Sunday, 23 April 2017

GAFCON threatens to plant a bishop in Britain

Updated again Wednesday morning

Jonathan Petre reports in the Mail on Sunday that African and Asian church leaders threaten to ‘plant’ a bishop in Britain to defy Welby on gay Christians:

Conservative Anglican archbishops from Africa and Asia are plotting to create a new ‘missionary’ bishop to lead traditionalists in the UK – after warning that the Church of England is becoming too liberal on homosexuality.

The rebel archbishops are set to give the green light to the controversial plan at a crucial meeting in Africa this week in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Insiders said the move was the ‘nuclear option’ as it would represent a highly provocative intervention into the Church of England by foreign archbishops and a direct challenge to the authority of Archbishop Welby, who is nominal head of Anglicans worldwide…

Anglican Mainstream which has close ties to GAFCON reports that:

Anglican Mainstream understands from Gafcon UK that this article is only partially correct, and that Gafcon UK will be issuing a comment later.

We will update this article when the latter occurs.

The Church of Nigeria has this notice of the meeting.

Updates

GAFCON UK has issued the following clarification, according to Anglican Ink

“The situation in the UK is not uniform. Within England there is troubling ambiguity from diocese to diocese in their teaching and pastoral practice as it pertains to human sexuality and biblical church order. However, the situation in the Scottish Episcopal Church is of immediate concern. There has been a clear rejection of biblical truth by the Scottish Episcopal Church, and they are expected to finalise this rejection of Anglican teaching and apostolic order in the upcoming June meeting of their Synod. Alternative structures and oversight will need to be in place should that unfortunate reality come to pass. At their meeting this week, the Gafcon Primates will be considering a range of options for how to care for those who remain faithful to Jesus’ teaching on marriage.”

This page from GAFCON UK lists items from the Church of England that are troubling to GAFCON: Radical inclusion after Synod: a briefing (updated).

The Church Times has this report: GAFCON contemplates missionary bishop to support UK malcontents. It includes this quote from GAFCON UK:

…In a response clarifying a report in the Mail on Sunday, GAFCON UK, a conservative Evangelical grouping, said that some of the language in the report was misleading. GAFCON Primates were not “plotting” to create such a bishop: “This implies subterfuge and deceit, and that foreign church leaders plan to impose a solution on British Anglican churches, which is not the case.”

Discussions were taking place “in response to requests from Anglicans in the UK”.

The statement, provided by the Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, on behalf of GAFCON UK, explained: “The GAFCON Primates recognise the existence in England, Scotland and Wales of faithful Anglicans who are already distanced from their local structures because of revisionist teaching and practice in the Church of England leadership, and they are ready to provide assistance. One option is to consecrate a missionary Bishop to give oversight if necessary.

“That the GAFCON Primates are considering consecrating a bishop with particular responsibility for these Islands is not a secret and should not come as a surprise. . . Many of the world’s senior Anglican leaders, including the Archbishops who lead the GAFCON movement, have for some time been concerned about the Church of England’s drift from orthodox, Biblical Christianity.”

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Comments

One wonders if they have done marketing studies?

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 12:54am BST

Good. We American Episcopalians have had to deal with GAFCON "Bishops" for over a decade. Successive Archbishops of Canterbury have tolerated border crossings in the USA, and so it is high time the Primates see first-hand the confusion sown when an "Anglican" bishop sets up shop in an existing diocese. Welby has played footsie with GAFCON for years -- speaking at their convention, inviting Foley Beach to the Primates Meeting, stating that he "rejoices" that GAFCON exists -- time for Cantuar to learn that GAFCON folks don't negotiate, compromise, or listen.

Posted by: Dan USA on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 2:34am BST

This will be set up with subtle details to make sure it's a bit meaningless.

The current GAFCON strategy towards England involves allowing parishes to create a certain ambiguity as to which side they're on. Parishes can loudly agree with GAFCON and deplore the liberal acts of the CofE without doing anything that might result in them losing their buildings or otherwise being inconvenienced.

So Michael Nazir-Ali (or whoever gets the job) will get a fancy new job title from GAFCON and will go round preaching more sermons in ConEvo parishes, but will stop short of doing anything that really involves being a new province.

