Comments: opinion for a bank holiday weekend

"...that young Christians in America are rejecting Christian fundamentalism—and doctrinaire concepts such as absolute truth and biblical infallibility—in droves. Why is faith in God being supplanted, earlier and earlier, by relativism, secularism and skepticism?"

That's a non sequitur! Absolute truth and biblical infallibility are the enemy here and it's about time that Christianity remembered its tradition and its mysticism, its deep questioning, the ultimate uncertainty that is faith, and that it grew out of that limiting mindset.

The idea that you lose it all if you are not a literalist is the real problem.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 27 August 2011 at 5:40pm BST

It's funny that Tom Wright caricatures "gay vicars" as a mere obsession of the "chatterati", and contrasts this with his "snapshots from my time in Durham," which were the real-life issues of foot and mouth, miners and faith in the city.

While he was Bishop of Durham, if my memory is accurate, Tom Wright was renowned for rarely setting foot in his diocese, as he devoted so much energy to flying about the world, across the Atlantic in particular, in order to do everything possible to put down fair treatment for gay people in the Church. He even took the train all the way down to London to interfere in British non-Christians' rights and vote against equality legislation in the Lords, as I recall. He seized every opportunity to go on the radio to wax wrath over the evils of homosexuality, to write articles about it, to make speeches about it.

As usual with po-faced bishops, his hypocritical words here are best taken with a pinch of salt. A quiet and dignified retirement would better suit him than such Careyesque behaviour.

Posted by Fr Mark at Saturday, 27 August 2011 at 9:29pm BST

Fr Mark, I admire your stamina. I have long since given up reading anything Tom Wright writes.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 27 August 2011 at 10:31pm BST

[Affirming Erika and Fr Mark here, but turning to...]

On the subject of capital punishment, Matthew Adams' piece in The Guardian is very thought-provoking.

In line w/ my church, TEC (expressed at General Convention), I consider the death penalty an unthinkable EVIL in the modern world. That my home state, California, currently (if infrequently) carries out such state-sanctioned MURDER is nothing less than *disgraceful*. [God speed the day of its abolition! Permanently!]

...nevertheless, I'm left answering the question posed by Adams, of WHY the Christian churches (the CofE, TEC) believed differently for so long.

It's my *hunch*, that it has a lot to do w/ POWER: the worldly-power that the Church bought into, since Constantine. Getting the permission of, then becoming one w/ the State (Caesar, later crowns, still-later republics), co-opted the Church into worldly POWER-OVER's violent ways . . . AND encouraged the division of Power w/in the Church itself: prince-bishop's endorsement of the morally-corrective *noose* on members of their own flock (!!!!).

I guess I can only conclude by urging my UK brothers&sisters in Christ to NOT go the SINFUL way of the US, in re-instituting this abominable practice of state murder (to supposedly demonstrate the evil of murder). Keep to *Christ's* ways, not the world's!

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 28 August 2011 at 12:30am BST

"While he was Bishop of Durham, if my memory is accurate, Tom Wright was renowned for rarely setting foot in his diocese, as he devoted so much energy to flying about the world, across the Atlantic in particular, in order to do everything possible to put down fair treatment for gay people in the Church." - Fr. Mark -

After trying a few times to access the article in The Spectator' by the former Bishop of Durham. Tom Wright, I came to the conclusion that it has been consigned to the great waste-paper basket in the ether. Fittingly, perhaps, when one considers the truth of Fr. Mark's comment here on this thread.

However scholarly and writerly-celebrated the former Bishop of Durham, he was often referred to (by those who knew him well) as The Bishop OUT OF Durham, rather than IN Durham - because, as Fr. Mark mentions, he was often away in the U.S. on some book launch or other, giving his opinion quite freely on the rightness of the cause of the TEC Dissidents who later formed the schismatic ACNA, in their denunciation of the LGBT community.

When the roll is called on those prelates who have promoted justice, rather than injustice, in the Church and the world; one wonders whether - like his article in The Spectator on the Internet - this bishop's name might be found missing.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 28 August 2011 at 7:13am BST

"Better to hang in private than to lose the death penalty altogether. - 'Guardian' article -

Perhaps the British Government (and maybe the Church) is taking the lead from the Government and the Anglican Church of Uganda, for this latest return to barbarism. Right wing Americans have a lot to answer for in the 'Kill the Gays' policy in Uganda, but if the British Government takes this path it will be no better than Uganda in the matter of basic human rights.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 28 August 2011 at 8:03am BST

Ugh. Abortion. Gay Marriage. Right of women and Catholics and non-land owners to vote. Abolition of death penalty?

