Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 18 May 2024

Helen King sharedconversations Hidden in plain sight: Soul Survivor again

Philip North ViaMedia.News On Conscience

Paul Bickley and George Lapshynov Church Times Does religion influence votes?
“Yes, but not in a straightforward way”

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Bob
Bob
25 days ago

A valuable contribution to the LLF process from Philip North. Blackburn’s gain is Sheffield’s loss.

Jane Charman
Jane Charman
Reply to  Bob
25 days ago

The article by Philip North is a year old and was written at a time when he was having his tail twisted with questions, which he’s managed never to answer, about the validity of women’s ordained ministry. So I think this has to be read as a piece of special pleading on his own behalf rather than a genuine contribution to the LLF process. If he’d now like to write something about Jill Duff’s co-consecration of a gay bishop about to marry his same sex partner that might be worth reading.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Jane Charman
25 days ago

Thanks for pointing that out, Jane. I wonder if there is a reason why our admins chose to repost it a year later. Admins?

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Jane Charman
25 days ago

I agree Jane. Philip North has a certain eirenic style of writing which people respond to, and then somehow forget to ask him the hard questions, to which he has few answers.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
25 days ago

I admire the breath of conscience of Philip North’s suffragan, Bishop Jill Duff, who participates in the consecration of a gay partnered bishop in Wales, but thinks that would be immoral in England. When morality is defined by geography not theology , the whole LLF exercise is shown to be ludicrous. I can’t think of any other moral action which becomes wrong by crossing a border between one UK country and another. Bishop North must wonder what nationality his suffragan’s conscience is.

Last edited 25 days ago by FrDavid H
Realist
Realist
Reply to  FrDavid H
24 days ago

+Lancaster, despite her many strengths, has always had a habit of ‘blowing with the wind’ on whatever side has the most influence, in my view.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
25 days ago

Philip North makes an eloquent defence of conscience in his article, and at first sight his arguments seem eminently reasonable. But if one brings the discussion of harm into the balance then things change. The first rule for doctors is “first, do no harm”, and that is a useful rule to live by. If one can follow one’s conscience and do no harm to others then that is to be applauded. But if in the following of conscience other people are damaged then constraints may be needed. This is why I struggle with the “agree to disagree” proposals for LLF.… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
25 days ago

Philip North and the commenters on his article spend a great deal of words on “truth” in the context of same-sex relations. But they never examine the scientific and statistical truth of same-sex attraction–that it exists in all societies and cultures and is likely a natural part of the sexuality of all human beings.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
25 days ago

I feel like one of the things I can do, as a former conservative, is to do my best to help people who have never been conservative understand which of their arguments are persuasive to conservatives. This one is not, because it is very simply answered. A conservative will reply, ‘Just because something has existed in all human societies and cultures does not necessarily mean it is a good thing and part of God’s good plan. After all, we have no record of any human society or culture in which sin does not exist, but we do not conclude from… Read more »

Last edited 25 days ago by Tim Chesterton
Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
25 days ago

Why would a good and loving God create a race of humans where as many as seven percent have an innate desire for something He himself defines as sin?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
24 days ago

You’re missing the point, Pat.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
24 days ago

Just because scientific and biological evidence is overwhelming, why should an evangelical change their minds when the facts show them to be wrong? That’s the point.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
24 days ago

No, Father David, that’s not the point I was making (and to be honest I begin to despair about whether people actually read posts rather than just assuming they already know what they’re going to say). The point I was making is that if you actually want to convince an evangelical, rather than just vent your spleen at them, you need to find out which arguments they find persuasive and which they don’t. I can’t understand why a progressive who wants to actually achieve something would waste time using arguments which evangelicals find easily answerable.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
23 days ago

But that’s exactly my point, Tim. My argument is not “easily answerable” because it requires denying accepted science and subsequently admitting that God therefore deliberately created a subset of humans who are, by their nature, condemned.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
23 days ago

