Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 27 July 2022

Prospect Magazine Brief Encounter: Justin Welby
“The Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on his regrets, what he’s changed his mind about and unexpected reactions to sermons”

LGBTQ Faith UK Asking the wrong question

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The hidden Cost of an NDA in the Church of England

Mark Hill Law & Religion UK Principles of Canon Law and the Mind of the Anglican Communion

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News Lambeth: Colonialism, Power and Pawns

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Susannah Clark
14 days ago

I agree with Charlie Bell’s first 5 paragraphs so completely that I think I should accuse him of plagiarism! On young people (I have a vested interest having taught and nursed teenagers over 25 years), he is particularly on the ball. Just because churches against LBGT attract a tiny percentage of teenagers and young people in no way balances out with the millions those teachings alienate and put off. I know from the teenagers themselves. They are disgusted. They have gay friends, lesbian relatives… or are LGBT themselves. It can be over-stated how teachings against LGBT lives taint the Church… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Susannah Clark
14 days ago

As strong as that part is, his most telling point in my view is in the last part where he talks about the inherent colonialism of the structure of the Anglican Communion. He puts into coherent words something I’ve been struggling to articulate for a long time – although it won’t surprise me if most English people don’t get it.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
14 days ago

Personally Tim, my view is: The Church of England should have Archbishops whose prime role is the pastoral support of the Church in England. The Anglican Communion should collectively discern how it wants to be led, but I’d prefer that was kept separate from the primate who I think England needs to guide its own affairs. The spread of Anglicanism – and there were many good things about it – took place in an age of Empire. That Empire no longer exists, and nor should the mindsets associated with it. As with ‘unconscious bias’ in other areas, as someone brought… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Susannah Clark
13 days ago

That the English archbishops primary focus should be on England, as opposed to Kent and Yorkshire, is something of a half way house.

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
14 days ago

It’s been in my mind for a couple of years too, Tim, since I did a FutureLearn course on British colonialism (which I recommend by the way, free online). And I’ve been mulling over if it’s possible to extract a project for a thesis from the subject. I think it’s possible to see colonialism as a (extreme maybe) subset of anthropomorphism, something that is not really a Christian view.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Mary Hancock
14 days ago

There is a further aspect of Colonialism related to this presenting issue which we need to be aware of. It has been neatly illustrated by Tom Daley who said (in relation to homophobia and the Commonwealth Games): “Thirty-five out of the 56 Commonwealth member states criminalise same-sex relations. That’s half the countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality.” See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/27/tom-daley-condemns-homophobia-across-commonwealth-ahead-of-games If one looks at the history of this, many countries now in the Commonwealth had indigenous cultures within which behaviours and ways of being which would now attract labels like queer or gay or transgender were common, and were often… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Simon Dawson
Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  Simon Dawson
14 days ago

Yes, Simon, I’m aware of that too but it’s good to be reminded.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Susannah Clark
14 days ago

sorry! typo: It can be over-stated… should read: it cannot be overstated how teachings against LGBT lives taint the Church in the eyes of the young…

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
Reply to  Susannah Clark
14 days ago

While the pursuit of equal marriage is noble, to suggest it is the solution to our attendance woes is short-sighted. The absolute decline in church attendance has been evident since the mid-70’s (in Canada at least) and shows no signs of abating. Among major denominations decline is most prominent among mainstream Protestant and less so among RC’s, evangelical Protestant and more conservative churches. We have wanted to believe that being more reflective of popular hegemony would lead to growth but the opposite has taken place. It seems that what most adherents really want is a counter cultural creed as opposed… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
14 days ago

Peter, I basically think that Christianity as a whole is in decline, and I attribute that largely to the fact that secular and scientific values have grown more relevant in people’s daily lives. People will come to Church if they find it relevant. Most people just don’t. Fundamentalism doesn’t really help (except for a very few who crave certainties) because its assertions about a fatherless Adam, the Noah’s Ark story, crass tales of ethnic cleansing commanded by God (if true) just put modern-day truth seekers off taking the religion seriously. Some still will, but many more will be put off.… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
14 days ago

It seems that what most adherents really want is a counter cultural creed as opposed to what they experience in day to day life.”

Well, that’s an interesting position. An example of counter-cultural thinking, which gets a certain amount of interest from young men, is white nationalism. Perhaps churches should start advocating that? It’s counter cultural, it’ll attract a crowd, it’ll repel “progressives” and attract the “traditional”.

“White Power Church: women, queers and [racist epithet] in their place” might be a line to pursue.

