Since then, Andrew Goddard responded by republishing an earlier essay entitled Semper Reformanda in a Changing World: Calvin, Usury and Evangelical Moral Theology.
Now, the bishop, Anthony Crockett, has published this further article. It’s quite long, but does come back eventually to the original topic:
…The Welsh Bishops, to get back to my original paper, tried in their statements on homosexuality and civil partnerships to indicate their perception of where Christians who read the Bible with integrity are, like Calvin in his day. Some of the views they mentioned are undoubtedly revisionist, in terms of the biblical and traditional material – as revisionist, but not more so, as Calvin’s in relation to usury – and on the same grounds, namely the principle of equity and the application of the Golden Rule ‘on which hang the law and the prophets’. The Bishops might have taken the trouble to produce ‘a form of moral argumentation and an appeal to Scripture’, to say nothing of tradition, social change and the ‘way in which our current situation is different from that of the biblical writers’. But those arguments are already much in the public domain. The Bishops appreciated the need, felt by some, to reconceptualise the phenomenon of homosexuality (cf Calvin’s identical argument on p12), and now Dr Goddard, in posting his paper on the Fulcrum website, has done them the favour of reproducing that argumentation for all to see, and to make up their minds. The Bishops will welcome his willingness to apply Calvin’s method based on equity and the Golden Rule, for like Calvin, they do not want to ‘turn (their) back on Scripture. Rather (they want to) let Scripture shape (their) thinking at the level of moral and theological principles’ (p10).
Perhaps Dr Goddard would agree that it would have been better if he had applied his analysis of Calvin’s hermeneutical method to our Statements, before he reached for his pen. Then his precipitate response and unhelpful tone might have been avoided. But all’s well that ends well. We should be glad that his lucid presentation of Calvin’s rationale for his revision of the consistent, unwavering, ‘clear’ biblical and traditional veto on usury is now in the public domain. I should like to suggest that we should all apply it consistently and conscientiously to the issue of same-sex relationships, refusing to confuse the issue with that of promiscuity, as Gagnon – he of the unpleasant tone – does. Instead of condemnation, we should admit that when homosexual people talk of permanent, loving, same-sex relationships, they are speaking of something which ‘is in fact significantly different in practice from Scriptural concerns and so cannot simply be subsumed in the standard moral descriptions and condemnations’, as Dr Goddard himself recognises could be the case (p12). Who knows, we might even consent to listen ‘to homosexual people, welcoming them into our homes and sitting down to eat with them’, as Stephen Fowl (p6) recommends.