No, Pat, you are missing the point, because accepted science can only describe creation as it now exists. And you’re making the prior assumption that creation as it now exists is creation as God intended it. But the historic Christian doctrine of the Fall teaches that the world we now live in is no longer the world as God intended it; it includes many defects and is groaning with anticipation as it awaits its liberation (Romans 8). To conservatives, non-heterosexual orientations are part of that fallen world. I’m not saying I agree with their argument. I’m just saying they won’t… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
22 days ago

The problem is also disagreement about what the Fall means. How you reconcile it with evolution ( or not) The historicity of Genesis, How you regard Adam and Eve and believe the Fall is a datable event. Many evangelicals take very conservative positions on these matters so discussion becomes difficult.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Perry Butler
22 days ago

People often mention “The Fall” as if it actually happened, and as a consequence death came into the world. There was no original first humans who had no parents. There was no first Adam and Eve. We know 65 million years before humans even existed, dinosaurs were dying, in a world full of death, because we have the fossils. Of course, the framework concept can still be deployed, because we don’t have to read all the Bible literally. It is a myth-based origins story to try to explain why all people sin and are selfish. But I do wish people… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Susannah Clark
22 days ago

Pat doesn’t appear to know that not all evangelicals – not even all conservative evangelicals – believe in a literal Adam, Eve, or Garden of Eden. Most of those who do not, likely believe as C.S. Lewis believed (I can’t remember where I read it in his writings) – that humans at some point chose to walk away from God. And I would humbly submit that there is no way history can either confirm or refute that belief. G.K. Chesterton is rather hilarious on this point in ‘The Everlasting Man’. But they still believe in the Fall, and they are… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
21 days ago

Thanks Tim, I think the most subversive argument for trying to open up ‘conservative’ Christians’ minds is perhaps not words at all: but trying to find grace and graciousness in the way we encounter them… not labelling them ‘homophobes’, but conversing with them with a quiet spirit… while witnessing to the importance of our faith, and the Bible, and prayer, and the well-being that springs from our relationships and ordinary lives. Years ago I spent about 100 hours with a couple from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, trying to demonstrate from the text how Jesus identified himself implicitly (and through reference to… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Susannah Clark
21 days ago

Yes. This is a huge part of how my mind was changed.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
22 days ago

As Susannah points out elsewhere, this is precisely part of the denial of scientific truth that I’m discussing. Genesis is, in the words of the play and movie “Inherit the Wind”, pleasant poetry…but it is not fact.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Pat ONeill
22 days ago

‘Pleasant poetry’ – that’s a rather dismissive way to talk about the one book in the Bible that teaches us that humans are made in the image of God – which seems to be a rather important part of progressive Christian belief. Poetry, by the way, is not the same as myth, or even saga. The question of what, if any, ‘history’ is present in Genesis is a complicated one. The simplistic, black and white statement ‘it is not fact’ (neither, by the way, is ‘Inherit the Wind’, as Nick Spenser has recently pointed out in his brilliant book ‘Magisteria’)… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
22 days ago

But why must we reduce that “making in God’s image” to the equivalent of a wizard’s trick in a children’s story? Is God incapable of performing this “miracle” through the natural functions of biology, chemistry and physics? And, having directed a production of “Inherit the Wind” a few years back, I am well aware that it is a fictionalized account of the events of and surrounding the trial of John Scopes. I am also aware that nearly all of the dialogue in the courtroom scenes–especially the examination and testimony of William Jennings Bryan (here called “Matthew Harrison Brady”)–is taken directly… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Pat ONeill
22 days ago

Well to be fair, I think Genesis has deep and profound mythological power. The account of Noah’s Ark is of stunning spiritual significance – it’s a pivotal narrative – but that doesn’t mean I think Noah gathered the tree frogs from the vast Amazon fainforest, the polar bears from the Arctic, the penguins from Antarctica, the lemurs from Madagascar, the platypus from Australia, the yaks from Tibet, the giant tortoises from the Galapagos, the Komodo dragons from Indonesia. It’s a myth, a story to be engaged with in dream mode by the campfire. And that’s the point: if we try… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Susannah Clark
20 days ago

I have no problem with recognizing the power of myth in Genesis. I also recognize it in the creation stories of the ancient Greeks (Prometheus and Lucifer, anyone?) or the seminal fairy tales–Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc.

