Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 6 February 2019

Andrew John, the Bishop of Bangor, Bishop Andy’s new Episcopal Letter
“I have come to believe that the Church should now fully include without distinction those who commit to permanent loving unions with a person of the same sex. I further believe that the best way to do this is for the Church to marry these people as we do with men and women.”

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Releasing the feral essence of God to flow in our beings

Ryan P Bonfiglio The Christian Century It’s time to rethink our assumptions about where theological education happens
“Until 1565, the local church was also the seminary.”

Marcus Green ViaMedia.News Living in Love & Faith – The Challenge of Getting Heard

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David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Ryan Bonfiglio is right to urge that theological teaching needs to happen more in local churches. But, and without knowing his context, he is apparently unaware that well over half those in ministry training in the CofE (ordained and lay) are doing so on local courses. Many theological colleges have developed versions of context based training in partnership with local churches – where the ordinands spend the greater part of the week in the parish and travel in to college for more focused theological/training input. There is more to do but we have been re-thinking our assumptions for some time… Read more »

crs
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crs

I believe the context is NA and the models of the ATS (which must also adjust and is doing so), not the UK. Big mainstream seminaries have been the model in the US, some of them very large (Fuller, RTS system, the big methodist seminaries at Duke, SMU, Emory, Vanderbilt). England has a different history.

Paul Waddington
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Paul Waddington

Another nail in the coffin of the Church in Wales!

Michael Mulhern
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Michael Mulhern

Reading the Bishop of Bangor’s Episcopal Letter leads me to say, following David Runcorn’s response to Ryan Bonfiglio, that some more theological competence among our bishops would be welcome, too. As someone on the progressive wing of the Church, I don’t find Andy John’s cavalier approach to scripture, tradition and reason helps to move the discussion along in the slightest. We are just left with well-meaning soundbites, and anyone can generate those.

Father Ron Smith
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I agree with Michael when he questions the hermeneutic of Bishop Andy’s exposition of Scripture. The fact that he quotes the ‘lust’ element of sexual relationships as being primary in the Scriptural opposition to sexual relationships seems to imply that this applies to all homosexual activity. In fact, although it might be difficult to separate out the element of lust from love – the former applies as much to heterosexual activity in the Bible as it does to what might be called ‘other’ sexual activity. (pace: David and Bathsheba). Bishop Andy also still seems to prefer the implication of homosexuality… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Fr.Ron, your final paragraph is insightful. Thank you. Regarding the conventional and familiar rehearsel of pro/con scripture arguments ( e.g.,the bishop’s) I’d like to adapt a distinction advanced by Northrop Frye in his treatment of literary criticism i.e. centripetal/centrifugal. A lot of ‘biblical’ arguments (both pro and con) are centripetal. They simply drive us deeper into texts as self referential. Moral theology demands a centrifugal approach connecting texts to the exterior reality. Such an approach places texts alongside the reflection and articulated experience of others, most especially the oppressed and misunderstood. Heterosexual orientation may result in various misanthropic behaviors. However,… Read more »

Christopher Rees
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Christopher Rees

Reading Bishop Andy’s letter I was glad he went through each of the verses of scripture that are used by the traditionalists and I’m delighted with his conclusion. I hope it’s a sign that very soon the sacrament of marriage will be open to same-sex couples very soon in the church in Wales.

Alan Davies
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Alan Davies

The Bishop of Bangor may have gone through each of the verses of scripture used by traditionalists. Whether his hermeneutic demonstrates a sufficiently clear grasp of the overall canon, its use in the tradition, and a rigorous application of reason is another matter. I think he’s left himself wide open to be challenged by those with a more secure grasp of the territory for his rather meagre exegesis – and I say that as someone who is supportive of equal marriage. This kind of thin gruel will not help to build bridges or engage the ecclesial consensus.

Kate
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Kate

I think you are missing the point. He is arguing that exegesis is unnecessary – all we have to do is decide whether the fruit of a relationship (he mentions spiritual growth) is positive. You might not agree. Personally I am on the fence whilst I consider his argument, but to rebut it would require a Scriptural justification for academic exegesis as a methodology for understanding the Bible Whether that is possible isn’t something I had previously considered and I think that is a challenge to us all – rather than assuming academic exegesis is a valid approach it too… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Just as an aside to my previous comment… Today it is fashionable in some circles to consider what the New Testament meant at the time of Jesus in the context of social structures of the day. Despite the 15 or so centuries between Moses and Jesus, though, when asked about the Law Jesus never started “In Moses’ time they…”

Alan Davies
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Alan Davies

Sorry, Kate, I don’t get what you’re point is. Either exegesis of scripture stands up to the commonly accepted ecclesial and academic standards, or we adopt an ‘anything goes’ approach. That’s how we ensure the Bible doesn’t become a happy hunting ground for those who want to find their views on everything supported, and place ourselves under the authority of scripture. It still leaves me asking whether Bishop John is doing himself, or the rest of us who want to see progress on this issue, any favours by adopting such a flimsy approach that is so obviously open to be… Read more »

crs
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crs

I think the point is, ask people to report what they believe is meet and right and that is what is probative. If you think the Bible really has nothing to say, then this follows. ‘Thinking’ is academic and uncooperative. Nice development at a site calling itself Thinking Anglicans.

