Comments: From Calvary to Lambeth

Am I the only listener to have been incensed (with anger, that is!) when My Lord Carey opined that it is a mistake to view equal treatment for gay people as a human rights issue? I couldn't believe he said that. He clearly has not the slightest hint of any empathy for what it might be like to be a gay person. It was no surprise to hear Anne Widdecombe showing her lack of empathy, or Stephen Green, or Chris Sugden. But to hear a former chief pastor speaking in a way that shows he had never seen life through any other perspective than his own was really chilling. How could anyone ever have been a good pastor who lacks that basic pastoral sense?
That man has a lot to answer for.

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 3:58pm GMT

I have yet to listen but a well known journalist emailed us this morning with this - the subject was:

Seething!!!

""Why am I seething? I have just been listening to the BBC Radio 4 programme "From Calvary to Lambeth" - sub-title Michael Buerk talks to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

I looked forward to hearing what Desmond Tutu had to say about the divisions in the Church of England. What he did say was quite lovely, but he was only allocated 7'32 seconds (broken up into 11 clips) edited from an earlier interview with Michael Buerk which had taken place in Cape Town. Thus 75% of the programme was a concerted attack on Desmond Tutu by homophobic elements of the 'Christian right' to which he had no opportunity to respond. Thus listeners heard mainly the fundamentalist and literalist opinions of Robert Duncan, Lord Carey, Stephen Green, Ann Widicomb, and Chris Sudgen.*

I was disgusted by the absence of any kind of balance such as might have been provided by just one voice on the programme in support of Archbishop Tutu. Apart from what little Archbishop Tutu was allowed to say, the programme amounted to just a homophobic rant: about "undermining marriage", and all the usual stuff.""

So Fr Mark is far from alone .....

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 4:45pm GMT

"I couldn't believe he said that. "

Why not? I'm sure, given all the listening we have been assured the Right has done, he must have all the information he needs to make such a statement. Surely he is aware of the issues, no. I mean, no Anglican bishiop would make a public statement without having first checked the accuracy of it, would he? In can't think of one bishop on the Right who has ever said anything ill informed about gay people. They have been listening to us for the past 30 years in accord with Lambeth, thus making themselves so much better informed than those evil Americans who just ignore anything they don't like! They can reference all the great scholars who have researched gay issues, like Cameron, Gagnon, and Nicolosi(?). If Lord Carey with all this information thinks this isn't a human rights issue, then it can't be, surely. I mean, he'd know, right?

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 5:34pm GMT

On Tutu and Carey,

Take a big breath! Talk about reading/hearing things through one's own filter. Ab Carey was certainly not saying that one should not stand for the well-being or rights of homosexuals.

In context he goes on to say they should have their full place in society like any other people. We need more than reaction here . . . think twice and speak. What is the issue within and for the church? The issue for Carey is does the church stand with scripture on a line of teaching that goes from creation in Genesis through Jesus to Paul? Does the church have the faith and steadfastness in gospel context to affirm that? I believe he is right on the point, but even if he were wrong, do we not want to respect the right to say that as leader in the church?

As for Tutu and his place in the programme, it began and ended with him! It lauded his place as a great leader in liberation from apartheid and and gave him the last word. Further, he had more of a place than any of the others on the programme - yes take a deep breath.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 5:42pm GMT

Polity....human rights....modern society....anything but what the bible says is so often brought up as a supposed argument for the AC to condone behaviour our Anglican bishops consistently say is "incompatible with scripture".

Now, is it against his human rights to say to a man living with a woman and not married to her ("living in sin"), practising sex outside marriage, that he is not eligible to be ordained?

If it is not against his human rights, it cannot be against the human rights of another person who practises sex outside Christian marriage to say they cannot be ordained - can it??

Whatever polity or rights based arguments people want to make, remember the issue is what does scripture condone and what does it condemn?
The question is what is holy, good and acceptable in God's eyes and compatible with His scriptures?

Look at Christ.... he did not argue for his rights. He was intensely concerned with the holiness of God and his obedience to the Father. There is no evidence that he condoned any sin.... but he tellus us sinners to "go and sin no more"

Let us tell the truth, like ++Carey, about what the bible and our Anglican bishops say on the presenting issue.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 5:44pm GMT

I was particularly annoyed and disappointed by the lack of balance. There were half a dozen conservative voices and just one liberal voice. While the esteem in which Desmond Tutu is held by the world at large may be an order of magnitude greater than the total which the other participants can muster, the implication appeared to be that within the Anglican Communion he is heavily outnumbered in proclaiming an inclusive gospel.

Posted by Leslie Fletcher at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 6:43pm GMT

Tutu and Buerk shredded Sugden on the origin of Anglicanism. However I was amazed at Duncan...he didn't tell his audience that historic Anglicanism did not allow divorce and re-marriage. Furthermore he said divorce was allowed in the case of adultery for the innocent party...yet he has subscribed to Episcopal canons allowing free for all divorce and re-marriage.

Carey again talks of the sanctity of marriage...he believs in it so much that two of his children have had two each and he even instructed Prince Charles to marry his divorcee mistress. No pretence at the innocent party opt out here.

George Carey ( Andrew Carey ), if you are reading this hold your heads in shame! Its not just the homosexually immoral who will be excluded from the Kingdom of heaven, but heterosexual adulterers.

Yet Bible based evangelicalism can't even agree as to what constitutes that. Yet they would lead the likes of Mr Coward in the Gospel way of salvation!

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 6:46pm GMT

"If it is not against his human rights, it cannot be against the human rights of another person who practises sex outside Christian marriage to say they cannot be ordained - can it??"

Both are told they must be married. One deliberately chooses not to, the other, despite being lied about, slandered, threatened with prison and death, fights unsuccsessfully for the right to marry. So tell me who's the rebel, the one who disobeys and doesn't marry, or the one who is prevented from doing so despite decades of struggling to be allowed to. Who is disrespecting the sacrament? Not justification for anything, NP, just pointing our how your argument shows how little you understand. You can make your point without this kind of nonsense.

And, again, how do you account for the Good Thief getting into the Kingdom if he didn't repent of his sin?

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 7:07pm GMT

Ben W wrote: "On Tutu and Carey,

Take a big breath! Talk about reading/hearing things through one's own filter. Ab Carey was certainly not saying that one should not stand for the well-being or rights of homosexuals."

Oh, oh...

NP has got herself a helper, one that befits her.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 7:53pm GMT

Martin, I hate to see your correspondent refer to the great Desmond Tutu as 'little Desmond Tutu'. There's nothing little about the man. He can hold his own in any company. I hate to see him patronised like that. Having said that I agree that a round table discussion would have been better, but probably impossible to do. The worst feature of the programme was the inclusion of Stephen Green - a man who speaks for the tiniest minority in Britain and yet is always sought after by the BBC on this sort of programme.

As for Robert Ian Williams comment: sigh!!!

Since this often seems to come up on Thinking Anglicans let me just say that neither I nor my sister are clergy. Neither of us were remarried in church. I shan't say any more on this for obvious reasons.

But please let's keep hyperbole out of this. I don't think my father has ever said that homosexuals are excluded from the Kingdom of heaven, I don't think he's ever pretended to know the mind of God in the way that Robert Ian Williams does.

As for Fr Mark's comment, I think what Ben W says, hits the spot.

Posted by Andrew Carey at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 9:47pm GMT

Ben: So, what is the struggle for equal treatment for gay people under the law if it is not a human rights issue? Carey, remember, voted in the Lords against an equal age of consent. It is completely untrue of him to give the impression that he has been a model of tolerance. He tried to block the changes of the law which apply to the whole of society, not just Christians, in such a way that gay people would still be discriminated against. Does he think he was wrong to do that now?

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 9:56pm GMT

Andrew: I think if my father were famous in some particular field, I would choose to work in a different one. It is not the best thing that you should feel obliged to defend the record of your father's archiepiscopate: it must be difficult for you to hear other people engage in the necessary process of weighing up the rights and wrongs (in my view mostly wrongs) of his exercise of office without you being emotionally involved in way that cannot be very healthy for you, one feels.

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 10:12pm GMT

Your marital status has a habit of cropping up, Mr. Carey, not out of personal malice - I, and I'm sure the majority of posters on this site, see nothing whatever improper in the remarriage of divorced individuals - but because this is an issue on which Christ left firmly-stated condemnations, condemnations which many of those who themselves strongly condemn homosexuality - a condition (how many times must one repeat this?) on which Our Lord left no recorded opinion - have no problem whatever overlooking or ignoring, since they know from their own experience or from the experiences of those close to them, what havoc it can create. It is this double-edged sword of prejudice - sharp on the side that strikes at the homosexual; dull and seldom or never used in support of Christ's strictures against divorce, that lead to its popping up on this site with some frequency. It is deeply frustrating that the charity and accommodation shown in the one case, can be so strongly denied in what many of us regard as a parallel situation - the more so in light of which of the two conditions Jesus condemned and did not condemn.

But for the incessant, strident cries of "Lambeth 1.10", I believe that you would be left in complete peace. In the meantime, please understand that when the subject has arisen and when your name has been mentioned or your situation alluded to, this has never been intended by me as a condemnation of your status - simply as an attempt to point a parallel and maybe to loosen up a mind or two.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 10:47pm GMT

Andrew
"Since this often seems to come up on Thinking Anglicans let me just say that neither I nor my sister are clergy. Neither of us were remarried in church. I shan't say any more on this for obvious reasons."

I accept what you're saying and I fully and wholeheartedly support you in this. Although I do wish you had had the confidence and trust in God's love to remarry in church.

But you see - this is how many "Christians" twist what happens to real life people.
And this is what happens to us in the gay debate.

The church strictures against gays are officially only against the clergy. I'm not a priest.
And yet, I have been banned from almost every positive involvement in my church because I am honest about who I am.

Now - I actually happen to agree with the sentiment. God's rules apply to all of us. There are no exceptions for the clergy or for bishops. If what He wants from us is true then it's true for all of us.

But you can see where separating the clergy from the rest of us leads to.
It was right for me - they wouldn't be allowed.
Surely, that's wrong?
I'm not one of them, so I'm ok with my life choices.
Surely, that's wrong too?

Yet, what people here say against gays they say against all of us, clergy or not.

I'm fully on your side with regard to divorce. I'm 100% on the other side with regard to LGBT people.

Is life experience really all it takes to make one read Scrpitures with compassion and a deeper understanding?
But then - maybe you can do it too and expand your understanding gained through private circumstances to things you don't (yet?) know from experience.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 10:48pm GMT

Göran
"NP has got herself a helper, one that befits her."

