Thinking Anglicans

MCU conference papers

Many of the papers from the 2008 Modern Churchpeople’s Conference, Saving the soul of Anglicanism: the nature and future of the Anglican Communion are now available on the MCU website.

Here are the links to the PDF files. More detail and links to Word files are available here.

The Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan
Questions not Answers: A way forward for the Anglican Communion?

The Right Rev Michael Jackson
Anglicanism, blessing or curse – the Irish experience

The Right Rev Trevor Mwamba
A Holy Mess and the Grace of Ambiguity

Revd Dr Marilyn McCord Adams
The proposed Anglican Covenant and its implications for the Communion

Revd Dr Janet Wootton
A Dissenter’s view of Anglicanism and Establishment

Andrew Brown
A Journalist’s view of Anglicanism

86 comments

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    What a lovely article by Archbishop Barry Morgan! In his thoughts on R.S. Thomas’s poetry and his relevance within the context of present-day Anglican oppositional theology, Barry Morgan is re-introducing into the argument that wonderful Anglican ‘uncertainty’ that is part and parcel of our tentative understanding about God and Creation.

    He rightly, I think, questions the absolutism of the ‘substitutionary theory’, which seems to place God in the role of vengeful Benefactor – rather than Who God really is – as revealed to us in the Person and Being of Jesus Christ of the Gospels – a Loving Creator God, who has stooped to identify with God’s human creation.

    This understanding of a God who is both omnipotent and lovingly involved must surely lead to a renewed understanding of another poetic expression of faith – ‘The Revelations of Divine Love’. Mother julian of Norwich – that great visionary of the English Church said it all when she spoke of her own experience of God, which inspired her to predict that, when all has been said and done: “All things shall be well; all manner of things shall be well” – Deo Gratias!

  • Keith Kimber says:

    Agreed, Archbishop Barry’s lecture is inspirational. If its spiritual impulse is followed through, it will cause a lot of grief for the legalisers and the covenanters of Anglicanism whose activities presume a bedrock of ‘saving knowledge’, that allows them to feel secure and certain about who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’ of the household of faith.
    Taking us back to the Cloud of Unknowing is the best remedy to the burden of ecclesial ideas and institutions from the past. But how do we evolve a mystical critique of the church that actually makes possible practical reform and renewal of the community of faith without demolishing an edifice on which all depend -laity and clerics alike?

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    The Bishop of Botswana, Trevor Mwanba, in his presentation to the MCU, has given all of us much food for thought, for instance, in his statement:

    “The problem in the Anglican Communion
    is that the bishops have “short ears”
    which means we are hard of hearing, all
    deafened by the noise of our respective
    agendas. The great tragedy, speaking as
    an African bishop, is that having ‘short
    ears’ make some of our Primates in Africa
    act like ecclesiastical Mugabes”.

    His story of the beginnings of Christianity in Africa – which were founded on the experience and preaching of some of the Early Church Fathers like Cyprian and Augustine – have reminded us of the thread of continuity between apostolic times and the missionary work of more recent centuries. This, surely, ought to afford us insights into Africa’s rich heritage in the catholic and apostolic Faith.

    Sadly, some Primates of the African Church seem to have forgotten the diversity that existed in the establishment of their several Church bodies. This has led the ‘Global South’ constituency to insist on its own agenda for fellow Anglican Churches around the world – forgetting the wisdom of the past, which has allowed Anglicans to resile from the ‘Sola Scriptura’ mentality, to embrace the more balanced basis of Scripture, Tradition and Reason. While yet accepting that biblical principles are important as the basis on which our knowledge of the Word-made-flesh is founded, there has been an openness to new strategies of mission which have accepted the need to explore ways of including into the Church those who were formerly marginalised on grounds of their perceived incompatibility with received tradtion.

    These Global South Prelates have referred to what they have called the ‘colonial mentality’ of the Canterbury leadership, while at the same time entertaining ‘colonial’ ambitions of their own in the territories of TEC and Canada.

    If the Bishops of the Church are able to listen to this Bishop from Central Africa, our beloved Anglican Communion should be able to learn to live with the diversities which already have made their way into the theology and practice of the Church around the world – without demanding that every branch of the Anglican Communion having to sign up to a Confessional Document of Faith.

    Openness to new revelation by the Spirit of God must always have precedence over any tradition that is closed to this revelation. Jesus himself said this – about the continuing influence of the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the Church: “When the Spirit of Truth comes, s/he will lead you into all truth”. (i.e.Dynamic not static theology)

  • Ford Elms says:

    “that wonderful Anglican ‘uncertainty’ that is part and parcel of our tentative understanding about God and Creation.”

    Give me doubt over certainty any day! I read something once that said ‘the opposite of doubt is not knowledge, the opposite of doubt is faith.’ This is one of the core issues here, actually. Some people have the idea that the tenets of the faith have to be “true” in some provable historic sense. It leads them down the path of having to decide which parts of the Bible are historical, though none ARE in any modern sense of the word. It leads to the idea people who do not need, indeed, maybe are put off by, this need for literal historic truth do not have any faith, when in actuality the opposite is true. it leads to many worse things. It takes a lot of faith to say “I believe the this, despite the evidence that it is not factual or historical”. “I believe in One God…” doesn’t mean that you can prove it, after all, but rather that you put your FAITH in His existence. A provable God would have to be comprehensible to our finite human minds, and that sounds more like the created than the Creator to me.

    “seems to place God in the role of vengeful Benefactor”

    Exactly! It makes God the enemy. Have you read a piece that is an online favourite, called The River of Fire? It’s full of Eastern Orthodox anti-Western rhetoric, but it makes this point, sees this idea of God the enemy as near blasphemy, and, I think rightly, blames it for the decline of faith in Western Christianity. He makes the point: it’s better to believe nothing than to believe in a God who is so dysfunctional as to commit a bizarre act of infanticide/suicide so as to satisfy His own wounded pride. Given that the Orthodox (the real ones) continually call God the “Lover of Mankind” you can see why they’d think this. Given that God is Love, I think they have a very good point. It’s a pretty powerful statement, and a sad one, that for some people, that image of an angry God just waiting for them to slip up so He can punish them is actually considered “loving”.

  • Ben W says:

    Ron Smith,

    You make some good points about the place for diversity and so on. That is not really in dispute. Can we also recognize the need for some boundaries? Or is it now “anything goes?”

    The rationale you resort to in the end will not hold up, you say: “openness to new revelation by the Spirit of God must always have precedence over any tradition that is closed to this revelation. Jesus himself said this – about the continuing influence of the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the Church: “When the Spirit of Truth comes, s/he will lead you into all truth”.

    Really? Is it “precedence for new revelation?” If so why are you not a member in a mosque or at least in a Mormon temple somewhere instead of the AC? Basic oversight in the very texts you reference – it is not simply “new revelation” but the decisive revelation in Christ, “the Holy Spirit will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26;15:26;16:14). Yes, “Dynamic not static theology,” but based on and in continuity with Jesus Christ.

    Ben W

  • Pluralist says:

    Sunday was St Batholomew’s Day and I was expecting some reference in a sermon to the ejection of nearly 2000 ministers. The institutional memory of that event you carry as an individual can mark you out: I see that, like me, Janet Wootten is on the ejected side. Thus you also see things from an anti-establishment side.

  • Pat O'Neill says:

    Ben:

    The problem, as I see it, is that you want to keep the boundaries where they’ve always been (at least in your lifetime). Those of us on the other side of this issue wish to move them, not take them down.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Or is it now “anything goes?””

    Ben, this seems to be a fear of conseratives in general, that there are only two choices: either adherence to a Law as traditionally interpreted, or the chaos of “anything goes”. But “liberals” aren’t saying “anything goes”. They are arguing for a more liberal understanding of the Tradition, perhaps, but not “anything goes”. Insistence on seeing anything that does not adhere to a well specified Law as a recipe for chaos just adds to the fear that has generated so much anger in conservatives and is fuel for the persecution myth. Please, why do you see it as a doing away with all boundaries. Why, for instance, the assumption that acceptance of gay unions will result in the blessing of polygamy, which is one fear conservatives voice? You are right to insist on boundaries, but don’t fear that just because the boundaries don’t fall where you think they should go, there must thus be no boundaries at all. Keep insisting, by all means, that we specify clearly what we are intending if we bless gay unions, but I think that has already been done. No-one, for instance, is saying that what they want blessed is anything other than monogamous, committed unions, so there’s a boundary right there, and those conservatives, not you, who then make the leap to blessing polygamy or even promiscuity are just fear mongering.

  • Ben W says:

    Pat,

    The boundaries are what they have been from before the beginning of the church . . . definite lines of teaching that affirm the sexual relation in marriage of male and female from the beginning of scripture through the NT in Jesus and the apostle Paul (a little more than my “lifetime!”).

    Or is it matter with you, as with another lister on another thread, that it has to be “modern” to be valid? Is what is true or good a matter of modern?(and how modern – last century, decade, year, yesterday?). That is “truth” on the cheap and no more than a sham, I want no part of it.

    Ben W

  • JCF says:

    “you want to keep the boundaries where they’ve always been (at least in your lifetime)”

    Your parenthetical comment is essential, Pat. So often, those against LGBT (and/or female) inclusion—in all orders, all sacraments—do so on the basis of a “We’re just keeping to 2000 years of Tradition!” argument. In reality, often that “Tradition” is less than 200 years old—or 20! [Not to mention, the “confusing coincidence w/ causality” fallacy]

    It’s the Holy Spirit who keeps “moving the boundaries” (ever since “the Spirit fell” on an unexpected crowd, back in Sinai). Those of us who’re trying to be faithful to the Holy Spirit, are merely following where She leads. 🙂

    God bless these faithful Anglican voice of the MCU!

