Comments: Fort Worth development

Recent developments in both San Joaquin and Fort Worth show us that abstruse-seeming hermeneutical issues - about what a presuppositional reading of scripture might be, or about what might be the alternative interpretive strategies for reading scripture - have real world impact. So much for the pleasant notion that hermeneutics is an armchair pasttime for liberal thinkers/believers who just cannot enjoy the lovely world, nor seek to heal its wounds, nor submit to the painful pieties and disciplines of following Jesus - without gussing things up in unneeded complications.

The nearest clear reference for these pronouncements or statements from the two dioceses can be found in the published realignment campaign plans. The campaign so far is rolling along. At least so far as the conservative leaders in these two dioceses are concerned, Canterbury is quite willing to follow provided they lead on the home front in TEC. Like doubles tennis, maybe. Not all that many months ago, we were informed by campaign realignment leaders that they would seek to walk a finer and finer line between being part of TEC, and mitosizing off as separately as possible to belong more to some other jurisdiction of the worldwide realigned Anglican communion. Expect a statement of no confidence from that entity. Civil disobedience to TEC canons was mentioned. The justifications are by now so familiar that we almost do not even notice them. Legal-penal readings of Windsor, Dromatine, and Canterbury's comments. Plus the customary legal-penal readings of scripture which demand that we fight justice and inclusion in the name of legacy moralisms, creation orderliness, and exclusive family life privileges for straights only. Plus a dollop of fine-tuned double talk and spin from USA advertising or marketing. (No we aren’t leaving, the liberals are walking away from us steady, orthodox types.)

These changes might tell us that the next Lambeth is really imagined as a sitting of the highest Anglican court, not a prayer meeting. The tricky part is, naturally, how to lay claim to or siphon off money that otherwise is thought to flow via the liberals in TEC to the worldwide communion, without testing their patience to the point that they stop paying the suggested donation invoices.

It is all getting to be like watching speed chess in the park benches. But of course institutional processes go slo mo. compared to real speed chess. Stay tuned.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 3:01pm BST

The plan/plot for a "new" more radical 10th Province by ultra conservatives has been in the works for over ten years:

http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/coup02.html

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 3:09pm BST

A little further word on hermeneutic discernments.

In the Appendix of the PDF essay by Deimel, you will find an alternative discussion which tries to discern just what the interpretive strategy most often used in current new conservatisms is. Diemel concludes that he is seeing a mix of literal hermeneutics and creative constructionism. So maybe elements which seem to be dervied from presuppositional history/strategies for reading scripture can also be fleshed out by these two additional possible frames for inquiry.

I bet once we can see some key hermeneutic wheels turning, the matter of readings will get a bit clearer, especially for people not already confined to an allgedly single, exclusive, complete hermeneutic.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 3:20pm BST

Present! Present! Present! How dare they *do anything* about their preference for the authority of Scripture over the Votes of the majority of GC delegates?!

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 6:44pm BST

Leonardo:

Thanks for the reminder about "PECUSA, Inc," ESA and First Promise. We haven't heard from them for some time. I wonder what the status would be of each of those organizations/events. They do seem to include many, if not most, of the current players.

To some extent it seems a bit silly that these different efforts at detaching dioceses of the Episcopal Church from that institution. However, these are perhaps experiments - opportunities to try out strategies, to be maintained if they work in any meaningful sense, and to be replaced with new efforts if they don't. In context of the news item today (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_76899_ENG_HTM.htm) that the Anglican Communion Network is preparing to propose a confessional document for its members, these do seem to speak to separation.

WIth that in mind, Dave, the issue is not whether these individuals - bishops, other clergy, and lay - should do something about their different understanding of Scripture than that "which has been received by this Church." It is whether they can somehow claim to be the faithful remnant within a lost organization, when the organization in question is very much alive, and would live, albeit more poorly, without them. It is whether they can pretend they are not a new institution so as to maintain the titles and priveleges received in and from the existing institution (and I sometimes think these ecclesiastical properties are more important to the people involved than the real properties of churches, office space, etc.). No one prevents them from walking apart. The difficulty is their desire, by walking backwards, to leave while giving the impression of being left.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 8:43pm BST

drdanfee wrote: "Deimel.... discern[s] just what the interpretive strategy most often used in current new conservatisms is"

Dear drdanfee, thanks for bringing this to my attention. At the start of his appendix Deimel seems to show incredible disdain not just for conservatives, but even for the teachings of Our Lord! I quote: "They [conservatives] often find monumental significance in the “plain meaning” of passages others view as being of only minor importance. They sometimes construct elaborate theological positions from such passages. For example, the Theological Charter of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes cites passages from Genesis and metaphorical passages describing the church to develop a theology of marriage."

