Comments: The Bible: Reading and Hearing

A magnificent address. However, I stumble on some of its claims -- how would the total acceptance of Scripture be compatible with the moral judgment we are forced to make on genocidal texts such as Numbers 31 and 1 Samuel 15?

On Romans 1, it can be argued that as in the case of Conciliar documents the binding force accrues to the conclusions not to the arguments used on the way there. What Paul says about homosexuality in Romans 1 is just the conventional moral rhetoric of the times -- you find similar stuff in Stoic, Platonist and Hellenistic Jewish writers. It is just as if today I decried the rampant immorality of our cities and ranted about junkies, transvestites, touts, -- my illustrations would need to be taken seriously as I had not directed my attention to a concrete consideration of the ethical issues of transvestitism. Likewise, we do not take Paul (or deutero-Paul) seriously when he assures us in another argument that "all Cretans are liars." Getting hung up on incidental illustrations is typical of biblical fundamentalism and it is ultimately inimical to the divine purposes of Scripture, as they are discovered by the community at prayer.

Some reasserters are claiming that the leaders of the ECUSA are likely to disagree with RW, but it seems to me that the point Jefferts Schori and others have been stressing all along is that the fundamentalism of Akinola et al is diametrically opposed to such an integral, ecclesial reception of Scripture. So they will be in basic accord with what Rowan Williams is pointing out -- the dynamic openness of the Scriptural world.

The reasserters stress on the objective Truth and Authority of Scripture misses again and again the way that Scriptural truth is conveyed within a movement that involves the present reading community seeking to find the current meaning and application of this dynamic, led by the Spirit.

Posted by Fr Joe O'Leary at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 11:23am BST

I don't think an appeal to the middle as such is an argument that would hold up, though I see he does not actually do this in substance.

I've seen the Bible "listened to" in two different church communities. In the Unitarians, it was an occasional, haphazard, by choice selection according to aesthetic or ethical inspiritation. It is a sort of Treasury of the Bible approach.

What Williams is talking about is something more specific, and I think it comes down to a clearer identification with a continuous community recreating eucharistic events as interpreted by Paul and the early community, and this is what he means by conversion too - converted into that community and use.

Whether this changes interpretation of those texts is unclear from him. However the tension still is that their culture was so radically different from ours in its supernaturalism and expectations, and its sacred canopy. The Bible is not in any sense a document of science. It might contain a history of early faith-community interpretation, but it is not history as such in a more external sense. Its ethical guide is questionable in places. So there is this tension between reinterpreting and handling it as a whole in a sense of continuity.

Anyone who reads the NT can see it is resurrection-perspective and often Pauline perspective through and through. It does not take away the difficult questions of the cultural gap between then and now.

The difficulty as ever with Rowan Williams is that he lives in the detail, in what might be seen as inside a postmodern bubble. Whilst this investigates, closely, community and use and resurrection-eucharist, it does not come outside and ask more fundamental questions of meaning. A liberal should do this, even one handling the whole thing systematically, and especially for use in the present, rather than just taking inspirational bits. Actually, however, many do not: they hide within the text - the danger then being that it all sounds faithful and continuous, but no work is done because of the break in meaning. What of those outside the bubble-community who hear only insider's babble?

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 12:26pm BST

There was a time not that very long ago when I found pretty much everything the Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales had to say exciting and inspiring. These days, I can practically feel my enthusiasm for the Gospel ebbing every time Cantuar opens his mouth.

Posted by Caliban at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 12:33pm BST

The feminine notes the passage " is the work of creating one ‘movement’..." and would remind readers that God is both masculine and feminine, and that the feminine is capable of multitasking (even if some males are in denial).

God can make everlasting covenants with Jews. If honorable and reasonable "everlasting" covenants to Jews are rendered void, then why would "everlasting" covenants with Christians, Muslims or any other faith or philosophical stream have any "everlasting" characteristics?

That is both the warning and the promise of Isaiah 28:14 to Isaiah 29.

e.g. 28:18 "Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand." and excerpting from Isaiah 29:13-23 "The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips,but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD... In a very short time, will not ... the fertile field seem like a forest? ... Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down — those who with a word make a man out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice... When they see among them their children, the work of my hands,they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel."

This is completely consistent with Proverbs 6:16-19 "There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes,feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers."

A mother wants all her sons to survive, she does not want one son scheming to kill and/or deny other siblings' their inheritance.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 12:51pm BST

"Now this gives little comfort to either party in the current culture wars in the Church. It is not helpful for a ‘liberal’ or revisionist case, since the whole point of Paul’s rhetorical gambit is that everyone in his imagined readership agrees in thinking the same-sex relations of the culture around them to be as obviously immoral as idol-worship or disobedience to parents. "

Ah, but it is a great help to the liberal case. It says that Paul's statement about homosexuality is based on his audience's opinion. Furthermore, that opinion is informed by the same-sex relations "of the culture around them".

Why do they agree? Surely other scriptural admonitions come in to play, particularly from the Hebrew Scriptures at that point in time. However, to begin with a point of view in which Paul's statement is dependent on those other texts rather than proscriptive in and of itself is already a step in the right direction for the liberal.

Furthermore, in what ways are the same-sex relations of the late antique period different than the proposed model of two people living in a same-sex relationship? Acceding that there is a cultural context to the kinds of relationships considered allows for the inclusion of historical material about those relationships and how they are not the same as what is under consideration today.

Posted by Robert Leduc at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 1:10pm BST

My response is found at

I agree with Fr. O'Leary about genocidal texts.

On the whole, Williams has said some helpful things, but he does not make sufficient provision for the hermeneutics of suspicion. Anti-Kingdom and anti-Gospel ideologies are present in Scripture and much of what it says or implies about the relationships between women and men must be rejected outright.

Posted by Bill Carroll at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 3:05pm BST

This is very thoughtful, well-crafted, and solid, once one gets past the purely rhetorical attempt to claim the middle ground.

But I'm surprised at +Rowan's belief that this model for reception and interpretation of the Bible is news to anyone, or certainly anyone who has attended an Episcopal seminary in the past half-century.

It is precisely a lifetime of attention to scripture in the context of the life of the eucharistic community that has led this (self-proclaimed) liberal to the conviction that the consistent biblical affirmation of regard for the stranger and outsider, of loving one's neighbor, and of promoting justice is what "the Spirit is saying to the churches," and not the traces of ancient cultural prejudices and biases.

If we gave divine authority to ancient cultural perspectives, slavery would still be legal and women would not speak in church.

Posted by John N Wall at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 3:26pm BST

I agree with Pluralist when he says the ABC should move on to ask questions of the meaning of the text (although, it is not surprising he did not do so at this time)

Reading - Hearing - Believing......Acting.
(no point just hearing and reading, even in context)(see St James' comments on mirrors)

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 4:53pm BST

A small clarification. The address by the Archbishop of Canterbury was not given to theological students. That meeting was a closed one and took place before the morning press conference. The lecture was a public one, following the granting of honourary degrees by the University of Trinity College Toronto and Wycliffe College. The audience included several Canadian Bishops but was primarily composed of laity and clergy from several parishes. There were about 800 people in attendance. Many of them were alumni and alumni of Trinity College and St. Thomas's Angican Church, the intstitutions sponsoring this special lecture. An earlier one was given in March by David Halton, a former Washigton Correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on the Rise of the Evangelical Right in the US. This lecture is also on the Trinity Website and may be of interest to those who visit here.

Posted by Norah Bolton at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 5:05pm BST

Father O'Leary

I think we take Paul "seriously" when he says ....all Cretans are liars but not shallowly/literally if that makes sense -we treat it as the quote that it is from one of their own prophets -what does it mean when he says "This testimony is true" -presumably again we treat it seriously that Titus would face those problems of lying etc -not because Paul thought of the Cretans as a unique race that had a problem with the truth but because Paul knew that what that quote hit upon was the truth about humanity generally and true on the ground for Titus

Posted by dave williams at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 5:46pm BST

When will we get past the idea that Paul was condemming 'Homosexuality'. There was no such thing in his understanding or in the understanding of the culture of his day. Men were men only and if they chose to have sex with other men it was a deliberate perversion of their natural attraction to women, or an engagement in idolatrous worship. Our understanding of Homosexuality as an orientation which is 'natural' [God given?] is recent. This has yet to be absolutely proven but the trajectory of study certainly points in that direction.