Posted by: Leon Clarke on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 10:22am BST

Of course this move may reinforce the illusion the ABC and other C of E leaders have that they are actually doing something liberal and inclusive towards gay people, which they blatantly are not.
Bp. Alan Wilson the singular and shining exception.

Posted by: The Rev Dr Ellen M Barrett on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 12:10pm BST

Ah, a bishop even to the right of Genghis Khan. Suppose the Bishop of Maidstone will feel rather redundant.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 1:44pm BST

Even this possibility shows that successive Archbishops of Canterbury have used an approach that is strategically flawed--not to mention morally bankrupt.

How's that Lambeth 2020 guest list shaping up now?

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 2:36pm BST

It will be a sad day that the CofE follows the ECUSA and divides over what used to be one of its core principles - the canonical authority of the teaching of Jesus and His Apostles.

But, unlike civil changes such as the banning of slavery (which is banned in the OT) and the priesthood of all believers (which is found in the NT) the approval of same-sex sexual relationships goes against Jesus' condemnation of all forms of fornication (not just same-sex sex) and against the canonical understanding of marriage - which is based on us being biologically embodied creatures (not just reproduction).

The consequences would be pretty inevitable. For non-liberals are likely to involve loosing their church buildings and assets; and their ministers' incomes. But the ramifications for everyone in the CofE are likely to be serious - we are already on the brink of a crisis (of attendance and income).

Posted by: RevDave on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 3:36pm BST

One other point: Despite what the Mail says, Archbishop Welby is _not_ the "nominal head of Anglicans worldwide."

He is treated nowadays as first among equals, as a matter of courtesy, by provinces that are entirely independent.

This means, although the people who go to his garden parties tend to forget it, that the Archbishop of Canterbury is Primate of All England, and England only.

He has no jurisdiction or power in Scotland or Wales, much less anywhere else.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 4:52pm BST

Perhaps this will call the college of Bishops to their senses, and make sure neither they, nor the Primates of Canterbury and York continue with their double speak on the matter of human sexuality. If as they claim to love us in God's name, let them show it by their fruits and actions.

They are only too quick to discipline gay clergy. Let us see if the Primate of Canterbury acts against province invasion.

Remember Archbishop Williams refusing the Presiding Bishop of the U.S.A. to wear her mitre.

Fr John Emlyn

Posted by: Fr John Harris-White on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 5:14pm BST

One wonders if "nuclear" threats represent Christian respect for others - or just another "my way or the highway" denial of anyone else's discernment. Use of the phrase speaks worlds about Gafcon's willingness to inflict pain and damage in order to get their way.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 5:58pm BST

Since the COE is a state religion, I wonder if a "missionary" bishop might have visa issues since a bishop must give permission for visiting clergy to preach; at least if they are a non-canonical resident.

Posted by: Rev. Anthony Keller on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 6:40pm BST

"...the ramifications for everyone in the CofE are likely to be serious - we are already on the brink of a crisis ..." If there is a crisis it is one that is shared by both so called liberal and conservative forms of Christianity in the west. While each are pointing to the other, I suspect the facts are that there is a very small market niche for either brand.

Even in the States, religious participation is slowly sliding into the sea. In any event, I doubt ahistorical and biblicist jibber jabber is going to save the day or resolve the crisis.

The proposed planting of a GAFCON bishop who considers his patriarchal culture to be synonymous with so called biblical truth will not make a hill of beans of difference--although there may be a marginal positive in that he may draw off the chaps who think the purpose of Christian faith resides in their ability to control the lives of other people.

Conservatives should really quit trying to scare the plebs, especially when they are hawking a rather repressive biblicism as their gospel.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 7:59pm BST

I was about to make the same point as Rev. Keller, that it would be interesting to see the basis upon which an African bishop intending to incite what amounts of schism within the Church of England might apply for a work permit. Unfortunately, I suspect that such a work of schism could be done on a tourist or business visitor visa, as the bishop would not be an employee of a UK company.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 8:59pm BST

Gafcon will select a British person, resident in England, as likely as not.

But it is simply gesture politics of the most redundant sort, in my not so humble opinion.

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 10:25pm BST

Rev. Keller and Interested,

Not sure I see your point.

Presumably he won't be applying for a permit to work for the Church of England.

Hypothetically speaking (I've not seen the promised further comment from GAFCON UK), the putative bishop would seek to work for GAFCON UK or an organisation like it, right?