I presume that Deimel is refering to this part of the passage on marriage from the NACDAP's Theological Charter: "the Church’s commonly accepted scriptural teaching on marriage between man and woman as the divinely ordained, holy, and exclusive context of human sexual activity, as the privileged social sacrament of God’s covenant of faithfulness for and figure of human redemption (Hosea 2:16–21; Mark 10:5–9; Eph. 5:29–32; Rev. 19:7–9).

So the "passages of minor importance" include a quote from Our Lord! *He* is the one who quotes Genesis !!

If that is really what you and Deimel think, what do you mean when you claim to be Christian ?!

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 8:57pm BST

It might be a good exercise to step out of the habitual chicken little (sky is falling) mentality for a moment and actually consider some scenarios.

Let's say liberals around the world just let traditionalists around the world go, taking their church buildings with them. And, traditionalists around the world did the same for liberals, and all the rest of the property was equitably divided. (Think of a fair and friendly divorce).

Then, the TEC sets up as a new "purified" liberal communion world-wide, including liberals from COE and elsewhere, while dem bad ol' traditionalists do something similar.

Is this so bad? What exactly is wrong with this picture? Wouldn't it be nice to have peace for a change and to actually be doing mission? It's not going to come from one side or the other shutting up, because neither side is going to do so--matters of principle are involved. So, why not? Why not simply settle up and move on?

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 9:43pm BST

Well, Dave, the Orthodox position is that Scripture is but one part of Tradition and it is in Tradition that authority lies. Furthermore, according to my reading of Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Church, since the laity are the ones to accept or reject what councils and synods say, it is the laity which acts as the final underpinning of Orthodoxy. While we Anglicans give the laity a voice in a very different way than the Orthodox do, it is a far more Orthodox practice than giving to one part of Tradition, namely Scripture, greater authority than it can rightly claim.
Ford

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 10:46pm BST

Dave, re "their preference for the authority of Scripture over the Votes of the majority of GC delegates"---if I may make an analogy?

As *I* read/interpret Scripture, to be a Christian, is to be a *pacifist*. A Christian may NOT properly carry arms, or engage in physical violence in any way. As I read/interpret Scripture, so do I practice my personal faith and Christian morality...

...but my interpretation is NOT (as yet anyway) the *authoritative interpretion* of Scripture, for the Episcopal Church. ***ONLY GENERAL CONVENTION*** (and probably several successive GCs, to change the canons) could do that. Ergo, I have *no right* to mandate that *my personal interpretation*, be imposed upon the Episcopal Church as a whole.

I humbly suggest, that what I *haven't* done, re my pacifist interpretation, is exactly what Fort Worth (among a few other dioceses---or at least their bishops!) are trying to do, re defying GC (once again, BASED UPON THEIR PERSONAL INTERPRETATION of Scripture).

It's not about *what* they believe (they're entitled to view homosexual sex as always sinful, every bit as much as I'm entitled to believe violence is always sinful). It's about HOW they put those beliefs into *authoritative practice* (as an imposed interpretation), in defiance of GC and its democratic-majority rule.

HTH.

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 10:46pm BST

Drdanfee mentions the script followed by +Duncan and +Iker. I assume he is referring to the Chapman Memo. It can be read on the Diocese of Washington, DC's Website (www.edow.org). The Chapman Memo makes for good reading, illuminating the duplicitous actions of Pittsburgh and Fort Worth.

I for one have a great deal of respect for the former Lord Bishop of London, Dr. Graham Leonard. When the CofE GS permitted the ordination of women to the priesthood, which he could not accept in good conscience, he quietly resigned or retired from his position in the CofE, leaving behind all the perks of an episcopal office, and became a humble parish priest in the Roman Communion.

How can +Duncan and +Iker remain as bishops in TEC, when they hate the institution with such passion? The Chapman Memo raises important questions about their inner motivations and personal integrity.

IMHO TEC's HoB ought to proceed with an investigation of all the Network bishops' actions forthwith.

Posted by John Henry at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 11:24pm BST

as it happens, withdrawing from the province is one of the things that the canons do permit. i'm sure this is merely accidental on ft. worth's part, since they normally just ignore the canons.

as for creating a new province, that is not something they can do without the consent of the general convention.