I for one agree with what the Bible says about men laying with men. Straight men should not have sex with other men. That said, the Bible says nothing about homosexuality.

Posted by Bob Webster at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 6:26pm BST

Science and reason have informed us that same-sex couplings occur in many species in the animal kingdom. There must be a very important evolutionary reason for a minority of any species to show a tendency towards same-sex behaviour, and for this not to have been eliminated by natural selection.

As a biologist, ++Katherine Jefferts-Schori understands this. She helpfully blew the whistle on the locker-room mentality and ignorance of some of her fellow primates, who compared gays to murderers and paedophiles.

In a wonderfully frank interview with Richard Dawkins linked to on another thread, Richard Harries accepts that science has given us a greater understanding of homosexuality, and that this should inform the current religious debate. Since it has been a feature of all races throughout our history, you can be sure that homosexuality existed amongst our ancestral tribes in Africa 100,000 years ago prior to modern humans conquering the planet.

More recently, I feel quite sure St Paul encountered thriving gay communities in the cities he visited on his travels, frowned upon, but probably tolerated, by a significant section of society as they still are today. I don't think we are ultimately that different in fundamental nature to humanity 2000 years ago.

Having skimmed the ABC's lecture, he too urges a reasoned approach to Romans 1. Exegetics and the natural sciences should surely guide our approach to tradition.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 11:10pm BST

I note that RW's argument about Romans 1 is essentially the same as that developed and advanced by James Alison in his latest book 'Undergoing God'. A fine ollection of essays it is, too. And we know which side James comes out on...

Incidentally, on the 'texts of horror' which various people refer to: I assume Rowan would say that interpreting these in communion would lead to the conclusion that they are warning rather than affirmation.

Posted by Simon Barrow at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 4:17am BST

"It is not helpful for a ‘liberal’ or revisionist case, since the whole point of Paul’s rhetorical gambit is that everyone in his imagined readership agrees in thinking the same sex relations of the culture around them to be as obviously immoral as idol-worship or disobedience to parents."

Say wha???

How does Paul's assumption that all his readers REJECT PEDERASTY do any harm to liberal Anglicans---and more to the point, LGBT ones?

Heck, since we LGBTs are the ones who get (falsely!) BLAMED for child sexual abuse, we're more agin it than anyone else!

In trying to play the ol' "moral equivalency of those who oppose me" game, Rowan Cantuar only displays how *sloppy* his rhetoric (thinking?) is. :-/

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 4:59am BST

sometimes it is hard to listen to Rowan work so hard to craft a sensible and moderate middle when I think of his:
-refusing to come to our Presiding Bishop's investiture
-throwing his friend Jeffery Johns to the wolves
-unwillingness to stand up to bullies like Akinola
-willingness to warmly welcome other African bishops who have innocent blood on their hands
-telling a Dutch reporter that his earlier writings in favor of equal rights for gays and lesbians were just trial balloons and not really his real position, and
-his fight against the equal rights legislation in England.

Sometimes it is hard to hear what a man is saying because his actions and other words speak so loudly.

Rowan may work very hard to look like a thoughtful man trying to hold the church together by the power of his intellect, but I no longer believe him in this role.

Posted by Dennis at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 6:07am BST

Bob - you actually believe what you wrote?

The "liberals" who just ignore verses they do not like are much more convincing than your contrived argument....which can be twisted to justify all sorts of modern sins.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 7:41am BST

Dr Williams treats present letter to the Romans (the words en Romä are not found in the early witnesses), which consists of 2 different letters; Romans and Phoebe (present Romans 1:7b-12 + 16:1-16, 20b), as if it were one letter unquestionably by Paul himself, and as if the well attested contributions of the competing Editions of Marcion (c:a 140), the Pastorals’ circle (c:a 150-160), Clement of Alexandria (the p 46, not – I repeat not – used by today’s editors), and the Byzantine redaction (400-500, which we still retain today for Romans, only) and others were un-known.

Is this the level of current Anglican scholarship?

Dr Williams treats Romans 1:26-27 as addressing the late Modern Socio Political issue of “same sex relations”, regardless of the fact that 1) the concept of sexual orientation as identity is only late Modern; barely 40 years of age, and 2) this pre modern pro-philosophy gloss on the Spilling of Semen as a a-timían dis-honouring no-no, most demonstrably uses the very “graphic” tän asxemosúnen (the shameful “bits”); the word from the Lev 18 Household-taboos, that is, Romans 1:26-27 addresses non-relational sexual passions/acts within or without the context of Idolatry and Cult as contra the a-pathía of The Highest Being, not human relations in the context of God’s very good Creation.

Is this the level of current Anglican scholarship?

Romans 1:26-27 also uses the very denigrating thäleiai for the “women” (these were not generally claimed to be lesbians before the late 20th century), which is never used by Paul himself, nor even by the very misogynic Pastorals. This, however, does not seem to produce the slightest doubt in Dr Rowan’s mind as to the authenticity of present Romans 1.

Is this the level of current Anglican Scholarship?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 9:35am BST

Liberated from the garbage heaped on it by anti-modern “translators” Romans 1:18-25, couched in the terms of Deuteronomy 5:8-9a, addresses Idolatry; Cults. It is probably a 2nd century re-working by Marcion or somebody (a couple of dozen un-characteristic/un-paulinian words) heavily influenced by Hellenist a-theistic philosophy.

It expresses the Alexandrian Museion’s explanation for Polytheism: the peoples abandoned The Highest Being for creatures of their own making, descending into idolatry and foolery.

It is parallel to certain passages in Jewish Hellenistic literature which, although never “canonical” in any sense in Judaism, has been liberally claimed as a witness (“This is a Rabbinical reading…”) both to early Judaism and early Christianity, by late Modern “scholars”.

It must be noted that like other theological concepts in the Bible the ones used in Romans 1 have been sexualized in later academic theology and translations: sacral prostitution has become sexual “immorality” (a post scholastic concept), cultic Impurity has become sexual “unchastity”, anti-social Disloyalty has become “marriage breaking“ (of the wife ;=), material Greed has become “to covet”. And worse…

Not to mention the transmogrifications of the various (pragmatic Stoic, negative Platonic & c) concepts of “nature” into the normative “natural law” of the Scholastics…

Romans 1 was invented as anti-gay by Maître Pierre Chanteur (Peter Cantor for you lot) in late 12th century Paris. Before that the general idea was that the gloss 26-27 was about "bisexuals" to us, mätällaksan exchanging what they had for what wasn't theirs.

Johannes Chrysostomos around 400 was the first to interpret the "women" as lesbians. All until John Chrys and most after him thought they were – what the Alexandrian philosophers deemed – "used" improperly, not for procreation but from behind.

Interestingly enough for late modern readers, John Chrys’ point is not the sex:

“Ou gàr eipen oti ärasthäsan kaì epethumäsan allälån, all’eksekauthäsan en tä orexei autån eis allälous.”

“He does not say, that they loved and desired eachother, but that they burned in their lust the one towards the other.”

Homilía IV. Epostolam ad Romanos, in Patrologiae graeca, Vol 60, collumn 417.

So for a pre Modern Father of the (Greek) Church much into the non Spilling of Semen, Loving and Desiring (within a relation) is OK, Burning and Lusting (outside of it) isn’t.

Not the position of the late Modern anti-Moderns into Social Politics.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 9:39am BST

Church leaders and members could probably do with 'a season of fasting' from the Bible.

What books would you suggest for reading instead ?

My money is on Riders in the Chariot by Patrick White (Penguin)

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 9:59am BST

"Bob - you actually believe what you wrote?"

I'm getting very very tired of your tone of conversation.
Yes, people on this forum generally believe what they write.
They write it with honesty and with integrity and fully informed by their own faith.

I respect your postings in that fashion, although I don't agree with much you say.
But if we're to continue to have any kind of meaningful exchange, please do us the honour of respecting our sincerity, even if you cannot respect our views.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 10:06am BST


whether or not NP would self-designate as a fundamentalist I don't know. It's his business, though Barr years ago observed that 'fundamentalist' is a term shunned by those who occupy what I might term a fundamentalist position.

