Monday, February 4, 2013

Post Hui Reflections

Don't just read here, go to Taonga for a full report (which I see no need to repeat) with links to some (but not all, e.g. not Bishop Victoria Matthew's) papers given. I suggest that the headline there, "Hermeneutic Hui leads church ever closer to same-sex blessings" is an accurate summary of what the hui represents within the journey our church is on through these particular years (via diocesan work on theologies of marriage, the Ma Whaea Commission, General Synods 2012 and 2014). However other headlines could be given in summary. Here are mine:

"Our church stakes claim for discipleship and divine worship as context in which to make decisions about how we live in 21st century."

"Clear recognition by ACANZP that a consensus on homosexuality will not be reached."

"Determination by our church to find a way forward on blessings of same sex relationships which honours our respectful divisions."

"Uncertainties within ACANZP about how to proceed: do we do needed theological work before making ground-breaking decisions?"

I was asked yesterday whether, in a one word summary, I was heartened or disheartened and I responded, "Heartened." Why? Three reasons. We went through this event in fellowship, including eucharistic fellowship, despite our (respectfully, diplomatically) expressed disagreements. It would be naive to expect that those gathered at the hui represent every viewpoint in the church (e.g. as far as I could tell we were a pretty thoroughly "Anglican" group, but many in our congregations do not self-identify as "Anglican.") Nevertheless the character of the hui suggests we can mostly if not wholly hold together as we make decisions in 2014 (presuming we do not make stupid decisions).

Secondly, we expressed through our papers (despite their, in my view, mixed quality re depth of theological and exegetical insight) a new dimension of theological and pastoral engagement with the issues. Speaking broadly, the 'liberal' papers were seriously theological (i.e. not superficial regurgitations of secularist arguments of the kind being invoked in our parliament) and the 'conservative' papers were poignantly pastoral (i.e. not statements of conservative positions as though gay and lesbian people are invisible or have experiences we do not need to listen to).

Thirdly, we clearly said (particularly through Bishop Jim White's paper) that we are a church intent on holding together our differences on these matters and not, repeat 'NOT', a church intent on passing legislation with vague assurances that we will respect those disagreeing with it when really we do not mean it. +Jim's use of the analogous situation re pacifism/militarism was very important on that score: pointing to an issue in our church which we have never resolved and are not likely to resolve which is also an issue in which we live respectfully with both viewpoints. Putting this another way, with an eye on what some other churches are doing in the Communion, I suggest we are a church which very definitely, very clearly, and very intently does not wish to mimic the manner in which TEC has proceeded.

By the way, both for local readers who may not understand the dynamics of our church and for overseas readers, I perhaps need to say that conservatives at the hui operated on the presumption that when push comes to voting shove, at best we represent about 40% of our church and thus we do not expect to "win" votes on motions which push for change. We are expecting and believe we have a right to expect that we can "win" by having motions put which do not drive us out of the church.

However "heartened" is not the same as "perfectly confident all will be well." What, then, might be the roadblocks ahead of us as we proceed?

Participants at the hui as we go back to our dioceses need to remember that the decision-making of our church is in the hands of dioceses and General Synod. The goodwill of the hui may or may not be replicated in our synods when they come to address these matters.

Part of the hui (especially Bishop Victoria's paper on the theology of marriage) signalled a need to do further theological work ahead of change (in the sense that the four hermeneutical hui constitute the foundation for that work, not the whole of that work). If that call is heeded then change is a long way away, which no doubt would suit some in our church and not others.

There is a question how the goodwill of the hui re conservatives translates into individual diocesan situations going forward from any change in our church. I reminded my small group that in the past (i.e. before the current "moratorium") some dioceses discerning for ministry seemed to be making a question about attitudes to homosexuality the key decision as to whether a candidate was accepted for ordination or not. Thus general assurances to conservatives as a collective body could be undermined by the actual way a diocese operates behind the closed doors of selection conferences and Boards of Nomination meetings. (Again, I think we are in a different era on these matters, but we need to be vigilant).

On the theology of the blessing of same-sex relationships

Finally, here, a brief summary of my assessment of the case (i.e. across several papers, not picking on any one paper or argument mounted therein) made in favour of our church agreeing to the blessing of same sex relationships or even of deeming such blessed relationships to be marriages:

We are a church (in a Communion) looking for a theological warrant for blessing (which I understand as a signal of divine approval) relationships between two people which hitherto the church has understood to be unable to be blessed. Despite impressive rereading of Scripture to remind us of the variegated models of marriage in Scripture and of the trajectory of God's inclusive love (most especially the trajectory from Israel to the whole world, Jews and Gentiles), I did not hear the case for the warrant being made.

