Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What is clean?

I stand by my claim yesterday that there is no shock or surprise in an 85 year old man announcing that he is retiring. Those who proffer the fact that in 600 years no other pope has retired from office as reason for using 'surprise' or 'shock' in journalistic reports about Pope Benedict's announcement yesterday are still slack hacks. A quiet keeping up to date with Vatican news in recent months would have informed any reader that the Pope's health was failing (or at least 'fading') and that retirement was a prospect being considered. Universally the pope's announcement is being greeted with the word 'humility', recognising that this announcement demonstrates the pope is not so enamoured with himself that he cannot see the greater good of the church. I too salute Benedict's humility. Not least because it is in keeping with the teaching of the apostle Paul in the chapters from Romans I am meandering my way through. Benedict does not want to cause any believer to stumble (14:13, 21).

When we get to Romans 14:14 we reach a striking point of theological severity, to which I am probably unable to do justice. Having instructed on the way forward for the divided Romans, "Let us therefore ... resolve ..." (14:13), Paul states a theological principle in order to clarify what is and is not the issue in their division.

The principle is this:

"I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean" (14:14).

The point of stating it is elucidated in the verses which follow. What is dividing the Romans is not the reality that (in this case) some foods are clean and unclean. (If it were so, then a simple statement from the apostle of what was clean food and what was unclean food should overcome the division). Rather, what is dividing the Romans is the differing attitudes in their minds to food because some cannot grasp that all foods are clean and operate with a distinction between clean and unclean, while others can so grasp. Paul consequently asks for the believers to respect these differing attitudes.

But what about the principle? Is this not an extraordinary statement because of the word 'nothing'? Obviously the first thing in Paul's mind in this context is food. There is no food which is not clean. But given that Paul has not confined his vision in Romans 14 to food, the theological principle in 14:14 is not confined to food. It is precisely the same principle that Paul enunciates in 1 Timothy 4:4-5, "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God's word and prayer." But the context of 1 Timothy's statement in 4:3, "They [false teachers] forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth." That is, the theological principle in Romans 14:14 is extensive, and relates to all aspects of created life, to food and to sex.

Thus I disagree with those here who have suggested that Romans 14 and 15 are not wholly gerrmane to current Anglican controversies. The question we are debating over homosexuality is in fact a question of cleanness and goodness: is there any circumstance in which sex between two men or between two women is 'clean' or 'good' in the same way that sex between a man and a woman is clean and good in the context of marriage, that is, not to be forbidden and to be received with thanksgiving.

Conversely, our present debates, related to Paul's developing argument in Romans 14 and 15, are complicated. There is nothing in Paul's writings (least of all in Romans or 1 Timothy) which suggests that he can be corralled as a supporter voting for 'everything is clean' to include (say) a faithful, loving same sex partnership. So Paul, confronted with the possibility of change to our church's legislation in 2014, might suggest to us that 1 Corinthians 5-6 are the relevant teaching to apply, not Romans 14-15. That is, where matters are not covered by the principle in Romans 14:14, the larger teaching through these chapters is not applicable. Yet (suppose for a moment) that 'nothing is unclean in itself' includes any faithful, loving, permanent sexual partnership, then Romans 14 and 15 is precisely applicable as teaching for a church divided by attitudes in the minds of believers.

As I understand the character of the deepest division in our church, at least as represented at our recent Hermeneutical Hui, it is the division over what may be called clean or good, over what may be received with thanksgiving and what may not.

On one side are those who are certain that a same sex partnership characterised by marriage-like character - faithful, permanent, stable, loving - is clean and good, and thus blessable in the name of God.

On another side are those who are certain that this is not so, perhaps, in terms of 1 Timothy, because we cannot see where such a relationship is 'sanctified by God's word.' Yet a further side is represented by Bishop Victoria's paper which I understand to be an argument (in terms of the passages I am referring to here) that what is clean is "marriage" and thus what is required for the church to move forward is theological agreement that "marriage" includes any two people in a covenanted relationship. That is, the first two sides are characterised by "certainty" as to what is the case, and this side is characterised by "uncertainty" but with a resolve to work towards a "new" certainty.