Not quite. NP's helper is a lot more articulate and adept at discussion, adds a patronising "Peace" to posts to people he has just insulted and excluded in a gentle way, and doesn't go on and on and on about the same points but tells you clearly when he considers the conversation to be closed.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 10:51pm GMT

Fair point spot on Fr. Mark. Carey's children may be absolved their mistakes on account of not being clergy (though it is their own folk who would be most likely to condemn them - not I)...but had they been gay and non Christian members of society they would have nothing to thank their father for. Excpet for being their Dad.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 11:22pm GMT

"...personal malice...". I don't think I find this convincing - Some of the comments on Thinking Anglicans are the exact equivalent of the vitriol at Virtueonline (and by that I don't particularly mean the comments on this particular tangent).

And thanks for the advice Fr Mark, but I'm in good health.

Posted by Andrew Carey at Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 11:51pm GMT

Mr. Carey -- I believe you misread: "apart from what little Archbishop Tutu was allowed to say" does not refer to Tutu's height (although he is quite short) but the brief amount of time he was allotted compared to the voices of the right (no, I am not the original author whom Martin Reynolds is quoting, but this reading seems obvious to me).

Anyway, just what is the BBC about? Are they trying to throw the game to the evangelicals or are they trying to disgust the British public so completely with the spectacle of the dysfunctional WWAC as to drive them out of the C of E?

Posted by Prior Aelred at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 12:01am GMT

Tutu was completley inspirational. Loving. Full of the Spirit.

The others seemed seriously to lack that theological vitue, whose absence made them sound, to me, like empty gong or tinkling cymbal.

Are they saved ? Have they received the Spirit ?

Posted by L Roberts at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 12:07am GMT

Fr Mark,

You ask,"So, what is the struggle for equal treatment for gay people under the law if it is not a human rights issue?" You are right, and I have been agreeing with you (and so far as I undertand has ab Carey)! That is not the issue because I have for long accepted that (this would also hold in the case of someone who does not accept faith in God - they have full rights in society under the law).

The question within the church is what does it mean to follow Christ in the relationships and practices of life. And certainly when it comes to being a bishop it does take some faithfulness and experience to shepherd the people of God. The contrary case might help to make the point clear: suppose you have an alcoholic who falls off the wagon about every week (I know of such a person), you forgive him as he turns anew to God, and work with him to estabalish him in faith and life. You don't appoint him bishop! All are called to live a life of faith and faithfulness, but in order to serve as a bishop a person needs to have the experience and maturity of faith to exemplify it (cf. 1 Tim 3:1-7).

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 3:42am GMT

Andrew Carey asks how do we know the mind of God?
But isn't that what conservative evangelicals are claiming when they witness to gay people?

It is a complete double standard on his part and that of his father to have revised one area of morality and then turn on the other...its the unjust steward syndrome.

It is St Paul who says that adulterers will not enter Heaven. In the same passage that conservative evangelicals use against homosexuals.

Only Rome is consistant to the Christian tradition...all sex restricted to marriage and open to the transmission of God's gift of life.
This was abandoned by Lambeth in 1930, and Anglican Bishop Gore prophetically wrote a pamphlet in 1931 asking how could he now hold the line over homosexuality, if procreation was an optional extra!

I rather like AB Carey( having met him)and my provocative statement is to get him and his son thinking.

By the way I have written to the Cof E newspaper pointing out this Carey double standard, but only this blog had the courage to publish it.So much for liberal intolerance. Thankyou/diolch

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 6:29am GMT

A different take on Bonhöffer: “Humiliation of the Word”, “Mockery and Betrayal”.

http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/7984

From alias Titus 1:9

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 7:01am GMT

Erika says NP "doesn't go on and on and on about the same points" - yes, Erika because some people go on an on ignoring certain scriptures in ordert to justify certain sins despite our Anglican bishops consistently saying certain behaviour is "incompatible with scripture" (i.e. a sin)

Ford - Thought you don't like to "bible mine" yet you now pose a question while deliberately ignoring the context of the situation, the gospels and the whole bible! All to justify ignoring your "clobber verses"?
I have answered your weak "thief" point. Do you think that circumstance might be at all spcial or unique??? Does the Lord teach that repentance is not required and that unrepentant sinners are acceptable to God? Your point is even weak than Mark's "publican" (when Mark did not spot that the whole point was that the publican repented of his sins and did not seek to justify them)

Anyway, if you think just those few words are required an Romans 6:1 and 1John1 and many other verse are wrong that people saved by grace do not remain unrepentant in sin, you can preach that.... but do be consistent and allow all sins to be justified by saying a few words and not just some. I will stick to what the Lord and his apostles say and will not tell people that people saved by grace can live as they like.... I think "go and sin no more" is the message of a gracius God to his people.
http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=1+John+1-2

Posted by NP at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 7:23am GMT

Prior Aelred - thank you for pointing to my embarrassing misreading of Martin Reynolds' post. My apologies to Martin and his unnamed correspondent for that rather crass error of interpretation.

Robert Ian Williams, I don't accept the description 'conservative evangelical', and anyone who knows my father wouldn't use it of him either. However, if I am guilty of hypocrisy, and I don't concede the point, I know that I will be judged for that by a God who is gracious, loving, welcoming and just.

Posted by Andrew Carey at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 10:08am GMT

"Only Rome is consistant to the Christian tradition...all sex restricted to marriage and open to the transmission of God's gift of life.
This was abandoned by Lambeth in 1930, and Anglican Bishop Gore prophetically wrote a pamphlet in 1931 asking how could he now hold the line over homosexuality, if procreation was an optional extra!"

Actually, Rome isn't consistent either because it does not require marriage couples to be fertile in order to get married.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 10:38am GMT

", Erika because some people go on an on ignoring certain scriptures in ordert to justify certain sins"

Do they?
I'm beginning to agree with Fr Mark that you may not be British. You certainly don't seem to have English as a first language or you would know that "ignore" has a different meaning from "interpret differently", and that "justifying certain sins" is not synonymous with "not believing something to be a sin".

Why why why do you insist on lying about us?
Is your argument so weak that only lies can sustain it?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 10:41am GMT

No, NP. Not 'ignoring' some parts of the Bible - acknowledging them as culturally contained and inapplicable to contemporary society.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 10:43am GMT

Erika says, "I'm beginning to agree with Fr Mark that you may not be British. You certainly don't seem to have English as a first language or you would know that "ignore" has a different meaning from ‘interpret differently’.."

Well, not that it matters, I am British, Erika and my English was good enough to get me my Cambridge degree.....but to get that one had to show a certain logic in what one wrote.....logic which you do not show if you think that contradicting something is merely to ‘interpret differently’.

When the God says "do not do x", Erika, he does not mean "it is absolutely fine to do x"..... http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=1Cor5-6


Merseymike does not pretend to reinterpret scripture, Erika – he is quite clear that it is wrong, in his view, in what it says on certain issues….. and his view is much more honest for not pretending that scripture can readily be reinterpreted to mean the opposite to what it says and what our Anglican bishops consistently say it says, in agreement with most Christians and theologians today and in the last 2000 years.


Now, Merseymike, let's see - you say "No, NP. Not 'ignoring' some parts of the Bible - acknowledging them as culturally contained and inapplicable to contemporary society."
So, what do you do then??
You obey these scriptures which you, for some reason, decide are "culturally contained"???
No, you reject and ignore them because you do not agree wth them.....because you think they are out of date, no longer apply and conflict with what you want to justify .....so you obviously ignore certain verses.

Posted by NP at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 12:27pm GMT

Prior Aelred asked "... just what is the BBC about? "

I'm not sure who would actually be listening aside from the small proportion of the general public directly affected by the issues. I heard the program give (at least some of) the conservative speakers enough rope to hang themselves.

To the wider world it simply confirms their conceptions that great chunks of the church are living in a parallel universe, seemingly downgrading the urgent needs of the third world (as pointed out by Tutu), and seemingly obsessed with sexual behaviour. Unfortunately it compounds the belief that the church is increasingly irrelevant to the average person in the UK.

On another point, Andrew Carey said "I don't accept the description 'conservative evangelical', and anyone who knows my father wouldn't use it of him either."

I am genuinely intrigued to know what description Lord Carey would now choose to describe his stance.

The first person I heard use the term 'conservative evangelical' was George Carey, using it as a descriptor for the church he was vicar of at the time (and I assumed, of himself also).

But that was getting on for 30 years ago, and his views may have changed on some things since then.

Posted by Jimbo at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 12:36pm GMT

No, NP. 'Ignoring' suggests that they should be taken account of. Positive rejection suggests they should not be ignored but positively discarded. That is the right thing to do, for it is foolish to obey that which one judges to be outdated and not applicable to contemporary society. We should not be frightened to acknowledge the limitations of the Bible.

The entire approach you have to the authority of the Bible needs to change. John Spong has that one right.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 12:59pm GMT

Jimbo, you may or may not be mistaken. People certainly change. The church in Durham could probably be more accurately described at that time as charismatic evangelical - although it was certainly more conservative under the previous incumbent.

I think Graham Kings has it just about right when he describes conservative evangelicals as committed to these things, including: the infallibility or inerrancy of the scriptures; penal substitution as the defining model for the atonement; evangelism as the defining mode of mission; headship in gender issues; combatting the promotion of homosexuality.

For myself, I haven't worshipped regularly in an evangelical parish for years. I go to my parish church - middle of the road. I like my Anglican worship to be fairly traditional, but that's not to say I don't appreciate and value evangelical and catholic worship and belief as well.

Graham Kings helpful essay can be found here:

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2003/20030930watercourses.cfm?doc=2


Posted by Andrew Carey at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 1:40pm GMT

"Thought you don't like to "bible mine""

I don't, and I'm not.

"Your point is even weak than Mark's "publican" (when Mark did not spot that the whole point was that the publican repented of his sins and did not seek to justify them)"

Considering the ways in which Scripture shows us people entering the Kingdom is hardly a weak point when what we are talking about is Paul's statements as to who will enter the Kingdom. It's only "weak" because you aren't capable of reconciling it to your idea of the Gospel. Not saying it can't be done, just that you can't do it, so you dismiss it. And the Publican didn't repent, NP. There's no indication that he changed his wways. He was justified because he humbly acknowledged his failings before God, that he was weak and sinful. He did not seek to praise himself up. And do you seriously not consider how you are like the Pharisee?

"if you think just those few words are required an Romans 6:1 and 1John1 and many other verse are wrong that people saved by grace do not remain unrepentant in sin, you can preach that"

A) I have never said that, nor do I believe it. That you are unable to see this after a year of conversation with me shows how much you have been blinded by following the lie: despite all you read, your need for me to reject repentance is more powerful than the facts. You'd rather believe the myth than the truth.