And GAFCON UK, or the similar organisation, is not part of the Church of England. So it can have whatever bishops they want, right?

Or am I missing something?

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 10:32pm BST

"there may be a marginal positive in that he may draw off the chaps who think the purpose of Christian faith resides in their ability to control the lives of other people."

Rod Gillis makes an important point here.

Sometimes "schism" (however minor) acts as the lance for a boil that otherwise will not heal.

If GAFCON wants to be the branch of Anglicanism in the UK that is built on discrimination against LGBT people, then why not let them go ahead and do that, as long as they don't walk out with property and money?

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 24 April 2017 at 10:36pm BST

Rod said "Conservatives... are hawking a rather repressive biblicism as their gospel."

Isn't there a theological problem with thinking that, when conservatives quote what Jesus taught regarding sexual morality, they are being "repressive" and "biblicist"?

Posted by: RevDave on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 12:03am BST

"the approval of same-sex sexual relationships goes against Jesus' condemnation of all forms of fornication (not just same-sex sex) and against the canonical understanding of marriage - which is based on us being biologically embodied creatures (not just reproduction)"

Keep telling yourself that...and only you will believe it.

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 2:21am BST

"It will be a sad day that the CofE follows the ECUSA and divides over what used to be one of its core principles - the canonical authority of the teaching of Jesus and His Apostles."

It will be a happy day when conservatives recognize that TEC has followed the path of radical love and inclusion BECAUSE of Jesus and His teachings and authority, not in spite of it. We have vast numbers of scholars who do not read into Jesus teachings anything like remotely resembling the interpretation posited by RevDave. Jesus says nothing about LGBTQI people but he says an awful lot about inclusion, and his harshest words are for the Pharisees for using the Law to exclude and subvert the spirit of the Law. Jesus also says not to judge, and yet conservatives hold themselves up as gatekeepers for God, as if God needs one.

I guess GAFCON is displeased that CoE merely pulls licenses from gay married priests and merely discriminates against openly gay clergy becoming bishops. Apparently, harsh discrimination, exclusion, and a load of hateful rhetoric is not good enough for GAFCON. They will only be appeased when LGBTQI people are rounded up and jailed, apparently, like they do it back home...

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 4:37am BST

"And GAFCON UK, or the similar organisation, is not part of the Church of England. So it can have whatever bishops they want, right?"

Work permits aren't _quite_ as easy as that. For a small random organisation to sponsor a non-EEA citizen on a Tier 2 visa is not easy. There was rampant abuse of the system in the past, and now the requirements on both the sponsor and on the employee are quite onerous. For a start off, the sponsor has to show that the job cannot be done by an EEA citizen or that the chosen non-EEA person is exceptional in some way (so for footballers, they have to have played at international or top-tier league level, for example).

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 9:53am BST

it is time GAFCON declared its unilateral independence from the ACC.

However, they should not be allowed to take the brand-name with them - and certainly not any item of Church plant belonging to the Provincial Churches they seek to undermine.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 10:55am BST


"Isn't there a theological problem with thinking that, when conservatives quote what Jesus taught regarding sexual morality, they are being "repressive" and "biblicist"?"

No, RevDave; we too obey Jesus and do not "lawlessly repudiate our wives for any reason." This said, there is a theological problem when the likes of you misappropriate his rabbinical objection to repudiation to see in it a God-ordained and restrictive definition of Christian marriage and then proceed to vociferously denounce your opponents and un-biblical and sub-Christian.

Posted by: Lorenzo on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 11:18am BST

The GAFCON Ordinariate?

Posted by: Perry Butler on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 1:27pm BST

Re: RevDave, "Isn't there a theological problem with thinking ... [ biblicist, repressive], when conservatives quote what Jesus taught regarding sexual morality..."

Actually, it is theological problem solving i.e. working towards a theological and pastoral solution to the problem creating views represented by biblicism and other types of misanthropic theologies.

Before GAFCON goes out to "plant" bishops it might take another look at the parable of the sower in relation to the social context in which they presume to plant, as it were. In fact, some of those lads might re-read it with an eye on their own back yard.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 1:50pm BST

"the sponsor has to show that the job cannot be done by an EEA citizen or that the chosen non-EEA person is exceptional in some way"

Why wouldn't GAFCON UK have an argument that they [need/want/require/will be damned if they aren't ministered to by] an Anglican bishop who is not "tainted" by the "radical inclusion" of the Anglican churches in England and Scotland?

