Friday, February 15, 2013

Romans debate to date

It is just too neat, I suggest, to confine Romans 14 and 15 to matters of 'secondary' importance and be done and dusted with its relevance to contemporary discussion and debate over homosexuality.

When Paul writes in Romans 15:7, "Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God," he is placing our welcome of one another on the same level of importance as Christ's welcome to us. That is, if salvation, Christ's welcome of us, is a 'primary' matter of doctrinal importance, so is our love for one another (cf. a major theme in 1 John around God's love for us and our love for one another).

The issues in Romans 14 and 15 are also of primary importance because they have the potential to 'destroy the work of God' (14:20). In our current discussions we are talking about our welcome of one another and we have huge potential to destroy the work of God in how we handle these discussions. I stand by my assertion that Romans 14 and 15 is relevant to the situation at hand.

In catching up on where debate on this blog has gone over the last week, with a strong and robust critique of what I have said, including what I have said with less clarity than I would have wished to have achieved (!), I nevertheless continue to see analogies between the situation in Rome and our situation today.

Principally, there the Christian community was divided over the evaluation of a course of action. For some, eating certain foods was wrong because those foods were unclean. For others, all foods were clean so everything could be eaten. Paul, in his own mind, was clear on which side of the dispute he belonged: "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself" (14:14). But what he does not then do is engage in an attempt to persuade those on the other side to change their minds. Rather he engages in a powerful, subtle plea to those who agree with him to live in such a way that they do not make their brothers and sisters on the other side of the dispute to stumble: "Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died (14:14) ... it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble" (14:21).

One analogy, I suggest, is that today in the Western church we have a powerful, strong group of theological and ministerial leaders who think that nothing is wrong in itself in respect of sex between any two people in a loving, committed, permanent relationship. As I read their arguments they would happily say, "We are persuaded in the Lord Jesus that this is so." The continuing analogy then would be that Paul would say to them, "Do not let what you affirm re sexual relationships cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died." Incidentally, I recognise that the chances of this particular group of the "strong" having regard in this Pauline way for those who think differently (the "weak") is zip!

But there is another analogy to consider, one which focuses less on any analogy between clean and unclean food and more on analogy between the church divided into "strong" and "weak" groups. For the Western church is divided at this time (indeed, all churches, as far as I can see) in another way over homosexuality (with the possible exceptions of a very few ultra-liberal churches). In this division the "strong" are those for whom the normative experience of life, of being Christian and of organising domestic households is innately heterosexual: husband and wife; mum and dad; boyfriend and girlfriend. In my personal experience of church this is the mainstream, overwhelming presentation of congregations to the point that single people (whether identifying themselves in any further way or not) often grizzle that church life is all about families. The "weak" then are the tiny or even invisible minority who openly identify as gay or would do so if they felt brave enough in the midst of the overwhelming majority to do so. (The "weak" are also those who are single). The analogy then would be that Romans 14 and 15 speaks to us of the ways in which those who belong to the "strong" can cause their brothers or sister who belong to the "weak" to stumble.

Consider this, as one instance: everything we discuss about Scripture and its meaning for our lives is clean (nothing is forbidden for discussion) but the ways in which we discuss things, the manner in which we emphasise some parts of the Bible and not others, the priority we give to some issues and not to others can be a stumbling block to others. A question about homosexuality in these times is whether the Bible requires us to make it the major issue we have made it. By making it a major issue (when, arguably, the major issue of our times is the breakdown of marriage among Christians) are we making a stumbling block for the "weak"?

71 comments:

Kurt said...

Well, Peter, I have observed the current debate on this topic and kept my peace—until now. Let me say that, although I have disagreements with you and others here, over time I have learned to respect many folks as honest and well meaning. And while I know we disagree on a number of issues, personally I feel that I could trust you, Peter, and Bryan Owen, and Tim Chesterton—and yes, you too, Bryden Black!—to hear my Shrove Tuesday Confession. There are other conservative Evangelicals who post here who do not have my confidence. It’s plain by the shabby way they have lit into you for deviating even an inch from the Right-Wing Party Line. Shameful, I think.

Anyway, may all have a mindful Lent. As sinners saved by Grace, let us all look toward Easter.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

MichaelA said...

"By making it a major issue (when, arguably, the major issue of our times is the breakdown of marriage among Christians) are we making a stumbling block for the "weak"?"

That begs the question of who is that is making it a 'major issue'? Only those who are determined to have homosexual practice legitimised by the Church, without regard to what Christian teaching actually is.

In any case, both issues are inevitably connected - the push to legitimise homosexual practice arises from the same disregard for Scriptural authority that leads to breakdown of marriage. So we should be making both of those issues "major", not promoting one above the other!

Bryden Black said...

Peter, Peter, Peter.

I laud your persistence in trying to galvanize ways in which to help folk, normally opposed, to try to converse. Peace-making and reconciliation are deep Gospel imperatives.

So too is the pursuit of truth a Gospel imperative.

And the truth is that truth in our day is itself a slippery entity. That is why I have myself steadfastly held the view we are really - truly - dealing with matters of authority in the AC and now ACANZ&P. All of which means that those who seek to converse must themselves engage in a deep archaeological exploration of how we in Western cultures reached the point we now have regarding precisely this slipperiness with truth.

Paul can say what he says about the objective nature of all foods being clean - because there’s sheer dominical authority to do so, viz Mark 7. That chapter too puts its finger on what is mostly our own problem too, viz Mk 7:8. What passes for our own social plausibility structures are simply Jesus’ “traditions”. Until we really, truly get folk to do the hard work of “renewing their minds” - yes! Rom 12:1-2 yet again, or for that matter Eph 4:17-24, which is another instance of the NT Catechism in action - we will continue to debate endlessly, one ‘tradition’ against another ‘tradition’. Which leaves only the power option as the means of decision ... which is pretty well the case in TEC, and possibly here too, unless we are truly mindful of how THE CHURCH should corporately behave. Which I guess is why you are trying to lay the weight on Rom 14. But as I’ve said before, and now repeat, the logic of Rom 14-15 only holds because there IS dominical authority and so solid objectivity. When the prevailing culture denies the very possibility of either or both of these, viz genuine authority and objective truth, then we are up a creek without a paddle ... when the Church has been so polluted by these sentiments.

Bryden Black said...

PS. Kurt; it would be an honour! I only this last Tuesday spent 50 minutes conversing with a man, listening to his Confession before Lent began. We are both now well shriven!

Peter Carrell said...

As you know, Bryden, if you were the Autocrat of ACANZP I would gladly serve as your acolyte and together make Romans 12:1-2 our required text.

Yes, I am trying to reckon with those who would say the dominical teaching says one thing and others say another, in the one church which cannot find an agreed authority structure. Perhaps a forlorn quest to make a way through the thicket, in which the thicket is composed of unherdable wild cats!

Father Ron Smith said...

"That begs the question of who is that is making it a 'major issue'? Only those who are determined to have homosexual practice legitimised by the Church, without regard to what Christian teaching actually is."

This statement begs the question of whether, or not, 'Christian Teaching' has actually dramatically changed on any other biblically-supported issues - like, for instance, slavery, usury, and the subjugation of women.

Jesus said: "When the Spirit of truth comes, He will lead you into all the truth...about sin....etc"

Would you agree that The Spirit of God is still teaching us, today, about what sin is, and what sin is not? Or do you think the Holy Spirit is no longer needed - to teach us anything?

