Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 21 August 2021

Leslie Francis and Andrew Village Church Times Counting the cost of pandemic ministry
“What is the state of clergy morale, one year after the first lockdown”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Misogyny in Islam and Christianity

Jen Frost Insurance Post Briefing: Ecclesiastical’s child abuse claims shame – CEO Hews’ admission too little too late?

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Janet Fife
Janet Fife
1 month ago

The Jen Frost article on Ecclesiastical Insurance is from July 2020.

Susannah Clark
1 month ago

I very much agree with the general analysis of Stephen Parsons’ article. I have mentioned this before, but I do commend Elizabeth Johnson’s book ‘She Who Is’ which is superb at de-constructing patriarchal assumptions that have diminished women’s lives in Christian tradition for so many centuries. When it comes to Islam, I do think that those of us brought up on a Christian pathway, and in a Western media context, need to tread carefully. There is little doubt that Islamic text has been used to justify male headship, and to culturally define the roles and expectations of women. However, there… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

“It seems extraordinary in the 21st century that the Church of England should be tolerating such institutional bias against women’s voices.”   Is it? Accepting the Epistles as canonical grandfathered in 1st century social mores, including misogyny and homophobia.   I don’t think it is coincidental that, when we need to review the status of different parts of the Bible that so many non-Canonical books have come to light. I think their discovery is divine guidance that we are supposed to critically reappraise the status of the canon. Until we accept that the various parts of the Bible have differing… Read more »

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

Not that it matters much, but the early church was full of suggestions about how to trim the canon, conflate the Gospels, find favorite books, and so forth. You can declare their reasons for this line of rebuff wrong. But this line of thinking has been tried and rejected. (When Marcion sought to get rid of the OT, it followed logically that the NT would be on the chopping block. He accepted only Galatians and Luke — shorn of opening chapters and resurrection accounts where Jesus uses the scriptures. Obviously he didn’t speak of infallibility — a 19th century idea).… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by CR SEITZ
John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

I agree, Prof.Seitz, and will join with you in the amuse bouche! The Canon has lasted well over 1700 years. We need to work with it, recognising and interpreting it in its historical and cultural context, rather than accepting first century strictures. I always hold on to the the statement of John Robinson, who blessed the Pilgrim Fathers on their departure: ‘ for I am verily persuaded the Lord hath more truth yet to break forth out of His Holy Word.’ Scipture, fortunately, is not embedded in first / second century concrete. I always rejoice to hear at C of… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  John Wallace
1 month ago

Interesting comment. Not excision, but understanding context, culture, literature, history and so forth is the path forward. A concern about misogyny has sparked the thread. I would tend to contextualize concerns about misogyny within the larger questions raised by feminist theologians on the issue of women and religious traditions. History certainly matters. Critical history shines a light on whose interests have been, and often continue to be, served. Example: It is rational to infer that Jesus had two biological parents, i.e. that Jesus is the offspring of sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Mary who is understood from… Read more »

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Maybe a weekend with “Whose Justice, Which Rationality” would be useful.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Or maybe Andrew T Lincoln?

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Mr. Kershaw, Mr. Seitz. Thanks for the reading list suggestions. So many thinkers, so little time, eh. I’m a post enlightenment Christian. Philosophical theologians can construct very impressive logically coherent erudition fueled postions. However, it is the basic assumptions that one must ultimately make a judgement about. We all know this. On the factual question of the parentage of the historical Jesus, the starting point is human procreation and falsifiability. No deity need be involved. We go from there to investigate a second layer of important issues, such as the need for a mythological birth narrative in the first place,… Read more »

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Let me repeat my suggestion. “Whose Justice? Which Rationality.” Your thinking is a species of his analysis. As for turning the church’s historic teaching on Jesus and Mary into the elongations you posit, anyone can see the difference between creedal affirmations and your private musings. They may leave you content, but please don’t pass them off as the church’s teaching or attempt to sell them as such. Think how simple it would have been to call off the crucifixion by having Jesus’ father or Jesus’ mother (there are the cross) say, ‘only Son of Joseph and Mary, certainly not Son… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by CR SEITZ
Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

Thanks again Mr. Seitz. I have not read, Whose Justice? Which Rationality?. However, I am a bit familiar with Alasdair MacIntyre. I’ve read several of his articles (been a while). I have studied articles comparing he and Bernard Lonergan. Re: my views, “.. please don’t pass them off as the church’s teaching…” I’m not, clearly. Your concern for the church and its traditions are obvious, and heart felt I’m sure. You remind me, in many ways, not least of all methodologically, of the traditional Roman Catholicism I decidedly left behind. I wish you every blessing in your vocation and ministry.

