Comments: listening in Worcester

Liverpool did something similar, but I think it was an opportunity lost. A group of us, from very different backgrounds, met over a two year period, and produced a report at the end of it. Frankly, the report itself was nothing spectacular, but it did at least raise some points which could be future ways forward.

What I think would have made more impact were the pen-pictures or personal statements which were included - but which were removed from the final document for a number of entirely unsatisfactory reasons

The publication of the document, itself much delayed, was then followed up by some quite half hearted local events, with nowhere near enough time, attracting largely those who already knew their view, but numerically very few all told.

That was meant to be the start of a process, but it appears to have been the process in its entirety.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 12:31am BST

I like what the souls in Worcester are trying to do. I agree with their comments about sometimes plain nastiness on Thinking Anglicans (and this charge can sometimes be applied to myself as well as others).

The difficulty is that there are souls who are actually nasty, but only show their nastiness when their more covert methods of repression no longer work or at risk. That is my continuing fear with this period, that the conservative repressors will be "charming" and "co-operative", but in reality are waiting for a shift in the winds so they can revert to a more overt repressive strategy. In the meantime, there will be an element that may or may not even agree to some kind of dialogue, but will nitpick, stall and "edit" documents until they become meaningless. Merseymike's comments vis a vis Liverpool are one example.

Other examples of that kind of watering down, meaningless dialogue and bureacratic disembling can be found outside the Anglican Communion e.g. failing to achieve the breakthroughs that could have been possible from Kyoto, the G8 2005 debt relief, the United Nations. There are parties that it could be said have never openly defied these agreements or bodies. But, when all the gloss of politeness and dissembling is removed, have actively hindered and sabotaged anything that is seen to be a threat to their pecunariary or political interests.

The thing that stuns me is that there is sometimes a naivity that this is in the "best interests" of, say, their descendants. Yet, they are often funding failed paradigms by incurring debt that their descendants will have to pay, and they never seem to ponder whether ALL their descendants will be covered by the rewards of their endeavours e.g. they disown GLBTs as "not their own".

In some senses Hezekiah (see 2 Kings and Isaiah) had the wisdom to accept that peace meant accepting that some of his descendants were not going to be perfect. And before everyone complains that they would be carried off to Babylon, we have all been carried off to Babylon. Rediscovering Eden is going to involve accepting reality as it is and not nitpicking like the Accusser who is never satisfied with less than "perfection"

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 10:49am BST

Cheryl is referring to this document
http://www.cofe-worcester.org.uk/work_of_the_diocese/documents/Usefulresources.pdf
which lists TA among the resources.

I hadn't read that document before I wrote the article. :-(

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 11:10am BST

Western Newfoundland has been engaging in a dialogue process. About half the parishes did it as a Lenten study program, and some are doing it at other times. And of course there are a few who don't want to touch it.

There have been some charges (from both sides of the spectrum) about the materials being biased.

I had a dozen people participate in my parish. No minds were changed, but there was a good, healthy conversation, and a variety of viewpoints.

Posted by Jim Pratt at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 1:40pm BST

Surely Jesus is the truth (John 14:6) and through Jesus we know what love is (1 John 4).
If we are ‘Listening for the Truth in Love’ sueely we are not listening to each others ideas about the truth but to the One who is the truth and what He says?
As we already know what the debate is about.
When I see
"a lesbian/gay affirmative reading of Scripture" that suggests the Anglican churches reading of scripture is somehow not right or sufficient.
It also suggests that people are somehow classified by their sexual desires in order to be able to read the scripture, which seems to me once again contrary to the scripture which says we are now all one in Christ (Galatians 3:28)
Not sure what they are up to at Worcester.

Posted by davew at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 2:33pm BST

With some hesitation, given how quickly this debate usually heats up, I offer a few comments on one of the leaflets in the pack: "A lesbian/gay affirmative approach to Scripture". I have read this (and the leaflet of personal stories) because I want to listen. This is what I hear:

"In the Old Testament…the love of David and Jonathan, and of Ruth for Naomi … provide for male / male and female / female relationships models of fidelity, commitment and self-sacrificing devotion." Amen to that – without reservation.

As for "sexual connotations" in these relationships – may depend on what we mean by the phrase. Close, intimate same sex relationships I see no reason to think that Ruth engaged in sexual activity with her mother-in-law or David with Jonathan, let alone that the authors of the relevant texts would have condoned such activity. (Indeed, some "reappraisers" may want to argue that David and Jonathan would have been wrong to engage in same-sex lovemaking because they could not do so in the proper context, see below.)

The comments on Leviticus 18 are hermeneutically unsatisfactory. Does really everything depend on whether these practices were part and parcel of "heathen cultic practices" (a term that would not go down well in contemporary biblical scholarship)? Would we still have to be opposed to same-sex lovemaking, if biblical scholars concluded that they had nothing to do with "heathen cultic practices"? There are many cultic practices in Leviticus which have parallels in non-Israelite cults. So the question remains why some cultic practices were appropriated and others condemned. The (related?) hermeneutical question is how we discern which of the laws in Leviticus still reflect God’s will for us today and which do not. The traditional answer divides the law three ways. A succesful reappraisal will need to suggest an alternative hermeneutic or argue that same-sex lovemaking belongs to ritual rather than moral law. The latter seems to be the course pursued here but the fact that some people feel "revulsion at contemplating homosexual love-making" is not an argument for putting the relevant strictures in the "cultic" category, nor even the claim that homosexual activity was practiced in non-Israelite cults.

"Jesus in the Gospels says nothing about homosexuality" presumes too much. The question whether same-sex lovemaking can ever be legitimate depends on whether or not it falls in the category of "sexual immorality". There was much disagreement in first century Judaisms but not about the belief that "sexual immorality" included same-sex lovemaking and hence the first readers of Mark 7.21 // Mt 15.19 would have understood Jesus to talk about same-sex lovemaking implicitly; Jesus did nothing to correct such an understanding.

"The Greek translated ‘servant’ in [Mt 8.6] means ‘beloved boy’." Really? The Greek term is used for "a young person normally below the age of puberty, with focus on age rather than social status", often for "one’s own immediate offspring" (daughters as well as sons, by the way) or for "one who is committed in total obedience to another" (citing a standard dictionary). The claim that it means (!) "beloved boy" is entirely unfounded, notwithstanding the possibility that a Greek speaking paedophile or the more dominant of two gay partners could have used it with such a connotation (!).

The three comments made about three passages in Paul's letters really belong together to form one argument which could be summed up as: "The apostle is not homophobic in these passages; he was condemning something completely different." Given that the argument is linguistic and historical, it can be tested linguistically and historically. If this statement reflects a real commitment to such research, I am excited.

"Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." Amen to that. I am not sure I understand how precisely the application to homosexual love-making is made . Are we to understand that homosexual love-making used to be impure but now has been made clean by God? One could argue that previously it was not possible to engage in homosexual love-making morally because there was no way for two members of the same sex to live in a "stable, unique, faithful, mature, consensual, committed [sexually active] relationship"? Thus recent developments in Western societies provide a context in which homosexual love-making can now be declared "clean" (if engaged in as part of such relationships)?

A footnote: Not all "reasserters" feel "revulsion at contemplating homosexual love-making" and none would think that the call for chastity is a denial of intimacy with God. Indeed, "reappraisers" who believe that the purity of same-sex lovemaking depends on the availability of (the concept of, if not the legislation for) civil partnerships will themselves have to call for chastity in societies where such provision does not exist (while of course working towards making such provision available).

Posted by Thomas Renz at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 3:27pm BST

Part of the challenge of any listening process is demonstrated by TEC/ECUSA listening over the past 30 years or so. Many, many, many believers participated. Some did not. Of the TEC folks who opted out of all or part of that long-term listening process, some folks withdrew, some folks sat on various sidelines, some folks were sincerely ambivalent in their own minds and hearts, and some folks attended a few meetings only to confirm their earlier suspicions that listening would involve some sort of unwelcome and forbidden conversation across variant frameworks.

At first, the TEC conservatives were content to sit out the wider listening process, because after all, nobody was saying they didn't still belong to the national church or diocese, even if they still condemned and completely so. At first, those TEC folks seemed to take great comfort from being able to nourish their judgment, and that was all they seemed to need in order to continue, purely, uncontaminated by anything that has shifted or changed in our thinking about these hot button domains.

Now, the TEC people that declined to participate - or who participated, sitting rigidly only inside their one preferred condemnatory frame as if their life and being depended on it, are loudly proclaiming what they assert are the lessons about how listening is doomed to fail. We are told now that listening is useless, a distraction, and only results in new-fangled neo-pagan religion which cannot be trusted. This voice may speak in subtle and mild tones, or it may speak in bigger, totalistic tones which come perilously close to bearing false witness against any family that doesn't chain up their LGBTQ kids in the preferred conservative framework.

Such conservative believers may speak of being wounded in conscience, but we hardly ever go on to further discuss how that conscience is critically informed by the presupposition (and threatened loss) of an innate, traditional privilege to force their legal and penal frameworks upon others, believers and unbelievers alike. It appears that this is particularly the case in the hot button domain of sexuality, relationships, and human nature. So listening might fall short in that way. It is fashionable now for traditional believers to moan and wail that not being straight means not being godly. Anguished obsessions about other peoples' sex lives is somehow confused with a new piety, supposedly based on nothing but scripturally-grounded caring. If you push on that presupposition a bit, one may get such believers to shift to saying that non-straight people can be equally godly provided they discipline their bodies via a preferred ascetic lifelong commitment never to be close in any embodied way to any object of their serious affections. Decode that one, and you get the common sense conservative view that, actually, it is quite lamentably all right to have underground LGBTQ folks sneaking around in subterranean night venues where transience and neglect ensure suffering.

(In the old, old days of college/church workshops, when the TEC listening process was just getting off the ground, the common complaint was the Queer Folks didn't settle down into committed relationships that could offer something good to the wider neighborhood. Now, of course, that alternative partner/family life still is discussed as part of their innate filth and danger. The point? Nothing LGBTQ Folks may do will ever be credited by such believers, because the unspoken context that we all know in our bones in all about privilege to condemn. Always lingering behind the shoulders of this narrative is the entirely traditional threat that force can and will be used, if privilege to condemn is not sustained.)

One can hardly avoid getting the point: If LGBTQ embodiment does not mean suffering, above all, then what good is it?

Thus do the traditional believers in their journeys pass by the woman lying in the ditch who has been robbed and beaten by thieves - and their preferred theology prolongs her poverty and her agony by dressing it all up in the Opus Dei-like piety of how blessed suffering always is, no matter what. Something similar may be at work when we get to the odd conclusions that it is morally better to kill yourself and others with HIV/AIDS than it would be to use a condom. Both obviously fall short of abstinence, and so can be defined in a certain Opus-Dei-like way as immoral.

There are deep irrational allegiances taking place in these views, and all the later rationalizations of the earlier irrational commitments cannot quite get to the point of their origins. What a difficult dilemma for listening, then. No wonder even listening may be imperfect, and all.

Still. Perhaps TEC is better off, having done the listening over the past three or four decades that it actually did. Listening is not always useless, and it may be transformative. That is the hope of family therapy.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 4:13pm BST

A big thank you to Thomas Renz for detailing those lesbian/gay views to references.
Sadly all those views are assumptions and merely part of the existing debate and not new evidence against the church's view.
That would leave the whole argument based on David and Johnathan having had sex. The problem with this assumption is that David also had sexual relations with many women but as we know Jesus said that this was not God’s purpose in creation either Matthew 19, Mark 10, 1 Corinthians 6, Ephesians 5 and Hebrews 13 all reference Genesis 2.
The lesbian/gay assumptions look to be at odds with what the Bible says elsewhere, in fact at odds with the Anglican Communion’s views as Lambeth 1.10.
The other problem is that the Leviticus and Paul references refers to homosexual practice as pagan and not of God’s people. That’s why Paul writes to the churches in Rome and Corinth where Greek and Roman homosexual practices occur and not just temple and cultic.
Furthermore as I have said is that there are celibate homosexually orientated Christians in the church who believe the church’s view as in Lambeth 1.10. So a lesbian/gay view isnt really representative of the churchs view anyway. Indeed are we not who we are in Christ? Whoever decided to classify people by their sexual desires?

Posted by DaveW at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 5:26pm BST

Dave W. - "a lesbian/gay affirmative reading of Scripture" is an attempt to read Scripture in such a way that same-sex lovemaking (in the right circumstances) can be affirmed as good without being unfaithful to God's Word. Anyone can engage in such a reading regardless of sexual orientation. While "a lesbian/gay affirmative reading of Scripture" can be an exercise in rebellion against God, it does not have to be.

Such attempts are heuristically useful when our experience or gut feeling or whatever else suggests that there is something wrong with the traditional reading. Of course, it may turn out that there is something wrong with our gut feeling and the way we frame our experience but unless we read Scripture through this different set of lenses, we may not find out whether it is a feasible way forward or not.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 5:40pm BST

Simon asks what other dioceses are doing. The diocese of Toronto began holding our version of the listening process, the Same-sex Consultations, in 2004. The materials and some explanation of the process is linked at http://www.toronto.anglican.ca/index.asp?navid=149.

This is part of a wider consultation in the Anglican Church of Canada, leading up to a major discussion of the issue at the next General Synod (2007). In the wake of the decision by the diocese of New Westminster to allow for a "local option" for parishes to hold blessings for same-sex unions, several other dioceses considered the same sort of resolution. In the two cases I recall, Niagara voted for local option but the diocesan bishop withheld his consent and Toronto agreed to table the resolution until there was some consensus on whether dioceses had the authority to procede on their own on this question.

At GS 2004, this question of 'jurisdiction' was referred to the Primate's Theological Commission: New West had argued that blessing same-sex unions was a primarily pastoral question that could be resolved at the diocesan level, not a doctrinal matter that required a decision of General Synod and a change to the canons. So in '04 the PTC was asked to give its opinion on that matter. Its answer was laid out in the St Michael Report, which concluded that it was a matter of doctrine, and called for a broad consultation and discussion across the whole Anglican Church of Canada. Subsequently the PTC has been making widely available a series of discussion papers which, along with the St Michael Report itself, are to form the basis for that consultation and discussion. Exactly what will happen at GS 2007 is not clear, but at the very least, the St Michael Report will be put before Synod. The work of the PTC, the report, and the discussion papers are linked at http://www.anglican.ca/primate/ptc/index.htm.

I think we have the right process in train at the moment and pray that we will be able to go forward together as a church. We are in a unique position in the Anglican Communion right now in that civil marriages in Canada can now take place either between couples of the same sex or couples of both sexes. Presently the ACC may bless the civil marriage of a heterosexual couple but not the civil marriage of a homosexual couple. Obviously things can go several ways at this point: we could continue with the status quo; we could authorise the blessing of all civil marriages; or we could open up the Marriage Canon for debate and consider the possibility of same-sex marriages in the ACC, such as the United Church of Canada already performs. Which ever way it goes, coming to a decision that everyone can live with is going to be very hard, possibly impossible; I think some form of 'local option' is going to be necessary.... Right now I think the most important thing is for voices on every side to continue to be heard in the consultation and debate.

Posted by Abigail Ann Young at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 6:09pm BST

Oh, drdanfee, you are so right on every single point. Someday someone will get around to pointing out that the problem is not one of theology or morality or even Scripture. It is a problem of psychology! And of the projections and "ick"factor that underly virtually all opposition to gay unions.

It is simply psychologically clear that opposition to gay unions NEVER starts with Scripture or classical morality or Christian tradition. It starts with socially-justified homophobia in some form which is then further "justified" by pleas to Scripture and tradition. (Literally no one is committed to following Scripture by the letter and no one lets tradition stand in the way of a change which s/he sees is to her/his benefit; e.g. divorce, usury, slavery, voluntary poverty, etc.)

Approval of such gay unions harms no one, asks nothing of others (except social and ecclesiastical recognition), requires no universal embrace by others (or by other Provinces), is a matter of free-choice for the couple involved, forces no one to do anything. And it reduces promiscuity, the use and abuse of others, provides the possibility of fruitful relationships, and reduction the suicidal (or psychogenic) repression of the need for gays and lesbians to love another person.

Finally, there can be no question in the mind of any sociologically sensitive person that such approval of gay unions is working its way up from underground in all societies, and will eventually be broadly and generally accepted. One can hold back the river, but only for so long before it finally spills over.

Posted by John-Julian, OJN at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 6:41pm BST

I participated in a "Listening Process"-type event in a nearby (TEC) diocese, about 3 years ago. (It took the form of a debate, "Pro" and "Con", between two priests, neither of whom was himself gay).

The thing that was striking to me, was how the "Con" priest said nothing that actually *engaged* what the "Pro" priest said (close readings of Scripture, mainly, combined w/ a little bit of social-psychology vis-a-vis "sexual orientation").

Instead, Father Con just offered patently *pseudo*-science (e.g. "Most of those who described themselves being unhappy being gay, and therefore tried to change, then reported that they did in fact do so!" I think he really should have added a "Ta-da!!!!" flourish at the end... ;-/)

...and then he did the classic "Ick Factor" rhetorical technique I call "Going for the Rectum": describe anal sex in great detail. With an entire audience *squirming*, how then could we possible ponder ANYTHING in rationally (much less prayerfully) kind of way?

[Nevermind that not all gay men have/WANT to have anal sex. Nevermind that few lesbians do. Nevermind that probably MOST acts of anal sex in the world, occur *between men and women*. Nevermind the cultural context of those Scripture condemnations *of* anal sex. Whatever---just keep squirming, and all those "neverminds" vanish in a Sea of Ick...]

All that said: this "Listening Process", was better than Nothing (because I know of at least a couple of people who saw THROUGH the "Going for the Rectum"-technique, by the, um, end! *g*)

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 6:59pm BST

In response to exegesis of Mt 8.6 - aside from the fact that Thomas's claims are claims for the authority of the lexicon to which he refers rather than to scripture directly (and this is often missed in analysing the sources of authority on which we rely in interpretation) -

I wish I could be so certain. The sentence 'I went to a gay party' known to come from the 20th century and written in English is ambiguous, though all the words in it are short and straightforward.

Add to that the human tendency to euphemism, not absent from Greek, and though my inclination is to agree on the interpretation of this particular passage as not having homosexual connotations - I would be wary of writing the possibility off altogether on the basis of the textual evidence.

This would be especially true because we have a tendency to suppress subversive meanings of texts when we do not agree with them. But they might just be God's word for us, so they are worth noting - just as the principle in recovering the original text of scripture from fragments is, all else being equal, to prefer the more difficult reading.

Posted by Mark at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 7:04pm BST

I agree with both JJ and drdanfee.

I think the problem is already being seen. There isn't really any intention to listen.

Perhaps the question is more, that, knowing each others perspectives, is there any way we can co-exist alongside one another, accepting that neither 'side' is prepared to change their view?

We can argue about the substantive issue forever and get nowhere.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 7:46pm BST

Perhaps I should remind those present about the German Lutheran 1580 Books of Concord, namely the Formula concordiae, article V.

On law and the Gospel.

Status controversiae:

“The issue here is whether preaching the Holy Gospel really is simply the preaching of Grace for the Forgiveness of Sins or, equally, the preaching of Repentance and Punishment, punishing unbelief, as if this would be punished not by law, but only through the Gospel.” *

Positiva: particularly points 1., 2., 6.,

Negativa: particularly point 1.

* (roughly rendered from the 2nd edition of the 1944 Swedish unofficial (= Pietist) translation from the 1930 German “Urtext”.)


Thomas Renz wrote: “As for "sexual connotations" in these relationships – may depend on what we mean by the phrase. Close, intimate same sex relationships I see no reason to think that Ruth engaged in sexual activity with her mother-in-law or David with Jonathan, let alone that the authors of the relevant texts would have condoned such activity.”

Yes indeed, it depends on what you “mean by the phrase”, and on what you “see any reason to think”, and what you think the authors “would have condoned” ;=)

Thomas Renz wrote: “The (related?) hermeneutical question is how we discern which of the laws in Leviticus still reflect God’s will for us today and which do not.”

As you know, the Lutheran tradition says a clear No: “In this discussion we mean by the law the Ten Commandments. Of the ceremonial law and civil legislation we speak not, at present”. The Apology, Art. VI. (translated from the same as above)

“The traditional answer divides the law three ways.”

The same. Ceremonial, Civil and Moral are later (Scholastic) categories i m p o s e d on the text. Not valid.

Thomas Renz wrote: “nor even the claim that homosexual activity was practiced in non-Israelite cults.”

Robert A.J. Gagnon claims this in The Bible and Homosexual Practice, page 100-110. Admittedly his method of cutting and pasting is a bit bizarre, but his references may be looked up and sourced explored.

Thomas Renz wrote: "Jesus in the Gospels says nothing about homosexuality" presumes too much. The question whether same-sex lovemaking can ever be legitimate depends on whether or not it falls in the category of "sexual immorality".


There is no such category in the Bible. “Sexual immorality” is a false and misleading rendering of porneía; sacral prostitution, found in late modern (English speaking) Calvinist translations.

Again; “moral” and “immorality” are Scholastic concepts. Not in the Bible.

Thomas Renz wrote: “There was much disagreement in first century Judaisms but not about the belief that "sexual immorality" included same-sex lovemaking…”

As per above, no this is not possible. You’re not per chance talking of poor self-hating Philo of Alexandria or double renegade “Flavius” Josephus, né Cohen, are you? Sources and quotes, please!

Thomas Renz wrote: “… and hence the first readers of Mark 7.21 // Mt 15.19 would have understood Jesus to talk about same-sex lovemaking implicitly; Jesus did nothing to correct such an understanding.”

As per above, no this is not possible. Again this is not about what t h e y understood or didn’t, but of what you understand. Mark 7.21-22 gives the most central of the 10 Commandments:

20. … What goes out from humans is what (konoî) denigrates humans. 21. From within, yes from their harts of humans, from thought, from the meditation of evil; sacral prostitution (1st), stealth [of humans for the slave trade] (8th), [“honour”] killings [of Household members] (5th), 22. disloyalty [towards the Household/group] (7th), Greed [10th] …

(To the difference of Paul in e.g. 1 Cor 6.9-11, the five Commandments here do not come in order).

No way to make this address “same-sex sex”, if indeed this was not included ritually in sacral prostitution. But then it is neither our modern, nor our late modern category of “homosexuality”, but something about impurity, having to do with “men who have sex with men” (koítän gunaikós; in the Bed of the wife), but do n o t define themselves as “homosexual” – a different thing altogether.

Thomas Renz wrote: "The Greek translated ‘servant’ in [Mt 8.6] means ‘beloved boy’." Really? The Greek term is used for "a young person normally below the age of puberty, with focus on age rather than social status", often for "one’s own immediate offspring" (daughters as well as sons, by the way) or for "one who is committed in total obedience to another" (citing a standard dictionary). The claim that it means (!) "beloved boy" is entirely unfounded, notwithstanding the possibility that a Greek speaking paedophile or the more dominant of two gay partners could have used it with such a connotation (!).”

Pre modern society was built on power relations: Senior => junior. Subordination. This was considered necessary for stabilitas. As long as there was Subordination, everything went.

Up to the middle of the 19th century industrialized West, there was one human race; one mankind, made up of the perfect male (wearing hat and sword), less perfect (but still male) eunoxoi/celibatarians, even less perfect females (lacking…) and children (all wearing frocks).

Equality, if not mutuality, was a scandal.

The latter category – pais in Greek – included Slaves: "one who is committed in total obedience to another" (citing a standard dictionary).”

Slave – as in “Boy” for native servant in the Colonies or Garçon for a French waiter or Doulé (the other word for Slave) for a Greek one. Just check any American oldie from the 1930ies!

In Modernity, the perception of the one human race changed to 2 symmetrically opposite “genders” – with children somewhere to the side…

So there you are. You cannot make (based on your limited modern experience) the Bible to speak about your limited experiences of today’s egalitarian world, when it in fact addresses the very different facts of Life of the pre modern world.

The pais of the Roman centurion was his Slave, his ADC, his “calfactor”. What was included in that (well into this century) any historian can tell you.

Which bring us back to your proposition “The (related?) hermeneutical question is how we discern which of the laws in Leviticus still reflect God’s will for us today and which do not.”

And that is indeed the issue. Not the Bible, not the Creeds, not Salvation (not even Calvinist “Transformation”), but “which of the laws in Leviticus still reflect God’s will for us today and which do not.”

As a former Lutheran you know the Lutheran answer. They don’t.