Posted by thomas bushnell, bsg at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 3:05am BST

Well Steven, what exactly is so bad about that is that the liberal side is (meant to be) (more) inclusive & welcoming.

What kind of a joke would it be to have two camps, where the words "inclusive and welcoming" (and tolerant, if you want) are stripped of meaning and only used to define a faction? "We welcome LGBT people but not our supposed brethren"? That would be a very silly state of affairs, and it's only the non-inclusive-nor-welcoming party who can impose it on the remainder, too.

Posted by Tim at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 10:11am BST

Tim:

Neither side is any (more)"inclusive" than the other, and it would be blatant hypocricy to claim that either is. Liberals are "inclusive" and "tolerant" of all opinions, behavior and positions that agree with their pre-existing standards. Traditionalists are OK among them--as long as they don't get out of the. It is a grotesque bit of hypocricy for liberals to try to claim that they are more "inclusive" in any kind of absolute sense--actually it is pure idiocy.

People are inclusive of the types of behaviors they consider to be good. The list of "sins" may change, but not the fact that "sin" is not to be allowed to rule in the Church.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 3:22pm BST

Just dividing up money or other property along the lines of a friendly/fair divorce -- whatever that looks like -- is made difficult, perhaps impossible, by the fact that even the smallest congregation may not be of one mind to stay or leave and by fiduciary/legal requirements. No bishop, even with the standing committee owns the property in such a way as to be able to give it to another without considering restrictions by original donors, etc.

Posted by Columba Gilliss at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 3:37pm BST

Columba:

Good points, but certainly no insuperable obstacles.

As to congregations being of divided mind--that is expected. Let them take a vote of the people that have been members there for at least a year (to keep anyone from trying to influence votes by last minute packing of membership rolls). The majority vote determines the result.

As to other legal issues--There are bound to be legal issues that affect determinations related to one congregation and not another, but these can be dealt with as they arise. This may take some careful drafting and crafting, but nothing--I hope--that some good lawyering (I speak as a lawyer) shouldn't be able to resolve.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 4:58pm BST

Steven,

First, as to "intolerance" of "liberals", where are the Liberals who have organized a "Church within a Church", or who have demanded that Conservatives be "disinvited" from Lambeth, or who have declared themselves in "impaired communion" with those with whom they have strong disagreement? Where is the liberal equivalent of David Virtue? Frankly, you have often referred to the "liberal's paranoia", but has always struck that it is the conservatives in this who buy into the presecution complex of the American fundamentalist churches, not the liberals, to the point of fabricating such persecution when needed.

As to a peaceful breakup, England was a tiny weak country before Henry wanted Church sanction for sexual sin (not a new concept for us, then) but the Anglican Church seems to have done fine, so I tend to agree with you on that. While I think it's wrong of me, I'd rather not be in a Church with a bunch of fundamentalists. I find their theology to be dodgy, and their attitudes toward the sinfulness of others while avoiding their own to be just unseemly. I can put up with sincere liberals even though they may be so open minded their brains have fallen out. I can't handle those who are so closed minded that they can't see that their attitudes severely hinder the spread of the Gospel. After the split, it'll be interesting to see who's welcome at who's altars. That, for me, is the litmus test of exclusion.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 5:11pm BST

Steven -

I don't think that is an accurate explanation of real inclusive theology. I think that recently the inclusive among us have given over to exasperation and anger and impatience- sin, if you will, and not been so inclusive.

But I think inclusivity at its best does mandate that we accept all in the church and learn how to live side by side embracing our differences rather than dividing because of them.

I actually believe that is what we are called to do in relationship with each other within the Body of Christ- learn how to be good neighbors in dialogue without judgement; see what we can learn from listening quietly rather than what we can preach/teach from talking loudly.

j

Posted by Jeff Martinhauk at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 6:33pm BST

What follows is quotations from a letter by the Bishop of San Diego, Dr. Mathes, after the defection of yet another parish shopping around for another Global South schismatic Anglican bishop.

The reasserters' deception has to be made public, so that proper action may be taken to stop their madness.