What I did hear is a lot of questions being raised about how well we understand marriage, a well made and pertinent case that relative to the gospels' teaching on discipleship in many parts of the church we have over-valued the importance of marriage (and undervalued the significant teaching on celibacy for the sake of the kingdom), and an underscoring of what I believe is now accepted in our church, that the church must not and should not be a body which ignores let alone rejects those who identify as gay and lesbian.

In other words, and picking up what I said here a few days ago, it is one thing to question whether our theology of marriage excludes the possibility of blessing same sex relationships, let alone might extend the definition of marriage to mean any two people, not simply a man and a woman; it is another step to answer the question affirmatively.

What does it mean to be a catholic church at this point in our life?

From a catholic perspective, the haunting dilemma for our church is how we might proceed, given the pressure to proceed emanating from the dioceses of Auckland, Waiapu, Dunedin and Aotearoa. As I understand catholicism as a characteristic of our life, we should only proceed if we have an agreed theology underpinning change. (This, I think, is one large concern in Bishop Victoria's paper: that it is better to do the theological work slowly and before we make change, than to change and do the work afterwards). Bishop Jim's point is that in a situation in which we seem unable to reach catholicity on the matter (i.e. I think he is pessimistic about this relative to some optimism on Bishop Victoria's part) we are free to pursue local options, having devolved authority to exercise 'conscience'. But is that the church operating in a proper catholic manner?

Further, and largely unacknowledged at the hui, there is the question whether we are heading towards a decision which puts us out of catholic sorts with most of the rest of the Anglican Communion.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

"As I understand catholicism as a characteristic of our life, we should only proceed if we have an agreed theology underpinning change..."

Con much respeto, Peter - this has nothing to do with 'catholicism'. The Anglican Church of NZ is a tiny part of Anglicanism, let alone 'the Church Catholic'. It hasn't been remotely 'catholic' for a long time since it decided to go its own way on various things. This is just another depressing episode of liberal protestant sectarianism in a gradually dying church that can't even face the statistics of its own necrosis. Jeremiah called this 'a covenant with death'.
What would Jeremiah do? Cry 'Peace, peace' when there is no peace?'

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, I get your point, Martin! I guess I am trying to say that, even if we were the only church in the whole world, would we, within out life together, be acting catholicly?

I demur from your critique in one way. The motivation of those seeking change is a genuine pastoral care which arises from the love of Christ. I do not think that is well characterised by phrases such as "liberal protestant sectarianism."

carl jacobs said...

Peter

There isn't a coherent way forward. Something cannot be called sin in part of the church while it is simultaneously called blessed in another part of the church. What will happen is that the church will formally approve the behavior - it must for the sake of those who call it blessed. You may be allowed disagree in private, but that disagreement will have no formal expression in the church. You may be allowed to opt out of certain actions, but the formal testimony of the church will be that you are wrong.

What will you do when the 'blessing part' of the church brings forth a homosexual bishop? Would you recognize his authority? Would you sit together with him and legitimize him in his office? How do you avoid it if you prioritize 'staying together despite the differences?' Follow this road, and within a generation there won't be a church to hold together.

carl

Anonymous said...

I don't think you read me carefully. Whoever said liberal protestant sectarians didn't feel "genuine pastoral care"? "caring" (in the subjective sense of identifying emotionally with others feeling various kinds of distress) has always been the default position of emotive liberalism: 'caring' about those caught in 'loveless marriages', 'caring' about those caught in 'unwanted pregnancies', 'caring' about those with same-sex attraction, 'caring' about those who want physician -assisted suicide (the next inevitable turn in the autonomous road) - it's a very well-worn path, and the task of liberal protestant secularisers is to beat it further. Whether this has anything to do with the love of Jesus Christ is another question, of course. Loving Christ, as He reminds us, is a matter of obeying His word, and 'pastoral care' means follwing the way of the Good Shepherd. Western Anglicanism is not catholic and is now largely dead - distressing for those of us who have lived most of our Christian lives within it, but we love Christ more than we love a denomination.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin: point taken!

