Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What does the Bible say?

One is tempted at times to say of the evangelical centre site, Fulcrum, 'poor Fulcrum', as it gets pilloried by the left and the right. But I admire Fulcrum because it is unafraid to be bold in the course of following its centrist line. One example is publishing this paper by Robert Gagnon, entitled "Going in the Wrong Direction:A Response to David Atkinson".

Its relevance to Lambeth is this. David Atkinson, an evangelical C of E bishop and scholar, contributed a chapter to the book Other Voices, Other Worlds: The Global Church Speaks Out on Homosexuality (edited by Terry Brown and published in 2006 by Church Publishing in New York), which offers bishops in the run up to Lambeth a view from the other (liberal) side of the (more or less) Global South to the (mostly) conservative voice experienced through media headlines - more or less because the book includes voices from our church which is not normally counted as part of the Global South! So Gagnon, responding to Atkinson's challenge to Gagnon within that book, offers a counter to Atkinson's piece which implies evangelicals might take a 'softer' interpretative line on Scripture.

Either way, a bit of Gagnon is good for the biblical spine, stiffening it in a straighter direction. I concur with him that fundamental to understanding the Bible on human sexuality is engaging with the foundational, binary (i.e. male/female) character of human sexuality in the creation of humanity in the image of God.

(On the Terry Brown edited book, I offered this brief review around the time of its publication.

Terry Brown (ed.) Other Voices, Other Worlds: The Global Church Speaks Out on Homosexuality, London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 2006.

Twenty-six voices, most from the Global South, challenge the ‘dominant’ picture of Global South Anglicanism as pro-Bible, anti-homosexuality. Many of the voices effectively say, ‘in my country, in my Anglican province homosexuality exists, this information ought not to be overlooked.’ This is useful knowledge but is not always conveyed in a way which enables the current contretemps to progress to a rapprochement. Three voices stand out as required listening if some meaningful traction towards true communion is to take place among diverse Anglican theologies: David Atkinson, Charles Hefling and Sarah Coakley. In particular conservative evangelicals might find in the piece by David Atkinson, a published IVP author, some common ground for genuine dialogue on possibilities Scripture may be more open to than some of its conservative readers.

Incidentally the book provides evidence for those who claim that Gene Robinson is not the only gay bishop in the Anglican Communion!)

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