Institutional stasis was never one of the charisms of the Holy Spirit.

Shawn Herles said...

"It’s plain by the shabby way they have lit into you for deviating even an inch from the Right-Wing Party Line."

The debate was a theological one, not political. There is no "right wing party line". There was and is good theological reason to critique the way Peter is using Romans 14-15, reasons which have nothing to do with politics.

Nor is obedience to Scripture on the issue of homosexuality right wing.

And for myself, I did not "lit into" anyone, nor "call anyone out" as Joshua put it. I was having a friendly, if sometimes fierce and pointed, debate with someone I consider a personal friend.

I get really tired of these character accusations from those who generally do not bother engaging others in actual theology.

Is "your a bad person" the only argument some liberals have?

Shawn Herles said...

"It is just too neat, I suggest, to confine Romans 14 and 15 to matters of 'secondary' importance and be done and dusted with its relevance to contemporary discussion and debate over homosexuality."

I don't think it a matter of neatness, it is a matter of whether your trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole.

I do admire those who like to tilt at windmills though. ;)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
"Right wing party line" is a reasonable euphemism for 'conservative evangelical theological line.'

Without particularly feeling got at by any one commenter here, I have felt 'lit into' and treated 'shabbily' for deviation (or alleged deviation) here in recent days.

(Again, as a generalisation or 'averaging' assessment of many comments, not specifically worried or troubled by any one comment or commenter) I have been surprised at the lack of pastoral empathy with what I have been trying to achieve, both in the name of holding our church together and for the pastoral sake of our brothers and sisters who are different.

Conservative evangelicals are not (in my lifetime experience of being one) noted for generosity towards those who are perceived to step out of the party line.

You know in three years of ministry in the diocese I have preached in many pulpits, including the pulpits of your current church and Fr Ron's church, but I have never been invited to preach in the churches associated with the 'party line' I am alleged to have deviated from here.

Party discipline must be adhered to at all times! As a party member I know the score :)

Peter Carrell said...

I could change the blog's name from 'Anglican Down Under' to 'Don Quixote Down Under', Shawn!

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Peter,

""Right wing party line" is a reasonable euphemism for 'conservative evangelical theological line.'"

No sorry, not even remotely.

Within the the conservative evangelical camp I have met people from across the political spectrum, from the Greens to ACT. And in fact I would guess that most were actually pretty centrist. Younger people in co circles tend to be neither right nor left.

Even in the US conservative evangelical spans the spectrum from hard left to hard right, and everything in between.

"Conservative evangelicals are not (in my lifetime experience of being one) noted for generosity towards those who are perceived to step out of the party line."

My experience is that a lack of generosity to dissent is far more prevalent with the liberal-inclusive churches.

My point however is that the constant stream of personal character attacks being posted is not exactly helping matters.

Bryden Black said...

Yes Ron; you are right to mention the Spirit of Truth leading the Church into all truth as he also reminds us of what Jesus has said (Jn 14:26).

As ever, it is a question of how anyone and any group discerns what is and what is not of this Holy Spirit’s leading. Just so, once more the matter of authority - which English word has built into it the other key word “author”, and so source. For which etymology, and the dynamics of legitimacy, we can go all the way back to the Latin: auctor and auctoritas.

Apropos therefore our current debates regarding marriage, homosexual behaviour, and pastoral practice: what is at stake largely orbits around the questions of sources of ideas and practices, and their discernment. Just so again, Bosco is right to allude (as he often does) to the question of how and why divorce has been legitimized in our churches these past decades. It is a related, but not strictly analogous issue to those presently raising quite a dust cloud. For we have changed our Anglican ideas and practices re marriage. Even the RCC now has a mechanism for annulling marriages in a way that once was rather exceptional, although it remains far stricter than say our own practice of allowing sequential marriages.

The crux Ron has to do with my earlier post on this thread: have those who propose same-sex marriage as something the Church may rightly bless truly done their hard homework of the plausibility structures surrounding truth these past 300 years in Western cultures? I personally and frankly have yet to see this to be the case. And that INCLUDES the massive tome "The Bible in the Life of the Church" project published last year - which was admittedly a start.

Bryden Black said...

Nice one Peter; would Don Quixote have more chance of generating light with his windmills?! 19%, the average apparently among German wind turbines, does not strike me as too enlightening!

Shawn Herles said...

"Without particularly feeling got at by any one commenter here, I have felt 'lit into' and treated 'shabbily' for deviation (or alleged deviation) here in recent days."

Sorry about that. That was certainly not my intention.

I could care less about deviation from party lines, political or otherwise. I do care about good Biblical exegesis and good theology, and I remain unconvinced by your use of Romans 14-15, but as your copping it on that issue by several others as well I am happy to move on.

Joshua Bovis said...

Peter,

Your repeat attempts to recast this division as a second order issue (i.e clean/unclean; appealing to Romans 14 & 13); emphasizing the need for unity is subversive.

It will lead to revisionists patting you on the back and at the same time portraying Conservative Reformed-Evangelical Anglicans as being stingy, reactionary, judgmental,"lacking pastoral empathy", "being obsessed with homosexuality and making it a bigger issue than what it is; etc, etc.

For someone who claims to be Evangelical, I find your stance to be theologically dissonant.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
You still remain high on my list to have coffee with ... but this week is lost and next week is spoken for!

Yes, good biblical exegesis is the aim and where that has not occurred it is right to subject it too critique; but I have felt some comments have gone beyond that.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Joshua
I thought today that I was pointing to the primary (not secondary) importance of these matters as they relate to the primary importance of our welcome to others reflecting Christ's welcome to us!

Further, I am trying as an evangelical in a church where evangelicals are the minority to explore how Scripture might help remain in that church. That I am determined to remain may be the point where "dissonant" is a charge justifiably made.

I wonder, however, if your line is pursued whether logically evangelicals have no alternative but to leave a church such as mine? [I am trying carefully not to suppose that ACANZP and ACA are in exactly the same place re these matters, though I am sure there are some similarities].

Shawn Herles said...

"This statement begs the question of whether, or not, 'Christian Teaching' has actually dramatically changed on any other biblically-supported issues - like, for instance, slavery, usury, and the subjugation of women."

One change in an area does not automatically legitimate another change somewhere else. Also slavery was never the default position of the Church, it was in fact opposed to it over most of Christian history. So there was no real change in that area.

I believe in Semper Reformanda, but any proposed change must be subjected to the authority of Scripture, which is what the Reformation meant by the phrase.

"Would you agree that The Spirit of God is still teaching us, today, about what sin is, and what sin is not? Or do you think the Holy Spirit is no longer needed - to teach us anything?"

This is a false dichotomy.

Of course the Spirit still speaks to us. But that requires discernment, and one of the ways we do that is by subjecting any subjective experience of the Spirit speaking to us to the discernment and authority of Scripture.

Any supposed revelation that is claimed to be from the Spirit, but which is contradictory to the teaching of Scripture, is considered false.

Why? Because the words of Scripture are the words of the Spirit, and the Spirit does not contradict Himself.

Thus any deeper understanding of the truth will always be in accord with Scripture, and thus any reform of the church theologically or institutionally will also be in accord with Scripture.

