Comments: Putney analysed by the Guardian

"What makes this person so interesting is that he has lost any sense that he is able to support himself spiritually through his own effort alone. His recognition of his "failure" to cope is precisely his strength. The theology is pure Luther: only when you recognise that you are unable to make yourself acceptable to God under your own steam can you collapse back upon God as the sole source of salvation. Later in the sermon, he described going from a meeting of the US House of Bishops to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, and being relieved that, at this second meeting, he could at last speak about God."

I think everyone is impressed, and grateful that he turned up to give his evangelical witness at Lambeth.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 4:44am BST

+Gene Robinson is an inspiration, a man despised and rejected, yet not consumed by sorrows, instead full of that strength which keeps him preaching the good news of Christ.

History will look on him kindly.

Posted by John Omani at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 5:25am BST

Giles Fraser writes, "My favourite begins: 'Dear sodomite supporter, you are nothing but a dirty sodomite-loving ugly stain of a man who is a disgrace to humanity.' It ends 'Burn in hell, Mr K.'"

The homosexualists are always contending that any homosexual violence that occurs in some part of the world is caused by traditionalists simply wanting to not conform to the wordly ways. This is despite repeated denunciations of any such violence.

But what about the incalculable harm that Mr Fraser does to the church by falsely portraying traditionalist Christians as hateful hooligans. Mr Fraser is feeding the anti-Christian rhetoric in western Europe that results in, for example, rioters breaking into a Christian music concert, throwing beer bottles, shouting "Never again Jesus" and "Masturbation instead of evangelization". See

Mr Fraser vilifies traditionalists, making their attempt to bring the message of Christ into this dark and fallen world all the more difficult. Traditionalists then have to overcome the stereotype that Mr Fraser paints on them even before the conversation is started. And, of course, liberals can't evangelize to save their souls (pun intended). Thus, the light of Christ is being extinguished in Europe. Well done, Mr Fraser.

Posted by robroy at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 5:56am BST

Gareth McLean: "If you can read the Bible radically, you can read it conservatively, too. Perhaps we should give up on reading it at all."

Feh. Our faults are not in our Bibles, Horatio---they're in ourselves. :-/

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 6:00am BST

Lyn Gardner comments that "critics were not welcome". Well, of course not. This was not a speech but a sermon during an act of Worship.

Her comment sounds as strange to me as did the the reporter who immediately after Gene had stopped speaking and seconds before the prayers asked if there was time for questions!

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 9:10am BST

Like Archbishop Peter Jensen, I feel that I should now step in and make clear that "robroy" absolutely condemns violence against gay and lesbian people and vilification of his 'liberal' brothers and sisters, and feels that language of the kind Giles Fraser reports has no place in the Church of Christ.

I can say that, can't I robroy? Just to save you the bother of having to do so.

Posted by MRG at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 9:36am BST

Robroy, GF did nothing of the sort.
He described what had come through his letter box. He told us how upsetting that was. He then reflected on +Gene getting much more of that kind of stuff, wondered how he coped, and told us that he believed and trusted in Jesus.
It was a scrupulously fair and simple little piece - and rather affecting. Wish we'd both been there to hear +Gene ourselves and face the reality not the media stereotypes...

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 9:47am BST

No, robroy, if the "light of Christ is being extinguished in Europe" it is because these ignorant "traditionalists" are people who shoot their mouths off too much on topics where they have no clearly thought-out things to say. Just screaming "get gay people out of our sight" very loudly for the last five years has been a disaster for the Church's witness.

The problem is that the Con Evos are often people who have for many years entirely written gays out of their view of the world, and who therefore are the least qualified people in the Church to say anything at all on the topic. Every time they whine about how awful and uniquely sinful gay people are, they make the Church look more stupid, because everyone else can see this is inadequate. So if you want to blame someone for what is happening on a continent far from your own, blame the narrow intellectual and pastoral compass of a backward-looking Conservative Evangelical mindset.