Hi Carl: those questions are in the air; and the particular one about a 'gay bishop' is one we only lightly touched on, but it is, as you point out, one that needs reckoning with.

Father Ron Smith said...

"What will you do when the 'blessing part' of the church brings forth a homosexual bishop? Would you recognize his authority? Would you sit together with him and legitimize him in his office?"
- Carl -

Carl is speaking here as though there have never before been homosexual bishops in the Church - even the Roman Catholic Church. This is so obviously a mistaken idea - not to say a lack of under-standing of the nature of innate sexual-orientation - that it barely merits serious consideration.

What obviously has never been properly understood by the anti-Gay fraternity, is that a substantial minority of celibate clergy are very likely to be homosexual, but who may have chosen to avoid sexual activity with other persons - often encouraged by the Church that such activity is sinful.

However, the Church - even the Roman Catholics - may never know the innate sexual orientation of their clergy or bishops - unless they are informed.

This has been so often the mistaken understanding of Church people - that all homosexuals (including clergy) advertise their innate sexuality by either expressing it or advertising it.

Another mistaken idea is that to be innately homosexual is sinful. It is about time Christians were brought into the 21st century understanding of the condition. Even the Church of England has got this part right.

Anonymous said...

You're right, Carl - this is theological hooey, not a theological hui. Logical incoherence is not a sign of progressing into the truth but of confusion on the one hand and power politics on the other. The issue you avert to has, of course, overwhelmed the Episcopal Church in the US, and now threatens the C of E. But this is precisely what I mean by sectarianship. In worldly terms, the issue for evangelical Anglicans is quite simply to ensure local ownership of real estate. The rest can go hang.
Now that he has stepped down, perhaps people will be able to say plainly now what a failure in leadership Rowan Williams was to world Anglicanism.
Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
I understand Carl's point, and the question raised (ever so slightly and belatedly) at the hui to concern a bishop living in a same sex partnership (i.e. not a celibate gay bishop). That, as you are well aware, is not a matter of wide experience in the catholic church, and does raise (as has been raised in the Communion since the ordination of Gene Robinson) important questions for those who see the catholic teaching of the church on sexual ethics as being contradicted by such a living arrangement.

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

I have two comments. Firstly, I think that the summary in the Anglican Taonga has removed the edge from Richard Ellena's very forthright paper.

I heard Richard challenging the assumption that we as a church are simply working from a context of diversity. Rather, Richard was at pains to point out that we are, in fact, in a context of disunity!

Our response to how we hold together is altered very much by how we read the present context/situation. I do not see that liberals and conservatives are viewing reality with comparable spectacles. This is still a structural weakness in our church. When the majority can not understand or sympathize those in the minority then careless and hasty decisions will be made. Do liberals have any idea of the cost involved for the church in moving forward on their agenda? I don't think they do.

My second comment is that Jim White's paper simply assumed diversity was the context and that disunity was unthinkable. I found his stance to be very aggressive in tone: "How will we hold together? We simply will!"

I don't take that as recommending an Anglican "live and let live" policy. Instead, I heard a defiant liberalism declaring schism as the only unforgivable sin and a resolve to give no quarter to those who can not accept change.

Malcolm

Suem said...

Thank you for this, Peter, a helpful update and some interesting issues. I sincerely hope and pray that it is an issue with which you will be able to live respectfully with both viewpoints. Also glad to hear that you are "a church which very definitely, very clearly, and very intently does not wish to mimic the manner in which TEC has proceeded."
No doubt much prayer and the exercise of grace will be needed. I shall keep watching.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter
I'm afraid that Carl probably has the right of it given past experience. It doesn't make me hopeful for our church at all :(

particularly concerning for me from the Taonga report was the call to move the conversation away from Scripture. It basically came across as an acknowledgement "that we can't make a good case to change the traditional understanding of sexuality and marriage from Scripture - so we need to shift away from Scripture altogether". In some ways its an honest move away from the Hermeneutical gymnastics employed in "liberal arguements" of the past that really seemed to insult both scripture and ones intelligence at the same time. In other ways though it is a disturbing "detaching of the ship from its anchor" that will really just allow us to drift off into nothingness - as evidenced worldwide by churches already pursuing this policy.

It is hard to be Salt to the earth and Light to the world when you have lost your distinctive "saltiness" and your "light" is no different than the world around you. Leaves us good for nothing other than to be thrown out and trambled on by Men i believe the saying goes...?

