Comments: Evangelical, Broad and Catholic Anglicans Working Together for an Inclusive Future

Maybe that's why God made some of us queer: to be a *bridge* between the High, the Low, and the Broad. ;-)

Give God the Glory!

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Tuesday, 7 June 2005 at 8:14am BST

I hope Revd Fraser's email is working, as on another occasion I failed to get any response from him in 4 times of trying.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 7 June 2005 at 10:29am BST

God didn't make us sinners: He gave us the ability to choose,,,


The way we define 'human' determines our view of self,
others, relationships, institutions, life, and future.
Important? Only the Creator who made us in His own image
is qualified to define us accurately. Choose wisely...
there are results.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by nature
and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of Criteria.
Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive characteristic
is, and of Right ought to be, the natural foundation of his
environments, institutions, and respectful relations to his
fellow-man. Thus, he is oriented to a Freedom whose roots
are in the Order of the universe.


Posted by James Fletcher Baxter at Tuesday, 7 June 2005 at 4:40pm BST

If God made some people queer that would make him either

a) a complete bastard for inspiring the Bible and not making it a mighty sight clearer;

b) not the inspirer of the Bible.

I don't mind which one of these you pick but I think your comment nicely illustrates that to hold such a position you have to depart signicantly from at least one major Christian doctrine.

Posted by Sean Doherty at Tuesday, 7 June 2005 at 5:34pm BST

Depends what you mean by 'inspired'

I am quite sure that the authors of the Bible were inspired by their faith to write as they did.

I am equally sure that the production of the bible in the sense of the actual words was their production,and theirs alone. In other words, inspiration does not indicate authorship of the woprds, nor even direct 'inspiration 'of the words themselves.

Elementary liberal theology, Sean.

And I am equally convinced God made me the person I am, a gay man.

Oh, Sean, left-wingers these days support gay rights. I think you need another self-definition. Right-wing,perhaps?

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 8 June 2005 at 12:43am BST

"a complete bastard for inspiring the Bible and not making it a mighty sight clearer"

None so blind as those who would not see?

[I'm not, FWIW, talking about the Bible having a "plain meaning". I'm talking about wrestling with the text/wrestling with God---God can take it! *g*---through which God provides (along w/ our brothers&sisters, present and past) *illumination* . . . in order to struggle with/grow with/LOVE God, further . . . "until God shall be All-in-All"]

My God is not a god of false dichotomies, Sean.

(and my queerness is a GIFT---no more and no less than is another's straightness. It's what I do w/ that gift which DOES or DOES NOT constitute sin . . . or holiness)


Posted by J. C. Fisher at Wednesday, 8 June 2005 at 8:04am BST

Hi Mike-
Im not sure you have taken on board the inherent difficulties in talking the language of 'right wing' and 'left wing':

(1) It's stereotyping, and stereotypes are rarely accurate.

(2) It's polarising: in other words it sees things as black and white in a way liberals are not supposed to do.

(3) It presupposes that people are ideologues rather than truth-seekers. Some people are indeed ideologues, and they are precisely the ones whom one should not listen to, since they know what they are going to conclude before they start.

(4) Re truth-seekers, it ignores the fact that the same person is very often going to be 'right' on some issues, 'left' on others, 'middle of the road' on others. Christians, for example, classically believe in stable families (right), equality & justice for the poor (left), charity in all things (broad, generous).

The point has been made for many years that to stereotype is to fail to understand.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 8 June 2005 at 2:46pm BST

"None so blind as those who would not see?"

How little you know me! I have wrestled with this question very personally and with great sadness. It is not so much a question of not being willing to see, as simply not seeing because what on some levels I would like to see is just not there.

Mike: of course it depends what you mean by inspired. And you have every right to use the definition you give. All I was doing was illustrating that to hold the view that J C Fisher argued for necessitates a significant departure from historic Christianity - in this case, a major reinterpretation of the idea of inspiration. I assume that you have no problem with saying that your view is a reinterpretation, moving with the times to take account of 'new' knowledge. Fair enough. But that is not what is usually claimed for your position. It is usually claimed that it fits perfectly comfortably within historic Christianity. In my view it doesn't, and I suspect that in your view it doesn't either, since I suspect you would want to distance yourself from much of it. (I am just going on the basis of our past discussions, sorry if I misinterpret you.)

