Comments: Arora rebukes Anderson

"In our view homosexual practice breaks the direct commands of God, it denies the purposes of God in creating us male and female..."

God created Adam. There was no Eve. If sexuality was a core part of our identity and relationship with God, then why did God not create Adam and Eve at the same time?

If sexuality is a core purpose of humanity, why does God exhort us to honor and have loving non-sexual relations e.g. to care for the elderly, the alien, our children.

Why does the bible respect a wide range of humans, from the celibate to the womanisers, from the fertile to the barren. From the timid to the bold.

There is a perception that God is only after perfection. But these two Jewish studies remind us that the Holiest of the Holies also contains both the broken and the contrite. and

Puritans often make the mistake of thinking that they have become "pure" before God and all else is condemned. When Christians make that error, they refute the core teachings of Jesus and why he bothered to go through the suffering leading up to and including the crucifixion.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 10:53am BST

All the criticism has obviously touched a nerve in York!

Arora refers to "liberal bandits" and liberal "extremists" in trying to pretend that critics are fixating on Spong et al .....i.e. people from the past who do not represent many Episcopalians (they never did)....but Anderson quoted TEC's Presiding Bishop, amongst other current leaders,....also "liberal bandits" and "extremists" according to Arora??

Arora may want to miss the point but the current leadership of TEC brought the AC the VGR fait accompli and the last four years of resulting turmoil as they continue to refuse to agree to the repeated requests of the Primates with regard to their 2003 actions.....the current TEC leadership is quite obviously very different to most of the bishops in the AC....however much Sentamu and others try to assert they are not (actions speak louder than words!)

Someone should help the poor PR person in York! When your media-loving boss makes some sloppy, factually incorrect comments in the papers, they do not disappear because he has also said some things in Australia which the "liberal bandits" won't have to just deal with it, PR person! Sentamu said ".I haven't found that in ECUSA (sic) or in Canada, where I was recently, they have any doubts in their understanding of God which is very different from anybody"
......this is just nonsense
(we know he wants to muddy the waters and make a big fudge which contains VGR and ++Akinola, but pretending that the current leadership of TEC is pretty orthodox really is not going to fool many people!)

Let's see if the ABC's spokesperson has to (again!) say that Sentamu was not speaking for him!

Posted by NP at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 11:21am BST

Perhaps this will teach Can(n)on Anderson not to be quite so casual with accusations of heresy.

Or, of course, it could just encourage him, since, as he says, he stays in the church because "I like a good fight." Looks like Sentamu is willing to give him one.

Posted by JPM at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 12:39pm BST

Read Genesis 1.27.
Otherwise I second your message.

Posted by Columba Gilliss at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 1:37pm BST

You've got it NP. This article is a hoot! The presenting issue is just the tip of the iceberg. To pretend otherwise is to adopt blindness as a way of dealing with the issues.


Posted by Steven at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 2:26pm BST

Interesting little catch-22 that Anderson(and others) have found themselves in. They know that reasserters are perceived here in the U.S. as those people who are against gays and that, unless you are a fundamentalist, homosexuality is not a matter of core doctrine. However, they can't afford to be viewed as merely fundamentalists, it is a very narrow appeal - that most moderate Episcopalian recoil from. So he refers to it as a "tertiary" issue (not even secondary) to try and refocus the nature of the conflict to core beliefs, and in so doing practically concedes the high ground to ECUSA, and undermines his colleagues who are trying to make the case that it is core doctrine and therefore they are justified in disciplining ECUSA over it. But alas, that is the conundrum they are saddled with.

But York is saying to Anderson, nevertheless if this is your gambit bring it on. You will find that many Primates, bishops, priests and pew sitters do NOT share your views on what is required to be an Anglican Christian, they do NOT consider ECUSA and its PB to be apostate (despite your silly references to Spong et al.) and will find that instead of driving a wedge between ECUSA and others, you have encouraged a solidarity against a type of fundamentalism that is a threat to Anglicanism everywhere, and, in the end, marginalized yourself and your cause.

Posted by C.B. at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 2:31pm BST

I don't think Canon Anderson was "trying to pin his ass’s tail on the Archbishop of York". Arun Arora’s response is rather forceful given the weakness identified in the article by Anderson. It was a point I made earlier: I doubt there is any difference in the of range of beliefs between American bishops and English bishops - and we do know of the tendency of retired English, Scottish and Welsh bishops to suddenly liberalise their published beliefs. Richard Holloway now writes some excellent books. I am sure American bishops do the same.

Arun Arora’s response is also odd in trying to argue by pitching two evangelicals against each other - that having dismissed Anderson's rather weak argument against US bishops, he is then wheeled in to criticise David Phillips by lack of agreement.

Now I think the argument put by Arun Arora is itself weak, which is actually an exercise in building a wall around the Archbishop of York. What he is not doing is addressing a central problem, that the range of beliefs held across different provinces (TEC, Canada, York, Canterbury, Wales, Scotland...) are being presented as orthodoxy, when we know that there is a variation and in some cases these do impact on what may be considered core beliefs and what they actually mean. In other words, this defence of orthodoxy leaves itself open to the attack of duplicity. I want to see honesty about variety!

Furthermore, one part of the argument used by the Archbishop of York does not hold: that whatever Bishop Lesslie Newbigin wrote, you cannot be exclusive, inclusive and pluralist all at the same time. If you are exclusive, then you just are. The inclusive position implies already the superiority of Christianity as a revelation (for example one argument has it that other believers are "anonymous Christians"). The pluralist position precisely takes away objective grounds for affirming the superiority of Christianity from any position other than within the Christian bubble. So this sort of argument is just rhetoric for the sake of it.

I find Arun Arora’s response somewhat over hectic even if Anderson and Phillips produced weak arguments.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 3:01pm BST

I see that the Archbishop of York's "not core" views are not shared by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali given his highlighting of this point.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is even at it in Iran: talking about the Transfiguration, and, in linking it to resurrection, saying:

"That is why Paul’s words in Colossians 3 in our other lesson all depend on the resurrection of Jesus. If we are raised with Jesus we are to set our hearts on things above where Christ is. We are to take off what is not desirable – including sexual immorality, evil desires and greed, which is called idolatry."

That's the way to do it - just get something going again in Iran and spread a bit of poison while you are at it.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 3:37pm BST

The comments from Anderson are sameold sameold - as if biblical scholarship of the last 150 years or so had not taken place.

The only surprise was that he did not remember to beat up on poor old dead Bishop Pike, but I guess a live, although retired, Spong is a more tempting target.

Spong in his wilder moments is certainly not typical of theological thought in TEC, which makes him a cheap punching bag. In fact, a good deal that some find shocking in Spong's work was articulated long ago by another Bishop Robinson in his book "Honest to God," which was a shocker in the 60s. And a great deal that was 'shocking' then is mainstream scholarship now.

Picking some of Spong's more wildly articulated ideas and implying he is mainstream among TEC bishops is a lot like the political ultracons who imply that Noam Chomsky is politically mainstream within academe. 'Tain't so.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 3:37pm BST

Arun Arora is some communicator...he actually deals in facts, you know, REAL facts and isn't afraid to say NO...perhaps Arun Arora ought offer clarity classes for Canon Tunde and a few of the other "communication dabblers and factual inventors" for Global South Primates...can you imagine what would happen if ALL actually spoke only TRUTH?

Preaching TRUTH is a nice idea too, thank you Archbishop of York for NOT twisting TRUTH to torment others.

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 3:52pm BST

As the Rev. Susan Russell points out, Mr. David C Anderson still uses the honorary title "Canon" conferred on him by the "heretical" Bishop of Los Angeles.

Folks like him, who would love to break up the Anglican Communion, have no honor.

Posted by John Henry at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 4:01pm BST

Never thought I would say it....but PLURALIST IS RIGHT....this response from Arora is so flawed because it is an attempt to defend Sentamu (and it seems a rather emotional attempt too, if not a persuasive attempt)

As I said above, Sentamu made an obviously daft statement to the papers....not time to attack those who point out the flaws in what he says but to clarify what he actually thinks and what he wanted to communicate.

I think he wanted to communicate a wish that we all sweep inconvenient issues under the carpet ad pretend to be united....but if he was saying anything more useful than that, Arora's weak reply is a wasted opportunity to put his case (if he has one)

Posted by NP at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 4:12pm BST

I would argue Spong is still relevant for two reasons:

1) His views have never been officially challenged or dismissed by TEC. Many other churches would have labeled him a heretic and taken disciplinary action while he was in office; TEC has never denounced these ideas even after his retirement.

2) You're more likely to find his books at the bookstore than anything John Stott - or even Borg - has written. Only Billy Graham or Joel Osteen seems to be easier to find at the mega-chain book sellers here in the US. His writings still have influence in the popular culture and they idea of demythologizing can be seen in practice in TA at least weekly.

Posted by Chris at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 7:15pm BST

Anyone except me who thinks of an Auror?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 7:40pm BST

Am I the only one noticing this is a deviation from the usual passivity from Canterbury and York? What do I know. I'm an Episcopalian.

I'm glad to see it. Reaction, finally, with a better appreciation for the issues, needs to be just this swift and well articulated. Anderson was bested in this response, and NP, your out of your senses if you've convinced yourself otherwise. Anderson's case is as flimsy as the fanaticism he speaks from.