And I believe that Conservative Evangelicals and Traditionalists in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches have done a reasonable job of showing that same-gender marriage is not in accord with Scripture, thus it cannot be the word of the Spirit.

But Bryden is right that there is a deeper problem with any discussion of "truth". The modern Western world has over the last three hundred years radically changed our understanding of truth from something objective and grounded in tradition and authority (however they were understood) to something radically subjective, and the modern world rejects any notion of transcendent authority over and above the individual self and its wants and desires.

So in any discussion of truth and authority in the Church we must do a great deal of linguistic and philosophical discernment and archeology to try and clear away the dross and chaff of the influence of modernism on these debates.

carl jacobs said...

Peter

I have felt 'lit into' and treated 'shabbily' for deviation (or alleged deviation) here in recent days.

You haven't been treated shabbily. Your argument has been treated shabbily because it deserves to be treated shabbily. It is weak and inconsistent. You haven't even attempted to justify the equivalence you have asserted between "clean" and "good" - an equivalence upon which the entire argument depends. You haven't explained why only some sins may be covered by this logic other than to suggest that a threshold level of acceptance has been achieved. Your motivations as described are not principally concerned with establishing truth but with maintaining unity. Your definition of the foundation of that unity is likewise weak and fuzzy. How then should we treat it?

carl

Shawn Herles said...

Postscript to my last response to Ron,

"other biblically-supported issues - like, for instance, slavery, usury, and the subjugation of women."

The Bible does not support chattel slavery, which is what most moderns mean by the word. It supports a form of temporary indentured servitude in which the indentured had certain rights.

The Bible forbids usury on charitable loans to the poor, but not on business loans. It also makes a distinction between those within and those without the household of faith as far as usury is concerned.

The claim regarding the "subjugation of women" rests on too many subjective assumptions to answer. I would need to ask a lot more questions regarding how subjugation is defined.

None of these issue legitimate a change in our understanding of marriage.

Joshua Bovis said...

Peter,

When I say primary, I mean primary = gospel issue, as opposed to secondary = non gospel issue (ie, differences over Baptism, chalice or cup).

As an Evangelical I would say that you don't leave. Tricky thing though, those who are faithful to the true Gospel in the USA were compelled to form the ACNA. The revisionists within the TEC accuse them of leaving the Anglican Communion, when in reality, the TEC left the communion when they adopted an official policy to bless what God condemns.

I am all for welcoming others, but the welcome that Christ gives is conditional. Allow me to unpack this a wee bit? Imagine a Bishop saying something like this:

"The heart of the Gospel”is God’s gracious unconditional gift of communion and we embrace this gospel when we take hold of the key New Testament understanding of unconditional acceptance so evident in the encounters with Jesus in the gospels”.

This sounds lovely, but in all truth I cannot accept this, as standing alone this comment gives an incomplete account of the biblical gospel.

Personally I am so thankful to God for his grace shown to me.BUT (and it is a very important BUT)even though God's acceptance of me is unconditional in that it is not dependent on my own good works it is conditional on my belief and repentance.

This is why the homosexual debate within the Anglican communion is not about sex, but is about the very nature of the gospel. Allow me to express it another way to show why the issue is about the very nature of the Gospel.

Joshua Bovis said...

For us to say that:

1: the non Christian fornicator can become a Christian and keep on fornicating, as long as the person they are fornicating with is in the context of a 'loving, committed, faithful relationship'

or:

2.the non Christian alcoholic can keep getting drunk as long as they do it in the context of a faithful, loving and safe environment

or

3:the non-Christian thief can keep on stealing as long as they steal in a faithful and safe and harmless environment

or

4: the non Christian adulterer can keep on being unfaithful to his wife as long as the relationship he has with his mistress is in the context of a faithful and committed relationship

is completely unthinkable and totally antithetical to Scripture.

Yes of course the fornicator,alcoholic, thief and adulterer can become Christians but they cannot stay that way nor define themselves as being fornicators,alcoholics, thieves and adulterers. Why? Because they have repented. And no doubt you (as well as me) have met people who used to be these things before they came to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus, but they would never (and have never said to me) "I am now a Christian thief, or a Christian fornicator, a Christian alcoholic or a Christian adulterer.
They are new creations.

Here is the rub - Those who are arguing for same sex marriage within the church, the blessing of homosexual relationships, are teaching that homosexuality is good in God's eyes and are saying that the homosexual can keep on engaging in homosexuality as long as they are in a committed, faithful homosexual relationship are in practice and in essence believing a different and wrong gospel, because there is no repentance.

Can a homosexual become Christians? Of course they can!!! But there must be repentance; and a demonstration of that repentance is that they no longer define themselves as homosexual and no longer engage in homosexual expression. This is why a person who says "I am a gay Christian" is a contradiction.(I think this is what Shawn was getting at?)

I hope this helps you understand why I in such strong disagreement with you about citing Romans 14-15 with this issue. If there were people in the church who felt that fornicators,alcoholics, thieves and adulterers could stay as they are and engage in activities and the lifestyle indicative of being a fornicator,alcoholic,and maintain fidelity to Christ, surely you would not cite Romans 14 -15 as the way to maintain unity with these people? This would be extremely disingenuous on our part. With homosexuality is it no different.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Joshua,
In a sense it is not me you are arguing with, but those who seek the blessing of same sex partnerships. I am suggesting that while we disagree with them we might appreciate that they are genuine Christians who believe that from their reading of Scripture they are right. Thus we have a Romans 14 situation because there two Christians groups disputed what the Bible taught. (If we now read Paul with Paul's eyes because we agree with him about clean/unclean food, are we in danger of overlooking how the situation was being experienced by those who disagreed with Paul?)

As for the arguments you elucidate in your comment above, my colleagues would mostly agree with you: fornication is wrong, the couple should marry; adultery is wrong, the adulterers should repent; theft is wrong in most circumstances (there are some circumstances, e.g. War, famine, disaster, where it might be okay to take food?). Then they would point out that the fornicators have the option after repenting of marriage and the adulterer of resuming their marriage (should they be forgiven, etc) but the homosexual does not appear to have the possibility after repentance of entering a fulfilling and blessed relationship. In one way, all they are doing is asking if God really does want homosexuals to not be in a loving, permanent marriage-like relationship?

Is it a 'primary' issue to raise that question and press for an answer which seems reasonable in a world in which St Paul recognised that it is better to marry than burn?

You and I might agree to the answer to that question. But does that mean we cannot engage in reasonable conversation with those who come up with a different answer?

Bryden Black said...

Is this the stuff of Rom 1-11 or chs 14f?

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/8307006/Benedict-champion-of-clear-cut-faith

PS: I am not about to swim the Tiber and seek a place among the Ordinariate - BTW!

Rosemary Behan said...

Peter, I read your words, and I THINK I know what you’re trying to achieve, but I keep feeling that you get mixed up between truth and unity, and what a good definition of love is. As far as I understand things as a lay person sitting in the pews, we NEED to have the clear and often hard to hear Word from our preachers and teachers. If, following that difficult ‘hearing,’ there is a need .. which to you would be a pastoral need .. then a private meeting would ensue, when you could help guide the sinner [as we all are] on the paths of righteousness. However if you do NOT preach the hard to hear but clear Word of God, [that we can read ourselves] but rather some wishy washy .. but completely friendly and easy to hear word .. well lay people sitting on pews do NOT see that as loving. Love is the hard to hear Word that is so obvious in Scripture, but one we can’t live up to so we need our leaders and teachers to help us repent and walk the narrow path.