Re the left-wing question (although actually I say socialist) it might interest you to know that I fully support civil partnerships and I also believe that same-sex couples should be able to adopt children, subject to the same checks and qualifications as opposite-sex couples.

Posted by Sean Doherty at Wednesday, 8 June 2005 at 11:30pm BST

"Representatives of organisations as diverse as Accepting Evangelicals," i.e Liberal Evangelicals "the Society of Catholic Priests," i.e Liberal Catholics "the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians" i.e Liberal Evangelicals "and Affirming Catholicism" i.e Liberal Catholics "met with representatives from LGCM: Anglican Matters," i.e. Liberals "the Modern Church People’s Union," i.e. Liberals "Progressive Christianity Network," i.e. Liberals "WATCH," i.e. Liberals "Changing Attitude" i.e Liberals "and others to deepen existing partnerships and to develop concrete strategies for joint action." i.e. a Pan-Liberal Alliance. Some diversity!

Posted by Observer at Wednesday, 8 June 2005 at 11:41pm BST

Sean ; ah yes, the Pete Broadbent position - liberal outside the church, conservative within - which I suppose is OK if you think like that.

And you are right, I donot subscribe to traditional/historic Christianity because I am a liberal revisionist and proud to be so!

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 9 June 2005 at 12:42am BST

"How little you know me!"

Funny, Sean: I was thinking *exactly* the same thing.

. . . but God sees each of us---LOVES each of us---perfectly.

May we see each other through God's eyes---may we see Christ in each other!

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 9 June 2005 at 8:57am BST

". . . but God sees each of us---LOVES each of us---perfectly."

Well, I certainly agree about that!!!

Posted by Sean Doherty at Thursday, 9 June 2005 at 2:33pm BST

Hi Mike-

Have you any thoughts on why ppl who distance themselves from what we are terming 'historic' Christianity are nevertheless so anxious to be known as 'Christians'? In what sense is this an accurate description of them?

If we are out of continuity with (and to a large dgree in dispute with) other Machiavellians, then that makes us not Machiavellians. If we are out of continuity with (or in dispute with) star-worshippers, then we're not likely to claim to be star-worshippers ourselves. Isnt that common sense?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 9 June 2005 at 2:41pm BST

"If we are out of continuity with (and to a large dgree in dispute with) other Machiavellians, then that makes us not Machiavellians. If we are out of continuity with (or in dispute with) star-worshippers, then we're not likely to claim to be star-worshippers ourselves. Isnt that common sense?"

No; it conflates and mistakes "continuity" with "sameness."

10th century France is continuous with 15th century France, and both are continuous with 21st century France -- yet they are all definitely not identical, and differ in significant ways. Who I was at 10 years old is not who I am now at 50, and neither is the same as who I will be at 80, whether mentally, spiritually, or physically (even at the cellular level!) -- yet there is nonetheless a continuity in my personality.

And what then of modern North and South Korea, or the former East and West Germany? Which is the "real" Korea, and which was the "real" Germany? Each of them in fact represents a society that is continuous with historical Korea or Germany, and yet that manifested in a distinctly different modern expression from each other. Or let's move it into the Church -- is The Church of the Apostles now authentically manifest in *only* Orthodoxy, or *only* Roman Catholicism, or *only* Anglicanism, or *only* Protestantism?

Evolutionary and dynamic continuity, unlike static sameness that ignores undeniable changes in place and time, allows that today's X may have significant differences outwardly from yesterday's and tomorrow's X's, yet nonetheless manifests authentically a continuing core in that same way that we can speak of a "France" over time. It also allows that there may be more than one X existing in parallel, at the same time, each of them an authentic expression of the continuum of X, yet perhaps radically different from each other in some important ways.

For those caught in the middle of the current Anglican skirmishes between the two extremes, herein lies the difficulty: that of seeing how valid and authentic *both* extremes are as manifestations of Anglican Christianity. Yet that does not necessarily incline us toward ecclesiological neutrality, for it is only one of the extremes -- namely, the traditionalist one -- that denies to the other extreme even the basic dignity of being deemed "Christian," and thereby fails the agape test.