B) I do not preach anything. I am not licensed to do so. Nice to know that I have received the Holy Spirit for the office from you though! Can I say that I have received an esacrament, or that you have ordained me to Holy eOrder? Are you an ebishop?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 1:42pm GMT

Ford - Do you think only those "licensed" to preach can do so?? Honestly - or are you just scoring a point.

Spin and red herrings do not make "cobber verses" disappear!


Merseymike - ok, you do not "ignore" certain verses to justify certain sins, you have, in your own words, "positively discarded" certain verses and therefore do not obey them..... so glad you cleard that up.....

Posted by NP at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 2:00pm GMT

NP writes (again and again and again!) about "ignoring certain scriptures in order to justify certain sins despite our Anglican bishops consistently saying certain behaviour is "incompatible with scripture" (i.e. a sin)"

So, let's correct you again, NP. Our Anglican bishops do not consistently say this. When it came to a vote, one third of our Anglican bishops disagreed with this - 190 disagreed, against 389 agreeing with it.

Posted by badman at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 2:23pm GMT

"it is foolish to obey that which one judges to be outdated and not applicable to contemporary society."

I would argue the exact opposite, actually, Mike. I don't think "contemporary society" is all that reliable in understanding Truth. I do believe valid arguments can be made on a much less shaky basis than what society says. Don't forget, what was once "contemporary society" thought it just and Godly to tie us to the base of the stake since we weren't worthy of standing up to burn to death. I don't trust that those days can't return. I need something more reliable and less changable than contemporary societal attitudes.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 3:00pm GMT

Re: Bonhoeffer in context.

In the Titus 1:9 piece from kendall Harmon we do hear a call to silence before "the Word." As I read it this is in accord with the reference to Bonhoeffer we get in Rowan Williams; one is more directly concerned with the question of the cultural agenda in war the other more generally with culture and Christian ethics. Both highlight the priority of Christian faithfulness above culture and repectful silence/hearing before "the Word." May it be so.

Ben W


Posted by Ben W at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 3:59pm GMT

"the infallibility or inerrancy of the scriptures;"

Fundamentalist, not Anglican.


"penal substitution as the defining model for the atonement"

Which in itself is reason to question unity. PSA has some things to say about atonement, but to call it central is, IMNSHO, approaching blasphemy.

"headship in gender issues"

Which looks to the rest of the world, including non-Evangelical believers, to be just bizarre, a misunderstanding of the Gospel at best, but more likely a pathetic attempt by some stodgy old men to retain their traditional power.

"evangelism as the defining mode of mission"

What way of spreading the Gospel would you define as NOT evengelism? I ask because we all have a tendency to be unaware of our root assumptions, and this seems to be the case here. It's like when an Evangelical pretends to respect the faith of non-Evangelicals, then slips up and uses the word "Christian" in a way that clearly excludes non-evangelicals. What is evangelism?

"combatting the promotion of homosexuality"

Because so many people are liable to just turn gay if we "promote it"? How can an unchosen state of being be "promoted", for a start, and how do demands that gay people be treated with respect and dignity constitute "promoting homosexuality"? This relates to the unconscious acceptance of assumptions I spoke of above. That someone could actually use that word shows an awful lot about what they think about gay people, how much "listening" they have done, and a whole lot more. It's this kind of willfull ignorance that tells me, whatever my misgivings about the theology of the Left in this, the Right is simply wrong.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 4:01pm GMT

The hermeneutic varieties and differences in reading scripture are rather clear by now. On the Anglican rights we consistently have a traditional sounding reading which either ignores and denies that it engages in any considered interpretive strategy at all (while clearly engaging in various presuppositionalist, quasi-literalistic, pre-modern, and strictly modern conservative approaches to understanding what the scriptures are saying), and/or claims that only one reading is correct or even could possibly be correct, namely, the going rightwing Anglican one of any given hot button moment.

In the mixed middles and lefts we can see a variety of hermeneutic approaches, all typically identified, acknowledged, and we are quite often given some explanation of why the reader chose that set of hermeneutics in order to read the scriptures faithfully and seriously. Almost no mixed middle or lefty Anglican reading pretends that interpretation, that is, our reading, of the scriptures has not changed significantly over the centuries as all sorts of new ideas, new data, and new cultural challenges emerged. Even some rights admit hermeneutic change, but quickly go on to limit it to past situations and past witness, paradoxically claiming that past change show we cannot change for the better in any of our readings, nowadays. Whew.

Only the rightwing Anglican readings staunchly maintain that being queer hasn't changed in the slightest important bit, since the ancient near eastern days of Jesus and Paul. But of course, they do know that times have changed, since after all they say they are completely supportive of human rights for queer folks just so long as we trash talk them, call them vile names, and take every opportunity in church life to mistreat them so that they might see the grievous error of their sexually disgusting ways and repent.

And we thinking Anglicans are arguing about this? Helps one to see how Stephen Bates gave up on the possibility of any viable modern Anglican faith at all. Better to be secular, with hopes of becoming Karl Rahner's anonymous Christian.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 4:41pm GMT

"When the God says "do not do x", Erika, he does not mean "it is absolutely fine to do x" "

Fine. Show me one place--just one--where God says "do not do homosexual activity," in the New Testament. Don't give me OT verses...we are no longer subject to the Law. And don't give me Paul...he wasn't God.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 4:44pm GMT

Erika Baker --
Quite right -- Rome IS inconsistent on infertile marriages -- hence on artificial birth control & therefore same sex acts (if we go that slippery slope).

Jimbo --
"Unfortunately it compounds the belief that the church is increasingly irrelevant to the average person in the UK."
That was my concern!

Posted by Prior Aelred at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 4:48pm GMT

The problem with NP is not a weakness in the English language. It is a weakness of integrity. He is not illiterate, he is dishonest.

I do not "ignore" scripture. I interpret it differently than NP does.

NP understands that. He simply prefers to lie.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 5:07pm GMT

OK Merseymike - you have not "ignored" certain verses in order to justify certain sins - but you have "positively discarded" them - thanks for clearing that up.

Posted by NP at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 5:09pm GMT

Dear Erika, an infertile couple are still open to life and many surprises do happen...they are not frustrating the actual sex act.

The Careys have been campaigning against the Anglican Church recognising gay unions, blessings and ordinations.

Yet AB Carey blessed Andrew's registry office marriage. For many Anglicans that is as invalid and sinful as Bishop Ingham blessing a gay couple.

It would seem the Carey dictum is lower the bar of morality for us to jump over and then quickly put it back to keep the gays out.

Another reason is that Evangelicalism is littered with re-married divorcees. In America there are multiple variations ( married two , three times)and you can bet your bottom dollar CANA etc are full of them. In fact TEC was at variance within Anglicanism in marrying divorcess from 1808!

Even conservative evangelicals cannot agree as to the NT understanding of what constitutes adultery. David Holloway teaches mmarriage is indissoluble. Richard Bewes believes it is not. etc. Both claim the Bible as their ownly authority.Yet they hide this in their so called covenants by not mentioning it! Yet they argue the perspicuity and sufficiency of Scripture.

I loved Andrew's appeal to the judgement seat of Christ...he almost sounded like a liberal, and then he tries to make me look like an intolerant bigot, because I claim to know the mind of God!

Yes Andrew, walk humbly when you cast stones in your strong worded column at the homosexual sinners and TEC...Jesus Christ is I am convinced not going to be terribly impressed by Father, and the advice he has given you and the Royal family.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 5:16pm GMT

"When the God says "do not do x", Erika, he does not mean "it is absolutely fine to do x".....

Yeah, but all I hear from you is what St Paul says.
And he isn't God.
God's son, on the other hand, was silent on this subject.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 5:41pm GMT

Erika

I don't know that Jesus was silent so much as his actions spoke and we had to infer from those. You might want to read "Out of the silence" by Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby which was read at the recent Drenched in Grace conference. It is particularly insightful http://inclusivechurch.blogspot.com/2007/11/out-of-silence-address-by-revd-dr.html

Jesus started his public ministry revealing himself to the Samaritan woman by the well who was living in a non-marital sexual relationship at the time and he was about her fifth at that stage.

Jesus spoke of how eunuchs came about and why and deliberately commented that souls were to make of that what they would, which was an opening for further conversation if I ever saw one...

Jesus repeatedly rebuked anyone who sought to deny God's grace to anyone, including Peter who tried to put a limit on how much forgiveness God had to mete out. He also rebuked the disciples for trying to shut up souls who were healing in Jesus' name.

"Out in Scripture" has to qualify as bringing healing to GLBTs and their sympathisers with a definite underpinning of trust in Jesus. To rebuke and deny these souls is to transgress Jesus' direct instructions. Just as it is transgressing Jesus' instructions to deny women and GLBTs to act as witnesses for Jesus either within our own communion or to the broader masses.

The only time I ever see Jesus telling anyone they were going to be left out was in a direct rebuke at their attempts to deny grace to anyone else. Actually, there are many examples where souls trying to remove or silence souls who had come for healing or grace actually prompted Jesus to more openly acknowledge them. One thing I find in the gospel is the more some souls were pushed away from Jesus the more likely he was to reach out and help those very same souls.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 7:57pm GMT

Ford,

These formulations are not that important. But what is important is to think with Christians in the light of scripture through the history of the church. We have been referring to Bonhoeffer here, we would have a hard time identifying him with some of these formulations but we do know his Christ-centered faith and life and his readiness to hear and receive scripture.

Of course people can turn it inside out or turn it into a weapon against other people. What we see and can receive depends crucially on where we are and the "turn" of our own hearts. There is a certain integrity to understanding and to speaking the gospel (cf John 8:31,32).

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 8:17pm GMT

"Dear Erika, an infertile couple are still open to life and many surprizes do happen...they are not frustrating the actual sex act."

When my pensioner father married his post menopausal wife there was no question of surprises!
And when someone who has been left definitely infertile by chemotherapy marries there is also no hope of surprises.

Infertile means just that. Infertile.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 8:18pm GMT

Something about one sided repudium, mutual divorce and marriage in NT times:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/october/20.26.html

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 8:30pm GMT

Memo to self: Every group has its loony fringe, so don't judge every liberal by one person's rantings. And don't post on Thinking Anglicans it seems to raise the blood pressure of some of the regulars.

Posted by Andrew Carey at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 8:36pm GMT

Cheryl,
Yes, the speech was wonderful, wasn't it.
And I have no difficulty with Jesus' silences. We get closest to God in silent meditation, it's the only way we can truly hear him rather than talk to or about him.
But then, I have always loved silence and find it pregnant with meaning, not synonymous with "nothing" at all.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 9:08pm GMT

So the question before Ben W remains:

Who are the Deutche Christen today,
who represents "culture" against Gospel?