The godly bishop describes his reaction to the defection and personal betrayal by the schismatic priest, via VirtueOnLine:

"When I specifically questioned the rector about whether they had taken any actions or were planning any actions to move the parish out of the Episcopal Church, he assured me that nothing had been done by the Vestry or would happen at the upcoming parish gathering to effect a departure. He shared with me his concern about his own credibility in leadership and openly wondered if he could continue as rector. I assured him of my interest in assisting with potential conflict in the parish over his leadership. Because of the concerns of parishioners and my own abiding concerns that this presumed conversation about the last General Convention, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion be balanced, I asked Father Kroeger to permit the Rev. Dr. Robert Certain, president of our Standing Committee to attend as an extension of my office and membership of the congregation as its chief pastor.

As you will see from Father Certain's heart-felt letter, which I enclose, he was denied the participation which had been agreed to. The congregation ultimately did take a vote ratifying a previous decision of the Vestry to leave the Episcopal Church. Permit me to express my dismay and disdain for these actions. The events of the last few days continue a pattern of deception, dishonesty, and disregard for the order of our church, which is essential for the care of our common life. These events do not stand alone. The same attorney that represents St. James', Newport Beach, and St. Anne's, Oceanside, was present at last night's meeting.

Yet, you will hear in the days ahead that all I and other bishops care about is property. You will hear cries that the "orthodox" and "conservative" clergy and parishes are being persecuted. This is ludicrous. These actions taken by congregations, clergy and lay leaders are fomenting dissension and secession which are neither orthodox nor conservative.

They are attempting to destroy the bonds of our communion and community in order to increase their own power As the Archbishop of Canterbury said earlier this month, "some mischievous forces are quite capable of using the debates over sexuality as an alibi for divisive action whose roots are in other conflicts"

Posted by John Henry at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 8:38pm BST

For the record, and not surprisingly, I agree with Ford Elms and Jeff Martinhauk. The nature of modern fundamentalism is such that issues will crop up, causing splits until every human has a denomination unto themselves. Sometimes you have to learn to put up with others, or even appreciate 'em too.

I do not see TEC pushing Fort Worth out, I see Fort Worth choosing now to reject allegiance with TEC.

Posted by Tim at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 9:36pm BST

Ford:

Why would liberals need to form a "church within a church" when they already own/control the instruments of church government? It is those on the "outside"--those whose opinions and viewpoints are ignored or supressed--that have to band together for power and protection against oppression by the majority. Traditionalists are marginalized in TEC, not liberals.

Jeff:

You've just proved my point, as you quietly and carefully define what is "righteous" behavior and what behavior is, therefore, "sinful" in comparison. It doesn't matter whether "sin and error" are defined as being the consecration of practicing homosexual bishops, or the failure to consecrate practicing homosexual bishops. One way or another, sin and error are being defined. The definitions of "sin and error" are different between traditionalists and liberals, but the fact that both accuse the other of "sin and error" is not.

Ford and Jeff:

With such completely different presuppositional frameworks we cannot live peaceably together, wouldn't it be better if we sought to peaceably divide so that we can live (at least a bit) more peaceably apart?

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 10:03pm BST

Dear Tim, If TEC weren't making changes on issues of Faith and Sin that clearly contradict Scripture and Tradition faithful conservative Christians would not find themselves having to risk defying TEC's GC !

For instance... if GC voted that wife beating was actually a good thing, you too might find yourself urging churches and diocese to stand firm and reject TEC's "sinful innovations".. especially if most of the rest of the world's Anglicans agreed with you!!

Posted by Dave at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 11:44pm BST

Hi, Gay Episcopalian here. But let's see me in a slightly more rounded sense as someone who has a beloved brother who has just (thank God) returned safely from Iraq. I live in a very conservative Southern city where every Sunday I go to the altar with people I regard has having broken the Sixth and Ninth Commandments because of their continued support for Pres. Bush and his monstrous wars. I have just recently escaped from the nightmare of possibly regarding them as indirectly responsible for the death or maiming of my brother. I'm really tired of having Lev. 18:22 and related Scriptures thrown in my face for a relationship that has been faithful for 20 years, while I go quietly to church each Sunday with people I regard as tantamount to liars and murderers. Strangely, I have not called for those people to be expelled from TEC. But I do confess that I have to pray very hard in order to make myself hope that congregations that count the likes of Oliver North among their members will not leave TEC.

Posted by Susan at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 12:50am BST

Thank you, Susan. I applaud you.

Posted by Jimmy Culp at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 8:16am BST

"I live in a very conservative Southern city where every Sunday I go to the altar with people I regard has having broken the Sixth and Ninth Commandments because of their continued support for Pres. Bush and his monstrous wars. I have just recently escaped from the nightmare of possibly regarding them as indirectly responsible for the death or maiming of my brother."