The wing-nuts have overstated their case and over-reacted. When they were given the chance to listen and dialogue, they took to ad hominen and broad brushed vitriol instead. Arun Arora's response is right on target.

Posted by Curtis at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 8:26pm BST

"...spread a bit of poison while you are at it."

I don't quite get what the "poison" is. The lectionary passage from Colossians?

Posted by rick allen at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 9:10pm BST

It's all a matter of whether the issue is viewed as a "tertiary" issue or a core issue. Gomez says its core and TEC is faithless for tampering with it. York says it's "tertiary" but that TEC reamins faithful to primary issues. So, Anderson in his zeal for purity steps in and tries to say it is tertiary, but TEC is faithless leaving the core doctrines. Arora responds and ups Anderson's anti. He says - by challenging the ABY's position regarding the faithfulness of TEC, you are in effect challenging the ABY. The ABY has said many of they same things you have taken offense at. Do you wish to include the ABY in your charges? In other words, his response is to make it not an issue about TEC, but about the ABY. It is a brilliant move showing reasserters where the path leads if they try to turn this into an issue about TEC's faithfulness to the core beliefs of the Gospel. It will not be tolerated and even toying with the idea at York's expense will be costly.

Posted by C.B. at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 9:12pm BST

I am intrigued that whenever the accusaton is made by the "reasserters" that the issue us about Biblical authority, they never define how their concept of Biblical authority differs from that of those they oppose. They, of course, go on to imply that their opponents are a bunch of evil syncretists who believe both everything and nothing. That and their fascination with where people go after they die and how vital it is to spread the Gospel as fast as possible, and I suspect by any means necessary, since the ultimate issue: who roasts in Hell and who doesn't, depends entirely on whether or not they die as Christians. Millions, untold millions are cheerfully, unwittingly entering the fire as we speak, and it is because we lack the missionary zeal to snatch them from the flames into the rest of Jesus' bosom. 'Cause, any fule knowe that getting into Heaven when you die is what it's all about.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 9:58pm BST

The following as an extract from a recent e-mail I sent to an English Priest who is a severe critic of ECUSA. I think that it is apposite to the Arora/Anderson "dialogue".
In this beloved Province, which has
been my spiritual home for 31 years the poor are being blessed, the hungry fed,
the naked clothed and the prisoners visited. The Gospel is being proclaimed
in a multitude of Dioceses and Parishes in which lives are being transformed and
converted in the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a Province in which the Holy Scriptures are confessed to be the Word of God; in which the Lordship of Christ is trusted, believed
and taught; in which the historic and Catholic Creeds form a godly tradition
which points to Christ.

Of course there are anomalies of belief in our Province, but I suggest that
similar anomalies are more than likely to be present in other parts of the
Communion .

But that we are a Province which is deeply faithful to the scriptures, the
creeds, and the blessed and Holy Trinity is beyond dispute. This is a fact of
our life which our critics seem unwilling to acknowledge.

And here I also speak my heart. I am so saddened, angered and weary with certain
elements in the Communion who (it seems to me) to blame the Episcopal Church
for each and every woe of the Communion. The crucifixion of Jesus proclaims the
end of all scape-goating!

When will our critics enter into the conversations which Lambeth 1998 desired?
When will our critics “come and see” what the Lord is doing in our midst?

You write that “There are now problems in ECUSA that cannot be internally resolved”

That is a sad counsel of despair. For as we all trust in God; are deeply
prayerful; eat huge amounts of humble pie; resist the temptation of name calling
and exaggerated rhetoric and listen to each other rather than lecture each
other, so we shall discover the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. That
is possible! Please pray that for ECUSA as I shall pray it for the Communion.

With deep love in Jesus Christ, and thanks,


Posted by (The Revd) Michael Povey at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 10:24pm BST


Thanks. That was an interesting referral. Karen Armstrong might chuckle its the consequence of a theoretical (dare we say prophetic?) holy text written in Jeremiah's times.

The interesting thing that came out of that study was that God created man and woman at the same time Genesis 1.27.

But God put the man to work in the Garden of Eden before the woman (Genesis 2:15-20). But not having found a suitable helper (end of Genesis 2:20), God put the man to sleep and made the woman from part of Adam (Genesis 2:21-23). Then God declared that for this reason they are to leave their father and mother and become united (Genesis 2:24).

So humans were made, then one son was taken to be made steward of Eden, then a mate was made to assist, and God wants their union to transcend that of filial bonds of precedent with their earthly parents in order to fulfill God's will.

Sounds like evolution to me. Protohumans are made, then one male is drawn to a higher calling, then a suitable mate is found, and they both called to evolve to a level higher than their ancestors. Sounds also like evolution in terms of theology and denominations too. To love as the generation who chose tyranny over infrastructure, deceipt over justice, greed over mercy; or to break the old bonds and make new unions based on the promised everlasting covenants of the bible including peace, compassion, justice, forgiveness, hospitality, sustainability...? Hmm. To choose life or to choose death? I choose life and choose all my children's futures.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 10:25pm BST

Referring to Goran's question, "Anyone except me who thinks of an Auror?", for the Harry Potterly challenged, from Wikepedia:
"In the Harry Potter book series, Aurors are an elite unit of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement of the British Ministry of Magic, who track down and capture criminals, in particular those criminals who pose a danger to the wizarding community."
And, no, Goran, you were not the only one to think of them!
Lois Keen

Posted by Lois Keen at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 10:27pm BST

Chris claims Spong is relevant because (in part): "You're more likely to find his books at the bookstore than anything John Stott - or even Borg - has written."

So the fact that Spong is a more engaging writer (engaging being a thing distinct from correct) with a better literary agent is "evidence" that his theology is representative of the Episcopal Church.

Off all the silly tripe I've ever read online, this approaches the silliest.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 11:07pm BST

Here's a radically, orthodox notion:

All the Episcopalians Anderson quotes ARE orthodox!

It is their vicious detractors, like Anderson, who will have to answer for their sin of *false witness*, before the Throne of Christ.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by JCF at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 11:35pm BST

Referring to Goran's musings about "aurors", I would say more like ++York applying flesh eating slug repellant.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Monday, 6 August 2007 at 11:50pm BST

Chris, you are really far more likely to find Christopher Hitchens new book than anything Bp Spong ever wrote. What's you point here? I suppose you'd have preferred he'd been burned at the stake.

He's retired and frankly to me he's irrelevant.

Posted by Davis d'Ambly at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 12:56am BST

would argue Spong is still relevant for two reasons:

1) His views have never been officially challenged or dismissed by TEC. Many other churches would have labeled him a heretic and taken disciplinary action while he was in office; TEC has never denounced these ideas even after his retirement.

Oh dear! We don't have a TEC Inquisition Too bad! See - that's what Anglicanism and TEC are all about - read Sir Thomas Browne on adiaphora.

2) You're more likely to find his books at the bookstore than anything John Stott - or even Borg - has written.

Gee - maybe he is saying some things that speak to people! But by all means, let's round up his books and burn them.

His writings still have influence in the popular culture and they idea of demythologizing can be seen in practice in TA at least weekly.

No kidding! Do you actually know how OLD demythogizing is in the Christian church?

I'm sorry if I'm being rude - but I feel like I am answering someone who went into a coma in about 1948 and has suddenly awakened.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 1:06am BST

Even more than Spong or Stott, you'd find C. S. Lewis, who I think is pretty mainstream.

Posted by James at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 2:18am BST


Do you really think this idea is sensible? This is newspeak at its best. Radical Orthodoxy is oxymoronic. We don't get to just make things up as we go along. Spong at least would deny any such Throne.

I find this whole string telling. Only two posters are able to see that agreeing with Arora is nothing any self respecting liberal could do. To see progressives treating Bp. Spong like an eccentric uncle ranting to himself in the corner is ignoble.

There are great differences in our thinking. This is a time for honesty, not pretend. As a visiting guerilla reasserter I ask you to not sell your cause to the lowest bidder. In chastising us Arora insulted us all.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 4:47am BST

Why are some always trying to muddy the waters and find divisions? Maybe to get away from the fact that a huge majority in the AC do agree that TEC is way out of line....and, dare I say it, gravely mistaken (i.e. wrong) on certin issues?

If you think about it, we see a remarkable amount of agreement in the AC - just look at Dromantine, TWR and the Tanzania Communique. Lots of agreement on the cause of current AC problems and also on solutions.

I know some do not like these facts...but they do show unity and are EVIDENCE for Anderson's point which is that the current TEC has departed from the majority, orthodox Anglican position.

However much JCF etc want to assert that KJS and VGR are "orthodox", few believe it and we would not have had the reactions from the Primates of the AC we have seen if they were, would we?