Done and dusted in Canada. My interest is to move on in deepening equality in all ways as I feel we are called to.

Posted by Randal Oulton at Sunday, 28 August 2011 at 9:51am BST

What has Tom Wright been doing? While he was at Durham he wrote most of his popular commentaries on the New Testament. He seems to have put for more energy into a dispute with John Piper on justification than discussions on homosexuality. The objects of his wrath have been primarily conservative evangelicals rather than gays. His objective, as in this latest article, to maintain the integrity of the CofE and AC.

Posted by Dave at Sunday, 28 August 2011 at 9:58am BST

I have long had very mixed feelings about Tom Wright. (He's very good as a scholar. As a bishop, not so much. But then there seems to be a lot of that going around in the English episcopate.) The way I usually put it is that he has a little curl right in the middle of his forehead. But credit should be given where credit is due, and I think his article in the Spectator is very very good.

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 1:48am BST

Hear, hear, Bill Moorhead! I entirely agree with you about Bishop Wright's recent article in The Spectator. The references to homosexuality were minimal. Those to the social concern at large of members of the Church of England maximal. It gave a good interpretation of what an Established Church was capable of achieving.

I know nothing of the Diocese of Durham beyond the fact that traditionally it has had learned bishops who have written significant books while in office that have enriched the national Church.

Posted by John Bowles at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 10:24am BST

"He seems to have put for more energy into a dispute with John Piper on justification than discussions on homosexuality."

That's as may be.
But a disupte on justification is a dispute about ideas and anyone can take it or leave it.
A dispute about homosexuality is about real people and their lives and about wanting to define what is and isn't moral for "them"and trying to have a real impact on what "they" might be allowed to do in life.

In terms of poisonous impact and astonishing arrogance, Tom Wrights bilge about same sex sexuality is much more dangerous.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 11:50am BST

Bill and John,
I've read the Spectator article twice now and I don't understand what you like about it.

"None of this, of course, provides the answer to the questions about women bishops, or gay clergy, or the Anglican Communion, or how to relate to our Muslim neighbours. But if you put the hard questions in the centre of the picture, everything else gets distorted. Let’s take a deep breath and remind ourselves of our real focus: the kingdom of God, the lordship of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, as Jesus himself nearly said, everything else will fall into perspective. "

So, basically, if we remove everything that Jesus ever said about how to treat other people, you’re left with the real focus, the Kingdom of God, the lordship of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, which then, presumably, becomes a lofty and cuddly idea rather than a way of life, because we’re leaving out the tough stuff, the putting it all into practice in a credible way.
And that is the best the Church of England has to offer?
I sincerely hope not!

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 5:05pm BST

Hi, Erika --

Yes but...!

Everything that Jesus ever said about how to treat other people is right at the heart of the real focus, the Kingdom of God, the lordship of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. And I agree that there are major aspects of this that Tom Wright apparently Just Doesn't Get. (This is the other side of his little curl.) I think he's in denial about his own homophobia. His commentaries on Romans 1:26sqq tell us more about Tom than about Paul, which is unusual and surprising, because he's usually pretty good on Paul (or at least interesting!). He talks the talk very well. Walking the walk? Not always quite so much. But then, that's true of us all.

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 7:59pm BST

Bill,

Granted!
It's just that I react allergic to other people talking a talk that results in me having to walk a different walk, while they don't have to change their walk one little bit.

I cannot find it in me to respect their thinking any longer, and it taints everything else they ever say.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 10:53pm BST

Just feel I have to point out that there is zero prospect of the death penalty being restored in the UK, public opinion is not split 50:50 and NOT massively in favour of its return, and that the petition on the government's e-petition website to keep the death penalty off the statute books currently has more signatures than the pro-death penalty petition by a ratio of 3:2.

But all UK residents and British citizens, wherever located, should sign the anti-death penalty petition at

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/1090

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 1:40pm BST

What Erika said.

'I cannot find it in me to respect their thinking any longer, and it taints everything else they ever say.'

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 29 August 2011 at 10:53pm BST

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 11:11pm BST

I am not sure Erika that the church of england can / will do much better.

I think I'd be better off spending more time and energy with Proust. Also marvellous, brief, accessible, funny and serious book on reading Proust by Alain de Botton is a real must !

Also Michael Ondaatje ( author of The English Patient gave a personal, wise, witty interview on radio 4 yesterday 7.15 pm in which he explored the interface of fact and fiction beautifully. Just what we all need innit.

And while I'm at it - the Miro at Tate Modern is very liberating - ending soon !

Yes, There's so much good stuff beyond the Church - any Church

thank God !

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 11:19pm BST
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