Good point, Susan.

The US Christian Right are delighted to have a 'merry warrior' President and a VP who insists on extending the powers of the Presidency to include torture in violation of international law and conventions.

The evangelicals expect GW 43 to hasten the coming of Armageddon by pandering to the Israelis' war aims, while all European leaders are calling for an immediate cease-fire and humanitarian aid to help the Lebanese. In the long run, GWB 43's lack of experience in foreign relations will set US goals for a workable settlement in the Middle East back for one to two generations.

GWB 43 and Condoleezza Rice need some 'adult supervision', such as GWHB 41, Colin Powell, James Baker or M. Albright. Or else the world community will be ill-served.

Posted by John Henry at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 9:05am BST

Steven: "Why would liberals need to form a "church within a church" when they already own/control the instruments of church government?"

What? From where I sit, those who are pulling the strings right now are anything but liberal. Even within TEC, the debate is, to say the least, lively, indicating at least two sides talking. Here in Canada, there has been a much more measured approach, with only NW acting openly, and most dioceses lying low. The Arctic has behaved as expected, and in a more authoritarian fashion than most, pretty much balancing out the radicality of New Westminster. In our diocese, our bishop, hardly a liberal, has disassociated himself from Essentials, but his arguments are against the divisive and dishonest methods they use. There is no move at all in this diocese for gay inclusion.

World wide, the conservatives are solidly in control, it would appear. If TEC is invited to Lambeth, it will be because some conservatives can't be pushed as far as the more extreme conservatives want them to go, and we won't even discuss things like Ahminson and the Institute on Religion and Democracy. The Anglican Church is much larger than TEC.

Posted by Ford ELms at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 11:34am BST

all European leaders are calling for an immediate cease-fire

not quite, observes this dejected Brit.... But the dreadful impact of Darbyism on human wellbeing is far too rarely talked about in conservative circles.

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 11:41am BST

Susan:

You are certainly a wonderfully righteous person to be able to forgive these awful, horrible sinners. Your fortitude and forgiveness are truly an example to us all! Wouldn't it be nice to have a church of your own where you didn't have to associate with such degraded deluded degenerates? Republicans! Traditionalists! Yecch!

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 2:55pm BST

I agree that there's no impediment to Ft. Worth withdrawing from its current province. The Constitution of TEC provides that no diocese may be included in a province against its wishes, so constitutionally, they have every right to withdraw.

Similarly, they can create whatever informal structure they desire.

Here's the real significance of the move to withdraw from the present provincial structure into a new one. Ordinarily, the Presiding Bishop is the principle consecrator of new bishops. Under Frank Griswold, he has increasingly delegated this duty to the bishop in charge of the province in question. But, if Ft. Worth withdraws from Province VII and certainly doesn't desire KJS to conduct any new consecrations, to whom does she turn?

This issue is more urgent that many people realize as Albany, a Network diocese, has elected a coadjutor and GC has consented. Who is to consecrate this new bishop? Robert Duncan, along with the Diocese of Albany and the rest of the Network, wants it to be him.

Posted by ruidh at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 10:22pm BST

Ford:

I don't know how things stack up in Canada, but in TEC, liberals rule. You are right that they don't rule world-wide, but within TEC they is definitely de boss! And, I am talking about the state of things in TEC, not elsewhere.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 10:45pm BST

But, Steven, the Church isn't limited to one country. So, the Liberals have control in the US. The Conservatives very much have control in Nigeria. That's why breaking up, however attractive it may look to us at times, is a bad thing. We need to drag each other back and forth. That's how you find the Via Media. Sorry to sound so sanctimonious, but I think it's important not to be like minded on most things.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 1:43am BST

Ford said:
That's why breaking up, however attractive it may look to us at times, is a bad thing. We need to drag each other back and forth.

Well said! Anglicanism is like the proverbial family, complete with bits that won't speak to other bits because of What Uncle Peter Said About Our Jeffrey (or whatever). Squabbles are a sign that we still matter to one another, no?

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 9:57am BST

Ford and David:

Your wicked stepfather is beating up and abusing Mom (Scripture), kicking around your big sister (the traditions of the Church), and whoring around (syncretism) with every new trend the World has to offer. However, of course, the "family" should ALWAYS stay together! Yeah, right, give me a break!