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Good book. I highly recommend it. Had a big influence in recent history of ideas.

The ‘catholicity’ of my position on Jesus and Mary is of course much wider than ‘the traditional Roman Catholicism you left behind decidedly.’ It is the faith of the church.

Turning Mary into notions of ‘human procreation and falsifiability’ is not Anglican, nor Protestant, nor Roman Catholic. It might be Christian Science/Socinian/Jeffersonian.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  CR SEITZ
30 days ago

One distinguishes between contemporary sources of knowledge and traditional religious insight. One distinguishes, to use another example, between modern cosmology/cosmogony grounded in physics and biblical cosmology/cosmogony which is mythological. The distinction brings clarity. Likewise with the myth of the virgin birth. It has religious insight. However it does not, as a matter of fact, falsify what we know from modern biology about human procreation. Pigeonholing issues as some arbitrarily chosen ‘ism’ or other, easy though they may be to then debate, does not advance the matter. I continue to say the creeds regularly with personal integrity. I say them aware… Read more »

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Rod Gillis
30 days ago

I am not taking a ‘more traditional approach’ in respect of the Incarnation and Mary’s place in that. I am following the faith of the church.

You are of course free to adopt the Socinian position on the Incarnation — with a lineage going back to Michael Servetus and Celsus — but calling it ‘Anglican’ just shows how meaningless the term is at present, when it comes to theological coherence. Yours appears to be scientism religiously glossed.

The creeds grew up in different soil and live in that soil today.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  CR SEITZ
29 days ago

Quod scripsi scripsi. Thanks for the exchange Mr. Seitz.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
1 month ago

Born of a Virgin by Lincoln looks interesting. Scoped it out online after your comment. Thanks. I’ve made a note. But I wasn’t kidding, so many thinkers, so little time. I’ve been doing a lot of reading in two areas, and they have been keeping me occupied at present: (1) Spirituality and mysticism (2) Jewish writers, and Rabbinical writings including the Talmud.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

Thomas Jefferson, one of those militant radicals who helped separate the North American British colonies below Canada from the Mother Country, is famous for creating what has been called the Jefferson Bible. He took the Gospels, as translated in the King James version, snipped out those verses he thought weren’t really indicative of what he thought the true teaching of Jesus of Nazareth was, and bound the rest into a continuous whole.

Father Ron Smith
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

Well, Christopher, what about 1 Samuel18:23-27? What are we to teach our children about these verses? Were they God-inspired?

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
1 month ago

I’m fairly confident that slave-holder Jefferson would have got his scissors out. Others would choose the catholic epistles (see Kate). Others the Gospel of John (“anti-semitic”) or Hebrews. Psalm 137.

The tradition went a different way.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

“Obviously he didn’t speak of infallibility — a 19th century idea”. Fair enough. On the other hand, “…you know sometimes words have two meanings”– Led Zepplin ( R. Plant/J. Page, songwriters).

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

I think my relative, Rev Charles Dodgson, had something to say on that too, Rod.

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

And sometimes they don’t.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

More often they do. lol. Poets know this. So too do theologians and philosophers. I once had the opportunity to hear Hans Kung deliver a lecture. The venue was protestant. So was the majority of the crowd. He discussed the notion of ‘infallibility’ with regard to the papacy. The crowd was congenial. However, in a short disgression he critiqued those who view the bible as ‘infallible’. The crowd seemed suddenly less congenial.