  • choirboyfromhell says:

    Ben W: “…..based on and in continuity with Jesus Christ” And since when is dynamic theology not based on Jesus Christ?

    Oh, I’m sorry, yes, that’s right, you’re better than us.

  • Steven says:

    It’s rather interesting that no one has commented on Andrew Brown’s article, which presents a novel approach–for a liberal–to the question of who got this whole thing rolling.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    Dear Ben W.

    When I speak of the work of the Holy Spirit in my comments on this site, it ought to be remembered that, as a Christian and a priest, my intention is always to point to Jesus Christ as the ultimate revelation of God in human terms. To speak, therefore of the Holy Spirit as the past, current and future agency of revelation, is to be in accord with the Trinitarian doctrine of the co-equal nature of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I have never presumed to say that any revelation from God would be divorced from that concept.

    What I believe is that God has already revealed the fullness of God’s-self in Christ. However, in terms of time as we now know it, there is still further revelation that God intends for God’s children in this life – in line with the promise of Jesus: “When the Holy Spirit comes…….”.

    According to your thesis, it would appear that there has been no further revelation from God since the publication of the King James Bible, nor can we expect any. There is a well-known motto which has been in use in the Church for some time now – ‘semper reformanda’. . If we reamin static in our understanding of God we are no longer ‘on pilgrimage’ – a characteristic of the faith Journey into God.

  • Ben W says:

    Pat,

    There are lines of teaching from the beginning (in the OT) to Jesus and Paul (in the NT) that affirm the sexual relation in marriage for male and female (a little more than my lifetime!).

    Is truth something that just “shifts” with the time? Or is being “modern” the test of truth? You the evangelicals “want ot keep the boundaries where they’ve always been … Those of us on the other side of this issue wish to move them, not take them down.” Well that is interesting, boundaries tha tone can move around according to preference. Are we talking about real boundaries? I suppose if the USA decided to up and move the boundrys a hundred miles north into Canada I think the Canadians might say this is the boundary! You don’t change it in accord with your preference (that is what boundary means!).

    Ben W

  • Erika Baker says:

    Steven
    I have not commented because I did not follow Anglican politics when women and the priesthood were debated.
    Andrew Brown may well be right, he makes a compelling point. And it’s quite possible that liberals made big mistakes during this process.

    But what’s your conclusion?
    That liberals transgressing against an unspoken understanding while protecting those who did not want the innovation was so incredibly bad that, quoting Andrew Brown: “ the conservatives went off and built their own prams, their battle prams, if you like, and now they are running them through the playgroup squashing everyone in sight” is a good thing?

    And if that’s the truth, are you prepared to go back behind the battle lines?
    It’s the moratorium question, isn’t it. TEC compromises now by not authorizing SSBs and not consecrating openly gay bishops. And the conservatives compromise by doing what?

  • Peter of Westminster says:

    Hi Ben,

    I think you’ve overdrawn the metaphor. Anyway, looked at historically, “boundaries” are always shifting, whether we prefer that they do or not. Things that Christians once thought essential to the faith, you no longer believe in yourself — the flat earth, the fixed earth, the young earth, fixed and immutable species, and (in the American Antebellum South) slavery (Southern clergy argued with complete conviction that since the NT does not require the freeing of slaves, slave holding is Biblically justified. As war broke out, they were even arguing that it was structurally essential to the faith of many, for the…apologies, I’m lapsing into lecture mode.)

    Of course, hindsight is easy. It is harder to discern in the passions of the moment where we should draw our boundaries. Still, it seems clear to increasing numbers of us that many ideas found in the church today about both gender and sexual orientation are no more essential to the faith than the notion of the geocentric universe.

  • Pat O'Neill says:

    Ben:

    You see, there’s the problem again…seeing anything in the scripture as “definite” (other than the essential “Christ as God and savior”). You read a translation into modern English of documents originally written in ancient languages (including three that were initially passed on only orally, and primarily in a language–Aramaic–that is not spoken by anyone in the world today) and you take every word in it as literal. You see definitiveness where others–including most of the great Biblical scholars–see ambiguity.

    Can I point something out to you? In Jesus’ time (and for most of Jewish history before that and for some time after, until the development of rabbinic Judaism), there was no such thing as a wedding ceremony? No priest presided…the couple–or more likely, their families–declared a marriage, signed certain documents regarding bride price, etc., and held a feast to celebrate. Marriage, to a first century Jew, was a social, cultural and financial arrangement, not a religious one.

    In fact, it was that way, for the most part, even in Western society for hundreds of years. We just put a religious gloss on it with the church ceremony.

  • Ford Elms says:

    Steven, I DO remember the OOW debate in Canada. The ACC’s behaviour in that was the cause of my abandonment of the Church for 18 years. It still is an issue, but not one I care about all that much any more. I don’t go to church because I think a bunch of bishops know what they are talking about. There are some, like Victoria Matthews, who get it. There are others who spectacularly do not. God gets it, though, and that’s why I go.

    I agree though, that we have abandoned the older Imperial idea of working together in favour of the individual’s (whether person or Church) right to self detemination. I generally side with the liberals, since I see little Christian in the behaviour of the Right, but the Left has problems. This defence of “prophetic” behaviour, the surety that the Spirit is moving, and the lack of regard for anyone outside certain borders is frustrating even for me. Might it be that the opposition of the rest of the Church is actually evidence that TEC has NOT accurately discerned the will of the Spirit in this area? I would think that Christian humility would compel one to think so, but there doesn’t seem much evidence of that compulsion being followed. I understand why conservatives think TEC is arrogant. For me, it’s not that the liberal side is so much better at representing the Gospel, it’s that the conservatives don’t seem to represent the Gospel at all in any obvious way. The liberal position in this, for me at least, is the best of a bad deal.

  • Merseymike says:

    I think the debate between Ben and the others on this thread demonstrates really well how fundamental the difference is between the liberal and conservative approach. I can’t really see any way of reconciling these views. Ben could never accept any change because he thinks truth is revealed only ion the bible and cannot be re-interpreted over time irrespective of subsequent developments.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Ford
    “Might it be that the opposition of the rest of the Church is actually evidence that TEC has NOT accurately discerned the will of the Spirit in this area?”

    Since you are also often at the forefront of musing whether evangelical behaviour has driven most liberals and less obsessive people out of the church this is an interesting point.
    If those who don’t agree with you leave, is that then evidence for the truth of your position?

    Social changes take many decades to percolate from vociferous interest groups only to general acceptance to the point that everyone has forgotten what the debate was about.
    Church changes take even longer.

    As no single church has yet achieved the full inclusion of LGBTs and been able to assess the consequences, it is at least premature to muse that there is evidence for the Spirit supporting the extreme right.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “I can’t really see any way of reconciling these views.”

    But you aren’t being asked to provide a way, neither am I. All we are expected to do is love those we find it hard to love, perhaps we even find them unlovable. I certainly find them so, and I usually fail to do what’s expected, but that’s what confession is for! Their failure to do the same to us is meaningless. I figure God knows how to bring about a reconciliation, and will do so in His own good time. Don’t look for it soon, though, “a thousand ages in (His) sight are but as yesterday when it is passed.”

  • Steven says:

    Erika:

    Andrew Brown’s colorful language about “battle prams” is a product of (and proof of) his overall liberal mind set. I do not take offense–I would not expect anything different from him or you. I mainly bring him up for two reasons.

    First, because he recognizes that conservatives did not “start” the battle, nor were they the first to utilize certain tactics. As my mother-in-law says, “what goes around, comes around.” This is her way of saying something like “one reaps what one sows,” or possibly, “sow the wind and reap the whirlwind,” (an appropriate and pithy summary of Brown’s article).

    Second, because he recognizes something that most liberals fail to recognize: The sense of inevitability that they carry and project is a product of their own imaginations. This does not mean that I want to see liberals eliminated and cast out if it can be avoided. It does mean that liberals, like puritans, need to accept that there are limits if they are to remain as part of the common life of a diverse communion. Those limits will chafe and the liberal faction, like the puritan and anglo-Catholic factions within the church, will always be somewhat restive and prone to discontent. But, this is a choice that liberals have to make. They will decide whether to split or remain. Personally, I believe they will be divided, with some making one choice and some the other. Time will tell.

    Steven

  • Erika Baker says:

    Merseymike,

    “Ben could never accept any change because he thinks truth is revealed only ion the bible and cannot be re-interpreted over time irrespective of subsequent developments”

    That’s not quite true. Ben and those like him have always been very good at accepting those changes they wanted to accept and claimed that they suddenly interpreted Scripture correctly, where previous generations of Christians had interpreted it incorrectly (see the slavery issue as a prominent example).

    They only refuse to accept those changes they don’t like.

  • Steven says:

    Ford:

    Your post is very good, and (as usual) exceptionally forthright in terms of your overall perceptions and experiences. However, I think you err in terms of your criticism that conservatives don’t “represent the Gospel at all in any obvious way.” Remember, these are (in general) folks who are extremely dedicated to promulgating the Gospel and Gospel ideals. Consequently, your remark–taken on its face–seems to take a pretty broad brush approach.

    If you are speaking only with regard to the presenting issue, then perhaps it would be better to restrict your critique to this issue.

    If you cannot separate the two, are you truly any better than all of the conservatives that I have heard you (and other liberals) roundly criticize for not being willing to acknowledge that liberals are also Christian brothers/sisters despite differences on certain issues?

