Thinking Anglicans

EGGS publishes resource for shared conversations

The Evangelical Group of the General Synod, EGGS, has issued this document to its members and friends ahead of the shared conversations scheduled to start on 10 July.

As it says:

This resource is offered to EGGS members and friends in order to help us engage in formal/informal discussions which might arise as part of/around the Shared Conversations in York.

The ideas/opinions/statements expressed (in bold) are amongst those that members might hear articulated and which we believe can (and need) to be responded to. The thoughts/responses offered are a resource from the (elected members of) the Committee to help reflection on the likely issues and questions. They do not necessarily reflect the view of all EGGS members or friends.

The document contains 14 questions and suggested answers. Do read it all carefully.

PS at the present time, the website of EGGS appears to be down.

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Christine
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Christine

The Shared Conversations call for honest, personal engagement with a topic that for at least some of the participants has deeply personal implications. I feel they are going to be at best useless and at worst personally damaging if they are to be held with people who do not engage any deeper than reciting ready-made answers prepared for them by others.

Susannah Clark
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The process should be about listening, not lecturing.

The theological arguments for and against have already been flogged to death.

The key challenge is: how can we love one another and co-exist with one another, in a diversity of opinions and beliefs about human sexuality.

The challenge is the search for grace, not the winning of arguments.

Susannah Clark
Guest

The EGGS document makes some pertinent points, even though I disagree with their conclusions. I agree, for example, with their analysis that scripture fundamentally restricts sex to marriage only, and presents marriage as between a man and a woman (as you would culturally expect it to). In addition, there is only condemnation of man-man sex in the scriptures, presenting it as unnatural, as well as contravening the ‘locus’ within which sex is allowed by God (as I’ve just mentioned). They also write: “It is worth noting that a number of recognised scholars who support same sex relationships agree that the… Read more »

Victoriana
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Victoriana

I agree with Christine that these sorts of talking points are not helpful. But for the sake of interest, it appears to me that many of the talking points are addressed to other evangelicals. I think it is significant that the document acknowledges diversity of opinion among evangelicals over acceptance of gay people and gender diversity. The reality is that this will only ever be an ‘issue’ until the child of an evangelical family comes out. It becomes very difficult to split hairs when the welfare of someone close to you is at stake. Let us pray for lots more… Read more »

Tobias Haller
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What a shallow pool of water this “resource” provides! It reminds me of the Monty Python “contradiction” sketch — as if assertion of a contrary is a reasonable argument. Just to cite two particularly weak points: The question on the supposed biblical institution of marriage is particularly poor, from a factual standpoint. Hebrew biblical law allowed men to have multiple wives and concubines, and for married men to frequent prostitutes without incurring any guilt. The Levirate Law mandated polygamy in a specific circumstance. On the reading of the “Galatians progression” (as some see it, moving towards more liberal understandings of… Read more »

Helen King
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Helen King

Ah, there are the ancient Greeks again – “Some have suggested that faithful same sex relationships were not known in (pre) biblical times and therefore the bible is silent on this matter. This is not true: such relationships are acknowledged by Plato and others, and it is likely that Alexander the Great was in a same sex relationship with Hephaestion, as was Pausanius with poet Agathon”. I really don’t understand why people elide ‘(pre) biblical times’ and classical/Hellenistic Greece and, as I’ve said elsewhere, I am baffled by the way some Christians assume we can just map the categories of… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
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Daniel Berry, NYC

Brother Tobias’ posting above exposes the problem with reading the bible as a magic book – a practice with which I parted company after my first Intro NT and OT courses in the early 70s. Going further, the reading this document puts forth shows that evangelicals still have not come to terms with the vast cultural gulf between our time and a pre-literate Bronze Age culture. However, the examples of the necessity of doing so are so numerous as to be uncountable Going even further, adhering to their anti-scientific worldview allows evangelicals not only to ignore the natural sciences, thus… Read more »

Peter S
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Peter S

The tone of this contribution is most welcome in its openness and generosity, and in many places I agree with its convictions and presentations about the Christian faith while disagreeing with its conclusions. It is both curious and disappointing that the paper’s own logic breaks down at several points: the insistence on the centrality of male / female gender, while citing Galatians 3:28 as a rejection of the slave / free distinction; the failure to mention polygamy in the OT context; and perhaps most notably, the extraordinary claim in section 13 that Jesus was celibate, a claim that has no… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Ruth Gledhill wrote about this today, see
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/evangelicals.in.the.church.of.england.urge.biblical.view.on.sexuality/89562.htm
The article includes a quote from me.