But Barr also observes that the idea that a fundamentalist can engage in a dialogue with a non-fundamentalist is largely a 'liberal' dream. Though the 'liberal' may construe things as a discussion of a range of possible opinions, a fundamentalist 'knows' only one of those opinions to be permissible, therefore those who hold opinions contrary to hers/his are unenlightened (so dialogue is about conversion) or wilful so dialogue is about dismissing the faith of the other).

There is no room within the structure for the third category, of being able to see the 'other' as possessing a living Christian faith. As evidence, look at the remarkable schismatic tendency within fundamentalist groups. The effect on spirituality is alarming, of course - look at how many 'new worship songs' assume a bunker mentality.

Those who can engage in the way you plead for are axiomatically not fundamentalist, I suggest.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 11:46am BST

I take your point, mynsterpreost.

I would still hope that a fundamentalist would be able to defend his views with actual arguments, taking into account what his "opponents" have said, and not just ignore them or attack them rudely and personally.

Unless we assume that fundamentalist positions by definition have no intellectual merit, that at least, should be possible. But then, I've always been an optimistic dreamer!

I couldn't agree more about the worship songs.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:18pm BST

Amongst the misdemeanours St Paul cites in Romans 1, which ABC conveniently left out, are "debate", "without natural affection", "backbiters", "implacable"...

I rest may case

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:25pm BST

Erika - I asked the question becaues Bob's because I cannot imagine St Paul, for example, ordaining VGR - given what he wrote and how he handled St Peter when he was in error (when Peter was not being inclusive enough!)

Mynster - ouch - you throw the "fundamentalist grenade" at me!
Well, I believe in following the teaching of the bible,a fine Anglican tradition, and if that makes me a fundamentalist, I accept the title.

Rowan Williams says Lambeth 1.10 is the "teaching of the church" so the CofE and AC is a happy home for a fundamentalist like me as the AC is still sticking to the standards of scripture and not culture.

Are you not a member of a fundamentalist CofE, in that case, if you look at the Prayer Book, for example? (it even includes PSA - shock, horror!) Are you a fundamentalist too, Mynster?

I see no intellectual (let alone practical)gain or integrity in never being willing to say a view is wrong (especially when it contradicts scripture) - even the ABC seems to have had enough of the pain of always putting off decisions, trying to hold together contradictory views, so even he is working with the Sep 30 deadline for TEC liberals.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:45pm BST

Life of Brian:

Brian: "You're all a bunch of conformists!" (modern day "fundamentalists")

The crowd: "No we're not, no we're not!"

A solitary voice: "I am"

The irony is that the one who does not fit in is the one who aspires to be in, whilst those who are in are trying to pretend to be more than what they are so they can prove that they are different.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:46pm BST

what is 'a new worship song' ?
Have I missed something ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:50pm BST

I'm glad for the opportunity to ask this ignorant sounding question, but what is the difference between an Evangelical and a fundamentalist? I sincerely don't know. I do know that some Evangelicals find the term 'fundamentalist' insulting, but I also know that they use the word 'Evangelical' to mean "Bible based/believing", the implication being that the rest of us base our faith on, what, the Necronomicon? I am well familiar with that bigotry, and find 'Evangelical' a difficult word to use because of it. I will not allow them to disparage my faith from my own mouth. Other than that, which is essentially political correctness, I sincerely don't know the difference.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:51pm BST

"telling a Dutch reporter that his earlier writings in favor of equal rights for gays and lesbians were just trial balloons and not really his real position"

This is new to me - is there any evidence for this?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:56pm BST

H Ford - I thought these links may help with your question.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 1:50pm BST

Erika, see:

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 1:51pm BST

Erika said
"Unless we assume that fundamentalist positions by definition have no intellectual merit..."

Barr suggested that fundamentalism was a result of over-intellectualisation. The arguments are internally cohesive to a remarkable degree, it's the connections with the world beyond which are problematic, and are often construed in 'bunker' format.

Laurence: no, you most emphatically HAVEN'T missed anything with regard to new worship songs...!

Ford, Barr (again, only book I've ever read:-) ) suggested a significant difference between UK and North American usage, where 'Evangelical' in UK meant more like 'mainstream Protestant' in US, and 'Fundamentalist' in UK roughly parallelled '(conservative) evangelical' in the States. Now that work's dating a bit now, based on late '70s thinking, it doesn't handle 'open evangelical' as a category for example, but it sometimes helps understand a real difference in terminology.

NP: au contraire, I refuse to throw the fundamentalist grenade at anyone. Read my post again - though 'qui se sent morveux...' With regard to St. Paul and VGR, no more could I imagine St Paul 'ordaining' a woman, nor St. James
'ordaining' an uncircumcised Greek. Inviting us to imagine ourselves into Paul's context leads us to invite ourselves into the whole of the mixed up and messy context of the primitive Church which is so much like our own.

I shall now belt up and go and do some work.

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 2:00pm BST

Cheryl: Life of Brian. It's not the woird 'conformists', and the crowd agree, rather than disagree.

The sentiment expressed by Brian, who is trying to get people to stop mindlessly following him, is something like "Remember, you're all individuals". Then they shout back as one, "Yes! we're all individuals!"... until one loan voice cries, "I'm not".

Delightful moment.

Posted by Simon Barrow at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 2:04pm BST

Thanks, NP, but the first was a link to The second didn't make it clear at all. It seems to be saying that fundamentalists are Evangelicals who are more conservative. I take particular issue with:
"As such, they seek to maintain and present the authentic teaching ‘once for all entrusted to the saints’ (Jude 3)."

My problem is that they would see the "faith once and for all delivered to the saints" to be found in Scripture alone and of course it is not. Scripture, to make an analogy, is not the computer. It is instead the user's manual. Paul in his epistles tells people to be faithful to the tradition they have received. Well, if they received a tradition before most of the NT was written down, then the tradition must exist separate from Scripture. For you, such a statement must mean that I don't believe the Bible, which is untrue. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be difficult, but I am still no wiser as to the difference, unless it is merely the degree of conservativism, which doesn't justify expecting me to disparage my own faith.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 2:07pm BST

"Dr Rowan WIlliams, has told an audience of theological students that both intensely liberal and ultra conservative readings of the Bible are ‘rootless’."
Considering some of the posts above, it's a good point to make however.
As mysenpreost wrote" ...a fundamentalist 'knows' only one of those opinions to be permissible, therefore those who hold opinions contrary to hers/his are unenlightened (so dialogue is about conversion) or wilful so dialogue is about dismissing the faith of the other)"
Can this not be true of people on the both sides of the argument? There are definitely "conservatives" with such an attitude that theirs is the only right way. There are also "liberals" who believe that anyone who disagrees with them is a "neanderthal" as one poster put on this site a while back. Some conservatives don't believe liberals are Christian. Some liberals don't believe conservatives are either. There are fundamentalists on both sides. Neither side really wants to see the other side's point of view and admit they might be wrong, so Rowan's words are probably more true than most people on this or Virtue's site would like to believe.

Posted by Nonanglican at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 3:08pm BST

"Neither side really wants to see the other side's point of view and admit they might be wrong"

I really wish that every Anglican who knows this to be true would say it. We need the real Anglican mainstream to stand up and cry loudly "A pox on both your houses!" If those of us who think this said it, I think both sides would get quite a shock! In my search for truth in this, I have been forced to look at people's behaviour, "by their fruits you shall know them." Well, I've ended up reluctantly siding, more or less, with the group that has, in my estimation, behaved not well, but less badly than the other side. Now what kind of way is that to make a decision?

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 4:22pm BST

I think this is a good and helpful restatement of the relationship between Scripture and the Eucharist in the context of Christian community. But I don't recognise ++Rowan's depiction of "liberal" theology, as in, "for the latter, the life of the community is where the Spirit is primarily to be heard and discerned, with Scripture an illuminating adjunct at certain points".

As a self-confessed liberal in a very inclusive parish, it's clear to me that we have reached the positions we have as a result of sustained listening to and wrestling with the text as it stands - trying to understand it hermeneutically both in what it was saying at the time and what it, through the Spirit, is saying now.