    Steven

  • Steven says:

    Merseymike:

    You are right in terms of some fundamental differences that separate liberals and conservatives. These differences cannot be bridged. One side or the other will prevail in terms of the presenting issue. However, as a conservative I can say that I don’t think that every arrow in the liberal quiver is bent, just some. Others merely represent a different emphasis and approach to issues that are (or should) be of concern to all Christians. I can live with that.

    Steven

  • Ford Elms says:

    “If you are speaking only with regard to the presenting issue, then perhaps it would be better to restrict your critique to this issue.”

    True. The only thing I can say in my defence is that I get very angry being misrepresented concerning my faith, my politics, and my life. The Gospel is not a Gospel of falsehood. But you’re right, I shoud restrict myself to the presenting issue. I see nothing of the Gospel in the way conservatives address the presenting issue. Do you? Where?

    “If you cannot separate the two, are you truly any better than all of the conservatives”

    No. Again though, I would say that while I do not, in the presenting issue, see much evidence of living the Gospel, I would never say they are not Christians, or that they are seeking to subvert the Gospel. I even acknowledge the possibility they may be right, despite the radically innovative nature of many of the things many of them believe. I might think their beliefs to be in grievous error, but I’d never claim they believe nothing, much less refuse to receive the sacrament with them. I might think they are defending fading cultural power structures, but I would never accuse them of abandoning the faith in search of that culture’s approval. But, Mother Julian tells us to pay attention to our own sins and not those of others, and this is precisely why it’s such a good idea.

  • Ford Elms says:

    Erika,
    “If those who don’t agree with you leave, is that then evidence for the truth of your position?”

    No. That’s not what I said. I’m just saying that TEC seems convinced of the “prophetic” nature of its position. No-one seems to have considered that the opposition they are getting from the rest of the Church might, just might, be an indication that they are not so utterly justified in their confidence of their own rightness.

    “vociferous interest groups”

    I think this is why Church change takes so long. If we go along with the demands of “vociferous interest groups” whether or not some of us agree with them, then we tossed about all over the place. Let the interest groups see their frolic out, then we can avoid the peril of falling for every trend that comes by.

    Steven,

    “anglo-Catholic factions within the church, will always be somewhat restive and prone to discontent.”

    Pardon? I haven’t heard much restiveness and discontent from Anglo-catholics. Every so often, some of the more spiky threaten to swim the Tiber over this or that, but most that I know aren’t all that interested. Where do you see the restiveness and discontent among ACs?

  • Malcolm+ says:

    The one weakness of Andrew Brown’s analysis is that he accepts one particularly odious “conservative” canard as true.

    The North American provinces never demanded that anyone else conform on the issue of the ordination of women. Certianly there was an expectation that others would eventually come around – and many have. But to suggest that there was any attempt “to force other Christians to do what they did not want” is still a fabrication no matter how many times the lie is repeated.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Ford
    “”If those who don’t agree with you leave, is that then evidence for the truth of your position?”

    No. That’s not what I said”

    Sorry, I did not express myself clearly.

    What I’m trying to get at is that if everyone who would agree with you, but does not feel compelled to stay and battle it out leaves, then you are left, by definition, with those who disagree with you, who naturally are in the majority.

    So to say that “the rest of the church” is against you says more about the rest of the church than about the rightness or not of your position.

    And, no, with the current level of available theology there can be no real doubt that TEC is hearing the Spirit correctly. The whole development of Christianity has been towards the loving inclusion and acceptance of more and more groups of people who had previously been considered unacceptable for a variety of reasons.
    And the fact that those who oppose it have to resort to lies about gays to cling on to their position, and to apply rather simplistic and modern readings of Scripture, is an indication that this is only a temporary rearguard battle, fought all the louder because it’s a losing battle.
    I might change my mind if one person, even only a single one, manages to dent Tobias Haller’s (et all) theology instead of ignoring it and repeating the same old same old.

    As for interest groups – of course, all change in society and in the church follows the same pattern. At first those affected by an injustice become aware of it, then they grumble a bit, then they group together and begin battle. Then they are slowly joined by extreme liberals (it’s always liberals who want to change things and conservatives who want to conserve them). Slowly the change seeps down to less extreme liberals and to some middle of the roaders.
    Ultimately, if the request is valid, the logic of the change sweeps everyone along and only the extreme conservatives still grumble.

    If the issue is far enough in history, like slavery, no-one grumbles any longer. If it’s recent, like women’s lib, grumblers still exist.

    So with regard to the lgbt issue I would say we’re simply in that stage of developments where more and more mainstream people accept our claim and suddenly the theology becomes possible too.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Steven

    Yes, but even if the liberals were at fault over women’s ordination, where does that get us now?
    My question to you was what can be done to move forward.

    The tactics of liberals and conservatives may be at fault, but the fact is that there are two groups with differing views, both of which are legitimate.
    So what do we do, in practice, to end the deadlock?

    A moratorium on SSBs and consecrating gay bishops was suggested. That may well work, provided the conservatives also show a willingness to compromise.

    So what are you proposing? Playing blame games alone isn’t getting us anywhere.

  • Ford Elms says:

    Erika, by and large, I agree, especially with the part that begins:

    “And the fact that those who oppose it have…”

    But there’s a couple of points. First,

    “So to say that “the rest of the church” is against you says more about the rest of the church than about the rightness or not of your position.”

    But the Church is the assembled body of believers filled with the Spirit. We still have to make allowance for the possibility that She will work with what She has. She did it with Paul, after all.

    “At first those affected by an injustice become aware of it”

    But this isn’t necesarily all that trustworthy an assessment. American conservatives, for instance, feel affected by injustice if they can’t force Creationsim in schools on a par with Evolution, or if they can’t force school prayer, or any of a mountain of other issues. Lots of people feel they are treated unjustly, indeed, I’d suggest that some quarters of modern society only validate people who identify themselves as victims of something and fight against that victimhood. It sounds harsh to say it, but just because some people feel oppressed doesn’t mean they actually are. I think that being subject to the death penalty just for existing is pretty good evidence of it. Being told you can’t steal a Church building from God, not so much.

  • Ben W says:

    Pat,

    An array of assumptions and oversights! You yourself a few days ago thought that the ten commandments were quite definite!

    Now you seem to have difficulty affirming anthing as “definite” (other than the essential “Christ as God and savior”). Your Arians ancient and modern would not go with your essential!

    I have studied both Greek (and taught it) and Hebrew which is 98% of the language of Old and NT. The more thorough scholarship actually says that oral transmission was prominent but learners/disciples would take notes that they might learn “by memory.” You presume, “and you take every word in it as literal.” That’s a hoot! Take it figuratively when intended as in parables (read in accord with intention and the genre).

    On marriage, you want to “point something out to [me],” and say that for Jesus’ time and for most of Jewish history there was no such thing as a wedding ceremony. And you conclude, “Marriage, to a first century Jew, was a social, cultural and financial arrangement, not a religious one.” You have some details but as a whole this is simply wrong and a blatent anachronism.

    First, for most ancient societies this separation between social, cultural and religious is simply wrongheaded and certainly for Jews of Jesus’ time and beyond. Second, it does not really take account of what happened around marriage. It was preceeded by a betrothal (much more serious than our engagement – it involved a solemn pledging of the couple to one another and divorce proceedings were necessary to break it, cf Matt 1:19). At the wedding there was a festive procession (often at night), special garments, special “associates,” music and dancing, some form of “covenant making,” (cf Prov 2:17; Mal 2:14), blessing from the “Lord”(Ruth 4:11; Tobit 7::13). We even have the example of a written marriage contract referred to in Tobit 7:14 and also in the Mishnah.

    So much for your presumption!

    Ben W

  • Erika Baker says:

    Ford
    “But the Church is the assembled body of believers filled with the Spirit”

    Except where there is a strong possibility that years of flat earth preaching and intolerance have emptied the church of those who might otherwise be part of this body.

    The Church is the body of believers filled with the Spirit, but this includes people not in the official church organisation, and it excludes those within the organisation who are not motivated by faith.

    And I know that being affected by injustice isn’t a trustworthy assessment. That’s why it takes time to discern whether it is valid or not. In the case of abolishing slavery it was valid, as it was in the case of no longer blaming all Jews for killing Jesus. In general Western society this includes the equality of women, in the church this conversation is still continuing.

    Other causes have floundered and rightly so, clearly because in the long run they were not of the Spirit.

    With regard to gay inclusion all the signs are that the Spirit is speaking in favour of TEC, at least for our Western world for the time being.

  • Ben W says:

    Peter of W,

    Since when was the idea of a “flat earth” central to the faith? If you said it was incidental you would be on target.

    Scripture speaks specifically about the “circle of the earth,” and further, things are variously described as we experience them or as they appear (e.g. we talk about the “sun going down” – is that simply “wrong?”). On boudaries, always shifting? On key lines of teaching this has at times happened but we call it “apostasy” when we want to call it by the right name! (+++ Williams a while ago called this to our attention). On slavery, again we have been around this (see archives) – NT in context is directed to the end of slavery and it was gospel/evangelical people who led in the abolition of slavery.

    From this you presume to say that marriage as set out in scripture, including Jesus and Paul, is “no more essential to the faith …?? Yes, there is a better way.

    Ben W

  • Pat O'Neill says:

    What percentage of the NT is in Hebrew, Ben? The only written versions we have of the Gospels, Letters, and Revelation are all in Greek, and it is generally understood that Jesus and his disciples spoke Aramaic, not Hebrew, and would have orally transmitted their stories in that language.