I believe that most EEA Anglicans not in the UK are extra-provincial to Canterbury....

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 3:08pm BST

If these bigots were worried about "how to care for those who remain faithful to Jesus’ teaching on marriage" they'd have sent their flying bishop decades ago when divorced clergy and bishops were getting remarried.

Why don't they just own up to their hatred of gay people?

Posted by: Chris A on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 7:32pm BST

I must say I am grateful to GAFCON (I never thought I might find myself saying that)for publishing their round-up of statements by various C of E Bishops expanding on the idea of "radical inclusion". In particular they cite the Bishop of Manchester complaining about the argument of conservatives, which “asserts that until the law and the canons change, wider teaching is fixed”. He calls this “the logic of logjam.”
It seems that these Bishops are finally, at last, attempting to remove a few logs from the jam. When the jam finally clears in the inevitable rush, I doubt that GAFCON will have enough new logs at its disposal to do very much about it.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 8:50pm BST

Sounds good..but what about divorce..many in GAFCON agree with it!

Posted by: robert ian williams on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 9:35pm BST

Hi Rod and Cynthia, here's what I mean:

Jesus said "... fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."

And the Apostle Paul's various vice lists are rather similar eg "I fear that there may perhaps be quarrelling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. I fear that when I come again, my God may humble me before you, and that I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practised."

Vice lists by Peter and Jude are also similar to Jesus's - unsurprisingly!

So, surely (provided we stress God's love, grace and offer of forgiveness) teaching that those things are immoral isn't just 'biblicism', and 'misanthropic' ... it is Christianity? In which case GAFCON may have a case!

Posted by: RevDave on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 11:53pm BST

As Anthony Archer said above the arrival of a GAFCON bishop will be disconcerting to the Bishop of Maidstone and those parishes which are under, or seeking to come under his episcopal care.It would surely split the cons evangelical constituency and it is difficult to see how the GAFCON church could sustain itself outside a few cities.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 8:35am BST

I can't see 'homosexuality' (even defined as activity rather than a natural condition) anywhere in either of those lists quoted by RevDave. And whatever 'sexual immorality' is supposed to be a euphemism for, it's tautologous to say that it's not immoral. Nobody does. The dispute is about what it means.

Posted by: David Emmott on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 2:17pm BST

Hear that, CofE?

In return for a decade or more of fence-sitting and dithering about homosexuality, the Church of England is being attacked as unbiblical and unorthodox.

Perhaps it is time for the Church of England to get off the fence, and make the argument that neither the Bible nor orthodoxy requires the church to discriminate.

Stop playing politics, let the Communion chips fall where they may, and get on with ministering to the people of England.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 2:18pm BST

Re:RevDave, catalogues of vices and virtues are a standard feature of ancient approaches to morality. Your application suffers from several fatal flaws, not the least of which is that your engine lacks a transmission. Jesus does not address homosexuality in the gospels. Even conservatives recognize this as a problem and try and stick handle around it.

Even if Jesus were narrated as addressing homosexuality the argument would remain problematic. One would have to ask further questions about whether or not Jesus alleged teaching in one context is directly applicable to a current one.

NT writers do not have a contemporary understanding of human sexuality in terms of empirical evidence. The application of the NT in terms of proof texts on this is useless.

No, I'm afraid it's all about the patriarchal understanding of religion and the need of those who subscribe to it in an attempt to control others, women, gay and lesbian people, and so forth.

Ironically, proof texters conveniently overlook the fact that Jesus' view of divorce according to Mark probably describes an attempt by Jesus to critique male property-matrimonial privilege in favour of women who otherwise would be vulnerable in the context under discussion there. Interesting that patriarchal religion's application of said narrative focuses on adultery as personal sin while negating the systemic justice and equality issues in the narrative; but then that is hardly a surprise.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 2:46pm BST

The Rev Dave provides a very long list of sins named by Jesus and St Paul, and then proceeds to ignore inaction on all of them except the sexual ones. Methinks he does protest too much. What about the injustice, exploitation, inequity, hatred, quarrelling, jealousy, that are rife in the GAFCON and our societies? It is so much easier to pick on vulnerable minorities, and feel so, so righteous. The words mote and plank come to mind.