But I stop short of basing my theology (or worse, my anthropology) on their having any scientific truth.

James
James
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
25 days ago

Glad that you agree that you are no longer an evangelical, Tim. Others don’t have the same candour.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  James
24 days ago

That’s not what Tim said. He suggested he was no longer ‘conservative’. There are both conservative evangelicals and evangelicals who affirm intimate gay sexuality in loving relationships.

Charles Read
Reply to  James
24 days ago

Tim is admitting no such thing. He self describes as a former conservative.

Evangelicalism and conservative theology are not the same. To be Biblical is to be radical.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Charles Read
24 days ago

Many millions of Americans support Trump who recently marketed his own bible. Can you explain how these “biblical” people are radical? Evangelicalism seems pointless if there are both conservatives and radicals both claiming the ‘truth ‘ Quoting proof-texts is equally pointless because evangelicals can’t agree amongst themselves what they’ve proved!

Last edited 24 days ago by FrDavid H
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
24 days ago

Some Catholics say that its essential to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome if you want to be a real Catholic. Others say no, you just have to agree with (most?) Catholic doctrine. What’s the point of being Catholic if Catholics can’t agree amongst themselves about the essentials of the Catholic faith?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
23 days ago

I agree. I’m aware of both radical and conservative Catholics. But how does being “biblical” make an evangelical “radical”?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
23 days ago

I think if we were truly biblical we would all be radical. You know, ‘love your enemies’, ‘sell your possessions and give to the poor’, ‘if your eye offends, tear it out and throw it away’, ‘The greatest among you must be the servant of all’ and all that.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
22 days ago

If Catholics can’t agree among themselves about the essentials of Catholicism, what’s the point of being Catholic? This is the question you’ve asked us evangelicals about our tradition; I’m interested to hear how you would respond to it with regard to your own tradition.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  James
24 days ago

Hmm. Someone didn’t read my post very carefully.

And for the record, James, it makes no difference to me whether or not you think I’m an evangelical. I’m done with letting conservatives define that word for me.

Last edited 24 days ago by Tim Chesterton
David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  James
24 days ago

Some may find a brief exegesis of this text helpful. James believes that only those who completely subscribe to the beliefs of his particular corner of the evangelical anglican tradition are ‘Real’/’True’/’Orthodox’/’Biblical’. Meanwhile it’s always fingers crossed that this comment gets through to TA. I find, like Tim – and most TA contributors – that the wifi signal is so unreliable here in outer darkness.

Jo B
Jo B
25 days ago

It is disappointing, but unsurprising, that +Philip is able to find space to criticise naming the sins of homophobia and bigotry, but none to address the torrent of religiously coded abuse directed at those who accept God’s approval of same-sex relationships.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
25 days ago

I am extremely disappointed with the standard of Bishop Philip’s argument. He essentially places personal conscience on a pedestal beyond reproach. That’s so obviously wrong.

There are those who in conscience believe that the Bible says that women should be subordinate to men. Others think that the Quran requires physical jihad. The Crusades were justified from conscience.

And it is right to describe his position as homophobic. We shouldn’t allow it to be presented as anything else.