Those that defend age old societal norms: patriarchy, hierarchy, "headship", the 7 excluded "minorities" of Laterans 3-4, or those who criticise them, saying they are not Biblical, not Gospel?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 9:11pm GMT

Andrew C ; Robert is a conservative catholic!

And, NP, assuming you haven't been banned yet - just to clarify, no-one is trying to justify sins because we do not accept that they are sins....but, then, you have been told that about 100 times.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 9:48pm GMT

Ben W You don't 'appoint anyone bishop'.

Thank goodness for that mercy !

Posted by L Roberts at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 10:19pm GMT


Memo to self: Every group has its loony fringe, so don't judge every liberal by one person's rantings. And don't post on Thinking Anglicans it seems to raise the blood pressure of some of the regulars.

Posted by: Andrew Carey on Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 8:36pm GMT

Memo to self ;

I love being patronised by Geo & Andrew Carey

What a couple ! Do as we say, not as we do....

Posted by L Roberts at Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 10:32pm GMT

In light of the evidence for the coherence between the K Harmon site and the reference in R Williams to Bonhoeffer we have, not discussion of the point, but are diverted now to this:"So the question before Ben W remains:
Who are the Deutche Christen today,
who represents "culture" against Gospel? Those that defend age old societal norms: patriarchy, hierarchy, "headship", the 7 excluded "minorities" of Laterans 3-4, or those who criticise them, saying they are not Biblical, not Gospel?" (If we could work here with less alienation and presumption this might actually be thought through in a full clear way - but alas we are not there).

In some ways the response to Ford above is to the point here. There has been no assertion from me of "patriarchy,hierarchy, 'headship'" etc, So it must come from presumption. I have attended to the line of teaching on marriage and the sexual relation in scripture in the light of historic Christian faith and would affirm that. Bonhoeffer himself on this point is a witness who calls for reflection by the church on this beyond the "dissolution of all order in the relation between the sexes" and the "contempt for chastity."(See his Ethics, p. 114).

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 3:05am GMT

Will Andrew answer the charge and not side-track...

Charge :Evangelicals of whatever variety do not agree as to what the Bible teaches on divorce and re-marriage. Hence they have no consensus as to what constitutes heterosexual adultery. Therefore they have no business in telling homosexuals what to believe , as the latter also claim that the Bible teaching on their lifestyle is unclear.

Roman Catholic solution to both...the Church which is the pillar and foundaton of the Church ( One Timothy three fifteen)has the final say in the interpretation of Svripture, as it is under the authority of the Holy Spirit and the succesor of the man whom the Lord promised would confirm the brethren and whose faith after the denial would not fail.

Don't be side tracked by the Catholic solution, but please answer the charge of evangelical confusion...after all it is you who have been setting the agenda from your column.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 6:46am GMT

Erika

Blessings. You've brought joy to my evening, may God or Jesus bless you in kind.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 8:14am GMT

"There has been no assertion from me of "patriarchy,hierarchy, 'headship'" etc, So it must come from presumption."

No, it comes from Andrew Carey's post just above mine in which he defines some things he sees as central to Evangelicalism and to which I was responding.

"Those that defend age old societal norms: patriarchy, hierarchy, "headship", the 7 excluded "minorities" of Laterans 3-4, or those who criticise them, saying they are not Biblical, not Gospel?""

Given that the Church has in the past supported slavery, claimed women did not have souls and treated them like property, preached clerical celibacy while the hierarchy was debauched in ways that would surprise most moderns, actively destroyed numerous small cultures around the world on the grounds that they were "Satanic", promoted murder and war, tortured those who dissented, and innumerable other offences, are you not the least bit suspicious that She might at times get things wrong, and indeed, get them wrong for centuries?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 11:52am GMT

Well, no answer is also an answer, sort of.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 12:01pm GMT

Just a correction to Ford Elms. My post he referred to was quite clear that this was a description of conservative evangelicalism by Graham Kings - not my view of what is essential to evangelicalism.

Posted by Andrew Carey at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 1:04pm GMT

Ford,

Once the church ties up with the power structures (church and state) terrible things are done. The official church did get some things wrong on important matters. All that needs to be named not in general but in particular, to be lamented and corrected.

But then, to be fair, we should be clear all this is said without context. As it stands it is blatant overstatement in some ways and simply wrong in others. At what point did the "official church" as a whole simply endorse and promote slavery? At the time of Ambrose when people in the churches often gathered funds to buy people out of some of the worst forms of slavery?(e.g. the salt mines). More recently, what about William Wilberforce and those around him?

Women viewed as property and as without souls? Would you say Paul when he affirms we all, women and men, are "one in Christ" (cf Gal 3:26-28). What about some of the notable Christian women leaders through the centuries that have appeared on this list? (Certainly to be recognized that within cultural and societal structures women were often held back. The gospel does not come to us as an imposition forced on people from above but represents a new way in the midst of the old that transforms the old from within). Recognizing that there is more to be said for celibacy then we can comprehend in our culture, the RC church itself has always had to acknowledge this is not a matter of doctrine (it is long past time for correction there). It was on course for correction by the Reformation and has never been accepted doctrine by the Orthodox Church.

Simply promoted murder and war? In polarized societal conflicts the church has sadly and blindly blessed war at times. But again, in the time of Ambrose when he stood up to the emporer and said "this slaughter is a terrible sin and there can be no communion till there is repentance." More recently in Ireland when the church stood up (if falteringly at times) and said there is no justification for this. And what was the concern in the development of the criteria of the just war by Christian thinkers if not to avoid or at least reduce the occasions for and the violence of war?

So these charges often have an element of truth, but often are one-sided or just plain wrong. Why do these charges come in this one-sided overblown form? They have become part of ideology. As in the days of Stalinism in the Soviet Union they could say we are againt the evils of "patriarchy,hierarchy, 'headship'" etc. Or there is no persecution of minorities or Christians but hidden behind it all are the great "Gulags." These ideological generalities do not serve truth or justice in the world.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 3:17pm GMT

"... this was a description of conservative evangelicalism by Graham Kings - not my view of what is essential to evangelicalism."

Then what is your view? what is essential to which-ever brand is yours, if it's not conservative evangelicalism?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 3:19pm GMT

"My post he referred to was quite clear that this was a description of conservative evangelicalism by Graham Kings - not my view of what is essential to evangelicalism."

Sorry to have taken it as your view and expressed it as such.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 3:23pm GMT

On the other hand it would be interesting to have an answer

"Who are the Deutche Christen today,
who represents "culture" against Gospel?

Those that defend age old societal norms: patriarchy, hierarchy, "headship", the 7 excluded "minorities" of Laterans 3-4,
or those who criticise them,
saying they are not Biblical, not Gospel?"

Maybe Andrew Carey can begin?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 3:26pm GMT

"As in the days of Stalinism in the Soviet Union..."

Stalinism? Weren't we talking of Dr Bonhöffer??

"Anything that's got a bad name for itself may be used against you."

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 5:24pm GMT

Ben: you say that Ford was overstating the Church's past errors in what I thought was his admirable post. To pick up just one of your questions, when did the Church ever support slavery: you do know, don't you, that during the period of debate over abolition in the British Empire, there were clergy producing books arguing FOR slavery (there was one such, if I recall correctly, entitled "Slavery defended according to the Plain Sense of Scripture); and that, when the institution of slavery was finally abolished throughout the Empire (several decades after the slave trade, so slave owners knew well what was coming), the Church of England received one of the largest of the compensation payments from the Government because it owned so many slaves in the West Indies.

I think your post, coupled with your rather naive failure to understand why the gay issue is an important human rights question, illustrates that you are not very attuned to seeing the flip side of the institution, the point of view of the people who have been wounded by it. We could talk about women burnt as witches, Jews maltreated for centuries, with horrific consequences - the list is a long one. I agree when you say the Church's crimes are to do with abuse of power. That is what those of us on the "liberal" side see in the way the Conservative Evangelical movement operates. Very much of its rhetoric employs the terminology of power abuse - endlessly repeating the language of power/obedience/triumph/discipline, etc, at the expense of the other aspects of Christianity. It is worrying.

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 6:15pm GMT

Fr Mark,

Your response is helpful within the aim here of clarifying some points. I would say there is no need to presume, try just to respond to the post without the effort to characterize me.

You say, "To pick up just one of your questions, when did the Church ever support slavery..." NOT what I said. What I actually said was, "At what point did the "official church" as a whole simply endorse and promote slavery?" Very much aware that there were those prepared to use scripture to uphold slavery! The lifetime work of Wilberforce and those of the evangelical church around him bore fruit. Based on the particulars of the gospel affirming the end of slavery in Christ(e.g. Philemon; Gal 3:26-28) and deeper reality of God's love and justice for all, with the acceptance of all as sons and daughters of God. That was both a "plain sense" reading of scripture and the deeper "theological" reading taking account of God's love and purpose.

For the rest, you will note my concern was with "onesided" interpretations; that hardly excludes some of the things you want to say! It does say that the people working from within to change and transform situations were regularly committed Christians, from the end of the ancient brutal gladiatorial combats, resistance to Hitler and Stalin, the end of slavery.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 7:28pm GMT

I've not been able to find Fr Mark's quote so far but a good summary can be found here:
http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-145473606.html

This site http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.com/biblical_evidence/history_lessons.html

includes the following paragraphs:

"There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral." Rev. Alexander Campbell

"The hope of civilization itself hangs on the defeat of Negro suffrage." -- statement by a prominent 19th-century southern Presbyterian pastor, cited by Rev. Jack Rogers, moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

"Proslavery [proponents] charged that abolitionists took [historical-critical interpretation of the Bible] to distort scriptural plain sense. The proslavery clergyman John Henry Hopkins, Episcopal Bishop of Vermont, bemoaned:
'For I can imagine no transgression more odious in the sight of God, and more sure to forfeit His blessing, than the willful determination to distort His revealed Word, and make it speak, not as it truly is, but as men, in their insane pride of superior philanthropy, fancy it ought to be.'
Bishop Hopkins believed that a misguided sense of philanthropy had replaced the Bible as the standard of truth.
In one of the most revealing passages in proslavery literature, Bishop Hopkins further argued this point. Hopkins himself was racked by a moral unease about slavery's goodness; nonetheless, he remained convinced that the hermeneutics of plain sense was the key to divine truth. He yielded his own conscience to biblical authority:
'If it were a matter to be determined by personal sympathies, tastes, or feelings, I should be as ready as any man to condemn the institution of slavery, for all my prejudices of education, habit, and social position stand entirely opposed to it. But as a Christian, I am solemnly warned not to be "wise in my own conceit," and not to "lean to my own understanding." As a Christian, I am compelled to submit my weak and erring intellect to the authority of the Almighty. For then only can I be safe in my conclusions, when I know that they in accordance with the will of Him, before whose tribunal I must render a strict account in the last great day.'