But as always Peter I admire your Grace and Patience in being involved in these events and your perspective on them.

Blessings

Ben

carl jacobs said...

Peter

those questions are in the air

And those questions will remain up in the air because the Law of the Excluded Middle prevents any possible answer. The mere fact that people desire to find an answer does not mean that an answer can be found.

Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' If homosexuality is a sin, then say so. If not, then say so. But this "Some people say 'yes' and some people say 'no' and we respect both positions" nonsense must stop. Unity is not worth that price.

carl

Shawn Herles said...

" not to say a lack of under-standing of the nature of innate sexual-orientation"....Ron.

There is no such thing as an innate same-sex orientation.

God can and does heal those who struggle with same-sex attraction. Thus it cannot possibly be innate.

Our God is powerful to heal and mighty to save!

"Another mistaken idea is that to be innately homosexual is sinful. It is about time Christians were brought into the 21st century understanding of the condition."....Ron.

The Bible, not the fashionable idols of secular paganism, is the only authority in the Church on all matters of faith and practice.

All Christians must reject the false authority of any leader, Bishop or otherwise, who is living in serious and unrepentant sexual sin.

"I don't take that as recommending an Anglican "live and let live" policy. Instead, I heard a defiant liberalism declaring schism as the only unforgivable sin and a resolve to give no quarter to those who can not accept change.".... Martin.

I agree. Liberal-Marxism is totalitarian in nature, inherently so. It will never, except as a temporary strategic tactic, live in any kind of "diversity in unity" with real Biblical Christianity.

Liberal-Marxist "Christianity" is not a different approach to, or interpretation of, the Gospel. It is a false Gospel, an entirely different religion altogether. It's authority is not the Word and will of God expressed in Christ and Scripture, it's authority is the ideologies of modernism and secular paganism.

Two different religions cannot occupy the same institutional space.

Either Biblical Christianity will bring Liberal-Marxism to repentance and transformation, or Liberal-Marxism will devour Biblical Christianity.

The future of the Anglican Communion can only be secured by the total defeat of Liberal-Marxism and it's complete eradication from our institutions, leadership, and theology.

Rosemary Behan said...

It seems to me that we have quite forgotten our transformation when we became Christians. That we are certainly NOT allowing ourselves to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and we are definitely thinking more highly of ourselves that we ought! [Romans 12]

I tried to read the article Jody Stowel [I hope I have that name correctly] wrote on Fulcrum after the decision of General Synod in the C of E. I couldn’t get very far [which is not something I should boast about, it is indeed my failure] because it was all built on the premise that justice was not being served. That women deserved to be considered equal to men in the sense that they could do the same roles. It has often been stated here that the homosexual argument is based on the same thinking .. that of ‘justice.’ Indeed there seems to be an obsession with both ‘justice’ and ‘tolerance’ around in our church today. As I have said many times before, we HAVE been unjust to both women and homosexuals, but we go WAY wrong when we try to correct that by awarding the world’s idea of equality rather than God’s. We need to primarily think what is God’s will for these two groups of people.

When we became Christians, the first and strongest realisation was that we are sinners, that we DESERVE nothing. That in fact if we plead before God that we receive what we DESERVE, we will get it, and it won’t make us happy. Rather we must get on our knees and plead for MERCY. What has happened to that knowledge when people plead for justice? When people ask for equality which they tell us is what they deserve? How have things gotten so upside down?

Peter Carrell said...

I appreciate comments immediately made above. I think a gay or lesbian participant at the hui might say in response (somewhat general, I haven't time to respond to each matter raised):
- it is great that some people with same sex attractions have been transformed (as attested by, e.g. one self-identifying "ex gay" person at the hui)
- it is not my experience of God's work in my life: my same sex attractions are resolutely innate/natural to who I am
- I throw myself on the mercy and grace of God as much as any Christian
- I seek the blessing of God through the church because I believe God loves each human creature He has made (and not because I know anything about liberal-Marxism, or have any desire to damage the church)
- I have tried celibacy and found it wanting in my life, just as, in the same way most heterosexual Christians I know have tried celibacy and found marriage irresistible!

Peter C speaking: most conservatives at the hui (and may be all, not all spoke) demonstrated a keen awareness of dealing with the human condition in all its warts and failings, rather than suggesting we are on the verge of being overwhelmed by some kind of ideology.