Sentamu's assertion of orthodoxy in the TEC and Canadian leadership is clearly not true. Anderson merely pointed that out by using the words of TEC leaders.....he did not make up those very unorthodox statements! Merely asserting those TEC leaders are orthodox does not stand up to what they actually say and given the chaos TEC's actions and lack of repentance have caused in the AC since 2003, we are clearly not dealing with people who have much respect for the Spirit-inspired scriptures or our Anglican tradition.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 7:16am BST

CS Lewis? Remember that many proper bible believing Christians in the US hold the Narnia chronicles to be satanic.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 10:05am BST

Thanks to Michael Povey from an American priest in the C-of-E.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 10:46am BST

There was an inclusive reformist rabbi and his following that were very popular with the masses. History tells of the consternation that Jesus and his followers’ teachings were more influential than the established scribes or Roman authorities.

Jeremiah 31:6-35, Isaiah 35 or Isaiah 33:20-24 "Look upon Zion… your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode... It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams... the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us… an abundance of spoils will be divided and EVEN THE LAME will carry off plunder… the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven."

Micah 4:6-13, which includes “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief... The LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion... As for you, O watchtower of the flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you… Writhe in agony… for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies. But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!” But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, he who gathers them like sheaves to the threshing floor. “Rise and thresh, O Daughter of Zion, for I will give you horns of iron...” You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth."

Zephaniah 3:14-20 "Sing, O Daughter of Zion…! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart…! The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy... The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” ... At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame… at that time I will bring you home..."

See Matthew 11:4-15 or Luke7:18-35.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 11:52am BST

"There are great differences in our thinking. This is a time for honesty, not pretend."

Maybe you should start here... With admitting the differences;

They are real. They go back centuries.

444 years to be exact.

It is y o u r Teachings and y o u r Dogmatics (those of Calvinism) that are different.

Different from those of the Church.

"As a visiting guerilla reasserter I ask you to not sell your cause to the lowest bidder. In chastising us Arora insulted us all."

And never were there any creatures on God's good Earth as easily insulted.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 11:54am BST

Michael Povey asks "When will our critics enter into the conversations which Lambeth 1998 desired?"

Well, people have been listening for decades and are not convinced.....but maybe we would listen more carefully if some were not trying to force us to accept bishops who just ignore certain very clear positions of the church, rejecting scripture and tradition.

You add to why Arora is wrong in the attempted defence of Sentamu's inaccurate newspaper statements - Arora is wrong partly because so many in TEC seem to think that since people have not agreed with their innovations (eg VGR), they cannot have listened....and then somehow think we must accept VGR because we have not "listened" (i.e. agreed with them!)

Please LISTEN....the AC has been LISTENING for decades.....Rowan Williams even wrote some stuff which did not persuade many....people have been listening but simply have not been persuaded .....bring on the Covenant, please!!!

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 12:42pm BST

mynsterpreost - Was it Narnia? I thought it was Harry Potter.

Posted by C.B. at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 2:24pm BST


Agreed. We've also listened to and rejected the social gospel, historical criticism, the Jesus Seminar and the prosperity gospel.

Posted by Chris at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 2:26pm BST


"Maybe to get away from the fact that a huge majority in the AC do agree that TEC is way out of line....and, dare I say it, gravely mistaken (i.e. wrong) on certin issues?"

Is it perhaps more truthful to say that the LEADERS of a huge majority in the AC hold that position? I find it hard to believe that the poverty-stricken, hand-to-mouth rank-and-file parishioners of the Nigerian Church (or any other part of the Global South) give a tinker's dam what the US church does or believes.

This is where the GS position falls apart--especially when it talks about being the "majority" of the Communion. We don't know what the people of Nigeria et al really think--we only know what their leaders tell us. Anybody polled the Nigerian church on these issues? Especially on whether it matters to them one whit what the US church does within its own borders? Or on whether they want their own leadership wasting time and effort on giving oversight in a faraway nation when there is so much to attend to in their own lands?

I know of no such polling data.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 2:36pm BST


I will have to spend some time looking at your blog before I can accept your verdict of Calvinism for my ilk. Though you jump to conclusions. I am not actually offended by Arora's comments. They are too weak to have that affect. My point is that in defending the ABoY he stands for no-one.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 2:58pm BST

Pat - well, if you go to Africa and Asia (as I have many times), you will find even the very poor Anglicans are quite clear that VGR is not acceptable....poverty does not make one reject the bible or tradition. Ironically, it is the wealthy part of the Anglican church which has been arrogant enough effectively to say "we know better than the bible on this issue!"

Do you want us to hook up all 77m Anglicans with wireless voting devices so we can have a plebiscite on every issue?

Unless you really think the Primates are completely unrepresentative of the Anglican Communion and have strong evidence for that view, you make a very weak point

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 3:22pm BST

Strange that so many want to label all reasserters as Calvinists. Some are, but some are also anglocatholics, and others (like me) would define themselves--like C.S. Lewis--as being not particularly "high" or "low" churchmen.

The vast majority of churchmen/churchwomen reacting against innovations in TEC probably have never heard of TULIP (which may say something about the average level of theological education in TEC churches, but that is another matter). They would, however, cheerfully affirm the beliefs set forth in the classic BCP as their own. So, how are they not Anglican in their beliefs? Overall, this "Calvinist" thing seems to be a bit of a throwaway dismissal that displays a lack of willingness to engage with the real issues.

Also, as far as it goes, I have known plenty of liberal Presbyterians in the U.S. that were (at least confessionally) Calvinists. The PCUSA is at least as liberal as TEC and is officially Calvinist. So, what's the point here?


P.S.-I'm not particularly enamored with Calvin myself.

P.P.S.-Choirboyfromhell, good to hear from you again. Are you back from sea for a while?

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 3:23pm BST

_We've also listened to and rejected the social gospel, historical criticism, the Jesus Seminar..._ Chris

You may have, but many of us have not. These three are very useful tools.

I repeat that I see no particular difference between the range of beliefs in the Anglican leadership in TEC and in the Church of England. Now I don't know what orthodoxy is any more because so many people claim it, but what I see is a variety of beliefs. In having that variety and viewing it as legitimate, I'm just saying can we recognise variety for what it is?

One of those varieties, by the way, is Radical Orthodoxy. It is pursued by John Milbank, the Anglican theologian at Cambridge. In this he says there is no objective truth out there in the world, and there is a condition of postmodernism, but within the Christian framework of understanding it is all true to itself and he even advocates something akin to Christendom within. The other end of this postmodernism is that culture is changable and there is no outside to language and symbolism, and so we have an open ended postmodern theology.

Cynthia Gilliatt is right about this: demythologising is old hat and part of the range of beliefs. Compared with postmodern expressions of Christianity, John Spong is really a mild puppy, an old fashioned liberal modernist who tries to fit the old wine (watered down a bit) to a new ethic.

When people like Arun Arora go on defending orthodoxy and essentials, it depends where you think essentials begin and end. Thus the exposure to a charge of duplicity. Orthodoxy is just a wriggly worm.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 4:03pm BST

"We've also listened to and rejected the social gospel, historical criticism, the Jesus Seminar and the prosperity gospel"

Do you always listen and then either accept or reject wholesale, or do you sometimes find grains of truth and new insights in something and allow your faith to develop a little, even if you don't accept the idea in its entirety?

This is a genuine question, as my own faith development is much more gradual than the wholesale acceptance or rejection of new thoughts.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 4:23pm BST

Good points Pat. The so-called 'majority' to whom NP refers are simply pawns in the power politics of the weak 'minority' of TEC who will not agree to coexist with the TEC majority. They, and their co-religionists, would unchurch those with whom they disagree.
Whereas nobody has ever tried to unchurch them.
NPs brand of religion I find most unattractive and unappealing, and with an absence of that charity one would expect to characterise healthy religion. But I would never dream of wanting to unchurch those who have tied themselves to a version of the faith which I regard as very sub-Catholic.

Posted by Neil at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 4:46pm BST

Scott objects to the idea of "radical orthodoxy" as oxymoronic.

"Radical," from the Latin "radis," meaning root. "Orthodox," from the Greek, meaning "right belief."

I see no inherent contradiction. True orthodoxy is an inherently a radical thing. True radicalism, having gone to the root of the issue, is inclined to orthodoxy.

On the matter of the former Bishop of Newark: The fact that his books are more widely available than some other authors is, of course, irrelevant. Unless, of course, one wants to argue that the Episcopal Church somehow controls what books secular publishers choose to publish and what books secular booksellers choose to stock.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 5:05pm BST

Chris said:
Agreed. We've also listened to and rejected the social gospel, historical criticism....

Rejected Historical Criticism eh? FWIW, looking at most ConsEv publications, they kowtow to it when they would find it embarrassing not to (eg six days of creation, the world-wide nature of the Noachic flood) and reject it whenever they think they can get away with it. 'Maximal conservatism' they call it, and it is an unprincipled abomination.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 5:52pm BST

"Radical Orthodoxy is oxymoronic."

Um, why, Scott?

"We don't get to just make things up as we go along."

Indeed not. Now I'm nuthin' but a sinner dependant on Christ's mercy---but I'm also an Anglican lifer, 45 years. Formed on Scripture, Tradition and Reason, throughout. Sharing Christ's Body & Blood almost every Sunday for the duration (Praise Christ!).

...and *accountable* to my faith community if I WERE "making things up as I went along."

Seriously, Scott: you don't know me.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 7:25pm BST


If an idea is based on presuppositions I reject, there is little chance I will accept the idea. Fairly basic logic that has nothing to do with "development."