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 10:22am BST

You can see and hear the whole sermon on Bishop Gene's video blog

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 10:26am BST

robroy, biblical fundamentalists are indeed "hateful hooligans". Note how smoothly Paul's words in Romans 1 fit into the texture of the following hate speech:

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 10:45am BST


And, yet, the traditionalists never seem to have vocal supporters who speak in measured terms. The protests are always in the manner of the one Giles cites. Why is that, do you suppose?

And I don't know how it is in Europe--but here in the USA, it is far more likely for a peaceful gathering of gays to be interrupted by a gaggle of yahoos shouting "God hates fags!" and the like than for a church service to be interrupted by gays with displays of the kind you cite.

A local church that makes a point of ministering to the gay population has had its rainbow banner stolen or vandalized constantly...but I know of no example of a fundamentalist church being similarly attacked.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 11:20am BST

And +Gene's written blog is called "Canterbury Tales from the Fringe" and includes his own view of the Putnety Service:

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 11:21am BST

But, robroy, one only has to look at sites such as Stand Firm and Virtue Online to see that conservatives are exactly as you describe - the hatred and homophobia there is plain to see. Hateful hooligans is a very apt description - reflecting a hateful and deluded religionism.

The sooner the FOCAs church establishes itself, the better.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 12:06pm BST

Ah, regretfully, robroy, conservative or traditionally negative views of queer folks (yes, real ones like VGR, his partner Mark, and a whole planetary number of others?) - which our religious legacy in particular urges upon us - no longer get a free pass from careful scrutiny by thinking citizens, believer or otherwise.

Certainly: no longer get automatic free credit as nothing but tough love, nothing but truth about sin that innately leads towards repentance.

The first pass of careful investigations instructs us: homosexuality as we moderns understand it, now, empirically - is completely unknown to the scriptures.

The ancient near east knew plenty of examples of same sex behaviors - especially by/among men it seems - but even here ancient near eastern knowledge was mainly confined to three ancient occasions: (1) sex worship of this or that god or goddess in ecstatic rituals or temple prostitution, plus (2) forced sex of a superior or conquering man upon the man he had taken as prisoner or chattel, plus (3) sex between a men in power and anybody lesser in power to him, including children or youth (and certainly including both sexes, women being innately lesser in most ancient near eastern cultural presuppositions).

None of these three ancient typical occasions has anything real to do with modern queer folks?

So. Any believer who keeps preaching in ways that simply presume or conflate the three ancient occasions of same sex behavior in simple equivalency with today's queer folks as citizens is, subtly or blatantly, edging perilously near or sometimes outright, into bearing false witness against a neighbor. Bearing false witness is one of the ten commandments. We do not get credit for preaching truth in modern contexts if/when we bear false witness.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 3:27pm BST

Quite amazing, watching that YouTube video that Vatican II points to. Gay people are "filthy animals," the Baptist preacher says. Rapists, molesters - the automatic enemies of good and Godly people everywhere. God has given us up.

The current Vatican also has some choice things to say: that gay marriage is "a crime which represents the destruction of the world" - and that gay people who adopt children are committing "moral violence" against them. (Here:

Any questions, robroy? Perhaps rather than blaming "homosexualists" for these things - it might actually be good to take a look at "religionists."

Posted by bls at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 3:51pm BST

Has robroy never heard of the Holocaust, or the (medieval) Easter pogroms ? Otherwise he has forgotten them too soon.

Much too soon.

Posted by Treebeard at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 10:58pm BST

Yes but this same preacher says Billy Graham is going to hell--- you can't win !

What planet are these people on ?
And why does the preacher have not one, but two organs ?

Posted by Treebeard at Tuesday, 15 July 2008 at 11:19pm BST

For many years, I have puzzled over the rage which is sometimes evident in conservative Evangelicals, and over how that can be consistent with their often "happy clappy" form of worship. I am in no way criticzing that method of praising God, but simply wondering how such angry people can be so joyful in church.


Posted by Old Father William at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 12:10am BST

Wouldn't you be joyful if you knew that you, personally, were saved and alright-Jack? There’s almost a kind of relief in that joy. And I suppose if you believe in a punishing God who condemns unrepentant sinners to death, you would feel relieved and joyful if you believed you were not going to be one of them.