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 7:31pm GMT

Fr Mark --
IIRC, when Wilberforce's bill was voted on in the Lords, not a single bishop supported it. In the USA, most bishops were supportive (or at least tolerant) of slavery because of its Biblical justification (Potter of NY was the only abolitionist in the H of B) -- "conservatism" seems to have become a label for rationalizing wrongdoing.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 8:11pm GMT

This is fascinating too.
The link leads to chapter 3 from the anti-abolitionist book, An Essay on Liberty and Slavery, by Albert Taylor Bledsoe (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & co., 1856).

http://www.bible-researcher.com/bledsoe-slavery.html

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 8:12pm GMT

Ben & Prior Alered: I haven't researched this, but I wonder if anyone has trawled through Hansard for the latter part of the 18th c to see whether there are records of Anglican Bishops in the Lords making speeches in support of slavery? One wouldn't be surprised if they had done - after all, the bench of bishops a generation or two later was the most vocal anti-democracy lobby in the Lords at the time of the debates on Parliamentary Reform. So much so, that episcopal palaces had their windows shattered by the stones of the mob, if I remember accurately from undergraduate reading: someone on here will know better than I about this.

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 10:41pm GMT

Ben: of course I don't disagree that many Christians have fought valiantly for social reforms - Desmond Tutu being one of the greatest in our day. But, the list of Christians acting vilely and inhumanely is a long one, too, sadly, and we need to be mature enough as the Church to understand this and not seek to brush it under the carpet. Not least, because historians (rightly) will not let us forget our failings as an institution, and the newest breed of historian in Britain is likely to be far less deferential to the view of its history the Church would like to present than previous ones were.

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 10:47pm GMT

Erika: in a effort to remember the title of the pro-slavery work I mentioned accurately, I've been trying to look it up on the internet. But typing in the key words "slavery" and "sense of scripture" brings up a deluge of page after page of writings by pious Protestants, mostly in the Southern States of the US, defending the institution. Which only reinforces the point: there are/have been some pretty vile things justified by devout Christians appealing to the Bible, and these things leave long trails of victims.

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 11:02pm GMT

“Humiliation of the Word”, “Mockery and Betrayal”

as Dr Bonhöffer said.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 30 November 2007 at 11:26pm GMT

Fr Mark,

Who is talking about brushing anything under the carpet? If you were out there denying that in society and particularly in a church-state setup there were Christian people who had slaves or were proslavery I would say loud and clear you do not know what you are talking about! That is not our context here - I am interested in keeping the record straight either way.

Reference has been made to Alexander Campbell, I have some sources on him (see Leroy Garrett,The Stone Campbell Movement, 1981). The qoute referred to in context is enlightening! It shows the issue is a little more complex then people distant from the problem and simply interested in making their case might realize.

He was a preacher of reform and some people resented it, so they assumed as a landowner coming from what was a slave state, Virginia, that he was a slave-holder. In his coming to Scotland (by then generally abolitionist) they thought they could turn the people against him by using slavery as the issue. When they learned that Campbell did not own slaves and that he had liberated the slaves he had once owned (coming I believe with an estate when he married), they still attempted to use it against him, supposing he must some sympathy for the system. They tried to do it without revealing their intent (as they said "we wanted to shut him out of Scotland").

Campbell said several things to them about slavery: He said "slavery was the largest, blackest spot on the American" record, and that he always advocated the emancipation of slaves by the owners (he had aimed he said "to set an example by educating his slaves in the gospel and for living as citizens"). But he also expressed disapproval of the tactics of certain abolitionists in Britain and America, because he thought it would lead to war and bring more harm than good. He even went on to say that the relationship between master and slave itself does have to be one of exploitaiton and that the scriptures did not rule directly against it but aimed to regulate it. But from and overall perspective on moral, political, and social grounds he opposed it. (Nevertheless the placards soon hung out where he ventured to speak were, "Beware! A. Campbell has been a slave-holder himself, and is yet a defender of man-stealers"). I believe there is a clearer line of teaching against slavery then Campbell seems to have recognized. But from a person who was there dealing with the critical matter and trying to make a Christian response - I respect that rather any quick judgements on the basis of one line out of context! It shows that we can presume and be too quick to brush people under the carpet of our easy condemnation. An illuminating example. There were those both more radical in seeking the end of slavery and those who defended it with great vigour as Biblical.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 4:17am GMT

Ben
Just so I don't presume too much and because I would really like to follow this conversation, could you please clarify whether I'm still on the right track.

The slavery conversation developed in response to Ford linking the human rights component of same sex relationships to slavery, after you had said that you believed in the churches traditional teachings on marriage and sexuality.

You then said to Fr Mark: You say, "To pick up just one of your questions, when did the Church ever support slavery..." NOT what I said. What I actually said was, "At what point did the "official church" as a whole simply endorse and promote slavery?" Very much aware that there were those prepared to use scripture to uphold slavery!"

We’ve since tried to find evidence for whether or not the official church did indeed support slavery on biblical grounds.

Could you please tell me whether the reason we’re at this point of the conversation is that you see a distinction between slavery and homosexuality, because slavery was only supported by individual Christians, whereas homosexuality is condemned by the official church, and that the change of heart on slavery can therefore not be used as an example for wanting to change the churches understanding of homosexuality now?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 8:48am GMT

Ben: what do you think of the bishops' public anti-democracy stand at the time of the Parliamentary Reform debates? Doesn't it merely show that churchmen tend to be socially conservative, whatever the presenting issue? Isn't that all that it comes down to really on the gay issue too - they were brought up in a society that did not openly acknowledge gay people, and they do not see any compelling reason to change?

Posted by Fr Mark at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 8:51am GMT

Fr Mark,

I think about slavery and the Parliamentary reform debates, the point that this is because of their being "socially conservative" is a large part of it. I wish I knew more about that side of it, in particular as part of the church-state arrangement they were concerned about the "stability and well-being" of society. Did they as a block oppose reform? Wilberforce and many of his speople also were very much within the order and power structure of society then, did any of the bishops come over to support that work?

On the gay issue, I hardly think it can be reduced to "being socially conservative." For one thing some of the bishops have lived in various social contexts and been more exposed than most to the various ways of thought and life. And they themselves in many ways have tended to be, in the last century, on the leading edge of "new thinking." Even on this question itself and others, in the context of "Enlightenment ideology" they have often been ready to abandon historic Christian positions and scipture to ride the coat-tails of "modern enlightenment thought."

Think about the contrast in thinking on this question between bishop Spong and Bonhoeffer. One shreds the NT and takes from it some pieces he likes the other stands before scripture with respectful readiness to hear in context what scripture as a whole would say. Both very much aware of their context and of sexuality as a deep issue in human life but very different cnclusions! It can hardly be reduced to a matter of being "socially conservative."

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 3:19pm GMT

Erika,

I will briefly repond to your questions (and see the response to Mark).

The conversation developed because we had the ideological generalities of "patriarchy, hierarchy, "headship", etc thrown out in conjunction with slavery as instances of how the church has simply always been. I responded to try and to say something to the point.

I am trying to be clear on the distinction you are making in the last paragraph. I don't believe that is the point: the official church as such never simply endorsed slavery but worked within the structures and forms of society within the reality of what I expressed earlier, "the gospel does not come to us as an imposition forced on people from above but represents a new way in the midst of the old that transforms the old from within."

On homosexuality, it has never been a question of the church funtioning in a society that as a whole supported this and then how to live within that setting and bear witness to God's way (there is no contrary evidence with reference to homosexuality that says "this is part of God's way to live."). As I have said before there is a clearly expressed historic teaching and there is a clear line of teaching from the creation accounts through Jesus to Paul in the light of scripture.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 3:50pm GMT

Ben
thank you for clarifying your thoughts for me.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 5:46pm GMT

Ben W wrote: “… but represents a new way in the midst of the old that transforms the old from within."

Thirty odd years ago in London I was told this is called a Rationalization.

Ben W wrote: “On homosexuality, it has never been a question of the church functioning in a society that as a whole supported this and then how to live within that setting and bear witness to God's way …”

Maybe it’s time for some counter-cultural action based on the Gospel?

Ben W wrote: “(there is no contrary evidence with reference to homosexuality that says "this is part of God's way to live").”

I don’t know what you count as “contrary evidence”, but the ever-changing translations made from the 1160ies until today, show that the passages CLAIMED to address homosexuality did not say originally what their translations say today.

It's only a question of putting them in a row side by side ;=)

Ben W wrote: “As I have said before there is a clearly expressed historic teaching and there is a clear line of teaching from the creation accounts through Jesus to Paul in the light of scripture.”

Only that this “clear line of teaching from the creation accounts through Jesus to Paul in the light of scripture” was invented lock, stock and barrel in the 1970ies ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 6:30pm GMT

Will everyone note how Andrew Carey can not answer the accusation that if Evangelicals can not agree on divorce and re-marriage, the Bible is not perfectly clear on moral issues...(if you don't have a magisterium to interpret it).

Like all the other evangelicals, who simply hide this weak point ( even in their Covenants)....he is trapped by his own self deception. For if he admits it , his whole theological system collapses like a pack of cards.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 8:15pm GMT

Fr Mark, Erika,

Perhaps I was being too blunt in trying to be brief, I am trying to compare the intrepretation of scripture on slavery and homosexuality. In some ways they can be seen as parallel, in other ways I think not. Slavery was a societal institution and in scripture we see God's people dealing with that reality (does not say that scripture affirms it), homosexuality is a reality in the Greco/Roman culture but is not something inevitable like slavery as an "institution" in the society. Hope that is clearer.

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 9:10pm GMT

“Humiliation of the Word”, “Mockery and Betrayal”

Dr Bonhöffer rightly said.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 11:28pm GMT

“Humiliation of the Word”, “Mockery and Betrayal”

Dr Bonhöffer rightly said.

Yes and he had a context for it in the hearing of scripture and faithful speaking. (There must be better ways to relate than this?)

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 1:39am GMT

With respect to the church and slavery, it is important not to limit oneself to Wilberforce and his oponents, or to th eUS and the Civil war and after.

The church for centuries -- from the time of the apostles for at least ten centureis tolerated slavery in society and owned slaves. Certinaly in Europe throughout the period, and probably in AFrica (North Africa and Egypt at least until the muslim conquests).