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Infallibility is a word without any meaningful register prior to the rise of natural science and historicism. Hans Kung taught at Munich when I was a student there, now 40 years ago. He is fully a ‘modern.’ Textbook, in fact.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

I’m very familiar with Hans Kung’s place in theology. Studied his works closely over the decades. Good you had a chance to hear from him directly in classes. I understand your wishing to be precise on ‘fallible/infallible’ in terms of 19th century debates, which is how you introduced the term into the thread. Kate, as far as I can tell from the comment, used it first in the comment in a general sense, and quite fairly in terms of the application of the term to some readers of scripture. So, in this case, we do indeed have two meanings, no?… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Saying that the canon is closed officially is essentially the same as saying that every verse has equal weight, including those which condone slavery, homophobia and misogyny. The whole liberal position is, I suggest, founded instead on a belief that some verses aren’t really canonical. But it is being done ad-hoc. As we are saying that about the received canon, a range of other books have resurfaced and I genuinely believe we are being divinely encouraged to revisit canonicity. At the least, as a church, we should have clear criteria as to what makes a book / chapter / verse… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

You might find some of the work done by the late James Barr on this issue of some use. I can’t put my finger on a particular article from memory at the moment, but a search will likely yield reasonably good results. The churches cannot agree on a common date for Easter, or even agree on a formula for considering a common date for Easter. The notion that the question of the Canon could be re-opened seems fantastical to me.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

Kate ‘Saying that the canon is closed officially is essentially the same as saying that every verse has equal weight.’ I do not understand this claim. A closed canon doesn’t not mean a closed meaning. The texts still require the essential work of interpretation.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  David Runcorn
30 days ago

Let’s use 1 Timothy 2-12-15 as an example   I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.   One can argue that the Gospels redefine difficult passages in the Old Testament but on a traditional view of the Bible no such argument can be made for the Epistles.… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Kate
30 days ago

Timothy is not the writer of that! It is, according to the first verse, Paul writing to Timothy.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Kate
30 days ago

“As I say, the choices are either a) accept passages like 1Timothy 2 or b) acknowledge that, in practice, the canon has been opened for reappraisal.” Or just read them in a different way? Instead of presupposing that ‘canon’ has to be applicable to all societies for all time… just read biblical texts as fallible efforts of the authors to make sense of their own experiences and religious life? The problem may flow deeper than ‘selecting what is canon’, to the question and paradigm of ‘what even is canon, and is any of so-called canon or non-canon so so elevated… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Kate
29 days ago

Kate. The scriptures have always been open for reinterpretation – and there have always been significant differences in how some texts are understood – for good or ill. I think you misunderstand the idea of canon. There is not space here to set these verses in their wider, original church context and so offer a very different and more accurate interpretation of this easily misunderstood passage. Your choice b) has never not been the case in church history. And for what it is worth none of my evangelical friends read this passage in the extreme way you suggest (though I… Read more »

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  David Runcorn
29 days ago

Thanks, David. In the early church use of the word “canon” is rooted in “the rule/canon of faith.” See Irenaeus’ The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching. It is less to do with “lists” and “closure” (after all there was a core collection coming out of the synagogue, Jerome’s Hebrew Verity; and books circulating in Greek language–among Jews–that become apart of “The Seventy”), and more to do with threshold assumptions of One God in Two Testaments. In the recent period it is this conception of canon that is being re-centered, especially amongst German RCs (Ratzinger speaks of ‘canonical interpretation’ in his… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by CR SEITZ
David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  CR SEITZ
1 month ago

Absolutely! And I confess that the oft-heard appeal to alleged superiority of the ‘suppressed’ non-canonical scriptures often makes me wonder how many of the non-canonical scriptures appealed to have actually been read. Chief among my favourites are the Infancy Story of Thomas: And the son of Annas the high priest said to him (Jesus), “Why are you doing such a thing on the Sabbath?” And having taken a willow twig, he destroyed the pools and drained the water which Jesus had gathered, and he dried up their gatherings.But having seen what had happened, Jesus said to him, “Your fruit (will… Read more »

CR SEITZ
CR SEITZ
Reply to  David Rowett
1 month ago

I have taught the history of interpretation of the psalms from Origen to Reformation for over a decade. Just finished grading a paper on Augustine on Psalm 137. You can never know what to expect from him, even when you think you have him pegged. I suspect the word “infallibility” would have come across as %#*($@.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

I think people need to recognize that, however “holy” we consider the Bible, regardless of what we think about God’s influence on the writers of the Bible, the Bible is a series of books written by dozens of different authors, including the possibility that some books may have multiple authors, over a period of hundreds of years, and those authors had their own reasons for writing those books, were influenced by the culture of their time, and had all of the frailties and weaknesses inherent in being human. The writers of the Bible were not biological dictation machines. But because… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Susannah Clark
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