Peter Carrell said...

Some of it is nonsense, Bryden, and has nothing to do with Romans. It is now clear that his closest advisors did know what was going on - they were building a house for his retirement.

As for the crisis in the church being due to the disintegration of the liturgy (because the laity take part) ... I would not call that the profoundest thought on the good pope's part.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,
I could well be mixed up! Truth, unity and love are so important.

Preaching is hard, and one of the hardest topics is sex. I have hardly ever mentioned it in sermons (because I often have reasonable knowledge of the range of circumstances in the congregation and do not wish to open raw wounds).

Integrity, more accurately holiness, is required of all Christians, especially teachers and leaders. As soon as I think it is lacking in others I try to remember how frail and fallible I am.

Father Ron Smith said...

Marriage has never been enforced in Christian tradition. In fact, Saint Paul opined that it would be better to remain single - but, 'better to marry than burn", indicating that marriage was only a secondary consideration as a recommended Christian life-style (for Paul).

Jesus also indicated that eunuchs were a part of the Kingdom of God - some made so by others, some who became so 'for the sake of the kingdom', and others 'from their mother's womb'.

Also, one understands from the scriptures, that marriage is only for this life,not for everyone, and not for all eternity (Matthew 22:30 - "For, at the resurrection, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven").

Therefore the physicality of our sexuality is only given to human beings to 'bring comfort one to the other'(BCP language) or for the purpose of procreation in the here and now of our earthly existence. Not of eternal significance, then!

Father Ron Smith said...

"Can a homosexual become Christians?'

Too late, Joshua, many of them are. They have been faithful laity, nuns, monks, clergy and bishops in the Church throughout the ages.

In their pilgrimage of Faith, many of them have come to understand that God loves them as they are. God expects them to take as much care in the exercise of their innate God-given sexuality as He expects of heterosexual Christians.
No more and no less!

Perhaps your own experience and understanding of ministering to both straight and gay Christians is too limited, yet, for you to be able to understand what may really be involved in the pastoral care of such persons. However, some of us have spent many years in the field, with a background of theological, psychological and biblical insight into what God requires of us clergy who have to actually deal with real live people trying to understand their Christian responsibilities in this particular area.

I wonder, might I ask, if it is not considered by our host to be too impertinent; exactly how long have you been engaged in pastorally caring for both single and married people who look to the Church for some helpful guidance on sexual responsibility in today's world?

Many clergy have wrestled with these matters for their whole ministry, and many have had their original prejudices changed by sheer necessity in the exercise of charity and justice to all people.

There are no simple answers - to be given by starry-eyed conservative dogmatic evangelists. Pastoral insights don't suddenly arrive on leaving the theological institute. They take many years of worship, prayer, Eucharist participation, and sheer experience of other people's lives. We still have a lot to learn. Otherwise, we may not still be here.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, that's a pretty good final sentence - in answer to Rosemary. i think that sometimes keen lay-people may not understand the need for preaching the Word with gentleness, meekness and a degree of personal humility - like Jesus did - except to his critics among the Scribes and Pharisees, who thought he was much too easy on 'Sinners' - forgetting that their hubris brought them into line with the ones they so disdained.

'Tough love' can be a very over-worked aspiration - especially when it leads to nothing more than a classical 'beat-up'.

I don't think anyone in today's world will be drawn into faith by the prospect of punishment. Jesus had a real knack of inviting sinners to eat and drink at his table - before setting before them the hope of eternal life, in Him.
Hell-fire preachers have really had their day. all they succeed in doing is to turn sinners away.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
I suggest you have missed one point of my excursion in Romans 14 and 15 completely, namely that I am addressing a situation in the church in which one group thinks something is a sin and another group does not. There is no extension from that situation to other sins because on those other sins the church is agreed they are sins, and the question of any division over them does not arise.

When you say, "You haven't even attempted to justify the equivalence you have asserted between "clean" and "good" - an equivalence upon which the entire argument depends." It is true that I haven't responded to that (I plead some pressure of time ... but here goes):

(1) There is a distinction between 'clean' and 'good' inasmuch as (say) all foods are created good but some in Mosaic law were declared unclean and some clean.

As a note: I understand the distinction between clean and unclean partly being to do with holiness (the distinctive life devoted to God by Israel involves eating clean foods and shunning unclean foods) and partly to do with health (with scientific/medical hindsight we see that unclean foods were the foods liable to kill their eaters through disease.

(2) From the perspective of what may be received with thanksgiving, there is common ground between 'clean' and 'good' and when I see Paul in Romans 14 and 15 and 1 Timothy 4 saying that food is both clean and good, all to be received with thanksgiving, I also see 'marriage' (1T4:3) as part of what is to be received with thanksgiving. That is firstly because it is 'good'. But if we ask why could sex between two men (each of whose bodies is 'good') being prohibited in Mosaic law (or, for that matter, sex between a man and a woman outside of marriage) when sex between a man and a woman within marriage is not, then I suggest that one is not holy and one is holy; that is, there is a close parallel to the distinction between clean and unclean.

My point then with respect to Romans 14 and 15 is not that I see Jesus declaring all sex within any marriage or marriage-like partnership 'clean' [i.e. 'holy'] (like he declared all food to be clean) but that we live in a church where some argue that Jesus effectively has done that and the rest of us argue that he did no such thing.

My simple but it seems badly explained point is that to a church divided in such a way, Romans 14 and 15 speaks (as I have tried to draw out in the post above, but so far no commenter has actually engaged with the two analogies I bring out there).

Shawn Herles said...

"Too late, Joshua, many of them are. They have been faithful laity, nuns, monks, clergy and bishops in the Church throughout the ages."

Yes, REPENTANT CELIBATE homosexuals.

Carl's question was about unrepentant homosexuals, and on that score he is right.

We come into God's grace by admitting our sins, not denying them.

"Marriage has never been enforced in Christian tradition."

But a specific Biblical definition of marriage as one man with one women has been.

"Jesus also indicated that eunuchs were a part of the Kingdom of God"

Eunuchs are celibate persons, they do not engage in homosexual sex, thus their inclusion is not relevant to that issue.

"Also, one understands from the scriptures, that marriage is only for this life,not for everyone, and not for all eternity (Matthew 22:30 - "For, at the resurrection, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven")."

As pointed out this only relates to a temporary state in heaven, not to the final resurrection, after which we will be physical beings living in a renewed creation.

"However, some of us have spent many years in the field, with a background of theological, psychological and biblical insight into what God requires of us clergy who have to actually deal with real live people trying to understand their Christian responsibilities in this particular area."

I have seen no evidence of this experience from you. What I have seen a liberal myths and ideology that have no reference theological and Biblical insight.

" I wonder, might I ask, if it is not considered by our host to be too impertinent; exactly how long have you been engaged in pastorally caring for both single and married people who look to the Church for some helpful guidance on sexual responsibility in today's world?"

Tens of thousands of ministers have done as much and more in that area and have found no need to compromise Biblical truth.

"There are no simple answers - to be given by starry-eyed conservative dogmatic evangelists. "

Yes, there are simple answers, found in the Bible.