Posted by: gerry reilly on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 3:58pm BST

gerry, how do you get to the idea that I believe in inaction on all but sexual sins? I certainly don't!

Posted by: RevDave on Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 6:17pm BST

Rod, making lists of sins is hardly only an ancient, or even only a GAFCON, habit. Here's a sin list you might recognise: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/16/tackling-homophobia-sexism-racism

And, it is inaccurate to say that Jesus never taught about homosexual sex. His hearers were religious Jews, so when He taught that "... sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person" His hearers would have understood sexual immorality to include all the sexual relationships forbidden in the Jewish Scriptures.

On the other hand, when His Apostles taught Gentile Christians, from cultures with different moral understandings and boundaries, they had to be more explicit in various areas. So Paul has a sin list, that is strikingly similar to the above but explicit about homosexual sex: "... neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

The Good News, of course, is that we are loved by God anyway, and saved by His grace alone: "... that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Posted by: RevDave on Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 7:13pm BST

What a relief to find out that this is not all bad news ! Bring it on !

If they are anything like the nice Elders / bishops sent to us by the Mormons, they may bring much to delight in, after all....


As Anthony Archer said above the arrival of a GAFCON bishop will be disconcerting to the Bishop of Maidstone and those parishes which are under, or seeking to come under his episcopal care.It would surely split the cons evangelical constituency and it is difficult to see how the GAFCON church could sustain itself outside a few cities.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 8:35am BST

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 10:31pm BST

Umm, RevDave, can you explain why you change your second rendition of Mk 7.21 to bolster your argument? First you translate 'porneiai' as 'fornication' (as Liddell and Scott, who would also offer 'prostitution'), then in your subsequent post as 'sexual immorality' (a bit of a vague catch-all with no real grounding in the Greek).

And to head off any thought of suggesting that a hypothetical Aramaic original would carry such a vague meaning I can only cite the Syriac, which sticks with a word which Payne Smith translates in pretty much the same way as L&S.

I don't really think you can apply the Mark 7 list to homosexuality on lexical grounds, that's for sure, and suggest you stick to one translation in future - preferably a good one!

Posted by: David Rowett on Friday, 28 April 2017 at 2:00pm BST

Rev Dave, I am delighted that you are concerned about inaction on Justice, which preoccupies the ancient prophets and Jesus very much.
The missive from Gafcon reeks of self-righteousness, a sense of punishment, a fear of sexuality and of free women, and a view of God that I wouldn't touch with a fifty foot barge-pole. It bears little resemblance to the God of Jesus, whom I recognise.

Posted by: gerry reilly on Friday, 28 April 2017 at 3:17pm BST

Re: RevDave, "..making lists of sins is hardly only an ancient... [one]" What I pointed out is that cataloguing vices and virtues is a an approach to morality in the ancient world. You are simply drawing attention one such list in your post with the suggestion we may use a similar approach. We cannot.

You should not confuse that approach with GAFCON or contemporary conservative theologies which often tend to be a hybrid of natural law theology and revealed morality.

Your reference to the article by Bob Berkeley in the Guardian is misplaced. The reference is consistent with your line of argument which fails to differentiate among various cultural and historical horizons. Berkley and authors like him premise their position on social harm and the democratic context.

Let's look at one area where we may agree. I think it quite likely that Jesus and his hearers would have assumed same sex relationships to be wrong. Which is perhaps why it is not addressed by Jesus in the Gospels. However, factually, the text is silent. One cannot conclude much from a silent text without running the risk of eisegesis.

Even if Jesus had addressed it, that would not settle the question anymore than his teaching, according to the gospels, settles issues dealing with divorce or with economic justice--the latter being something the parables and sayings address with some abundance.

The New Testament authors simply did not have the empirical or theoretical framework that we enjoy in order to comprehend human sexuality as we do. New knowledge brings with it new responsibility. I'm not taking direction on same sex marriage based on marginal proof texts in Romans anymore than I'm prepared to take direction on human trafficking based on Philemon.

Otherwise, see may arguments in previous posts on this issue where I have attempted to engage biblicism and various types of so called "revealed morality".