Steven

Posted by Steven at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 1:40pm BST

Dave writes: `Dear Tim, If TEC weren't making changes on issues of Faith and Sin that clearly contradict Scripture and Tradition faithful conservative Christians would not find themselves having to risk defying TEC's GC !'

They aren't, and they shouldn't, respectively. There have been groups of folks around for over a century who've quite reasonably questioned folks' approach to the bible; indeed, the viewpoints many conservative/evangelical/traditionalists hold are probably more influenced by Victorian-era / colonial thoughts than thought-out rationale. (Eg: so Paul slags off `sexual immorality'. Where does the Bible define this as `homosexual inclination', or `homosexual practices', or `sex before marriage'? Why won't you let others cast very-reasonable doubt on interpretation?)

Note that there's nothing wrong with first questioning, investigating, and coming to a conclusion that happens to coincide with traditionalist views (I've done that myself on several topics before now); at least you'll be all the stronger for it. However, the irksome & ironic thing is that the `questioning' approach is necessarily more *accepting* of diversity.

Posted by Tim at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 2:33pm BST

Simon,

I believe that Steven's remarks in response to Susan are rude and totally out of line. I wish you had not allowed them. Personal attacks by two or three people here are becoming really annoying.

Posted by Jimmy Culp at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 3:12pm BST

Jimmy:

My post was aimed at posts, not people. And, you apparently fail to realize that it was aimed at (and lampoons) your comments and those of the rest of the praise brigade far more than the comments made by Susan. Seemingly, you have no taste for either irony or my sometimes less than subtle humor.

I was recently accused of having had a "humorectomy" by another poster on this board when I (maybe, just a little bit, possibly) over-reacted to something he said. Perhaps I'm not alone . . .

Steven

Posted by Steven at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 10:03pm BST

Dear Tim, Hope that the following helps with your thinking about these questions.. if you are sensitive about personal freedoms and "oppresive" morality you may not wish to read on..

To answer your question, nowhere does the Bible condemn homosexual inclination (though this is implied to be a sinful desire by the following). However same-sex sex is condemned in both the NT and the OT - not as sexual immorality but as 1. "perversion" in Romans (of God's intentions for human sexual relationships I understand) and 2. "detestable" in Leviticus (again I understand this to be "in God's eyes"). There are other references to same-sex sex in NT sin lists.

Sex before marriage is included in the general term "fornication" (pornea) which is used in the NT to cover general sexual immorality. In the OT it was only punishable if the participants were already engaged (ie commited to marry someone) - otherwise the sexual partners were just *obliged* to marry! (to complete the sexual/relational union in my understanding).

Posted by Dave at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 10:52pm BST

I have no taste for rudeness from anyone, and I have no problem recognizing it when I see it.

Posted by Jimmy Culp at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 7:36am BST

Jimmy:

Rude I may be, but I still think that heaping praise on someone for their "tolerance" just because they are able to bear up under the incredible(?) burden and strain of going to Church with ordinary God fearin' folks is absurd.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 7:25pm BST

Steven mentioned
"burden and strain of going to Church with ordinary God fearin' folks"

But have you ever experienced being 'preached against' or being described as 'not a Christian' by another member of the faith? I very much doubt that anyone has questioned your place in the Kingdom — try to listen a little to those who have undergone that sort of experience!

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Sunday, 30 July 2006 at 7:12pm BST

I have two things I need to say:

1. Pius XII

2. I don't find personal abuse or invective, even slightly humourous; nor am I prepared to tolerate them. To try to justify invective by pretending it is humour is itself, a form of manipulation. I do not intend to allow myself to be manipulated any further, and can not bear, seeing the treatment, here, of Susan most recently, and of others.

Consequently, with regret, I shall not be posting here again, or participating in this forum.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 30 July 2006 at 7:57pm BST

Steven,
The wicked stepfather (the Imperial Church) has been beating up Mom and whoring around with every new trend the world has to offer for the past 1700 years! It is no more right now than it ever was, but why pretend it's new? Why is it that certain sins aren't sins anymore? As to big sister tradition, she grew up in an environment where she was expected to toe the Imperial party line. At the Reformation, a good many went so far as to disown her because of that.

Ford

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 31 July 2006 at 5:26pm BST

Ford:

It is said that immitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I take your adoption (and adaptation) of my earlier analogy in this spirit. However, it doesn't help me in understanding what you are trying to say.