And – unless God has indeed whispered “his will” in your ear – I'll stick to that.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 8:14pm BST

Mark - my appeal is not to the authority of "the lexicon" but to the evidence itself (how the term is used) which is conveniently summarised in a dictionary such as BDAG. The Greek word in question is indeed very common and its meaning is not considered uncertain. General terms can of course take on special connotations if used in specific contexts but the Gospel of Mark does not signal such a specific context.

The authors of the leaflet make two claims: first that the Greek term means "beloved boy" (i.e., is a term of endearment) and secondly that the term may refer to a homosexual relationship in this passage. No evidence is presented for the former and no argument for the latter. Maybe "it's the thought that counts"...

Posted by Thomas Renz at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 9:21pm BST

Re: "There isn't really any intention to listen"

Merseymike:

You are right and the situation works both ways. The reason is that both sides are already apprised of the chief points of the other's cases and have found them unconvincing.

I, for one, find the "evidence" (and I use the term lightly) adduced by the "reappraisers" to be insufficient, misconstrued and/or completely and patently absurd. Never was so much made of so little, Biblically speaking. This twaddle is ludicrous.

On the other hand, "reappraisers" act and respond exactly the same way to anyone who tries to convince them that their viewpoint is incorrect. They have no more intention, desire or willingness to "listen" (i.e., change their viewpoint) than has their opposition--even after they have "heard" what the other side has to say.

And, the idea that "listening" means you listen to what one side has to say interminably until you change your mind is ludicrous--to both sides. Frankly, both sides have had plenty of chance to "hear" the arguments and have already made up their minds. At some point people have to be treated as rational spiritual beings that have the ability and right to make up their own minds on such issues.

This has been going on long enough. More "listening" processes are meaningless and ultimately do nothing to advance the cause of a civil and Godly separation.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 10:36pm BST

J.C. Fisher writes

"I participated in a "Listening Process"-type event in a nearby (TEC) diocese, about 3 years ago. (It took the form of a debate, "Pro" and "Con", between two priests, neither of whom was himself gay)."

So in fact this was not a "listening process" event. The listening process involves listening to the lived experience of lesbians and gay men. But what J.C. Fisher describes is a debate betwem two straight male priests about homosexuality and theology - which is something else entirely.

Why were gay or lesbian Christians not on the stage being listened to?

Simon

Posted by simon dawson at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 10:48pm BST

If I might, as one of the team that produced the pack, offer some comments, they would be these:
First, just to clear it up, TA gets praised as a resource, but people are given an "advisory" warning about *some* of the comments, even so, debate here is a lot less virulent than in many places, and more open-minded. On that point (and partly in response to Cheryl) I think there is something about both the lack of face-to-face and the ability to respond speedily (and posibly unthinkingly) about the web that promotes the quick dissing of other people and their views.
Second, I hope that those who use the pack will take it as a whole. Some, for example, of the hermeneutical problems that Thomas Renz raise, do get addressed in the longer booklet that focusses particularly on the hard texts about homosexual acts, although people are encouraged to think this through for themselves, rather than being told what to think.
Third, the pack is primarily aimed at those who have not (unliike most contirbutors here) engaged with the question at all.
Finally, the group did represent the diversity / opposition of view expressed here among themselves, while still being able to listen to each other as Christians in good faith. Where a case is argued for, it is argued for by someone who believes it, not someone else caricaturing it. That does not mean it is necessarily the best or only or even right case to be made, merely that the group agreed with it being a fair and reasoned case from scripture.
I'll be interested to see what other responses there are.

Posted by Doug Chaplin at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 11:25pm BST

If I understand Thomas Renz's point re: Mark, it is that Jesus never corrected a point that nobody raised therefore we can be sure that He clearly thought it essential and about it, said exactly _________.

This is a bit absurdist; but perhaps I have just failed to understand. In light of Goran's responses however I don't see how that is.

We have had this exchange before and I am surprised that the argument about Mark is so weak.

A better approach might be to answer why we mustn't suggest that the Lord Himself said not one word about this that can be clearly and unequivocally referenced; not one.

Let us argue for a moment that He did not say one word explicitly about this. What path then?

Posted by RMF at Monday, 17 July 2006 at 11:36pm BST

Good question, Simon D (unfortunately, I don't know the answer)

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 12:52am BST

The proposed "listening" is rather like intentional non-violence. Both Gandhi and M.L. King, Jr. based their ideas on the concept that all people have somewhere in their make-up an inclination to goodness, and if their "foes" refuse to fight or even use violent language, that inherent goodness will be tapped, and sympathy result.

The same idealism lies behind the idea of "listening" to gays and lesbians. It is based on the belief that if virulent anti-gays can actually hear the personal pain and personal despair (and even suicide) that gay-bashing produces in real brother/sister Christians, they will back off and be at least a bit more tolerant and accepting of the inherent decency of committed Christian GLBT's. I have seen it often when a strongly anti-gay person hears and sees the sobbing decent young gay man describing years of mistreatment, degradation, and attacks that a change happens.

This ultimately may not actually change anyone's mind, but it may at least produce a gentler sympathy and temper some of the gay-bashing.

This is what often happens, for instance, when a very straight Christian father discovers his Christian son is gay – and hears what the son has suffered as a result. It is the personal experience that "brings it home" and tends to temper the hatred and repulsion.

I think the time of tossing proof-texts back and forth is totally and completely unproductive, since those proof texts are only ex post facto justifications for personal prejudice, anyway.

And the degenerate and discreditable discussion of genital details is nothing more than a true straw man. In 13 years as a psychotherapist, I heard of more anal intercourse instances between men and women (usually by the man's demand and the woman's repulsion) than ever between two men or two women.

Posted by John-Julian at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 1:00am BST

Doug ; I hope that you find that you can engage those people - that wasn't the experience here. I think, frankly, that the issue seriously bothers only a small and vociferous minority with others willing to live and let live. I think that having a bishop who is known for a non-orthodox view may make the process easier in terms of opening up debate.

Steven ; as you know I agree with what you have said from the opposite perspective, as I find the 'reasserter' evidence simply outdated and unwilling to accept the limitations of the authors and cultural containment of the Bible alongside contemporary insights on the topic of sexuality - but you know I think that anyway.

If the outcome of listening is that we all agree to disagree but agree to co-exist, then there may be some purpoise in that process. I think that liberals/reappraisers could probably live with that view as long as ours was awarded parity. However, I don't think conservatives are able to cope with diversity - so, given that there will be no change of mind, what is the point of the listening process? I think it has polarised views if anything.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 1:03am BST

Forget the Bible for 5 minutes, will you and your hermaneutics. (I always wonder whats going on when anglicans start quoting the Bible :-)

There are real people out there with lives to live and stories to tell. Listen maybe to these living epistles.

Engage with people for Christ's sake - and ours.
I say ours because we and I include myself in this, are real people, not abstractions, or theories. If your Bible reading can't fit me in or us in--what do you expect me to do ? I rather suspect that if only we would suffer in silence, as in the good old days, you could go on in denial, and feel okay about things. (Meanwhile taking all that the lgbt communities lavish upon churches and communities.

I write as a lifelong Bible reader (but didn't deveolp the practice in the C of E, goes without saying; and a recipient of treatment that has hurt me. As the aging process continues, I wouldnt mind some peace and quiet ! :-) That is to live in peace, without comment from others, without attacks, and without being required to justify my existence. Straight folks gonna have to start taking responsibility & working things out for yourselves.

BTW

Civil Partnership booked for our 33rd Anniversary in August and a Meeting for Worship at the meeting house :-) You are invited to share our joy in your heart ....

Posted by Laurence parod Roberts at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 10:33am BST

I can't find any reference in the Worcester Diocese pack, especially in the "Songs of Experience" paper, to anyone who, like myself and many others, has exited homosexuality. Frankly, I find *that* lack of listening disturbing.

Posted by Peter O at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 10:35am BST

To Göran Koch-Swahne
Dear Goran, Thomas Renz made a good point
>
Why would one read the Bible from one’s point of view, surely we read the Bible to get God’s point of view and we have the Holy Spirit to help.

When you say “Sexual immorality” is a false and misleading rendering of porneía, I am afraid I think that's way out and goes against almost all scholarly views.
In fact Jesus makes it clear when He refers to a man woman union as God’s creative purpose Genesis 2, Matt 19, Mark 10, and the breaking of that by moichia and pornea In fact Jesus also refers to the sins Matthew 15 and Mark 7. One can call it sexual immorality or what ever one likes but fornication or sexual activity outside marriage si what it is.described as and referred to throughout the NT. The NT describes to us the meaning of many words.
Matt Matt 5:32, 15:19, 19:9, Mark 7:21, John 8:41, Acts 21:25,15:20,15:29, 1 Cor 5:1, 1 Cor 6:13-18, Gal 5:19, Eph 5:3, Col 3:5, Rom 1:29, 1 Th 4:3, Rev 2:21, Rev 9:21, Rev 14:8, Rev 17:2, Rev 17:4, Rev 18:3
To name but a few

Also Paul received his revelation from the risen Lord and so what he writes is from Jesus. However even an independent academic could see that Paul would have known the Jewish law and view that same-sex sex was wrong and pagan, he knew same-sex sex practice occurred in Roman and Greek society and culture both in cultic and social contexts, in pederasty and in pleasure.

As to Matt 8.6, and the claim that it means "beloved boy" is entirely unfounded,
How come. Matthew uses this word elsewhere for God referring to Jesus this is His son with whom he is well pleased. Jesus calls Him the Father.

Posted by DaveW at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 10:36am BST

A simple question about listening:

First, hands up all those 'reappraisers' posting here who are prepared to become 'reasserters' if persuaded by the listening process.

My question: Who is listening to whom?

Posted by John Richardson at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 1:15pm BST

Merseymike:

In terms of the polarizing of views--agreed. To this I would add--increasing of hostility and bad attitudes.

After a person has given it their best shot, with all reasonableness, and the other side continues not only to disagree, but to disagree vehemently and call you names in the process, something snaps. This is just human nature. "Reappraisers" get more unhappy with the folks who continue to think their position is a crock. Likewise, "Reasserters" get increasingly unhappy with the folks that won't "listen" to them.

For the majority "listening" is merely one more source of continuing exasperation and irritation. In general it ends up creating more bad feelings and increases the friction and conflict inevitable in any separation of this type.

This battle is already over. Minds are already made up. The time for more "discussions" is over. Let's get the dividing up done, and try to do it with equity, fairness and as much grace as we can still manage after so many years of "listening"!

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 2:00pm BST

I don't really think we should be giving space to those who glorify lies and repression, Peter. I think it vital that people are encouraged to be themselves, not attempt to be something they are not. There are people who are bisexual who are able to sublimate part of themselves which in terms of monogamous and faithful relationships generally doesn't cause a problem, but as Jeremy marks pointed out, the number of people who genuinely 'change' orientation is marginal - he never came across any in his many years of working in the ex-gay movement.

As much as they may deny it when in the state of denial, only they know the truth of who they are - and happily, most do come to accept and like themselves without the need for repression.

I don't think we should be giving space or credibility to practices of psychological oppression.

Incidentally, I wonder if people know just how small these groups are in the UK? And getting smaller, as gay people find levels of acceptance much higher and have the sense to avoid a hpmophobic and unwelcoming Church.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 3:10pm BST

Yet again the conservative discussion boils down to: My way - which is God's way - or the highway. From any of the available alternative points of view, there is more than one strictly conformed way to read scripture. That is what makes inquiry and discernment into our, yes I said that on purpose, our readings of scripture so very, very important.

The moment that one claims to have gotten a final, complete take on scripture as God wrote it - one is treading on risky ice floes, indeed. On the surface one seems to claim that one is finally on sure and settled grounds. What could be more final, more complete than the author's intentions?

In reality, beneath this placid and self-satisfied surface of heavenly and earthly certainty, one is covertly disavowing responsibility for one's own role in how that scripture comes to be read; and presuming that God is the author of one's reading to the extent that one is simply repeating, verbatim as it were, what God means.

There are any number of good cautions about believers taking this approach. People of a reformed church heritage in Anglicanism might read Professor Jack Roger's book. (Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality. John Knox Westminster Press.) He has a chapter summarizing the key elements of a reformed church reading tradition.

Caution One. We have good evidence from real church/world history. People who take this approach to reading scripture often have historically justified things which we either now find completely curious and culture-bound, or things which we find unethical. This historical list is quite long and open-ended as we continue to the present. It may include famous moments in traditional believer discernment, in support of flat earth theory, demon possession causing physical and mental illness, sex acts causing crop failure and stillborn cattle, legal prohibitions on criticizing kings or popes, hunting down witches and killing them, racial-ethnic inferiority and institutions of slavery or indentured servitude, bans on women getting education (let alone entering professions), strict child raising methods that demean and inhibit the sense of wonder, and ... well, add on your favorite oddity from this history.

Caution Two. We have some internal indications from new conservative views themselves, insofar as they wish to read this part of the scripture quite flexibly and in context; while they wish to read that other part of scripture quite plainly - in either no context at all which they have bothered to scrutinize, or in a carefully narrow and abstracted context which they have internally derived from sitting inside their own presuppositional frames. Run a Google or other search on presuppositional approaches to reading scripture. There is hardly any self-scrutiny available from inside that presuppositional frame. But it is picking and choosing, not least its starting presuppositions. Its later claims - that is it only listening to God speak with particularly clear ears and nothing but a faithful mind and heart and body - serve mainly to cover up the presuppositional business going on, underneath its interpretive strategies. Just noticing this internal contradiction clue, without our quite knowing whose power and purposes it might serve, would maybe light a yellow caution light.

Caution Three. When any hermeneutical-interpretive frame operates this way, by consistently making it more difficult for us to scrutinize and examine its own ways of working, surely we have to look a bit deeper into what is going on and see if we can discern what the payoffs might be, for the frame carrying on this way. So far I have yet to find any new conservative believer who will do anything to respond to this particular intellectual or interpretive difficulty. You typically get a response that boils down to: God says this or that, period. Ignoring self-scrutiny of one's own methods and their customary interpretational functions, however, is the point. So the sidestepping continues, so far. Among the very scripture readers who most loudly claim to have nothing hidden going on.

Caution Four. We have some indication from scripture itself, in at least two areas. Firstly, scripture itself describes how the apostolic church (whose only scripture was the Old Testament, by the way) struggled with circumcision, inclusion of the Gentiles, and the keeping of Covenant Law. None of these hot button topics were without significant controversy in their own era. Each posed the difficult question of continuing to hear God speak via the Covenant and Law given to Moses, or adopt this new fangled thing called following Jesus as the Risen Lord. Scripture seems to tell us that the innovators and revisionists won out, back then. How did Peter change his mind about the Gentile House of Cornelius? Did he go back to scripture in his Old Testament and find some clue in the prophets? Not so far as scripture describes what happened. Peter was praying and got a direct revelation from God that the Gentiles were no longer innately unclean. Even though both the available scripture and the long-standing Jewish tradition plainly said so, without any doubts.

Secondly, we have Jesus' own witness in the New Testament. Jesus proclaims that the embodiment of God has arrived, the kingdom feast is now open, and that all sabbaths are made to flexibly nourish humanity according to humanity's needs and situations and necessities - not the other way round. This is still an awfully startling claim. We mostly carry on as if Jesus had never said it. We mostly continue to live as if rigidly keeping all sabbaths were the point of our salvation, from a conservative or traditional point of view.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 3:21pm BST

No Steven, it's not over. You forget the forged translations. It will be long and painful.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 5:38pm BST

Over the last 500 years or so, we have had the gradual acceptance of solutions to the question of Usury or Interest and to “the particular problem” of Slavery – with that of the position of Women (horizontal or vertical) well under way.

The one on human sexuality (sodomia) slowly starting – and indeed experiencing some outreach from Ecumenism towards other religions (Jews, Muslims).

The only thing lacking in order to complete the full reversal of the 6 Phantom-categories of Laterans I-IV are the Lepers – and very few Christians today argue that the sick are Sinners who enjoy their just deserts.

In fact, European law post WW2, largely protects the 6 Phantom-categories expressly invented and selected for persecution by the Lateran councils, to keep the majority in fold...

Now, all these changed have come about ad hoc; prompted by hazards of the day, but it seems the Time has come to take a fuller grip of these experiences; to combine the stories of these glorious Emancipations see and evaluate the points and patterns of how they came about, to appreciate and learn just how they managed thwart the ambitions of 2 Millennia of Neo Platonism.

In short to learn for the future the lessons of how we should live Life together as a Church, the Life given to us all by God in his good Creation, seeing Christ in our Sisters and our Brothers, in all created beings, and in all things visible and invisible.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 6:01pm BST

Merseymike:

I disagree with your post to Peter. It is true that the viewpoint of ex-gays is often suppressed in this age of political correctness, but that doesn't mean they have any less right to express their views and be "listened" to than anyone else in a church-wide process.

After all, isn't that what this "listening" is all about?--compassionately letting everyone have their say, and have their say, and have their say, and have their say . . . . . ad infinitum (or ad nauseum as the case may be).

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander in the "listening" process. If one groups gotta have their say, the others deserve equal time.

John Richardson:

Hoot! Fat chance! Don't hold your breath while you're waiting! (Which is not to say that I think you would).

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 6:24pm BST

Dear friends,

Since when did "listening" become "people are expected to switch to one side or the other"? My understanding of listening is to get us all to come back to the table together, appreciating (not tolerating, appreciating) the giftedness of one another as we are, and to remain at the table, unchanged perhaps in our points of view, but changed inwardly in unconditional love, through the power of the Holy Spirit. If, in listening, someone "converts" to a side different from the one from which they began, fine. I've been present twice when just such a conversion happened to persons previously devoted to a strict Levitical point of view regarding gay persons. But that's not what I expect from listening.

Here's an example of what listening looks like to me: I have a life story. In that life story I have experienced the love of Jesus Christ, and have had a conversion of life that leaves me with a "minority" understanding of salvation, totally biblical and in the historic tradition, but deemed by many as heretical. (George McDonald was drummed out of the ordained ministry in Scotland many years ago for this view of salvation.) My understanding comes from my direct experience of Jesus saving of me personally. I don't expect many people to come to this understanding of salvation from listening to my story. In fact, many people tell me that I have gotten my experience all wrong, as though they know better than I do what my experience was. But that's exactly my point. It's my story. My experience. Not theirs. All I ask is that my story be heard, listened to, and accepted as my experience of God. Not agreed with as the one and only understanding of salvation. Simply accepted as my valid and valuable experience.

That's what the "listening process" in the Anglican Communion is intended to do, so far as I understand it: it is to bring us all back to the table to hear the real life faith journies of lgbt men and women, to listen to them as equals, fully human as and fully loved by God, and to learn to listen with an open heart. It is also intended to work the other way as well, so both "sides" come to understand each other as faithful Christians. (Yes, as FAITHFUL Christians!) with gifts to offer one another.

It is also my hope that in the mix of listening, women like me who are ordained priest will also come to be heard as having responded faithfully to God in Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because, although I believe those who speak so passionately against the ordination of women as priests and bishops do not mean to be heard by me in the way I hear them, it's becoming tiresome to be spoken of as though we were not quite so human as males. I promise to work on my own listening skills in that arena.

But I'll "settle" gladly for my lgbt brothers' and sisters' life stories of faith to be heard and honored as valid. That would be a joyous day indeed if I could witness that communion-wide in my lifetime.

Faithfully in Christ Jesus,
The Reverend Lois Keen

Posted by Lois Keen at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 7:08pm BST

Steven, listening is not relativism.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 7:14pm BST

Goran:

It will only be long and painful if liberals (excluding hopefully Merseymike and any others who are ready for a fair and gracious parting) make it so.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 8:04pm BST

Lois:

I could probably find something in your post that did NOT "require switching from one side to the other" if I looked long enough, but not much. However, what is astonishing to me is that you don't seem to have any insight into the fact that most of what you are asking for IS the very switching we are talking about.

Thus, if this is the goal of "listening" or if we have not "listened" unless we have adopted the attitudes you specify you have created a goal oriented process that is only accomplished when the outcome of "listening" meets your specifications for correct attitude.

Most "reasserters" have long since heard all of the arguments, experiences, etc. necessary to make a decision, have evaluated them, found them wanting, and have made a decision contrary to the "reappraiser" position.

It is these very decisions and the attitudes arising therefrom that you are, as you affirm, trying to change with even more "listening" ad infinitum.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 9:05pm BST

Lois is exactly right! "Listening" does not necessarily change minds (in fact, it SELDOM changes minds), but it can change attitudes and behavior.

It is only to recognize the commitment, the faith, the sincerity, and the integrity of someone else's faith experience, and to stop calling them heretics or monsters or "cancerous lumps" (or, on the other side, rigid, mindless, anti-intellectual compulsives).

And that SHOULD be enough to bring everyone to the same Table, presided over by the same Lord, sharing in the same Salvation, longing to share the same Faith with others.

I have shared communion in Methodist and Congregational Churches. And as I go forward, I say silently to God: "I know this isn't a 'valid' Eucharist, but it is still a good and decent thing being done with good and decent intentions by good and decent people." Why is it so hard for disagreeing Anglicans to do the same?

Posted by John-Julian at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 9:40pm BST

John Richardson put forward this request on 18 July 1:15 bst: "First, hands up all those 'reappraisers' posting here who are prepared to become 'reasserters' if persuaded by the listening process."

I will put my hand up as one example. Working in the Sydney Diocese, it was seen as the only way to be legitimate in terms of understanding the bible. Even though I felt bad that there was a lack of compassion or empathy or tolerance I was doing that for the sake of the church. My open position changed when God kept sending confirmation after confirmation. After the Nias 2005 Easter quake, I said to God that if He kept confirming me, then I was going to "come out" and advocate for tolerance towards monogamous homosexual relationships and empathy for souls struggling with sexuality issues. That God kept confirming me, in stripes, was taken as a signal that God wanted someone to advocate for tolerance and compassion (a bit like choosing Aaron's staff in the Tent of Testimony to stop the squabbling).

Some of the historical arguments are actually red herrings (they come from a period of hyperboles because people had not fully thought through the issues and passions were high e.g. there was not sex between Ruth and Naomi). The Inclusive Church actually wrote a good paper several months ago acknowledging that some of their thinking had been too self-oriented. They have started to explore a more integrated vision that puts tolerance and hospitality towards homosexuals in the context of a bigger framework of hospitality to the alien and afflicted and reverence for all of creation.

And on the issue about "what did Jesus say?". Maybe what we can do is look at the behaviours modelled by Jesus and ask instead "what would Jesus do?". Example, what did he do when they wanted to stone the woman for adultery? Who did he put up as role models e.g. the good samaritan an outcast and "ungodly" person.

Some of the other postings on this thread are excellent, but to be honest some of them are too technical to be relevant for people of limited abilities such as myself. While there needs to be this scholarly debate, we should not forget that the issue is what happens on the ground. Do people expel their GLBT children from their families and churches? Do they participate in gay-bashing or slander campaigns? Do they try to deny citizens' rights to "others"? Or do they have a biblical vision of how God would like all of His children treated, and do they work to enable all God's children to have access to decent treatment, whilst protecting the vulnerable from predators. I would rather be dealing with an openly gay couple than a pair of serial down-low men who repeatedly commit adultery against their wives when no human is looking.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 10:01pm BST

Since making this posting, I have been thinking about the common rebuttal by the conservatives that Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more. My thinking is what would Jesus have done if she had been brought back for stoning again? Would he have done anything different the next time to the first time? I then started to think about Jesus' exhortations regarding forgiveness and thought about the parable Jesus gave when Peter asked “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”. Jesus made it clear that forgiveness has no limit - see Matthew 18:21-35. Which is again consistent with "As you judge so you will be judged".

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 11:45pm BST

I believe the relevant section of the visceral Lambeth 1.10 says “We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ” Now I don’t mind listening to “ex-gays” or even ”ex ex-gays”, goodness knows I listened to many of both and find their stories fascinating and deeply moving, I don’t mind listening to anyone, but that does not seem to be what is on offer here – others seem to be reading more into this than I can.
The problem for me is that what is offered here is not what we find in actual practice in the greater part of our Communion now all the others who want their experiences listened to have got a valid cause I am sure – but get in line, or get another resolution of Lambeth but don’t fill my space!
As to the listening – well I am changed by each personal story I listen to and if there are people out there who are not changed by listening to others then they have a different heart, mind and faith than I own.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 18 July 2006 at 11:52pm BST

"I would rather be dealing with an openly gay couple than a pair of serial down-low men who repeatedly commit adultery against their wives when no human is looking."

Here, here, and well-put, Cheryl.

Posted by k1eranc at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 1:32am BST

Peter O has already pointed out that people who have broken free of their homosexual lifestyle have not had their voices heard.

