on Monday, 13 November 2023 at 10.02 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Church of England, General Synod, Opinion
Paul Roberts Inclusive Evangelicals On the use and abuse of the term ‘orthodox’
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My deepest thanks to Paul Roberts for addressing so clearly the issues surrounding the use (or rather, misuse) of the word ‘orthodox ‘ by conservative evangelicals. Their claim that they (and only they) are the true ‘orthodox ‘ (with the implication that those who disagree with them are heterodox aka heretics) needs to be strongly challenged. They certainly should not be allowed to appropriate this word for their exclusive use. I would like to see someone from the House of Bishops speaking up about this.
“They should not be allowed to appropriate this word for their exclusive use” .
Please can you give a single example – and I mean one single example – of a leading conservative seeking to prohibit speech.
If you want to use the term “orthodox” then go ahead and use it. The only people who want to control the use of the term are progressives.
Are you denying that many conservative evangelicals are using this word in a way that excludes Christians who want to include LGBTQI+ people?
I’m not claiming control of the definition of the word orthodoxy. I’m simply objecting to those who ARE doing this. Read Paul Roberts’ article.
We use the word to convey the meaning we believe it holds.
You must and can do the same.
It just occurred to me–this is Humpty Dumpty thinking.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
The problem is that, given the conservative use of the term to identify themselves, if I use it I have to explain myself. They are essentially stealing the word and using it to declare that only their own position is “orthodox.”
Peter. The private Inclusive Evangelicals Facebook group now numbers 1500. They share their stories there and these frequently include stories from church life, of being told by the leaders they are not evangelical or ‘orthodox’ and their requests for more open discussion on this subject simply being closed down by conservative leaders. That is very controlling behaviour In our recent Open letter a number felt they could not be public because of the way they feared their church leadership or ministry colleagues would respond if they knew what they believed. I can vouch for the truth of many of these – from… Read more »
It is entirely reprehensible to shut down discussion and tell people what they cannot say. That is my general view and I would defend your prerogative to use vocabulary as you see fit in all circumstances.
There is separate issue which is freedom of association. If a group want to meet around a common and shared set of convictions then they should be free to do so. That is always going to involve some axioms about the boundaries of discussion
Peter, over and over again bishops from the global south have talked about their commitment to standing with ‘orthodox’ Anglicans in the UK and North America. Who do you think they are talking about? I believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God containing all things necessary to salvation (I had to make that declaration at my ordination, and i stand by it). I say the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed regularly, and I don’t have my fingers crossed behind my back. And I am happy to serve in a diocese… Read more »
Perhaps someone from the House of Bishops could speak up about the misuse of the term “inclusive” at the same time. I have noticed a group calling themselves “Inclusive Evangelicals” when they exclude all those evangelicals who hold different views.
The word ‘inclusive’ in this context is shorthand for those wanting to affirm same-sex partnerships or engage in conversations in that direction. I am sure you know this. We have created this group to provide a safe space for gay people and for straight supporters (to use a lot of other shorthand). There are plenty of places where conversations with evangelicals who hold other views can happen, but if you look at the tone of them you will see why a safe space is needed.
How dare Inclusive Evangelicals discriminate against conservative evanglicals! We all know only conservative evangelicals have the right to discriminate!
Bob, I think we hold the same biblical convictions but I disagree with you on this point.
If David and Charles and others choose to call themselves Inclusive then they are perfectly entitled to do so.
I do not agree with their use of the term but it is quite another matter to say or infer that they should not use it
Paul Roberts gives the creeds an authority they do not have.
They are obviously of enormous value, but Roberts effectively makes them the controlling texts through which we must interpret Scripture.
That is a simply indefensible hermeneutic.
‘Paul Roberts gives the creeds an authority they do not have.’
I find this quite astonishing. It is simply incorrect. If you want to be ‘sola scriptura’ that’s fine, but that’s not (and never has been) the C of E position.
You are putting words in my mouth. We, of course, look to Scripture, reason and tradition.
Within that trio we recognise a hierarchy in which scripture has ultimate authority.
Roberts is asserting that the creeds tell us how to understand scripture which is simply incorrect.
We say the Creeds to define what we believe. If what they say is not a “controlling text” for interpreting Scripture (at least so far as the nature of God, including the nature of Jesus), then what are we saying we believe?
It is however an Anglican position. You misread Dr Roberts as he does not exalt Creeds over Scripture. His position is that found in the 39 Articles.
With respect, he goes a good deal beyond the utility given to the Creeds by the 39 Articles
Good article by Paul Roberts. I immediately thought of the Introduction ( p. xvii ff.) to Diarmaid MacCulloch’s, The Reformation, and his opening discussion about claims for and understanding of the terms, Catholic, Anabaptist, Protestant, evangelical. ” Even that slippery term ‘Anglican’ appears to have been first spoken with disapproval by King James VI of Scotland, when in 1598 he was trying to convince the Church of Scotland how unenthusiastic he was for the Church of England.” One wonders what accuracy or relevance the term ‘orthodox’ has in current use given the wide acceptance of historical and biblical scholarship by… Read more »
Paul Roberts’ opening sentence of his opinion below the quoted text reminds me of a saying from 1800s Massachusetts about two very wealthy and very rich families: “The Cabots only talked to the Lodges and the Lodges only talked to God!” But in my convoluted faith journey, I have run across small conservative Protestant Christian denominations who, when it came to God’s grace and being saved in their version of the End Times, display exactly what Paul Roberts opened with and show a remarkably narrow vision of those groups who would get to ride the Rapture Escalator to the Clouds… Read more »
“I refuse to believe such a God would condemn the righteous, the charitable, the merciful of any belief.” Agree completely. I would be happy if a ‘creedal’ update could be coined for our liturgies in that regard. Something like: I believe in God who is loving and faithful to all the righteous, the charitable, the merciful. A lot of theological work has been done on viable alternatives to the dated notion that outside the church there is no salvation. Hans Kung in his work on the inter-faith dialogue front is one example.
Actually, Peter, thank you – you’re articulating a problem I’m struggling with particularly at the moment. Your ‘rapture escalator’ people reflect a particularly narrow form of Christianity which, in various ways, I was schooled in, and would dearly wish to reject – but…… there are particular proof texts used, and which are clearly biblical, which get in the way and cannot be avoided. How do we balance them? There’s a good piece at present on ‘Surviving Church’ which highlights it. The author quotes the vision of heaven in Revelation as embodying a truly inclusive vision of eternity. A commentator then… Read more »
PS I put a comment in support of Peter Gross on just, but can’t find it at present. (Is Peter quoting Hebrew? I don’t recognise the language, but if he is, shalom aloiakim, brother.) Relating to what I said, there are currently God only knows how many innocents, including many premature babies trapped ‘piggy in the middle’ in Gaza, facing a pretty grim, very limited life expectancy. The ‘orthodox’ clinical reformed theology which I was first schooled in has little or nothing to say about a hope for them – they’re too young to have even heard about Jesus, let… Read more »
John Davies, Thank you for your responses to my comment. Your argument about innocent babies — no matter where they are — dead before they can be taught any religion’s philosophy, before they can know who Moses or Jesus of Nazareth or Mohammed or Buddha were and what they taught is why I have walked away from more than one discussion with narrow-minded conservative Christians convinced that they are right and the rest of the planet is doomed. It is comforting to believe in the theology of the Elect — when one convinced they are one of the Elect. On… Read more »