To be sure, ideology(s) will play their part in how our thinking on these matters unfolds, but the hui was impressive for its engagement with theology.

Shawn Herles said...

"To be sure, ideology(s) will play their part in how our thinking on these matters unfolds"

As you know, I believe that below the surface they play a major role, more so than even some conservatives realize.

While some individuals afflicted with same-gender attraction may say the words you use above, I strongly doubt that most would, as anyone familiar with, at least, the secular gar rights movements and groups (and I am from previous political affiliations) are driven by a radical and extreme (even by Liberal standards) ideology, and I suspect that is true in the church, though to be fair, it may be more true for heterosexual Liberal supporters of same-gender marriage.

But the bottom line with Liberal-Marxism is that if you give it an inch, it will take the world. Conservative evangelicals are being naive if they believe they can dialogue with the serpent and not get bitten.

Shawn Herles said...

"Jesus and Same-Sex Marriage: Whose Side Is He On?"

http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/16673-jesus-and-same-sex-marriage-whose-side-is-he-on

carl jacobs said...

from the full report:

“I don’t think the issue is going to away any time soon, and our current approaches have not yielded the hoped-for consensus and coherence in our moral and theological vision. Hermeneutics has failed us at the tool to unlock our way ahead."

The reader should understand that the exegetical argument was never central, nor even important, to advocates of legitimizing homosexual relationships. They really don't care what Scripture says on the subject because they don't consider it binding. The purpose of such an argument was simply to provide recalcitrant conservatives with a fig leaf to hide behind.

Hermeneutics hasn't "failed." It simply hasn't produced the desired result. Conservatives didn't bow before the idea that Scripture is a game of "Make up your own word definitions." And so the argument moves on to the next stage. That would be the "Well, we are going to do it anyways, and if you don't like it, then tough" stage.

It's funny to hear a bishop plead with her own church to "do theology" as if theology mattered to this argument. This is about the primacy of autonomous desire. Man looks into the mirror and says "Behold, I have seen God, and with me He is well pleased."

carl

Bryden Black said...

Well; I guess it’s better to have much of this “clearly” on the table than to try to play with half one’s hand below the table cloth ... Yet I have a basic question: how can we truly call the present line-up “diversity” when at root we are presented with irreconcilable approaches to reality itself? That is, we are actually dealing with a profound and irreconcilable “disunity”, as suggested by Bp Richard.

On the one hand, there is the claim to the human reception and acknowledgment of divine revelation, one witnessed to in Holy Scripture and handed down in that specific community called Church, which is called upon to exercise its God-given faculties of reason in a fully orbed fashion (as opposed to merely a contemporary form of instrumentalist reason), so that any change in that Tradition is one considered in a clear catholic manner. Then on the other hand, we are presented with an understanding and practice of human being that entertains the idea we are self-positing autonomous subjects, able to construct and reconstruct our identities almost at will so plastic do we now consider them.

True; this latest hui seeks to place any discussion and consequent changes under the rubric of Christian discipleship and corporate worship. Yet baptism only embarks all Christians upon a journey of radical crucifixion to the ‘world’ and subsequent renewal and restoration of our created humanity after the image of Christ, who is the True Human. Our human identity “in Christ Jesus” is one that passes through his death and resurrection, which itself is a daily act of worship (latreia) (echoes of Romans). For at root, which ‘god’ are we baptized into and so are called upon to worship? Whose Name do we acknowledge? If indeed the answer is “Father Son and Holy Spirit”, then our created human identity in that Image is not one of mere ‘diversity’ but one of created differentiation as declared in Gen 1:26-27, “male and female created he them”, which reflects the very differentiation of the triune God’s Being. Thereafter, that supreme icon of human marriage is just that, a further sacramental expression of God’s covenant desire known in Israel and subsequently the Church. And no amount of clever reconstruction of supposed human being can incarnate the needed differentiation between the Spousal partners: any claims to same-sex ‘marriage’ are a tragic irony.

Any decision down this latter road will eventually lead the ACANZ&P to only one place ... death, not fruitfulness.

Anonymous said...

"And no amount of clever reconstruction of supposed human being can incarnate the needed differentiation between the Spousal partners: any claims to same-sex ‘marriage’ are a tragic irony."