"Hell-fire preachers have really had their day. all they succeed in doing is to turn sinners away."

Jesus WAS a hellfire preacher. That he did not turn REPENTANT sinners away does not mean He did not warn people of hell.

Hell is mentioned more times on the lips of Jesus than any other part of Scripture.

But this charge against conservatives is false anyway. It is conservative evangelicals who preach the love and grace of God. Liberals preach political ideology.

Shawn Herles said...

"i think that sometimes keen lay-people may not understand the need for preaching the Word with gentleness, meekness and a degree of personal humility -"

And Biblical truth, not liberal political propaganda.

I have generally found evangelical preachers far more gentle and humble than those who loudly and aggressively, promote the Liberal agenda and accuse conservatives of being haters and ignorant rednecks.

Nothing humble about that.

Humility means submitting to the Word of God, not placing our own reason above it.

Shawn Herles said...

"This issue is HUGE! It has divided and is dividing the Anglican church worldwide, and some are determined it will be so in our church here in New Zealand. The arguments and reasons given at the recent Hui, sound to me like grabbing at straws and stretching meanings of words out of proportion. All said in order to achieve going the way many have always wanted to go. Somehow though, God’s Word will simply not go away, and ultimately, despite all the theological somersaults to get round God’s Word, it comes down to, “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

Is the church going to serve the King of this society and culture, or as difficult as it may be, serve our True King." ---- Wally Behan.

Spot on Wally.

John Wimber used to say "I'm a fool for Christ. Whose fool are you?"

Shawn Herles said...

" I don't think anyone in today's world will be drawn into faith by the prospect of punishment"

Then why are virtually all new converts to the faith being brought in by Evangelical churches, not liberal ones?

People in today's world seeking a different way to the world want Biblical truth, not compromise with the world.

Thats why Evangelical churches are growing globally at a massive rate, and liberal churches as a whole dying.

Rosemary Behan said...

How much we agree on Peter, but we differ too. Your argument is from Paul. Paul who is loved and hated by so many of us in equal measure. Who has been described as a misogynist by many men and women, as holding an old fashioned and in view of modern science a wrong position on homosexuality by others, but who is may I suggest, someone whom God chose because He knew that Paul had the strength to say what needed to be said. Paul describes himself as the greatest of sinners, and yet he delivers all those very strong, and very hard to hear words that he learned he tells us, from the Lord Himself.

I don’t think you can do analogies, nor indeed exegetical studies of Romans 14 and 15 forgetting what has gone on previously, in particular in Romans 12. Now we’re agreed that I’m NOT a theologian, but I’m married to one, and he has taught me so much that is as difficult to hear as the things that Paul often says, that I have learned the necessity of teaching the ‘hard’ word to a congregation who might feel frustrated, and even alienated by them. Many of us are or have been alienated by Paul’s words have we not?

I don’t mean the ‘fire and brimstone’ type of sermon Ron refers to .. unless Ron also wishes to describe Paul’s teaching as ‘fire and brimstone.’ But I also don’t think ‘weak’ means necessarily, a minority. That word, like meek or helpmeet, is much misunderstood perhaps? I suppose you could say that I have more questions than answers, but Paul teaches us so much in the chapters you refer to, about how we are to live as Christians. How we are to live BECAUSE we believe chapters 1 to 11 that I think we NEED to hear, but always referring back from say chapter 14 and 15, to chapter 12. There he is quite clear about truth and unity, about the importance of it, and exactly how much depends on US, but also how much strength we need sometimes to be loving [you’ll know just how hard his teaching is on agape love is] while delivering the ‘hard’ word. Paul didn’t flinch from that, and yet you describe ‘flinching’ from so doing because you yourself are a sinner who understands how such words might hurt. But Peter, Paul describes himself as the greatest sinner. I’m married to a sinful man and it hurts him enormously to have to deliver the ‘hard’ words when he knows that he himself is so sinful. This is why I KNOW I could never be the leader/teacher that so many women yearn to be. Yours is a tremendously difficult task. You’ll be loved and hated as Paul was, as Wally is .. sigh .. it’s the hardest task I think God asks of ANYONE, and that includes being born a woman, or being born homosexual!!!!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
You raise a question about the resurrection but use infelicitous language (e.g. 'preposterous'). The answer is that no less a theologian than NT (+Tom) Wright has advanced an argument that we misunderstand 'heaven' and overlook the true reality of a 'new heaven and earth'. Our misunderstanding is to spiritualize heaven; the reality will be a new physical world.

I personally have not delved into this enough to come to a conclusion, save that it is all in God's capable hands.

Shawn Herles said...

"The answer is that no less a theologian than NT (+Tom) Wright has advanced an argument that we misunderstand 'heaven' and overlook the true reality of a 'new heaven and earth'. Our misunderstanding is to spiritualize heaven; the reality will be a new physical world."

This is actually not a new idea, it is in fact Biblical, and has been taught in the Church, with varying degrees of clarity and emphasis, since Apostolic times.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says:

"Q. 37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves, till the resurrection.

Q. 38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity."

At the final resurrection the elect are re-united with their bodies, and thus have resurrection bodies as Jesus did. Our non-physical state in heaven after death is temporary.

Christianity is an incarnational faith that has always affirmed that human beings were designed by God to be physical beings, not non-physical spirit beings. This has always been the teaching of orthodox Christianity.

The Bible is clear that the pattern of life God intended is laid out in Eden. We are physical beings living in a physical world, man and women. Marriage was instituted before the fall, and thus was clearly intended to be eternal, and will be restored when the New Eden is re-created, a new Heaven and a new EARTH.

Shawn Herles said...

The issue of whether marriage is temporary of eternal has no bearing on the issue of homosexuality.

Even IF marriage was only for this life prior to death, Biblical marriage would still be one man and one women for life.

Nor is the issue of how the BCP describes marriage relevant. The BCP is not the Bible, and it does not extend marriage to same-gender relationships anyway.

Nor is the pastoral issue of dealing with people in "today's world" ( a world created by Liberals) relevant.

Dealing with people in a loving way does not require us to tell them their sins are just fine.

Jesus did not deal with sinners (which is ALL of us) the way Liberals do. Jesus welcomed them, but also told them (us) to repent from sin and take up our cross. When it comes to those afflicted with same-gender attraction Liberals tell them their sin is fine, and don't worry about the cross.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for ignoring and/or twisting Scripture to suit themselves. The Pharisees were NOT conservatives. Jesus was.

The whole attempt by Liberalism to downplay marriage as just another lifestyle choice has been a disaster for society.

Over the last fifty to sixty years divorce has skyrocketed. Broken marriages and families are legion. Inner cities throughout the West have turned into war zones as fatherless boys look to gangs and crime. A firestorm of poverty, crime and violence has been unleashed on the weakest of society, while rich and middle class Liberals pat themselves on the back about "progressive" society has become under their leadership.

Liberalism has failed, utterly, totally, completely. It has brought the West to it's knees and gutted the Church of it's core doctrine and moral values. It has destroyed out inner cities and oppressed the poor with its "marriage is just a lifestyle" ideology.

Liberalism is a cancer in the West and in the Church, and the only cure is a return to the Biblical Gospel.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Our misunderstanding is to spiritualize heaven; the reality will be a new physical world.

"I personally have not delved into this enough to come to a conclusion, save that it is all in God's capable hands."