/s

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Interested Observer
14 days ago

I think that’s the thing, IO: not all ‘counter-culture’ is good. Some is just reactionary (not directing that at Peter).

It would be ‘counter cultural’ to go back to 1950s women. That could even be justified from some snippets in the Bible. But it would suck.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Susannah Clark
14 days ago

I’ve never understood the merit, or even really the meaning, of “counter cultural” in an era in which slavery, racism and oppression is all regarded as bad. It appears to be basically mindless contrarianism mixed with the grimmest forms of conservatism. It might have made sense in 1800, or 1950, as a reaction to slavery and colonialism: the church speaks against oppression. But today? Which are the general social values to which Christians want to run counter? In the eyes of many, “counter cultural” means one thing only: homophobia. Society is accepting of differences in sexuality, so under the guise… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Interested Observer
14 days ago

Which are the general social values to which Christians want to run counter? I would suggest such “values” as You are the most important thing in the world Your life is all there is. Your material good is the only good. Your happiness is the only happiness. You have the right to be happy and if you are not it’s somebody else’s fault Material things are what make you happy and you are entitled to have whatever you want of them without effort Other people are under an unlimited obligation to secure your happiness You are never under any requirement… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Unreliable Narrator
David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Interested Observer
14 days ago

I’ve always preferred the term ‘culture critical’ – it seems to avoid the reactionary overtones of ‘counter cultural’ and frees up space to admit that, just sometimes, a prevailing cultural take might have something to commend it.

John Sandeman
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
14 days ago

What absolute decline in church attendance? In Australia church attendance is growing, which may shock some here. The percentage of Australians attending church is growing while the percentage identifying as Christians is declining.

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
Reply to  John Sandeman
13 days ago

It would also surprise the authors of

Changes in church attendance in Australia – NCLS Research

Can we please only make statements actually supported by evidence? If something is going down more slowly, it is still going down.

Last edited 13 days ago by Bernard Silverman
Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
13 days ago

This would never do, Sir B. It would shut down the entire sexuality debate that is so very relevant to so many in churches and about which there are so many Dominical edicts.

Cynthia Katsarelis
Cynthia Katsarelis
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
14 days ago

In the US, religious membership is declining amongst the evangelicals and conservative churches too. It’s probably part of a larger trend, but it’s hard not to imagine that their support for Trump, racism, misogyny, immigrants, and homophobia is finally playing a role.

Bob FB Senay
Bob FB Senay
Reply to  Susannah Clark
14 days ago

spot on

Susannah Clark
14 days ago

On the question of definition of ‘woman’, discussed in the LGBTQ Faith UK article… I refer people to my article: here Suggesting womanhood is defined by a vagina is desperately simplistic and reductive. Being a woman is so much more than that. And biological sex is a system. It operates from the brain, where awareness of your sexuality and gender originate. It involves interaction of hormones and receptors. There are many expressions and experiences of womanhood. There are childless women, there are mothers, there are women who drive trucks, women who are lesbian, women who like to stay single, butch… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Susannah Clark
Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Susannah Clark
14 days ago

And biological sex is a system. It operates from the brain, where awareness of your sexuality and gender originate. It involves interaction of hormones and receptors. I think chromosomes have something to do with it too. And that’s expressed at the cellular level. A trans woman (just one category of women, and not appropriating all aspects of all women’s experiences) can be classified as ‘woman’ because it has been concluded in Parliament and in science that it is coherent to do so. That is not the sort of thing that science says at all. That’s not to say that it’s… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Unreliable Narrator
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
14 days ago

Chromosomes are part of what makes a person develop and operate. But so are all the other biological exchanges and interactions, in their own ways – hormones, receptors, sensations common to male and female, brain and personality development, and – in that the brain pilots a lot of a person’s sexual impulses and identity – the coalescing of identity… a gestalt… interacting with complex chemistry… that collectively operates and experiences in the whole overall biological operation of sexuality in a human being. We know that these things vary along a wide spectrum, because you get butch women and quite female… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Susannah Clark
14 days ago

I maintain that this “coherence” simply isn’t the sort of statement that science makes. Science just does not make statements about how society ought to be organised. It may be an opinion of some scientists but I must frankly say that the antithesis posed between dogmatists on the one hand and specialists on the other is fallacious. It is possible to recognise that human biology is complicated without necessarily drawing the same conclusion about how human society ought to be organised.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
13 days ago