Kate
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Kate

I agree with Susannah’s conclusion when she says, “The EGGS document makes some pertinent points, even though I disagree with their conclusions.” In fact I agree with pretty much all of it apart from how they read Scripture. I think they are reading verses out of context, and for me the context is the whole Bible. I actually find it reassuring that evangelicals agree with so much of my thinking – I find it quite validating. Jesus taught us to judge a tree by the fruit it bears and homophobia causes misery and heartache. Applying that basic test, the evangelical… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“It is the case that a number of (well known) individual evangelicals have changed their convictions regarding sexual ethics in recent years,” the group says. “However, the significant issue is not that they have changed their convictions, but whether they have been right to do so.” [EGGS paper]

If only those “(well known) individual evangelicals” had considered, before changing their convictions, whether they would be right to do so! /s

I mean seriously, couldn’t EGGS just have said “You’re wrong, we’re right, neener-neener-neener” and saved any further ink?

Phil Burland
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Phil Burland

“God loves everyone, each of us and all of us equally. However, we are all fallen -and none of us is the way God originally intended us to be, in all sorts of ways. Therefore, we cannot simply look at the way we are now as a reliable guide to the way God originally intended us to be.” How wonderful. As a heterosexual man I am delighted that EGGS see my journey to god-like fulfillment involving ‘becoming gay’. Unless I’ve misunderstood and they were assuming that God originally intended us all to be heterosexual. But that would be the definition… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

The doctrine of original sin is a most unfortunate invention. Of course, it was convenient for empire and church. It is spiritually a weapon of mass destruction that should never have seen the light of day, let alone be leading the church. Jesus said nothing about original sin and it is utterly absent from the OT, ask any rabbi. We are all created in the image of God, and yes, it gets distorted, but we are originally good and God said Creation is good. Yes, we hurt one another because of our own hurts. We are not the Church of… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Cynthia, I strongly believe in sin and judgment. And I see judgment as an aspect of the fire of God’s love. However, I too have grave reservations about the concept of ‘original sin’. I see sin and selfishness as inherent aspects of humanity, but by no means the whole of who we are. Paul takes the Genesis narrative – with its proposal that death came into the world with the first sin, and humanity became blighted – and identifies Eve’s sin as the first one that started it all off. These days, scientists will strongly argue that all the evidence… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Cynthia, I believe Paul’s ideas and theological constructs are fallible, with profound insights but also perhaps a human desire to systematise. He justifies male headship by resort to mythical sins of a mythical woman. Augustine builds on this. Rather a masculine desire to control. Indeed, made in the beautiful image of God, I believe it is fair to say that actually we are born with original beauty and divinely modelled capacities for love and grace. To me, in eternal terms, that makes absolute sense. We possess souls. We have eternal life as well as this transient life of a few… Read more »

Helen King
Guest
Helen King

On sin, the most helpful definition I’ve read is Francis Spufford’s one in his excellent book ‘Unapologetic’ – sin is the human propensity to fuck things up.

SimonW
Guest
SimonW

Bishop David Gillett’s account of why he, an evangelical, took part in London Pride last month:
http://bishopdavidgillett.blogspot.co.nz/2016/07/a-bishop-marching-with-gay-pride-london.html

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

If we are all sinners and none can be expected to know what’s best, why do these men feel that I should buy into their argument that *they* know best, when they are clearly every bit as fallible and ignorant as the rest? This, too, is the argument against sola scriptura – it was written and compiled by men in this fallen world they so deplore, so how, regardless of inspiration, can it be regarded as somehow *above* that fallen world and stand as the final arbiter of sound teaching? It seems a dodge by people who want power, to… Read more »