Posted by Chris at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 10:15pm BST


On the first major ridge heading west out of New York City, just across the Delaware, is a retreat center run by the Presbyterians. To say it is liberal would insulting to the granola-eating set that oversees the place. I managed to get greatly incensed and yet somehow inspired listening to Carter Heyward many years ago there.

Yes, that's listening, when it makes you feel uncomfortable, maybe you're finding out that you don't know all there is to know.

Back out on the ship in six days for sixty. I'm sure when the GREAT REJECTION as [miss]predicted some windy types by the +++ABC of TEC happens at the end of September, I'll be dealing with early fall gales on Lake Michigan as well.

Then they'll blow over.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 10:24pm BST

I agree with Erika, that it's not a case of throwing out the whole lolly bag; there is a merit of sifting through to find the gems that are worthy of attention.

Mediocre intellects and those seeking to create a propaganda image reject wholesale, that way they don't have to engage in discussions of the merits of the possible gems with enthusiastic parishioners. They claim whole texts are "evil" and that souls will "lose their way" if they read certain authors. All that has achieved is a "dumping down" of theology. It means they can avoid teaching priests beyond the elementary school basics and is an attempt to avoid being answerable to an informed church for potential misuses of the holy texts. It is not just a Christian phenomenon; other theologies have also lost sophistication and integration.

Scott Peck who wrote "The Road Less Traveled" refers to the idea of instant gratification.

Thus this phenomenon is not restricted to theology. For example, souls who aspire to win wars or have the largest profit margins, often ignore of deny the importance of barriers to their victory. Maintaining bridges, oil piping, dams or providing health and education build civilizations; but this costs money that can then not be spent on war or profit bragging.

Similarly, economists and advisors who tell us that we don't have to worry about economic upheaval because the projections state... Senge would point out they have forgotten to consider their base assumptions e.g. food is shipped by oil (look after those burden bearing animals like elephants, horses, llamas and camels - you're going to need them again). Buildings are built using metals and powered by fuel. Water is pumped by electricity. How much of our electronics, clothing and packaging relies on oil derivatives to give its properties - what will they be replaced with? How much is going to be required?

I don't have a problem with Chris dismissing a lot of prosperity gospel - it encourages complacency and arrogance. I was glad to see he did not include liberation theology - that is hugely relevant to all humanity. Both those poor in material wealth, and those that have become emotionally and spiritually impoverished by the inculcation of sophistry and dumbing down in "wealthy" circumstances.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 10:42pm BST

" will find even the very poor Anglicans are quite clear that VGR is not acceptable....poverty does not make one reject the bible or tradition."

But how have the "very poor Anglicans" learned of VGR...and what have they been told? If all the info is coming from top down--"those heretic Americans have ordained a queer as bishop"--then they are still following the leaders, as opposed to the leaders taking direction from their flock.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 11:14pm BST

"They claim whole texts are "evil" and that souls will "lose their way" if they read certain authors. All that has achieved is a "dumping down" of theology."

Very interesting point. Yes, people should educate themselves about multiple view points. Unfortunately, I'd guess less than a quarter or Western Christians actually take on the discipline of exploring any kind of theology in a structured manner.

Not the biggest fan of liberation theology, but there are elements - or "gems" - to think about.

Posted by Chris at Tuesday, 7 August 2007 at 11:49pm BST


I thought of the radical-root meaning as I posted. This kind of etymology is not what I was responding to. ‘Radical’ has a more historical baggage than this simple word definition will show; radical means normally to change society from the root. This I agree is what the Gospel does. In our culture, though, this change is more often than not informed by decidedly non-Christian ideas.


No I do not know you aside from your hasty comment, quite eternally condemning at that. Radical Orthodoxy is oxymoronic because of the context you stated it in. In defending the ‘Radicals’ pointed out by Andrews you I understood your use of the word in this way. In a more basic sense I embrace the dual term. I find that a straightforward approach to Scripture leads to a radical transformation in economics, for example. But we are all a little more complex than this infernal debating will reveal.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 4:37am BST

Mediocre intellects and those seeking to create a propaganda image reject wholesale, that way they don't have to engage in discussions of the merits of the possible gems with enthusiastic parishioners.

There is a hermeneutic for ecumenical discussion, “Do not compare the best of ours with the worst of theirs.” I find this a common error from the various camps.

And Pat,

Maybe you should get some facts from Africa instead of assuming they sit wretched on the ground rubbing two sticks together waiting to hear from the Bishop. I have no experience myself but your portrayals are decidedly eurosuperiorist.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 6:05am BST

Pat - so what should they be told apart from the facts which have led to the Windsor Report and subsequent AC responses to TEC?

Pat - pls show me where in the bible leaders are told to take a lead from the flock??
Moses - follow what the people want....and go back to Egypt?
Aaron - let them have a golden calf?
St Paul - let the Corinthians enjoy their immoriality?

Pat - you have got the whole thing upside down....leaders are not supposed follow the whims of the people, let alone justify their sins.....they are to encourage the flock to faith and obedience in the love of God (i.e. take a lead)

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 7:09am BST


"I have no experience myself but your portrayals are decidedly eurosuperiorist."

Perhaps...but I think of the poor here in the US, decidedly better off than most Africans, and their interest in things outside their own communities and lives is limited. When the biggest thing in your life is where your next meal is coming from, the sexual orientation of a bishop some 3000 miles away seems very unlikely to be a major issue to you...unless somebody riles you up to believing it threatens you in some way.


"Pat - you have got the whole thing upside down....leaders are not supposed follow the whims of the people, let alone justify their sins.....they are to encourage the flock to faith and obedience in the love of God (i.e. take a lead)"

I'm an American--we think leaders are supposed to represent the will of the people, not the will of the leaders. And they definitely ought to be more concerned with the conditions of their own flock than with the sexuality of some other shepherd half-a-world away.

BTW, how exactly does supporting draconian anti-homosexual laws "encourage the flock to faith and obedience in the love of God"?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 11:32am BST

"I'm an American--we think leaders are supposed to represent the will of the people, not the will of the leaders"

Ich bin ein New Yorker too!

If only dear ol' CofE could replicate ECUSA's polity - a proper way to organise a church - bringing it more into line with how we choose our political leaders. We cling onto our retarded episcopally top-heavy ways, alas.

Encourage the flock to faith and obedience? That's just old hat clerical clap trap. We the flock read, reflect and theologise these days - we don't expect the clergy to do it all for us.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 12:36pm BST


Somehow I thought you were a Brit--didn't know you shipped here in the Great Lakes (I'm in Rochester NY).

Anyhow, I agree with your comment on "listening"--though, for me, it went in the opposite direction. Having come from the typical young, collegiate American liberal position of the 70s, and experiencing liberal theology in liberal churches, it was preaching, teaching and reading from the opposite side that was a revelation and life changing experience for me. You could probably chalk me up as another disillusioned liberal gone conservative--particularly when it comes to matters of faith.

Anyhow, I rather think there will be a "whimper" rather than a "bang" from the ABC after the TEC fails to meaningfully respond by the end of September. TEC is the cash cow of the AC. Somehow money wins out in most circumstances and, coupled with the liberal tendencies of the ABC and much of the COE, I don't expect any immediate fireworks from that quarter. However, it will be interesting to see how things unfold thereafter. The AC is in the process of breaking up, step-by-step. So, it will be interesting to see how the ABC reacts to the GS and others after September.


PS-Your comment on hearing an extremely liberal ECUSA theologian speak at a Presbyterian location is apropos. Most of the confessional Calvinists I have known, through the PCUSA, are at least as liberal as TEC. Nonetheless, liberal taunts of "Calvinist!!" and "Puritan!!" are heard at TA almost as often as taunts of "Donatist!!"--and are equally ill informed (if not dull-witted).

PPS-BTW-what union do you ship with? I was with the inland division of the MM&P when I used to work on harbor tugs in the late 70s. If you're MM&P you might have known my father, he was a union official with the MM&P.

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 2:51pm BST

I wonder if Americans can really be Episcopalians? Too individualistic. The whole structure and order of the Anglican Church is anti-American. Following Leaders, the oxymorons seem to have the day on this list. Christ said leaders should serve. He said nothing about following.

"Cynthia Gilliatt is right about this: demythologising is old hat and part of the range of beliefs. Compared with postmodern expressions of Christianity, John Spong is really a mild puppy, an old fashioned liberal modernist who tries to fit the old wine (watered down a bit) to a new ethic."

I find this whole approach to our faith repugnant. You are like the Greeks Paul chided for wanting to be in a state of chronic novelty. Demythologising is both old hat and part of the range of beliefs. Will you ever make a decision? I am no fan of Spong, but you people owe him much. He has pushed the reappraising agenda along. He has by will not argument occupied space for you to play your make-believe in. Now you will spit him out like watered-down and sour wine. Your gospel is most unappealing Pluralist; elitist to the core.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 3:29pm BST

Something old hat is still there; my point is that having lost its novelty it's part of the fabric. I don't spit this out at all, I rather take from (and add to) what Spong writes. The people who want to narrow it all down are a bit like those who want to uninvent technology: the biblical criticism is done and more is being done; the doctrinal histories are not quite as they were once presented; there has been a wholesale cultural shift or five since Paul was relating this to that in his cultural situations.