U.N., the problem I have is not with you. You are interesting and intelligent. I find I quite often agree with you (and occasionally don’t). My concern, and this in response to Kate’s fair question: “Is there any benefit in trying to define ‘woman’ “… is not that plenty of people do limit the term ‘woman’ to someone born with a vagina… people have a right to take a view on that… but my concern is that there are people who embrace this ‘simple’ definition of ‘woman’ (I think it is simple, and reductive, but I won’t repeat further what… Read more »

Stevie Gamble
Stevie Gamble
Reply to  Susannah Clark
13 days ago

I should be delighted if you could identify the location of the feminist universe you cite; I would rather like to move there. I cannot help but feel that the universe I live in is most definitely not feminist, just as my daughter lives in a universe which is most definitely not feminist. As, respectively, a retired senior civil servant and a practising dual specialism consultant physician, we are all too accustomed to the assumption that we must be secretaries and/or nurses, since naturally women can’t possibly do complicated things. Your apparent belief that we are trying to exclude trans… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Stevie Gamble
13 days ago

Hi Stevie, “Your apparent belief that we are trying to exclude trans women from utopia is not helpful.” Totally NOT my belief. I don’t even know you. There is a subset, within the many varied expressions of feminism, that wants to exclude trans women. They’re who I don’t find helpful. I am a woman. My wife is a woman. I have two daughters. So I care about women’s opportunities, maybe as much as you. Personally I don’t identify as feminist – I am more inclined to socialism – but I have found feminist critique and methodology really helpful in my… Read more »

Stevie Gamble
Stevie Gamble
Reply to  Susannah Clark
12 days ago

I see that the feminist universe turned out to be non-existent. A pity, that. Neither my daughter nor myself sees anything wrong with being a nurse or a secretary; both do absolutely essential work to keep the world running in hospitals and elsewhere. However, neither nurses nor secretaries put in the long years of training, against considerable odds, needed to become either a specialist advisor on the taxation of financial institutions and complex financial instruments, or a dual specialism consultant physician. My daughter’s skills are undoubtedly more directly immediately beneficial to individuals than my own, as those in her resus… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Stevie Gamble
12 days ago

“You seem to feel that being trans is more important than being a woman” Absolutely not. The whole point of transition is to shift from A to B, not to linger, potentially in some middle no man’s land. I do not belong to any trans activist group. I know very few trans people. Transition has brought great psychological ease and personal happiness, and on a day to day basis I’m a woman living an ordinary life. “…all of your long posts on the emergence from the woodwork of a particularly unpleasant document about single sex marriage have been about you… Read more »

Stevie Gamble
Stevie Gamble
Reply to  Susannah Clark
8 days ago

I must apologise for the very long delay in replying to you. I had done some reading and started drafting a response when life intervened, in the way that life has a habit of doing, but I caught sight of an article today about Justin Welby’s comments and concluded that I really must affirm my disgust for the way in which the Church of England has distressed people because of the way it has tackled this . I originally wrote: “I do feel that the apparent assumption that equal marriage is the concern of LGBT people is both unfounded and… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Stevie Gamble
7 days ago

Thanks Stevie. You make an extremely relevant point: that the majority of supporters of equal marriage and the integrity of gay/lesbian sexuality in this country are in fact not LGBT themselves. These are issues that impact on ALL citizens and besides, these days countless heterosexual people have relatives, friends, neighbours, colleagues, who are LGBT… people they respect, know, care about. And what sort of example does the theological vilification of gay/lesbian sexuality set for our young people as they are growing up. Society has moved on. The Church needs to as well. Especially if it is afforded privileged space within… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
14 days ago

“But in actual fact, it is not possible to assert with any degree of certainty that Jesus was male as we now define maleness. There is no way of knowing for sure that Jesus did not have one of the intersex conditions which would give him a body which appeared externally to be unremarkably male, but which might nonetheless have had some “hidden” female physical features. He might have had ovarian as well as testicular tissue in his body. He might, in common with many people who are unaware of the fact, have had a mixture of XX and XY… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Kate
14 days ago

“Indeed, as several scholars have pointed out with their tongues both in and out of their cheeks, if the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is taken as scientific fact, then Jesus certainly had no male human element to introduce a Y chromosome into his DNA, and all his genetic material would have been identical with that of his mother (that is, female) (see e.g. Mollenkott 2002, 2007: 115-7). Yes! If the standard Christian dogma is accepted as truth, then Jesus of Nazareth is a literal example of human parthenogenesis. And the result of parthenogenesis is female. Now, 1) The authors… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Kate
13 days ago