I came across a wonderful Richard Rohr meditation this morning:
"If we dishonor the so-called inferior or unworthy members of creation, we finally destroy ourselves, too.

St. Paul says in his analogy of the body, "if one part is hurt, all parts are hurt with it. If one part is given special honor, all parts enjoy it…[and] it is precisely the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest which are the indispensable ones, and it is the least honorable parts of the body that we clothe with the greatest care" (I Corinthians 12:26, 22-23).

Paul, the former mass-murderer Saul, knew well religion's power to create hate and violence toward other people and other links in the Great Chain of Being. He left no room for scapegoating in his teaching: There is "one God and [Creator] of all, over all, through all and within all" (Ephesians 4:6 NJB)."

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 9:28am BST


The "happy clappy" form of worship is often a public veneer of being seen to be caring and "understanding" the issues. When one bothers to look beyond the veneer, one realises that some preachers have been set up to give "the spin", but that the parish's leaders and members have no intention of "delivering the goods".

I've just started Philip Yancey's book "Soul Survivor". A worthwhile read, but poignant as one recognises local churches playing the exclusionary games worthy of Klu Klux Klan periods.

For example here is an example of the content from cards deacons would hand out to potential troublemakers in the 1960s (pp21-22)

"Believing the motives of your group to be ulterior and foreign to the teaching of God's word, we cannot extend a welcome to you and respectfully request you leave the premises quietly. Scripture does NOT teach 'the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God'. He is the Creator of all, but only the Father of those who have been regenerated..."

Which merely confirms that such proponents confirm that Jesus' mansions do not contain all the occupants of Creation, leaving God responsible for providing just provision for those "not approved" by Jesus' annointed priesthoods.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 11:44am BST

Hi Old Father William-

To speak of 'anger' is to presuppose without argument that there is a merely emotional explanation for what the people themselves might see as an intellectual, not emotional, disagreement. And - yes - truth matters: if it doesn't, then nothing does. What kind of love is truthless? That is a contradiction in terms.

However, the common denominator of the two facets (albeit stereotyped) you propose is: being alive, having feelings, having passion, caring. It would be a fair bet that the individuals of whom you speak would see apathy (to which passive tolerance is a near relative) as one of the deadly sins. And apathy is indeed a horrible thing.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 12:17pm BST


We used "Soul Survivor" in an adult study group at my church. It is indeed a wonderful book. I was introduced to Yancey by a kind and gentle old Baptist pastor who had decided that the narrow, condemning Christianity in which he had grown up was inconsistent with the Gospel. Diana Butler Bass has made a similar journey, and her writing is also - to me - inspiring and encouraging about the future of the Church.

Posted by Old Father William at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 11:24pm BST


It has been fascinating to interact with Baptists. They have been amongst the foremost to recognise how Christianity had gone off the rails and fallen into the traps of idolatry and the ends justifying the means.

Yet on the other hand, some Baptists have been amongst the worst offenders in advocating tyranny, violence and genocide.

One thing it has brought home to me is how much Jesus understood the word "responsibility". The whole crucifixion thing necessitating that Jesus understood that God was extremely displeased and that someone had to take responsbility for how things had fallen off the rails. Jesus' cry at the end to God of "Why have you forsaken me?" embodied that.

Jesus did not tell God that God should be loving, or demand that God give him accolades or prestige. Jesus acknowledged that God was offended and had withdrawn and died asking the question "why?".

That is the difference between the Baptists who would introduce you to Yancey, and the Baptists who would tell you that Yancey is not relevant to their theology. The latter are often selfish, complacent and aggressive. The former understand the need for reverence and that God desires the Covenant of Peace be made manifest.

Some souls only desire Jesus the world slayer and expunger of impure non-Christian consciousnesses. Other souls understand that Jesus was meant to embody Isaiah 11 and bring all occupants of this planet back into an honorable and loving relationship with God. Neither John the Baptist nor the Daughter of Zion would annoint a slayer, but they would annoint a messiah genuinely committed to peace to ALL Creation.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 11:17am BST
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