I've no idea if this is elitist - it's available to anyone in a church who can read or listen or indeed speak. What should we be - like baby birds in a nest with mouths open taking what is handed out? Pew fodder? No, grow up and go and find your own food, with a bit of help here and there.

I don't use postmodern expressions because they are novel, they are used because they make sense in a pluralistic world, and one where knowledge (especially in the arts) is problematic. There are limits to the postmodern, such social scientific grounded research, and the science processes of falsifiability, none of which apply to religious belief.

Religious faith is like a narrative, and this is why postmodern insights are important. Incarnation is not an alternative history, and it is not psuedo-science. It falls into the area of religious believing and insight: the Jesus(es) we forever reconstruct are about the ethical and inner life, community and direction, the immediacy of right decision making and trying to put away wrong decision making, of not condemning and not excluding - in relationship. Of course there is some fantasy element to this, as in any story-telling, in that it comes via a construct, but the postmodernist inhabits that point of telling a story and awareness of the story.

John Spong is old hat in he sense that the structure is pretty much as was, with modernist criticism; I'm saying it needs a more dynamic turn, from wine alone to a collection of juices in the punchbowl.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 4:21pm BST

It seems a trifle simplistic to reject things simply because they are deemed "radical," particularly if one has already conceded that the gospel is, by its nature, radical.

Of course, today's radical idea is tomorrow's orthodoxy, becoming a shibboleth a day or two after that.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 4:57pm BST

Hugh: "Encourage the flock to faith and obedience? That's just old hat clerical clap trap. We the flock read, reflect and theologise these days - we don't expect the clergy to do it all for us."

How sadly true, too bad many of the leaders can't get the flock to THINK, just to REACT. Perhaps this is the one thing where "liberalism" in TEC has ended succeeded.

Steven: Despite tacky music and near-pagan liturgy, the message of liberation theology is powerful, as that portrays a sense that centers on Christ's sacrifice of redemption and forgiveness for all of us. I think God's love for his/her/it's children exceeds the judgemental angst or wishes of
God by the "conservatives". That's my belief, and it comes from being part of an oppressed minority, as that tends to put things into perspective.

I'll lay money that very little happens at the end of September. The leadership of TEC did some last minute arm-twisting at Columbus to prevent a real break, and you and I both know that the CofE is not going either throw (or sell as you claim) the relationship across the Atlantic. I think that ++York's spokesman's statement implies this.

And I agree, the name calling is getting ridiculous, by all sides.

AMO by the way. Ocean unlimited tonnage. Seen plenty of that horribly mistakened fracus in the Persian Gulf.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 5:21pm BST

I've always treasured the fact that we are part of an Anglican Communion that is catholic enough to include those who agree with Spong, Cupitt and Holloway as much as those inspired by Stott, Packer and Watson. Being from the liberal catholic end of the spectrum, I may have more in common with the former group now, though in my youth I found comfort in the certainties I thought I found in a more orthodox evangelical interpretation of scripture. Sadly, whatever comes out of the next months and years, I can't see this continuing. As an instinctive catholic, I can't believe that we are called to schism, but I fear it is inevitable.

Posted by Graham Ward at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 6:13pm BST fact, my biggest problem with Spong is that his website is subscription only - I would have thought that he would have wanted his thoughts shared by as wide a congregation as possible, not merely preaching to those so convinced by his arguments that they exercise their credit cards.

Posted by Graham Ward at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 6:16pm BST

Anyone who wishes to get a fuller explanation of what started as my response to Scott Henthorn can do so here:

This own blog piece is a kind of justification of my religious sense.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 6:19pm BST

I thought "Radical Orthodoxy' was the accepted name of a particular point of view -- associated with John Milbank (& Graham Ward! hello!) & frequently thought to be inspired by a Welshman by the name of Rowan Williams -- why the phrase should suddenly be seen as oxymoronic baffles me no end!

BTW -- I very much like Graham Ward's posts @ 6:13 & 6:16 -- I have heard from some people that they have felt driven away from TA by NP & others (& sometimes feel the same) & am most happy to see this contribution.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 7:39pm BST

"rejected the social gospel"

Except of course in Canada, where Evangelical Christians in the first half of this century embraced it wholeheartedly, advocating policies thought too radical in their day, but which have become part of the fabric of Canadian society, and which paved the way for the concepts of the "just society" of the 60s. How sad that their spiritual, and at times literal, descendants have abandoned the principles by which they fought!

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 7:58pm BST

Non-Canadians may find the following post a trifle baffling.

Ford makes a good point about the influence of the social gospel through the lives of a number of Canadian evangelicals - particularly the Rev'd Tommy Douglas, selected as the Greatest Canadian and creditted as the Father of Medicare. (Side note - I always think Woodrow Lloyd deserves more recognition re: Medicare since he was the saskatchewan premier who got it implemented after Douglas left to lead the federal New Democratic Party. It wasn't Douglas's kids who were the object of death threats.)

Ironically, just as the current mainstream of evangelicalism has become intolerant of progressive politics, so too has much of progressive politics become intolerant of people of faith. This includes the party which found its roots to a large extent in the social gospel. (Not all evangelicals either. Former CCF leader M.J. Coldwell was a lay reader in this diocese.)

Posted by Malcolm+ at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 9:26pm BST

"Pew fodder?"

LOL :-)

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 8 August 2007 at 11:35pm BST

I come on to Thinking Anglicans hopeing for some debate; news driven it often ends up with the same TWR VGR mantras and then threads become the same. I just wonder whether - despite liberality being about including as wide a possible view - there could be discussion boards with theological topics, rather as at Anglican Mainstream, and where some points can be discussed that aen't "lost" in a few days. It might not be relevant here in a news based set up. Inevitably here a topic becomes a very long string that then gets cut off in the archive, and in any case I often get lost looking for responses I made in one string or another with new comments on some started many days previously a long way down the main page.

By the way, a person being hammered on Anglican Mainstream discussion boards who corresponded with me and has been moving away from that general position has not come here because discussions here get hard to follow down these long strings.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 12:17am BST

Ford - "the social gospel" is NOT caring for the is reducing the gospel to social is saying "don't worry so much about doctrine, lets focus on MDGs"

Your great Canadian evos were simply living out their faith i.e. the gospel by caring for the poor...just as ST James tells us: faith without deeds is dead and we show our faith through our deeds

Posted by NP at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 7:10am BST

You do realise, don't you, that you can read TA comments via an RSS feed?
Go to the home page and look down the lefthand column for the link, just below the RSS feed for the articles.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 8:48am BST

Chris wrote "They claim whole texts are "evil" and that souls will "lose their way" if they read certain authors. All that has achieved is a "dumping down" of theology." Very interesting point. Yes, people should educate themselves about multiple view points. Unfortunately, I'd guess less than a quarter or Western Christians actually take on the discipline of exploring any kind of theology in a structured manner."

I recall a review of one of Dawkins' productions complaining that he had taken on the worst manifestations of Christianity to denounce Christianity (and religion) in general. Yet, to my bemusement, I see unchivalrous elements of Christianity doing the same to other elements within their own communion. If we can not be civil within one communion, what hope is there of being civil between Christian communities, let alone Abrahamic religions, or humanity as a whole?

It's not like we live in an infinite world with untold metallic, oil, water or fodder to be plundered...

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 12:50pm BST

Here is a Wall Street Journal article on the social gospel (ran May 11, 2007):

Posted by Chris at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 2:22pm BST

Graham Ward:

Are you saying that "Catholic" means freedom to believe in any extreme and/or including all the various extremes, or what? Please clarify.

The sense in which you seem to be using the term--i.e., including anything and everything that calls itself Christian--does not jive with any sense in which I have seen that term used in the past.

I have seen a distinct tendency on TA for liberals to define "Catholic" as everything and anything that might satisfy a very limited litmus test--such as, e.g., the Nicene Creed. (Which, at the least, excludes Mormons from the definition of "Catholic"). However, how you would claim Spong and his ilk as "Catholic" under even the most de minimis of standards is beyond me.


Posted by Steven at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 3:51pm BST

NP, with respect, you might want to do a little research about those great Canadian evos. From Salem Bland, through to Tommy Douglas, there are more than a few that speak very specifically about the social gospel.

Of course, as with the wsj article posted by Chris, it is very easy to criticize a straw man charicature of the social gospel. That avoids the ickiness of having to have a real engagement of ideas.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 5:20pm BST

Yeah I get my theology from The Wall Street Journal, and since Rupert Murdoch has taken it over perhaps I ought to have a subscription! (Not)

Thank you Simon. My technological know-how has (slowly enlightened) dark corners.

Radical Orthodoxy and, the lesser version, Yale Postliberalism, puzzle me in that they are both essentially cultural and yet both rely on being frozen and imports from a particular time (and place) of culture. Daniel Liechty's postliberal approach seems the much better one, where it is more open and able to dialogue and even learn with other faiths. Daliel Liechty wrote to me in June this year because I have used his book on my website, and how his book Theology in Postliberal Perspective was overshadowed by Lindbeck's that then became a "school" of theology - Liechty took his understanding (he writes) from "John Macquarrie, who used that term postliberal to designated the Niebuhr brothers and other American post-war social ethicist/theologians and to distinguish them from Barth, Brunner and other European Neo-Orthodox theologians."