The RC church in Spain and its dependencies in NOrth and South America tolerated slavery and owned slaves from the time of the Conquest until some time in the 19th centruy. (In practice, it continued the practice until much later). It did the same in other areas such as the Phillipines. Other churches did the same -- the Dutch Reformed in South Africa, the CofE in Africa and the Caribbean, the episcopalians and protestant churches in the US both before and after the War of Independence. The Russian church until the late 19th century.

WIlberforce was a tiny ripple in the history of the church's support for slavery, though one which (with help fromothers) eventually won the day.

Posted by John Holding at Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 4:28am GMT

The Triangular Trade and cotton picking in the American South is is fact a very late and very un-usual form of Slavery, limited in time (a couple of hundred years at the most).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 6:46pm GMT

Ha, ha! Nice try, Robert Ian Williams. You still make the mistake of assuming that I share both the same viewpoint as conservative evangelicals to homosexuality and then to divorce. Anyway, there are two reasons I never get involved in these kinds of protracted debate on blogs and especially on this occasion: 1. extended debate is rarely possible, the debate disappears within a day or two, and most people are there to score points. 2. All of your posts reflect a point-scoring mentality. You evidently have a personal grudge, and frankly my own life is just too full of busyness and good things to bother. So I'm sorry but I'll decline your invitation.

Posted by Andrew Carey at Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 8:16pm GMT

Andrew,
you clearly had time to write a (humorous?) paragraph on why you won't debate.

Maybe you could find the time to explain in very simple words why you believe that evangelicals have changed their view on divorce but not on homosexuality. It's not a difficult question and the answer should be pretty standard stuff.

Of course, you might not agree with either position but then you could explain that too in a second sentence.

Not engaging only leaves the impression that there is no credible way of doing so.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 9:00pm GMT

Andrew C: and your newspaper columns don't contribute to a point-scoring debating style, then? Or are they more authoritative (and less easily challenged) pronoucements?

Posted by Fr Mark at Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 9:14pm GMT

All I ask is the Bible clear on morality and you can't answer it, as you know it will collapse your case....so you say I have a grudge.

I have Nothing against you personally, but I am irritated by evangelicals using the gay issue to advance their agenda, when they cannot agree as to what constitutes heterosexual marriage.

As I state , they hide this division ( even in their so called Covenants) and whatever type of evangelical you are....you avoid the question by stating I have a grudge.

Nice one Andrew.....when I raised the issue on the Stand Firm blog ( there are so many divorced re-married evangelicals)I was banned!
Thankfully this blog is controlled by more tolerant liberals.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 10:28pm GMT

I think Robert has every right to be irritated by Evangelicals sounding off on the gay issue, while being more moderate in what they say when it comes to the sexual ethics of straight people. Of course that is hypocritical. If you make loud statements that knock gay people the whole time, of course that is going to have an effect on us, leaving us feeling pretty pushed about by conservative churchpeople, especially when there are so few making positive noises about us from the other side. When do any Anglican Church leaders ever say anything unequivocally positive and good about gay people to encourage us and buoy us up in our faith? They're failing to do that pathetically at the moment.

Posted by Fr Mark at Monday, 3 December 2007 at 8:44am GMT

"When do any Anglican Church leaders ever say anything unequivocally positive and good about gay people to encourage us and buoy us up in our faith?"

Given the kinds of things they read to give themselves information about us, and given that "listening" seems to be listening to like minded people tell them how right they are, even to the point of "listening" to out and out lies about us, or puts them so much at risk for recognizing our humnanity they have to avoid it at all costs, they probably can't think of anything good to say.

"when I raised the issue on the Stand Firm blog ( there are so many divorced re-married evangelicals)I was banned!
Thankfully this blog is controlled by more tolerant liberals."

I have it on good authority that this does not happen on conservative blogs, and only liberal ones censor the ideas they don't like. Thus, our experience of being banned for introducing unpopular ideas are either lies, or we only though we were on conservative Christian blogs. I never though to consider Venomonline a liberal blog.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 3 December 2007 at 1:28pm GMT

"With respect to the church and slavery," post by John Holding, there is every reason to recognize and lament the reality of slavery through the centuries. How can this be done so that we also see the actions along the way and seeds sown that bear fruit in the end of slavery? As it stands this post picks up generalities of the kind we keep getting. It shows something but hides more than it shows (a fairly apt definition of ideology I think!).

First, anyone who has had the equivalent of "history 101" will hardly deny the widespread presence of slavery especially in the ancient world (the world as it was before Christianity came - I have seen figures for slaves as high as 40% of the population). John H speaks of the Church "tolerating slavery" for centuries.That hardly takes account of what makes slavery the "inevitable" societal institution for those societies. Early Church historian J.G. Davies blandly says that "slavery persisted" because Christians did not expect to "reconstruct the social order." In what kind of world was that a realistic expectation? In their world under the domination of Rome? Fantasy - they could not and did not.

Second,do we expect Paul or some other early Christian to be the new Sparticus that leads a slave rebellion and so ushers 40,000 people to their death? That is not the way of Christ. Rather, as I've said, "the gospel does not come to us as an imposition from above forced on people, but represents a new way in the midst of the old that transforms the old from within."

As it is the generality leaves out the fact that Paul will say to Christians "if you can gain your freedom do so," (1 Cor 7:21),and that in Christ this barrier is dismanteled (cf Gal 3:26-28). It leaves out the fact that, as the great Oxford Church historian Henry Chadwick reports, in the early centuries in the church, setting a slave free was regarded as a "good work," and the church treasury was often used to buy people out of slavery in bad conditions (i e abusive households or salt mines etc). It leaves out of account the fact that someone like Augustine (already much accomodated to the culture of his day), the great representative thinker in the West even to this day, makes the point that slavery is not instituted by God - God in creation did not will the domination of man over man but slavery is the result of sin. It is rightly seen to be closely bound up with war, the great evil that becomes a harvest for slaves (see his City of God, pp. 874ff).It sweeps under the carpet of our precipitous judgement a whole host of people like Alexander Campbell (most of the leaders in his larger setting were with him or even more firm) who, because they did not simply endorse abolition even at the cost of war, as "for slavery." (After all he comes from Virginia,he must be for it!).

"WIlberforce was a tiny ripple"in history against slavery? Hardly! Ideology does not serve the end of truth or justice in the world.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Monday, 3 December 2007 at 3:56pm GMT

"Second,do we expect Paul or some other early Christian to be the new Sparticus that leads a slave rebellion and so ushers 40,000 people to their death?"

No, but the Church stood against much of what it saw as wrong in Roman society without leading bloody revolt against those wrongs. Why should it not be expected to stand against slavery in the same way?

"Rather, as I've said, "the gospel does not come to us as an imposition from above forced on people, but represents ." "

But this is the point, when it comes to gay people the Gospel is being imposed from above. I'm not as much against that as you are, it seems. What I am against is that the people doing the imposing have little or no understanding of those on which they seek to impose what they understand the Gospel to be, have no desire to reach any such understanding, fight against gaining that understanding, and replace the truth about gay people with lies and propaganda that helps them feel righteous in doing down an entire group of God's children. I'd have far more trouble opposing the Right if I could see that their behaviour shows the values of the Gopspel. Sadly, they seeem to think that even treating us as human beings worthy of respect and dignity is a sin. Why else would they be so avidly lying to show how evil we are? Not only that, but the Left sees the Gospel as "a new way in the midst of the old that transforms the old from within". It's just they see the old that needs to be changed by the Gospel in the institutionalized homophobia that enables Church leaders to deny the humanity of an entire group of people, to believe that jailing these people is doing God service, and in the case of some, to publically suggest they be murdered. Most ominous is that at least one of those who believes the latter to be a true expression of the "transformative power of the Gospel" is one of those who gives a huge amount of funding to the right wing in the Church.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 3 December 2007 at 6:01pm GMT

"if you can gain your freedom do so," (1 Cor 7:21)"

Ah, but this is not always correctly translated! In fact rather seldom. The text says:

doûlos ekläthäs, mä soi melétå. All’ei kaì dúnasai éleútheros genétsthai, mâllon xräsai

a slave you were called, don’t let it grieve you. But if you can yet become free, make use of it!

As anyone can see this is very much NOT the rather dis-engaged permission "if you can gain your freedom do so".

So the “translation” you give – the “mainstream” one, as it is – in fact does goes to some lengths to deny that there is an issue for Christians here. And distorts Paul’s words in the process.

Ideology, someone?

There is worse, far worse: for instance Professor Riesenfeld of Uppsala (a secret convert to Rome) of the Dynamic Equivalence Swedish State 1981 puts the headline “External Conditions” (which is derived from Pater Zerwick SJ “Analysis philologica…”, Rome 1966: “… In either case the passage is concerned to stress the indifference of external conditions and the primary importance of inner freedom.”) and “translates”:

“Were you a slave when you were called, never mind. And even if you can become free, stay rather as you are.”

Lovely, isn’t it?

The scandalous “even if you can become free, stay rather as you are” reading seems to be a 20th century Roman one. I have in fact asked around in the USA, whether 1 Cor 7:21 was used in the 19th century debates to defend Slavery, and was told that nobody had heard of it. 1 Cor 7:21 – Why? They asked.

Changing the text in ideologically (= Neo Platonism) interesting places to soften or wipe out a bad impression or deny past crimes, or simply to defend later dogmatic or ecclesiological positions, is common in translations all along from the ground breaking Parisian forgery of the late 12th century over the Renaissance Vernacular exercises up to and beyond late Modern anti Modern essays in Propaganda of the 1960ies and 1970ies.

Passages wont to get distorted for Social Political reasons are typically those (even marginally) addressing women, slaves, and children. And the made up ones ;=)

But you already knew that.

(So the question seems less to be whether Augustinus of Hippo thought slave holding a sin, but whether he was prepared to do something about it - within his reach - or contended with making up pious excuses ("Fantasy" & c) for others.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 3 December 2007 at 6:57pm GMT

Does Ben W deny also the stark difference between the Letter to Filémon and the 2nd century Pastorals (from Smyrna)?

Between "... as if I send back my heart..." "... not as a slave but as more than a slave; a beloved brother, yea more than a brother, your Brother in Christ as in the Flesh"

and the "...so that the Name of God and the Teaching may not be blasphemed..." of the Pastorals?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 3 December 2007 at 7:27pm GMT

Ford,

I will try to be brief. You ask,"the Church stood against much of what it saw as wrong in Roman society without leading bloody revolt against those wrongs. Why should it not be expected to stand against slavery in the same way?"