Another group of people also needs to be heard: those who suffer from same-sex attraction but have submitted their lives, at personal cost, to God by adhering to the clear teaching of scripture by - along with others who are not married - living chastely.

Posted by Flossie at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 7:26am BST

Clear teaching of the forgers of our Holy Scriptures from 1200 onwards.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 8:42am BST

Again, why should those who suffer from internalised homophobia be 'heard' - other than to help then recover from it?

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 9:22am BST

Looking through the literture I see the mention of sexual fulfillment. Surely our fulfillment is first in and through Christ. Surely we think of ourselves in terms of being in Christ, not Christ in terms of our sexuality.
You see we know there are sexual acts that gratify us and fulfill us sexualy but we as Christians also know that apart from within a man woman/marriage, which we know is God's purpose in creation sexual acts are not countenanced. So to discuss sexuality is an assumption.
But what sexual fulfillment does a celibate have? Someone who has not found a marriage partner or who has chosen celibacy for the Kingdom?
Assuming we all have a sexuality, celibates, seem a little excluded in a discussion about sexuality based on a sexual fulfillment.

I think we need to re-focus our eyes on Jesus and not on our sexual desires.

Posted by DaveW at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 9:25am BST

Why is it that so many of the unpleasanter postings here are anonymous or semi-anonymous ? I guess it frees folks to say what they like without ever being held responsible for it, or even ever k n o w n . To me knowing implies relationship, and none of this listening and stuff can 'work' without relationship.

I have found it also needs a temenos or container, a safe place, and a mutual agreement as to the boundaries and work in hand. This is something the churches are poor at, and have been reluctant to learn and practice, down the years. Now we see how great is the need for such faith-ful conversation ( con fides - with faith, ).
I know that Peter Selby, Richard Lewis andRowan Williams know of this from experience -- as do people like Mary Anne Coate, Michael Jacobs and John Foskett. But why would the churches now take this on board, having neglected it for so long with notable exceptions -individaul and corporate.
Southwark Pastoral Care & Counselling was a wonderful programme of groups set up at the request of the Bishop (Mervyn Stockwood), by a priest & Jungian analyst (Derek Blows) with others from Group Analysis and psychotherapy (Pat Givan, Jeannette Renouf, Mary Wilson, Jean Thopson, Robin Morrell)).
The groups met weekly and for many of us improved our pastoral work and understanding -- but also saved our relationships and sanity, by teaching us boundaries, good practice and professionalism. It changed my life completley, so to this part of the church I owe so much.
It went on doing this essential work until it was disbanded by the present bishop of Southwark, who apparently sees little place, for the feelings of clergy. (Isn' this how the church got this way ? So many men who don't see the point of feelings).

But without multiple understandings of human nature and multiple ways of working with the way we are, how can churches hope to address soul matters,histories, feelings, needs; and how can we enable individual & corporate maturation; and living connection to the archetypes of God & soul ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 10:18am BST

Flossie

Yes, it is good to hear of the souls who experimented with homosexuality and chose/were able to "break free", and those who live celibate lives. Their lot is actually happier than those who are unable to put aside their orientation or suppress their drive. One of the problems is that homosexuals are told they are forgiven if they are chaste, and the apostle Paul is quoted against them.

But this ignores the subtlety of Paul's advice in that Paul suggests that celibacy is better because there are less distractions or obligations to impede one's work for God. However, where a soul's sex drive was too strong, then Paul suggested they take a spouse and have a monogamous reverential relationship. 1 Corinthians 7:9 "...it is better to marry than to burn with passion."

The other issue is that Paul believed that Jesus was coming back very soon. He had no idea it was going to be 2000+ years, and if he had known, he might have been more careful with some of his lifestyle exhortations (they were geared towards the sprint rather than the marathon). Thus poor Paul inadvertently misstepped into a biblical no-no of trying to "rush" God (see Isaiah 5:19)

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 11:47am BST

Mike,

I'm not going to thrash over old ground. I just want you to consider that whenever you describe people who share their experience of God's power in their lives as "those who glorify lies and repression" you set back the whole listening process. Whenever you decide that the ex-gay you are hearing from is actually a "bisexual who is able to sublimate part of themselves" and not someone who was exclusively homosexual in their orientation as they have honestly told you, you are rejecting them as much as the closed-ear orthodox rejects the man or woman with their story of pain of coming to terms with their gay sexuality as simply "a choice". Whenever you use the language "homophobic and unwelcoming" you spit in the face of those of us in the evo/ang-cath part of the church who fight day in day our for a changed attitude in the hearts and minds of our brothers and sisters in Christ towards those in our midst who live this painful struggle day by day.

Mike, it just doesn't help. No wonder the Liverpool listening project faded into nothing. You weren't prepared to listen to anybody but yourself.

Posted by Peter O at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 12:57pm BST

RMF – I did not claim that opposition to same-sex lovemaking was “essential” to Jesus. I sought to argue that to say that Jesus did not mention same-sex lovemaking, implying that he was not opposed to it, claims too much because it depends on what he meant when he spoke of porneia. It would be hard to find any Jewish voice of the time which did not declare all sexual intimacy outside marriage wrong, using porneia (“sexual immorality” or for those who have a problem with modern terms: “fornication”) or moicheia (“adultery”). I am not at my desk (and won’t be for another six weeks), so a single reference to Jewish Antiquities 3.274-275 will need to suffice as an example for how moicheia came to be defined more broadly in post-biblical Judaism. As for porneia, Tobit 4.12 speaks of “every kind of porneia”, implying that the term covers a multitude of sins so to speak and 8.7 has the protagonist claim that he did not enter marriage “out of porneia” which would be nonsense, if porneia referred to prostitution only, let alone “sacral prostitution” as Göran seems to think.

This is not as such a claim that Jesus would condemn homosexuality today. My argument is that when Jesus referred to porneia, same-sex lovemaking as it was practised at the time is included and, by implication, that the fact that Jesus did not explicitly single out same-sex lovemaking can hardly be used as evidence that he condoned it. This is why I suggested that any reappraisal of the condemnation of same-sex lovemaking would have to proceed from the argument that Jesus could not have referred to the kind of relationships that are possible today.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 1:21pm BST

Göran – I fail to understand what you seek to achieve with your reference to the Book of Concord, given that you consider it altogether invalid to speak of ceremonial, civil and moral laws. You may well want to say yourself that Leviticus in toto does not reflect God’s will for us today, unlike the Ten Commandments. But such a sweeping statement can hardly claim to represent “the Lutheran answer”, if by “Lutheran” you mean anything to do with the Book of Concord. The Lutherans who authored the Book of Concord were barely less sophisticated than Hooker.

(I realise that you won’t appreciate the reference to Josephus in my earlier entry, given your earlier dissing of him, but the only other Jewish author pertinent to the question posed that I have available on my palm is Philo whom you dislike equally. How about you citing a Jewish author of the time who did not consider same-sex lovemaking against God’s law?)

Thank you for the reference to Robert A.J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, for homosexual activity in non-Israelite cults. I am unable to follow this up in the near future (see previous posting) but I am interested in any evidence he produces for this claim.

You may be interested to know that the most recent issue of the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament carries an essay by Jonathan P. Burnside on Leviticus 20 under the title “Strange Flesh: Sex, Semiotics and the Construction of Deviancy in Biblical Law”. Unfortunately, only the abstract is freely available. See
http://jot.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/30/4/387

Posted by Thomas Renz at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 1:35pm BST

I am certain that the listening process was meant to listen to people’s experiences, not their accusations of others as ‘glorifying lies’ Also Goran wrote on Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 8:42am
""Clear teaching of the forgers of our Holy Scriptures from 1200 onwards.""
I think that first occured at 0842

Posted by DaveW at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 2:19pm BST

Peter O:

Very good post. If sincere feelings and experiences of believers are to be aired, let it be everyones' sincere feelings and experiences.

Goran:

You occasionally like to drop cryptic hints about one thing or another. And, for gnostics, purveyors of the Book of Enoch, conspiracy theorists, UFO chasers, and fans of the David Icke approach, the "our received Scriptures are really anti-homosexual forgeries" line might really make waves. However, I think most reasoning folk would rather stick with what the Scriptures we have say and mean.

That's where the discussion/action is, not in conspiracy theories. Attacking the Scriptures as forgeries is basically a non-starter in terms of dialog on the issue of whether Scripture supports the "reappraiser" position. It advances no one's agenda and is a bit like burning down the house just because there is a dispute about who owns the property.

On the other hand, perhaps this is your intention. Those on the losing end of a battle often see no reason not to burn and destroy the ground they are forced to give up, rather than see it in the possession of those they consider to be their "enemies".

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 3:37pm BST

If we predict ahead of time that we shall never agree on hot button issues like sexuality and human nature – yes it is difficult to agree, because we are not only using quite different fundamental approaches, but the data fields are changing so fast now that nobody can be quite completely sure of what is totally the case concerning sexuality and human nature - maybe we should refocus our talking/listening on practical matters.

The larger question then becomes: How shall we live together in rational citizenship with as much good will and peace as we can manage?

This might then boil down to several practical issues. Here is one small example of a starter list of that sort of listening.

One. Can all believers who have reached different discernments of conscience come to the Lord’s Table together, without one group innately having any right to demand that the other group be conformed to its confession, theology, or conscience?

Two. What are the better and the lesser ways of living together, given that sometimes one person or group’s views will innately judge, condemn, and negatively discern another person or group’s views?

Three. What are the differences between bearing witness to Jesus in one’s own life, and claiming a right to say with certainty what Jesus is doing in another person’s life?

Four. When does any approach become idolatrous? How does that modern idolatry happen? What steps do idols take, making war upon the liberty and the necessity of constant inquiry and discernment?

Five. What police powers, if any, are granted to believers – for use against other people, against other believers, against other unbelievers?

Posted by drdanfee at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 4:14pm BST

DaveW,
"Surely our fulfillment is first in and through Christ. Surely we think of ourselves in terms of being in Christ, not Christ in terms of our sexuality."

Good Heavens! We agree! It seems the faith is about working for the coming of the Kingdom, with all else secondary, but that isn't what's going on. Now I would argue that it hasn't been going on for a very long time. The Imperial Chruch of Constantine made the faith to be about obedience to the established civil order, rather than about working to bring God's justice and truth to the established society that is of this Creation and thus broken and contrary to God's way.

Marriage shouldn't be about validating people's relationships, which, I suspect, is a component of the move to bless gay unions, but should be about the sacrament. Of course, marriage has been about everything BUT the sacrament for a very long time. It has always been about validating straight relationships. I have said before, it is hypocritical to accuse "reappraisers" of allowing society to dictate their morals when the Church has made a virtue out of exactly that for 1700 years, and not just in the area of marriage.

As to celibacy, I have some problems with your approach. Paul makes it pretty clear that celibacy is the higher state, in his view, but also recognizes that there are those for whom celibacy is not possible. They do not have that charism. They are therefor permitted to marry so that their sexual drive does not consume them and draw them off the path. In this view, everything that does not work for the coming of the Kingdom is superfluous, even marriage, but if you can work better for the Kingdom in a marriage where you can more easily control your sexual desires, then get married. Now, this seems to be a rather poor view of marriage. It seems more a sop to the poor straight people who can't keep it in their pants, and certainly not the semi-divine "building block" of society the "reasserters" would claim it to be. I would extrapolate that the "building blocks of society" are pretty meaningless in this view, since the society we are working for has only one foundation, one corner stone, and His Kingdom is not of this world. Why should we bother what the "building blocks' of earthly society are? It is a part of the created order, it is fallen and broken, and so are it's building blocks.

It has been noted that the idea that marriage is the charism and celibacy the default state for those not called to marriage, which is the "reasserter's" position, is the exact opposite of what Paul actually said. Is this because we need for gay people to be celibate, and this position is weakened if we acknowledge charism of celibacy to be something God gives to some, but not all? Why should straight people be given the 'out' of marriage if they can't control themselves, but not gays? Is it that straight people are expected to have less self-control?

Flossie, as to "suffering" with homosexuality, who is making them suffer? Frankly, if you are going to talk about homosexuality as "suffering" then it would seem that centuries of persecution, burnings, ostacizism, have made the Church one of the leading sources of that suffering. The church in Nigeria is playing this role even now. Gay people there wouldn't "suffer" as much with homosexuality if the Church didn't seek to make them suffer. Surely the Church can find a more Christian way of encouraging sinners to repent that casting them and their supporters in jail!

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 4:45pm BST

Peter: I actually prefer an honest homophobe than your brand of warm words - which, thankfully, gay men and women have learned to see coming a mile off. Thats why the ex-gay groups in the Uk are firstly, tiny, and secondly, notoriously unsuccessful. I wish to promote not guilty forbearance of 'homosexuality', but out and proud gay men and lesbians, happy and confident to be the people they are. I would prefer it if conservatives in the church either remained true to their beliefs and displayed their true homophobia, not blunted by the stuff you describe which attempts to hide the basic message of negativity - and that those who realise that there is another way forward start to question their own religious conservatism. For it is conservative theology itself, not just its homophobia, which is the problem.

As for the Liverpool process, I think it wise for you not to comment about that which you have no knowlwdge off. The part of the process which I was involved in was actually very successful - the problem seemed to them emerge that the diocese weren't really sure where to take the process in the longer term, and how to create meaningful environments to make progress.

But in reality, what we3 all see as progress is so utterly different that I think listening processes will not really take us very further, at least with regard to those who have largely come to a decision about the issue.

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 4:57pm BST

I'm afraid that the listening process will deliver very little. It presumes that both sides are unaware of the other's views and experiences.
I don't believe that to be the case.

Posted by Erasmus at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 4:58pm BST

Vis-a-vis the conspiracy theory stuff---

The Hebrew Bible , of course, is famously seen, as having many levels of meaning by rabbis and scholars, including the numerical valency of each individaul letter, and word.

Ilove the mystical reading so the Baal Shem Tov, Isaac Luria and the great band Jewish teachers with their hands on the book, their feet on the ground and their hearts in heaven. How I wish their inspiring words and godly lives were better known among christians and churches.

My evangelcial background in the Plymouth Brethren gave me at an early age, the pleasure of knowing that, of the 3 levles of meaning, one of them is what the text means (i.e waht the Lord says to me, right now). It never occured to us to doubt His message, in the hear & now. And I never realised until recently how deliciously conspiratorial it was /is ! Also, wonderful practices like 'putting out a fleece'
Also open the Book and at random , and seeing what verses drawn to. (No name for this--any suggestions ?!).

I love the multi-dimensional depth & liberality of text--so mystical and post-modrn in one.

As we know, John H Newman found in the Thirty-nine Articles support for the sacrice of the Mass. Cranmer would have been amazed, that his attempts to make his truth, everyone's truth for all time, came to this ! But Newman found what he needd, I guess.


Long live the instability of the signfier.
Here's to the goings on of the Hebrew letters of the Hebrew Bible. Luria found , like others that Hebrew text won't keep still !

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 5:47pm BST

Prof. Renz,

Thank you for your reply. These exchanges and “listenings” on the issue of same sex affections and relations can perhaps be better addressed Scripturally if anyone can point to one single passage where the Lord speaks clearly and unequivocally about same sex affections and relations. Where He mentions it by name.

In your reply we are again pointed to a passage where He mentions porniea and by this we are to understand same sex affections and relations. I understand that this is the claim you are making.

My response is, this is not a clear reference to same sex affections and relations. This is a reference to porneia with the understanding of porneia in question.

You reference Tobit, who urges us to “be on guard against all forms of immorality”; are you by this example suggesting an even wider application of porneia than before? Or that it is used to refer to a very wide range of activities apart from those listed, and by this, we are to accept the term as being fixed based on the looseness with which the term is applied? Either way, we come back to the original point, the meaning of porneia and what elements in it constitute porneia then, and now.

In support you also note Josephus. While it is interesting to ponder Josephus’ ponderings on Hebrew meaning and laws, he is not the Lord. I take your point that he elaborates the meaning and application of porneia as it has been used by some in the Hebrew tradition and in the way this tradition has endured for some. We are not questioning whether there has been a tradition against same sex affections and relations. We are questioning whether this tradition is misplaced and in error. To argue against this it is perhaps not effective to claim that the tradition is not in error because of its provenance amongst men. Even assuming that porneia includes same sex relations and affections, again, the question is whether its provenance is of the Lord.

If the Lord says porneia you state that this includes same sex affections and therefore, it is objectionable because the Lord tacitly says so.

Why not simply point us to a passage here He states this outright? Clearly? Unequivocally? Of course there is no such passage and we are pointed merely to 1/20 of a sentence in Mark where in the middle of speaking out against legalism and in the midst of heading to perform miracles in the land of Baal and amidst other Gentiles, He tells us that He is not bound by the provenance of Hebrew legalisms.

If this tradition against same sex affections is so essential to Him (and you may not hold this, but obviously, some do) then He must certainly speak of it clearly and unequivocally? On the contrary, He does not.

Instead, he summarized the Law for us as Love the Lord and love the neighbor as yourself. Interestingly, both these components of the summary come from Leviticus and Deuteronomy, where the issue of porneia is elaborated at length. The Law is His, so if He wished, He could have instructed us with more of Leviticus in the summary, perhaps along the lines of, Love God and love your neighbor as yourself and hold to porneia as meaning______. But of course he didn’t do this either.

The main question is, what is immorality in this context we are discussing?

In answer to this, you state that immorality is what is understood as porneia. What is understood as porneia? In answer to this you state that porneia is what is sexually immoral.

More specifically, you suggest that porneia classifies as immoral what is listed in Leviticus and also, that this is widely accepted because Josephus noted what widely accepted understandings were.

A few observations.

(1) There are many types of immorality in Leviticus. And many punishments for them, usually death. Adultery is considered immoral and punishable by death. Deuteronomy suggests that a man may rape a virgin as long as he marries her and pays her father 50 shekels. Is the Lord when speaking of porneia therefore also understanding that these responses and attitudes are sufficient? We do not hold to these, do we? The distinction is perhaps legal, not moral, but what is this distinction when we constantly return to the question of making this distinction in the first instance?

(2) There are some situations and customs in Leviticus that may have been considered acceptable, moral and of the Lord but which currently are outlawed and viewed as the worst of crimes. The circumstances noted above are two. Another is slavery. Leviticus permits foreigners and aliens to be bought, sold and inherited as slaves. We do not permit this now and in fact view this as abomination. When the Lord uses slave terminology in parables and references slavery is He thereby referencing and accepting slavery in the same way as when he uses porneia He is accepting and recommending a ban on same sex affections and relations? Perhaps under your exegesis He is, because you state that when he mentions porneia he is mentioning everything considered sexually immoral, because according to Josephus, this is what Jews of the time believed. Ultimately, it is not sufficient to posit as acceptable because it is written in Leviticus, when what is written in Leviticus as just and right in many instances is punishable by imprisonment in America.

But let us put these positions to the test using the Lord’s own Summary of the Law.

We do not need to refer to Josephus or Tobit or anyone else, because the Lord tells us in His own words and by His life and death, shows us better than any other who and what He says and means. He tells us unequivocally to Love our neighbor as ourselves. (Naturally, some of us then state, well the application of this depends on what you mean by neighbor and precisely what you mean by love.)

I take love as meaning one of the cardinal if not the cardinal virtue. Where amidst us we find love, charity, tenderness, and all the other cardinal virtues between two people, we can certainly reason that they are not immoral or in need of being stoned.

In the end you state that any analysis of same sex relations must begin from the position that the Scripture does not envision or include the types of monogamous relations the Church is currently addressing. I agree.

Perhaps further discussion of the Lord’s sentence in Mark taken in fuller context, is for another time.


Posted by RMF at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 6:06pm BST

Drdanfee:

I'll give it my best shot (in a small space):

"One. Can all believers who have reached different discernments of conscience come to the Lord’s Table together, without one group innately having any right to demand that the other group be conformed to its confession, theology, or conscience?"

*Not ususally, although it has certainly become common of late in liberal old-line denominations. Most of the Christian world, including the RC and Orthodox, do not practice "open" communion.

"Two. What are the better and the lesser ways of living together, given that sometimes one person or group’s views will innately judge, condemn, and negatively discern another person or group’s views?"

*The question is whether there CAN be "living together"--all else is secondary. The ancient rule, which is hallowed by time, is "in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in everything charity" (to the best of my recollection). The problem is that "reappraisers" and "reasserters" do not agree on how to classify the questions at issue. Most "reappraisers" seem to believe they are non-essential, although some ADAMANTLY disagree. Thus, most believe that there should be liberty (and we could still "live together"). "Reasserts" ADAMANTLY disagree with both types of "reappraisers", and never the twain shall meet. Thus, as there cannot be unity there should be charity in parting.

"Three. What are the differences between bearing witness to Jesus in one’s own life, and claiming a right to say with certainty what Jesus is doing in another person’s life?"

*As far as I know, "reasserters" do not claim to know anything for certain about what God is doing in anyone else's life except in one area--Sin. God is NOT the author of sin. Thus, if someone tells me that their sin is a result of God's work in their life, I know they are misguided or lying. Reappraisers take the SAME approach, they merely define "sin" differently, accusing "reasserters" (who believe God is also active in their lives) of "sins" such as "intolerance", "bigotry", "lack of charity", etc. for holding viewpoints the "reasserters" believe to be "of God".

"Four. When does any approach become idolatrous? How does that modern idolatry happen? What steps do idols take, making war upon the liberty and the necessity of constant inquiry and discernment?"

*Idols are those things we serve other than God. "Reappraisers" accuse "reasserters" of idolizing Scripture and tradition. "Reasserters" accuse "reappraisers" of idolizing the current liberal world view. Once again, there is no agreement and none is possible, only capitulation of one side to the other or parting.

"Five. What police powers, if any, are granted to believers – for use against other people, against other believers, against other unbelievers?"

*As an ultimate step, and only after due process and with love, excommunication and exclusion from the fellowship of believers can be asserted as a penalty against those within the church. As to unbelievers, . . . hmm. Too big a question for a small space.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 6:19pm BST

"I think we need to re-focus our eyes on Jesus and not on our sexual desires."

And the great thing is that we married straights are able to do all sorts of squelchy things to one another without having to sacrifice or sublimate our sexuality to our discipleship.

I'm sure it's an age-old point to make, hardly groundbreaking, but what really, really makes me uneasy about so much of this debate is that so much of the 'anti' input comes from people whose enforced celibacy ended in early adulthood. I cannot easily imagine life without sexual intimacy with the person I love, and I seem to remember a gospel passage strongly condemning those who lay burdens on others without the slightest intention of taking a similar burden on themselves.

As I say, hardly an erudite or incisive point, but a charitable one, perhaps?

(Re. semi-anonymity in postings: though 'mynsterpreost' is a good cognomen for a priest living opposite the great A/S church of St. Peter at the southern end of the Humber bridge, I come clean as David Rowett, parish priest of Barton on Humber, UK.)

Posted by mynsterpreost at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 6:22pm BST

Thomas Renz wrote: “… would have to proceed from the argument that Jesus could not have referred to the kind of relationships that are possible today.”

Well, we all know that, don’t we?

Thomas Renz wrote: “The Lutherans who authored the Book of Concord were barely less sophisticated than Hooker.”

Precisely my point. But they must be read on their own conditions – not be made to conform to later theologies either through Calvinist or Pietist acrobatics. I gave you a few articles to start with. Do read them.

Thomas Renz wrote: “I realise that you won’t appreciate the reference to Josephus in my earlier entry, given your earlier dissing of him, but the only other Jewish author pertinent to the question posed that I have available on my palm is Philo whom you dislike equally.”

Quite. But it is you who claim that a self-hating wannabee philosopher and a political double traitor could be representative of 1st century Jewish attitudes. I say they express nothing but Hellenist (that is Heathen) attitudes towards the Spilling of Semen. And no, I don’t take for granted that they are the same.

Thomas Renz wrote: “How about you citing a Jewish author of the time who did not consider same-sex lovemaking against God’s law?” You show me first!

Then we can ask some Rabbis to help with the datings of the Talmud. But remember, that Judaism never was anti-sex, that the Rabbis do not talk of “law” but of Tradition, and that they do not translate toevah/bdélygma as the Parisian Versio vulgata abominatio, but as “being misled”.

Might be a ruff ride...

If you haven’t read Robert A.J. Gagnon: The Bible and Homosexual Practice, before, I strongly suggest that you do. And I would be very interested to hear from you when you’ve had enough (by mail via my homepage).

The Bible was written long ago in pre modern times in totally different circumstances in a different language in a different culture. If we make it answer questions it does not address and that the authors never heard of, we distort it. If we translate it as if it expressed Neo Platonist Ethics and anti-Cosmic value Hierarchies, we distort it. If we put anachronistic concepts in it, we distort it. If we make concrete abstract, we distort it. If we make specific general, we distort it. If we make material moral, we distort it.