I see that Niebuhr is mentioned in conjunction with Rauschenbusch, who is still a landmark liberal theological thinker, and Reinhold Niehbuhr starts with the human situation, accepts the results of biblical criticism and reworks sin to be about anxiety (and social, plus humans needed grace), brings back eschatology, understands the place of myth in Christianity, and his theology had some political, social and economic bite - a critical liberal perhaps.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 5:59pm BST

"how you would claim Spong and his ilk as "Catholic" under even the most de minimis of standards is beyond me."

The phenomenon of you and I agreeing is so rare, I have to comment! Leaving aside all negative connotations, wouldn't Spong be more Gnostic/Theosophist?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 6:56pm BST

Hi Ford:

Remarkable, but not unique. I think you and I have (even if rarely) agreed from time-to-time. A more incredible "agreement" was commented on by JCF recently--she and I seldom see eye-to-eye on much of anything, so the occasion was perhaps even more remarkable.

Anyhow, the problem noted is real. One may see it in the progressive loosening of terminology. It used to be that the term "Christian" connoted someone--generally baptized--relying on Jesus Christ as their savior who (excepting infants, the simple minded, neophytes, etc.) had at least a minimum adherence to a set of basic doctrines (which are pretty well summarized in the Apostle's creed) and practices (the 10 Commandments). To be "Catholic" was an even higher standard, connoting an adherence to the foregoing as well as to the ancient and catholic doctrines and practices of the Church.

Now, "Christian" is being held by some to include everyone who labels themselves as such (whatever their beliefs) and "Catholic" is . . . beats me!


Posted by Steven at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 8:34pm BST


Ooops, I neglected to respond to your last comment regarding Spong being more Gnostic/Theosophist than Catholic.

Hmmm. I always considered him to be the king and prime exemplar of liberal theology, but many liberals at TA disclaim him and his positions, so I will have to withdraw that comment.

I still view him as the logical conclusion of liberal theologizing, but I am cautious about taking the matter any further. Everyone here tends to cite someone/something (usually disdained by most liberals or conservatives) as being the prime example of and logical conclusion of, respectively, theological liberalism or conservativism. This becomes, like a lot of other things I have come to dislike about the level of discourse at TA, merely another form of name calling. And, as someone sagely observed on this same thread, its not fair to compare "our" best examples to the other sides "worst" examples. This doesn't lead to anything useful.

So, where does that leave Spong? Good question. I consider him to be an enemy of the Faith, a mis-leader of the Faithful, and a stumbling block to those who might come to Christ. He is also, in my opinion, an embarassment to the Church Catholic, TEC, and Anglicanism generally. What else is he? I could go on at length, but I'd better stop before I rant any further on the subject.

As JCF would say: Lord have Mercy!


Posted by Steven at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 8:53pm BST

Arora's version of Godwin's Law seems to have come true on this thread!

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 11:27pm BST

Here we go with boundary marking again. If you say John Spong is unacceptable for his beliefs, then someone else may say Ford Elms or anyone else is unacceptable with his or her beliefs. One person's inside the boundary becomes another's outside the boundary.

Or then there is a rule that says, although you are outside the boundary you can stay inside so long as you obey the rules that make you appear to be inside the boundary.

John Spong addresses real theologial issues and does not set himself up as a Gnostic, Theosophist or anything else. These labels are "Outsider!" devices; but if someone of a liberal persuasion (to some degree or other) does this in some expectation that it satisfies the boundary courts and police, don't be surprised if another judge makes an order and the boundary police come along and start putting in fence posts making the field that bit smaller - with another one decided to be on the outside.

The issues for me come to a set of questions. Do you work with the tradition? Does it provide meaningful insight? Do you worship through it and does it make a difference? Do the claims it makes have impact? Do you mke an impact on it? If the answers are yes, then you are in. Even then the field has boundary markers, not a fence.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 11:27pm BST

Pluralist....the whole point is that Jesus Christ did not buy your ....pluralism.

Do read what he said....he set very real boundaries and was explicit that consequences exist for being outside.......maybe you think you know better than him but it is a fact that he set boundaries.

Posted by NP at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 8:38am BST

"I always considered him to be the king and prime exemplar of liberal theology"

Which is the problem, Steven. He isn't. Gently, I would say that this is the result of accepting too closely the way one group categorizes the other. I spoke before about what I consider to be the false witness of Equipping the Saints. Spong is quoted twice, one other bishop is quoted once, and what they say is anathema to conservatives. The rest are saying things that are at worse debatable. Yet, TEC is "apostate" because of what Spong said!

"If you say John Spong is unacceptable for his beliefs, then someone else may say Ford Elms or anyone else is unacceptable with his or her beliefs."

Pluralist, this isn't what it's about! Saying I disagree with someone is merely that. I see nothing in what I know of Spong that lights the fire in my soul. What I know of the Catholic faith lights that fire. It is a wonderful understanding of the world and how we fit into it and how God interacts with it. I think Spong is wrong in the same way I think Evangelicals are wrong. I didn't say he was "unacceptable", neither am I trying to drive him outside some boundaries you seem to think I have set. I am not concerned in defining who's in or who's out, even if they don't work in the tradition, provide meaningful insight, or any of the other places where you draw your boundaries.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 12:27pm BST


I never said TEC was apostate. That would be a judgment on TEC as a whole, which I cannot make at this point in time (and probaby would never be authorized to make anyhow). At present, I consider TEC (taken as a whole) to be seriously mislead, mistaken, and/or misguided on some important issues. I also consider that individuals within TEC, including Spong, err very seriously and may even be susceptible to classification as heretics. However, I hesitate to "adjudicate" in this area, much less in the area of apostacy. I'm neither qualified, nor empowered as a layman to pass final judgment on such issues. As a lawyer, I have a great deal of respect for "due process" and for properly instituted authority when it comes to rendering final judgments. This does not mean that I don't avoid (and have things to say about) bad areas of town at night, thugs in dark alleys, and similar hazards--whether spiritual or physical.


PS-Pluralist--you are way off base if you think that anything meaningful in life--and particularly Christianity--doesn't involve boundaries. Science, engineering, religion, marriage, friendship, etc.--I have a hard time thinking of much of anything that doesn't involve definite boundaries. Even art must accept the limitations of a particular target audience to succeed as art--otherwise it devolves into a merely subjective exercise.

Posted by Steven at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 5:30pm BST


One man's virtue is another’s vice.

I hold my faith precisely because it is a container. However this is not an entirely safe of comfortable space to be in. It is challenging and deep with meaning.
Less is more. Trying to include everything and remain perpetually on the outside (PoMo neurosis) to make calls robs of the real possibility of engaging something full and real.
I do not hold a straightforwardist approach to Scripture and Apostolic doctrinal succession because I am afraid to think. I hold this view because it fills me with awe (fear) and provides me with an interior to think clearly in.
Of course, I believe historical Christian teaching to be true. I also need to be with others who hold this basic view to develop community. To be fully open to all ideas mean to reject my basic faith and to adopt your approach. This is the false openness of a liberal/pluralist approach, It is open but that openness is a container baring access to what I would call true or straightforward faith.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 5:40pm BST

Well there are boundaries because what we do is organise according to patterns and groups as it helps us to see what is going on. Boundaries, however, shift and move according to new imports and exports of what is no longer meaningful. The reason we go on now about liberals and radicals and traditionalists and evangelicals etc. is because the meaningful groupings have changed. We no longer go on about Calvinists against Arminians or ignoring these chapel Methodists.

Jesus's own boundaries were of course the Jewish people he served, and preparation for what was coming, but he was inclusive within that framework. Soon the early Churches had their boundaries and argued fiercely over them. Eventually they had double fences and border guards, but a lot of people were on the inside. Then in the 1500s other fences started going up.

What is happening now is fairly fierce fence building around a very small plot, and of course one thing some liberals do is position the fence to try and pacify some others who'd have a sharper boundary (and a brick wall) much further in.

Boundary posts and people walking in and out in between are entirely good enough to maintain the shifting shapes of the garden, and the sorts of posts to be pulled up and moved about.

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 9:49pm BST

Writing to someone named Pluralist is like being in an allegory. I should come up with an essential handle for myself.

Orthodoxy is a gateway to at it is an expansive plane. I understand it is difficult to nail these terms down for all time. And I would say that is a good thing. But I do not hold to your progress view. I think the various groups over time have been grappling many of the same issues under different names. Returning to the centre is the duty of Orthodoxy. Are these returns ever perfect? No. Are they shaped by the time we live in? Yes. But the motive is to return to the centre and to remove error from confusing the truth.

I do not see Jesus as primarily inclusive. He was basically welcoming. But his invitation was though a narrow gate; the other side of which is vastness. I only find this vertigoic space on my knees in surrender to our Christian story as true, and unmitigated.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Friday, 10 August 2007 at 11:59pm BST

Steven: "As a lawyer, I have a great deal of respect for "due process" and for properly instituted authority when it comes to rendering final judgments."

I'm all for due process.

A committee of people proclaiming on their own that they have authority is not due process.