Kate, I have no grounds for disproving your suggestions about Jesus’s gender make up, and – given we are created in the image of God, both male and female, it’s possible to well believe that Jesus lived out his identity with deepest female feelings as well as deepest male. However, I have to be honest: I believe that in all likelihood Jesus was born with a male body, and male genitals, and went through male puberty, with a voice that broke, a prostate, testosterone; and that he never had periods, did not have ovaries etc. I have no proof –… Read more »

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
Reply to  Kate
13 days ago

Forgive me for suggesting this is a heap of hooey. Revisionism is unhelpful here. We can presume that God, being God, would ensure that his son took on human likeness in all ways but sin. I will take for granted that in assuming the bodily form of a male, that his chromosomes were, in fact, XY. Debating this is futile.

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
13 days ago

or xxy or xyy…

Last edited 13 days ago by Fr Andrew
Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Kate
13 days ago

The Ravenna mosaic of the baptism of Christ shows him with tiny dangly bits and a generously proportioned child-bearing pelvic girdle.comment image

John N Wall Jr
John N Wall Jr
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
13 days ago

Leo Steinberg’s The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion is well worth reading in this context.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
13 days ago

Very interesting. There is a big contrast between Christ and the two much more stereotypical male figures.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Susannah Clark
14 days ago

“Suggesting womanhood is defined by a vagina is desperately simplistic and reductive.” Agreed, but that is the policy of the Republican Party of the USA, which has a strong chance of taking over one or both houses of the national legislature (the Congress) in November. Numerous Republicans have engaged in a political war against trans people. It is a disturbing but very successful way for them to win votes. A decade or more ago, I saw a dramatic movie based on Pope Joan, a female pope of the Roman Catholic Church who allegedly governed the Roman Catholic Church in the… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Fr Dean
Fr Dean
14 days ago

Despite the Archbishop’s protestations I’m aware that NDAs are still used in the CofE. The pernicious part is the non disclosure element. A settlement agreement can be of help to an aggrieved cleric in that it helps to draw a line under what for some people has been a traumatic experience. The cash element, albeit imperfectly, puts a recognisable value on the ‘fault’ of the church organisation and for the loss of all office. Bishops don’t want clergy comparing notes as to the size of the payoffs so they insist on the confidentiality clause but also drag in every aspect… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
14 days ago

Wow. Mark Hill QC’s article says everything. It is well worth reading in full. Wait for the penultimate paragraph!

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Jeremy
14 days ago

Indeed, and the short final paragraph:

“Sometimes the charism of unity is best displayed in recognizing the reality of the existence of two contradictory views.”

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Jeremy
14 days ago

I agree, it is devastating.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
14 days ago

Regarding the ‘counter cultural’ part of the thread, It helps to reflect on exactly which ‘culture’ one wishes to ‘counter’– an important problem on which considerable theolgical-philosophical work has been/is being done. Whether it filters through to church conferences, such as the Lambeth Conference, is a good question.

https://ndpr.nd.edu/reviews/authenticity-as-self-transcendence-the-enduring-insights-of-bernard-lonergan/

Cynthia Katsarelis
Cynthia Katsarelis
Reply to  Rod Gillis
13 days ago

I’m very glad to see you questioning the “counter culture” bit. In the US, African American trans men have an average life span of 35 years (!!!) due to violence. That’s the most extreme on the LGBTQ+ scale, but by every social measure, LGBTQ people suffer greatly and have worse physical and mental health outcomes. Sociology has finally determined that the cause of the suffering is a culture that tolerates hate speech, hate crimes, discrimination, and alienation of various sorts. And the cure for this is a culture of affirmation and belonging. Love for people who are different IS counter… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Cynthia Katsarelis
13 days ago

In the very big picture, I think Lonergan (and others) are largely correct about the still ongoing transition from classical to modern culture. The culture you rightly describe at work is really a kind of sub-culture. Religion, partly because of the above noted transition, is enmeshed in it. Fundamentalism, and various types of quasi-fundamentalism, despite appeals to ‘bible truth’ are really a modern phenomena, in constant reaction to modernity, attempts to undermine contemporary historical and scientific insight with appeals to religious dogma. At their worst fundamentalism(s) and various forms of Christian nationalism in both North America and Europe area a… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Rod Gillis
13 days ago

I agree. I see fundamentalism as an entrenched and accentuated reaction to a modern world of science and organised secular thought. In short, a modern phenomenon of reaction. It becomes a kind of ‘fortress’ mentality against changes that challenge certainties, which some religious groups just can’t accept. It’s not only Christianity that can be prone to this fundamentalism. It’s a feature of a religion struggling to come to terms with actual scientific advance and secular expertise which has been developing for several hundred years. There is a lot of fear and anxiety wrapped up in the reaction. The fear that… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Susannah Clark
12 days ago

where it clashes with scientific discovery

That’s not the issue here. First-century carpenters in Judea knew perfectly well that virgins do not become pregnant, and that dead people do not come back to life. But they believed that such events had in fact occurred, and that they were miracles, outside the settled order of nature as known to them and us.