In other words I'm not sure that the dichotomy between "liberal" and "biblicist" really stands up. It seems to me quite clear that mainstream Anglicans have reached the more inclusive positions they have through the process which ++Rowan describes and that the broad centre is becoming the open centre. What we're seeing is the working through of a realignment within the churches (certainly in the West) so that liberal/biblicist is losing its relevance in the same way that left/right is in politics.

Which isn't to say there isn't a great deal to learn from onward wrestling - reading and hearing -

Posted by Giles Goddard at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 5:28pm BST

Hi Ford Sorry, the amazon link was supposed to get you to a book called "What is an Evangelical" by Martin Lloyd Jones. He was not Anglican so that may be good or bad.

Evangelical Anglican - pls see John Stott as a great example and his book "Issues Facing Christians Today" may be of interest as it shows how a great, faithful man would approach various issues from an evangelical Christian perspective

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 5:38pm BST

I don't think you can tell whole groups by their fruits, only ever individuals.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 6:06pm BST

"it shows how a great, faithful man would approach various issues from an evangelical Christian perspective"
I do not question his faith, NP, though I do question the things he has faith in. You've heard, no doubt, the joke about the nuns, the car with no gas, the chamber pot, and Ian Paisley. WRT Evangelicals, those are my sentiments. I was asking about the difference between a fundamentalist and an Evangelical, however, and I'm afraid I'm none the wiser.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 6:57pm BST

Sorry to double post. Erica, I think when a group speaks to a certain issue as a group, you can then tell that whole group by their fruits. So when the cabal of conservatives led by ++Akinola schemes and plots to get their way, celebrates impending schism with a dinner rather than share the Eucharist with their fellow primates, draws up drafts of how they will go about taking power in TEC, and accepts funding from wealthy Americans with ties to IRD, then these are the fruits by which that particular group can be judged. It is not a judgement on all conservatives, or even on those who follow this particular group of leaders, but it is a judgement on this particular group of leaders, and the reliability of their teaching of, and even understanding of, the Gospel.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 7:53pm BST

A couple of things. My understanding of fundamentalist is a person who subscribes to Darby's premillenial dispensationalism [which has given rise to 'Left Behind' rapture ideas]. He [I think] was the first to coin the term 'fundamentals of faith' in his system. It also included what he called a literal interpretation of Scripture. Evangelicalism has more of an emphasis on winning souls for Christ whether or not they adhere to what they believe is a literal reading of Scripture. While most Fundamentalists are evangelical, few Evangelicals are fundamentalist.

...and yes NP I do believe what I said. Thank you Erika! What is it you object to? There is no indication that the ancients had any conception of what we now call homosexual orientation. Even those few some five centuries before Paul who idealized male love spoke out of a cultural expression which by Paul's time had been significantly corrupted. Even then those writers were not working from the assumption that they were naturally oriented to their own sex, but rather that it was just a delightful experience especially between warrior brothers and for young men to learn the fine points of erotic love.

If one assumes that men can only truly be sexually attracted to women then it makes sense to talk about perversion. What, after all, is presumed to be perverted but one's natural inclination to women. Knowing that there in fact is a natural inclination to one's own sex makes a significant difference.


Posted by Bob Webster at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 9:49pm BST

A long time ago I tried to tackle this fundamentalist versus evangelical definition as a piece of sociology of religion.

First of all it was clear that fundamentalists were as selective as anyone. What was clear was that for definitions they referred to other people making definitions. So it was not that every word was true, but something else.

Then there was the problem of traditionalists and what I called conversationists. On the face of it a traditionalist Prot can be as fundamentalist as a conversionist Prot. The difference is that one defends the Church (understood as Prot, Reformed etc.) from the culture, whilst the other is attacking it often, in a transitory way, via the culture.

So, in those conversionists attacking culture, I gave evangelicals a more social, people, emphasis (whilst being biblical, of course) and a bit more space, whereas the fundies were buried in their Book making pronouncements, and the (belief) charismatics were a bit gassy. Whilst the charismatics most likely used these new worship songs any of these conversionists would. They are all of charismatic authority, because they rely on individual endorsement.

Traditionalists would not like this new worship songs, and there is a traditionalists for every sub-position in the Church.

More recently I tried to update my basic scheme and it got too complicated. The scheme was first done as a two-level triangle to change Church-Denomination-Sect because today sects are within Church.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 10:23pm BST

Nonanglican, note that the ABC has used the word Neanderthal in the following speech:

"But I still think that it is important that we must not give way to the temptation to say 'truth would be clear if only some people would go away'. And, once, again, on both sides of the debate, that is what I hearing. 'truth would be clear if only those Neanderthal bigots would go away'… 'truth would be clear if only those servile followers of contemporary culture would go away'. I'm not sure that's true; in fact I'm pretty sure it isn't."

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 2:48am BST

Ford - do you not find "fundamentalism" amongst "liberals" too? (I would not criticise anyone for holding their views strongly and believing they are right- even if that gets them the dreaded "F" label

Posted by NP at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 6:56am BST

For a short collection of examples of the 2nd Millennium European academic sexualization of Biblical Cultic, Household and Social concepts (mostly pertaining to the 2nd, 7th and 10th Commandments), I refer you to the first 4 paragraphs of Robert Gagnon's instantaneous critique of Dr Rowan William's Canadian utterances on Romans 1.

Sexual immorality, sexual impurity, ashamed, the sinful desires, the Flesh, deeds of the body, sin in the flesh, immoral sexual activities, licentious acts, lyings or beds, prohibited sexual behaviors, slaves of sin, lacking in sexual self-restraint, unrepentant sexual immorality…'WrongReading.htm

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 8:56am BST

Fundamentalists = Anyone who does not agree with me!

Posted by Peter at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 9:38am BST

Isn't part of what it means to be a fundamentalist the conviction that only your view is right and that others can only prosper if they subscribe to it too?

If that's true, then there can be extreme liberals but not fundamentalist ones. We hold our views strongly but are not too bothered about what others think - as long as they don't try to interfere in our lives.

As we keep repeating - we're very happy for you to be part of our church, it's the fundamentalists who cannot accept us as part of theirs.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 9:42am BST

Oh, please, NP! You find extremists in any group of humans. I'm talking about two words used to describe what may or may not be separate groups of Christians. Is it the sake, for instance, that both groups would believe the Bible to be literally true? Do they share the same disresepct for other religions? Do they practice glossolalia? These are only examples of the things I am ignorant of.

I would criticize people if they thought it acceptable to tell an 11 year old child of another denomination that he and his family were going to Hell if they didn't get "saved", or if they terrorized kids Halloween night with threats of Hell, or if they started fights by the roadside because the Santa Claus parade was pagan, or if they tried to entice someone not of their faith to a house where, unbeknownst to the person involved, members of the congregation had gathered to "heal" the woman of an illness when she arrived! I don't find Fundies to have strong faith at all, rather superstitious and gullible. That's why they need the rules all made clear, and why they have to assert the purity and rightness of their faith exclusive of everyone else. Let's face it, if someone else's faith were respectable, they just might have a point, in which case the fundies might be wrong, and thus not ensured of salvation. This combined with a childish concept of salvation as getting into Heaven when we die makes for some pretty huge insecurities. I have grown up with Fundamentalist/Evangelicals (I'm still not sure of the difference) and I don't trust them. Everything I mentioned happened to me or someone I know, and I can go on with a lot, a whole lot, more. I'd like to think that those Anglicans who call themselves Evangelical behave better and have more respect for others than the Fundies I grew up with. I have to say, NP, I have found that to be the case on other sites, but here, most of those who self define as Evangelical exhibit the same kinds of thought processes and ideas as the Fundies of my childhood.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 11:25am BST

Methinks Dr Gagnon doth protest too much.

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 11:59am BST

Ford - I wish you could spend some time with evanglical Anglicans - I really think you would get on well with many that I know in, for example, Sydney. (I am being serious and mean nothing more than what I say)

Well Erika, since I do not at all buy the postmodern nonsense that would have contradictory views all being equal and none right, I do think there are right and wrong interpretations of scripture and in that sense, you might call me a fundamentalist.

Someone once said "And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
I guess you would think this was a wrong attitude?

Posted by NP at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:37pm BST

I will pray for you Ford Elms. If that's really your impression of Anglican evangelicals, you need to get about a bit and meet up with them. Your views I think would quickly change.