- Dr. Peter Carrell -

I wonder, Peter, if that sort of 'spiritualization' is not what the Gospel of Matthew is actually saying in the following passage:

(Matthew 22:30 - "For, at the resurrection, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven").

Do you really suspect that our resurrection bodies are a physical entity? If so, I don't want to be raised up with a bald head & gout.

Or do you not think it possible that our resurrection 'bodies' may be partly made up of the good things that we were part of on earth?

Of course, none of us really knows what happens to us after death, no-one has come back from the actual experience. However, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, Saint Paul gives a pretty convincing (to me) understanding (all we need to know here) of what will happen when Christ comes again in glory to take both the faithful departed (in Paradise?) and 'those who are left alive' with Him - Going somewhere? Where? Presumably into the presence of the Father in Heaven. (I think of Paradise as a
place of further perfecting and spiritual growth of the Departed)

Now that's all pretty amazing - and quite enough information for me to be going on with. I have no need to make much further speculation - which may just prove to be 'idle'.

n.b. Tom Wright is just one modern theologian among many who, like us, can only speculate about the reality of the afterlife. As you so rightly intimate - Only God knows the full Truth. But Saint Paul's understanding is good enough for me - at the present time.

All this, of course, is merely my own speculation - the fruit of many years of reflection on the New Testament Scriptures - hopefully with the help of You Know Who.

Have a reflective and happy Lent!

Shawn Herles said...

"Of course, none of us really knows what happens to us after death, no-one has come back from the actual experience."

Yes they have.

His name was Jesus.

He came back with a physical body that could be touched and which ate food.

The Book of Revelation says a New Heaven and a NEW EARTH.

Basic orthodox teaching, and clearly in the New Testament.

Father Ron Smith said...

"He came back with a physical body that could be touched and which ate food." A Commentator -

When Mary Magdalene (in the Garden after His Resurrection) went to embrace Jesus, He said to her: "Touch me not".

Do you not think it possible that if she had reached out to touch Jesus at that moment, her hands may have countered nothing physical?

Just a thought! But then, I'm sure some people are wiser than I - and that the Gospel writer.

Granted, there are other Gospel resurrection accounts where Jesus 'ate fish', and was therefore seen to be a physical being. But it behoves us not to become too literal about these things.

"There are more thing in heaven and earth, Horation....."

Peter Carrell said...

It is an exquisite thought, is it not, that the new heaven and the new earth might consist of new embodiments of who we have been created to be by God!

Shawn Herles said...

"Granted, there are other Gospel resurrection accounts where Jesus 'ate fish', and was therefore seen to be a physical being. But it behoves us not to become too literal about these things."

No, it does not behove us at all Ron. Scripture must be taken in its plain sense or it means nothing at all.

Or, you could apply your view to this:

"This is my body, this is my blood".

See the problem?

The idea that Jesus was only a spirit after the resurrection is an old Gnostic teaching that the Church Universal has always rejected. It is held today only by some extreme liberals and sects such as the Jehova's Witnesses.

Jesus rose from the dead in the very same physical body in which He died. This resurrected, physical body was a glorified, spiritual body. The spiritual body is not merely "spirit". The spiritual body is the resurrected, glorified, physical body.

"And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have," (Luke 24:38-39).

Shawn Herles said...

The official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on literal resurrection, with quotes from the Church Fathers.

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/resurrection-of-the-body

As I said, basic orthodoxy.

You can see Peter why when I am told that pro-ssm liberals believe in the creeds it means nothing to me.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,

A moderational comment: this thread is now in danger of veering off topic, so to speak.

(1) It began about whether marriage might continue in the new heaven and new earth or not because of a view advanced that we have new physical bodies. [I know of no clear consensus on the answer to that question which could readily be said to be the "orthodox" view on such matters].

(2) It has now become a thread about the character of the resurrection body of Jesus. I have no reason to think that Ron (or anyone else here for that matter) is anything but orthodox in their understanding of the resurrection body of Jesus. So I do not appreciate, as moderator, an unwillingness of Ron to go along with you on (1) to become on occasion for pressured debate about (2). Too much moderational energy required!

The point is quite clear in 1 Corinthians 15: we do not know what our resurrection bodies will be like; the resurrection body of Jesus as experienced by his disciples on earth may or may not be a guide to his body in the new heaven and new earth. After all, when we get to Revelation 1 we find a more glorious and radiant appearance of the risen Jesus than the disciples attested to in the gospels.

Shawn Herles said...

"I have no reason to think that Ron (or anyone else here for that matter) is anything but orthodox in their understanding of the resurrection body of Jesus."

Yes you do. His own words on your blog betray that he denies the orthodox view. That is clear.

"The point is quite clear in 1 Corinthians 15: we do not know what our resurrection bodies will be like; "

Wrong. The Bible as a whole, along with the tradition of the Church, and the witness of the Fathers is clear that our resurrected bodies are physical.

It is shocking that I have to explain basic orthodoxy to people wearing collars. No wonder the Roman Catholics and Orthodox no longer take the Anglican Church seriously!

This willingness to gloss over heresy and unBiblical views, views that are not up for debate, all in the name of a false unity at the expense of truth, is exactly why Liberals have been able to steamroll right over Anglican evangelicals.

All of these issues are interelated. Failure to obey Scripture in one place leads to a willingness to disobey it elsewhere. Pro-homosexual heretics are always heretical in other places. There is no such thing as a pro-ssm "christian" who is creedally orthodox, or orthodox at all.

But it's your blog, and I have made my point, so I will move on.

carl jacobs said...

Peter

I have no reason to think that Ron (or anyone else here for that matter) is anything but orthodox in their understanding of the resurrection body of Jesus.

Well, I certainly have such reason having just read what FRS wrote.

A few threads back, you stated this as basis of Christian unity as:

baptised (in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, according to Christian custom) ...
believer in Jesus Christ (that is, the Christ made know to us in the Christian Scriptures and defined for us in the Apostolic, Nicene and Athanasian creeds).


Well, the statement of the Resurrection just made by FRS ...

Do you not think it possible that if she had reached out to touch Jesus at that moment, her hands may have countered nothing physical?

Just a thought! But then, I'm sure some people are wiser than I - and that the Gospel writer.

Granted, there are other Gospel resurrection accounts where Jesus 'ate fish', and was therefore seen to be a physical being. But it behoves us not to become too literal about these things.


... is not even Christian theology, let alone Anglican theology. If the Creeds can be made to support unity with such a position, then the Creeds are being used to unite the Christian world with the non-Christian world. This is exactly what I said you were attempting to do. You were attempting to use Romans 14 in order to justify a level of unity with non-Christian belief. You are no longer talking about believers and brothers. You cannot be. In the first place, the Creeds as originally constructed do not countenance such a position, so it denies your own standard. But there is a more important consideration. A believer would never deny the physical resurrection of Christ. It is an essential of the Faith. To deny it is to deny one's own testimony. This is why I keep telling you to draw sharp lines. This is why you keep resisting. You don't want to face this situation. You want to cover it up as a disagreement between brothers. It isn't. It is like Solomon bringing the idols of his pagan wives into his house. Only corruption can come from it.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

It may be my blog and all that, Shawn, but we are talking about the meaning of Scripture. When Paul in 1C15 talks about the present body being like a seed sown in the ground, I take seriously his further words on the matter which open a vision of something splendid but not clearly defined. But if it be unorthodox to treat Paul's words here plainly, then unorthodox I am!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
"Physical resurrection" is our phrase, not that of the creeds or the gospels or 1 Corinthians. So we need to be clear about what 'physical' means.

