Comments: opinion for early March

I don't know if anybody caught +Liverpool's very thoughtful and well balanced and helpful response to the Jon Venables case on Today. It was impressive. It is good to know there are people of his calibre in the church.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Saturday, 6 March 2010 at 6:29pm GMT

I really enjoyed Riazatt Butt's and Theo Hobson's pieces.
Here in the USA we hear whining all the time that Christians are being persecuted here. This often comes after some election or policy outcome the whiners disagree with. To them I want to say "Grow up!" Western society is becoming more diversified, more plural. Just because others now have the privileges you do doesn't mean you're being persecuted. And if you are going to play in the field of hardball politics, don't be surprised when you get knocked down. As far as bullying, from my perspective, it's the "MY way or you're going to Hell!" type of Christian that is doing the bullying.
To use just one example, if gay or lesbian people get civilly married or civilly partnered, how does that affect your church, your marriage in any way?
I think Butt or Hobson are right on when she or he stated that Christians (esp. Anglicans in England) have entered the world with certain privileges, and they are dismayed that those privileges are either being asserted by others or are no longer seen as an absolute right reserved solely for them.
You want to talk bullying and persecution against you? Try certain regions of Nigeria and other African countries, China, Arab countries (where ancient Christian communities are withering away), etc.

Posted by peterpi at Saturday, 6 March 2010 at 7:10pm GMT

Theo Hobson is a little unkind to Richard Harries. Given that he cannot single-handedly remove the Church of England from the establishment he might still be able to progress religious liberties from where he sits. As for his use of John Henry Newman, he might instead use his brother Francis William Newman, a progressive figure who went in the opposite direction. Mind, only John Henry managed a miracle of emptying his grave and vanishing - apparently this might have happened once before.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 6 March 2010 at 7:17pm GMT

+James Jones's reflections give me heart. He has a clear, nuanced, informed understanding of the Anglican debates over sexuality, and he offers all of us a clear way forward. I'll take it.

Posted by Charlotte at Saturday, 6 March 2010 at 7:31pm GMT

Dwight Longenecker follows the generous and whimsical Harries with bitterness and spleen. There are just so many of us who made the journey from Rome to Anglicanism because it was the only vehicle for faith that had a forward gear!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 6 March 2010 at 8:28pm GMT

Dear Lord Carey, I am gay, black and Anglican. I can be more assertive and stand up for my faith in the public square but your views about my sexuality haves empowered the opposition to write me off and claim that people like me have no place in Christianity.

Posted by Davis Mac-Iyalla at Saturday, 6 March 2010 at 8:46pm GMT

+James Jones seems to have made a real journey of discovery. I much appreciate his mature reflections.If only some other Bishops were as mature and thoughtful.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 6 March 2010 at 9:52pm GMT

"As Bishop called to “maintain the spirit of unity in the bond of peace” in the Diocese of Liverpool where we have the full spectrum of moral opinion on human sexuality I believe that to have “diversity without enmity”, as the Dean put it at the Bishop’s Council, provides a safe and a spiritually and emotionally healthy place for Christians of differing convictions to discern the will of God for our lives. To know and to do God’s will is our calling"
- Bishop James Jones -

Now here we have a Bishop/theologian whom I can really respect. His address to his Diocesan Synod of Liverpool, though it may cause heartburn in some quarters, is much better than the heartache that the LGBT community suffers from the parsimonious outbursts of the Bishops of Winchester and Durham.

Bishop James has grasped the nettle of what the Gospel requires of all of us - in terms of mutual love and tolerance in the face of our many human differences - exemplified by Jesus in the Gospel. He does not beat about the bush when he affirms that homosexuality, per se, is a God-given grace to those whose sexuality is ordered differently from the 'norm'.

He seems to recognise (more, perhaps by what he doesn't say in his charge than in what he does)
that the subject of homosexuality might be dealt with in faith communities in a similar way to that in which the Church has dealt with other questions of 'morality' - such as pacifism - that exercises our tolerance & patience as Christians towards one another in the body of Christ.