If we put our own latter day – whether 12th century, 16th century or late 20th century – social and ecclesiastical policies in it, we distort it.

And this is what most translations have done since the Parisian Versio vulgata, catering each to their own theological/commercial niche. And they “know” to well “what the Bible says” to take a second look at the sacred text itself.

If we look at the “issue” of the day; Human sexuality, the tradition there was – in 2nd millennium Academia – was anti-heterosex, if anything. Chastity for the People, Abstinence for Monks and Nuns and Mandatory Celibacy for Priests and Bishops. And it was all about social and ecclesiastical disciplining and the idea of the Spilling of Semen; the Gnosticist identification of semen with the soul of man (the little nous) and of the soul of man with the big Nous; The Highest Being (women lacking).

Sodomia was a heterosexual category, directed especially at married priests by Lateran IV.

In Modernity, this changed. Masturbation became an increasingly hard sell as Deadly Sin – and the moral teachings of a thousand years were abandoned.

In 1966 Roman exegetics changed the millenary “Biblical proof” for Masturbation as Deadly Sin; the word malakós in 1 Cor 6:9 to “soft, effeminate ; catamite, homosexual” in Pater Zerwick’s Analysis Philologica Novi Testamenti graeci, and the English (American) translation of the (not yet overtly homosexualized) 1955 Bible de Jérusalem (after the Codex Sinaïticus) of the French Dominicans.

From anti-heterosex to anti-gay; from sexual a c t i v i t y for all, to late modern essentialist “sexual orientation as i d e n t i t y” for the newly invented social minority.

The American 60ies and 70ies followed, inventing a novel essentialist (Gagnon calls it “structuralist”) Heterosexism cum Fertility Cult complete with a re-subordination of women, pleaded with Genesis 1 and 2 and the strange gloss in Matt 19:5 (for Adam and Eve never had any parents…) effectively moving the conception of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:1 to the o t h e r side of the Fall… ;=)

But I had already heard the ancient call:

Hands on the blanket, kids! or the Angels will be weeping.

… so I wasn’t’ fooled by these new Heresies ;=)

Now the strangeness of this all, and the instability of the claimed “proofs” – there are very few books earlier than the late 1970ies and barely 2 authors who agree on the definition of any single word in the traditional 6 “proofs” – not to mention the invention after 1955 of several new “proofs”, hitherto un-heard of (Judges 19:22, Jude v. 7, 1 Thess 4:3-9 and so on), is a clear warning that nothing of this can be either Bible nor the Tradition of the Church; certainly not 2000 odd years; it’s barely 50.

I repeat: turning Neo Platonist anti-heterosex morality 180 degrees into anti-gay social policies, into a novel essentialist concept of sexual orientation as identity, is not Bible, not Tradition – its innovation.

My point is that what we as readers bring to the text pre-conditions what we may find there. If we take the Neo Platonist cum Scholastic obsession with sperm/masturbation and the Parisian Versio vulgata sexualizations (the 1st, 7th and 10th Commandment words porneía, akatharsía, asélgeia, moixeía, epithumía, and others, together occurring several hundred times in both Testaments) for granted – then the Bible is a whole lot about “sex”.

If we don’t – we get an entirely different picture: Greed, selfishness, damaging the community.

What happens in most late modern translations (Dynamic “Equivalence”) is that 4. below is imposed on 1 – and the rest is Chaos (or Social politics, if you prefer).

1. Exegetics = Which are the words? What do they mean? Which concepts are used or taken for granted in the text?
Its place in the History of Ideas? Glosses, Additions? Dating? Authorship?

2. Hermeneutics = What does this address? Not least – what does it not address?
Its place in the History of Theology? In Tradition? Use, misuse and abuse?

3. Translation = As few words (= close) as possible; not exceeding a ratio of 105. One word for one concept. Notes explaining all liberties taken!

4. Theology = Interpretation = The reader – after the book has been translated, published and bought!

Theology and anachronistic concepts/interpretations are to be kept out of the translation at all costs!!!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 6:55pm BST

Someone reminded us earlier that Lambeth 1.10 says “We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ”.

I am committed to this - speaking for myself. Much has already been said here on the value of this particular exercise and I need not add to it, except to add my support.

The question remains whether same-sex lovemaking should ever be met with a call to repentance. (I take it that all of us would agree that abusive relationships should be met with a call to repentance.) We are no agreed on this and it is not even a question on which we can easily "agree to disagree", as the Archbishop of Canterbury rightly observed, drawing a contrast with the question of the ordination of women to the priesthood.

Listening to the varied experiences of gay people should inform our thinking but in addition people who want to make the right decision will need to listen to the arguments on both sides. They will want to observe the way Scripture is read, tradition is interpreted, and yes, they will need to decide whether a case for or against the call to repentance makes sense of all the evidence.

This listening to the arguments on both sides is something quite different from the Lambeth 1.10 listening exercise. But often people try to do both at the same time, or maybe advertise one and do the other, which accounts for the confusion among some.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 7:53pm BST

On 19 July DaveW posted "You see we know there are sexual acts that gratify us and fulfill us sexualy but we as Christians also know that apart from within a man woman/marriage, which we know is God's purpose in creation sexual acts are not countenanced. So to discuss sexuality is an assumption."

This posting led me to contemplate the (non)existence of Adam and Eves' marriage vows and legal papers; and also to question the exhortation to celibacy. So I looked up the bible: Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

A couple of things stuck out, it does not talk about sexual activity and, a gender neutral word "helper" is used.

This then led me to contemplate biblical considerations of legalism versus faith; which Paul wrote many, but there are others elsewhere e.g. Isaiah, Obadiah and Ezekiel. This article that came through overnight is also interesting:
http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=news.display_article&mode=S&NewsID=5494

It explores the intent of the souls who brought the adulterous woman forward for stoning and notes "First, they weren’t “Biblical literalists”. They were faithless legalists on a mission to put Jesus to the test. And, it wasn’t about “family values”. It was about their own sin: their sin in not believing that Christ was the Messiah and so they desired to test him; their sin of trying to lead Jesus to commit a crime by going against Roman law; their sin of variance when they brought only the female to be judged for her sin and not the male who committed the very same sin; and their sin of attempting to lead Jesus to commit the sin of variance along with them."

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 10:47pm BST

Thomas Renz wrote:
"This listening to the arguments on both sides is something quite different from the Lambeth 1.10 listening exercise. But often people try to do both at the same time, or maybe advertise one and do the other, which accounts for the confusion among some."

Thomas, I'm not sure if this was a comment on the Worcester process or the discussion on the forum. But in specific regard to the Worcester process, it is intended to do two sorts of listening.

It is intended to help us listen to Scripture, and one of the ways it does that is by listening to some of the different ways in which people read Scripture. I don't think that simply means listening to both sides of the argument, but listening to people articulate their different viewpoints from Scripture, which is subtly different. The argument might have a better chance of becoming a conversation if people could see each other honestly (whether rightly or wrongly) reading Scripture.
Second it is intended to help us listen to the perosnal experiences of some gay and lesbian people, and / or their families. Not, as Peter O as noted above, every type of relevant experience, but some commonly encounterd ones.
And a note to Peter O: a story from a person who formerly experienced themselves as gay, but now experiences themselves as straight is indeed missing, largely, I think, because none of us knew anyone who could tell that as their own story. It was not at the forefront of our minds, perhaps because it is rarely encountered (at least by us). There was, however, no conscious decision to exclude it.

Posted by Doug Chaplin at Wednesday, 19 July 2006 at 11:08pm BST

I think the number of people who attempted to force themselves to be straight but in fact were gay all the time would be far, far more frequent.

I actually have no problem with people being celibate - Catholic clergy and religious do so irrespective of their sexual orientation. Its the attitude that celibacy is compulsory, on a permanent basis, only for gays.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 12:38am BST

Someone opines that 'Lambeth 1.10 reflects the teaching of the church.'

Hang-on, in my experieince anglicans hardly ever use the expression 'the teaching of the church', except in relation to the lives of lgbt people. I think the realisation of how homophobic these pronouncements are, leads to attempts bolster them. To give legitimacy to what has become unsupportable in 2006. Yes, 'Lambeth 1.10 is a pronouncement--that's all. Remember earlier Lambeth pronouncements on the evils of contraception ? That transmogrified over some decades into ' responsible parenthood' ! A future pronouncement will declare same-sex relationships solemnised in church to be responsible--believe you me !

Most of us know that the work done at Lambeth by the appointed working group was very positive about the lives and value of lgbt people, and produced the orginal 1.10 which was very positive, this was real church (meeting, sharing), real teaching (the fruit of honest endeavour and sharing) --though they would have been too unpompous to call it 'teaching'. As we now know George Carey used his power to have their work thrown out, and what is now called Lambeth 1.10 was imposed--like a cuckoo's egg, on the nest. Since it hatched it hs been kicking ou the remaining eggs and chicks.

It grieves me that the term 'church' is often used here to mean this or that power group --like that of Lambeth, or groups of arch/bishops.
I think we really need to reflect hereon the nature of 'church' & of the Kingdom/ Commonwealth /Republic /Queendon of Heaven. BUT please without loads of koine Greek and scholarly stuff--it is often a defense it seems to me--against encounter, relationship, the real nonekoine world---leave your studies--you won't find church or Kingdom there much. Go out in to the highways and byways of life seek the hiddenness of G-d and church and kindgom--of 2 or 3 gathered............

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 8:57am BST

I agree with Doug and Merseymikes' last postings. A variation on Merseymike's posting of 20 July 12:38 BST, is that it is hypocritical to demand inconsistent standards of behaviour between different groups e.g. celibacy for homosexuals but not for heterosexuals. There is also a difference between voluntarily choosing a standard of behaviour e.g. celibacy, to involuntarily imposing that standard on others e.g. ethnic cleansing of other religions.

I laud the souls who can live celibate lives, and I laud souls who choose celibacy for the sake of their relationship with God. I applaud souls who manage to break out of a clique/cult to redefine themselves e.g. someone who breaks out of a predatory homosexual subculture (it exists) or a isolationist sect (they exist) or a heroin/prostitution network (shudder). There are souls who do find themselves seduced and then immersed in a subculture that is overwhelming and difficult to escape, and how they manage to escape such destructive circumstances should be shared for others' benefit. But before we throw the rocks, we should remember that sociopaths tend to form religious cliques with unrealistically high puritanical expectations of their members, which means most members are frequently failed sinners in constant need of forgiveness from the powerful representative of "God".

Thus abusive relationships and the misuse of power is not confined to the liberal end of the spectrum, but can also be found at the puritanical end of the spectrum. Unfortunately one can not wave a magic wand and make these risks completely disappear. However, we can be honest and aware that such risks exist and take appropriate measures to protect souls in our charge - which is where anti-corruption, anti-bullying, free speech and human rights come into play.

To continue the model, we can not realistically demand that other religions/denominations treat our charges fairly and civilly if we are not prepared to do it to our own nor to the "other". The phrase "physician, heal thyself" comes to mind and the bible exhorts us to be role models to others (whether that is the non-believer or of another denomination or faith) and to inspire others to come to know our God better through modelling how our knowing and respecting God has made us and our societies more decent and abundant.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 9:01am BST

The Worcester papers offer a thoughtful attempt to fulfil the commitment of the Lambeth Fathers. Lesbian and gay Christians respond to their sexuality in many ways and it explores some of these. In particular what is missing from these reflections are the stories of lesbian and gay families who have children and the particular problems they encounter, some of these I mention here: http://www.stmichaels.ac.uk/documents/ChurchandHomosexuality/the%20family.pdf .

The other significant omissions are the stories from Christians in other countries; non-Christians; those from other faith communities and those who have rejected faith because of their exclusion. It is in the diversity of these stories that we may begin to touch on how the homosexual person encounters the world and how we might begin to respond to that experience.

The 1998 Lambeth Conference signally failed to take full account of the resources that had been gathered for their assistance and this failure was the guiding force behind the Pastoral Statement http://www.lgcm.org.uk/archive/archive2.html which says:
“Within the limitations of this Conference, it has not been possible to hear adequately your voices, and we apologize for any sense of rejection that has occurred because of this reality.”

I recognise that the Worcester papers are only offering a very basic package on how to reflect theologically but it does seem to have little to suggest by way of “reason” – so where are the references to the scientific material? Or an outline account of how Christian thought has changed on a certain subject over the centuries to give some understanding of “development”? It is essentially too monochrome, too one legged.

The way we think and the resources that inform us are very important and the emphasis we place on process and information has a significant impact on the conclusions we might draw. I was amused by the decision of the bishop for Europe for example, his diocesan officials had taken the Lambeth Fathers declaration of intent seriously and called upon a lesbian and a gay Christian to tell their stories at the most recent Synod held in Rome. When the detail of this came to the desk of the bishop he set aside the months of preparation, cancelled the invitations and asked Canon Phil Groves (the man appointed to facilitate the listening process) instead. http://www.lgcm.org.uk/press/press49.html

There are many factors that could and have drowned out the voices and experience of lesbian and gay people and we are not alone in discovering that the very “process” that is put in place to facilitate hearing our voices can become itself the obstacle. This is why I make the plea above that, particularly at this time, our experience and voices are not allowed to be overwhelmed by others – all of whom have something valuable to share – but rather the undertaking of the Lambeth Fathers be allowed to take place.

I believe that in the light of this, the much needed and essential broader and detailed debate might follow. We were offered bread; let us not break our teeth on a stone.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 9:57am BST

Cheryl Clough wrote: "It explores the intent of the souls who brought the adulterous woman forward for stoning and notes "First, they weren’t “Biblical literalists”. They were faithless legalists on a mission to put Jesus to the test."

Very true. It was Jesus who was the Biblical literalist. And the "souls" who brought the woman were just faithless, not legalists. They asked Jesus to condemn her. Jesus noted two legal requirements from the law of Moses that the accusers themselves recognised.

Firstly, the two or three witnesses had to be the first to condemn the accused, and they were to do so by casting the first stones (Deut 17:7).

Secondly a witness was not considered faithful if they were guilty of the same sin the accused was (Deut 19:15)

Jesus would have been breaking the Mosaic law if he had condemned the woman when the witnesses had refused to cast the first stone.

Posted by Andy at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 9:58am BST

Cheryl wrote: "A variation on Merseymike's posting of 20 July 12:38 BST, is that it is hypocritical to demand inconsistent standards of behaviour between different groups e.g. celibacy for homosexuals but not for heterosexuals."

Presumably by the same argument, you would also agree that it was hypocritical of God to demand different standards of behaviour between Jews and Gentiles. Between Jews and sojourners. Between Levites and non-Levites. Between the descendents of Aaron and the other Levites. Between children and adults. Between women and men. Presumably it was also wrong of God to prohibit incest.

Posted by Andy at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 1:39pm BST

No name for this--any suggestions ?!

?sortes biblicae?

Posted by mynsterpreost at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 2:37pm BST

Thanks Steven for trying. I take it then that we should agree according to your principles that I head towards the nearest exit with all due speed.

Now that I am out of the circle you believe God has drawn round the worshipping community, what next?

Are you content? Or are there further exits from further circles drawn in venues/settings outside the worshipping community - if only we will continue to apply God's Word outside? I obviously would wish to preserve as much of my otherwise available claim to physical saftety, housing, work, and family life as I may - but I realize these things are also in play among certain believers who are rather convinced that my existence brings the house down around their ears as it were.

The very last thing I would wish to do, and I know many LGBTQ folks who may agree, is to stay on visits where I am actually not welcome - except as a vigorous negative figment of somebody else's biblical imagination. A clear invitation to exit is actually all that is needed, and as you say, it need not be all that harsh, just clear enough please.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 3:12pm BST

I agree that the omission of empirical data is quite a large gap in the Worcester materials. The nagging fact is, we are changing our minds in good part because of startling new data which none of our received views predicted would be true - about not only the ranges of human competence among LGBTQ folks, but also about the wider domain of human nature which clearly seems to include a complex phenomena, hitherto unnnoticed as such, i.e., sexual orientation variance. Almost no research effort these days makes use of the categorical ideas so favored on the Christian right, with straight subsuming all.

The conservative materials are exmplary, and naturally for me, that is part of the good difficulty they offer. I only wish marriage were always as idealized, uniform, and entirely without blemish as their remarks presume. Ditto, for their views of the creatureliness of being attracted to the opposite sex, which they unsurprisingly redact as a sort of preparedness to be godly. We know of course which way attractions to the same sex/gender point in this frame.

Given the materials, then, just what sort of listening will occur will probably depend on who attends given meetings or conversations; and who is facilitating those as to the processes of inquiry, discussion, and discernment. There is perhaps something to be said for using minimalist materials in favor of leaving a lot of room for a flexible, adjustable conversation process.

The other point is also quite well taken, I guess. A listening process organized around themes and viewpoints is something different from a listening process in which we finally get to hear for real from our LGBTQ friends and neighbors. Instead of trying to get traditionalistic believers to vary their scripture readings; maybe a better connect nexus would be just to let them have a real chance to actually get to know some real LGBTQ folks, and talk at length, in some depth, back and forth.

This would shift the listening process from materials as such, to ways of making it safe for the local church LGBTQ folks to come out without fears of reprisal for being honest. Such safety would be a large task in some worldwide communion venues, and maybe that tells us as much as the Worcester materials ever could.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 3:32pm BST

RMF - at least we seem to agree that the "main question is, what is immorality in this context", even if you still attribute to me many things I have neither said nor suggested. My point is quite simple.

(1) The canonical Gospels in the form in which the church has received them tell us that Jesus spoke about "porneia" (Mark 7.21 // Mt 15.19).

(2) If we are unsure, what "porneia" means, we need to ask what the first readers of the Gospels would have understood by that term.

(3) An examination of the relevant linguistic evidence leads me to believe that the term was used to include all sexual intimacy outside marriage.

(4) If this is so, "Jesus in the Gospels says nothing about homosexuality" presumes too much.

You may disagree with my point (3) but I note that if mine is a defensible reading of the linguistic evidence (and I am still the only one who has provided any evidence!), you cannot in all fairness say "Jesus in the Gospels says nothing about homosexuality" because it assumes your alternative reading of the evidence and silences mine.

You can, of course, say that "Jesus does not explicitly refer to same-sex activity anywhere in the Gospels" and maybe this is what you mean. In this case, fear no disagreement from my side! But those who ask us to consider this silence significant, need to tell us why. Why should Jesus have spoken specifically about same-sex lovmaking? We have no evidence for any disagreement among the Jews of the time on the propriety of homosexual activity which could have prompted Jesus to speak about it, as we have in the case of divorce. I trust that you are not going to follow Göran's line by suggesting that the absence of evidence is proof of the extent of the homophobic conspiracy.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 5:02pm BST

To Cheryl Clough,
You wrote .."This posting led me to contemplate the (non)existence of Adam and Eves' marriage vows"
But thats not quite what the text says. If we are to listen we have to listen to what is being said rather than imagine other things
And a couple things stick out to me too.
Firstly the helper was female and a woman so the fact that I had never considered the word helper in terms of gender is as far as I can see irrelevant. Table is gender neutral but not in the French language where it is feminine.
As to your reference to the woman caught in adultery the legalist and literalists knew she was guilty of sin but wanted to carry out the punishment, as we know Jesus forgave her and told her to sin no more. We must be careful not to become illegalists and iliterates by also missing what Jesus said.

Posted by DaveW at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 5:08pm BST

RMF - in a recent thread I cited Hooker who said "that we are far from presuming to think that men can better any thing which God hath done... God never ordained any thing that could be bettered. Yet many things he hath that have been changed, and that for the better. That which succeedeth as better now when change is requisite, had been worse when that which now is changed was instituted." (III.10.5)

I believe that Hooker follows here the attitude of our Lord Jesus. In Hooker, you will also find an attempt to explain why we do not lay down the same punishments as Leviticus, even when we accept laws as still reflecting God's will for us.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 5:11pm BST

Doug - my comment on the different forms of listening were occasioned by a number of posts, in particular the interchange between J. C. Fisher and Simon Dawson, and were not meant as a specific comment on the Worcester initiative for which I wish you all the best.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 6:17pm BST

I have read a number of comments about others expecting people to do something or other.
If Jesus expects that some of us may be beaten and persecuted because of Him, as thousands in the world are, I hardly think it is any of us who is expecting that.
The same with anything we as a church decide is what we should and shounldn't out of love for Jesus. Lets not start accusing each other of hypocracy.

Posted by DaveW at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 6:25pm BST

"Jesus would have been breaking the Mosaic law if he had condemned the woman when the witnesses had refused to cast the first stone."

How disappointing. I'd always thought that perhaps the Lord had a spot of, y'know, insight, what with his reported 'Moses said... but I say.' Now I realise he was just a good little Bible Teacher and legal nit-picker after all, who would happily have condemned if only the proper legal process had been followed.

What an attractive faith we can now present to a wounded world, eh? "Who has condemned you?" "Nobody, sir" "Oh, bother, that means I can't either."

Posted by mynsterpreost at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 6:33pm BST

It may be useful for some if I clarify that I have cited Tobit and Antiquities not because I agree with the philosophy, theology or biblical exegesis of the authors in question but because these are Greek compositions written by Jews and read at the time of Jesus. They thus provide relevant linguistic evidence for usage of Greek terms at the time.

Tobit has been translated into Greek from a Semitic original (or so the great majority of scholars today think). Josephus is next to Philo the best known Jewish author of the time to have written in Greek, exceping the authors of the NT!

(I admit that it was a clever, even if unprofessional, move on Göran's part to rule out in advance any reference to the two most prolific Jewish authors of Greek compositions at the time. In any case, I did not cite Josephus but Tobit as evidence for the usage of porneia, a fact he conveniently overlooked. More pertinent references can be found by consulting a concordance to the Greek translations of the Hebrew Scriptures.)

Posted by Thomas Renz at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 6:54pm BST

Andy

And that was the point in the paper linked to that posting. Thank you for encapsulating the same core lessons.

My only other comment is that they were both faithless and legalists. Legalism was the tool they tried to use to snare Jesus, the same kind of snares that Moses had overcome amongst the challengers to his annointment. Legalism is a favourite tool of the Accusser's minions, going as far back as Eve in the garden "Did God really say you would DIE?"

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 8:02pm BST

I agree with merseyMike -- most of have tried to 'go str8' at some time or other. I know I tried to, between the ages of about 3 and 22. It was a relief when I started out on the path to being & becoming who I am.

I almost married at 20, and it was a bit of luck for us both, that we pulled back -- just in time. There are those here, who would wish that we had wed, and that I was one of the many middle aged married gay clergy, struggling to live a life, and caught up in the lives of a wife and children-- or among the divorced.

(I should have liked the children --but that's another matter...).

Posted by Laurence dibriod Roberts at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 8:26pm BST

Drdanfee:

You are being melodramatic. I find this to be very common among "reappraisers"--i.e., the "po' oppressed li'l ol' me" attitude. STOP whimpering and projecting your fascism fantasies on traditionalists.

Most of us just want a fair and equitable separation, with both sides taking their respective church buildings and getting along without each other as they can't get along together.

The point is to make sure that it IS NOT a question of somebody throwing someone else out the door. (And by the way, there is far more danger of traditionalists getting booted out the door by liberals in the U.S. than vice versa).

Or, at the least, we need to struggle to make it something different--a parting of the ways that is accomplished in a Godly manner. Then, as others have noted, Gamaliel's rule applies and time, by God's grace, will sort out who is in the right.

However, for the here-and-now it is clear that we cannot effectively do mission together and we are merely creating a scandal in the eyes of the world by our incessant fighting. The answer is not for one side to tell the other to "pipe down"--neither side is prepared to pipe down over matters of principle. Thus, the only answer is a fair separation and some space and time to allow things to work their way out.

Pax Christi--

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 8:30pm BST

Dear Prof. Renz,

Thank you for your reply. Mind you I am not intentionally attributing anything to you which you then believe is unwarranted or not your position; part of this is the inhenerent limitations of delayed communication. Of course feel free to elaborate, decline to accept, or clarify my understanding of your positions.

To your last reply, (and becasue I am pressed at the moment) I again ask the questions I posed before at 19 July 2006 at 6:06pm BST; but this time, I will use your own words, supplying "slavery" where appropriate.

Begin:

"You can, of course, say that "Jesus does not explicitly refer to favoring slavery anywhere in the Gospels" and maybe this is what you mean. In this case, fear no disagreement from my side! But those who ask us to consider this silence significant, need to tell us why. Why should Jesus have spoken specifically about slavery? We have no evidence for any disagreement among the Jews of the time on the propriety of slavery which could have prompted Jesus to speak about it, as we have in the case of divorce. "

Or how about this?