It is we, congratulating ourselves on our scientific discoveries, who disbelieve in miracles, yet we do believe that women can become pregnant without sex, and that dead people can be frozen and later bought back to life.

Last edited 12 days ago by Unreliable Narrator
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
12 days ago

To be clear, U.N., I believe in miracles but that doesn’t mean the whole Bible is infallible and to be believed. We should congratulate ourselves on scientific discoveries, and take them seriously, and we can also believe at the same time that God is supernatural if we decide to, but when a fundamentalist insists that every single bit of the Bible is correct and therefore science is wrong – about Adam, about Noah, about a worldwide flood, about evolution, about the complex and diverse nature of sexual orientation, about the sun standing still in the sky, etc etc… (not to… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Susannah Clark
12 days ago

Quite so. The position that everything in the Bible is literally correct in every detail and explains everything is a sort of mirror image of the position that modern science is exactly correct in every detail and explains everything. It seems to me that the prestige of modern science, and the grandiosely unsustainable claims for its inerrant universal applicability, are talked up mainly by people who plainly are not scientists but are keen to believe that there is something they can turn to with the power to resolve all their doubts and difficulties.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
12 days ago

The fundamental principle of science is hypothesis. If ‘this’ then ‘that’ Test it to see if the findings suggest the hypothesis may be correct. Then if so, that is a ‘working premiss/model’ to be going on with, until any subsequent facts or new hypotheses call the previous assumptions into question. The principle should be a pretty productive one. The concerns I have are mostly about ‘groupthink’ in academia, selection of peers to peer review, possibilities of bias in hoped for outcomes to further academic career, and the perennial problems if research is financed by vested interests. Even so the disciplines… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Susannah Clark
11 days ago

“The fundamental principle of science is hypothesis,” And, the best hypothesis in a given situation is the one which best explains all the available data. It is important to remember that, as the saying goes, science is not the ‘truth’ rather it is constantly on the way to truth, within the limited domain of the empirical sciences. However, it is important to be critical of the assumptions of a closed secularist ‘scientism’. I’ve reproduced below a citation from the Byrne Review linked in an earlier comment of mine on this thread. I’m in general agreement with this viewpoint. “…Lonergan calls… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Rod Gillis
11 days ago

the best hypothesis in a given situation is the one which best explains all the available data

That’s not right. A scientific hypothesis is one which makes predictions capable of being tested and refuted by experiment. Within those, one can look for such qualities as comprehensiveness, simplicity, quantifiability, and explanatory power as the “best”.

Otherwise, the best hypothesis, that fits all data, and explains it all in the simplest possible way, is that events happen at random and there is neither order nor meaning to the universe. Scientists, however secular, and Christians, however unscientific, unite in rejecting that completely.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Susannah Clark
12 days ago

Well written. Brava!
Life is full of uncertainty, doubt, and ambiguity.
Fundamentalism wipes all that away. It is comforting to be in a group where one just accepts. No thinking required.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
13 days ago

There is a bit of an excursus on the thread, begun with a comment on the LGBTQ Faith UK article. The conversation was launched by a comment by Susannah Clark with reference to the question at the top of the article i.e. What is the Church of England’s definition of a woman? While asking that question is now probably necessary with regard to complex bio-ethical questions and social policy, there is a prior question for Christology, and it is important to keep that prior question prior–especially with regard to bio-ethics and social policy. It is the question of human being.… Read more »

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
Reply to  Rod Gillis
13 days ago

I have no issue with the perpetual virginity of Mary. There is no great leap here for with God all things are possible. One need only reference Genesis 3:15 – the Protoevangelicum – where we find the only reference in scripture to “her seed.” The Word made flesh did not require the seed of a human father as he was son of God. This is made clear in the historic creeds, so why try to make of something that isn’t there? Why is it so difficult to go beyond the physical and acknowledge that there is something mysterious and different… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
13 days ago

You have a different opinion based on different assumptions. Such is life.