Posted by Peter at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 2:26pm BST

_Yet neither he nor anyone else who talks in this way has made a convincing case that Paul would have viewed loving and committed same-sex intercourse involving people “oriented” to such behavior as a significantly lesser offense than adult, consensual, and loving incest of the first order._ Robert Gagnon, linked above.

He has not, however, in this article, made the case the other way and it is something of a red herring. Nevertheless, Gagnon's article is precisely why Rowan Williams cannot argue from within the Bible alone, that you have to come out of it and say that we think, now, on the basis of understanding developed, that loving and committed same-sex intercourse involving people of such orientation (no need for quote marks) is to be included as being faithful, of fidelity, of care for the other, loving, and that therefore it does not qualify with Paul's attack on licentiousness, and if Paul did so regard faithful, committed relationships as out of bounds then * Paul was wrong *.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 3:03pm BST

"I will pray for you Ford Elms."
Please do. I acknowledge that such attitudes are sinful, and have led me to the hypocrisy of disparaging the faith of others who do far more of the work of the Kingdom than I. I might suggest you pray as well for the people whose faith leads them to the actions I have described. I made none of that up, and I assure you that's only a fraction of the kind of closed minded religiosity I have experienced at the hands of Fundamentalists. It's why I ask what the difference is, I have always thought Anglicans were "better" somehow. Pride, I know, vanity on my part, but still. The fact that there are Anglicans who believe exactly like the Fundies I knew is a lesson in humility. On other websites, I have met Evangelicals who do not fit my stereotypes, and it has challenged me quite a bit and benefitted me no end. But when I see some people defend the indefensible merely because the one they are defending agrees with them on sexuality, when I see the same kind disrespect that says "you don't believe as I do, therefor you have no faith and are fair game for any Evangelistic ploys I can come up with, no matter how dishonest", it's easy to fall back into old habits.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 3:15pm BST

Amazing string of comments. Some I follow... some are beyond following for all except a very small group of like-minded friends. I especially find the comments concerning what Paul really wrote a bit weak... or maybe it was Marcion...please... Paul meant greek temple prostitutes? I don't think so... ABC left off
"backbiters" etcetera... meaning what? that if your a backbiter but weren't a hater of truth you were ok? ... the argument for justification for same sex relationships simply can not be from scripture unless scripture is made to say what it doesn't say or it is made palatable by any number of critical or cultural iterpretations.

Posted by john at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 4:44pm BST

Does ABC have a new reading / interpretation of this 1 Corinthians 6 passage?
9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

"And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified..."
Is this the Gospel message? God's mercy reaches all, and cleanses us within...

Posted by tony_s at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 5:03pm BST

NP, Peter,
If I understood Ford correctly, he is genuinely trying to understand the difference between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. Not having received the answer he is looking for, he then explained his current understanding.

Instead of praying for him or wishing he should get out more and meet more Evangelicals, it would be a lot more helpful if you could answer his question and explain the difference.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 7:53pm BST

Ford, You're describing a fundamentalist pentecostal not your ordinary run of the mill "fundy". I've met individuals from all sorts af strains...some well-behaved and decent...some not so. How do we describe ourselves I wonder... surely a simple "I'm an Episcopalian" could leave one wondering these days. I think I may be an episcopalian/evangelical/charismatic... I think I'm far from a fundamentalist but as far from whatever the opposite of a fundamentalist is. Of course, some things are fundamental to faith are they not? so maybe I am a fundamentalist of sorts.

Posted by John at Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 10:25pm BST

tony s, Paul's lists of vices are actually quite obscure. They are conventional lists to begin with -- I doubt if he had a clear picture of the categories he rattles off -- drunkards, swindlers etc. It is as if I were to deplore urban immorality and list "rude youths, yobs, druggies, transvestites, pimps, whores" etc. But in any case the loving homosexual couple are not on that list at all. What you call "male prostitutes and homosexual offenders" corresponds to only one word in the Greek, arsenokoitai, which indeed may mean male prostitutes. What translation are you using?

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 4:43am BST

Erika - if you read above, you will see that I said that if you define a fundamentalist as someone who believes they are right and therefore believes that contradictory views are wrong, I am one.

I also pointed out that there is fundamentalism in "liberal" circles - the sort of people who would split the AC for their strong belief the bible is wrong on a certain issue - this is fundamentalism too.

Posted by NP at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 7:26am BST

Is fundamentalism (of any sort) something to do with being locked into a cultural bubble while vehemently denying that one is?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 9:03am BST

I have already commented about your view that there is liberal fundamentalism. It would be helpful if you could reply to that, please.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 12:29pm BST

_Is fundamentalism (of any sort) something to do with being locked into a cultural bubble while vehemently denying that one is?_ mynsterpreost

Well that's interesting because there are some fairly doctrinal postliberals and there is John Milbank with his one stage further Radical Orthodoxy who would reintroduce the place of Christendom, it seems, against the all prevailing "secular theology" of sociology and the like in the usual world. It is all theology, says he, but one lot is secular and one lot is true, except he admits the postmodern situation. So he accepts the bubble is just that, and then proclaims from it. Postmodernism gives him and others the freedom to set up countervailing truths.

The difference is that fundies tend to be modernist: their texts are pseudo-science and pseudo-history, and the Bible as a book of rules. They don't have a view of returning truths as in religious myth, just a once and for all set of statements to be found in the Bible, and if not true then you don't believe. However, what they believe, how important it is and what they don't bother with is a consensus of their own informal network of approved leaders and interpreters. For them there is no bubble but there is a set of high walls saying who is in and who is out.

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 1:54pm BST

So the challenge is how to convince fundies that their way of reading the Bible is modern, rather than 2000 year old truth.
Any ideas?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 10:49pm BST

Ford, you are in good company, there’s lots of prayers been sent my way in the last few years. God knows who is praying for us and why.

I agree with Giles that the dichotomy between liberal and orthodox is not as great as it might seem. I know a few of the nice evangelicals in Sydney. There are also nice people in the Synagogues, Catholic and Baptist churches as well as the Mosques and elsewhere . The Machiavellian element camouflage very nicely into these decent communities; you only see the dark side if you happen to provoke them or they think there are no worthy witnesses.

The nasty element relies on telling people it is better to be aligned with a intimadatory evangelical than a gentle liberal. Apparently God does not make allowances for human inadequacies. These theologies overlook whole chunks of the bible e.g. the promises made to gentile and Jew, pure and afflicted through the Daughter of Zion.

It seems that Jesus has been reduced to a pop star front man for fan club organisers who aim to bring in mega bucks through the tithes and adoring praise from the crowds. Apparently the words of gentleness and displays of compassion shown by Jesus were simply another marketing spin to increase the fan club base. It seems that any hospitality, gentleness, forgiveness or compassion is predicted on a fee for service basis. That is, give the organisers tithes and compliments and you can have the divine blessings. But if you question the ethics or expose corruption in the organisers, then the divine dispensations are withheld.

This is not what the Daughter of Zion wanted, nor is it why she endorsed Jesus. She endorsed Jesus to fulfill divine scriptures, including the everlasting covenant promised to her. This is a generation that seems to like economic blockades. At this stage, there is no legimate reason not to put in place some divine sanctions. If covenants are not going to be honored, then the basis of the relationship is void.

Oh, and don't try to intimidate Eve with the fabric that Adam is made of. She's cut from the same cloth. For better or for worse wasn't meant to mean for the male the better and the female the worst. It was meant to mean being loyal to each other through thick and thin, good times and bad.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 20 April 2007 at 11:43pm BST

why should a fundamentalist want to give up a cherished belief? In the case of a Christian biblical fundamentalist, the system is internally consistent: those who do 'see through' fundamentalism often move from fundamentalism straight to antagonism to religion, not to open evangelicalism.

If there is a task to be done, it is to offer 'recovering fundamentalists' a way of experiencing an authentic faith without the fundamentalist a prioris. In that most Christian fundamentalists are at present at the evangelical end of things, it probably falls to non-fundamentalist evangelicalism to come up with something.

Unfortunately, as someone has commented already, the extreme conservatives have managed to sabotage such attempts by painting open evangelicals (even of conservative hue) as 'false Christians'. (Personally, I think the 'true Christian/false Christian' axis has a lot to answer for.) The recovering fundamentalist has nowhere to go: you can find parallels to this sort of control in (say) the Community Rule.