Begin:

"You can, of course, say that "Jesus does not explicitly refer to the role of women anywhere in the Gospels" and maybe this is what you mean. In this case, fear no disagreement from my side! But those who ask us to consider this silence significant, need to tell us why. Why should Jesus have spoken specifically about the role of women? We have no evidence for any disagreement among the Jews of the time on the propriety of the role of women which could have prompted Jesus to speak about it, as we have in the case of divorce. "


Again, I understand your interpretation of the Lord's silences. But you are in turn implying that by silence we are to understand not only widespread acceptance, but the Lord's own approval, and thereby, limited or no other interpretation. Again, I recognize the widely accepted understanding; but I again argue that this may be only an incomplete (and possibly erroneous) understanding.

Did the Lord likewise, and does He, by his silence thereby also approve of slavery, raping-for-pay, and the like?

It was also quite a common understanding of the Jews of the time that they knew precisely what the Messiah was, and what for. Were they correct? We Christians believe not.

The results of the Lord's silence are interesting, no doubt; again we abut against the fact that the Lord did not specifically reference same sex affections/relations. Not one time.

Why would He, you ask?

I agree-why would He?

Posted by RMF at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 8:33pm BST

RMF - I was not the one to argue from Jesus' silence! I admit that, if pushed, I would find "Jesus never condoned same-sex lovemaking" more significant than "Jesus never conndemned same-sex lovemaking", given the prevailing Jewish attitudes of the time. There is a greater urgency to speak out, if you disagree with the consensus. But I did not seek to make this argument. All I was saying is that the opposite argument claims too much.

I did not want to focus an argument on Mark 7.21 // Mt 15.19. I merely did not want to see this reference effectively ruled out as irrelevant. Our Lord tells us that porneia, as well as a host of other sins which I do not want to forget about, comes out of the heart. This should caution us against putting too much weight on "what feels right to me".

To be honest, I am concerned about the "Jesus did not say" argument also because it seems to imply that if Jesus had explicitly spoken against same-sex lovemaking, the situation would be different. I have difficulties believing that many "reappraisers" would indeed reconsider under this hypothetical scenario - witness what is being said on divorce.

O - and call me Thomas, if you don't mind.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 9:36pm BST

Steven wrote: "Most of us just want a fair and equitable separation, with both sides taking their respective church buildings and getting along without each other"

It is hard to think of anything further away from the gospel than this.

Posted by badman at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 9:47pm BST

Problem is, Steven, that I don't think most people want that sort of separation.

The conservatives, in the main, want gays and liberals thrown out of the church.

Liberals are willing to have conservatives remain but if they wish to go, wont let them take the building with them.

And then theres the movement of 'we have got to somehow stay together however loosely at all cost' which is very strong in the UK.

What is clear is that nothing is going to happen very quickly - unless Akinola and his puppetmasters decide to jump ship.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 10:00pm BST

RMF - as for the examples you mention. Let me first state again that I am not really interested in interpreting the silences of Jesus. I am asking others not to use the argument from silence without explaining why the silence is supposed to be significant.

Having said that: Jesus broadened the concept of "adultery" from its more technical meaning in the Pentateuch to include every instance of a man having sex with any woman but his wife. So he did maybe more than you give him credit for. Prostitution (I assume this is what you refer to with the phrase raping-for-pay) was tolerated to some extent in the OT but Paul, e.g., did clearly not understand Jesus to condone it.

As for "slavery" - in the forms we know best from our own history, it is of course an "abomination". But slavery in the ancient world was a more complex affair. There was certainly a lot of injustice to be found in that system but it also provided opportunity for economically disadvantaged people to rise to high status and to occupy influential positions. I know we could discuss this forever and I will probably shock some by suggesting that debt slavery in the form found in the OT is actually more humane than the UK prison system. But so be it. Maybe Jesus did not speak out against the sheer unmitigated evil of the kind of slavery we are usually thinking of because this kind of slavery was not a part of the world of first century Palestine.

As for women - many scholars do in fact believe that the attitude of Jesus to women as portrayed in the Gospels is noticeably different from the attitude of fellow rabbis of the time. I happen to agree with them.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 10:11pm BST

Cheryl wrote: "Legalism was the tool they tried to use to snare Jesus, the same kind of snares that Moses had overcome amongst the challengers to his annointment"

No, they were doing the opposite of legalism ("strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its spirit" - dictionary.com). The spirit of the law is clear:

Deuteronomy 17v6-7:
"[6] At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is to die be put to death; at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. [7] The hand of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. ***So thou shalt put away the evil from the midst of thee.***"

If you accept that the woman was guilty of adultery, and I do, then stoning her was in the spirit of the law. It is Jesus who insists on following the letter of the law by insisting that the witnesses come forward and cast the first stone.

Posted by Andy at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 11:13pm BST

mynsterpreost. Thank you for making me laugh with: "What an attractive faith we can now present to a wounded world, eh? "Who has condemned you?" "Nobody, sir" "Oh, bother, that means I can't either.""

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 11:18pm BST

At one point Andy commented: "Presumably by the same argument, you would also agree that it was hypocritical of God to demand different standards of behaviour between Jews and Gentiles. Between Jews and sojourners. Between Levites and non-Levites. Between the descendents of Aaron and the other Levites. Between children and adults. Between women and men. Presumably it was also wrong of God to prohibit incest."

I think this passage was written in a moment of passion because there is bundling (wheat in amongst the chaff).

It was humans, rather than God who set different standards between the Jews and the Gentiles - and Jesus and Paul both tried to explain it is by Faith that we come into communion with God rather than by deeds, tithes or genes.

The separation of the Levites was to do with the priestly castes being required to meet a higher standard, and to ensure that their material needs were met so they were not distracted from their godly obligations. In turn, they were required to be meet a higher standard than those around them. However, they often failed to meet that standard reducing God's peoples to souls who tithed and undertook rituals with form but lacking the substance of true faith. This did not just apply to the Pharisees, look at Obadiah and read the scathing comments against scribes at various points in the bible. The same passages apply to those who now try to use legalism to justify excluding people but in turn fail to meet their own obligations unless shamed. For example, when the 2004 tsunami hit, Sydney diocese didn't even have an appropriate tax charity link as it was a distraction from their core mission of spreading the gospel (welfare was seen as an intrusion into evangelicising to recruit tithing attendees).

On the comments vis a vis children etc. That must have been passion, because that is a huge hyperbole and, as a long-term contributor to this forum, you personally have seen me on many times make explicit statements expressing my distaste for those who would exploit or abuse the vulnerable in our communities (especially children). Further, I have repeatedly said that we need to distinguish between mutually reverential relationships and abusive relationships.

Finally, there have been other occassions when challenged on my standards that I have stated that I have never demanded more of others than I would of myself. That the standards set must respect the holiness of "the other". Rape and abuse is wrong - whether that is a man to man, man to woman, adult to child, priest to parishioner, authority figure to civilian. One form of abuse is sociopathy - where one tries to stifle creativity, play, enjoyment in relationships, respect for the environment; this is an extreme form of piety that ends up with people who buy into the paradigm hating those around them, creation, and often themselves as they fail to meet their own standards. Many violent criminals come into this category - they try to purify themselves - feel the need to release sexual tension - but can not express it healthily so they bash, rape and/or murder instead.

When I was a young teenager, one of my first adult affronts was that women in Australia very rarely won rape cases as it was presumed they were guilty and the court trial was to prove that they were "dirty" women who had provoked their attackers. It was the feminist movement who overturned this archaic paradigm, with no help and often sabotaging from misogynistic priests and their coteries. No better than King Xerxes - suppress and slander the women lest they discover they don't have to put up with being raped and bullied. Did ever occur to anyone that Eve might have been raped?

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 11:38pm BST

Badman:

What's so far from the gospel? There's nothing un-Christian about making a space between warring parties. Sometimes this is the only way to cool off a situation so that peace and reconciliation may ultimately be able to take place. Your statement is one that you'll have to back up with Merseymike as well as with me, as he is also an agitator for separation (though from the other side).

Merseymike:

I agree with what you have said about liberals, and have seen the same attitude displayed here often enough! However, I disagree as to the traditionalist attitude, and for reasons of practicality if nothing else.

I don't know about the UK, but most traditionalists in the U.S. know they are the underdogs in any real fight with TEC, and with good reason. They know they are outnumbered and outgunned. In most diocese their bishops are against them. Thus, they are certainly not in a position to throw anyone out of TEC, and they know it.

Traditionalists are merely trying to play as many cards as they can to get leverage and bargaining position. Believe me, if TEC proposed a simple "opt out with your property by church-wide vote" type of resolution traditionalists would jump at it. There might have to be some fiddling with pension plans and other things as well, but overall this thing could be solved very simply in the TEC if there was a willingness by the liberals at the top of TEC to do so.

Unfortunately, there ain't! As you point out, its really the liberals who say "our way or the highway"!

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 11:44pm BST

RMF - just realised that "raping-for-pay" refers to "Deuteronomy suggests that a man may rape a virgin as long as he marries her and pays her father 50 shekels" in which case what I wrote on prostitution does not address your point. The appropriate answer to this can be found by analogy from Jesus' answer to the Pharisees in Mark 10 // Matth. 19.

There is a world of difference between, on the one hand, a law which is designed to make sure that one evil does not lead to another one and, on the other hand, a license to do evil. I hope that you do not seriously think that Deuteronomy gave a license to rape.

If anyone is inclined to jump to the conclusion that I advocate a return to the Levitical and Deuteronomic law system(s), may I ask them to have another look at my quotation from Hooker? It is possible to consider Leviticus and Deuteronomy God's word which gave Israel just the right laws at the right time without advocating that we reinstate these laws today. Hooker can tell you how. In spite of the impression I may have given here, I do have a life beyond discussing Greek words and in/valid arguments.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 11:53pm BST

mynsterpreost wrote: "How disappointing. I'd always thought that perhaps the Lord had a spot of, y'know, insight, what with his reported 'Moses said... but I say.' Now I realise he was just a good little Bible Teacher and legal nit-picker after all, who would happily have condemned if only the proper legal process had been followed."

I'm glad you found what I wrote enlightening. Jesus had to be without sin, and for Jesus, amongst other things, that meant obeying the Mosaic Law. In the particular case of the adulterous woman, His obedience demanded that he did not stone the woman. You give the template "Moses said...but I say", but I don't find any verses in my bible that fit your template. Care to give a reference? Jesus did not contradict the Mosaic law. On the contrary, He said:

Matthew 5v17-19:
"[17] Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. [18] For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, ***one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law***, till all things be accomplished. [19] Whosoever therefore shall break one of these ***least commandments***, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

mynsterpreost wrote: "What an attractive faith we can now present to a wounded world, eh? "Who has condemned you?" "Nobody, sir" "Oh, bother, that means I can't either.""

I would present to the world that sin is a real problem, and must be repented of whether or not you escape the physical legal punishment for your sin. What are you saying? That we should base our interpretation of the bible on what will be most attractive to a "wounded world"?

Posted by Andy at Thursday, 20 July 2006 at 11:54pm BST

Hi there Steven, glad to hear that you hope and pray for a violence-free separation.

I guess I have a different view of antigay violence than you, since I find it distressingly real, even if it gets extreme and melodramatic. If you are safe and sound, far away from it, that is a blessing which many of us do not consistently enjoy.

I do recognize the sense of queer melodrama that you mention - some of my drag quean friends have it in high heels and glitter indeed - but I find it being lived out rather more often than I would wish. Antigay violence is hardly a passe fashion of some old-timey newsreel. Neither is this stuff faked to evoke neurotic pity among audience members who can be manipulated. For a USA update, you can read Amnestry Intl's latest report on some of these dramatic things, at: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR510012006

I have personally experienced face to fist theology on more than one occasion among various USA Bible Belt communities of believers. It started verbally at about five years; and it got physical at about twelve or thirteen. Melodramatic it may have been, and sadly, all too real. Bible Belt USA teens know their scripture, and they often can quote the six or seven clobber verses rather well. Sometimes they just quote, other times they quote while they attack. I think traditionalistic believers have quite an unfinished task ahead of them, if they dearly wish to preserve and propagate the deep sense of filth and danger we receive as the core legacy of our religious tradition, but nevertheless always stop short of the violence that these preachments' intensities help to generate on occasion.

Leviticus is not all that handy in that regard, because after all it is quite explicit about the death penalty. How can we take Leviticus as the mighty Word of God, interpreted via legal and penal frames, and yet step back from the death penalty? Maybe, either God in Leviticus means kill the Queers - well, the men at least, or we have to have a more complex hermeneutic?

I offer another explanation for why this melodrama comes up so often when you discuss highly negative views of LGBTQ folks with liberal or progressive types. Rather than just tarring us all with the broad brushes of drama quean glamour, you might want to take some responsibility for how often just your negative views have been used in a past era and setting - as the theology that justifies hitting, period.

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 4:07am BST

Sin is a real problem. But god makes allowances for those who are suffering the consequences of sin, firstly by Jesus' atoning sacrifice, and by the creation of His refuge of Zion.

Isaiah 14:32 What answer shall be given to the envoys of that nation? “The LORD has established Zion, and in her his afflicted people will find refuge.” See also Isaiah 25:1-5, Isaiah 31:1-8, Isaiah 33:1-24 ending with ...the sins of those who live (in Zion) will be forgiven. Joel 3:21 "Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.” The LORD dwells in Zion!" Proverbs 14:32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge.

So the comment "...whether or not you escape the physical legal punishment.." This is a statement of someone who is demonstrating that they do not have faith that Jesus blood sacrifice was sufficient, nor that God has the capacity nor desire to establish Zion.

We should establish our interpretation on the bible on what the bible states. There is no rest for the wicked (for they do not have faith that God has unilaterally taken steps to grant forgiveness). Nor will they find refuge because they can not bear the fire of Zion nor tolerate those who are contrite and afflicted within. See also Isaiah 57:11-21 ending with "But the wicked are like the tossing sea,which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”"

You might find Micah useful, the Daughter of Zion agreed to her exile because she knew at the right time God would redeem her, and as she arose she would bring the fire that burns away the chaff to bring forth God's truth in justice and mercy and compassion. True justice based on faithfulness to the intent of the Torah, not webs of deceit and violence from adulterous priests prostitituting to their idols at the expense of God's Name.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 7:38am BST

To mynsterpreost
In response to my statement
I think we need to re-focus our eyes on Jesus and not on our sexual desires."
You immediately replied
"And the great thing is that we married straights are able to.."
Thats my point. Is the problem that you cant focus on Jesus without thinking in terms of sexuality?

Posted by DaveW at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 7:49am BST

Cheryl wrote: "So the comment "...whether or not you escape the physical legal punishment.." This is a statement of someone who is demonstrating that they do not have faith that Jesus blood sacrifice was sufficient, nor that God has the capacity nor desire to establish Zion."

The question is, sufficient for what? I say that it is sufficient for your spiritual salvation. A person who murders, then repents and is spiritually saved, may well face a legal, earthly, just punishment for his sin. That punishment may well be death. Is Jesus' blood sacrifice sufficient for a believer to escape that legal, earthly punishment? If the answer to that question is yes, the surely you have to conclude that no believer has ever been put to death for a sin that he committed. Isn't the guy who repented on the cross next to Jesus a counter-example to that? Why did Jesus not physically save him once he believed?

Posted by Andy at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 10:57am BST

Cheryl wrote: "It was humans, rather than God who set different standards between the Jews and the Gentiles - and Jesus and Paul both tried to explain it is by Faith that we come into communion with God rather than by deeds, tithes or genes."

Whilst it is true that "it is by Faith that we come into communion with God rather than by deeds, tithes or genes", the "standards of behaviour" for those who have Faith were different between Jews and Gentiles, and it was not a human innovation, but a divine one. God commanded physical circumcision of the physical male descendants of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (Genesis 17v12: "And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner that is not of thy seed.") The whole Mosaic law was given to Jews, not Gentiles - thats 613 commandments difference right there.

You acknowledge that the Levites had a different standard, although for some reason you comment that they fell short of that standard.

On children and adults, I simply mean the difference between honouring for adults and obedience for children.

The point of my post was simply to show the fallacy of the idea that, "it is hypocritical to demand inconsistent standards of behaviour between different groups e.g. celibacy for homosexuals but not for heterosexuals."

Posted by Andy at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 11:16am BST

Andy wrote on Thursday, 20 July at 11:54pm: “Jesus had to be without sin, and for Jesus, amongst other things, that meant obeying the Mosaic Law.“

I must say I am horrified! Who taught Andy this? What is Christianity all about?

The Mosaic Tradition (LXX nómos means what is received; Tradition, not legalistic “law”) is not about “sin”, this is an abstract Scholastic concept. 12th century.

The 10 Commandments (the only thing that is “law” in the Church), are Theistic (right and wrong Cult 1st -3rd), Domestic (The House and the Household 4th – 7th) and Social (your Neighbour’s House 8th-10th).

The Tradition proper is about foodstuffs (Lev 11), domestic authority (Lev 18:6-18), right and wrong Cults (Lev 18:19-23) and so on.

Material, not abstract. About matter, not concepts.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 11:33am BST

Read the Song of Songs recently ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 11:49am BST

Steven ; I think you need to look at the attitude of traditionalists who post to blogs such as Titusonenine and Vitueonline - their attitudes are very clearly belligerent and want expulsion.

I would also suggest that in areas where conservatives are in the majority, they very clearly want expulsion - and the organisations which represent them do the same.

Whereas I think both of us want not expulsion, but separation - heck, if they both want to call themselves Anglican, so be it.

But I think we are in a minority.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 11:51am BST

DaveW: I think you ought to get real. Sexuality is part of people and their make up, and whilst a very few people feel a calling to celibacy, it is a very few ( and not all of them stay the course or find it easy)

For the rest of us, sexuality is part of our lives and cannot be switched off at will. However, you suggest that the rules should be permenently different for those who are gay or lesbian by orientation, as opposed to those who are heterosexual. No-one has ever been able to come up with a reasoined justification for that other than the opinions of the men who wrote a few vaguely relevant points in the Bible - which is a document full of error and cultural containment.

Thats why it needs both interpretation and revision and must be seen for what it is - a human production, of its time.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 11:55am BST

" Is the problem that you cant focus on Jesus without thinking in terms of sexuality?"

Sorry — don't quite understand the point you're trying to establish here, unless you're trying a bit of long-range and rather patronising psychologising.

Posted by mynsterpreost at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 1:13pm BST

ou give the template "Moses said...but I say"

Quite a few in Mt 5 ("you have heard that it was said..." being the full formula), where Jesus portrays the Mosaic Law as deficient — that's for starters. Add Sabbath controversies, purity issues and all the rest and it looks as though the Lord had considerable regard for the impact of the negative impact of the Law on human suffering....

I really cannot understand the wish of so many Christians to turn Jesus into a Bible Teacher (a point made many years ago, I know). Sort of cuts his nuts off, if you'll pardon the expression.

BTW, why is it that so many Christians are happy and guilt-free being wealthy? Could it be that we've found some way of softening all those unambiguous dominical injunctions against wealth...? HTB, answers on a postcard, please....

Posted by mynsterpreost at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 1:23pm BST

"What are you saying? That we should base our interpretation of the bible on what will be most attractive to a "wounded world"?

Well, that would at least seem to satisfy the basic requirement of being 'good news' (y'know' sight for the blind, liberty for the captives, can't quite recall where I read those words, must be some nasty liberal pamphlet or other) — as opposed to inducing a spurious guilt so as to offer an equally spurious redemption (he said provocatively).

Posted by mynsterpreost at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 1:30pm BST

Drdanfee:

Men err, God does not.

If you or others have had hardships in your life because men have erred in interpreting and applying Scriptures, I am sorry. And, to the extent those who acted with violence were Christians, I am sure that God grieves that such things are done by his often erring servants. However, the answer is not to diss, expurgate, or disrespect the word of God.

Humans are full of sin and are prone to become too exaggerated, overzealous, or even violent(and one may cite the oft noted example of the crowd that brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus). However, the answer is not that Christians should become lukewarm or unconcerned about what Scripture plainly says, especially in dealing with one's own personal sin (note also what Jesus said to the woman).

So, I do not reject the pain you have suffered, but I do reject the premise underlying your "approach" to Scripture. It is not a choice of rejecting Scripture because it can be incorrectly applied, or affirming Scripture in order that violence can be done to homosexuals. You have created a false dichotomy.

There is a middle way, and that middle way is very clearly indicated by Jesus in the passage I have referenced. We must all acknowledge our own personal sinfulness in the face of our creator and redeemer, we must all be compassionate towards each other, and we must all repent of our sins and strive to "sin no more".

As someone who continually fails in all three, I know this is not easy, but we gotta keep tryin'. He has promised to help us, and he will never leave us nor forsake us.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 2:00pm BST

Thomas Renz wrote on Thursday, 20 July at 5:02pm to RMF, but I’m weighing in: ”(1) The canonical Gospels in the form in which the church has received them tell us that Jesus spoke about "porneía" (Mark 7.21 // Mt 15.19).”

They tell us that He u s e d the word. Not “spoke about” – unless you have already decided what it means ;=)

Thomas Renz wrote: “(2) If we are unsure, what "porneía" means, we need to ask what the first readers of the Gospels would have understood by that term.”

This needs to be qualified. First we must ask ourselves What kind of Greek is this?

Is it specific LXX Greek, that is the technical/theological lingo – one Greek word for one Hebrew theological concept – of the LXX and 1st Century NT texts? Or is it the more general meanings of Ordinary Greek (koine)? Or possibly even (for some 2nd Century writings, additions and glosses) the Greek of the Platonist Academy?

These 3 forms of Greek are different, which means they cannot be trusted to mean the same thing with the same word ;=)

But the method of 20th century translations generally is to naively read everything as Academic Greek and then make further generalizations, sexualizations and abstractions, based on their particular late Modern theologies, not seldom putting modern and late modern theological terms in the sacred text.

“(3) An examination of the relevant linguistic evidence leads me to believe that the term was used to include all sexual intimacy outside marriage.”

Sorry, but this theology, not exegetics. Also, it is a non sequitur; there is no connection between 2 and 3.

What you or anybody is “lead” to believe based on contemporary wordbooks (the English language ones are the worst) is not what the first readers understood by LXX theological terms, pace Gnosticist direct revelation.

A 20th century Greek-English wordbook based on Academic Greek (and further generalized by Neo Platonist “moral” theology) is not “relevant linguistic evidence” for anything but the development of Neo Platonist “moral” theology after 1200.

Moreover, your “the term was used to include all sexual intimacy outside marriage” simply is impossible. This is what latter day translators do.

Nor is “sexual intimacy” a concept of the Bible. The abstract institution of marriage as it is understood in the late 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, even less; there is not even a word Marriage in Biblical Greek – only gámos; wedding, used of the Wedding Bed (Heb 13:4 – there had been critique of weddings as too “worldly” in 2nd century Alexandria).

Judaism has never been anti-sex. “Sex” to us, that is the Spilling of Semen, was a problem for Platonizing Philosophers at the Museiwn, due to their Gnosticist ideas on the identities of sperm/soul of man/The Highest Being.

What is not a problem is not defined.

And “include all”. This is precisely the method of systematic generalization used by Scholastic and post Scholastic theologies, in order to turn the Good Book into a handy instrument of crowd control (Social legislation for Geneva and other cities of the plain).

The language of the Bible (LXX Greek, remember) is specific, it’s no “include all”.

Thomas Renz wrote: “(4) If this is so, "Jesus in the Gospels says nothing about homosexuality" presumes too much.”

Another non-sequitur. An argument from silence, if ever there was one. Idle speculation.

Moreover, Jesus of Nazareth in Mark 10 is precisely n o t addressing “acts”, but intentions. Intentions soil people, not the acts as such.

“Jesus sharpens the law”, as they used to say…

Also, the statement does not “presume” – it is a statement of fact; there is nothing. Void. It is you who try to fill that void with moving pictures of all the gory things “included” in your mistranslated (for the very best reasons, of course ;=) word.

Porneía is used in the LXX and in 1st century scriptures to refer to sacral prostitution, the man taking advantage of the poor woman being criticised the poor woman not.

BTW, sacral prostitution is Cult, not “sex”. 1st Commandment.

To Paul this is a crime against the Body of Christ; the Congregation. In 2nd century scriptures the word has been de-sacralised along with the thing itself, meaning prostitution in general.

Now, porneía is found in Sanskrit and is a technical term from the slave trade. Por-, per- in some Greek dialects, is the same root as German führen, to bring forth, to market. In Greek it has a whiff of “over the sea” – slaves where bought from foreign lands.