If it means (a) the tomb was empty of Jesus decaying body; (b) Jesus decaying body was transformed into a new mode of being; (c) that new mode of being was both physical (e.g. eating fish) and non-physical (e.g. able to enter rooms otherwise secure at will; able to vanish upwards against the force of gravity in the ascension), then I am with you. But something like outlining those steps in explanation is important if we are to guard a phrase like 'physical resurrection' from use that implies that the resurrection was essentially a resuscitation of the physical body of Jesus of Nazareth.

Could the new resurrection body of Jesus be touched in the way that I can touch a part of my physical body or touch another's physical body? There is no actual verse of Scripture which says that ever happened. Thus I do not jump from Ron's remark to a conclusion that he denies the physical resurrection. Rather, his remark is consistent with attempts by us, within the confines of our own physicality, to understand the new reality of Christ's resurrection body in the light of what Scripture says about that new reality.

I suggest less haste in jumping to conclusions.

carl jacobs said...

Peter

I suggest less haste in jumping to conclusions.

I jumped to no conclusion. I simply reacted to what he wrote. What he wrote is clear and unambiguous. What the Gospel accounts say is also clear and unambiguous. The two cannot be reconciled. The Lord Jesus was not spirit. He was flesh and blood. The tomb was empty because His body wasn't there. It had been raised from the dead just like He said it would. Whatever we don't know about the resurrected Christ, we do know that He was flesh and blood. He said so. He demonstrated to Thomas that he was no ghost.

And, yes, it is very important to be very literal about these things. As it is written Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh will I see God." His death is my death. His resurrection is my resurrection. If Christ is not raised, then were are still in our sins. And Paul wasn't talking about some vague spiritual resurrection. We will not be called forth as ghosts on the Last Day.

carl

Shawn Herles said...

""Physical resurrection" is our phrase, not that of the creeds or the gospels or 1 Corinthians. So we need to be clear about what 'physical' means."

Bodily/physical resurrection is clear in the creeds, the Fathers, and the Gospels.

Physical means physical. It has no other meaning. Read the quotes from the Fathers on the RC site I linked to. They were in no doubt about the fact that bodily/physical resurrection means exactly that.

"But if it be unorthodox to treat Paul's words here plainly, then unorthodox I am!"

But you haven't treated them plainly. You have treated them, as you have with Romans 14-15 in isolation from the rest of Paul and from the rest of the Biblical witness.

"Could the new resurrection body of Jesus be touched in the way that I can touch a part of my physical body or touch another's physical body? There is no actual verse of Scripture which says that ever happened."

What????? Seriously????

""And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, FOR A SPIRIT DOES NOT HAVE FLESH AND BONE AS YOU SEE THAT I HAVE," (Luke 24:38-39).

"Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."

Thats pretty clear.

And in his statements above, Ron has clearly denied the truth of Scripture.

I suggest less haste in trying to gloss over heresy.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn/Carl
In a bit of a rush but:
- there is no verse recording that any disciple actually touched Jesus, let alone described what the new body 'felt' like.
- my point, and I am confident it is Ron's also, is that this carefulness about describing the new body-in-a-new-dimension has nothing to do with arguing that Jesus was a mere spirit or ghost (in the sense that we understand such things a la Hollywood, haunted houses and what have you).

So no, I don't think heresy is involved!

Shawn Herles said...

here is a growing sense of anger and even rage that I have come across from many evangelicals in the pews who believe that our leaders are compromising the Faith in the name of an unBiblical unity and a desire to just get along. A growing sense that we are being sidelined and ignored by General Synod and the various commissions which have been set up for the sole purpose of pushing the Liberal agenda no matter what we think.

Sooner or later, this will come to a crunch, and the anger will explode.

Any attempt to create an institutional system that allows for the blessing of same-sex marriage will bring on civil war. Any attempt by those leaders claiming to be evangelicals who support this will lead to revolt by the laity.

Our "leaders" have become so isolated from the opinion of many in the pews that they have no idea about the level of feelings of anger, frustration and betrayal.

From the three Tikanga model, to social justice commissioners pushing Labour/Green policies and attacking those on the Right, to the ongoing circus of St Matthews opposing the Bible in schools and putting up vile and disgusting billboards while the leadership in Auckland does nothing, people are FED UP.

This is not just my view. I come across these feeling almost everyday.

And it will come to a head. And when it does, if nothing changes, it will destroy the Anglican church in NZ in it's current form, and likely lead to exodus and schism.

If Liberal elites continue to push the issue of same-sex marriage there will be a backlash that will leave the Anglican church in NZ in tatters.

No more compromise. No more glossing over heresy. No more pretense that pro-same sex marriage advocates are orthodox Christians whom we can happily fellowship with.

Shawn Herles said...

"there is no verse recording that any disciple actually touched Jesus"

Jesus invited them to. Was he lying? Fooling them? Playing a game? For goodness sake Peter, Jesus said he was flesh and bone!!!!!!

So yes, hersy IS involved. To deny the clear witness of Scripture when Jesus says "touch me, I am flesh", to deny the repeated teaching of the Church Fathers stating clearly that the resurrected Jesus is physical, is heresy, plain and simple.

And no amount of the Liberal rhetorical tactics about "being careful" changes that.

Liberals always want to "be careful" with Scripture about two seconds before they contradict it.

carl jacobs said...

Peter

there is no verse recording that any disciple actually touched Jesus, let alone described what the new body 'felt' like.

This is exegetical nonsense, Peter. Justify your assertion from the appearance of Christ before Thomas. The Lord Jesus tells Thomas to touch the wounds so that Thomas would know and understand that He was not a ghost but flesh and bone. That necessarily implies that Thomas would recognize what flesh and bone feels like. Otherwise, it wouldn't be proof of what Jesus is saying. You are really reaching, here.

This "body-in-a-new-dimension" is not an exegetical derivation of Scripture. It is a device you have created to achieve the objective of reconciling mutually-exclusive positions. As I said before, you cannot use what we don't know to deny what we do know.

carl

mike greenslade said...

"Its life Jim, but not as we know it."

Father Ron Smith said...

"God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in Truth" - John 4:24 -

These are the words of Jesus.

n.b. The Body and Blood of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist are a spiritual guarantee of the incarnate Jesus. Their form is quite different from the human body of Jesus - but they are a spiritual way of discerning (as Paul reminds us) the Body of Christ - which is the membership of the Church.

Does this not presage the distinct possibility that our resurrection body may be somewhat different from our earthly physical body? After all, in at least some of his post-resurrection appearances, even His closest disciples (including Mary of Magdala) did not recognise Him - "She, supposing him to be the gardener..."

I'm quite prepared to be surprised at the life-after-death experience.
My faith leads me to the real possibility of being further perfected by God - together with the "Faithful Departed" (like the penitent thief) in Paradise. This is a very Pauline understanding.

Before He ascended to the Father, the only mention made by Jesus about life after death was to the penitent thief: "Today, you will be with me in Paradise" - not Heaven, obviously, because Jesus spent three days in 'Paradise' (the place of Departed Spirits) before being raised from the dead & subsequently Ascending to the Father.