Here is a question. Who benefits from a particular interpretation? Put that question to the GAFCON lads.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 28 April 2017 at 4:43pm BST

I fear I'm late to the party but this is a fascinating conversation between RevDave and others.

It seems to me that Rod's latest post is a reminder that the issue is unlikely to be solved by debating the meaning of individual texts. Rod, if you're still reading, I'd love to hear your answers to these questions:

Firstly, what do you think the Bible actually is? In what sense (if any) is it the word of God? How would you recommend parishioners approach it, not just on specific issues but generally?

And secondly, but relatedly, if you're not a fan of revealed morality, what do you consider the basis for your own morality?

I'm asking out of genuine curiosity. I'm (I suspect) much closer to RevDave on all this. I'd like to understand your framework assumptions more directly, rather than just hearing them in passing with reference to a more specific debate.

Posted by: Peter Leach on Saturday, 29 April 2017 at 8:47am BST

Re: Peter Leech. Before getting to your questions, the notion that, " ...the issue is unlikely to be solved by debating the meaning of individual texts..." is concerning. Texts matter. They are cited as authoritative. Contending with them is a necessary part of a solution.

Historical consciousness is crucial. Bernard Lonergan's essay, Dimensions of Meaning (Collection) is most useful. Lonergan concluded that one requires, as an alternative to both a solid right living in the past, and a scattered left exploring this or that, "...a center painstaking enough to work out ...the transitions to be made, strong enough to refuse half measures and insist on complete solutions even though it has to wait." For an updated appreciation of Lonergan see Thomas J. McPartland (2010), Lonergan and Historiography, especially McPartland's treatment of Lonergan's notion of the basic horizon.

One must put classic texts in juxtaposition to contemporary knowledge and scientific probability
grounded in an empirical method. There is no usefulness in attempting to make texts yield definitive solutions to questions the authors do not explicitly address.

On the matter of the Word, my opening is panoramic. I am a theist. The universe is intelligible and so there is the question of intelligence (Lonergan). Zooming in for the tight shot, the highest form of meaning is incarnational.For purposes of argumentative differentiation, scripture is not so much pure revelation but a reflective cultural response to revelation in Jesus the Christ. Nothing terribly original here, just an eclectic pastoral application of systematics.

The phrase "your own morality" is problematic. We are better served talking about transcendent values many of which are shared by people of various faiths or with those of none.

"How would you recommend parishioners approach [the biblical text]? " In thirty five years of preaching the goal has been to help folks wrestle with: What does this particular reading mean? What might it mean for us today? What is left for us to work out beyond a hearing of this particular word? What critical questions arise from men and women in various specialized fields as a result of hearing this text proclaimed?

The back of the envelope is just about full. ( :

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 29 April 2017 at 3:45pm BST

Rod, as you say, it is our assumptions that are different. I (and I guess GAFCON) are not particularly interested in differentiating among various cultural and historical horizons because we just want to be Christians - obeying Jesus' call to "come, follow me".

I would never say that "... if Jesus had addressed it, that would not settle the question anymore than his teaching, according to the gospels, settles issues dealing with divorce or with economic justice--the latter being something the parables and sayings address with some abundance. The New Testament authors simply did not have the empirical or theoretical framework that we enjoy in order to comprehend human sexuality as we do." How can I reject the teaching of God incarnate - who told His followers to teach people to obey all that He taught us?

BTW It is a confusion of categories to suggest that what He said is wrong because we understand things differently. The reality is, mostly, that we just think in different categories. So we talk about LGBTQ people (psychological categories), while He talks about men and women (biological categories).

I agree that He was speaking in a different context, using a different language (that we only have in translation into Greek) and different thought forms. But that does not justify rejecting what He said - rather it requires exegesis to get back to what He meant, and hermeneutics to get to what it means for us (as far as our context is truly different).

No Trinitarian Christian worth the name can just start again and devise a set of morals that reject what He said (in context). Maybe as a Theist you can legitimately do that, but then you should perhaps be clearer about your beliefs -rather like I would hope that a Hindu or Moslem would indicate their religion if they were commenting about what the church believes or approves?

Posted by: RevDave on Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 1:23am BST

Re: RevDave, "....not particularly interested in differentiating among various cultural and historical horizons because we just want to be Christians." The two are not at odds but necessarily compatible. You seem to want to drive a wedge between obedience to the Gospels and intellectual responsibility.