I bring you to the Market to sell you into sacral prostitution to the nearest (or maybe the farthest) Temple, to pick the Karma points for myself. Still happens in India.

English wordbooks derive it from oven… (they think “vulva” ;=)

Thomas Renz wrote in some other post: “I did not cite Josephus but Tobit as evidence for the usage of porneía…”

In fact you cited it as a proof of your Neo Platonist Ethics. Now, I am not at all familiar with the OT deutero-canonicals and have no idea about how reliable the manuscript/s are in the case of Tobit, nor of their date. Also I have nothing but the 2000 Swedish State translation, which is of the “Dynamic Equivalence” variety and one of the most un-reliable, at that.

But in the NT I have found only 3 examples of a general use of porneía (and then abstractly as porneía/porneías, not as it goes in LXX lingo and 1st Century scriptures s p e c i f i c l y pórnos/pórnoi; the concrete males): to whit 1 Cor 5:1 in the late addition to 1 Cor 4-5, and the gloss in 1 Cor 7:2 dià dè tàs porneías.

Now in my humble opinion, 3 instances (4 with Tobit) of uncertain date, cannot be used to negate the wealth of evidence (the hundreds of Scholastic sexualizations in modern day translations).

Thomas Renz further wrote: “given the prevailing Jewish attitudes of the time.”

I’m sorry, but this is something that the Neo Platonist Academic tradition has made up only a couple of decades ago, treating Filon of Alexandria and Josephus as honorary Fathers. The claim rests on the assumption that Filon – who would have been an arch-heretic, if Judaism had ever been doctrinal – and double traitor “Flavius” Josephus, né Cohen, are in any way representative of 1st Century Judaism.

There are no positive proofs for such a claim.

What we do “know” is that both express views that were held by s o m e outside the Jewish Community, to the point of being self-avowed servants of the Powers of the day: of anti-Jew, anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-Bible, anti-Creation Alexandrian Philosophy and of the occupants; the Roman Empire.

It is, of course, possible (since everything is always possible) that they in fact were what is so taken for granted but the opposite is just as probable, simply because there is (as yet) nothing to go by as to the actual thinking of Judaism of the time, only the (late Modern) academic assertion that 1st century Jews were full blown Platonists, ridiculous as it is.

The point is that we do not in fact “know” this. Indeed, there is no way of knowing before we have reliably dated the writings of the Rabbis.

All we have is the mere assumption. And we know that this assumption is Neo Platonist Ethics out of Alexandrian Philosophy put in the Parisian Versio vulgata, the Scholastic changes in the very reliable Old Latin translation, around the year 1200.

And Neo Platonism is an other religion, founded by Plotínos in the middle of the 3rd century.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 2:57pm BST

Dave,
It's not so much a matter of accusing one another of hypocrisy as it is of acknowledging and repenting of it. There is abundant hypocrisy on both sides of this. We can accuse one another of it all day long. We do would ourselves and the Gospel a far better turn if we acknowledged these sins and sincerely tried to repent and actually bear one another's burdens. But then we wouldn't get to sit in our respective corners feeling morally superior, and both sides are guilty of that one.

Steven,

What concerns me most about your posts is the ease with which you see the Church as being made up of two opposing camps and where a believer is either one or the other. It really galls me that conservatives will look at the slightest hint of liberality as a reason to assume all sorts of bizarre stuff about what I believe and then condemn me for it. One can be things other the a "reappraiser" or a "reasserter". You seem to have a severe case of "us and them" and seem quite comfortable with that. I would urge you to see things otherwise.

Liberals do this as well, with stories of wealthy Republicans, many of whom aren't Anglican, using homosexuality as a lever by which they influence the Church. There are even stories of the Institute for Religion and Democracy deliberately using this issue as a fulcrum to destabilise the American mainline protestant denominations, the resultant squabbling thus weakening their witness against the more unChristian aspects of the current right wing government's policies.

Many, or even all, of these accusations may be correct, but we create the problem when we allow this kind of fear of the "other" to guide our relations with each other. We stereotype what the "other" believes and then judge him/her without even listening to them. It is unChristian, though understandable. The Church is far too wedded to the world to be able to stand back from either the conservative or liberal politics. Since we can't easily stop the influence of the world on the Church, and the right is just as much wedded to the world as the left, we must act locally. We must stop drawing lines around the "others" so as to more effectively demonize them. Can you not accept that the ordinary layperson, whether on your side or not, is trying to be faithful to the Gospel?

You might say it is evil liberal bishops that are forcing this "war". You may even be right. But if none of us chose to fight their war, it'd only be the bishops squabbling with each other. We need to stop the "us and them" mentality that so easily enables us to condemn our brothers and sisters who do not agree with us. We need to stop interpreting the injunction to "be of one mind" to mean "kick out those who don't agree with you". For every example you can give of some oppressive Liberal bishop squelching the conservatives, there is an example of conservatives setting their bishop some sort of simplistic test of doctrinal purity they know he won't pass so they can declare themselves in opposition to him.

My point is that the sin in this entire business is not hypocrisy, nor blessing of what the Bible calls sin, nor narrowminded exclusionism, or anything else. It is that we are not behaving as Christians. Period. Some behave as though some sort of sexual purity, or adherence to traditional ways of doing things is the mark of a Christian. Others behave as though modern liberalism is really just the Gospel reinterpreted for a new age, and where they differ, it's because the Gospels are old and the translations poor. In the process, we not only ignore each other, we actively make boundaries between each other. So much for "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."

How many liberals actually care that Mullahs in Nigeria are using the West's openness to gay people as fuel for anti-Christian ideas? How many conservatives actually care that kids in North America are dying daily on the streets because their parents disowned them for being gay? We're more concerned with finding out how to identify the "others" in our midst so we can better oppose them than we are in actually doing the work of the Gospel, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves for it.

If, I would say when, the Anglican Church splits, it won't be because of gay bishops or gay weddings, it will be because of arrogance and lack of Christian regard for one another. St. John Crysostom, I believe, said "the desire to rule is the mother of all heresies." Well, we all have front row seats to see that demonstrated in our own Church.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 4:30pm BST

DaveW. Your comment to mynsterpreost on 21 July 2006 was just sheer nastiness.

In terms of the pot calling the kettle black, where is your statement of support for peace of Israel and her neighbours? (Sorry, that wasn't to do with justifying puritanical repression, so it isn't important?) At least drdanfee has already made posts showing that he working beyond a myopic self-serving agenda. Of course, you could go and write one now, but it will be dated after this posting, which will raise the question of why you did it now and not before.

As is happening vis a vis the greenhouse effects, working on AIDS. It has been a delight to watch the sola scriptural authorities attempt to stop work on the environment, AIDS, global poverty, mistreatment of women: because they weren't biblical - only to have souls rightly point out that these are all biblical. And not only biblical, but messianic in vision - as even the Jews are saying. Snicker.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 9:08pm BST

To Merseymike,
Of course sexuality is part of people and their make up but I think you need to get real to the fact that for Christians, Christ lives within us through the Holy Spirit. We don’t strive to look at things in terms of our sexuality we strive to look at things in terms of Christ.

To mynsterpreost, You said
"Sorry — don't quite understand the point you're trying to establish here."
Well my point was that in Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew, make nor female, black nor white so for you to talk about ‘married straights’ sets up a division I dont think is there.

To Cheryl Clough you wrote
"DaveW. Your comment to mynsterpreost on 21 July 2006 was just sheer nastiness. "
I am sorry that you view my comments and views as nastiness, I can assure you there was no such motive. My apologies and thank you for listening anyway. So in what way do you agree/disagree with my views?

Posted by DaveW at Friday, 21 July 2006 at 10:45pm BST

mynsterpreost wrote: "Quite a few in Mt 5 ("you have heard that it was said..." being the full formula), where Jesus portrays the Mosaic Law as deficient"

"it was said" is not a reference to the Mosaic Law, but rather the Mishna/Oral Law/Tradition of The Elders. Whenever Jesus refers to scripture, the formula is "it is written".

Posted by Andy at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 12:33am BST

David (mynsterpreost) - your caricature of Andy's reading of the narrative about the woman accused of adultery brought a smile on my face too! Some light relief was appreciated. Thank you!

But I hope you do not mistake your caricature for the reality. Andy did not after all suggest that Jesus was keen to condemn or that he was just another Bible teacher. In some ways, he merely pointed out that the letter of the law is not always such a bad thing. I had not come across his interpretation before and found it intriguing.

There is a subtle but significant difference between "Moses said...but I say" on the one hand and "you have heard that it was said...but I tell you" on the other. Readers disagree on whether the primary contrast is between Moses and Jesus or between tradition and Jesus or even Moses as understood in contemporary Judaism and Moses as interpreted by Jesus. By rendering freely "Moses said...but I say" you seem to foreclose the discussion in favour of one reading.

There are two observations which have frequently been put forward against your reading. (1) Some of the things said in the first half ("you have heard that it was said...") are not in fact written in the Torah. (2) The formula "you have heard that it was said..." is never attested elsewhere as a way of introducing Scripture - neither in the NT nor outside. At least these are the two reasons I remember!

I believe that the reference is to *interpreted Scripture*, i.e. neither simply to written Torah nor simply to oral tradtions but to Scripture as read through tradition. Cf. Mark 10 // Matth. 19 which could be summed up as "It has been said that you are free to divorce your wife, but I tell you..."

Jesus never suggested that Moses got it wrong or that Moses was a bit harsh or that the Torah contained merely human traditions. Jesus did not simply come to reinstate the original intent of Mosaic legislation and to teach people "what the Scriptures really means" - of course not! But neither did he ever violate the spirit or the letter of Torah. He did nothing to deserve the curse of the law which he allowed to fall on himself.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 12:37am BST

Göran Koch-Swahne wrote: "The Mosaic Tradition (LXX nómos means what is received; Tradition, not legalistic “law”) is not about “sin”, this is an abstract Scholastic concept. 12th century."

Romans 3v20:
"because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin."

Posted by Andy at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 12:53am BST

Göran - it is not known how much Greek Jesus spoke which is why your assertion that Jesus used the word "porneia" actually goes beyond my simple statement that Jesus is said to have spoken about "porneia", leaving the term untranslated and thus for the moment undefined.

The Greek "porneia" is used more than 40 times in the translation of the canonical Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, i.e. excluding the deutero-canonical Scriptures. It is used 25 times in the NT. Are you suggesting that we should translate

Matthew 5:32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sacral prostitution, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, sacral prostitution, theft, false witness, slander.

John 8:41 You are indeed doing what your father does." They said to him, "We are not born of sacral prostitution; we have one father, God himself."

Acts 15:20 but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from sacral prostitution and from whatever has been strangled and from blood.

?

Posted by Thomas Renz at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 1:14am BST

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is porneia among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father's wife.

1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of cases of porneia, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

Göran - precisely how late do you think these "additions" are?

Posted by Thomas Renz at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 1:20am BST

Ford:

I've seldom been accused of being un-nuanced. I use terminology that is common on this site and elsewhere without any intention of indicating that someone that is a "reappraiser" in the area of homosexual mores is necessarily a "reappraiser" elsewhere, although this tends to be true. Likewise, many "reasserters" are not necessarily "reasserters" outside of this area, although they tend to be. I am dealing only with one issue area.

However, this issue is the issue under discussion, and this is the terminology (not my choice) that everyone else appears to want to use. (I would prefer "revisionists" and "orthodox", but I raise too many hackles when I use these terms).

Steven

Posted by Steven at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 2:10am BST

I still believe that conversation across differences must find ways to be communicative, provisionally accurate, and hopeful of all humanity. But I must say that I am quite at a loss as to how to speak effectively with believers whose presuppositional approaches to reading scripture leave us with a stereotyped set of several rounds of our taking turns talking - past one another?

More often than not, it turns out that the conservative sides simply repeat their presuppositional finalisms, while the rest of us labor as much as we are able to keep trying to open up paths for investigation, often from distinctively alternative or even non-presuppositional frames.

I have gotten a smidgen more clarity at times by returning to review again the parameters often drawn in presuppositional approaches. A Google search yields the start of a curriculum on presuppositional approaches to scripture and to religion. But, honestly, I find that almost everything that is important and that makes a telling difference to me in forming my best provisional conscience/witness to Jesus simply seems not to register with the repeated claims of presuppositional truth.

Thus, inquiry fails, because the only thing at stake in most presuppositional approaches to any conversation involves the sole question of how to bring everything into conformed subjection to a settled presuppositional reading of scripture. By contrast, I of course think of inquiry as being a much more two-way, or three-way, or even x-way conversation and investigation.

Thus, new data about human nature - in this case the hot button theme of sexuality, in that case the hot button topic of women bishops - fails. Yet again the presuppositional path concentrates in quite a conformed manner to finding ways that selections from the larger data storehouse conforms to a presuppositional reading of scripture. Or, presuppositional truth majors in finding ways that data (new or old) does not matter since the unique authority of scripture trumps any and all possible data. I am much more willing to let new data reposition me and my ideas, and even my provisional frames. In some cases this corrects what I come to believe are witting and unwitting errors in our rich legacy. In other cases, the fears and doubts and categories upon which a legacy position depends simply evaporate as new data repositions me in continuums instead of categories. Often new data reopens paths and frames for new discernment, because as a changed reader, I am unpredictably freed up to approach scripture or tradition in a new way that is relatively unprecedented.

What to do?

I do hope and pray some folks may do a great deal better in actually talking with folks who inhabit a presuppositional approach to being Christian than I am able to do. There is, in fact, almost nothing of the presuppositional strategies that I find any longer cogent or compelling; though I do realize that many conservative believers seem to say that the presuppositional approach is simply the final, complete meeting with what God is saying to us.

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 6:24am BST

Andy's argument against hypocritical application just didn't do it for me. Especially when I read DaveW's post that "in Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew". Which brings us back to the faith versus law issue, and that faith transcends law. DaveW's question was published after my last posting and before this one. He may wish to continue based on the two readings.

If humans could completely repent and never sin or make another mistake, then there would be no need for God to unilaterally intervene to create mechanisms to forgive us (DESPITE ourselves). Witness Jesus' incarnation and crucifixion. Witness Noah in the Ark. Witness Moses leading the Israelites for God to form his first (but not only) peoples for Himself. Witness the prophets of the Torah/Old Testament.

The quotes in the earlier posting still apply and you can add: Isaiah 52:5-15, Hosea 11 including "... all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim. For I am God, and not man — the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath." Or Isaiah 48:9-11 "For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed?I will not yield my glory to another."

Then there's Ezekiel 20:44 "You will know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.’ ” Or Isaiah 42:8-9 “I am the LORD; that is my name!I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 6:48am BST

"it was said" is not a reference to the Mosaic Law, but rather the Mishna/Oral Law/Tradition of The Elders. Whenever Jesus refers to scripture, the formula is "it is written".

Suggest you get your synopsis out and check that — having dug out various dusty tomes, I cannot see the slightest justification for that assertion — unless parts of the Decalogue are now no longer part of the Mosaic Law. I admit that (say) Mt 5:31 is not an exact rendition of the LXX of Dt 24:1, but Mt 5:38 is exact to the LXX of Ex. 21:24 and parallels.

Sounds to me as though you've inherited a devotional commentary which engages in wishful thinking in order to get round an inconvenient aspect of Jesus' teaching!

Posted by mynsterpreost at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 11:31am BST

To Andy (re: Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 12:53am BST)

Quite. Read it again, substituting “what has been received” and “Tradition” for “law”.

;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 11:33am BST

"To mynsterpreost, You said
"Sorry — don't quite understand the point you're trying to establish here."
Well my point was that in Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew, make nor female, black nor white so for you to talk about ‘married straights’ sets up a division I dont think is there.

I must be getting slow in my old age — I still don't get the point you're making. My original observation is simple, akin to the Ghost of Christmas summat-or-other saying to Scrooge, "Oh to hear the insect on the leaf proclaiming on the too much life of his hungry brothers in the dust", that is, I can have my discipleship and my sex life and not even Peter Akinola raises an eyebrow, and I am uneasy about making demands on those who do not share my marital state, demands which cost me absolutely nothing.

Get it? Not an argument about theology but rather one about whether it is right to lay a burden on someone else which I have not the slightest intention of carrying myself — something about which Jesus IS reported as having an opinion.

Posted by mynsterpreost at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 11:39am BST

re "pornia"

don't we need to keep in mind when expounding the Koine and finely attuning the nuances, that while the gospels are in Koine, Jesus' spoke Aramaic.

Where does THAT leave us ?

(Hope this doesn't spoil anyone's fun--I'm sure it won't :-)

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 11:42am BST

Cheryl
Forive me I'm not sure what ' the sola scriptural authoriteis ' are, who have been agin environment al etc., work . Can you send a brief word - if poss > Thanks.
Glad it is being seen as messianci now...
BTW
Thanks for all your posts and stimulating thinking,
laurence

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 12:06pm BST

drdanfee -or is it perhps dan ?
Many thanks for your posts--so unexpected always and re-framing of things. I found your latest post (22/7;morn) on presuppostional & non-presuppostional thinking styles / stances helpful.

You have given me new words /tools to use.

As a phenomenologist and existentialist these categories are useful to me. Thanks,
laurence

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 12:11pm BST

"revisionists" and "orthodox"

The hackles being raised by the not-very-implicit hierarchy/value judgments within the terms. Not an unreasonable cause, methinks ("The revisionist historian David Irving...."

"Traditionalist" might be a better term than "orthodox" (and the wickedly inclined among us would recall in times of uncharity that 'traditio' can also mean 'betrayal'....)

Posted by mynsterpreost at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 12:27pm BST

Listening without memory or desire

I am a professional listener (I know it may sound like a contradiction in terms, but that's how I earn my living :-)).The governement is trying to regulate ( / stop? ) it-- 'New Listening' --'New Relationship'--the Govt. hasn't cottoned on yet, that listening has been going on for centuries, and the spirit bloweth where it listeth.

For me, listening means, to listen disinterestedly, without a personal agenda of my own --or else being clear about my agenda, and putting aside for the purposes of listening to an Other. Perhaps, I am referring to just one kind of listening. Not sure about that. Not sure, what other kind of listiening there could be. (But that could be my limitation,lack of imagination or experience).

My attempts to listen disinterestedly ('without memory or desire') are of mixed success, of course (day dreaming, perambulations of my monkey mind), Nonetheless,my intention to listen in this way, seems to be important. Sometimes in this meeting & listening we seem to have entered a temenos, a place where time or the expereince of it, varies. Where new possibilites emerge and things happen in the-Between. There is sometimes a sense of presence. A sense, as of a third. As if the two of us, speaker & listener together, have unwittinly given rise to something/ one that is not us, but arises from us--from the-Between. Yet, also seems to be Other than us, and Beyond us. Synchronicities suprise us, fateful coincidences....in states of' negative capability'.

From time to time I & the other seem to have been changed, a grace seems to be embracing us.

I don't know if this kind of 'listening process' or relationship, can be an encouragement to christians and churches. I should be delighted if could.

Sometimes something really happens.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 12:52pm BST

drdanfee:

The suggestion that liberals do not use a pre-suppositional approach is one of the most utterly ludicrous things I've ever seen posted on this site, and I've seen many. Your "insights" do not, seemingly, extend to any kind of critique of your own favorite cause.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 2:06pm BST

Steven,
The terminology is merely symptomatic of something bigger: we are identifying "the other" and then directing what often amounts to frank hatred against that "other". It is done by both sides. It gets in the way of us listening to where God is actually leading us. I don't believe God stopped acting with the last full stop of Revelation, and we need to listen humbly to what He's saying.

As to: "I would prefer "revisionists" and "orthodox", but I raise too many hackles when I use these terms"

That's because they aren't true. You can make a case for "revisionists" trying to come up with new interpretations of the Gospel, but how far this can be seen as some kind of new "revisionism" is debatable. I'm sure there were those 1600 years ago who considered the new idea of God being a Trinity as being "revisionists" playing fast and loose with Tradition and Scripture in order to explain their "experience" of God, because those upstart revisionist Athenasians were obviously putting their experience of God above the witness of Scripture. I have a question. Why do you use the word Orthodox? Those who have been calling themselves that for the past 1700 years would not consider you to be such, that is unless you can walk into a Russian or Greek church and take communion. I somehow doubt you can do that. You thus stand in a tradition that has been separated from the Orthodox tradition of Christianity for a long time. The Anglican Church is not Orthodox. She broke with Rome 500 years ago, and broke with the East 500 years before that. Do you venerate icons? Do you accept the necessity for such veneration? Do you invoke the prayers of the Mother of God and the saints?

These rhetorical questions are merely to point out that many who call themselves "Orthodox" are merely defending innovations: sola scriptura, for example, or married bishops, or a purely symbolic/memorialist understanding of the Eucharist, and on and on. All these are innovations, not part of the Orthodox tradition. I fail to see how innovations can become "Orthodox" merely by the passage of, for most of them, a few hundred years. I don't think we should be using the word unless we are prepared to actually confess the Orthodox faith, and most Anglicans who use the word would likely rather have needles driven into their eyes than light a candle and pray before an icon nof the Mopther of God. They'd probably cringe at the very mention of Her name.

The point is that if I label you as "conservative". liberal" "reasserter" or whatever, I have put a separation between us that makes it easier to oppose and argue than listen and appreciate. It isn't a big step from "reappraiser" or "reasserter" to "faithless" unChristian" and even "I hate you". I don't think that's the Christian thing to do, even if it has been the Church's way of doing things for a very , very long time.

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 2:42pm BST

Dan (drdanfee) - I always thought "presuppositionalists" believe that none of us can read (people, texts, evidence) without presuppositions. Anyway, I would call people who refuse to take on board evidence or who deny even when it is demonstrated to them that their argument is in fact incoherent "prejudiced" rather than "presuppositionalist".

Presuppositionalist: we proceed from different assumptions and none of us can claim to start from an entirely neutral, objective vantage point.

Prejudiced: I already know that the linguistic, historical and scientific evidence is going to back me up; no need to check, no need to cite evidence. In fact, if there isn't any, I can just make it up because deep in my heart I know what the facts must be. You are a _______ (insert any of the names people have been called on this page) who willfully distorts evidence in your hatred of all that is good and true. I am a sane, healthy, and loving human being; you hate people and don't let them get on with their lives because of your psychological hang-ups.

Actually, I think I had enough of this for now.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 2:47pm BST

don't we need to keep in mind when expounding the Koine and finely attuning the nuances, that while the gospels are in Koine, Jesus spoke Aramaic.

Where does THAT leave u?

Looking at the Peshitta Syriac (which is, I know, a back-translation, before someone with brain corrects me) they translate porneia at Mt. 5 32 as 'zaniutha', which according to Payne Smith is 'fornication, whoremongering' and cognate with the root zn' which is generally rendered (in Syriac)as involving prostitution (those with my gleefuly schoolboy humour may delight in the knowledge that Syriac - as appropriate for a language which preserved Greek medical knowledge - makes a grammatical distinction between one who goes a-whoring only once and one who does it repeatedly).

Heb. is znh, which my aged BDB (can't afford the new Sheffield Hebrew dictionary) still shows a strong prostitutional bias.

Don't think that proves anything, except that the aramaic tradition, like the Gk 'porne', has a strong prostitution element in it. How that was nuanced in C1 aramaic is, of course, a different matter.... I'm sure there are C1 aramaicists out there who could take us much further.

Posted by mynsterpreost at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 3:55pm BST

Thomas said in reply to Goran,

"It is not known how much Greek Jesus spoke which is why your assertion that Jesus used the word "porneia" actually goes beyond my simple statement that Jesus is said to have spoken about "porneia". "

You have been arguing in many comments that Jesus used the word porneia and that He did so with such a clear meaning in mind that He didn't have to state specifically what he was talking about. Now you state He didn't use the term, it is merely the term used to translate what He said. Make up your mind please.

If you state that He "merely spoke" about porneia with the word undefined and in fact being used in various ways by various translators and commenters, then what is the value of saying that He in fact spoke about something that everyone hearing knew Him to be speaking about, when the meaning of the term used to translate what He said, is so loose that it means various things depending on who uses it, where, and when?; or that He spoke about it without actually using the word which you point to as supplying the meaning for what He himself did not use? This is illogical.

It is in fact more illogical than your argument defending slavery as a method of economic advancement in order to preserve your method of interpretation which when brought to bear on other issues, exposes its limitations to anything much beyond same sex affections/relations. Your approach seems to be one applicable to this issue only, a very limited approach indeed and one thus causing me to question how useful it in fact is.