What do you mean by the "Imperial Church" and how has it been beating up Mom (the Bible) and "whoring around with every new trend the world has to offer for the past 1700 years!" I'm just not following you.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Monday, 31 July 2006 at 7:14pm BST

I'm surprised you don't know the term, I thought it was common. It is the Church after Constantine.For some reason, God led us to a place where a Roman Emperor not only made us legal, but made us official. In accepting this situation, understandable, especially with what had gone before, the Church proceded to compromise. Empires need to fight wars, and can't have a state religion that opposes the taking of human life in all circumstances, so we fought and argued, and came up with a theology of a "just war" claiming that the taking of human life is alright (never mind Thou shalt not kill) if the Empire tells you it's OK. Talk about lettiing the world dictate your morals! We have blessed battleships and armies, countenanced usury, preached murder from our pulpits, all in the interest of serving the state(s) that validate us. We consider our respopnsibility to the poor to be throwing a bit of charity at them once in a while, but make sure they know their place. A local comedy troupe parodies this model as "Suck up, kick down, a philosophy to live by." Our own Church owes it's existence as a separate entity in the West in no small part to the desire of a usurper's son to avoid the political turmoil that preceded his father's usurpation of the throne. We then allowed him to divorce two wives (something we would consider sin in commoners for the next several centuries) and murder a couple more. We Anglicans are a Church of Empire, and like the Constantinian Empire before it, it allowed us to spread around the globe, but at what cost?

It is this Imperial Church that makes us believe that we have a right to tell non-Christians how to behave, to enshrine our interpretations of our religion's teachings into Law. It also encourages us to think of sin as breaking the Law. It is the Church that dictates that you HAVE to do things rather than telling you it is spiritually beneficial to do things. Missing Mass isn't just spiritually damaging, it's WRONG and a SIN. It is the Church most of the people I know rebelled against, and that made them literally hate God. It is very difficult to tell them now that it isn't necessary for Christianity to be this way, that some churches, including Anglicans, for all our Erastianism, have moved in some direction away from that model.

It is a barrier to spread of the Gospel, at least in some circles. How can you tell people the joy of good old-fashioned Incarnational Christianity when all they know of is a nasty judgemental closed minded organizaton that smugly reaffirms middle class values by trying to control other people's behaviour? While Christianity no doubt owes it's position in Western society to this Imperial model, it has cost us dearly. Look at the history of the Church in the past 1700 years and tell me there isn't much to be ashamed of.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 11:59am BST

Ford:

So, your position is that since it's not new for Dad (the Church) to innovate against Scripture (as he has already been whoring around with the world and beating up on Mom (Scripture) for 1700 years) there's no point in trying to stop him now? Hmm. I'm not sure this constitutes a great way to rally the masses to the liberal cause.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 4:20pm BST

Not being a liberal, I'm not trying to rally the masses to any cause. I'm merely pointing out the hypocrisy of pretending that the Church has never compromised her principles before. As I've said, I am the only one in my immediate circle who does not consider Christianlty to be, as one friend puts it, "a despicable religion". The tradition they grew up in told them the Church was holy when they could look at 2000 years of history that plainly said otherwise. They can see the hypocrisy very clearly and have no qualms, nor should they, about pointing it out.

Of course we should stop this, but it was our buying into the morals of the world 1700 years ago that brought this about. These people who go on about liberals sucking up to the powers of the world and trying to be acceptable in the eyes of society are the worst. Any of my friends would ask without blinking an eye how they can say that marrying gay people is somehow courting the affection of a certain portion of society while allowing a king to divorce two wives and murder two others in order to further our own political ends was not. The Imperial Church is a profoundly hypocritical and compromised institution, but it is still, for all that, the place I encounter God most fully. Paradox? Well, that's God for you

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 3:38pm BST

Ford:

You'll have to forgive me if I doubt your conservative/traditionalist credentials. You sound like a thorough going liberal to me. But, you are of course free to label yourself as you like.

As to the people you quote--hmmm. I have to say that I'm not impressed. They sound like a fairly typical group of twits . . . oops, I meant "group from the intelligentsia". (I'm just going by your description). And, like the rest of us twits, intelligentsia or otherwise, if they don't like hypocrites they should avoid looking in the mirror. From this you will discern that I am not particularly sympathetic to broad, open ended criticisms of Christianity and the Church.