    When did these learners/disciples start taking notes? The vast majority of first century Palestinians were illiterate.

    You are correct that the separation of social and cultural from religious concerns is mostly a post-Reformation concept. But the fact remains that, to a first-century Jew, the family and society’s approval of a marriage was far more important than the approval of the religious authorities.

    As for the “definiteness” of scripture, I was referring to the way you assume that the translations you hold on to so strongly are accurate. Given at least a half-century of oral tradition before they were put in written form, given that they are written in languages that no one spoke by the time they were being translated into modern European languages (first-century Greek has about as much in common with modern Greek as the Anglo-Saxon of Beowulf has with modern English), given the arguments that continue among translators about obscure words in those ancient languages (pace, Goran), to be so cock-sure that these passages mean what you take them to mean is ridiculous.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    ‘Since when was the idea of a “flat earth” central to the faith? If you said it was incidental you would be on target’. – Ben W.

    It was essential enough for ‘The Church’ in its day, to anathematise those who thought the earth might be a sphere. – or was that nothing to do with ‘faith’? If that, indeed, was the case, then why did the Church have to pronounce on it?

    And since when has the “circle of the earth” meant, empirically, that the earth is spherical?

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “Almost all the people running the anti-gay operation at Lambeth in 1998 were veterans of the
    anti-women operations of 1988. They had digested the lessons of their defeat then”.

    This comment, by Andrew Brown to the Conference at MCU, does give us a bird’s-eye journalist’s view of what was going on at successive Lambeth Conferences. This would explain the almost inevitable outcome of Resolution 1.10.

    The Conservative elements in the Church had realised their relative lack of cohesion on their approach to the issue of women’s ordination, and were determined not to make the same mistake (in their view) on the issue of the acceptance and ordination of homosexuals in the Church.

    The mistake they have made – on both issues – is to have set their assumptions on the traditional doctrinal stance as being their ‘bottom line’; whereas what is really at stake here is the ongoing discovery of Gospel truth – in the light of what Jesus the Word might want us to know and understand about gender and sexuality, as they have been generally accepted in today’s world.

    There is still the tool of biblical hermeneutics -which the Church will need to constantly engage in, if it is to remain authentic as bringer of Gospel values into its dialogue with the world. We still have to come to terms with the need of a continual evolution of theological praxis that will match up to the pace of scientific research and discovery – especially at this time, in the field of human sexuality.

    Theology is not a static discipline. If this were the case, then there would be no further need of revelation by the Holy Spirit, and the whole theory of salvation and redemption would be cut and dried – both for now and in the ages to come.

  • JCF says:

    “Since when was the idea of a “flat earth” central to the faith?”

    I’ll see you and raise you a “Since when was ‘man/woman-ONLY marriage’ central to the faith?”, BenW.

    ***

    “This does not mean that I want to see liberals eliminated and cast out if it can be avoided.”

    So you conceive of circumstances where it CANNOT be avoided eliminating me and casting me out, Steven?

    {gobsmacked}

    Sooooo not feeling any Christian love. 🙁

    Lord have mercy!

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Your Arians “

    Coming from an Evangelical, this is a truly amusing accusation!

    “Since when was the idea of a “flat earth” central to the faith”

    Well, actually, Ben, up till the Enlightenment, a flat Earth centred universe was quite important. It was understood to reflect the centrality of humanity in Creation. That centrality was important for our understanding of the Incarnation and of Redemption. The argument was: human beings are, or must be, the pinnacle of Creation. Thus, when we fell, all Creation fell with us. That’s why God had to Incarnate as a human being, so that, in restoring us to our initial state, all Creation was restored with us. It was thus seen as natural, even necessary, that a flat Earth be at the centre of the Universe, and to deny that was to deny man his central role in the drama of the Fall and Redemption, and I’d say being the cause of it all is pretty central. If we are NOT at the pinnacle of Creation, then God could have Incarnated as a hippo or something. That’s why the idea was so dangerous. The Church actually knew Galilleo was right, but couldn’t risk the damage to the idea of man’s centrality in Creation with all its implications for the theology of Redemption, no small matter.

  • Ben W says:

    Pat,

    Once more, did I say something about the NT being written in Hebrew? Read again, see that I was talking about the two languages in which most of the Old and NT is written. I did not think it had to be said that the Gospels are in Greek! Actually, it is generally now “understood that Jesus and his disciples spoke Aramaic” but also Greek (there were Greek speaking cities almost within sight of Nazareth. You have reference to Greek speaking Jews in Jerusalem itself from the earliest days of the church, e.g. Acts 6:1). You can read the front-rank German scholar Martin Hengel on Hellenism and Christianity. The same reading will also make clear that “the vast majority of first century Palestinians were illiterate,” is little more than assumption!

    You finally acknowledge “You are correct that the separation of social and cultural from religious concerns is mostly a post-Reformation concept…” But you know that “the family and society’s approval of a marriage was far more important than the approval of the religious authorities.?” On what basis? Anachronistically assuming that religion for them as for some today was a kind of “nice preference” if you like that kind of thing?

    Further assumption, do you have any idea how they worked as a largely oral culture? (Memory given priority but accompanied by writing that would help them learn it etc). Why do you choose to operate by sheer assumption? On translations, I have never much used King James but more RSV and NRSV.

    As to reliability in language and translation, there is a wide array of evidence that enables careful translation – and parrallel translations from the original into other languages, reference in various contexts from the early church leaders and writers to the NT text etc. If you really think that the NT text is uncertain you have no basis for affirming what you want to affirm or countering what I say on any matter!

    Ben W

  • Ben W says:

    Ron Smith,

    You have not addressed the issue of continuity of revelation with Jesus Christ. Is it simply determined by preference and what you think of as modern knowledge (Richard Dawkins may be of great help to you here!)? If so how are you different from the Mormons with their “new revelations?”

    Again, “Since when was the idea of a ‘flat earth’ central to the faith?” Is it in any of the key NT statements or in any of the confessions or creeds? Not last I looked! You say the church acted to “anathematise those who thought the earth might be a sphere.” As I remembber they did that for a number of things at that time including those who affirmed salvation by faith and not by works or those who practised something other than infant baptism and so on.

    You question “circle of the earth” and the earth as spherical, I simply note it and the fact that the text says that God “hangs it upon nothing.” If you were not simply operating from assumption why are you so sure it cannot mean sperical?

    Ben W

  • Steven says:

    Ford:

    Regarding your comment that you see nothing of the Gospel message in the conservative approach to the presenting issue, I am not sure that I follow you. Are you making a distinction between Law and Gospel, between God’s goals for us and his promises to forgive us for our failing to achieve those goals, between God as Savior and God as Lord?

    Christ admonished, forbade and commanded as well as forgiving sins. So it has always been with God–God’s role as Savior and His role as Lord are never separated. Consequently, I for one, find it very difficult to say that God’s intention to forgive, restore and reconcile is completely separable from his commands. Both are part and parcel of God’s love for us and His ommand over our lives.

    Steven

  • Erika Baker says:

    Ben
    “As to reliability in language and translation, there is a wide array of evidence that enables careful translation – and parrallel translations from the original into other languages,”

    So what, for example, is the evidence that definite articles, which do not exist in Aramaic, have been inserted correctly in the translations?

    We read “I am the way, the truth and the light”, deducting some kind of exclusivity from it.
    But the spoken word would have been “I am way, truth and light”.

    Just one example.

  • Ben W says:

    Erika,

    To start with the terms you set, have you studied the Biblical languages?

    You quote, “I am the way, the truth and the light”,and add “deducting some kind of exclusivity from it.” Who and what kind? Somehow you know “the spoken word would have been “I am way, truth and light”. You insist we cannot know but then you are sure you know – amazing! If you really want to learn read some good grammers on Aramaic and Greek, they are available.

    Ben W

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Regarding your comment that you see nothing of the Gospel message in the conservative approach to the presenting issue, I am not sure that I follow you.”

    References to the “inhuman” act of homosexuality. False claims that homosexuals choose their sexuality, or that “many” can change if they choose. Support for a measure jailing not only gay people, but those who dare to council them to self acceptance, for 5 years. This from someone who says of homosexuals “we should love them more than that.” ie more than to allow them to keep sinning. Where’s the love in 5 years in jail? And what do we call someone who can speak of loving people while advocating jailing them? Claims that gay positive Episcopalians are faithless and merely seeking the approval of the world. False claims of persecution. Outright refusal, when called on to do so, to condemn anti-gay violence in their own countries. This is but a partial list. Where in these things do you see evidence of people practicing the Gospel? I feel the liberal side has also done wrong, but can you honestly say that the “liberal” side in this has been as consistently nasty and hostile as the Right? The hatefilled rhetoric from the Right has been very open, and made worse when it is defended as “evangelism”. I have consistently maintained that it is possible for conservatives to preach a message of repentance for homosexuality and adoption of celebacy in order for gay people to follow the Gospel without all the rhetoric, misrepresentation, and reviling of their opponents and us, yet every time I do so on this site and elsewhere, conservatives defend their right to insult and demean in the name of Evangelism, and the argument is that we are called to rebuke as well as to accept. That looks a lot to me like using God to justify one’s own bigotry and judgementalism.

  • Ford Elms says:

    Steven, if I don’t mention this, I’m sure Erika wil. Where is the evidence for the Gospel in the treatment of Davis Mac-Iyalla by the Church of Nigeria?

  • Erika Baker says:

    Oh please, Ben, can you never just answer a question without being sacastic about it first?

    Christians have often claimed that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and one of the sentences they quote to support this is “I am the way, the truth and the light”, that Jesus apparently said.