I wonder whether the task is pastoral rather than theological when engaging with the fundamentalist community. Meanwhile, the rest of the Church needs to remember that dialogue with conservatives is possible; dialogue with fundamentalists is probably not.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Saturday, 21 April 2007 at 10:04am BST

Ford writes: "I have grown up with Fundamentalist/Evangelicals (I'm still not sure of the difference) and I don't trust them."

Surely an evangelical is one who seeks to obey the exhortation to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. You can have liberal evangelicals and conservative evangelicals.

With regard to fundamentalism, I reckon it is all too generally confused with literalism (eg creation in six days etc.) There are many who home in on the fundamentals of the Christian faith, but who are not literalists!

Whilst I don't doubt for a moment that Ford has met the odd people he cites, this is a total caricature of fundamentalists as a whole. There are well-meaning nutters at both ends of the spectrum! And it is an awful generalisation to conclude that fundies don't have a strong faith. That's why someone has suggested he get about a bit, meeting these people he deprecates; he might be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by Robert at Saturday, 21 April 2007 at 10:51am BST

It appears my Lenten discipline hasn't been so beneficial after all. I apologize to those I might have offended. I spoke out of frustration and anger, and should have refrained from posting till I was calmer. As I said, I have met, online, Evangelicals who do not fit the stereotype I described, who have indeed helped allay this bigotry of mine, not so's you'd notice from last week, all the same. I have relatives who put the lie to the stereotype as well. As to Findie gullibility:

-the band KISS are Satanists whose name means Knights in Satan's Service,
-Procter and Gamble's logo proves them to be Satanist.
-bar codes are the Mark of the Beast
-Halloween is devil worship
-labyrinths are satanic
-contemplative prayer is satanic
-rock music is satanic, until they realized it was a good way to drag in the yoof, then every church gets a "praise band"


Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 2:31pm BST

"if you read above, you will see that I said that if you define a fundamentalist as someone who believes they are right and therefore believes that contradictory views are wrong, I am one. "
NP, this pretty much says it all, about a number of things. You have to feel that you are right. Why? Is it because you can only feel God loves you if you abide by what's right? Or perhaps you are better than those who do not live by what you believe to be right? In any event, it speaks of a lack of trust in the love of God, and a lack of humility that says you might be wrong. Is the possibility that you might be wrong such a fearful thing? Do you think God will cast you out if you are wrong on some points of belief?

I am far more comfortable with healthy doubt and the humility that admits that my beliefs might be wrong, but God in his mercy will put it right in the end. The idea that I am right and everyone else is wrong is a dangerous one, since once there are those outside of God's truth, then they must be cut off from God. It's not too far then for them to be less than human, or less than valid. This is exactly what is being done to gay people, and, I fear, what my anti-fundie bigotry might one day engender in me. It can already be seen, to my shame, in some of what I have already said.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 2:43pm BST

So the challenge is how to convince fundies that their way of reading the Bible is modern, rather than 2000 year old truth.
Any ideas?_ Erika Baker

Yes. A time machine and participant observation.

As a liberal evangelical I ahve conversations with people and hopefully I listen to them.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 3:21pm BST

"As a liberal evangelical"
! See, this is what I need to hear! You're an Evangelical, yet you're far to the left of me, I think.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 4:04pm BST

Hey, Ford, it is not about being right or being accepted, but it is just common sense.....if I believe something is right on a matter of key importance, I cannot at the same time think contradictory views are equally legitimate. This is not postmodern, I know, but it is certainly common-sense logic.

Hebrews 11v 1

Posted by NP at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 5:50pm BST

Pluralist confessed:
'As a liberal evangelical'

and worships in a church with vestments, sung Eucharist with occasional incense, and BCP evensong in trad. Anglican style.

Without wanting to sound patronising (he'll be at his first PCC in a couple of hours), the ability not to seek to worship in a ghetto is perhaps also part (though only part) of sorting out what a fundamentalist might be. Those who seek only the company of the like-minded may be cause for concern.

The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches refuse to worship with anyone who can't sign up to their Westminster-confession-and-then-some charter. This inability to endure messiness and people on the same journey who delight in different things is a possible indicator of the fundamentalist mind-set?

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 6:05pm BST

First of all, NP, it seems to be a contradiction that God can be both one and three, yet this is what we Christians believe. We call it a Mystery, since to us the two are mutually exclusive, yet the Spirit has led us to the Truth of it. This, as one efriend has said, is the beauty of the catholic faith, it does not seek to resolve paradoxes, but holds them in tension: God is Three, yet One, Christ is both God amd Man, Mary is a mother, yet still a virgin. For me, Creation is more wonderful because of this, and the faith richer. It makes me laugh like Sarah did. I'm not sure why you quote the verse you did. Is it yet again to imply that because I do not believe as you do, I am faithless?

Second, it is pretty obvious to our human minds that if two people hold contradictory viewpioints and, assuming one of them is right, the other must be wrong. The issue is whether you have the humility to admit YOU might be the one who is wrong. What would it do to your faith to admit that possibility?

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 7:27pm BST

"Second, it is pretty obvious to our human minds that if two people hold contradictory viewpioints and, assuming one of them is right, the other must be wrong"

Unless at least one of those viewpoints is completley rigid and closed to any nuance, I much prefer the image of blind people trying to describe an elephant, each by touching a small bit of it: our view of God does not have to be wrong in the negative sense that the word usually implies. But it is most certainly incomplete!

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 23 April 2007 at 9:09pm BST

Don't forget the issue has two sides. If conservatives must be made to ask the question,"What if we're wrong?", so must liberals. What would you do if a message(in whatever form you would listen to--writing on the wall, angels,Elijah, Christ himself)appeared and told you your views were wrong? Would it change anything about your beliefs or actions? I guess I see the word fundamentalist useful for people on both sides who would refuse to change.

Posted by Nonanglican at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 12:24am BST

"the ability not to seek to worship in a ghetto is perhaps also part (though only part) of sorting out what a fundamentalist might be."

You've touched a raw nerve for me here. Last week I went to a big London Alpha church and came out scandalised by the narrowness of the worship songs, the prayers, the abbriged creed and the sermon. In the sermon we were repeatedly told that we become Christians when the punishing Cross begins to make intellectual sense and gladdens our hearts.

In the more liberal churches and our own wonderful liberal cathedral, on the other hand, there is space to make your own confession, the creed is the full version, the prayers don't constantly glorify the slain lamb, the sermon is something you may or may not agree with, but it's usually well argued and allows space for thinking and for possible disagreement, and therefore for personal growth.

Good places of worship always give you the space to need to come before God with the theology that best expresses where you are at the moment.
When you have that space, you can truly emerse yourself in worship and connect with God, and worship with people all across the Christian spectrum.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 7:33am BST

Ford - for me, the issue is not "what is NP is wrong?" - the issue is that some ordained people are daring to teach the very opposite to the scriptures...... until someone proves that the scriptures actually mean the opposite to what they repeatedly say, I am not willing to say they are wrong (even if that leaves me badly out of step with society)

Rowan Williams was one of the most powerful minds trying to make the case to read scripture in a way which allows behaviours (and leaders) which are clearly (to most of us in the AC) not allowed - but even he has moved a long way away from the position.

I am willing to be wrong. I am willing not to be accepted (as my stance here shows). This is not the isssue. The issue is that I believe the scriptures are not wrong and nobody has proved that they positively support the innovations we see in TEC.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 9:00am BST

NP said
nobody has proved that they (sc. the Scriptures) positively support the innovations we see in TEC

It's the old Luther/Calvin thing brought up to date. Some want it proven that the Scriptures (properly understood) permit. Others maintain that the Scriptures (properly understood) do not forbid.

An example of this of uncontroversial sort would be the Jehovah's Witness opposition to blood transfusions based on the Acts instruction that Christians should 'refrain from blood' - if you like a quasi-Calvinist position. Most Christians believe that the unqualified 'refrain from blood' cannot refer to something unknown at the time, ie blood transfusions, and that therefore, properly understood, the Scriptures do not forbid.

NP and others who cannot see any hint of Gospel fidelity in those who find room for same-sex relationships might want to ponder on these different interpretations of the Acts passage, not to acquiesce in the opposing view, but to understand that those of us who tend towards that opposing view do have some significant Christian tradition of biblical interpretation behind us.