Not just 'irony'; it's sinful parody as well. All this contemporary talk of 'identity' and 'self-identifying' is psychologising the will, and denying God-given ontology. It is *deeply uncatholic*.
If I am defined - 'identified' in modern parlance - by my desires, then I am (sometimes) an adulterer and murderer (certainly by the test of Matt 5.22, 28).
But thanks be to God, my identity is in the Son of God.

Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

"any claims to same-sex ‘marriage’ are a tragic irony.

Any decision down this latter road will eventually lead the ACANZ&P to only one place ... death, not fruitfulness." - Bryden Black -

Then, Bryden, if the decision does get made, does that mean that you will immediately resign your Orders? or will you hang around and go down with the rest of us in ACANZP? It would be handy to know exactly what your plans are.

Father Ron Smith said...

"If I am defined - 'identified' in modern parlance - by my desires, then I am (sometimes) an adulterer and murderer (certainly by the test of Matt 5.22, 28). But thanks be to God, my identity is in the Son of God."

- Martin -

So, presumably, you have no desires that are in any way contrary to the biblical instruction? If so, you may no longer be breathing.

Most of us are not totally in synch with biblical precepts; but we, too, are still children of God, by virtue of our baptismal salvation - purely through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour and not by our own merits. Deo gratias!
(read Luke 18: 9-14)

Anonymous said...

"So, presumably, you have no desires that are in any way contrary to the biblical instruction? If so, you may no longer be breathing."


????? Quod scripsi scripsi. ho anaginoskon noeito.

Martin

Bryden Black said...

Dear Ron,

As for my “plans”: I can only cite Amos 7:14 - also with due irony. But as and when the dear Courteous Good Lord (Julian) informs me, no doubt Amos 3:8 might apply ...!

Ciao ciao!

Bryden Black said...

G’day Martin

I am content with your additional “parody” - though I will spell out why I have used the phrase “tragic irony” for some 20 years now to describe ss relations.

Tragedy is that classic genre depicting the inevitability of eventual failure. And this despite the grand heroic qualities of the protagonists. For even these great qualities, and all they may spawn, are not enough to overcome the fateful, necessary outcome - given the actual overall realities - here, the sheer created realities of the Lord God.

Irony: OCD - 1 the expression of meaning through the use of language which normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous effect; 2 a state of affairs that appears perversely contrary to what one expects. TEC & ACANZ&P (for example) “expect” ss marriage and the like to address and solve a perceived dilemma among us in our contemporary culture, one which I too naturally seek to address and pastor - often. But because my own perception of these dilemmas in our midst is derived from quite a different set of spectacles on the end of my nose (hat tip Karl Barth), my own ‘solution’ is diametrically opposed to that of TEC and now probably ACANZ&P. Just so, your own “parody” is fully justified.

mike greenslade said...

Hi Peter,
It is interesting to read about peoples concern for the potential death of ACANZ&P. While I don't see it as a likely scenario at all, I also am not sure it is something to be very concerned about. Like people, institutions are born, grow, age and die. The Gospel leads us to not fear death. New life always comes from it.

Perhaps we could then focus on more than appendages and orifices and what people do with them.

Bryden Black said...

Dear Mike,

Thanks for your response. I find it intriguing - and delightfully ambivalent, I have to say!

While the Gospel of Jesus is indeed provision for us “to not fear death”, that is only because he has mercifully defeated it as the “last enemy” (1 Cor 15) on our behalf. Yet at what cost ...?

As for institutions having a so-called natural life cycle: this may perhaps be true metaphorically. For all that, there is much to quite legitimately grieve over regarding the present massive hiatuses of the AC (and even our local ACANZ&P) these past few years. We see Jesus also finding grief worthy of serious attention - just so his standing before Lazarus’ tomb, weeping.

Finally, as for “appendages and orifices”: to my mind, such language parallels Tobias Haller’s “lock-&-key” metaphor which he too takes rather disparagingly - indeed, has to take as such, given his desired outcome. Au contraire, our bodies, with all their bits and pieces - notably James’s “little member, the tongue”; perhaps that should now be keyboards and pixels by extension - are duly honourable and noble and the only things we have - no; we are! - with which to communicate and commune among ourselves. That is why Rom 12:1-2 is exactly what it is - viz our “bodies” are to become the “living sacrifice”, complemented with our “minds’ renewal”. In other words, Mike, might you not be slipping into an unhealthy Gnostic frame of mind with these last words ...?