Post facto claims that a particular meeting's decisions are authoritative when the meeting itself has repeatedly affirmed that its deliberations are not authoritative is not due process.

Thirty some guys in a room deciding that they have the power to set ultimatums and deadlines is not due process.

And even if the Episcopal Church's actions on this issue were completely, utterly and unalterably wrong, the ad hoc self-accretion of power by small groups of people is hardly due process.

My wife the lawyer tells me that hard cases make bad law. An ad hoc decision to give supreme authority in the Communion to a generally unaccountable gang of primates is not due process, and it is certainly bad law.

After all, that is exactly the same way that the bishops of a certain diocese in central Italy got it into their heads that they could run the whole Church according to their whims and dictates.

We are Anglicans because we rebelled against that notion.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 7:56am BST

The link tells you who I am. You may not have seen this but the name comes from choosing a website name when I was still in the Unitarians, and they are divided between liberal Christians, who tend to be conservative (especially regarding what is done in church - thus postliberalism of a kind) and those called the religious humanists though another name for them was pluralist. I notice that in the latest attack by a more usually reasonable liberal Christian, Rev. Cliff Reed, he is calling the other side he dismisses as "Pluralists".

Does any of this sound familiar?

An ongoing discussion at the forum of the National Uniarian Fellowship is that Unitarianism offers breadth whereas other faiths and Christian denominations offer depth - individuals make their own depth in the Unitarian denomination. My shift back across both was for depth, particularly liturgical, and also to reconcile the pluralist and the Christian, which are separated out in the Unitarian groupings (and I used to think should not be).

I partly agree with you Scott Henthorn (what going through the tradition produces on the other side) but I think Christianity is too much of a construction to perform quite as you put it, nor is it the same thing as investigating (with difficulty) the historical Jesus amd finding someone incredibly strange but with a powerful message regarding a reversal ethic, immediacy of the situation and self-sacrifice in the service of what we might call an ideal concerning others.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 8:49pm BST


Your wife is certainly right about hard cases making bad law--an old legal adage. In fact, this is my overall opinion (at one level) of the whole situation in TEC vis-a-vis the presenting issue.


Posted by Steven at Monday, 13 August 2007 at 3:08am BST

I'd like to suggest your use of the word 'orthodox' is not helpful. First, it is inaccurate, having been used by Eastern Christians for many centuries, and has come to connote a certain style of Christianity. Anglicanism, sadly in some respects in my opinion, does not have the liturgical, doctrinal, nor attitudinal qualities that have come to be included in the meaning of the word. Besides, they got to it first.
Second, it has only ever been used to divide, more and more finely. It started referring to people with a particular Christological view, and the number of those calling themselves "orthodox" while denying the "orthodoxy" of everyone else multiplied with those early debates. It is now applied to which calendar one uses and other minutiae. It is a great way to semi-subconsciously pat one'sself on the back about the purity of one's faith, but at the expense both of one's fellow Christians and of one's own ability for objective selfexamine. In my experience, it is used most loudly by those most concerned with exerting their dominance over others. That's not what you seem to be doing. I'm just suggesting you not fall into the trap we all find so difficult to avoid, naming the other in a way that perhaps unconsciously serves as much to justify ourselves as it does to clarify debate.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 13 August 2007 at 2:29pm BST


Thank you. I know this whole business of naming what we are talking about and who, including ourselves, is very difficult. I do think that we can at some level see two basic approaches in our community. I know that this dualism can be artificial, like the idea that politics can be sorted into neat camps of Liberal and Conservative. This ignores the plurality of political ideas. I think the difference in the communion is really grounded in the premises we start with. These may not yet be named systematically, but those of us who hold one or other basic set of premises somehow ‘know’ we have commonality.

The re-use of the term Orthodoxy in our community tends to bear with it the burden of maintaining apostolic succession in doctrine. This duty forms the basic premises set for those who claim Orthodoxy. Sometimes the term Reasserter is used to describe this calling, but after a moments thought the terms seem synonymous. I have to say I do not have a good name for my convictions yet. I do however recognize these convictions in others, and also know when someone else is coming from a very different motive. I also think these differences are not merely interesting or indicative of variety. I think that both rough approaches deserve the freedom to develop in community to prove their individual worth or lack. That to me is the crux of our current conflict. We are not merely theorizing. We hold different sets of ideas that will produce very different social forms if allowed the freedom to develop. We are held in stagnation because we are unable to admit the implications of our semantic disunity. Often we only have phonetic unity. I think this would end too if we were not trying to live under one roof. This is not a happy condition. It does not always bring out the best in me. I apologize for any rudeness in my above postings. Those who claim Orthodoxy believe Truth is given, Progressives believe truth is ours to discern. These are foundational differences. It is hard to imagine building a viable structure using both of these principals in the footings.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 3:22pm BST

Scott, You are buying into the myth that there are two general groups in the Church, one holding on to revealed truth, the other trying to innovate. These groups constitute a small percentage of the entire Anglican Church. One side, ?yours?, has managed to play on the fears of certain people in the Church. There's a priest in Olympia who considers herself both Christian AND Muslim. EVERYBODY PANIC!!!!! The church is falling into apostacy!!!! No. One confused woman hasn't been called strenuously enough to publically address the contradicitions in what she publically claims to believe. Spong is leading TEC into apostacy! EVERYBODY PANIC!!!! No, people engage with what he says, but that doesn't mean they agree. Most of us are in the middle. Insisting on the existence of two camps and then making distorted statements like:
"Those who claim Orthodoxy believe Truth is given, Progressives believe truth is ours to discern."

merely serves to further polarize the situation. It is an easy place to fall into, I fall quite regularly, but it is not helpful. Furthermore, there are Orthodox theologians who lament the crystallizing of doctrine characteristic of modern Orthodoxy, citing the creative, and VERY ORTHODOX theology of the Patristic period. "Orthodox" does not mean "conservative", for a long time it meant "attempting to discern the Truth".

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 6:10pm BST


I do not find my statement distorted. I think it fairly documents opinion. Certainly opinion I have read on this and other sites. I think you are reacting to a characterization of what you think I am. If you hear panic in my words please do not.

There may not be two general groups but there are two general approaches. I agree fully that orthodoxy is a creative space. It is creative precisely because it is a space. But we are discussing this too abstractly. It is the opinions not the theory of opinions that matters.

I have seen in my own corner of the communion, in Canada, a systemic removal of traditional opinion publicly. Opinions that are not supportive of SSB do not have a public platform. At synods and in generally distributed publications the speakers and writers hold positive or soft positive support for SSB. Opposition is left to the letters to the editor or a table in the foyer. It may not be helpful to unity to discuss differences. It is not supportive of diversity to not allow certain opinions voice. And there is no real diversity without fully developed and defended opinions. I do not know where the middle is. I do not think we need to split over every issue. But, tolerance means putting up with things we do not like. We are substituting indifference for tolerance.

I am not a conservative in the traditional sense. I do not trust politicians of any stripe. I do not think the political arena is a natural place for us Christians. I do not think abortion is a right or a good. But neither do I think war is a sensible answer to anything. I lean toward a communitarian economic theory, and am no lover of capitalism, or state communism. I think the sexual revolution was mostly damaging to our personal and social soul. I think that its repercussions are so broad and general that we can hardly remember why our sexual prohibitions were given in the first place. I think this one issue is a symbol of a general problem in our being. I do not think we will come to worthy solutions to our problems by diminishing differences. I think this is a time for clear and open discussion.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 4:26am BST

Ford is quite right that the use of the word "orthodox" to describe one side is, at best, a deliberate provocation. Especially so considering the perceived heresies they are prepared to put up with among themselves.

Yes, it is useful to have terms that describe the two competing sides in a broad brush. Might I suggest the words "liberal" and "conservative," preferably still in quotation marks, as being a) more accurate, b) less provocative, c) more charitable, d) generally understandable by all and e) generally acceptable to all.

The best advantage is that neither term says "this side is right and the other side is evil," which is the clear and unambiguous intention of the use of "orthodox" to describe one side.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 7:33am BST

An interesting point for discussion then might be that many liberals see construction taking place among themselves and among the conservatives, whereas the conservatives say that they are taking on revelation, whereas only the liberals are constructing faith.

Liturgically there is not much difference between them, giving the conserving nature of liturgical activity - but of course it is understood variously.

Whether revelation is actually revelation or not, what about its increasing inability to communicate with the ordinary ways of thinking. On Tuesday's discussion I raised an example of someone mentioning St Swithin on his day, which raised some laughs as it rained and a sense of "No!" as it rained on and on. I asked what was that all about: do people think in one way in a church, like a club, and then go out back into the ordinary world of metereological reports. What sort of talk was it to put him into the prayers?

This is not an isolated problem related to a piece of nearly lost folk tale - it stretches right across the Christian inherited thought-world.

What do the conservatives think about a project like Radical Orthodoxy, that forces premodern thought inside a non-objective postmodern bubble? It all looks and sounds the same, except it is not rooted in anything greater, and indeed tries to turn the greater into its peculiar perspective from within the bubble. In the discussion one wondered if John Milbank attacks the impossibly complex wordiness of the sociology he calls "secular theology" with an alternative clarity of language - I'm afraid not, I replied.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 1:03pm BST

"Opinions that are not supportive of SSB do not have a public platform."