Great post, Peter. I agree with you on so many levels. The biblical texts are written by human authors (and many of them probably edited by further authors in the religious communities). They are not emails from God. To be clear, the authors are reporting profound encounters with God, just as we may today, and they are trying to make sense of the mystery of the Divine, just as we may today. But, like us, they are fallible human beings. They wrote the texts in the contexts of their own times, their own cultures, their own prejudices, and within the… Read more »

peterpi
peterpi
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Fantastic comment. Thank you. A lot of people don’t want to live with ambiguity, and life is full of ambiguity. They want certainty. So the notion of an infallible, God-written text without contradiction which lays out black-and-white rules appeals to them. Unfortunately, that is a complete and total misreading of the Bible, in my opinion. Years ago, I saw a movie based of the life of “Pope Joan”, about a woman who allegedly successfully hid her femininity so well that she became a priest, a bishop, and finally pope in the early Middle Ages Roman Catholic Church. I’ve heard rumors… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  peterpi
1 month ago

Peter, as somebody who practices Carmelite contemplation, the via negativa and ‘cloud of unknowing’ seem like an aspect of how God chooses to operate with people. We live in an age where some thirst for ‘certainty’, and fundamentalist assertion of infallible text does meet that craving, and accounts for its popularity in a range of churches. However, I believe that what God actually longs to grow in us is: relationships of trust, even to the point of giving ourselves when we don’t know the answers… the trust that tentatively deepens as we begin to ‘recognise’ God’s grace, without knowing all… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
29 days ago

Your final para makes an excellent point. Re: your comments on John and the history of Christian anti-Semitism, for my entire 35 years preaching I made an effort to address anti-Semitism on Good Friday. I remain conflicted to this day about what we are doing liturgically there in terms of Judaism. The Canadian liturgy attempts to deal with the issue in the rubrics with a disclaimer- not sure it is nearly enough. Since retiring I have tended to opt for a quiet reflection at home most years on that day. I tend to agree with the first line of your… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
1 month ago

The Stephen Parsons article is concerning in the larger frame. There may be implications for public discourse in the title alone. Muslims are in a difficult place in western societies. Despite their contributions Muslims, Muslim women especially, are vulnerable to Islamophobia. The opener with the reference to the catastrophe unfolding in Afghanistan is very problematic in terms of the issue Parsons wishes to address. Gwynne Dyer is a journalist and a historian who has taught at Sandhurst. In a recent article titled, Afghanistan: How Did They think it Would End, Dyer writes: ” [Insurgents] can’t quit and go home because… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

“Muslims are in a difficult place in western societies. Despite their contributions Muslims, Muslim women especially, are vulnerable to Islamophobia.” Thank you. Muslim women, especially young women, have at least 3 interfaces to handle in British society: They are softer targets of abuse than the men – and stand out more when they wear hijab/niqab. There is the perpetual unpredictable possibility of thugs/idiots on each railway platform, or on the street if they are alone. There are also the fundamentalist pressures from certain expressions of Islam. There are the pressures of tradition, and the generation gap between older parents/family and… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
26 days ago

Seven days, and no comments on the article by Leslie Francis and Andrew Village? As a regional dean in western Canada, I would say their comments about clergy morale and well-being in the C of E as the pandemic continues are very accurate in my neck of the woods too. I think most of my colleagues are exhausted, and the fact that our province of Alberta , with 11% of the population of Canada, has 34% of the active Covid infections (many would argue that this is due to the irresponsibility of our provincial government, and I would not disagree… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Tim Chesterton
Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
25 days ago

Tim, I appreciate your comment. We have family in Red Deer, Alberta. The situation in Alberta is very concerning. I’m off in a minute to my third consecutive Sunday presiding and preaching. First experiences doing so since before the pandemic set in–although I’ve been at worship every week when we have not been in ‘lockdown’. It is certainly a very different world. Much lower attendance, masks, less ability for lay participation in the liturgy. To conform with public health rules, we deliver the consecrated bread and wine to folks in their seats. We have had to replace the ‘common cup’… Read more »

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