The question is to the point and I have already spoken to it in part. As a people having their own identity the sign of what they have to say is how they live their identity as very much a minority within society - in Christ within the church the old barrier is dismanteled (Gal 3:26-28; Philemon); people who were slaves became bishops in the church! So actually the church did stand (within what was possible) against slavery. In the time of emporer Constantine when the church could speak, Sunday was set apart as a day free from labour, and the law courts were to be closed except for the purpose of hearing cases to free slaves. To establish this a Christian master would solemnly affirm the grant of freedom to a slave before a bishop in a ceremony that Constantine confirmed by giving it legal standing. And laws were developed to protect children, slaves, peasants and prisoners.

You further say, "when it comes to gay people the Gospel is being imposed from above." In what way, is there someone forcing you one way or another in this? The church seeks to bear witness and to live in accord with the historic Christian teaching on this in light of the line of teaching in the scriptures. You are not compelled to be part of that, you are free to live and have your full place in society.

Again, you say people "have no desire to reach any such understanding, fight against gaining that understanding, and replace the truth about gay people with lies and propaganda that helps them feel righteous in doing down an entire group of God's children." There are idelogues out there on the right and the left. I do not recognize myself in this, or thouhgtful Christians I know, or some of the prominent bishops we might recognize here in name (including ab Carey - he speaks up for the full human dignity of gay people and their full place in society). Let us deal with people as they are, not select some extreme somewhere and then paint everbody with that brush. Big questions - hard to be brief -:).

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Monday, 3 December 2007 at 7:44pm GMT

Andrew is trapped by his own self-deception...he can't undermine the Bible by answering directly, so he has to pretend the Bible is clear.

He can also deflect the argument by denigrating the questioner. That's the Soviet solution...he doesn't agree with us so he must be mad!

ThanK you Erika and FR Mark for your moral support.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 3 December 2007 at 8:15pm GMT

In translating very directly I put it this way, "if you can gain your freedom do so," (1 Cor 7:21)."

With more of the text Goran has,
"a slave you were called, don’t let it grieve you. But if you can yet become free, make use of it!"

If there is a significant difference between how I translated,"if you can gain your freedom do so," and Goran, "if you can yet become free, make use of it!" I fail to see it(?)! I will accept either one.

The apostle gives priority not to a person's standing of slave or free (within the world's frame of reference - "don't be overly concerned about that"), ultimately freedom is a matter of whether one belongs to Christ or not (7:22,23). In conext this translation of v. 21, accords with the point of 7:22,23; the direction of the Christian person is toward fuller freedom (specifically v.23). And it is similar in meaning to Gal 3;26-28.

As for Philemon and Pastorals, there are mnay good introductions that handle this question. Certainly how it is addressed will be shaped by the situation, e.g. does the Christian slave belong to a Christian master or not? (as with Onesimus and Philemon - many would not have believing masters).

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 2:24am GMT

"You further say, "when it comes to gay people the Gospel is being imposed from above." In what way, is there someone forcing you one way or another in this? The church seeks to bear witness and to live in accord with the historic Christian teaching on this in light of the line of teaching in the scriptures. You are not compelled to be part of that, you are free to live and have your full place in society."

That's a polite way of confirming that the gospel is imposed on gay people. "You either accept the gospel as we interpret it for you or you're not a Christian and can lead a peaceful life in society."

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 9:37am GMT

Ben W wrote: “If there is a significant difference between how I translated, "if you can gain your freedom do so," and Goran, "if you can yet become free, make use of it!" I fail to see it(?)! I will accept either one.”

I already told you. Xräsin; make use of, (same as in “the natural use” in the gloss Romans 1:26), is rather strong language. “If … do so” is merely nonchalant.

Your “accepting either one” is in denial of the realities. Moreover it’s dishonest. Just as your little Deutsche Christen – Bonhoeffer games.

Ben W wrote: “The apostle gives priority not to a person's standing of slave or free (within the world's frame of reference – "don't be overly concerned about that"), ultimately freedom is a matter of whether one belongs to Christ or not (7:22, 23).”

Now, this antagonistic “outer world inner soul” is a much later invention. Pietism.

Ben W wrote: “In context…”

Sorry this is not “in context”. It is wrong.

Ben W wrote: “… this translation of v. 21, accords with the point of 7:22, 23; the direction of the Christian person is toward fuller freedom (specifically v.23).”

As I said. This “point” is much, much later. It is in fact the “point” of the Calvinist-Pietist Swedish State 1917, translating slave “servant” for the NT and slave for the OT…

It also gives this antagonistic “world inner” under the guise of “thrall” in this and similar places, pretending that

1) Jews have slaves,
2) Christian slaves are “servants” (if not owned by Jews), and
3) this passage is about “thraldom under Sin”.

Sorry, it’s been done before; won’t fly. It “accords” with Pater Zerwick, but it’s not in the text.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 10:10am GMT

Ben W wrote: “And it is similar in meaning to Gal 3:26-28.”

It isn’t. Unless you harmonize all 6 NT slavery references, cross-reading them as one and the same. They are not. Instead there is a digression, a negative development, from
Paul c:a 57 in the letter to Filémon verses 12, 16, 17,
over Onésimos, the slave in question himself, c:a 100 in Ephesians 6:5-8,
via anti Society Marcion c:a 140 in Colossians 3:22-24, 25,
and contemporary Alexandria in alias 1 Peter 2:13- 3:18a (receiving the rubric ”The Duties of Subjects, Servants and Spouses” in 1917),
to the Smyrna circle in alias Titus 2:9-10 (“be pleasing to them”)
and alias 1 Timotheos 6:1-2 (“so that the Name of God and the Teaching may not be blasphemed").

To which comes Riesenfeldt’s 20th century Roman escapades in 1 Cor 7:21…

Ben W wrote: “As for Philemon and Pastorals, there are many good introductions that handle this question. Certainly how it is addressed will be shaped by the situation, e.g. does the Christian slave belong to a Christian master or not? (as with Onesimus and Philemon – many would not have believing masters).”

Seems to me you’ve done more than the introduction to “How to Domesticate the Gospel”.

This “having a Christian Master” is a Red Herring. And a lie. Not Christian at all in my opinion.

So the question remains less if Augustinus of Hippo thought slave holding a sin – which he should – but whether he was prepared to do something about it – anything within his reach – or contended with making up pious excuses for others as you do (Fantasy, & c).

Bible believing Christians indeed!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 10:11am GMT

Erika,

You refer to my statement, the end of which reads, "You are not compelled to be part of that, you are free to live and have your full place in society." You respond, "That's a polite way of confirming that the gospel is imposed on gay people. 'You either accept the gospel as we interpret it for you or you're not a Christian and can lead a peaceful life in society.'"

I can see how one might read it that way, the intent is to say you are not compelled to endorse the witness of the church on this. It is not to deny a person's real faith in Christ. And this goes both ways, we have seen here some of the language about evangelical Christians, I have never seen stronger language of rejection and hostility than this!

We are at a place now on several fronts where people are coming and saying, "We expect to be accepted, and for acceptance to be real you must abandon your historic identity on this so we can be part of things." It would be like someone coming to the Anglican church and saying, we understand your historic convictions about the place of the bishops in the church but we believe that is wrong and we expect you to give that up so we so can be part of things. You would say, you may be a Christian but we think you are wrong on this. We may even seek a relationship and converse about our different concerns in order to understand and encourage each other, but there is no arm twisting. You are not compelled to conform, but to be fully part of things you are expected to understand the historic teaching and to respect it. You always remain free to make your response - but not to impose your views and expect the church simply to accomodate them.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 1:59pm GMT

Goran

It would be good if we could take at least a small step past the antagonism to understand something together here. You want to read closely this text in the NT - good. But start by reading what I said closey without presuming that I am simply spouting something that you have seen somewhere.

Once more, I said, "If there is a significant difference between how I translated,"if you can gain your freedom do so," and Goran, "if you can yet become free, make use of it!" I fail to see it(?)! I will accept either one." Affirming Paul as saying "don't be overly concerned about that" is in accord with your, “If … do so” is merely nonchalant." Yes, we agree - the concern is not dismsissed, but this is not the preoccupation.

There has been confusion about translation - servant vs slave etc. Part of it is simply different sensibilties and use of English from 1600's to now. Part of it is more precision available in philology etc.

You dismiss my statement on 1 Cor 7:21-23,"Now, this antagonistic “outer world inner soul” is a much later invention. Pietism." Talk about reading closely! I said nothing about "inner" or "outer" or anything like this, the point is simply that Paul is giving priority to identity and life in Christ.

Your identity as a Christian is not simply tied up in being a slave, indeed if you belong to Christ you are already in the way that counts ultimately God's free person (i.e. the paradox of being a Christian whether "free" or "slave"). Even this says something to our concern here, is my identity wrapped up in being a heterosexual or a homosexual? That is the primary way in which I know who I am? The debate often has that character.

Again, I said,“And it is similar in meaning to Gal 3:26-28.” You come back, "It isn’t. Unless you harmonize all 6 NT slavery references, cross-reading them as one and the same. They are not." THAT IS WHAT I SAID. Similar - not the same. I think this will be my last post to you. Whether it is trying to understand Paul or one another now, suspicion has its uses but good will comes first. Sadly I do not see the good will here to hear and understand.

Ben W


Posted by Ben W at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 2:54pm GMT

It would seem I won the battle but lost the soul.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 6:16pm GMT

I believe Ben W that you need to identify the various "points" that you now conflate and disentangle them, separate the different layers. So that you don't risk saying the things you have said here in the future.

A Slave doesn't have the societal, legal & c rights and liberties other people enjoy. It's not about "being" anything. A slave is a human being.

Not a different sort of human being: a human being.

The same is true for Women under Patriarchy (or worse Hierarchy). The same is true of gay people. Not the same Rights and Liberties as “others” have.

You have been belittling and making up excuses for slavery (“Fantasy”, “Augustine”). That amounts to defending slavery in my book.

You have been harmonizing the 6 NT texts referring to slaves and slavery AS IF THEY WERE ONE AND SAID THE SAME instead of being by different authors, from different ages, saying different things. If you don't know the word Harmonize, Learn it!

You have been conflating, indeed collapsing, not only different texts and ideologies (think Filémon – Pastorals) but also the Biblical texts themselves with secular views from later Ages. Namely, Paul comforting slaves in his time (and Congregation) with the message that they are indeed Members: There is not Slave or Free in the Congregation (note the order!) with the views of latter centuries that nothing really matters as long as you are “saved”.