In such a situation, it makes more sense to cast one's lot in with those who do not deny their brotherhood with their brother.

Posted by Scotus at Thursday, 9 June 2005 at 11:05pm BST

In response to Christopher's question (9 June)- I can't speak for Mike, but he and I seem to share much the same position, so I'll try to answer your question from my experience in a different way from Scotus's excellent response (I couldn't put it so well).

We call ourselves 'Christian' because we, too, have met in Jesus of Nazareth 'I AM' (Exodus 3:13-14). We are drawn into 'the Way' to the Father and do our best to follow it even when it is shrouded in doubt and darkness.

Some of us prefer the doubt, the 'unknowing', to the certainty of clear rules and doctrine. The writer of 'The Cloud of Unknowing' calls this way of being a Christian 'the solitary life'. In following this road many of us have left the institutions, but it doesn't mean we don't care that some think we should be excluded. One thing this way of being Christian teaches you is that 'truth' is a very elusive idea.

Posted by Rodney McInnes at Friday, 10 June 2005 at 5:46am BST

Hi Scotus-
Denying anyone the label 'Christian' has no connection with the agape test, for several reasons:

(1) If I accede to the view that someone can be a member of a body by virtue of saying they are, then I am perpetuating an untruth, which would universally be agreed to be an untruth. I can say 'I am a member of the MCC' till I am blue in the face, but that won't stop me being barred from the pavilion.

(2) It is harmful to people to say that they can attain a status merely by wanting to attain it. It's a bit like the teacher who gives a pupil an A for simply writing their name on the exam paper. It's spoon-feeding, & cant prepare anyone for genuine challenges. But above all, it's untrue.

(3) It misunderstands the nature of love. It cant easily be loving to lie. What if they find out later that you were massaging the truth in order to gain popularity? Truth is the most loving course of action except in exceptional circumstances. Who was it said 'Honesty is the best policy'?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 10 June 2005 at 2:51pm BST

Hi Rodney-
Jesus-as-I-AM and Jesus-as-the-Way are both ideas we get from John's gospel.

I thought liberals were inclined to doubt the historicity of much even in the more historical gospels. How much more then (to be consistent) ought they to doubt it with regard to the least historical gospel, John?

If one's going to be pick and mix, one should 'pick' the passages with best claim to historicity. What must trouble anyone about liberal interpretation is that they often 'pick' the passages wherein Jesus is most like them: 'neither do I condemn you', 'Judge not', 'God is love'. This is, of course, a dishonest hermeneutic.

I doubt you would hold to such a hermeneutic, but I wonder how youd back up your choice of John-derived key principles.


Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 10 June 2005 at 2:58pm BST

Merseymike wrote:
"Sean ; ah yes, the Pete Broadbent position - liberal outside the church, conservative within - which I suppose is OK if you think like that."

My recollection is that when he was active in secular politics Pete Broadbent was a labour councillor, back in the pre-"Bliar" days when the Labour Party had some claim to be social democratic or maybe even socialist.

My position, strangely enough, is the same as Sean's. I might also add that, as a trade union activist, I have constantly supported the right of gay people to be free from discrimination in the workplace. Rather awkwardly, I am also an adherent of a revealed religion....

Posted by Alan Harrison at Friday, 10 June 2005 at 3:29pm BST

Hi Scotus

France is a political concept. It is France because of the historical continuity of it's politics from the original definition of France (originally the Frankish tribe round the Paris area I think).

There are some people in Switzerland and Belgium who speak French, are culturally close to the French and have French ancestors. But they are NOT in France, nor do they have French citizenship, even though they might want to be!

Christianity is a beliefs/morals concept. I think most TAs will see the parallels....

Posted by Dave at Friday, 10 June 2005 at 7:36pm BST

Dear DGus,
[What does D stand for? It feels awkward to have a conversation with an initial. Thanks]
This information comes from Biological studies. One good summary of this information can be found in Evolution's Rainbow by Joan Roughgarden.

Again we face the problem of what we mean by revealed truth. I think the truth God reveals to us can only be received within the limits of our current knowledge. I think this is one of the rationales for Hooker's notion of Scripture informed by reason. Are we not to continue gleaning deeper meanings from scripture as a result of new discoveries? In spite of what the Bible says, we no longer believe that the earth is flat with a dome [firmament] over it to prevent the waters above the earth from drowning it out. We need to remember the huge fight that the issue of a round earth created.