Are you saying that people did not get the chance to voice their opinions at the last two Synods? I connect strongly with what you say otherwise. You are describing me in the 80s, when the issue was the ordination of women. I stopped going to Church for 18 years because of what I saw as the rudderless liberality of the Canadian Anglican leadership. Anyone who made anything close to a theological argument against OOW was laughed at. They could only argue from rights. They didn't get it. I started going back to Church when it mattered less than my need for a spiritual space. I wish our bishops could actually argue theologically. Bp. Matthews can, that's why I wish she had become primate.I don't know about Hiltz, though I fear he may fall into the "so open minded his brains fell out" group. We'll see. I do believe that this polarization into two groups is much more of a convenient construct for those who would manipulate some people's fears. Most of the Anglicans I know and have spoken to are between both poles, as am I, and say vehemently "A pox on both your houses!" My points were:
1) This polarization does reflect reality to an extent, but puts far too fine a point on it, I truly belive most Anglicans fall into neither camp.
2) Use of the word "Orthodox" is provocative. It has always meant "We are right(eous) and you are not." You might not perceive that consciously, but ask yourself, what does the use of that word about yourself make you feel about those to whom you do not apply the word? You may neither perceive nor intend it, but the word drips with self-righteousness.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 1:25pm BST

Ford Pluralist & Malcolm+,

Thank you for your clarifications. I will rethink my auto-nomenclature. I do not think ‘conservative’ fits my convictions. I do not think I use Orthodoxy as a stick, and must confess I did not know it had so much baggage. If it is such a hindrance to discussion I will try to come up with something else. Personally I use the term to describe my relationship to God through Christ. It places me in surrender. The handles liberal and conservative have for me the connotation or remaining in control of the elements of faith as they are borrowed from political traditions.

On SSB I mean that it is rare, I have not seen one yet, to hear an official voice in opposition. In our special synod in BC we had two speakers one, Dean Peter Elliot, who presented a yes now position, and Bp. V. Matthews who presented a yes but wait position. Officially the idea of no was not articulated. This is true in our Diocesan Post and in the Journal. When an opinion is officially removed from the communal forum it ceases to be an option for the ‘reasonable middle’ and is relegated to the ranting of cranks.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 2:32pm BST

So your view of surrender is somewhat akin to the Islamic view of submission? What are you surrendering to - a construction?

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 11:24pm BST

Surrender, submit. . . I find these Christian virtues as they are part of humility. They seem necessary to receive instruction.

A construct of course, God has constructed and is still building. I hope this does not come off that I think I have special knowledge or unbroken truth. It means I seek truth though, and expect that it can be found. Part of this submission is that I have not made this up. My faith is not my own personal thing but something God has done and calls to. My own thoughts are empty of worth. So when I claim Orthodoxy I should not claim that I am Orthodox. Rather I seek Orthodoxy. I, being heterodox, seek God’s Orthodoxy. So it is less a state than an attitude.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 4:37am BST

"it is rare, I have not seen one yet, to hear an official voice in opposition."

NP continually reminds us of the very loud official voices raised in opposition. Our former bishop here is one of the founding members of Essentials. The Diocese of the Arctic has been pretty clear, as have several of our bishops. Then there are the schismatics in BC. How is this "not one voice"? Do you not see the moderation of the GS statement (of which I am quite proud, BTW) as influenced by those "voices raised in opposition"?

As to submission and humility, I agree with you. It is part of my problem with this. I see a lot of the argument as being about validation, is redemption not enough? But I also do not see much humility, or indeed a darned good many Christian virtues, in those who are so vocally opposed to gay people in the Church. My experience, and I may be totally led astray here, is that God does not have nearly the problem with my homosexuality as, say, +Akinola. Given the behaviour of such people, how are they any more trustworthy than my experience of God's blessings in my life? You speak as though you do not see humility and submission in "the other side". Why would you think that they do not consider these to be Christian virues? I think it is one of the results of your consideration of yourself as "orthodox" however unconscious or innocent that might be. "They" are not humble. No, some of "them" are not humble, but some of "us" aren't over humble either.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 3:05pm BST

I think you again read into my statements. I see a good deal of what is virtuous and vicious all around and in myself. I believe the answer to our struggles lies in apostolic faith. I am looking from a position of my own weakness toward something greater. If I defend this faith vociferously it is not because I think I am right and others wrong, unloving or arrogant. It is because I think we are all wrong, unloving or arrogant, but that God has called us out of this darkness through the Gospel. Now there are many motives to liberalizing approaches to the documents and historicity of our faith, but often I find an attempt to make accessible some of the ancient truths while accommodating contemporary doubt. Why not just accept the Truths as revealed? I know all about doubt. I spent years outside the faith on account of mine. I even returned as a liberal. I remember saying to myself,” Sure I will return, but not if it makes me believe anything weird”. James’ letter arrested me and took me captive for Christ. Faith opens us to God. Doubt cuts us off. I find these to be natural truths. We live in a time of radical doubt. It will pass. I believe it is our duty to preserve the faith through this time. On the ground much is uncertain in our Christian life. Taking Scripture as God’s revelation should not make us comfortable or lazy of self assured. It does provide us with a consistent source for instruction. The elements of our faith: that God meant to make the world; that he called Abraham to make a people for himself; that he sent prophets to teach; and that he sent his Son to teach die and rise again as a new intentional act of recreation are not principals but facts. They inspire, but more so they ground us in God’s construction of reality. This is our story. We can live in this story in faith, or we can live with parts of it in doubt and mostly derive principals from it. The former requires surrender; the later leaves us in control. Or so it has been my experience on both sides of that divide.

In my comments about official voices, and the issue of SSB is only one case, I do not mean that there is a goon squad snuffing out opposition voices. I may be biased by my own locale. I do not hear official voices that are non-liberal above the parish level. The very title of GSoC was ‘Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still” This clearly starts with a desired outcome. ‘Come let us reason together’ would have been more value neutral.

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 5:09pm BST

I don't understand you, Scott Henthorn. It all sounds psychological, and you write Why not just accept the Truths as revealed?

Well, let.s see. Suppose the tradition says that Jesus of Nazareth instituted the eucharist. I think the Bible implies this. The Bible also contains the information to suggest, and it seems more likely, that he did not institute the eucharist. I'm just writing about this at the moment, following on from one of those group discussions.

Now having come to the view that he did not, on what basis should I suddenly shut off my brain andaccept the Truths as revealed? Is this because it is in a rulebook somewhere? No. I'll say he didn't, and explain why.

There is no ay around this, other than putting your hands over your ears, shutting your eyes and switching off your brain.

This is the contemporary situation. Radical Orthodoxy is not a solution, it is like reading a fiction book. No harm in that, but you have to realise what you are doing, and what is going on.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 18 August 2007 at 12:17am BST

Where is the information that Jesus did not institute the eucharist? 1 Corinthians?

Posted by Scott Henthorn at Saturday, 18 August 2007 at 5:44pm BST


I took the belief-o-matic quiz:

1. Orthodox Quaker (100%)
2. Orthodox Judaism (96%)
3. Eastern Orthodox (95%)
4. Roman Catholic (95%)
5. Seventh Day Adventist (93%)
6. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (90%)
7. Islam (84%)
8. Hinduism (76%)
9. Sikhism (76%)
10. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (75%)
11. Jehovah's Witness (75%)
12. Bahá'í Faith (74%)
13. Jainism (71%)
14. Liberal Quakers (65%)
15. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (64%)
16. Reform Judaism (61%)
17. Mahayana Buddhism (50%)
18. Neo-Pagan (49%)
19. Unitarian Universalism (47%)
20. Theravada Buddhism (39%)
21. New Age (35%)
22. Secular Humanism (26%)
23. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (23%)
24. New Thought (22%)
25. Scientology (22%)
26. Nontheist (21%)
27. Taoism (16%)

Guess this explains a few things. I was raised a Christadelphian; This must have something to do with the Orthodox Judaism rating. But I have to confess some pride that I fit the Orthodox Quaker 100%.. I knew I was Orthodox something, but three things in one.

As this link is about to enter Archival Oblivion I say goodbye and thanks for the interchange. I may need to reconsider my denomination; however I finally have a blog handle. . .

Yours in the Quest,


Posted by Scott Henthorn at Saturday, 18 August 2007 at 9:19pm BST

"Faith opens us to God. Doubt cuts us off. I find these to be natural truths."

Doubt is not the opposite of faith; certainty is. Where you have certainty, you have no need for faith. Faith is about trusting in God, not believing correct doctrine. One can trust even with doubt. It is the doubt which makes us take Heidegger's "Leap of faith".

Posted by ruidh at Sunday, 19 August 2007 at 2:18am BST

The problem with "orthodox," of course, is that the other side are, by definition, not orthodox hence not "right believing."

I'm not sure what corner of Canada you're in, Scott, but if it is anywhere west of the Great Lakes you have a Metropolitan that opposes the blessing of same sex unions. (I'm not sure where the other two Metropolitans stand.)

If the Metropolitan holds that particular position, it is hard to imagine that it has no platform.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Sunday, 19 August 2007 at 2:38am BST
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