Anonymous said...

"- there is no verse recording that any disciple actually touched Jesus, let alone described what the new body 'felt' like."

I am constrained to break my silence.

Yes there is. 'me mou haptou' (Jn 20.17) is present imperative (not aorist). It means 'Stop holding on to me', and denotes an action which has already begun. Latin ('noli me tangere'), not being an aspectual language, lacks the nuances of Greek. In English we have to express it periphrastically. The NIV reasonably renders it 'Don't hold on to me.'
Of course, that great Anglican Archbishop Peter Carnley said this account is totally fictional. Who do you believe?

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

In the end, Shawn, it would need to be someone else who pushed the matter further. Having tried to point out the carefulness we need when reading what Scripture actually says, I am nevertheless with you and not against you on the matter of the physicality of Jesus' resurrection body: if touch had occurred I think contact would have been made.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
(a) Please see my 8.19 pm comment above.
(b) I stand by 'body-in-a-new-dimension' as derivable from Scripture as we make sense of the gospel witnesses, 1 Corinthians 15, the ascension, and Revelation.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I appreciate your comment which is supportive of me and what I am trying to achieve here. Nevertheless it contains some assumptions that are wrong so I cannot publish it. There are more trained people in theology commenting here than you are reckoning with.

To all commenters here: could we perhaps reckon that the nature of the resurrection body is more complicated than we might like it to be; that the greatest of theologians have, in the eyes of other theologians, gotten bogged down in these matters.

I am clear on one thing myself: I cannot read 1 Corinthians and derive any clarity about the specificity of our resurrection bodies. The splendour of what lies before us is to wondrous to describe in our finite language.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin (and Carl, Shawn, Ron et al)

I gladly admit I am wrong. John 20:17 is a verse I neglected in my assertion that no verse tells us of an actual touching. I think it is the only verse ... not even Thomas is recorded as taking up his Lord's offer.

I would part company with Carnley on his estimation of this passage.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
If you do start your own blog, I will read it.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
I appreciate your comment in your latest (which I don't publish because it is too directive). The comment I published, to which you refer, was published because it expressed a view that a widely held view is abroad in our church that if it makes a poor decision re SSP, let alone SSM then there will be a great deal of trouble. I think our church (to the extent that it reads here) needs to understand that view and understand that potential for future troubles.

It goes without saying that I myself encourage our church to act wisely and for all its members to act considerately for the sake of Christ and his kingdom.

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Peter,

like you I am taking a leave of absence for a week or so from posting here. I think this kind of internet debate is fine, but the lack of personal face to face contact makes it too easy to forget that we are dealing with real human beings with real, and often complex and difficult lives, and I certainly have been guilty of that. And especially when we go round and round in circles over the same issues, the spiritual atmosphere (can you have an atmosphere on a blog?) can become toxic. We have done SSM to death, and frankly at this point I don't think any of us regulars are going to change our minds on that front, so I have to question what is being achieved with the constant to and fro, except a lot of hurt feelings and anger, or "heat" as Bosco would say.

I apologize for my last post, which thankfully you did not publish. It was woefully unfair. I have been reminded about the amount of work you are doing and the responsibilities you have, and so for me to insist on theological preciseness and correctness on every point when you post is unrealistic, and frankly childish of me to expect.

I have had doubts and concerns, sometimes even alarm, with some of the ways you approach scripture, especially recently, but I do not question your orthodoxy.

I am sorry I missed your email about coffee, but as soon as you have more time I would like to get together.

Blessings.

MichaelA said...

Sorry, I missed this response to my original post:

"This statement begs the question of whether, or not, 'Christian Teaching' has actually dramatically changed on any other biblically-supported issues - like, for instance, slavery, usury, and the subjugation of women."

No, why would it? Of course, some Christians have always disagreed about such issues (and every other issue under the sun) - but that is a different matter.

"Would you agree that The Spirit of God is still teaching us, today, about what sin is, and what sin is not?"

Of course. Why would he stop teaching God's truth?

"Or do you think the Holy Spirit is no longer needed - to teach us anything?"

Only if we humans have suddenly somehow attained perfection!

"Institutional stasis was never one of the charisms of the Holy Spirit."

Sure, but since we weren't discussing "institutional stasis", what is the relevance of that? Somehow you seem to have juxtaposed "institution" and "teaching" - do you perhaps see them as the same thing?

Father Ron Smith said...

Re MICHAELA's question as to whether I consider that there might be a difference between teaching and the Institution (of the Church), I would suggest he recall the fact that it is the prerogative of the Roman Catholic Church tobe singular in it's insistence on being the sole arbiter of 'The Truth'.

We Anglicans who have been active in our branch of the Church Catholic & Apostolic for longer than a dog-watch, have witnessed many changes in subjective theology in our time, and our spiritual lives have mostly been renewed because of the changes made - this is what i mean when I speak of accessing th charisms of the Holy Spirit - Whose very nature is bypassing institutional resistance to God's 'New Things'. 'semper refotmanda'.nta

Father Ron Smith said...

Theologicallanguage can be so imprecise. And therein lies an ever-present danger -for any budding 'theologian'. When Carl says (17 Feb.) that 'in His death is my death'; what does that actually mean in terms of Carl's physical state at this point in time. Is it not, in fact, a 'spiritual state of being' that he is referring to?

MichaelA said...

Fr Ron,

I note that before you were asking a question, which has now quietly shifted to become assertions. Fair enough, let's look at them:

1. "...Roman Catholic Church tobe singular in it's [sic] insistence on being the sole arbiter of 'The Truth'" - Sorry, I have no idea what the relevance of this may be. Neither of us is Roman Catholic.

2. "We Anglicans ... have witnessed many changes in subjective theology in our time" -

I don't know what you mean by "subjective theology". Your original question referred to "Christian Teaching". Anyway, if you want to believe this "subjective theology", go right ahead. But of course you have no basis for asking anyone else to believe it.

3. "...charisms of the Holy Spirit - Whose very nature is bypassing institutional resistance to God's 'New Things'"

Not according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit's very nature is to witness to God's truth. But, if your 'subjective theology' says something different, then by all means believe it. Again you can't expect anyone else to necessarily agree with you.

4. 'semper refotmanda'

Ah now we are getting somewhere - "semper reformanda" is a teaching of the Reformed Churches, which essentially holds that it is always necessary to reform the church in order to bring it back to Christ's revealed truth in Scripture, i.e. "the Faith once delivered". I couldn't agree more!

Shawn Herles said...

"charisms of the Holy Spirit - Whose very nature is bypassing institutional resistance to God's 'New Things'""

The charisms of the Holy Spirit are largely practiced and received in Evangelical Charismatic churches, and within any responsible church, are practiced under and with the authority of Scripture, Scripture itself being a creation of the Holy Spirit.

The "New Things" Ron is referring to is Liberal theology, which does not come from any "charism" of the Holy Spirit, and is a truly subjective theology that has no objective grounding in Scripture.

The issue of the teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church is not relevant to us. What IS relevant to us is that the Anglican Communion is a Reformed (of the Reformation)catholic communion which does have the central and supreme authority of Scripture as it's guide and anchor, one that is necessary to guard against false teachings and political ideologies that pretend to be "of the Spirit."