    Now, Jesus spoke Aramaic, but in Aramaic there are no definite articles.

    You said to Pat that careful translation of one language into another, without ambiguity, is possible.

    I am asking you to show me how, using the example I gave.

    I am making absolutely no claim as to the meaning of either phrase. I am simply asking you to substantiate your earlier claim about translation.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Somehow you know “the spoken word would have been “I am way, truth and light”.”

    I have found an online source that confirms the lack of a definite article in Aramaic. You teach it, so I would bow to your expertise. Every language has strategies for indicating definiteness. How is this done in Aramaic? Fronting? Topicalization? What is the semantic difference between the way we do it in English and the way it’s done in Aramaic? What is the Koine for this phrase? Besides, what’s the difference? I, like you, believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I just don’t presume, and I can vouch for at least one GAFCON bishop who taught the same from his pulpit, that that means that non-Christians are excluded from the Kingdom. Why must a statement of the Cosmic importance of the Incarnation be turned into a litmus test of faith and redemption? That’s the kind of exclusivity I, at least, find in this attitude. It’s usually quoted to back up claims that anyone who isn’t a Christian will go to Hell. I find that an amazing position, actually. Look at it this way: we need to get into a house. Our friend knocks out a window so we can get in. He knocks out other windows through which other people get in. They might think it’s THEIR friends who have knocked out the windows, but we know who actually did, and who gave us ALL entrance to the house. Is our friend going to make them leave the house just because they don’t believe he was the one who knocked out the windows?

  • Ben W says:

    Ron Smith,

    You question my statement, “Since when was the idea of a “flat earth” central to the faith?” Well, is it part of any key statement in the NT? Is it in the confessions or creeds? (It is more that Christians lived with the language that reflected experience or how things appear, which is what most people still do when they are not trying to make an issue of their knowledge!).

    You emphasize “It was essential enough for ‘The Church’ in its day, to anathematise those who thought the earth might be a sphere.” As I remember they did that for other things in that time, like the idea that salvation is by faith and not works or that baptism is something other than infant baptism etc. In other words the church pronounced on a range of things, some important some just wrongheaded.

    And if you were not operating simply from assumption (you note the further words about the earth that God “hangs it upon nothing”),how can you know that “circle of the earth” cannot mean the earth is spherical?

    Ben W

  • rick allen says:

    Not to make a big deal out it, but no educated person believed in a “flat earth” after antiquity. The Ptolemaic and Copernican models presume a spherical earth. Dante’s Commedia takes place on, and in, and over, a spherical earth.

    On John 14:7, the Greek of course has the definite pronounns with “way,” “truth,” and “life.” I think the Aramaic of the Peshitta has those words in the emphatic, a final “a” with the aleph, which my grammar tells me is the counterpart of the Hebrew definite article, the “ha-” prefix. In any case, I think the phrase following is more helpful for whether we should translate “the way” or “way” or “a way.”

  • Pat O’Neill wrote on the 26th August 10:34: “first-century Greek has about as much in common with modern Greek as the Anglo-Saxon of Beowulf has with modern English”.

    Your comparison is perhaps valid for 5th century BC Greek and Modern Greek, but not for Koíne. Modern Greek is much closer Koíne and Bible Greek than to the Academic Greek of the Platonists. There are a few exceptions of course: malakós; soft, of textiles, cf Luke 11: 24-26 and Matt 11: 7-9, has come to refer to “men (but also women!) who masturbate” in Modern Greek, which is a blatant Academic, Platonist, distortion.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Rick
    thank you. I clearly need to look at different Aramaic grammar ressources.

    Still, the basic question remains.
    How can anyone be so sure that translations of oral tradition into a foreign language are so correct that any kind of literalism can be founded on it.

    I chose the definite article as an example because it is still an issue in the translation of modern languages. Translating Japanese texts into English we have often had to go back to the author of the text to clarify what was meant. Of course, it is generally apparent from the context, but not always and there are occasions where it truly matters.

    I just have this aversion to glib and patronising statements that there is a wide array of evidence that faithful translations are possible – without the writer providing any evidence for it.

    I’m not just being pedantic here. When people criticise my faith and my life on the basis of the written word in an English bible, it really is not enough to say “but it says here”, and to claim that translating is an exact science.

  • Erika Baker says:

    You question my statement, “Since when was the idea of a “flat earth” central to the faith?” Well, is it part of any key statement in the NT? Is it in the confessions or creeds? (It is more that Christians lived with the language that reflected experience or how things appear, which is what most people still do when they are not trying to make an issue of their knowledge!).

    Well said, Ben. We’ve been saying the same about stable, faithful, loving and monogamous same sex relationships for ages!

  • Peter of Westminster says:

    Ben:

    “Since when was the idea of a “flat earth” central to the faith? If you said it was incidental you would be on target.”

    I did say it was incidental. But I shouldn’t have included it with “young earth” and “fixed earth” — rick allen is right just above.

    “Scripture speaks specifically about the “circle of the earth,” and further, things are variously described as we experience them or as they appear (e.g. we talk about the “sun going down” – is that simply “wrong?”).”

    So — is your argument here that there are no older and incorrect cosmological assumptions embedded in the Scriptures?

    “On boundaries, always shifting? On key lines of teaching this has at times happened but we call it “apostasy” when we want to call it by the right name! (+++ Williams a while ago called this to our attention).”

    Apostate? Moi? Seriously, Ben, the question here is what constitutes a “key line of teaching” and it deserves serious consideration. It’s just a cheap shot to redefine the terms of the discussion so that those with whom you disagree are “apostates.”

    “On slavery, again we have been around this (see archives) – NT in context is directed to the end of slavery and it was gospel/evangelical people who led in the abolition of slavery.”

    Yes, I know. And the earliest manumission societies were created by the first generations of Christians. Your comment assumes I was defending the Southern pro-slavery argument (!) when I was merely adducing it as an example of shifting boundaries of which you would surely approve.

    I think we done got a failure to communicate, here.

  • Ben W says:

    Ford,

    Thank you for the thoughtful questions. I still hear great generalizations from you about conservatives or the “right” as above in response to another. Certainly there are places where people continue to use tough language and dismissive words, but evangelicals everywhere and in general? I find that denigrating and unfair.

    I was not simply being snarky above, it makes a difference whether one has studied the original languages or not, or even knowing another language well besides one’s own. They operate “differently” and it is important to have some sense of that to compare them.

    NT Greek certainly uses the article at times when English does not. For instance God or Theos usually has the article, or in making reference to a whole class it would have “the sons of [the] men.” Interesting that “Jesus” often has the article (‘o Jaesous). The important thing is to know how the language works and translate with awareness.

    So in general you make a good point, “Every language has strategies for indicating definiteness.” In Aramaic, it will not necessarily use the article when we might (as Erika noted), but this is not to say there are no ways of indicating definiteness, could be by use of demonstrative pronoun (“that” or “this” way or truth etc), examples occur in 1 Enoch 46:2,3,4; 48:2 and so on. But we are referring to people many of whom operated in both languages (e.g. Paul, Acts 21:37-22:2)and what we have in the Greek text we read with this background. As it is, in John 14:6 context itself serves to make the main point clear, as you note the statement that follows sums it up. This states the decisive place of Jesus in making God known and in salvation, but precisely how it is worked out in the end is for God.

    Ben W

  • Ben W says:

    Erika,

    As I indicate to Ford I was not just being sarcastic in asking whether you have studied the original languages or about “exclusivity,” asking Who and what kind? There are “reductionist” ways of diluting or “cutting Jesus down” to fit our predilections or seeking to really hear this text.

    I have to say I find your response somewhat ironic after the way you have continued to refer to me on the list.

    As it is I was responding directly to the assumption that in translation everything is uncertain; not being “glib,” if one wants to learn the use of articles in Aramaic or Greek there are important resources. About translation you may note what I said to Ford and also what Rick has said.

    Ben W

  • Ben W says:

    Peter,

    Helpful to see you acknowledging you were at points simply operating from assumption.

    I said, “On key lines of teaching this has at times happened but we call it “apostasy” when we want to call it by the right name! Read and see that I was not making a statement about you, but that there is the possibility and the reality of apostasy as +++ Williams a while ago reminded us.

    We do have failure of communication but it may not be where you think it is! I did not assume you were “defending the Southern pro-slavery argument!” You go on, “I was merely adducing it as an example of shifting boundaries of which you would surely approve.” The idea of slavery was more a cultural encrustation than a Christian boundary (e.g consistent lines of teaching from the Old through the NT).

    Ben W

  • Steven says:

    Ford:

    Well, you certainly make a case against certain folks and their methods, but this is a sword that cuts both ways. There’s plenty of nastiness to go around, and this board and its members are certainly no exception. However, if anyone here was privileged to cast the first stone, it would probably be you.

    Still, you are doing something you have done in the past–avoiding the question (or at least diverting the discussion)–in order to stay on what is, apparently for you, stronger or preferred ground: the suffering and victim-hood of homosexuals. This tends to be your default setting (and it is probably an unconscious defense mechanism) whenever the conversation goes in certain directions.

    Steven

  • Steven says:

    Erika:

    The machine apparently “ate” my prior more lengthy response to your query relating to “proposals.” I have none.

    However, I think it is likely that the ABC’s portion of the AC and/or GAFCON’s portion of the AC (which may or may not by the same after the dust settles) will have liberal components and factions. They will need to learn to live within and with certain boundaries, just as the puritans did before them.