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
25 days ago

I hope people will take time to read Helen King’s excellent piece on the continuing unanswered questions about Soul Survivors and the ‘exceptionalism’ we grant as a church to seemingly successful ‘leaders’, across church tradition. Safeguarding and the full inclusion of LGBT+ people are connected.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Judith Maltby
25 days ago

I read it with great dismay and felt all the articles being reported today do not make me hold out much hope for a positive future of the C of E. I was tempted to make a very flippant response querying whether this means Pilavachi will shortly be coming back to help his former protege … This appointment presumably has been made by a committee who can’t see what all the fuss was about so hope to be able to carry on regardless.Bad luck if you are a survivor I also completely agree with you about ‘exceptionalism’ for those perceived… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
25 days ago

I’m happy for Bishop North to have conscientious views about equal marriage, what I object to is when his conscience is held to trump mine, or to have some priority that impinges upon mine. No cleric should be forced to officiate at a same sex marriage if their conscience forbids it but that shouldn’t entitle them to a veto on another’s marital rights.

James
James
Reply to  Fr Dean
25 days ago

That’s wrong. If you have conscientious objections to a practice and consider it sinful, you should be expelled from the ministry for false teaching. Unless, of course, you are not teaching falsehood and the other party is.
I don’t think you understand how moral reasoning on conscience works.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  James
23 days ago

Who is going to judge which is the falsehood? I think Fr Dean understands that we all have a moral responsibility, and an equal responsibility to act on our understanding of what is right.

Discussions like those on Thinking Anglicans and other sites help to educate our consciences, but none of us – up to and including the Archbishop of Canterbury – is the final arbiter of what is ‘falsehood’. We must all judge that for ourselves.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Fr Dean
24 days ago

Yes. I think that this was an incongruity in an article which otherwise I found interesting. Philip wrote: “for Christians to campaign for the state to use its power to overrule the consciences of fellow Christians by forcing doctrinal change upon the Church would be to set a profoundly dangerous precedent.” Whether or not such an intervention would be welcome, Philip’s comment looks at things from the perspective of ‘social conservatives’ in the Church of England, and how dreadful it would be if they had a more liberal doctrine imposed on them. But for decades conservative members of the Church… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Susannah Clark
24 days ago

They still do. They aren’t seeking just a personal exemption from officiating (entirely reasonable) but an exemption for the parish as a whole which imposes their view on all members of the parish. That’s unreasonable.

John Davies
John Davies
25 days ago

Hello, Helen – with regard to ‘mean’ friends, I’ve got one like that, too. Very nice, so long as you go his way, but very critical and determined to be in charge. I’ve nearly walked out on him several times, recognise that he’ll never change (not at 86!) and stick with him because, in other ways and interests, we get on well together! But no – if a big conference brochure has to ‘explain’ why someone acts as they do to others there is something wrong. I don’t ‘do’ PC, and simply see both that and safeguarding are essentially a… Read more »

Realist
Realist
24 days ago

I shuddered when I (re)read +Blackburn’s instruction to resolve everything within our own structures as a Church, a year on from when it was written. We’ve all seen what a perilous state attempting to impose that has left the C of E in, let alone the damage done to survivors of abuse. To use his attempt at logical thinking, albeit now reversed in his direction, insisting on this as a general invective to be aimed at any person seeking recourse for injustice perpetuates a very dangerous precedent.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Realist
24 days ago

While I realise the terms Big and Little Endians have been co-opted by computer storage this type of intractable argument takes me back to Dean Jonathan Swift and the feud over which end of the egg to open… I wonder what he would make of this current situation?

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
23 days ago

I think the motor industry got in before computer storage did – and their useage is more intelligible.

John Davies
John Davies
22 days ago

There’s a lot of correspondence about the Smyth case and the report’s delays on ‘Surviving Church’ this morning – and it makes grim reading. I won’t precis it here – the comments by the author of ‘Bleeding for Jesus’ are particularly worth reading – but it is only too clear what Lambeth Palace’s top priority is. It appears the day after the NHS ‘poisoned blood’ inquiry report was released, and at least one of the commentators on ‘SC’ draws comparisons between that, the NHS and the Post Office scandal. The BBC’s political commentator also draws comparisons with Hillsborough and Bloody… Read more »

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