At least one question we then have, in this stage of deep theological division, is the question of how we walk in love (see Romans 14:15), avoiding injuring our brother or sister and not being the cause of the ruin of one for whom Christ died.

49 comments:

carl jacobs said...

Peter

'Unclean' is not a synonym for 'sin.' 'Clean' is not a synonym for 'good.' Your argument depends upon this equivocation. There is absolutely no way to make the Scripture say this. Paul does not refer to sin when he says

nothing is unclean in itself

The reason Romans 14 is not applicable to homsexuality is that homosexual behavior is sin. That's why incest isn't covered. And murder. And idolatry. Sin is never clean in itself.

You have never given a clear definition of 'Christian' and here is the fruit of that failure. You are seeking desperately to maintain a relationship with people whom you define as Christians on the basis of ... relationship. And so you have to make compromises. Those compromises aren't evidence of the messy reality of the real world. They are evidence of disobedience.

A moral position is not rendered credible by the number of people who hold to it. Otherwise, we should credit the priests of Baal over Elijah. A moral position is validated by the giver of morality. One man with the Truth is greater than many who speak a Lie. If you were the only one in the world to condemn adultery, you would still speak the Truth. So here is the question to you.

How do you know the Truth? Is it really just the product of consensus such that a lack of consensus casts it into doubt?

carl

Shawn Herles said...

"Thus I disagree with those here who have suggested that Romans 14 and 15 are not wholly gerrmane to current Anglican controversies."

Again though, Paul is dealing with matters of ritual purity and the goodness of creation. He is affirming that created things are good in themselves. So while that is not just about food, it is still about secondary issues of ritual purity, and not issues of Biblical revelation and false gospels.

This cannot be stretched to homosexuality, let alone the false gospel of "radical inclusivity" without doing harm to the Biblical text.

Because when it came to false gospels and homosexuality, Paul himself does not bring in the "principle" your using, but makes it very clear that both are out of bounds.

Using Romans 14-15 in the way that you are drives a wedge between what Paul says in one place, and what he says in another.

Scripture interprets Scripture. If we are using one part of Scripture to advocate or reconcile with something, in this case homosexuality, that in another place Scripture clearly condemns, then we are no longer doing valid Biblical exegesis.

"At least one question we then have, in this stage of deep theological division, is the question of how we walk in love (see Romans 14:15), avoiding injuring our brother or sister and not being the cause of the ruin of one for whom Christ died."

We are long past that point. The leadership of TEC has revealed it's true face and is now actively persecuting faithful Christians, even using the power of the secular state to do so.

And unless it is stopped, make no mistake, the advocates of the false gospel of "radical inclusivity" will, sooner or later, do the same here in NZ. The masks of friendly brotherhood will come off, and the power of the state, under the guise of "human rights" will be used to force conformity.

The only question we have now is, how do we cleanse the Temple before that happens?

Liberalism is a cancer in the body of the Church. It will not stop. It does not respond to reason, or dialogue, or idealistic talk of unity in diversity. It cannot, because its very nature is totalitarian. And being a false gospel, it will not, except as a temporary tactic, live in peace with the true Gospel.

mike greenslade said...

Kia ora Peter,

You have been writing about this for some time now. Do you discern any changes or developments in the "signs of one, holy, catholic and apostolic church among Christians identifying themselves as Anglicans" - especially amongst those who read and contribute to your page? Or is there some recognisable development in the 'argument' about how we follow Jesus?
mike g

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter. I value your input into the current arguments here about sexuality - a gift from God - and whether it can ever be called, of itself, 'sinful'.

In some of the arguments - mostly made by conservatives - it would appear that sex has only been given by God for procreation. That this is a wrong interpretation, however, can be readily understood by a discerning reader of the Song of Songs.

Your discourse is obviously causing some pain and embarrassment to some of your more conservative readers. I welcome that - as a direct sign that what you are saying - that has occasioned their ire - has some element of real truth about it.

Those who declare certain loving sexual acts as 'corban' are quite possibly as much mistaken as those whom Paul castigates so roundly in his letters.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
You might be missing my point(s):

Some people today think that within a same sex partnership sex is holy/good/unclean/not sinful. They represent a powerful grouping within our church with a wider group sympathising with them, including (I sense) approximately half our bishops.