    Liberals within TEC’s fragment of the AC will not have to live with this unless they are also merged with the ABC’s portion. If GAFCON is also part of this portion, liberals will find themselves in the same more limited position. If GAFCON is not, they will have a great deal more freedom. However, I think this is less likely.

    My best guess is that TEC will serve as the nexus of a new liberal communion and the ABC and GAFCON will serve as the joint nexus of a more conservative AC. Still, I’m just guessin’ here.

    Steven

  • Erika Baker says:

    Steven
    “the suffering and victim-hood of homosexuals”

    Of all the openly gay people posting here Ford is the one who always firmly opposes the gay sense of victimhood. Unless they are actual victims of persecution as they are in the African churches.

    I don’t know which comment you draw your conclusion from, but there is no-one here who has taken me to task harder for posting rights-based and victim-based pro-gay posts that Ford.
    And he’s the only one from which I would take the lecture because he really knows what he’s taking about and has an extraordinary integrity.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Steven

    As long as it’s not just the liberals who have to live “within certain limits” but the conservatives too, I have no problem with your suggestion.

    But so far, I see no-one talking about what conservatives might have to do to stay in the fold.

  • Steven says:

    Erika:

    Your post related to my comments to Ford assumes some hostility or misunderstanding on my part. While the latter is always possible, I’ve always had a pretty cordial relationship with Ford as I respect the way in which he (and the integrity with which he) struggles with most of the issues.

    The point I made is not a new one between us. It goes back to other posts I have had with Ford in the past, and this is not the first time I have made this point (though I took several months off from the board–so, it is the first time recently).

    With those matters covered up front, I can say that you have completely missed the point of my post and my comment. It has to do with avoiding the subject under discussion by diverting conversation to “safer” ground.

    Steven

  • Steven says:

    Erika:

    I think there are a variety of problems with the puritan faction (and I say that as a conservative, but not a puritan). Lay presidency and the generally proto-presbyterian tendencies of folks in Jensen land is obviously an issue. For conservatives overall, cross-boundary work would have to cease. You may have other things to add, but remember: the longer your list for conservative changes gets, the longer my list for liberal changes will get.

    Still, I think this discussion is probably pointless in view of the facts on the ground. As things look now, conservatives will have it their way in the areas they control (Greater GAFCONia, etc.) and liberals will have it their way in the areas they control (Greater TECastan, etc.) and the communion will split into 2 or more pieces.

    To me, this is a pity, but many will rejoice, including Merseymike and many others on the liberal side.

    Steven

  • Erika Baker says:

    Steven
    My list for conservatives is quite small, really.
    I want them to stop lying about homosexuals and ignoring evidence of what we’re actually like.

    I want them to stand up loudly and firmly against actual instances of anti gay violence because there can be no theological justification for it.

    And I want them to stop dehumanising us, calling us worse than animals, possessed by demons etc.

    I want the representatives of the middle ground to stress firmly that gays do not cause floods and don’t have demons in their anus, whenever even an English bishop blames God’s wrath on us for whatever natural events have happened.

    And I want them all to campaign against the death penalty against homosexuals simply for existing.

    You see, if you oppose us you have to do it on purely theological grounds, not based on fear and hatred. And it does not absolve you from common Christian standards of truth and love.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    Ben,

    I must say, I do find your linguistic pedagogy marginally more interesting than your theology.
    However, I think that the serious issues being contended on this site may require a rather more open attitude than that which you have exhibited so far on this blog. Perhaps you might find more fellowship with your theological point of view on the site ‘Global South Anglican’. Those disposed to contribute thereunto do seem to have a very similar urge for the ‘Sola Scriptura’ view.
    Alternatively, there is always ‘Virtue-on-line’ -so-called. I’m sure both sites would welcome your contributions – especially in linguistics.

  • Peter of Westminster says:

    “Helpful to see you acknowledging you were at points simply operating from assumption.”

    Always happy to be of help, Ben, but I thought I was simply acknowledging an error.

    “The idea of slavery was more a cultural encrustation than a Christian boundary (e.g consistent lines of teaching from the Old through the NT).”

    Slavery was deeply embedded in the legal and social system of the Southern states and was referred to as an “institution” throughout the North and South at that time. The “idea of slavery,” however, was just that — an idea. And in defending that idea on Biblical and theological grounds as essential to Christian belief and practice, Southerners committed themselves to a belief that you and I would assert is wrong — and not essential to the faith. I expect that some Southerners, in the full flood of passion in the early years of the American Civil War would have considered Christians who believed that all slaves should be freed without delay to be apostates.

    It seems we’re using “boundary” to mean different things — I’ve been using it to indicate a demarcation between that which is essential to faith and that which isn’t. If slavery, the fixed and young (but not the flat) earth, and immutable species were believed essential to faith by some in the past, but are now no longer believed to be so by most thoughtful Christians, I guess I’m asking you to consider whether older understandings of gender and sexual orientation might not also come to be considered as being not essential to the faith.

  • Ben W says:

    Peter,

    If you would rather acknowledge error than assumption we can go with that.

    I think we are using “boundary” somewhat differently. I am thinking in context of scripture and historic Christian teaching (recognizing that the “church” has at times, we noted earlier, pronounced on certain matters foolishly).

    Some things are “incidental” because they are part of the thinking of people as part of their time and culture (e.g. Abraham having a child with Hagar was part of the culture if the wife could not bear children; today, thinking that we have our identity as “consumers” and as we live by our “feelings”).

    You have now moved from a “flat” to a spherical earth; if the earth “hangs upon nothing” is it fixed? And how young? That only came into Christian thinking in significant way with Enlightenment controversy and was in any case not part of Christian confessions or church doctrine. In the case of homosexuality, this along with adultery, incest etc has been part of historic Christian moral teaching from the Old through the NT, through the centuries (they are therefore not comparable, if you want to say we need to reconsider adultery as “being not essential to the faith” you have a proper basis for comaparison).

    Ben W

  • Ben W says:

    Ron Smith,

    Instead of engaging with reason on what I have said you now resort to contempt and patronizing.

    Yes, it would be easier for you if you could just expound without being responsible for what you have to say. But if you are going to be on “Thinking Anglicans” that may not be the intention.

    As one involved in Christian ministry I expected better from you. Keep your advice, and I won’t thank you for your patronizing or contempt.

    Ben W

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Certainly there are places where people continue to use tough language and dismissive words, but evangelicals everywhere and in general? I find that denigrating and unfair.”

    Ben, I apologize for that. I have taken lately to using the word “some” before conservative and Evangelical, not to dissemble, but to remind myself that the hurt of such sweeping generalizations cuts both ways.

    “avoiding the question (or at least diverting the discussion”

    No, Steven. What I am trying to say is that people who do these things are clearly not good exemplars of the Gospel, despite their claims to holiness and “orthodoxy”. How then can they be trusted to preach that Gospel? How hypocritcal is it to accuse others of apostacy and abandonment of the Gospel when they so guilty of it themselves? My argument is NOT that “we have been treated so badly that you must now let us do whatever we want” but “those who oppose us behave towards other human beings in a way that is not consistent with the life of the Gospel, so how can they be considered credible witnesses of that Gospel, and, when guilty of these things, how is accusing others of abandoning that Gospel not hypocrisy of the highest order?” That’s how I made up my mind, more or less, on this. TEC’s position MIGHT not be theologically tenbable, butthe behaviour of the Right IS wrong. By their fruits (no pun intended) shall you know them.

    Erika, you (and others) are making me blush! You have often, rightly, called me on things I have said. My judgementalism and quickness to make sweeping condemnations of whole groups of Christians based on my own underlying bigotries has been an open, continuous, and embarassing sin for me. Simon can vouch for the posts he opted to ignore (and thanks for that, BTW, Simon. It’s good to have a conscience across the pond).

  • Steven says:

    Erika:

    Much of what you complain about is in the sphere of the civil magistrate and our common civil life rather than that of the Church and relationships within the Church. And, overall, except for the fact that you are much offended about a variety of things, I cannot tell what theological point you are trying to make.

    From my standpoint, having homosexual desires is innately disordered, but then, so are all the other unlawful angers, enmities, jealousies, lusts, and desires that sinful flesh, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is heir to since the fall. And, I don’t exempt anyone (whether they identify as homosexual or heterosexual) from having any and/or all of the above disordered desires–including specifically unlawful sexual lusts.

    Scripture lets us know that God is aware of all of our inward failings and that He forgives the repentant sinner through and in Christ Jesus. However, the duty of the Civil Magistrate (and/or the Church) under Scripture is not, in my opinion, to punish or penalize us for our disordered desires, sinful as they may be, but only for our outward behavior. Sodomy is not a status crime in the Bible, it is an act. We may seek forgiveness for sins in thought, word and deed, but the first is between us and God. It is only when our disordered desires manifest themselves in some concrete way that they may come within the disciplinary sphere of Church or State.

    Ford:

    The thrust of the discussion was whether it was part of the Gospel and/or part of the duty of the Church to speak in a prophetic, priestly and/or Christlike manner about God’s commands to us as well as about his forgiveness and love. This is what I asked you to engage with. Instead, I have received lengthy posts setting forth your views on the abuse of homosexuals and what GAFCONites do wrong. All of which may be correct, but none of which actually relates to the issue I initially asked you about.

    Steven

  • Erika Baker says:

    Steven
    You believe that homosexual desire is objectively disordered and against God’s will. I don’t agree, but I respect your view.

    But take a few recent examples:
    Last summer there was flooding in England. One of our own bishops said that it was proof of God’s wrath caused by the decay of our society, the forefront of which was granting equal rights to homosexuals.
    Even if you believe homosexuality to be disordered, you are unlikely to be so unscientific that you agree with this statement.
    If middle of the road bishops don’t agree with it, I want them to make that clear.