Shawn Herles said...

"Perhaps we could then focus on more than appendages and orifices and what people do with them."

We are.

But Scripture has a lot to say on what we do with our bodies as well. The Christian Gospel is incarnational at it's very core.

We bring our whole selves, body, mind, heart, soul and spirit, and our sexuality, to the cross, and thus to resurrection. ALL of who we are is to be transformed.

This isn't the work of the Law, as some have claimed, but the work of the sovereign grace of God, who desires all His children to be re-made in the imago Dei.

This is true Biblical inclusiveness. We all come to Christ as broken icons. And God both desires and decrees that all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be healed. And healed in all the ways it is possible to be healed, mind and spirit, soul and body, blood and bone, heart and all the desires of the heart.

Nobody who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be turned away, no matter what their sin. This is what the Pharisees did not understand.

But equally, nobody who, in faith and repentance, turns to Christ, will be left broken, and praise to God for that grace and blessing!

But the Liberal approach to this breaks this genuine Biblical inclusiveness, by setting apart an elite, those who experience same-gender attraction, who do not have to bring their entire selves's to the Cross, but are given a pass on a condition that the Bible clearly says is a form of brokenness.

And it does so in a way that at very least comes very close to a Gnostic understanding of the body and sexuality, an understanding that is contrary to the incarnational nature of Christianity.

Worse still, much of the impetus towards this view is the result not of a desire for good theology or spiritual practice, let alone any concern for obedience to Scripture, but because a secular political movement is impinging on the life of the Church.

But God does not save us to leave us as we are, but to re-make and transform us, to heal the broken icons we are that we may once again truly reflect the Glory of God.

And He will do so regardless of what the world, the flesh and the devil may say or do, not matter how much they try to keep us broken by convincing us that our true identities come, not from Triune God, but from what we do in bed, or what we do for a job, or how much money we earn, or how we look physically, or what products we buy and consume.

Our God is mighty to save!

Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks Mike. I am reminded of an old pentecostal chorus: "Fear not, rejoice and be glad, the Lord has done a great thing - has poured out His Spirit on all mankind, so that we may rejoice in Him"

"Come Holy Spirit, rekindle within us the fire of God's love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!"

Fear is the enemy of FAITH.

Father Ron Smith said...

Reading again through comments on this thread, I think I can discern a strongly 'Nelsonian' trend towards fear of the future. Division is usually wrought by those who 'opt out' of a society, institution or relationship. I can't see too great a trend towards that in the majority of Hui participants. Perhaps it is only a regional phenomenon.

I'm glad our Bishop Victoria is securely anchored in the radical inclusivity of the Gospel - Good News, rather than Bad news - to ALL

Shawn Herles said...

"Fear is the enemy of FAITH."

Liberalism is the enemy of faith.

Shawn Herles said...

Ron says..."Fear is the enemy of FAITH."

The Bible says..."The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Psalm 111.10

Father Ron Smith said...

Fear of the Lord is very different from fear for the future. Faith brings Hope, not fear; and speaks of love not hatred - of anything or anyone - even LGBT people!

(I do hope this one is not deleted)

Shawn Herles said...

Ron,

Nobody here, or for that matter the Nelson diocese, is afraid of the future. Being concerned for the Church is not fear, but responsible discipleship.

And if you read my post above on February 5, 2013 at 7:19 PM, then you will see that I, nor I believe anyone else here, is promoting hatred.

Why do you refuse to listen to what other's people posting here actually say?

How do you get hatred out of a statement like this (from my post),

"This is true Biblical inclusiveness. We all come to Christ as broken icons. And God both desires and decrees that all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be healed. And healed in all the ways it is possible to be healed, mind and spirit, soul and body, blood and bone, heart and all the desires of the heart.

Nobody who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be turned away, no matter what their sin. This is what the Pharisees did not understand.

But equally, nobody who, in faith and repentance, turns to Christ, will be left broken, and praise to God for that grace and blessing!"

Please try to listen to other's actual arguments.

Shawn Herles said...

"Faith brings Hope, not fear; and speaks of love not hatred - of anything or anyone - even LGBT people!"

Yes hope that God can and does forgive any sin, including same-gender attraction, and hope that He can heal any brokenness we bring to the cross, including same-gender attraction.

Faith does bring a Godly hatred of sin, but never of the sinner.