"..we talk about LGBTQ people (psychological categories), while He talks about men and women (biological categories)." I have no real clue about what this is supposed to mean. Are you suggesting that there is no link between biology and psychology? Are you suggesting that sexual orientation is psychological in some free floating non-biological way, divorced from the human person?

"as a Theist ...you should perhaps be clearer about your beliefs..." Theism is simply a belief in God or gods. Judging by your stated beliefs, you too are a theist.

I'm a theist, a monotheist in the in the Christian Trinitarian tradition. I accept the insight that informs the Christian concept of incarnation. I had hoped I was clear when I wrote that the bible is not pure revelation but a reflective cultural response to the revelation in Jesus Christ. Our disagreement springs forth on this point.

It is my contention that biblicism, like most forms of dogmatism, has caused great harm to good people. I conclude this in part after years of experience as parish priest listening to people who had been really worked over by religious dogmatists. As an follower of Christ Jesus it is my responsibility to undermine biblicism at every turn. Religion has a very dark and anti-social side. Those of us who belong to one must be constantly vigilant. I hope that provides you with additional clarity about what I believe.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 3:08pm BST

Thanks Rod for your reply. I'll try to track down that essay.

It seems to me that there are a great number of other questions raised - in this view of Scripture, where does authority lie? How would you describe the God that Christ reveals? Since the world is obviously not as it should be, what would you say is the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment? And so on. Perhaps, however, this rather old and dead thread is not the space for it any more and these things can be picked up another time and place... feel free to reply here if you're still reading though :)

Posted by: Peter Leach on Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 11:45am BST

Re: Peter Leech, yes the thread is winding down. Peter.

With regard to your first two questions you might take a look at the late Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P. both his work on revelation, experience and hermeneutics and on Christology. I find his thinking very creative; but with the caveat that my theological sins are my own.

With regard to your latter question, other than repeating what I have said in rejoinders here and there, I'll leave you with a saying Schillebeeckx once tossed out to a meeting of theologians, "There is no salvation outside the world".

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 3:36pm BST

Rod Gillis 'It is my contention that biblicism, like most forms of dogmatism, has caused great harm to good people. I conclude this in part after years of experience as parish priest listening to people who had been really worked over by religious dogmatists.'
Yes - and I am glad you were there for them. But there is liberal dogmatism too and I have journeyed with Christians in churches where a dogmatic liberal scepticism has left them without any basis on which to believe at all.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Tuesday, 2 May 2017 at 9:26pm BST

Re: David Runcorn, "...there is liberal dogmatism..." There is! Liberal by definition is a political outlook, and all political outlooks, secular and/or religious, have a spectrum with true believers on one end.

But you will have to take that up with them. I'm interested in theological positions that are creative, problem solving, but respect our sources even while respecting the limits of those sources. There are a several Roman Catholic theologians I find most interesting, and reference a lot, most in the transcendental Thomist column, others are biblical scholars erudite and committed to the text, allowing people to think for themselves without undermining the whole Christian project.

Alas, comparable theologians in our Anglican tradition seem not so abundant. Radical Orthodoxy is not the answer, in my view. There is Ian Macquarrie, a classic favorite. In any event, my goal as a parish priest, has always been to help folks find constructive and healthy religious meaning while respecting their maturity and integrity.

Besides, I think social conservatives vastly overestimate their own importance with regard to policing believers. It's usually about control in the end, rather than midwifing a mature faith. Clericalism tends to underestimate the ability of the average thoughtful person to work through issues of faith. There is a place to live that doesn't require buying into either N.T. Wright on one hand nor John Spong on the other.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 3 May 2017 at 1:55pm BST

Thanks Rod. I always feel I would enjoy a long coffee with you .... I agree with your last paragraph. It frustrates me enormously and my concern over here (UK) is that the focus on mission is increasing that tendency rather than letting it go - while using the (thoroughly patronising) language of 'setting the laity free'.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Thursday, 4 May 2017 at 11:01am BST

Re: David Runcorn, "I always feel I would enjoy a long coffee with you ..." Indeed, as a medium of communication,a fine beverage is always preferable to a screen. ( ; cheers, -Rod

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 4 May 2017 at 4:12pm BST
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