    When Davis Mac-Iyalla was attacked in Togo and the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote a letter to GAFCON asking them to tone down the rhetoric because that, too, can kill, there was nothing but silence from the conservatives.
    As a Christian, I expect you and them to deplore violence against anyone, whatever the cause. You can oppose homosexuality on theological grounds, but there are, correspondingly, no theological grounds for supporting violent attacks on people.
    So I would expect middle of the road bishops to voice their objections to this attack, loudly and clearly.

    When ++Akinola tried to introduce a law that would have criminalised supporters of homosexuals by imprisoning them for up to 7 years, supporters being defined by anyone seen out having a cup of coffee with a known gay person, I would have expected all middle of the road bishops to point out that there can be no Christian justification for this law.

    And when a youth worker in Hereford was refused employment after the employment panel had approved him, because his bishop did not believe his promise that he would remain celibate, I would expect middle of the road bishops to point out that the man was following CoE guidelines, and that God does not condemn people for crimes they have yet to commit.

    Any bishop, or any person who is not on the absolute extreme conservative spectrum, but who supports the moratorium for TEC, should now show that they will use this moratorium period to instil some sanity into this debate, that they will not support extreme prejudice, and that they will not support lies.

    You do not have to lie, persecute us and demonise us to make your point that we are outside your theological framework of what is acceptable to God.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Steven

    Further to your question of what theological point I’m trying to make:

    I have no difficulty with silly statements from people over at StandFirm et all, because they don’t go out much and only ever reaffirm their own prejudices.

    But many of you do talk to liberals here on TA. You have got to know some of us quite well, and it should be obvious to you that we do, on the whole, take our faith very seriously.
    There can be no doubting the integrity of people like Pat, Fr Mark, Fr Ron, Ford, to name but a few regular correspondents whose views you disagree with.

    But then, every so often, someone posts silly nonsense like this from another thread: “… rather than having to waste time defending Christian truth and morality from liberals who are trying to dress up 1960’s ‘do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone’ ethics and ‘God is dead’ theology as central Anglican doctrine.”

    And I think… this person has had close conversations with us for a long time, and yet they still make statements like that.
    Now, either they are not very intelligent, or they deliberately lie about people they don’t agree with.

    In any case, I would expect conservatives like you to say: I don’t agree with these liberals either, I believe they’re completely misguided and wrong about their faith.
    But I will not accept that anyone defames their character like that, because although they’re wrong about God, they’re not shallow, they don’t deliberately ignore Scripture and they don’t just follow their own whim.

    THAT is the theological point I’m making.
    This whole debate is getting out of hand because there is a large group of people who do not stand up for Christian truth when lies hit them in the face.

    The big challenge for all of you conservatives is whether you can oppose us honestly and genuinely, on theological grounds and without resorting to lies and slander.

    I’m not expecting the writer of the sentence I quoted to get the point, but I’m expecting the middle ground, those who support the moratorium but otherwise remain silent, to begin to speak out when falsehoods like this populate the internet.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “All of which may be correct, but none of which actually relates to the issue I initially asked you about.”

    I feel it does. You asked what I meant by not being able to see the Gospel in their statements and behaviour. I replied. The issue is not whether or not those who believe homosexuality to be against God’s plan for us are right, but how that belief is articulated. Indeed Christ DID admonish and command. But He did not denigrate or revile. He did not seek to imprison those who disagreed with Him, even His own followers who disobeyed. He had some nasty things to say about those whose love for the Law outstripped their love of their neighbour, though. To me, the behaviour of some conservatives falls solidly in that category. Why, for instance, is it necessary to behave in the ways I stated above WRT gay people and their supporters? Cannot the belief that God is calling gay people to a life of celebacy be preached, and forcefully preached, without that kind of hatefilled rhetoric and behaviour? I do not question the right of any Christian to preach the Gospel as they undetrstand it to be. I DO oppose those who use these kinds of tactics in doing so. And it isn’t only WRT gay people. I cannot see that such behaviour is consistent with the Gospel. Which of Christ’s commands takes precedence over His Summary of the Law? And how do the behaviours of the Right, which I partially outlined above, reflect obedience to the Second Great Commandment? As one who is an object of their rhetoric, I just can’t feel the love. I find it interesting that, after two years of trying to make this point, the only conservative Evangelical who has acknowledged it has been Ben W. Everyone else seems more interested in defending the right to behave in this fashion, as though being admonished for speaking like this against other people is somehow oppressive. As Erika said, “you do not have to lie, persecute us and demonise us to make your point that we are outside your theological framework of what is acceptable to God.” I am saying that those who do these things are not good examples of how God wants us to treat each other.

  • Steven says:

    Erika:

    Hmmm. Erika, I generally agree with the statement you quoted. However, it has always been my position that most liberals are sincere in believing that warmed over 60’s liberalism IS ACTUALLY what the Bible says. This is not true of all, of course, but I have never underestimated people’s capacity for self-delusion. Most liberals, I think, are extremely sincere even in sincerely deluded.

    Still, recognizing that people are sincere, even if deluded, leads me to want to take a kinder and gentler approach to conversations. And, since most liberals have the same problem in the opposite direction with conservatives–i.e., saying and believing that conservatives take the positions they take because they are hate filled bigots and/or ignorant neanderthals–I would expect that you are going to need to take the same position in responding to me. I have no problem corresponding with someone who considers me and other conservatives to be sincere, studious, but (nonetheless) deluded and in error. But, you should not be surprised if that works both ways.

    Steven

  • Steven says:

    Ford:

    A good post. I think you make your point well. I believe it was St. Francis who admonished us to preach the gospel always, and when necessary use words. All of which goes to the point that the manner and mode in which we communicate the good news is broader than merely the words by which we communicate the message of salvation through Jesus Christ: in this context, form and substance are largely inseparable.

    Still, tempers have become frayed on both sides, there are plenty of negative words and deeds flowing in the opposite direction, and Christians have never been able to remain sanguine when they considered heresy to be at issue. When you add in the sensibilities growing out of a different cultural context where homosexual behavior has not been swept along into a position of general cultural acceptability over the last 50 years along with promiscuity, abortion, divorce and pornography (as it has in the West), I think you will see why most of the GAFCON primates still react the way U.S. bishops would have reacted before the cultural and moral decay of the last five decades.

    Steven

    PS-I am not sure how you can say Christ did not revile the Pharisees (even while noting that he said some nasty things to them).

    PPS-I’m still not sure you answered by question, but I’m sure it will come up again sometime.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “saying and believing that conservatives take the positions they take because they are hate filled bigots and/or ignorant neanderthals”

    Actually, I don’t think that at all, Steven. I have admiration for the ability of Conservative Evangelicals to quote Scripture, actually, even if I don’t agree with the uses to which they put that ability. It shows a familiarity with Scripture that I admire very much. I think conservatives are fearful people, threatened by change. They cling to Scriptural authority as a means of preserving something solid in their lives to which they can flee when change gets too much for them. It’s that fear that is at the root of so much of the anger, defensivness, and frankly, paranoia at some inchoate group of “liberal” barbarians at the gate just waiting to destroy good Christian society. If liberals think that 1960s are the Gospel in your framework, conervatives, especially Evnagelicals, see the 40s or 50s as the Gospel in mine. What surprises me in talking to you is that I have never had the idea that COnservative Evangelicals had any respect whatsoever for those Christians who disagree with them. All I’ve ever heard before is that we are all unsaved, Hell bound heathens. I still find it hard to accept they think anything different. Frankly, the comments of Consevos on this board don’t do much to convince me otherwise.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Steven
    If you can accept that I am sincere and not wantonly selfishly twisting what I know to be the truth, then we can at least respect each other.

    I’m happy for both of us to believe that the other is completely wrong.
    What really gets to me is the tone of the public debate in which people fall over themselves to discredit the one they don’t agreee with, casting doubts over their honesty, their faith and their integrity. That is NOT what we’re asked to do.

    Disagreement? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that.
    There is sufficient good liberal theology around to make liberalism a real intellectually sound option, and there is sufficient good evangelical theology around to help me to see why it attracts people.

    I will never become a conservative and I don’t expect you ever to become a liberal.

    But if we can respect each other and see each other as brother and sister in Christ, then we’ve come a long way.

    And having raised the standard of thinking between ourselves, maybe we can together try to help raise the tone and intent of the conversation within the church.

  • Steven says:

    Ford:

    Your comment that conservatives are fearful people, threatened by change comes across as more than a bit condescending. (One might almost think that you copped a line from an Obama speech). However, it is actually a bit absurd, though it may provide you with some basis for dealing with the other side in a compassionate manner (just as I use my “deluded liberal” approach). Still, there is some truth to your comment, though not in the way you probably intend. In fact, conservatives are determined to preserve the integrity of the “faith once delivered” against all attacks, whether by Arians or Liberals. To that extent we are definitely fearful about and against change.

    At a personal level, I make my living off of change as a patent attorney. And, I don’t see all social change that has been supported by liberals in the past 50 years as negative. As I have previously noted, I don’t believe every arrow in the liberal quiver is bent. But, I definitely believe that many are or have been.

    Steven

    PS-Some liberals are “barbarians at the gate and “unsaved, hell-bound heathens” just as some conservatives are, doubtless, “hate-filled bigots and/or ignorant neanderthals.” I won’t speculate about the relative percentages, but I take a more positive approach to those I choose to communicate with on this board, and hope that they will do the same with me.