[But if you wish to defend slavery, or in order to "understand" it, must point to various other sources, who will then "explain" what it was, and that it was really ok, then be my guest! Mind you when the Lord Almighty says He freed the Israelites from slavery, how many of them said, "But Lord, it was a fine vehicle for economic advancement!" (No doubt your reply is along the lines of, But Jewish slavery was much finer than Egyptian slavery.) ]

What you are in fact stating is not the Lord said porneia, but that others used porneia to translate what He spoke about, and this term you would then interpret to include quite a bit of acitvity. This is far afield from the Lord saying a specific thing about same sex relations/affections.

At other places you state that the importance of His silence on the issue of same sex affections has to be stated.
Come now!

The meaning of the silence is plain, it is a silence where many state that God specifically denounces as abomination, same sex affections/relations.

For emphasis: Many state that God states same sex relations/affections are abomination; yet when God's Word is made flesh, He does not say this anywhere, not one time. Therefore, it cannot be stated that God in the New Testament said same sex affections/relations are abomination, unless we recourse to intepreting a word used in various ways, and a word which the Lord did not Himself use, as meaning this very narrow thing.

And as Goran pointed out, when in Mark the Lord is discussing clean and unclean, He is speaking more generally, on the issue of intent, not an act in and of itself. He is talking about the heart. Again, when we have two hearts displaying cardinal virtures, some see in them Godliness.

These readings and conclusions may be a minority in Christendom; they are however, operative in The Episcopal Church. This does not mean that they are heretical, apostate, or pagan. Quite the contrary. They are formed out of a devotion to Christian charity and the Lord's summary and actions.

It also means that there is a tradition on this issue, upholding a majority view as grounded in God's own words. Yet when God's Word is flesh, He does not utter a single syllable on this. The importance of this is that it calls into question the scope, purpose, position and application of that tradition as being from God directly and solely.

Posted by RMF at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 5:48pm BST

Steven:

isn't the point that presuppositionalism is a particular apologetic tradition which makes its unalterable a priori assumption the belief that the Bible is pre-eminent, supernaturally revealed, etc etc, and that all other arguments from 'evidence' are subordinate to the supreme authority of Scripture.

You are quite correct in maintaining that we all have 'presuppositions' - a priori assumptions - in our methodologies, but drdanfee was - I think - using his language very precisely, and you have rather missed the point. Have a look at people like van Til and Clark and you'll see what he's getting at.

of course, I could be the one who gets it round my neck, since my presupposition is that I make sense:-)

Posted by mynsterpreost at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 7:33pm BST

Mynsterpreost:

I've heard the "traditio" remark before. I was not impressed then either.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 8:31pm BST

Laurence Roberts wrote: "while the gospels are in Koine, Jesus' spoke Aramaic.

Where does THAT leave us?"

Quite, but the issue is not what Jesus said or didn't say or in which language, but the abuse of the written record over the last 40 odd years to provide justification for hatred and violence.

This abuse must be adressed or that violence will never cease (the hatred will just move further down the road).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 8:39pm BST

Steven, pardon me for asking, but have you had a humourectomy? Does your playfulness not extend to the amused acknowledgement that word can do funny things given half a chance? Zwingli doesn't have to be the archetype of Christian self-parody, does he?

Posted by mynsterpreost at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 9:10pm BST

Laurence Roberts wrote: "while the gospels are in Koine, Jesus' spoke Aramaic.

Sad individual that I am, I have trawled through Payne Smith (while strugging with tomorrow's sermon) and discovered there is an Aram. word for flagrant/open sexual misbehaviour - gayara' - which I don't think is used to translate 'porneia' in the Peshitta. perhaps - but only perhaps - Edessan Christians believed the prostitution overtones of 'porneia' too strong to ignore?

Whether that is informative/enlightening I haven't a clue, but I throw it in as late Saturday evening entertainment for those whose anoraks are, like mine, hanging on the hall stand ever ready for use.

Posted by mynsterpreost at Saturday, 22 July 2006 at 11:09pm BST

Laurence

The sola scripture reference comes from some earlier heated debates within the Thinking Anglican forums (none of which I think got past 45 posts?...) It actually relates back to some of the presuppositional stuff discussed further back in this thread, and interesting comes up in this week's reviews - see my posting which shows how they link.

The comment there applies here too. While the scriptures might be divinely inspired, they are humanly interpreted and shepherded. Sometimes the shepherds and/or flocks go way off track and need course correction to pull them out a nihilistic path to destruction and/or extinction.

Any soul who claims to not have any cultural filters or internalised paradigms is in error. We are all the sum of our experiences - although how we choose to respond to the stimuli may vary (Read Daniel Goleman's book "Emotional Intelligence" where two brothers both blamed their environment for what they had become. One had become a violent criminal in jail for life, the other the head of a huge multinational company).

For those who do not go into hysteria, Colin Rose wrote some excellent stuff on subjectivity in science which applies as much today as when he wrote it (I often wish Richard Dawkins would read it so that he might realise that he is infected with the rabid atheist meme).

Finally, and as an aside, I found myself contemplating the foolishness of one line of argument that "Jesus never said, therefore..." There is an assumption that everything Jesus ever said or did was documented. The bible itself says that is not the case John 21:25 "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."

There is also an assumption that there has been no human editing of the holy texts. But we know that has happened e.g. Gospel of Judas and other texts relating to Jesus, the non-inclusion of many books from the Torah, the ommission of the Jewish Oral Tradition. Even within the modern bible we see evidence of editing e.g. Acts 8:37 is missing.

Does that make the texts not divinely inspired? No. Does that make the texts vulnerable to misuse by overly zealous or fearful priestly castes? Yes. Does that create a need to recognise that vulnerability with humility and contriteness and make allowances that others might also have reasonable interpretations of God's Word and/or Intent? Yes. Which is why God has passages such as Isaiah 49 and the prophets: they are God's safety net to ensure that humanity stays within reasonable bounds and avoids the adverse consequences of extremism.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Sunday, 23 July 2006 at 12:25am BST

Mynsterpreost:

As to your comments on "traditio". Touche. I shrug off the usual "liberal" insults and accusations, but an attack on my sense of humor hits me where it hurts! I yield on the point.

As to the presuppositional question, I've a glancing knowledge of Van Til, and spent some time (in my salad days) in the Rushdoony camp. So, I'm at least somewhat familiar with basic theological ideas in this area. However, I'm no expert. My response to what I considered to be an absurdity from drdanfree was not intended to be an appeal to any particular school of theology: All reasoning in EVERY area begins with certain things being held as axiomatic. It is true that traditionalists hold different presuppositions than liberals. That does not, however, mean that liberals approach the Scriptures free or presuppositions. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth!

Steven

Posted by Steven at Sunday, 23 July 2006 at 3:32am BST

"To mynsterpreost,
My point is that when you talk of ‘married straights’ it means nothing to me. I am listening to you but we cant communicate if it doesn’t make sense to me. To me straight is a term used to describe a sexual desire and married is a union relationship between a man and a woman.

I am friendly with laity and clergy who have homosexual desires but I think of them in terms of brothers and sisters in Christ. I only think of them as heterosexual or homosexual when it comes to sexual desires, I dont think of them in terms of 'straight' or 'gay' at all.

Posted by DaveW at Sunday, 23 July 2006 at 9:55am BST

Steven

I agree with you that liberalists do not approach the Scriptures free of presuppositions. For example, I work from the suppositions that Jesus did and still does love humanity, as does the Father and the Holy Spirit. I work from the suppositions that the God of the Old Testament is eternal, was there before time and this earth and will be here long after we have returned to the dust of the stars. I work on the supposition that God is as capable of the miracles of Moses and Jesus today as He was when they happened all those years ago. I also work on the supposition that God loves souls who honestly and humbly seek Him out and takes measures to help souls come closer to him, and that therefore God found souls before the Torah existed and would have found souls before the bible found them. I work on the supposition that God is just, and that if He puts in place measures for forgiveness that He would apply them consistently and not on arbitrary lines that correspond to tithes, or flattery of corrupt courtiers.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Sunday, 23 July 2006 at 10:20am BST

Dave;

I speak only in terms of the field of sexual ethics, not about how I interact with people, be they straight, gay, bi or pi r squared — after all, that is the context of much of this conversation.

Imagine if you will a standard x-y axis graph, where the x-axis represents gay-straight and the y-axis one's relationship status (it could get really entertaining if we added other axes, say a z-axis for celibate-active, and a w-axis for use of birth control).

Those who occupy the favoured upper right hand quadrant - straight people in a recognised relationship - have the approval of Holy Mother Church in whatever they do, so long as the chain marks don't show too much, or at least not when the chasuble's on properly.

I am concerned that it is so often people in this favoured quadrant who make decisions about the moral status of those in the other three, and particularly those in the gay/in relationship sector, for we are making moral prescriptions which are cost-free to ourselves.

I wonder, you see, how I would feel if suddenly I had to form a support group called 'straightline' to counter a downpour of condemnation from church members who were sacrificing nothing themselves in the making of that condemnation. Or - triviality - a garlicophobe banning garlic for those of us who like it. I am deeply uneasy with unassailable south-of-the-navel righteousness proclaiming 'if you're not like me, you're out'. 'Nie blankes'. That's all.

Posted by mynsterpreost at Sunday, 23 July 2006 at 2:06pm BST

T Renz & Others,
My deepest apologies if my posts about presuppositional readings of scripture were confused, unclear, and so forth.

My own continuing search into presuppositional approaches in (mainly) western Christian thinking started with this online resource, and went on from there. AT: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presuppositional_apologetics

Again, just Google a search for, maybe: presuppositional scripture reading.

The resulting links list will lead in many different directions, from many different angles on this (surprisingly large and rather more central than I had realized) topic in hermeneutic strategies. One interesting highlight is apparently that some evangelical believers have become newly involved in sorting these things out more clearly for themselves, owing to the rise of USA religious cults over the past three decades or so, combined - and who knew? - with an evangelical recognition that orthodox religious communities can practice one or more elements of cult-like reasoning or cult-like practices. Just another example of how tagging someone evangelical does not necessarily mean they are brain dead; hence my temporarily increased sense of how odd it is when people use an evangelical framework to wittingly or unwittingly deny free, best practices inquiry as a key strategy for making an informed discernment.

I doubt we can find any quick fix in all of this study, but it does add a clarifying angle with something of an important history, within which we can more carefully observe if/when presuppositional elements seem to be operating. This study then might be helpful in equipping us all to identify when presupositional hermeneutics is in passing full or partial force in our various exchanges. This might be especially useful if/when this group of related hermeneutics is going unacknowledged, and therefore hidden from frank hermeneutic disclosure, and therefore (maybe) up to something that needs further scrutiny before we finish making up our minds and hearts and consciences.

This means that presuppositional is not a general, but a more technical, term, based on the starting belief that (among other things) being a conservative believer positions a reader in a very special place, not otherwise capable of being occupied accurately by anybody else. This claim, assertion, assumption, or whatever you call it - surely deserves thorough scrutiny and prayerful discernment - especially by Anglican believers who are historically and doctrinally not bound by its allegiances. For now I am still learning. Sometimes I think this notion is really a clever, covert way of occupying what we already know as a sola scriptura frame. Other times I tend to see this notion as something like a newish bud on the sola sciptura hermeneutic vine. Study, and make up your own mind, of course.

Posted by drdanfee at Sunday, 23 July 2006 at 6:15pm BST

mynsterpreost,

I read your Sunday afternoon post over Dave's shoulder. I found the image of the graph axis, very helpful, and your expression of empathy for the minority, almost unprecedented in 'church' and other writing,

Thank you so much.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 23 July 2006 at 9:08pm BST

Cheryl:

You've made a good start. However, this is only half of the story. We are made in the image of God, but that image is marred. We have the promise of the Holy Spirit, but that spirit battles against the flesh and the dark spirits of this age. Thus, we cannot necessarily trust our own perceptions, decisions, and/or understandings of what is "good" or "just"--we need to refer to Scripture. It is a corrective that provides us with God's understanding of these concepts. We cannot substitute our understanding for God's. God alone is good. And, consequently, God alone truly understands what good is.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Sunday, 23 July 2006 at 11:41pm BST

Stephen, I agree that God alone truly understands what good is, and there are times where only God knows why bad things to happen to good people. Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

There is a dodge in your reply, which is that you challenge the liberals presuppostions, but then make your own unassailable and/or inscrutable.

Is that because your own image and presuppositions are so close to God that they can not be understood by other humans (especially women)? If that is the case, how do you decide who is close enough to God to fully understand (and thus internalise) your divine understanding? How do you stop that cultural dynamic evolving into a cult, that may or may not degenerate into violent self-righteousness to purify and put in place the "divine order" that is inscrutable and unaccountable? How do you stop yourselves becoming Klu Klux Klan coteries? Apartheid justifiers? Ethnic cleansers?

Or is it because when you articulate your premises (or at least Peter Jensen's) - that we are all fallen humans worthy of judgment and being burnt in the eternal fire - that you realise you start to sound like the Accusser?

Moral of this story, don't take a tangent in the argument unless you are willing to play by the same rules. You want to challenge our presuppositions - then be prepared to be honest about yours. If you are not prepared to play by the same rules then you are playing like the deceiver who sets up games for others and then tries to find the loophole to sneak out of judgment; or the accusser who hopes that if he throws enough mud, other souls will be so distracted that they won't notice his interference and bring him to account.

Finally, I spent the weekend fuming that we are meant to have zero tolerance for God's shaping of the pots vis a vis sexuality, and yet we are meant to turn a blind eye while souls use mutagenic weapons against civilian populations, with no concern to the variations that will occur in the descendants of the affected areas. There are souls who have the temerity to throw darts at God's creation, who don't have the decency to even blush (let alone refrain) from causing permanent damage to DNA.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 1:05am BST

Ah yes, Steven, but not all of us totalistically agree that any reading of scripture can be so utterly identified with God or with God's goodness.

Our hermeneutic recalls: We see through a glass darkly. Even when we are reading scripture. And maybe especially when we happen to read scripture in support of special privileges, powers to be used against others, and the sorts of readings that find final answers into which we can no further inquire to understand.

We even, alternatively, suggest that any reading of scripture which dares to become so utterly identified with God, with the ineffable divine nature and being, or with God's good and power that no difference between the reading and the divine any longer effectively exists is perilously near to violating that commandment against idolatry, gestured in the prohibition on graven images, but also referenced in New Testament comments.

Then we go futher, alternatively, to notice that proposing an idolatry - which too utterly conforms a reading of scripture to sheer Godhead and salvation as such - is urged upon us as the most salutary corrective to any human individual propensities to make oneself utterly God. But how can we agree with this remedy? This approach to reading scripture is akin to a terrible, communally conformed hermenuetic remedy for a terrible personal/individual ill. Surely, one does not likely adopt a second idolatry to cure a previous, first idolatry.

And, historically and doctrinally, Anglicans have been somewhat more alert to this bait and switch hermeneutic bad advice than many other worshipping Christian communities.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 5:32am BST

To mynsterpreost,
You wrote "Get it? Not an argument about theology but rather one about whether it is right to lay a burden on someone else which I have not the slightest intention of carrying myself — something about which Jesus IS reported as having an opinion."
That’s extraordinary. Jesus said unless we deny ourselves and take up our cross we cannot follow Him, Peter said they had given up everything to follow Jesus, Paul said we have becomes slaves to Christ and we are bought at a price. If anyone laying any burden on people mynsterpreost its not me, people are free to respond to Jesus or not as the case may be.
In fact in Galatians 1 Paul writes that if someone is caught in a sin we should carry each other's burdens and restore them, this fulfills the law of Christ. The burden may be the sin of homosexual practice that people are struggling with and others need to restore them from it. It is the nature of a sin or not that we are discussing and listening surely
I am also interested to note comments about porneia. Porneia and moicheia are what Jesus describes as outside the man woman marriage as God’s creation purpose (Matthew 19 & Mark 10 where Jesus refers to Genesis 2) Jesus also lists these as even evil thoughts in Mark 7 and Matthew 15. So we don’t even need an in depth study in ‘porneia’ to know what it is, the text explains it.
I am very unconvinced about some of the arguments here, on this issue there seems to be some problem with the translations the likes of which doesn’t occur with other NT words and phrases like there is some sort of conspiracy

Posted by DaveW at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 8:08am BST

My thanks Cheryl, for going to the trouble to clarify that, for me.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 8:48am BST

'mutagenic weapons against civilian populations'

is terrible.

It truly brings me to my knees..


Thank you for such a moving, personal piece Cheryl

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 12:17pm BST

I think the novel Cold comfort farm by Stella Gibbons and the wonderful realisation of it, in the Jon Schlesinger film, brings to us, the gospel of love that casts out far & obscurantism.

Also, while I'm on. A wonderful film of redemption and answer to prayer is :
'batteries not included' again, with quite a cast.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 12:21pm BST

Cheryl:

Your post leaves me scratching my head. Frankly, for the most part I don't know what you're talking about. You seem to vary between accusing me of dark purposes of enslavement (typical liberal fascist fantasy projection) and ranting about things I know nothing about whatsoever.

To begin with, I live in West New York, not Sydney. I also disagree with typical Sydney theology on a variety of points, though none that would probably make any difference to you (e.g., I think Sydney is more Calvinist than Anglican).

The only point of my post is that human perceptions of what is "just" and "good" must bow to God's definitions of what is "just" and "good" and that those definitions are given in Scripture. If this strikes you as manifesting a malevolent purpose, so be it.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 1:55pm BST

Drdanfee:

Always good to hear from you.

I am not a perspicuity of Scripture man in the Calvinist sense. Nonetheless, I believe Scripture was created and given by God to be understood, not misunderstood. God means what He says and says what He means. (Substitute "She" in the prior sentence if you prefer). Thus, I find very little room for the argument you are seeking to make-i.e., I do not find Scripture so lacking in clarity in these areas as to require exquisite and complex efforts to discern God's intentions and mind on the matter. It is the liberal approach that seeks to make the simple complex in order to gain some leeway for an interpretation that favors the current liberal world view. (I could say more on this, but I think I would run into the 400 word limitation).

I also think you fail to appreciate the irony of your own position--i.e., you accuse others of creating and serving a false deity, while eagerly substituting your own. Likewise, is absurd to accuse others of being stubbornly insistent on a particular viewpoint, while obviously being no less stubbornly insistent on your own.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 2:20pm BST

To carry your cross is a legacy vocation in which we all mystically participate. A penal frame tends to identify God the Father as the author and bearer of the suffering, understood as justifiable wrath against filthy humanity - surely we include human sex here? - with Jesus substituted for us as the penal victim who satiates God the Father's hunger for the most awful punishment possible as a sacred sign of goodness. Imitatio Christi follows this penal valorization of suffering, once one takes up residence in the penal frame(s).

A sincere alternative view is that ignorance and evil are the authors of crucifixion most of the time, because ignorance cannot see God embodied in Jesus, nor will evil brook any deity which saves by divine loving instead of saving by sacred privilege and special divine power. One need never fear that simply living honestly in whatever goodness and care one can manage will sometimes, at least if not more often, provoke this curious mix of ignorance and envy or resentment.

An advantage of residing in a penal frame is that it is already something of a done deal, intellectually. It has had the benefit of many different inhabitants over the years of its activity, and so it has considered and explained many things, provided we only give our assert to its starting understandings of wrath and penal sanction as a core essence of justice or good.

For people who are doubtful of residing in penal frames as absolute truth, this comparative comprehensiveness is not the last word. It is the original starting definitions which we have come to suspect, for various real reasons of prayerful reflection, real life suffering, and of course the ever instructive violence of our own local prison systems. None of our suspicions make us Unitarians, whatever that tag means. Nor are we thus constituted as nothing but religious airheads who minimize and resist what Carl Jung once called, legitimate human suffering.

One wonders why a penal frame can send us in gospel mission to heal a suffering world, and still yet find such hidden pleasure and satisfaction in controlling, dominating, and generally obsessing about other people's sex lives? When pressed, even conservative believers admit that marriage as a status does not guarantee anything, morally or practically speaking. If only saying I do were a reliable prevention of cruelty, domestic violence, and family abuse. The sin we try to discern can occur equally among the married or the unmarried, surely.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 3:41pm BST

Thank you drdanfee for your 3.41 pm post.

It is, for me, a helpful & enlightening meditation. I know I shall want to read it a number of times. I feel it makes psychological sense as well, as spiritual, if I can really separate them.
I appreciate the reference to CG Jung, so conspicuous in church cirles by his absence.

I feel many christians and other people of good will could find this helpful. (especially, where you identify 'the curious mix of ignorance, envy or resentment', and their spiritual & practical effects.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 4:19pm BST

To drdanfee
You wrote "To carry your cross is a legacy vocation in which we all mystically participate."
I am afraid I don’t understand that; even enough to be able to guess
You also wrote
"One wonders why a penal frame can send us in gospel mission to heal a suffering world, and still yet find such hidden pleasure and satisfaction in controlling, dominating, and generally obsessing about other people's sex lives?"
I have to say I see the gospel as the good news of how much God loves us through Jesus Christ and the life in Him and through Him eternal and starting now.
I am listening to what you say but I think there is a completely different way of looking at things. For me there is no controlling or dominating or obsessing about other peoples sex at all. For you there seems to be or you wouldnt have mentioned it. I don’t look at my relationship with Christ as married or celibate and if I don’t see it in terms of heterosexual why should I see it in terms of homosexual?

Posted by DaveW at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 4:27pm BST

Drdanfee:

There are many ways to understand the meaning of the crucifiction. A penal approach is one, and is consistent with Scripture as well as with most theology over the past 2000 years. This does not mean that there aren't other approaches that can shed some light on the subject. The topic is big enough to allow for a variety of perspectives, though some are certainly less well supported in Scripture and Tradition than e.g., the penal approach.

However, your attempt to link the penal approach with "hidden pleasure and satisfaction in controlling, dominating, and generally obsessing about other people's sex lives" is simply goofy. Once again, I think you are merely projecting liberal persecution fantasies, and maybe mixing in a few of your own.

As a traditionalist I can tell you that the real issue here, as you already know, is Scripture, its meaning, and its role in the life of the Church and the believer. The latest imbroglio has merely brought to a head the long simmering disputes between traditionalists and r-----s on these issues--the straw that breaks the camel's back (so to speak).

Steven

Posted by Steven at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 5:53pm BST

"A penal approach is one, and is consistent with Scripture as well as with most theology over the past 2000 years."

People like Aulen famously argued against that. For me, a penal view of the atonement doesn't find itself reflected in the devotional material from the first nine centuries, and it wasn't until the early mediaeval Candidus of Fulda that the devotion to the suffering Christ appeared - which would seem to be a sine qua non for a penal atonement theory. The Christus Victor is far better attested in iconography (eg at Daglingworth in Gloucestershire) and in poetry (eg Vexilla Regis), as well as in eg Justin's "dialogue with Trypho the Jew" or the Gospel of Nicodemus.

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 6:54pm BST

Steven

You have come into a debate where one faction demands that the other side perfectly present their arguments or their whole argument is thrown out. A standard which has already been proven they can not meet themselves.

My response was based on exacerbation of dealing with such double standards in these kinds of discussions (when we aren't censored out of existence). I apologise for unfairly projecting that frustration onto you personally. (Although there are factions who needed to have it said that way, so the points stand).

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 10:27pm BST

Dave W wrote on Monday "Jesus said unless we deny ourselves and take up our cross we cannot follow Him".

Is DaveW telling all humanity to embrace celibacy? If DaveW is only asking part of humanity to embrace celibacy then DaveW is advocating different sized crosses for different folk. A form of discrimination, which when backed up with sanctions, becomes a caste or citizenry or even slavery issue (depending on which cross and what legal sanctions are in place).

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 10:31pm BST

Also, there is a big difference between choosing to pick up a cross e.g. vow of poverty for Catholic priest and having the cross thrust upon you e.g. born to a poor villager in Africa.

There is also complacency when one justifies the others' poverty or suffering as "God's Will": when it is actually the consequences of systemised trade imbalances, caste justifications or fear/violence mongering.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 11:28pm BST

David:

Hmmm. It seems to me that the Christus Victor approach blends into the Ransom approach which blends into the Substitutionary approach which blends into the Penal approach. I don't think any of them are mutually exclusive, and I think all of them shed light on the subject (i.e., they are complementary rather than contradictory). Thus, as noted, I think the penal approach is consistent with Scripture and with most theology over the last 2000 years of Christian history.