I do not believe that the Bible is a science text, and so we should not try to make it answer scientific questions. When the writers say that God made them male and female, they had no conception of the kind of information we now have. I agree that the story is just as plain as on of Kiplings Just So stories. But the question remains as to what point it is trying to make. It seems to me that the central point of the story is that 'it is not good for the earth creature to be alone'. Given the reference system of the ancient Middle East, and their need for reproduction [especially of males] it is not surprising that the only goal would be for mating and reproduction.

I think the question being answered by Lev. 18:22 is what do we do about someone who perverts their natural sexual attraction to waste their precious seed [which they understood to contain the whole human being] by engaging in sexual acts with another man. It seems evident that they had no conception of homosexual attraction and considered such activity as a perversion of what is normal/natural. I think this understanding is as mistaken as the notion of the earth being flat. Another piece of information which fills in some blanks is that the Philistines accepted homosexual activity. For Israelites, that would be reason enough to reject it. That also ties in with the whole notion of Gentiles being so corrupt at every level.

Your question about how we know Scripture tells us of God's eternal love is clearly rhetorical given your following comment, but you do raise an important point. How DO we know that the Bible is right when it tells us these things? Firstly, I must say that, for some, God being jealous, wrathful and angry is not inconsistent with God's love. Especially for the Israelites who considered God to be on their side and therefore in tune with their prejudices. I do think that they got some things wrong which they truly believed God wanted, eg murdering all the women and children of their enemies.

I know, for myself, that their experience of God's love is true because I have encountered that love for myself. I have tested their experience and found it true. That doesn't mean that I have found everything they experienced to be true. When I find in prayer and study, that something doesn't fit with my experience, then I need to consult with my faith community at all levels to make sure I'm not off track. That's one of the reasons I find the refusal of many to engage in dialogue so painful. We need to listen to one another as one part of the discernment process. On the other hand, neither do I read Jesus to have found everything the Israelites held to be true. While I believe God inspires sacred writing, I do not think that we need to take as true the boundaries of their knowledge. I believe that God continues to inspire and by the Spirit lead us into all truth. As an Anglican interpretation, I subscribe to the notion that 'all things necessary for Salvation are found in Scripture', but I do not believe that everything found in Scripture is necessary for Salvation.

I hope this helps you understand my position a little inspite of it being brief. I don't expect that you will agree with it all, but I do hope that we can both understand that we have a place together in the enfolding love of Christ.

Posted by Bob Webster at Friday, 10 June 2005 at 7:39pm BST

Thats up to you , Alan. I would prefer to be represented by someone who genuinely believes in equality and fairness. I think evangelical Christianity is inimical to both things; hence I don't believe in a 'revealed religion', I believe in a dynamic religion which urgently requires revision!

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 11 June 2005 at 1:02am BST

Merseymike wrote:
"I would prefer to be represented by someone who genuinely believes in equality and fairness. I think evangelical Christianity is inimical to both things"

I'm not sure why Merseymike doesn't think that I believe in equality and fairness. Maybe a couple of decades of trade union activity indicates the contrary, but I'll let that pass.

Nor do I quite understand the reference to "evangelical Christianity". I'm not an evangelical, but a thorough spike of the most papistical kind. What Merseymike and some others don't seem to take into account is that the "traditional" position extends well beyond "Anglican Extreme", evangelicalism, or even Anglicanism.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Monday, 13 June 2005 at 12:26pm BST

Oh, a Backwoods in Bigotry groupie, eh?

Does your lack of belief in equality extend to women in the church, as well as gays?

I'm glad you're not my trade union rep. I'd certainly stand against you if I were in your workplace. Conervative Christians of any description cannot be trusted to leave their religious dogmas behind them .

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 14 June 2005 at 11:59pm BST

Dear Bob Webster:

Hello. You asked, "What does D stand for?"

It's "David". I'm sorry for ignoring this post. I didn't see it until today. Did you maybe mean to put it in the Hooker thread? That conversation continues. See you there.

Posted by DGus at Wednesday, 15 June 2005 at 2:41pm BST
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