Full marks to a Bishop of the Church of England who is willing to challenge the status quo of discrimination against same sex relationships in the Church. He and the former Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries are living signs of the charism of the liberality of Christ in the Gospels; signs that the Church of England may yet survive the current climate of numbing conservatism which militates against the fullness of life in Christ.

A very worthy successor to the See of Canterbury!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 6 March 2010 at 11:28pm GMT

Where have ALL the real BULLIES gone?

Off to GAFCON, every one!

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Sunday, 7 March 2010 at 12:12am GMT

As I recall this pacifist analogy bishop Jones makes was presented to the Lambeth Commission, they did not make much of it.

Bishop Jones thinks those gays who have obeyed the Church teaching have had a poor deal, I guess Jeffrey John would agree with that!

But perhaps he means that group who after healing etc are "ex-gay", are now married and living a heterosexual lifestyle although acknowledging they still have and are fighting "same-sex attraction" - Yes, indeed I think these people have had the very poorest of deals from the Church.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 7 March 2010 at 9:56am GMT

Like others here, I very much liked the Bishop of Liverpool's plea for unity in charitable tolerance. However, there is a corollary less congenial to most here: give FiF people what they need to stay in the C of E (which - when the chips are down - is what most of them seem to want to do).

Here is a plea of one of them (whom I believe to be one of the most honourable of them - hope 'my endorsement' doesn't dish his chances!):

Posted by john at Sunday, 7 March 2010 at 5:54pm GMT

Bp Jones was the guest of the Diocese of Virginia and came to our annual clergy/lay profesionals and spouses conference. This was when Carey was ABC. Liverpool and Virgnia were two of the three ports involved in the Triangular Trade, and one of the results of this visit was establishing a relayionship with his diocese and the African port involved - a Triangle of Reconciliation. Martyn Mins, not yet then departed, sucked up to him unmercifully. Maybe it bomeranged!

Anyway, I was most impressed with the good bishop. He invited our diocesan committee on race relations to come to his diocese two summers in a row to lead workshops on race issues. That was when a friend of mine saw on the office doors of several Liverpool shipbuilders small enamal confederate flags - they had built ships for the rebllious states, whose cotten fed the city's mills.

At the time, I was very well impressed with Bishop Jones and am glad I was not mistaken in my judgment.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 7 March 2010 at 8:52pm GMT

Having read Peter Ould's piece on 'virtueonline' and his response to Bishop James Jones' address to Synod, I am more convinced than ever that Bp. Jones is right - in what he has said about the equivalence of homosexuality, just war, biblical inerrancy, global warning; as being acceptable, non-core issues on which Anglicans can agree to disagree. Whatever each of us feels about any of these issues, none of them directly calls into question the divinity of Christ, or the sovereignty of God, so why should we not be able to co-exist in our diversity in the Church?

When people like Peter Ould, the Bishops of Durham & Winchester, and the ACNA and Global South Primates want to separate themselves out from the LGBT community, there is little hope of that gracious restraint that Christ calls forth from all of us in the Gospel.

Gays are not asking to be top-dogs in the Church, just to be recognised as fellow workers in the Vineyard. I find it ironic that 'ex-gays' seem to want to crucify their former homosexual friends, while yet admitting that they, themselves, are still 'afflicted with same-sex feelings! In other words - they have not entirely successfully cast off their innate homosexuality.

This is the same sort of argument as saying that the Bible is either inerrant, or it is irrelevant.
This 'black and white' understanding of the phenomenon of homosexuality does little service to the understanding of the underlying human condition. It is like trying to dumb down the diversity of theology of Saint Paul.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 8 March 2010 at 8:31am GMT

James Jones comments have been met with a great deal of dismay and vitriol from certain quarters. It really is telling that some conservatives and evangelicals would feel bereft if they had to let go of their hatred and condemnation of people in same sex relationships and their straight allies. What is so difficult about saying, there is a range of views, we differ on this issue, but we can respect your convictions and your right to hold them?

Posted by Suem at Monday, 8 March 2010 at 6:11pm GMT
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