And you started with you little pleasantries about Deutsche Christen and Dr Bonhöffer. I warned you several times, that for me – a continental person closer to these things than you or Dr Rowan will ever be – this is something that is deeply offending. And you went on, and you went on…

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 9:48pm GMT

FYI These techniques are well known, researched and documented in both Feminist and Gay studies: Belittling, Conflating, Collapsing, Harmonizing, Reproducing (often under the guise of rejecting).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 9:57pm GMT

Ben
"You always remain free to make your response - but not to impose your views and expect the church simply to accomodate them."

At that level I agree with you, and thank you for not denying that I am a Christian.

But I would like to stress that on the whole we do not expect the church simply to accommodate our views.

We have spent many many years trying to engage. Many of us have developed existing theology on this in an honest and reverential manner. And although I have personally posted a number of relevant links I have yet to see anyone engage constructively with what those modern theologians are saying.

And so we will continue to talk and to live our lives as open witness to God's grace and to his affirmation of our loves. I personally cannot impose anything on anyone. But I will not leave my church and I will not stop confronting people with the reality of my experience, in the hope that eventually the whole church will change its mind.

I will not accept that those who disagree with me claim for themselves the right to close the conversation.

And when a whole national church like TEC moves into what I consider to be the right direction I will rejoice and pray that more will follow.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 9:40am GMT

Goran,

Just a note here. Where is all this coming from? As you indicate, I am not in your world on the continent and don't know you, and you are not in my world and most certainly don't know me! But then what about all these definitve "judgements?"

There are strong words to describe what you have said here. Let that be. I will only say a few things about what you have presented here and simply speak for myself. I am amazed, how could something be this wrong from beginning to end?

Beginning - I have never referred to the six slave passages you speak of so how could I have conflated them? I referred to 1 Cor 7:21; Gal 3:26-28; and Philemon. All three generally accepted as from Paul without dispute. I said 1Cor 7:21; Gal 3:26-28 are similar (in a similar concern with freedom in Christ, in other ways quite different). So who is "conflating and harmonizing" here? After what I have clearly affirmed (and that is all you really have to go on here unless it is now acceptable just to assume without evidence) to say what you do about me on slavery, patriarchy, or hierarchy is not only false it is little short of slander.

End - Bonhoeffer as I know him was not a "continentalist" but quite ready to identify with and have his say with people whether in Britain or America (after all he chose to live and work there for some years). He certainly cannot be identified with the "Deutsche Christen," but as a "Confessional" Christian identified with the church beyond race or nationality. So I have been happy to learn from him for years, and to try to understand his stand for our questions and our time. Enough said, I pass it over to the "jury" and find reason to be glad that you after all are not my judge in the end.

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 3:01pm GMT

Erika,

I am glad there is something we agree on! I have not commented on your situation, as Ford suggested earlier I do, because for one I do not know you or your situation. I think the question of historic Christian identity and respecting that identity is critical. Does not mean there is no appropriate conversation on various matters all the way from episcopasy to baptism to polygamy etc.

So we agree that we do not simply close the conversation down; can we also agree on respect for those who hold to historic Chritian identity and teaching on this (recognizing that there are things to be worked out both ways)?

It is important to hear you say, "I would like to stress that on the whole we do not expect the church simply to accommodate our views." The difficulty, as we have seen here on this thread itself, is how a person like ab Carey is first misinterpreted and then reviled(should I say denigrated?)when he seeks to affirm in open conversation the historic Christian teaching in accord with the line of scripture on this. That hardly makes for a church listening and working together!

You say, "I have personally posted a number of relevant links I have yet to see anyone engage constructively with what those modern theologians are saying." It is not possible to do everything! I have read some of the sites you refer to as well as exegesis in works like Robin Scroggs, Richard Hays (The Moral Vision of tne New Testament) and many others.

Peace,

Ben W


Posted by Ben W at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 3:56pm GMT

Ben
thank you for that.

The one big problem our conversation is crystallising for me is that you and most conservatives tend to speak in the abstract about homosexuals and sexual morality, as though we were not real people but mere issues.

Because of that I have often leaned quite far out of the window and made myself very vulnerable on this site, giving personal colouring to this debate.

Maybe one of the big differences between liberals and conservatives is that we (I) tend not to judge abstract situations but prefer to understand the complexities of individual people's lives.

When I therefore talk about how lovingly and self givingly my partner has supported me and my children through the very difficult cancer treatment of my oldest daughter I'm actually trying to express something of the reality of a non-straight person's life.
This as opposed to a comment posted on here last week taken from a conservative blog according to which the writer would not be surprised if homosexuals sodomised each other like rats in the basement of a church after receiving Holy Communion.

The terms "sexual morality" and "traditional teaching" really have to be seen in the context of the lives you are pronouncing on if they are to have any meaning in “real life”.

If you have sodomising rats before your mental eye when you talk about sexual sins your saying something quite different than when you are looking at an otherwise almost ludicrously traditional family arrangement.

And if you try to convince me that your traditional teaching should apply to me you have to learn to speak my language and tell me, precisely, how and why what I am doing is sinful, when in my own experience it reflects the deepest love of Christ far more deeply than many heterosexual marriages I know.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 4:34pm GMT

Ben
But as for "Carey" - I'm not sure who you mean but because you refer to "open conversation" I assume you mean Andrew.

As it happens I also find some of the criticism and the hostility levelled against him appalling. But I also have to acknowledge that he has been asked politely and several times by one contributor to explain why, according to his view, evangelicals have changed their view of divorce yet are determinedly sticking to what they call traditional teachings with regard to homosexuality.

This is not a difficult question, yet he has repeatedly failed to engage but denigrated the person who asked the question.

I did not find that in the least convincing.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 4:46pm GMT

Dear Erika,

I'm quite happy to carry on a conversation with you privately should you wish, or anyone here for that matter (my email address is andrew@careyco.fsbusiness.co.uk). I don't think I've denigrated anyone on this thread - I'd like you to point out to me where I've done so. I have found Robert Ian William's posts to be hostile and I may therefore have expressed some frustration. But I'm spoiled goods on the subject of divorce and remarriage. I can comment theologically, but when the subject is raised so personally to attack close members of my family I don't feel inclined to respond. Context is all.

Having said that, I admire your honesty. I can't reciprocate it myself for obvious reasons,

Yours,

Andrew

Posted by Andrew Carey at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 7:39pm GMT

Dear Andrew

thank you for engaging, and I may well contact you with hope of furthering my own understanding of your position.

I have looked through this thread and I apologise, the negative comment to Ian R Williams is not here. I am trying to find the thread I was referring to. It was also in the last week, and Ian asked you very politely to explain why evangelicals had changed their view on divorce yet felt they cannot do so on homosexuality. I felt your reply was dismissive, merely explaining as it did that you had no intention of replying to the question.

Leaving aside the tone of the conversation (and I do agree that much of what is levied against you and your father here is hostile in tone, although I agree with the theological stand liberals are making here), it seems a reasonable question to ask of someone who is knowledgeable on evangelical theology, is used to publicly discussing his views and, by virtue of posting on TA, must be assumed to want to engage in the conversation.

I can understand that your personal experience makes it difficult for you to answer some questions in public. My own status as an “out” bisexual living with another woman makes me just as vulnerable, although I do not have your high profile.

Strangely, you cite your own experience as something that prevents you from answering this particular question in public, whereas I keep pushing my own experience on people here in order to make them see that we are discussing real vulnerable people in real circumstances and not mere theology, although our answers also have to be theological.

And I do wonder whether part of the reason for some of the hostility against you is not because you are divorced – after all, liberals generally tend not to find that a problem, and certainly my own divorced status is a complete non issue for most on this blog – but because you appear to be happily living with a new theology yourself, while publicly denying the possibility that new theology could also exist for homosexuals. If you took a deep breath and explained the theology behind it, people might still disagree with you but maybe no longer feel they could charge you with hypocrisy.

I will mail you hoping to continue this conversation offline.
Again, thank you for engaging.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 9:48pm GMT

I agree that the exchange between Mr Williams and Mr Carey should now cease.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 10:21pm GMT

Erika,

I was actually speaking of Archbishop Carey and his conversation on the BBC. Where he was as we see in the thread, first misinterpreted and then vilified.

It is appropriate to acknowledge the hostility that has been directed toward Andrew Carey on this thread and elsewhere. And to speak to the point on which people are pressing him briefly, he has not asked that what he has gone through (divorce and remarriage) become a standard to be affirmed as itself a good thing. Jesus as well as Paul calls to a way that spells wholeness in this relation, but recognizes before the kingdom comes in fullness there will be "hardness of heart" and other conditions that bring a falling off from God's good purpose (cf Matt 19; Mark 10). Having walked with my brothers through some hard days on this, I see that they recognize this as brokeness in which we think about how we go on from here (only in God's grace!).

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 3:15pm GMT

Ben
I agree that the hostility against George Carey is also strong. But at least I can understand it fully. After all, his work has had and is still having a direct and negative effect on the lives of many of us posting here. You will permit us a deep sense of opposition that goes well beyond the purely theological debate.

I don't know what Andrew Carey has or has not claimed for himself so I don't wish to speculate. And he is right, to use his personal experience as a tool in either side of the debate is wrong unless he offers it himself.

But the fact remains that the church, including the evangelical church, has largely made peace with divorce.
They may see it as you do - as a failure that can be repented of after which the divorcee is given a new lease of life.
But the fact is that heterosexual people are given permission to go against what Jesus has apparently clearly said (I say apparently because of what transpired from the excellent link on divorce Göran posted here recently).

Yet, the same church insists that those of us who are not straight have to lead a loveless life without that truly special companion that all straight people are hoping to find for themselves and take as their birthright.
It seems that we are not to be given the right to go against what appears to be written down in Scriptures.

And so I would still like to see an evangelical justifying this on theological grounds.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 8:55am GMT

Yes, Ben, but the point is that that degree of heterosexual brokenness is not thought by Con Evangelicals to be an impediment to a straight person holding office in the Church.

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 9:24am GMT

Fr Mark,

I agree this whole issue of divorce and leadership is difficult.

I do think that in most cons churches there is a concern to be sure that things have been rectified and there is a record of faithfulness beyond it that shows learning and further maturity. I know in some that if a person has gone through a divorce a person may serve in various ways but will not serve in the role of bishop (in light of all this calls for).

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 2:58am GMT

Ben: I think it is simply better if Christians don't feel it is their job to police other people's bedrooms, full stop.

Posted by Fr Mark at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 6:02pm GMT

' Context is all. '

(Andrew Carey on Wednesday, 5 December 2007.)

That's it ! That's what some of us have been urging and urging and ...

Now, maybe let us live in peace....

Posted by L Roberts at Sunday, 9 December 2007 at 1:08am GMT
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