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Rod Gillis
12 days ago

It would be interesting to read a clear exposition, then, of the assumptions that underlie your opinions, stated so unambiguously here. My guess is that they include the assumptions that nothing can ever happen or ever have happened contrary to the settled order of nature as known to modern science (so that any testimony to the contrary is false); and that new opinions are always more correct than old ones. But please do correct that guess …

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
13 days ago

Isn’t the whole point that in terms of His physical incarnation Jesus was just like us and not half-human / half-divine like Asclepius and others from Greek mythology? It’s why His virgin birth needs to be explained in a way which lies within the bounds of scientific possibility.

Last edited 13 days ago by Kate
Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Kate
12 days ago

His virgin birth needs to be explained in a way which lies within the bounds of scientific possibility.

Only if you assume that miracles are impossible: that is, events contrary to the settled natural order cannot have occurred. That puts the Resurrection out of court, of course. I think it more useful to consider what the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus mean for us than to ask what is the scientific basis of something outside the realm of science: a question by its very nature incapable of being answered.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
12 days ago

I agree. If God is not supernatural, then where exactly is God inside our natural universe? If God is supernatural but chooses always to work inside the natural world and its laws, then how does the resurrection work? Additionally, if the resurrection can work, then why not the virgin birth? All that said, I believe God is the Spirit of the sound mind, and has called us to live in an ordered universe. So we should not be expecting countless raisings from the dead or miraculous healings kicking off all the time. I see God’s supernatural interventions as being exceptional,… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Susannah Clark
12 days ago

I do not pretend to know how God works in the world. But if we believe that He does, it must be by some exercise of will and power that simply lies outside the domain of things that science is capable of talking about. I do not understand how people who take science as the sole basis for their understanding of the world find space for God to operate at all — or indeed how they reason about such unscientific matters as right and wrong, truth and beauty, life and love. Perhaps they believe that He does not operate in… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
12 days ago

Is beauty important to you?

(Obvs no need to answer if you don’t want to.)

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
9 days ago

I’ve been thinking about my initial terse reply to your comment. Just about one year ago this month on this site I had a debate about this subject. ( link). I’ll repeat the core of what I posted at that time. Modern scientific insight accounts for what we know about human procreation. That is not tested/falsifiable on the basis of bible narratives such as the infancy narratives in the Gospels. Jesus is the offspring of two parents. That is a fact. We are then left to read the infancy narratives on their merit as religious insight. The infancy narratives may… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Rod Gillis
13 days ago

If the virgin birth is unacceptable to you, I assume the same must be true of the Resurrection .

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Peter
12 days ago

I am unclear if your comment to Susannah below amounts to an indication that my question on the Incarnation and Resurrection is beneath you.

Perhaps you could clarify

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Rod Gillis
13 days ago

Rod,

You don’t think people have souls?

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Susannah Clark
12 days ago

My reference comes from the perspective of transcendental Thomists which adapts quite ecumenically to my North American liberal protestant niche. I prefer Karl Rahner’s theology on this issue. As a student in Catholic parochial school, I was taught this body and soul dichotomy. Double whammy, it is not Hebraic, it does not mesh with a post-enlightenment situation. It is a kind of mechanical view taken over from Greek philosophy. See the article (link) by Terrance Klein on Karl Rahner. May I take the opportunity to add that I prefer to engage comments like yours and others here on TA which… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Rod Gillis
12 days ago

Thank you Rod. Give me the weekend to study the Terence Klein article. My own view on souls arises from contemplative practice and, of course, these are hard things to pin down and contain or describe, because much of what is in God is surely unfathomable, or dimly disclosed. To me, the soul is vast. I am not talking about the brain which dies with our bodies, but the vessel of our consciousness and individuality in eternity… even though that’s complex too, because I believe consciousness expands as God shares God’s own awareness with us along the plains of the… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Rod Gillis
12 days ago

I think it’s wise to avoid entering into discussions with people whom you do not believe to be commenting in good faith.

Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
13 days ago

Charlie Bell makes important points, I have written further about the misuse of ‘anti-racism’ and supposed opposition to ‘colonialism’ as a cover for injustice. In reality, anti-colonial theology has much to offer in struggles for equality.

Paul Wilkin
Paul Wilkin
13 days ago

At the Quaker meeting I attend we had a time to talk about how we came to be there. About 50% of people started with some form of, “I used to be an Anglican.”

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