Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 15 August 2018

David Wheeler-Reed The Conversation What the early church thought about God’s gender

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity New Wine United 2018 (1): The Lord is with you

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer John Smyth dies – just as the CPS gives police go-ahead for his extradition and prosecution

Carlo Uchello The Episcopal Café The Most Important (and Ignored) Day of the Year

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church John Smyth’s death -the aftermath

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Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

Stephen Parsons:

“Smyth can no longer face human justice but those who knew what was going on should be brought to account and soon. There is an urgency that the Church of England should not act only because the public demands it. Once again, we have a scandal that is too big to ignore. If it is ignored it will damage the church for generations to come”

Couldn’t agree more.

Roderick Gillis
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Roderick Gillis

Re: The David Wheeler Reed article, I noticed this statement of his near the beginning of the article, “The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion founded in 1867.” He seems to have solid credentials. Good he should note this historical fact about the origins of The Communion. The reference is to the calling of what becomes known as the first Lambeth Conference in 1867, called by the then Archbishop of Canterbury. His is a point made in passing on the way to his comments about gender and the name of God, all a very interesting consideration of material… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

Thank you, David Wheeler-Read for your marvelous essay. I have always found Genesis 1:27 to be the strongest possible proof that God is without gender. “Maie and female”, God created us — in God’s image. Although, I’d love to know whether in Hebrew, Genesis 1:27 is a complex sentence as it is usually translated, or three short sentences. Also, since “I am who I am”, or possible even the word YVWH, have their roots in the Hebrew word for “being”, I see God as pure existence, a force (similar to The Force), and not an anthropomorphic being, Michelangelo notwithstanding. The… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

I approached Wheeler-Reed with a great deal of interest but was left disappointed. His suggestion that when Jesus compared Himself to the behaviour of an hen that Jesus was asserting a female gender is farcical.

Roderick Gillis
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Roderick Gillis

If one clicks on the author’s name in the upper right of The Conversation article, one is informed that David Wheeler Reed has a Ph.D. from U of T. Whether one agrees with his views, in whole or in part, or not at all, his article has the overview and nuance one expects from a scholar writing in what is a non-technical forum. What Wheeler Reed actually wrote is that in the NT Jesus presents himself in feminine language. I find the description of his positon as ‘farcical’ rather unfortunate. I’m fatigued with the lack of nuance in blog site… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“What Wheeler Reed actually wrote is that in the NT Jesus presents himself in feminine language.” The abstraction, in defence of Wheeler Reed, that when Jesus observed an analogy that He did so in “feminine language”, even though that language has not been preserved takes Biblical literalsm to a whole new level. But if we are being literal, in the common translations, Jesus does NOT describe Himself in feminine language. He says that He wants to do something that a (female) hen does. At the very most that describes a desired action in feminine terms but it does NOT amount… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

Wheeler-Reed wrote “Jesus also presents himself in feminine language.” The author isn’t saying anything about Jesus’ gender. The author is saying Jesus was willing to describe himself in terms usually reserved for the feminine, and uses Jesus’ “hen and chicks” as an example. Further, Wheeler-Reed uses the New Testament’s record of Jesus’ sayings in support of his thesis that the Bible supports God having feminine aspects or properties. In my opinion, since God is eternal and therefore has no need to reproduce, notions of masculine and feminine do not apply to God. But! Since, as stated in Genesis 1:27, both… Read more »

Tobias Stanislas Haller
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I have argued that the simpler solution is to affirm that both men and women reflect the divine image, not that any given human attribute must reflect something divine. Attributes such as gender, size, color, and so on need not be considered aspects of the divine; but accepted as part of the image-reflecting entity. A mirror is made of silvered glass — that is not what it reflects.

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

I think another part of the point is that because both are in the image of God, and male and female to us are rather different on the whole (PeterK’s point is that the words used indicate differentiation, so that is in the text too), neither male nor female is perfectly or completely in the image of God – we can’t read God off from one or the other image, and the mystery of how the two are related is not obviously resolved. In particular, this text effectively forbids us to say that male is in any way more god-like… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

If you want to use Genesis then you are arguing that gender is dimorphic and Jesus must therefore be one or the other. (It’s not necessarily something I would agree with, but that is where your argument takes you.) Given a binary choice, we must conclude that Jesus was male.

Moreover, if you want to rely upon the dimorphism of Genesis, then every manifestation within the Trinity must equally correspond to the dimorphism so YHWH must also be either male or female.

Personally, I think it is an intellectual cul-de-sac.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Kate, that depends what is meant by ‘male and female he created them’. I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but in English that would certainly bear the interpretation that we were created a mixture of male and female. Not necessarily dimorphic, but on a spectrum.

PeterK
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PeterK

Kate & Janet, the words for male and female used here, zakar and neqebar, mean ‘bodily male’ and ‘bodily female’, and are very much ‘category’ words. So eg later on in the Pentateuch the Hebrews need to sacrifice ‘zakar’ lambs (ie not females), or sometimes ‘neqebar’ (ie not males). Also, zakar and neqebar are the words used to describe the animals on Noah’s Ark, who were obviously supposed to get down to business and repopulate the planet. There’s no continuum or spectrum suggested in Genesis 1:27 – reading that into it would be eisegesis. incidentally, I don’t see the dimorphism… Read more »

Charles Read
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Charles Read

Richard Peers comments of the eucharist at New Wine: ‘the elements were consecrated with the words of institution’ which I assume means that no eucharistic prayer was used. If this is so: 1. this was uncanonical if this was meant to be an Anglican event – and in a very public setting that is a serious matter; 2. how odd that here of all places a rather fundamentalist doctrine of consecration by formula is enacted; 3. how ironic that charismatics don’t get the importance of praise at the heart of the eucharist and don’t get the modern ecumenical consensus that… Read more »

PeterK
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PeterK

Don’t fret, Charles – Chris Lane, is, to use a dated term, a non-conformist. Assuming he presided as well as preached we don’t need to call the cops.

Regarding your wider criticisms, Richard Peers has a pretty advanced liturgical sensibility so if he reports that it all ‘worked’ for him – and he says it was the worship highlight of his week – it would probably ‘work’ for most of us. I’m just delighted he enjoyed New Wine so much and received a blessing through it – good on him for coming along with such a generous attitude.

Marshall Scott
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Re” “the elements were consecrated with the words of institution” – some reflections from across the pond. In use in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), with which the Episcopal Church is in full communion, there is the possibility of consecration that consists of the Words of Institution and little else. I also note that this was Wednesday night. I can’t speak to CofE Canons or rubrics on this, but in the Episcopal Church on days other than a principle celebration (Sunday or major feast) there is provision for a Eucharist with a great deal of latitude. While we… Read more »

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Dear Charles, Hauled out of retirement to do 3 yrs PTO i discovered only one of the newly ordained had heard of ARCIC let alone an ecumenical consensus. In some churches the eucharistic prayer is abbreviated e.g. the post Sanctus. Ive even heard in some places 1Corinth 11 23-26 substituted.
Ive always thought it ironic that after all the ecumenical endeavour and 50 yrs to produce CW we are now where we are. Icabod!