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 10:26am BST

If conservatives must be made to ask the question,"What if we're wrong?"

NonAnglican, I have repeatedly stated that I may be wrong. I am quite comfortable with the fact that I might be wrong. Sorry to have given any other impression. And NP, what you need to question is your literal understanding of Scripture and your assertion that such an interpretation of Scripture is older than 500 years, give or take. I'm not suggesting you stop believing this, merely acknowledge that it is only one valid way of interpreting Scripture, not the only one. Oh, and you need to question whether teaching the opposite of what Scripture says is somehow new. I know a large number of people who can look back over 2000 years of Church history and identify innumerable times when the Church went against Her principles in the interests of getting along with the State, indeed, in the interest of having power over the State. Why can't you, and why can't you see how much this damages the message? I get the impression you don't have contact with people who have abandoned Christianity and aren't used to defending the faith against them. Oh, you are quite used to defending the faith against the Hell bound liberals, but not those who have genuine grievance with th Chrch and who, frankly, hate Christianity because of the spiritual abuse they have suffered.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 11:00am BST

the issue is not whether Scripture is wrong, but whether your or my READING of Scripture may be wrong. So I would like to repeat Ford's question: The issue is whether you have the humility to admit YOU might be the one who is wrong. What would it do to your faith to admit that possibility?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 11:29am BST

but Ford - if my understanding of scripture is so new, why have you previously (pre Easter) agreed that St Paul if he were here would probably (in your view) agree with me on VGR?

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 1:02pm BST

Erika, I know I can be wrong. Hope you are satisfied with that but I am sorry, it is not the point here.

Most people (including most bishops and archbishops)in the AC do not buy the novel understanding of scripture which leads TEC into its recent innovations.....we see a rejection of scripture and not a valid interpretation of it.

That is why you see Dromantine, Windsor, Tanzania all closing down the room for disagreement - liberals have not convinced many people that recent TEC innovations have a legitimate scriptural basis.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 3:42pm BST

We're clearly not talking about the same thing here. My argument is that sola scriptura, one of the 5 solas of the Reformation, is a Reformation era doctrine. I very sincerely doubt that St. Paul would have agreed with you that the Christian faith was encapsulated in Scripture. He knew what he had already preached by word of his own mouth to the believers to whom he wrote. He was now explaining himself. Scripture is rather like the user's manual of a comptuer, it tells you how to use a computer, it doesn't tell you how to build one, and it certainly doesn't claim to be the computer. He would probably have agreed with you on VGR. That has nothing to do with whether or not sola scriptura is an appropriate use of Scripture, nor with the idea that it predates the Reformation. Again we come back to your belief that those who do not treat Scripture as you do do not believe the truth of it. You really need to get away from that idea, it's not true, it's disrespectful of the faith of others, and does not foster productive debate.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 4:46pm BST

Mynsterpreost writes: The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches refuse to worship with anyone who can't sign up to their Westminster-confession-and-then-some charter. This inability to endure messiness and people on the same journey who delight in different things is a possible indicator of the fundamentalist mind-set?

I asked the FIEC what their reaction was to this statement, and they replied:

"The tone of FIEC is much more generous-spirited than the tone suggested by the quotation. Obviously we are faithful to our own doctrinal basis and we do not associate with groups not based on the Bible as the truth of God’s word. However, we recognise liberty on many secondary issues and promote evangelical unity as a major value and aim. We certainly do not separate as a matter of principle – only where it is necessary in order to uphold biblical truth.

The FIEC has had this position for the whole of its 85 years of existence and is well-respected within its own and wider circles."

Posted by Robert at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 8:39am BST

If you think you have a legitimate interpretation of the NT that supports your position (which on the face of it is as odd a position as that the NT legitimises lying or murder, when it fairly clearly does the opposite) then all you need to do is two things:
(1) Cite the NT scholars/experts - e.g. authors of Romans or 1 Corinthians commentaries - who agree with you;
(2) Provide a coherent explanation of why we should reject (from a position of non-expertise) the common-sense position of the over 95% NT scholars who do not.
(2) Give a coheret

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 12:44pm BST

sorry, I don't know what you're refering to. I don't think I made any particular comments on a particular Scpritural point. All I had done is ask whether, considering different people read Scripture differently, it is possible that the conservatives might (at times) be wrong.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 3:28pm BST

Re FIEC and ecumenism - check out what their website really says: then follow the yellow brick road: Introducing the FIEC > Statement on Ecumenism.

"Our Doctrinal Basis, What We Believe, clearly states, "True fellowship between churches exists only where they are faithful to the gospel."

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."

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 5:20pm BST

Yes, Erika, conservatives can be wrong (I am saying this NOT for the first time)

Now, the point Christopher is making is that not all views are legitimate or credible - you cannot demand respect for a contradictory view of scripture when it is not well supported. Even Rowan Williams, who attempted to support a contradictory interpretation, is not pushing his old position as he knows it is not strong enough to persuade many who do not have a vested interest in writing off certain scriptures.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 5:31pm BST

The reason I make this point is that 'different interpretations' can be used as a get-out clause. Honest people need to ask various questions:

(1) Is my so-called 'interpretation' supported by scholarship?
(2) Is my so-called 'interpretation' in accordance with my preconceived preferences? If one never comes to unwelcome interpretations of a text which is after all independent of us (having been written a long time before we were born) then alarm bells should start ringing. The Bible, like every other book (library) in the world, will not always say what we want it to say.
(3) The present age is one of postmodernism and diversity, which can too easily lead to the self-refuting position where every view or 'interpretation' is seen as acceptable. Carte blanche for those who simply want to follow their own preferences.
All we need to do is to be honest about our motives.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 12:16pm BST

"Is my so-called 'interpretation' supported by scholarship"
Ah, but hiow reliable IS that scholarship? Further, whose scholarship? I'd suggest there are a large number of Roman Catholic, as an example, opinions that you disagree with that are supported by very high quality scholarship.

"every view or 'interpretation' is seen as acceptable"
Bull! There is a difference between "I respect your opinion" and "We are both right". It seems a bit immature to say that respect of other people's views must entail saying they are right.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 3:56pm BST

Ford - I respect your right to you opinion but I think you are I do not respect the wrong opinion but I do respect you as a person and your right to hold it.

I also respect the right of the AC to say to TEC that it has been wrong to go ahead with unilateral actions and to ask it to choose to walk away or come into line with the AC.

Posted by NP at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 9:09am BST

Hi Ford-

I don't know about that. I have plenty of experience of working for a Catholic organisation and of Catholic literature. However, my abiding impression in biblical scholarship is that Catholics like everyone else do their best scholarship when least in thrall to their denominational constrictions. That is why American Catholics like John P. Meier, Raymond Brown and Joseph Fitzmyer rate at the top. One thing one notices in NT scholarship is that the conclusions one comes to do not remotely resemble those of any (one) denomination, stream or tendency. Rigid denominationalism in this context (as in others) is almost always a drawback: a cloudy lens that works directly counter to the goal of clearer vision.

The only point I was making about scholarship is that you will not catch 95% of scholars (or, indeed, any honest scholars at all) coming to 'conclusions' that the text is actually saying something opposite to the surface meaning. Least of all when that supposed hidden meaning 'just so happens' to correspond to a worldview which its proponents are more generally pushing, which worldview is highly culturally relative to their own time and geographical location. Scholarship and self-projection are antithetical. It could almost be said that scholarship is the art of freeing oneself from self-projection, from requiring conclusions to be what one *wants* them to be.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 12:34pm BST

I couldn't agree more. My point was that things like Mary, Mediatrix of salvation, or a lot of other RC doctrines have solid high quality scholarship, yet I have the impression you would disagree with them, as do I, BTW. I've had you pegged for a conservative Evangelical, I see now I had no basis for that asumption.

And, NP, I don't think TEC should have acted unilaterally either. Your attitude towards my opinions is the same as mine to yours, so why accuse me of claiming that "all ideas are true"?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 2:10pm BST

Sorry Ford - I mean that it seems to me that you treat all ideas as if they may be true and this makes you too tolerant, in my view.