Kate
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Kate

Thanks for the correction about “In Moses time” I will take a look again

When you refer though to the “commonly accepted ecclesial and academic standards” what is the Gospel basis for those standards? Without Gospel support, it is a house of cards.

FrDavidH
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FrDavidH

I hardly think trying to interpret the Bible from the Sitz im Leben is a recent fashion as Kate suggests. The German Form Critics brought new insights into the nature of Scripture. Kate seems to suggest interpretation is simply a matter of personal opinion. In that case all NT scholars should shut up.

Kate
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Kate

There are two quite separate activities here: 1 Exegesis as an academic discipline, and 2 A Christian reading of the Bible There is no reason why the two should be the same and, if they are, there will be Gospel passages to support the equality – ie academic exegesis should be self-referential. For a Christian understanding, as Bishop Andy says, Jesus instead taught us to consider the fruit. So, to use his example, if a same sex marriage enhances the couple’s worship of, and service to, the Lord then it should be blessed and what academic exegesis says of the… Read more »

FrDavidH
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FrDavidH

What Kate is saying is – “a christian reading of the bible” is what I want it to mean.

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

In my opinion, many of the comments on this thread steer very close to elitism, seeming to express an opinion that only those people who have had an academic theological training are allowed to express their privileged views, and those of us without a theology degree should shut up and listen to our betters.

FrDavidH
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FrDavidH

Anyone can express an opinion when it comes to religion which is subjective. Academic study, however, can reveal more about a subject giving a more informative view. The bible, like medicine, is studied in universities. I would no more lecture my doctor on health matters than presume to tell a NT professor that only my view is correct.

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

“I would no more lecture my doctor on health matters than presume to tell a NT professor that only my view is correct”. Perhaps this is not the best example to use, bearing in mind a major move in medicine in the last twenty years is “listen to the patient”, and “the patient is the expert on his/her own body”. The era of the autocratic surgeon, and Doctor knows best, is over – after one too many medical negligence cases.

Kate
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Kate

David

We have a saviour who frequently choose to express his teaching not in precepts like Benedict of Nursia but in inherently fuzzy parables. Academic exegesis works well with books like Leviticus, and maybe even with some of the Epistles, but the truth is that Jesus deliberately taught in a form that doesn’t suit academic exegesis because a parable is about how one reacts to the story rather than about verse parsing. A parable is accessible and deliberately avoids the need for an academic education.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

“A parable is accessible and deliberately avoids the need for an academic education.” Ah yes, the ‘simple’ parables of Jesus. ” …Euclid’s Elements were composed about twenty-three centuries ago…while there is a task to coming to understand Euclid, there is no task of interpreting Euclid….The correct understanding is unique….while there have been endless commentators on the clear and simple gospels, there exists no exegetical literature on Euclid” (-Bernard Lonergan). Lonergan provides this example in a section (Method in Theology) where he deals with interpretation issues and the “…separate treatment [by functional specialties] of issues that otherwise become enormously complex.” [Method.… Read more »

crs
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crs

There is a fruitful discussion to be followed in the early church, and it can be instructive. The fathers appealed to a “rule of faith” as crucial/indispensible to reading scripture — itself the ground rule and grammar. “Rule” or “canon” involve scope (all the books), hypothesis (their larger drift), and subject matter (God Almighty YHWH and Jesus Christ rhyme). There were alternatives (select out books, passages and exclude others), thin out the literal sense so it can only mean one thing, (a sensus historicus), appeal to higher levels of spiritual insight in the reader, speak of God as here and… Read more »

Susannah Clark
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Personally, trying to follow a contemplative path, I come at things from a somewhat different direction: via negativa, the ‘cloud of unknowing’, and the beginning of receptivity at the end of our own understanding and control. I think there is plenty to gain from study and reflection – lectio is a really valuable practice – but I am with those who believe that sometimes the love and recognition of God can be hidden from the clever and revealed to the child. There should basically be no hierarchy in the different ways that God chooses to disclose truth to us. By… Read more »

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

“Bishop Andy also still seems to prefer the implication of homosexuality in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, while a more modern interpretation suggests the infringement of traditional rules of hospitality.” That’s not a “a more modern interpretation.” According to Luke, that was Jesus’ interpretation as well: “But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, on that day… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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May I suggest, DRP, that most earlier understandings of Sodom and Gomorrah were more heavily influenced by the tradition of Leviticus than those of either either Luke or Jesus. Sadly, it is this earlier tradition that has clouded the issue of homosexuality. Even though the Gospels have been around for 2 millennia, many present day heterosexual preachers are more influenced by a proscriptive Leviticus view than the reformed view of Jesus – despite modern secular research into gender/sexuality issues.