    PS-I like your comment about choosing different eras as “gospel” eras–it’s a good comeback. I’m not sure it is accurate in my case, and my jibe may not be accurate in yours. I’d like to talk about this some more sometime, but I fear I have used up my word quota. Maybe next time.

  • Steven says:

    Erika:

    I agree with what you have said, generally speaking, but that won’t really bring the two sides together, though it may serve as an investment for the future if we are to remain part of the same communion. The truth is that too much momentum for change has built up at this point. The TEC won’t back down, and TEC opponents won’t back down either. Consequently, I don’t see how a split can be avoided. Maybe continued conversation will, however, make it a bit easier to pick up the pieces afterwards.

    Steven

  • Ford Elms says:

    I”n fact, conservatives are determined to preserve the integrity of the “faith once delivered” against all attacks, whether by Arians or Liberals.”

    But Steven, in the current issue among Anglicans, it is the Evangelicals who are leading the charge. Now, while the English Reformation was more conservative than most, I still think the Anglican Church in general hasn’t preserved the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints” in its entirety. When it comes to Evangelicals, they are way off. Evangelicalism, whatever else it is, is NOT “the faith once and for all delivered to the saints”. It ignores, downplays, or outright anathemizes huge swaths of that faith. This has been my constant theme: Evangelicals cannot, by definition, lay claim to a tradition of the faith that is more than 500 years old. I am making no claim here as to the rightness or wrongness of Evangelical belief. The major ideas of Evangelicalism come from people who had lost faith in the traditional Church order. They used the Scriptures as their guide, in the false assumption that the Bible was some sort of “how to” book, dismissing everything that was outside that source as “the traditions of men”. Now, when people 1500 years on decide they know more about the tradition than those who heard it from Jesus, His Apostles, and their successors, I’d call that arrogance. Note, I am not saying anything Evangelicals believe or practice is wrong, that can only ever be a personal belief on my part. But, they simply cannot lay claim to a tradition of Christianity that is more than 500 years old, and, as such, their claim to stand for “the faith once and for all delivered to the saints” is just so much sanctimonious puffery. If they have so little respect for that tradition as to reject whole swaths of it, why are they even interested in defending it?

  • Steven says:

    Ford:

    The term “evangelical” just like the term “catholic” (and probably the term “liberal”) is extremely fuzzy when speaking about folks in the Church. It may have been Pluralist who observed that these things were directions rather than definitive “states”. Whoever it was, it seems like a good observation to me. As such, from my standpoint, one can go too far in any one of these directions and leave the faith once delivered –i.e., leave orthodoxy behind and become heterodox.

    However, be that as it may, most of your complaints could definitely be applied to the position of liberals vis-a-vis the presenting issue. Indeed, by merely substituting a few words, I could turn your diatribe into an equally sweeping (and equally accurate) condemnation of liberalism. (Try it yourself, it doesn’t take a lot of work). Still, fun and games aside, the real question isn’t whether the more extreme evangelicals err themselves on certain issues, but whether they are right about the presenting issue.

    Steven

  • Ford Elms says:

    “the real question isn’t whether the more extreme evangelicals err themselves on certain issues, but whether they are right about the presenting issue.”

    Again, no. The real issue is whether or not they have a right to the claim they are somehow defenders of the “true faith” against the heathen hoards they imagine to be knocking down the gate. If one doesn’t practice the Gospel, one can’t condemn others for similar failure. If one does not hold fast the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints”, indeed, if one specifically rejects large parts of it, one can’t claim to be defending it. If one picks and chooses which parts of the Bible one believes, one has no room to condemn others for doing what one thinks is picking and choosing the bits of the Bible they like. I have no issue with their beliefs. It’s the false claim that their form of Christianity is somehow more “pure” and “original” than that of others, the condemnation of others whose behaviour is not as bad as their own, and above the false and hypocritical claim of “orthodoxy”. I mean, come on. After the Jerusalem declaration, that claim is just laughable. You can’t refuse to “affirm” basic teachings of the Orthodox Faith and stillclaim to be “orthodox”. By continuing to do so, they show they have no understanding of what the word means. And don’t get me started on PSA! And I would be interested to know what parts of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints you think “liberals” are abandoning.

  • Steven says:

    Ford:

    I disagree with your first sentence and everything you have to say based on this sort of logic. You may take issue with folks who you think have other defects speaking to the presenting issue, but that does not change the central question of whether they are right about the issue. If we required everyone to be right about everything before we listened to anything they had to say, no one would ever listen to anyone else on any issue (or themselves for that matter).

    A better example is provided by the Lord in dealing with the woman caught in adultery. He challenged those who would stone her, but he also challenged her to go and sin no more. The presenting issue remains and obedience is commanded even if the unkindness of the accusers is also duly rebuked.

    Overall however, and once again, I think your post could serve equally well in the opposite direction with some word substitutions. But, aside from that, it is too “broad stroke” to do me much good in terms of your particular complaints. I’d rather you just give me your complaints with some specificity one at a time or in some other organized manner so that I can tell what you are taking issue with. For example, there must be particular issues you have with the Jerusalem Declaration, but at this point I am in the dark outside of your general condemnation.

    Finally, in terms of what liberals are abandoning: they are abandoning the recognition that God is Lord as well as Savior. They have a lot of rationales for excusing this–fuzziness of Scripture, new revelations, modern science, or whatever–but it comes to the same thing in the end.

    Steven

  • Erika Baker says:

    Steven

    I’m not sure about whether a split is necessary or not. So far, we’ve only really heard the voices of the extremes on either side. I am still intrigued to discover what will happen when the centre ground begins to enter the debate.

    But even if you’re right – to be perfectly honest, I don’t care at all whether there is a split or not.
    Unity is only worth having if it’s the real thing, that means accepting that we’re all different.
    If that can’t be done, then unity becomes nothing but a label and we might as well worship under different labels.

    What I do find important is that we recognise that we’re all Christians, whether we’re TECcies or GAFCONites. And as such we are brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we like it or not.

    You stay in your part of the church, I stay in mine. But I will always respect you, and if we should ever end up side by side in the same Service I will exchange the Peace with you, take Communion with you and pray with you.

    If we can do that, and if we can make it a priority to cool all Christian relations down to (or should I say warm them up to?) that level, we’ll achieve something worth having.

  • Peter of Westminster says:

    Ben,

    You wrote “You have now moved from a “flat” to a spherical earth; if the earth “hangs upon nothing” is it fixed? And how young? That only came into Christian thinking in significant way with Enlightenment controversy…”

    Agreed, sort of. The question of the fixed earth became acute with the development of scientific astronomy (late 15th through the 17th centuries), and that of the young earth with the development of scientific geology (late 18th through the mid-19th centuries). Progressive developments in our ability to empirically ground our close observation of nature drove the controversies of those days.

    You continue “…and was in any case not part of Christian confessions or church doctrine.” Agreed.

    “In the case of homosexuality, this along with adultery, incest etc has been part of historic Christian moral teaching from the Old through the NT, through the centuries (they are therefore not comparable, if you want to say we need to reconsider adultery as “being not essential to the faith” you have a proper basis for comparison).”

    Ah! Here is our disagreement. Most essentially, I believe that, driven by new knowledge in the social and natural sciences, the current controversy over homosexuality is indeed most directly comparable to those over the fixed and the young earth. Science does not show that incest is anything but deleterious, hence, no controversy.

    Even if we dismiss arguments (search “John Boswell” on Amazon) that Christian teaching on sexual orientation has been more nuanced over the centuries than you believe, I still feel you (and conservatives, more generally) draw your circles too tightly between theology and religious ethics. The “is-ought” problem (see Hume, Treatise, or GE Moore/Naturalistic Fallacy online at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) applies here just as is does between metaphysics and ethics. As a result, there is relatively little variation in core doctrine in a religion, and always considerably more variation in ethics and social ethics. The problems now facing the Communion are due in part to a misunderstanding of the structural relationship between theology and religious ethics.

    Peter

  • Ford Elms says:

    Sorry to have taken so long.
    “You may take issue with folks who you think have other defects speaking to the presenting issue, but that does not change the central question of whether they are right about the issue.”

    I’ve always said this. I am not saying they are wrong. I am saying that they do not practice “traditional Christianity” but a Reformation era innovation. Thus, they cannot claim to be defending “historic Christian teaching”. At best, it is “historic Protestant teaching”. Also, their behaviour breaks the Commandment to love one another, as well as the OT commandment against false witness, to name but two. Also, benefitting from reinterpretations of traditional Christian teaching, like for instance, remarriage after divorce, means they cannot now condemn others for attempting the same type of reinterpretation. They might well be right in their position, I have always said that. My point is that I cannot trust that they are right, since their behaviour doesn’t show much of the Light.

    “there must be particular issues you have with the Jerusalem Declaration,”

    Here’s a couple of specifics:
    1) Condemnations of TEC and the ACC as “apostate”, “preaching a different Gospel”, and the like
    2) Heterodox Christology while claiming “orthodoxy”

    “they are abandoning the recognition that God is Lord as well as Savior”

    “They”??? Ben keeps chastising me on my generalization from some Evangelicals to all, and he is right to do that. And, how can you say that attempting to show the love of God to the world, however misguided you believe these attempts to be, is “abandoning the recognition that God is Lord as well as Saviour”? I can just as easily say that, by virtue of demanding obedience to Law as a prerequisite to salvation, Evangelicals are preaching justification by works, or that by rejecting the veneration of images and the Real Presence in the Eucharist, they are denying the Incarnation, or any number of things Evangelicals reject, each of which implies a rejection of traditional Christian teaching in a particular area.

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