The reason I care on this is that I think we must call false teaching what it is and get rid of it because the understanding and salvation of people is at stake - what people teach and think and do all matter

Posted by NP at Friday, 27 April 2007 at 4:50pm BST

"too tolerant"
Incredible statement, I gues the Saviour was too tolerant of the Samaritan woman, perhaps?

"I think we must call false teaching what it is and get rid of it because the understanding and salvation of people is at stake"

And it's up to you to save them, assured in the falseness of any teaching that disagrees with you? I'd like to suggest that it is up to you and I to let our light so shine, to minister to people's brokenness, to be Christ in the world. And don't give me that nonsense about how we must preach the Gospel to every creature. The command is not nonsense, but the idea that the only way to do that is b vehemently pointing out other people's sins certainly is. You evangelize by living as Christ-like a life as you can, NP, not by demanding that your voice be acknowledged as the only correct one. I get the feeling you see the Christian life not as a calling to sacrificial love of the world He came to save, but as some way you can assert what you believe to be the truth over everybody else.

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 7:04pm BST

Ford - yes, "too tolerant" - your Lord did not display or teach postmodern "tolerance".
"Too toleran" if you want to tell the truth about what JC did and said.....the truth, not a watered-down

Yes, we are to judge whether teaching is false or true - you know the verses
I won't give them because so many here prefer Tutu to be quoted than the bible)

Yes - we are told to deal strongly with false teachers (again, you know the verses ..... and that involves a decision to be made on what is true and false - the sort of decision that was taken in Tanzania which clearly says that TEC's innovations are not acceptable in the AC and implicitly says the AC is willing to let TEC and its small band of "liberal" followers around the world walk away if they will not repent.

Our model is JC - not Tutu or Schori. JC was not so scared to say what is right and wrong and he was not scared to call out hypocrisy amongst the clergy..... and yes, HE told us to make judgments (for those who say he did not, please have a read of the gospels! Looks at his words!)

Posted by NP at Monday, 30 April 2007 at 7:24am BST

NP counselled
HE told us to make judgments (for those who say he did not, please have a read of the gospels! Looks at his words!)

Ah. You mean verses like, 'Judge not, or you shall be judged' and 'by the measure by which.....'?

Sorry to chop verses, but you do get my drift. The call to repentance involves also a call to humility and an awareness that the ultimate idolatry is to aggrandize oneself to the judgement throne. Or is it a case of 'Hear not me, but God' (when the text is convenient)?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 30 April 2007 at 8:42am BST

Be serious, please, Mynster - the followers of JC were certainly not told by him to treat their views and wrong teaching with so much respect that one should never be willing to say that their teaching was wrong - were they??

"Liberals" would have been telling JC not to be so harsh on the Pharisees and to give their opinions proper respect!

I know some people like to identify with the "tax collectors and sinners" - but look and you will see that repentance was clearly part of their response to the welcome....and the welcome was a call both to faith and repentance (as you know!)

Posted by NP at Monday, 30 April 2007 at 9:51am BST

sorry - my rushed post does not make sense.........I meant to say that JC did not teach his followers to respect to the point of acceptance the wrong teaching of the pharisees and saducees

Posted by NP at Monday, 30 April 2007 at 12:35pm BST

I think the RC scholarship to which you refer is rarely echoed by those who do not have the requisite background or presuppositions. This gives me pause for thought.

I am of course evangelical because 'evangelical' is one of the adjectives which describes what all true christians are. It is simply the adjective from the noun 'gospel'. As for 'conservative' -what a generalisation that word is. How can anyone be conservative on every single issue? This is something determined on a case-by-case basis. No honest person is either conservative or liberal on a given issue in advance of studying that particular issue. When the issues have been studied, they may find they are conservative on some things, liberal/radical on some, and in beween on a great many more. Those who are conservative or liberal on *everything* are tribal, and prefer conclusions (which tend to equal presuoppositions) to research and debate. That is, they are ideologues not scholars.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 30 April 2007 at 1:06pm BST

Setting aside the last few centuries of scholarship which give a rather different view of Pharisaism from that in (especially) Matthew, I can assure you that I am serious. Very, very serious.

I believe that the discipline of spiritual direction is not very well developed in ConsEv circles. I have to say that this rather shows in many of your postings. Perhaps it's not helped by the eclectic nature of the ConsEv assembly, where like only ever needs to speak to like. The current spat between Spring Harvest and UCCF etc and their inability to cope with minor doctrinal variation without one excommunicating the other shows just how incapable of being catholic ConsEv Christianity is.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 30 April 2007 at 1:38pm BST

"not to be so harsh on the Pharisees"

Have you never thought of the ways in which you are like the pharisees of the NT? You are, despite, I'm sure, a sola fide stance like my own, curiously insistent on obedience to the letter of the law as a prerequisite to salvation, without trying to understand the spirit of the law. Indeed, you denounce those who try to understand the spirit of the law as picking and choosing those passages they will obey! This is not about the sins of your enemies, NP, it is about self criticism, an important thing. Mother Julian advises us not to pay attention to the sins of others, but to concentrate on our own. You would be wise to take her advise.

"the welcome was a call both to faith and repentance (as you know!)"

It still is, NP. I don't know of anyone who preaches that accepting Christ DOESN'T require repentance. And, BTW, I find your continued use of the Saviour's initials as though He were one of your mates down at the pub to be disrespectful. Rather like the "Buddy Christ" image from the movie Dogma.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 30 April 2007 at 6:42pm BST

Ford - as you know - the whole bible and certainly Romans 6 does not allow the loose attitude that says we have grace so let's accept unrepentant people, let alone leaders.

You are offended by initials - sorry about that. I am offended by the attitude to scripture around here with some calling it a "bronze age" book etc etc

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 1 May 2007 at 7:32am BST

I was hoping for a more reflective response to the archbishop's lecture. Perhaps not everybody has actually read it in full?

For example, what do TA readers think about his use of Kevin Vanhoozer's work?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 1 May 2007 at 8:16am BST

Going back to Rowan's article, then - I can't comment on Vanhoozer, I have only just started to read him and can't claim to understand him yet.

But I do have a question to those who have also read Rowan's full address. In his assessment of Paul's comments on homosexuality he comments:

"Now this gives little comfort to either party in the current culture wars in the Church. It is not helpful for a 'liberal' or revisionist case, since the whole point of Paul's rhetorical gambit is that everyone in his imagined readership agrees in thinking the same-sex relations of the culture around them to be as obviously immoral as idol-worship or disobedience to parents."

If Rowan’s point is that Paul’s imagined readership agrees in thinking that same sex relationships are sinful, then Paul’s thinking is clearly rooted in his prevailing culture.
I understand Rowan’s argument to be that we are part of Paul’s imagined readership and are therefore drawn into the same cultural assumptions.

Isn’t this a bit facile? If the use of same sex activity in the same list as disobedience to parents as a sin is based on Paul’s ideas of who is listening – do we really not have the right to adjust this according to our own understanding which is also shaped by modern science and psychology?

I’m not looking for people’s personal views but for an explanation of Rowan’s writing. He isn’t facile and I have the feeling I misunderstood him

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 1 May 2007 at 10:36am BST

"Ford - as you know - the whole bible and certainly Romans 6 does not allow the loose attitude that says we have grace so let's accept unrepentant people, let alone leaders."

Neither do I. Grace requires a response. We live God's way because it is true, and is where true happiness is. We are not to go on living the old unredeemed life, but must show to the world what redeemed life looks like, and thus witness to the transformational power of the Incarnation. For you, there is an undercurrent of lawbreaking and judgement and punishment about living the Christian life that, for me, is a sad distortion. It says that we must be concerned about living as Christlike as we can, not for the sake of others, but so that we can be sure of getting into Heaven ourselves. But then again, while I believe that there is a "one on one" aspect to our relationship with God, I reject the post Reformation individualism that would make redemption a contract between the believer and God, the "Jesus is my personal saviour", "God has a plan for MY life" crap. Individualism is NOT a Christian virtue.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 1 May 2007 at 5:03pm BST

Do you think the Pope has the same power (more/less) than in the time of the Crusades? If so, what do you think would happen? Could he still order people to rebel against their leaders?
British History?

Posted by BoredStudent at Sunday, 16 August 2009 at 8:45am BST
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