does, which is the point I was making, both to her in our conversation, and in the article.

Hope that clarifies things,

Hayley

Posted by: Hayley Matthews on Monday, 7 November 2016 at 11:16am GMT

Jesus is our salvation. We say it; maybe we believe it; but how many understand it? He saves us from adverse judgement, but that means nothing if we don't also believe in adverse judgement. That's why we need the passages in the OT which seem hard to understand. Without examples of adverse judgement, the death of Jesus on the cross lacks context, lacks meaning.

Mark Hart misses the point. If the Church of England didn't believe in historic genocide, it could not believe in salvation. We can only be saved if there is something we need saving from.

Posted by: Kate on Monday, 7 November 2016 at 2:16pm GMT

OK shameless plug here. Hayley's words are very pertinent. There is a documentary on BBC4 at 9pm on Thursday 17th No Body's perfect. Looking at issues of body image and identity. My son is one of the people interviewed. It covers issues of self-image for those who. for whatever reason, don't conform to society's understanding of beauty. Do watch if you can http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2016/45/no-bodys-perfect

Posted by: Priscilla White on Tuesday, 8 November 2016 at 12:23pm GMT

Thanks Hayley for your clarification.
I have four adult children - three daughters, one son. Raising each one of them has been a great blessing and a great challenge. Enjoy your kids as much as I have!

Posted by: Pam on Tuesday, 8 November 2016 at 9:03pm GMT

Re: The things people ask for at an urban rectory.

There was the guy who rang me up and said his garden backed on to that of the Methodist Manse, and that the Minister's basset-hound had been barking all day, and could I go round and make it be quiet? He'd already tried the Roman Catholic priest but he was out! I explained, that whilst ecumenical colleagues the Methodist minister and I were not blood brothers, and were certainly not responsible for the behaviour of one another's pets. He said that was not very Christian, and I said 'Yes it was' and was also perfectly reasonable and perhaps he should contact a Church Elder, whereupon he hung up!

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Wednesday, 9 November 2016 at 10:07am GMT
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