However, if I haven't lost you at this point, I'll try to say something less critical of myself and your friends (as bona fide twits) and more meaningful to me at a personal level: The proof of Christ and Christianity is very seldom found at the top, among kings and politicos. There are very seldom great saints found among the top echelons of the Church or secular society. You certainly won't find them among the Borgias or in the bedroom with Henry VIII.

Where Christianity is most noticeable and most awesome is in the changed lives, devotion, humility and charity of ordinary unremarkable people now and over the last 2000 years, not in the headline makers of history. So, if they're worried about what they think history tells them about movers and shakers in the Church and theology over the last 2000 years, tell them to lower their noses and look down for a change. Better yet, give them a copy of Brother Lawrence to read.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 6:34pm BST

Well, Steven, that's what you get for seeing only liberals and conservatives! I didn't claim to be a conservative either, if you notice, just to have such tendencies, and I don't repent of them, any more than I repent of my homosexualist tendencies. There are other things to be, you know.

What makes you think I'm a "liberal"? For the record, I don't want to marry my partner, wouldn't do it even if the Church said I could, and have a sneaking suspicion that sacramental matrimony is really only made for heteros. I also think that a lot of this is about people clamouring for validation. If redemption isn't enough validation then I don't know what is. I'd like to say the Church is not in the business of validating people's relationships, but we know that's not true.

I'd like to see conservative priests who quote St. Paul on marriage advising young couples to try celibacy and only come back for the second best option, marriage, if they couldn't control their animal lusts. At least the they'd be credible. I'd like to see them tell such people that the Sacrament is not some rite of passage or opportunity to show off Daddy's money, and if that's what they're looking for, go to the JP down the road. But as long as they are willing to marry Mrs. Wealthy's daughter(or Mrs. Poor's, for that matter) who hasn't darkened a Church door since last time Mom made her go to midnight Mass and who thinks Christianity is a bunch of self righteous hooey, they've got no business defending the "sanctity" of marriage.

As to people who point out the Church's hypocrisy being twits, again, one can see hypocrisy in others while being a hypocrite one'sself. You don't know these people, have no idea of their honesty with themselves or others, and you call them twits just because they point out some uncomfortable truths about the Church! Do you really think it's OK for the Church to approve certain sins, but not others? Why, as an example, is an unborn child's life sacred, with which I agree, but once he's born, grown up, and in the Iraqi army, I can kill him and do no sin?

As to where the proof of Christianity is found, I agree with you. But that doesn't change the fact that we've been in AND of the world for 1700 years, compromised our principles, and now we are paying the price.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 11:52pm BST

Ford:

You always give me some interesting things to think about. I find your positions on some issues challenging as I see in them a drive towards complete Christian fidelity and commitment that challenges the usual status quo. Others I just find flakey.

But, don't ask me to sort out which is in each category. Frankly, I'm just not sure about some of them. Others I'll avoid because you already know what I'd answer and there's no need to foster hostility. Still, you've got me thinkin' . . .

As to the cohorts you mention--well, you'll notice that I included myself in both categories, as both twit and hypocrite (which rhyme BTW!) And, as a reforming (but never completely reformed) twit and hypocrite on such matters I'm bound to be a bit cranky (been there, done that) when dealing with those who have not only yet to "see da light", but are abusive about it.

I know from my own personal experience the combination of arrogance and ignorance that often leads to such attitudes (at least in my own case). Which is not to say anything about your cohorts. Only you can say if the shoe fits. I may just be projecting.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 2:43pm BST

Steven,
Agreed on all points! I doubt there'll be too many posts between you and me where either of us'd be able to say that! These occasional episodes of fraternalism between us might be evidence that there can be good come of the whole Anglican mess after all! I too can get snarky with those who don't seem to get what to me is so clear. But of course, the clarity of the situation is just a product of my outlook. Anyway, enough of the lovefest, people will talk:-)

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 4:21pm BST

Ford:

Well, it may be the last time for a while anyhow. I'm going to try to keep up with the lead item on Duncan's announcement for a few more posts, then I have to take a substantial break for the rest of the month for work purposes. I probably won't be back again 'til sometime in September or thereafter. So, since some of your views are--gee whiz!--pretty conservative, try to throw in a traditionalist remark or two in my absence.

And, if you or anyone else has any way of getting in touch with Laurence Roberts let him know I'm gone for a bit. He might decide to come back for a while as long as I'm not around. Being fairly thick-skinned myself I tend to forget that others may get offended more easily than I do. It was certainly not my intention to drive him away.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 3 August 2006 at 11:47pm BST
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