However, from what I can tell, the ideas of liberal scholars in terms of "Christus Victor" would come as quite a surprise to the Eastern Orthodox and too most of the early theologians of the Church. I.e., "most" does not mean all.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 3:29am BST

I admit to being conditioned by my USA setting where in fact many conservative religious people preach and talk as if they were unusually obsessed with my queer sex life as a man who loves another man, as a believer who is a man who loves another man, and all that. If you haven't been hearing the narratives of filth and danger so prevalent on the USA religious right, now spilling over into the current worldwide campaign for Anglican realignment; well I cannot really explain how you managed to miss hearing at least some of it.

Count yourself blessed, indeed, if you are not only free from obsessing about other people's sex lives, but you are also free from having to hear other conservative believers who are obsessed.

I am still interested in exploring a cluster of related questions or issues about interpretational strategies/frames, generally. And particularly when it comes to reading scripture, since scripture is quite important to me because of Jesus and God to whom scripture bears witness.

This cluster of questions/issues might include: Can our interpretive strategy or frame be distinguished from the particular content(s) we read in a text in any clear or thought-provoking fashion?

For believers this gains focus, maybe, as: In connection with our readings of scripture, is it better to inhabit an unidentified and unwitting strategy or frame? Or might it be better to be as intentional or explicit about our strategy or frame as we provisionally can be?

Then for people who feel they actually know what it is like to have been involved with some sort of possible – note I am saying, possible – idolatry in their modern lives: Can an interpretive strategy or frame become perilously close in its core typical functions, to being a de facto or de jure substitute for a living God? If so, when? How? What rational clues, what signs do we possibly know that help us identify if or when a hermeneutic is gatherwing worship and power to itself?

Next, for better or for worse - further inner and outer pilgrimage will tell, probably - but probably not all that quickly - I continue to investigate the strengths and limits of legal and penal frames, which to me these days seem to be popping up everywhere, rightward, in USA. The first lesson? Alternatives exist. What a surprise gas station in the deserts of legal-penal hermeneutics.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 4:08am BST

Cheryl asked
“Is DaveW telling all humanity to embrace celibacy?!”
Clearly DaveW isn’t telling anyone to do anything but quoting Jesus teaching in response to the assumption that people are laying burdens on others.
Cheryl also wrote
“If DaveW is only asking part of humanity to embrace celibacy then DaveW is advocating different sized crosses for different folk. A form of discrimination, which when backed up with sanctions, becomes a caste or citizenry or even slavery issue (depending on which cross and what legal sanctions are in place).”
DaveW isn’t advocating anything but I would say according to Jesus teaching Jesus is indeed only asking part of humanity to embrace celibacy (see Matthew 19, 1 Corinthians 7) But its nothing to do with slavery, no one is forced to follow Jesus.

Posted by DaveW at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 7:58am BST

Drdanfee:

You ask some good questions. And, I don't have ready answers. I think I have been struggling with many of the same issues, but probably not for the same reasons and in the same ways. I.e., for me it has involved (over the last 10 years) receding from a fairly radical Calvinistic approach, an approach that I came to believe had choked off my ability to read Scripture openly and (most importantly) honestly because it forced me to gloss over certain aspects of Scripture for the sake of consistency.

However, this does not mean the doctrine of predestination can be thrown out the window. There are truths behind Calvinism (as Augustine and the Thomists would attest)--I just think they are taken too far. And, this is my working hypothesis at present--what can seem to be a wonderful approach can be taken too far and become a distortion. I can't say exactly where this occurs, but when an approach begins to completely exclude other approaches (e.g., penal excluding Christus Victor or vice versa) my caution lights come on. And, when an approach forces me to gloss over completely inconsistent statements in Scripture, the alarms start shreiking.

"Honesty" is the key word. I have to ask myself whether I am being honest in what I am doing, or whether I am following an interpretive approach that appeals to me for reasons other than its complete and utter fidelity to the word of God (whether I like the final result or not).

This brings me to the present, which is definitely much more confused (but I hope more honest) as I continue to struggle to understand, even if I don't like the understandings reached.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 2:10pm BST

Cheryl:

I'll just horn in briefly on your conversation with DaveW to say your point about different sized crosses doesn't make sense (and I think you know this in your heart of hearts). We all have different burdens and different sized crosses to bear anyway. No one has the same struggles and hardships. How would you compare the cross to be borne by the quadriplegic in trying to live a joyful Christian life as opposed to that borne by the celibate homosexual in trying to do the same? (I'd take the latter myself, but that's me I suppose.)

The point is that life isn't "fair" and the way life (or God) distributes crosses to be borne doesn't seem to bear any relationship to any human conception of "fairness"--nor do I see anyplace in the Bible where God promises such "fairness" to us in terms of life's burdens. What God does promise is that no matter what the cross or burden "he will never leave us nor forsake us"--that has to be good enough.

Steven

PS-Believe me--I'm preachin' to myself more than you here. I constantly struggle to remind myself of the same things in the face of what life dishes out to myself and others. It ain't easy. /s

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 2:25pm BST

Dan – we may well agree to a significant extent on the role of presuppositions. The problem is that most presuppositions rest in turn on other presuppositions, maybe more like a web than an architectonic sructure. It is not possible to explain any presupposition without taking recourse to other presuppositions and so there is potential for endless regress…

As for the discussion at hand, Steven’s comment (24 July 2006 at 5:53pm BST) echoed with me: “As a traditionalist I can tell you that the real issue here, as you already know, is Scripture, its meaning, and its role in the life of the Church and the believer.”

Many “reasserters” have been saying this for some time but

(1) people keep telling us that “reasserters” are really obsessed about sex, whether we know or it or not, and that everything we say about Scripture is merely a function of our abhorrence of gay sex;

(2) comments which refer to the authority (or divine origin or a number of other things) of Scripture are often countered either by the claim that the contributor is a naïve fundamentalist or by the indignant response “how dare you suggest that I do not believe in the authority (or divine origin etc.) of Scripture!”

So how can we have a decent discussion about presuppositions?

As for your specific posting: was the comment “how odd it is when people use an evangelical framework to wittingly or unwittingly deny free, best practices inquiry as a key strategy for making an informed discernment” meant as a reflection on anything on this page?

It seems to me that disagreement on the nature and role of Scripture is the real divide within the Anglican Communion but I don’t think it is the greatest hindrance to good communication at TA. This remains a simple failure to listen – at least, this is my impression. What this thread really drove home to me is how much one can learn about people’s assumptions and views by observing where and how they jump to conclusions.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 7:48am BST

The Scriptures & traditions are so clear that in the C of E alone there are 3 broad schools of Evangelical churchmanship :

* Conservative, Liberal & Open,
and within that, those who are Calvinistic; or Arminian on pre-destination; those who who are Charismatic & practice glossalalia etc., those who are Biblical fundamentalists and those who aren't; with-in all of these, there those who are pro-lgbt and those who are anti-lgbt. Also those who are open to ecumenical encounters; and / inter-faith encounters.

Divers Catholics
* Prayer Book Catholics
* English Missal
* modern Romeward leaning Catholics, including a sizable minority who use the current Roman rite and tend to present as if RC in most ways
* Eastern Orthodox leaning people who in a few cases use some version of the Liturgy of St. John (etc) in English; or with heavy borrowings
*Affirming Catholicism, which may include any of the above liturgically, but with an 'AC' twist.
Any of the above may be Charismatic; Catholic Evangelicals (and vice versa); por-lgbt or anti-lgbt; and probably influenced by modern biblical scholarship, and perhaps doctrinal criticism too.

Liberal; or radical Churchmanship:

* Modern Churchperson's Union
* Sea of Faith

Central Churchmanship:
in various combinations / permutations of all or any, of the above.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 9:36am BST

With the greatest respect Laurence Roberts I dont agree with your classifications in your post of 26th July at 9:36am.
And I have to say that I would echo what many are saying such as Bishop Michael of Rochester that there are two religions in the church. I have to be frank and say I do not think the MCU and the Sea of Faith are Christian.

Posted by DaveW at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 10:12am BST

DaveW you may find Pete Broadbent's comments on MCU interesting:
http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001453.html
The MCU as an organisation is not one I would want to join, but the fundamentally conservative liberalism espoused by many of its members needs to be assimilated and understood by evangelicals, charismatics, conservatives and traditionalists.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 10:49am BST

To Simon Sarmiento,
Sadly I have to say that I believe many evangelicals, charismatics, conservatives and traditionalists have already looked at and understood the MCU's liberalism as a departure from the Christian faith. I think this is one of the main problems, we have as some Bishops have suggested, two different incomaptible religions in the church. Now I would suggest that one sees the other as no longer Christian and the other sees itself as just one type of Christianity.

Posted by DaveW at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 12:14pm BST

2 religions ?
--And the rest !

Although a few years back the expression 'two integrities' was much in vogue (I realise, in retrospect,that it was only a chat-up line, to be dropped once, we had been bedded. I'll try not to behave like that! ) I like this expression, and think it could be used very creatively, as long as we realise taht there are more than 2 integrities--and why limit them ? Why put limits on integrity ?


As for certain positons being 'christian'. It depends on what is mant by 'christian', doesn't it ? And that is a discusion opener, rather than deadener.

However, many good people are not christians, including Jesus himself, of course. He was not a christian but a Jew. Perhaps this could help us to be more open ?

He didn't subscribe to 'the 39 Articles,or any of the formularies of Anglicanism--let alone the Creeds. He's have found it all very strange, I should imagine. I have never understood why the teachings a b o u t Jesus are so much more popular in Churchianity, than the teaching OF Jesus, as reflected in the gosepels. Perhaps it just too simple, too Jewish, too useful and to evocative for us.

Worship the man and ignore his message-- the real emasculation, that makes celibacy seem a doddle ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 12:39pm BST

I was brought up in a city divided into "Catholics & Protestants". Everyone was (had to be) one or t'other. The subsstantial Jewish communities counted as the latter!

I was forbidden to enter an RC church, and when I evtually did in my teens, I read a booklet, and was AMAZED to see that 'they thought they were Christians'! I had no idea.

In the Plymouth Brethren few beyond the PBs were regarded as Christian. Christian meant 'Saved' and Saved meant 'you had accepted Jesus, as your own persoanl Saviour'. Some Free Church folks may have. And anglican evangelicals too. But they were highly suspect. And if saved--only just-- and unsound on may vital matters, like 'set prayers', ministers, going light on preaching Hell, as well as accepting Jesus. Also most of the C of E were terrible Ritualists --little better than RCs, and damned, along with the RCs. They worshipped saints and a goddess, and engaged daily, in a terrible secret practice called ---Mass.

It was hard for the PB to explain away CS Lewis, John Stott, JC Ryle, TC Hammond and the JB Phillips' NT translations, so in vogue.

This is no exaggeration. It was stiffling, it ws cruel, it was mind-numbing.

In the PB itself, there were terrible rows about Pre & Post Millenarianism, 'the second Blessing' and 'speaking in tongues.' Young adults were read out of the meetings for the latter. Homosexuality was barely whispered, when one admired man vanished and had been read-out' for 'that'. I was about 14 and sensed i was on the edge of something terible.

When I found the C of E evangelicals it felt liberating, and later I found myself at evensong and Benediction and a sermon on John 3 had me hooked ! Although the evangelcial 8 o'clock 'early service' celebrated at the north end' was so different from 11 o'clock high mass at an anglo-catholic church, were so different , both had beauty and gave me something. There was a willingness of the clergy to be in one church, and it was all christian.
I fel very sad that those days seem to have passed. I wonder too, if I am to blame ? Or part of the problem ? Yet, i couldnt remain 14 for ever. Couldnt remain in the closset for ever (it only seemed like it), in the end I've had to live honestly as me, as we ;and I can't beleive I am such an acute problem.

I could commute between the various tradions and I still can, and love various forms of worship and religions. But funnily enogh, somehow I seem to find something even simpler that the Brethren, most helpful to me these days, and feel the oneness sometimes, Advaita, Indra's Net, inter-being, Tao,Light, Christic Spirit --call it what you will.

Didnt expect to be giving my testimony .....


Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 1:11pm BST

Unfortunately my last post has caused negative reaction. This is a bit upsetting when we are talking about trying to listen to each other. Surely we are all in one camp or the other, we either believe certain views are Christian or we believe they are not. If people are upset by the views that they feel classifies them 'outside' or not Christian there is not much can be done. I believe Christ will judge us anyway based on what we have said and done not what others think.
For the record I believe CS Lewis, John Stott, JC Ryle, TC Hammond and the JB Phillips' Catholics and Protestants are all Christians.

If we cant even agree on that how are we going to agree on detailed matters.

Posted by DaveW at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 2:43pm BST

Hmmm. Maybe it would be easier to say 2 separate denominations within the same communion, or 2 separate communions within the same communion.

I agree with the statement that there are 2 separate religions within the Anglican communion, but realize that (like referring to liberals as "revisionists") some may be sensitive to this as it implies that one of said religions is Christian and the other is not. This leads to more arguments and bad feelings and does nothing to advance conversation and move dialog towards a point where we can have a friendly (or at least equitable) parting of the ways between the two "denominations".

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 3:30pm BST

DaveW commented:
"Now I would suggest that one sees the other as no longer Christian and the other sees itself as just one type of Christianity."

So whois excluding whom here? Is there something wrong about a tradition which sees itself as one of many valid expressions of the Christian Faith?

Confused of Lincolnshire.

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 3:37pm BST

To David Rowett,
You asked
"So whois excluding whom here? Is there something wrong about a tradition which sees itself as one of many valid expressions of the Christian Faith?"
Well if it has ceased to be part of that tradition is it still an expression of the Christian faith?
I know this seems unhelpful but it is the reality I see happening. The issue of listening is all every well but if one 'side' listens and hears what it thinks is another gospel it isnt necessarily going to recognise the other side as the same faith let alone adopt its views.
When we have Frank Griswold saying he didnt think Paul understood homosexuality and Paul writes that he recieved his gospel and revelation, not from man but from the risen Lord its already driven a wedge. If Frank Griswold is right either God is wrong or Paul is lying.
This is the problem if by being listened to they excpect their views to be accpeted or they expect them to be accpeted with their views. In fact the listening will probably make it worse.
Even Jude 1 says there will be men who divide but we should contend for the faith that was once entrusted to all the saints, but Paul writes Ephesians 4:13 "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ"

Posted by DaveW at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 5:20pm BST

I didn't think I was reacting negatively to a post. I thought something had triggered a state of reverie, about my early life in a very culturally polarised and divided City. These cultures, 'Catholic' and 'Protestant' effected all the inhabitents whether Chritian or not, religious or not.It became focussed around the 2 fabulous football teams. But the churches historically had created this situation and done nothing to bring people together. This had dire effects in Liverpool, though not as bad as in Belfast, just 'accross the water'.
Derek Warlock & David Sheppard ushered in an unprecedented new ecumenical era in Liverpool.

My reference to my experiences of the Brethren, was a smaller, particlular instance of the general situation, I was speaking to.

My point wasn't about how folk on TA today, consider John Stott, Lewis, Philips etc., BUT, that in the 1950s and 60s, good but narrow and sectarian people were in some doubt about it. I guess it's a non-issue in 2006, but I am saying we have our own issues now, and how will they be seen in 40 or 50 years time?

I think I was giving a warning about the great harm this narrowness and sectariansim did then, and does now-if we let it. But also, I think I was somehow giving my testimony, as it is today,to the light & truth I experience then & now. For me, I experince it as 'non- propisitional', and

it seems to be
an experience
of wordless grace.

(I regret that I am such a poor witness to it, and not silent enough. But I think i know it's not up to me, in the end... )

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 6:28pm BST

DaveW wrote:
"Surely we are all in one camp or the other, we either believe certain views are Christian or we believe they are not."

Well, yes and no. I am most certainly not in any way a conservative evangelical, preferring the empty ritual and vain repetitions of rancid over-the-top Anglican catholicism. Nor can I go along with some of the views of Scripture and its authority which are expressed by some who post to this blog.But I am not so silly as to dismiss them as not Christians.

What I have found difficult throughout my own discipleship is the ease with which some Christian groups, usually from the Protestant/Evangelical extremes (have a look at www.fiec.org.uk for example) will try and exclude other practising Christians from the Kingdom on the grounds (say) of their acceptance of evolution. I have been told I'm going to hell so many times I'm already brown and crisp at the edges....

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 7:08pm BST

To Laurence Roberts
With reference to your post of Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 6:28pm
I don’t see any sectarianism, I have some close fellowships with Roman Catholics with whom I have unity in the faith, but I don’t have unity of faith with Muslims for example, I have great friendships with some Muslims, I would not say I was sectarian with anyone, I hope not.

To Dave Rowlett
But I haven’t dismissed anyone as not Christian either, I have said that liberal views have departed from the Christian faith. I would not be so silly to say these values were the Christian faith and I have given my reason.

To both Laurence and Dave,
Neither of you have addressed my main point in my last post. You talk about division and people not being Christian but I am not aware of any division in the church, Roman or Anglican or any church, I am saying religious liberalism by its nature has significantly departed from the Christian faith. If Paul did not receive his testimony from any man then it isn’t his understanding, so it doesn’t matter whether he understood homosexuality or not, he is writing his revelation from the risen Lord. For a church leader to say Paul didn’t understand is coming from a different faith position entirely, one which is based on man’s understanding.

Posted by DaveW at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 8:20am BST

But I haven’t dismissed anyone as not Christian either, I have said that liberal views have departed from the Christian faith. I would not be so silly to say these values were the Christian faith and I have given my reason.

Doesn't this contradict itself? "I have not proclaimed anyone to be non-Christian" versus "liberal views have departed from the Christian faith"

Sorry, I must be thick this morning.

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 11:45am BST

...Frank Griswold saying he didnt think Paul understood homosexuality and Paul writes that he recieved his gospel and revelation, not from man but from the risen Lord its already driven a wedge. If Frank Griswold is right either God is wrong or Paul is lying.

I think this is one of those neat non-sequiturs which look convincing — at first glance: - comparable with 'Jesus said he was God, so he was mad bad or telling the truth'.

In order to 'understand homosexuality' Paul would have had to have been vouschafed with a revelation which included two thousand years of philosophical, psychological, endocrinological etc etc etc research. Given that he saw marriage as pretty irrelevant in the shadow if an imminent parousia, one might wonder whether he had time to read 'issues in human sexuality' for example....

The NT displays no knowledge of what we would describe as mental illness and prefers the 'possession' matrix. We reject that now (well, most of us do) without calling the NT authors or the Lord liars. Unless we believe that the Lord possessed all human knowledge, past, present and future (which is probably docetic), the argument employed here against Frank Griswold is an empty one.

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 1:47pm BST

DaveW:

Good post.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 2:57pm BST

To Dave Rowett
You wrote >
Well I am sorry to have to say I am not very happy with your comment. I wrote that I believe religious liberal views have departed from the Christian faith and it was you who suggested that proclaimed people to be non-Christian. You have set up what you see as a contradiction and asked me about it.
And no its not a contradiction to me as Christians believe and non-Christians don’t
You wrote >
This is our complete difference then perhaps my friend. You think it is non-sequitur and I think it is the plain straightforward crux of the matter.
You wrote >
If Paul receieved his revelation from the risen Lord then thats all non-sequitur Acts 21, Galatians 1. 2 Peter.
You wrote.. >
I am afraid I think you all have a different gospel my friend and not the same Christian faith as me. Jesus said He spoke what He heard the Father saying and did what He saw the Father doing, He was crucified, risen, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, glorified. My Lord does have all knowledge past present and future He is who He said He is and He is God.

Posted by DaveW at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 8:39am BST

Dave: re your comment
" I wrote that I believe religious liberal views have departed from the Christian faith and it was you who suggested that proclaimed people to be non-Christian."

Could you explain to this bear of very little brain: if person x espouses 'religious liberal views [which you believe] have departed from the Christian faith' how can you continue to regard the espouser of such views as Christian?

If - as in some Christian circles seems to be the case - right believing is the mark of the True Christian, someone who is into (as you see it) Wrong Believing cannot logically be regarded as a Christian, surely?

Can you help me out of this conundrum? If a believer doesn't believe the right things (as you see it), how can they be (to you) a believer? Surely they are heretics, who, by definition, are not part of the Faith?

Puzzled of Humberside

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 10:07am BST

He is who He said He is and He is God.

but He didn't. That's not to say He isn't, but I don't recall Jesus saying (or even being presented as saying) 'I am God', even if characters like Thomas said 'My Lord and my God'. Even things like 'I and the Father are One' isn't QUITE the same as an explicit 'I am God' — and you'd be putting a lot of weight on Jesus' 'I am he' in the Johannine Holy Week story....

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 12:13pm BST

David:

I haven't been keeping up with this dialog, but your last post raises interesting issues. Such as--what is/are the de minimis belief(s) or level of belief needed in order to be considered a Christian? Do false beliefs in addition to, but not otherwise negating this de minimis, cancel one's status as a Christian? Do false beliefs in addition to, and contradicting at least part of this de minimis, cancel one's status as a Christian? (Note, as to the latter, that humans are quite capable of holding and maintaining contradictory beliefs).

Steven

Posted by Steven at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 3:22pm BST

So here is one nub of the dilemma.

If reading scripture correctly has to presume that, since it is direct revelation from God, it has to be understood - in its condemnations of same sex activities, at least as read - has to be read/understood as authoritative, complete, final, and true above all else - then we put that revealed truth next to the ongoing new news about a whole range of phenomena (formerly grouped together into what we had newishly come to call homosexuality) from biology plus.

Now the closed, complete scripture reading simply trumps all else by definition, and we can even predict this ahead of time, before we have even tried juxtaposing our surprise data from biology plus. End of story. Thanks for listening. Period.

Ah, haven't you heard what God says?
Ah, what sort of silly sally scripture readers are you?
Ah, I think you are following a different religion.
Ah, if you cannot get this simple thing right, maybe you are reading other scriptures poorly, inerrantly, or just ignoring them all together?
Ah, I have spoken to you, repeatedly, and you still are not getting it.
Ah, maybe you should think about attending another church. Have you considered becoming a Unitarian?
Ah, scripture plainly says you are dedicated to your unfortunate little same sex filthiness - especially in some translations?
Ah, why in the world do you not want God to wash you clean of this abomination?
God wants to save you from this abomination so that you can lead a clean celibate life, and you obviously do not wish to pay the price of letting God clean you up?
Ah, your obstinance is beginning to make me think you might be dangerous?
This is awful, your resistance to God.
Why do you bother with church, Jesus, God, and such?
You surely must have darker, more evil motives?

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 3:41pm BST

To David Rowett.
In reply to your first question. I dont judge people I judge the views...but I would say they probably arent Christian. But isnt that up to Jesus to judge?
In answer to your second question, the conundrum.
Not really, a believer believes the things are right, a non-believer doesnt believe they are right.

Posted by DaveW at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 4:44pm BST

Steven;
The de minimis has to be the scriptural one of 'Jesus is Lord', or, as Jenkins rephrased it some years ago, 'God is as Jesus was, therefore there is hope'.

Beyond that, the setting of doctrinal boundaries becomes a matter for the tradition and whether that tradition is prepared to accept an individual's expression of faith.

From the point of view of the individual believer, the tradition must challenge enough to produce spiritual growth, yet sustain what that person is sufficiently authentically to manifest the love of God to them.

The semi-arbitrary setting of boundaries — eg the necessity of the penal substitutionary interpretation of the atonement for salvation — is fraught with danger, since the sin of the institution can affect the drawing of those boundaries. I a not aware of many Christian traditions which take the call to poverty as seriously as they take the call to (say) sexual continence, but the NT says plenty about the former, so one suspects a certain airbrushing of the NT to suit the needs of the institution. What would Jesus say about that?

The classic statement of adding to/subtracting from is the FIEC one -
"If an evangelical church or leader unites with those of a liberal persuasion who deny essential gospel truths, or with those of a Roman Catholic persuasion who add to the gospel, then great confusion is created. The impression is given either that the evangelical, liberal and Roman Catholic are all agreed when in fact they are worlds apart doctrinally, or that their different messages are equally valid when in fact there is only one gospel. "

Is that a path down which we wish to go, I wonder? The genius of Anglicanism was its refusal to go there — those who demand that sort of hard boundary have those other places of refuge.

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 10:17am BST

"I dont judge people I judge the views...but I would say they probably arent Christian."

DaveW
Thank you for finally 'coming clean' on that one.

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 10:29am BST

David:

A thoughtful answer. Thank you. I hope I have time to look at your answer some more and give a more detailed response before this particular thread departs into the ozone. However, I will note one thing. My understanding of Anglicanism has always been that it was the Catholic Faith (or substitute the "Faith handed down once to the Saints" or etc.) without Papist additions or Protestant subtractions. This is actually a pretty precise standard and calls for the retention of what God has given us without distortion. And, I think that this standard (sans the naming of particular faith traditions) is a worthwhile standard for all Christians.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 7:34pm BST
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