I may think (with you) that they are wrong; but they do not think they are wrong and thus I am feeling pressed to work out on what basis we might - as a church - engage with genuine difference of view over an important matter of human life. It is that difference of view within the one household of faith which leads me (and, of course, not only me) to think that Romans 14 and 15 has some relevance.

Definition of a Christian: how about 'a baptised believer in Jesus Christ'. Are there Christians in ACANZP who think differently on these matters to me? YES. Could I dismiss them as 'not real Christians'? That would be easy wouldn't it. But it is not so.

I get your point about truth not being determined by popularity. But is that the issue here? On quite a number of matters in Christian life I think others are wrong, but does that mean I depart from them? If I do not depart from them, the question is, how do I live with them?

Joshua Bovis said...

Peter,

"Thus I disagree with those here who have suggested that Romans 14 and 15 are not wholly gerrmane to current Anglican controversies. The question we are debating over homosexuality is in fact a question of cleanness and goodness: is there any circumstance in which sex between two men or between two women is 'clean' or 'good' in the same way that sex between a man and a woman is clean and good in the context of marriage, that is, not to be forbidden and to be received with thanksgiving."

This is simply wrong. You are resorting to Eisegesis. Homosexual behaviour is sin, and is an expression of rebellion against God(See Romans 1:18-27). To use Romans 14 and Romans 15 to justify is not only incorrect, but it is an attempt on your behalf sadly to use on portion of Scripture against another.

By way of reminder Peter, remember the 39 Articles?
Article XX
Of the Authority of the Church

The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.

Your subjective hermeneutic is showing that you are promoting a position that is against what the Bible says and you are twisting Scripture to do it, which will lead to ordaining something which is contrary to God’s word written, if circumstances so dictate.

As for your last paragraph about walking in love, love does not abbrogate the authority of Scripture nor its truth and for you, or me or any other clergy to send the message or even imply that God somehow blesses and declares 'good' what His Word clearly says is sinful is grossly irresponsible on our part and extremely unloving.

Peter you are tragically mistaken.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mike,
I see several positive developments among Anglicans as these matters are discussed here.

(1) Recognition that truth and unity are important and cannot be taken for granted in the life of the church.

(2) Engagement with Scripture as fundamental to our debates and discussions. (Sometimes we engage with different parts of Scripture so we talk past each other ...). That engagement is about what it means to follow Jesus. Again, there are differences, but there are possibilities for seeing that it is the one Jesus we are following.

(3) Though hard to discern sometimes, I see the debate as shifting from a debate about 'them' (a group of 'others' for whom it might not matter whether they are in or out of the church) to a debate about 'us': we are humanity together in the church, with flaws and failings, some of which we discuss more than others, but none of which leads to the expulsion of the 'other' from church.

(4) Perhaps most importantly, I see conversation as the key to maintaining the bonds of peace in our church. Just maybe ADU contributes to that. Maybe not!

Shawn Herles said...

"Are there Christians in ACANZP who think differently on these matters to me? YES. Could I dismiss them as 'not real Christians'? That would be easy wouldn't it. But it is not so."

With some of them it clearly is so. St Matthews does not teach Christianity in any form whatsoever. Nor do some other churches I can think of.

Now, that is certainly not true of all those who may be on the pro-ssm debate, it may not even be true of all liberals, but it is true of a significant number.

Jim Jones was a baptised believer in Jesus Christ.

On its own, simply being baptised and claiming to believe in Jesus does not really tell us much.

And as Carl points out, Paul is not talking about sin or heresy, but minor matters of food and ritual cleanliness.

And Paul did not use the principles in 14-15 to deal with false gospels or homosexuality.

Thus, neither should anyone else.

We cannot talk about Pauline "principles" when Paul himself would never have, and did not, as his approach to false gospels and homosexuality show, use them in the way you are trying.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Joshua,
Might you be misreading me? (Have I been unclear?)

I am suggesting that controversy over homosexuality in churches, especially the manner of it within my own ACANZP, is being spoken to by Romans 14 and 15 because Romans 14 and 15 speak to matters on which there is division in the church, with the little twist that the original 'clean/unclean' food concerns of Paul/his readers have analogies to discussions today which effectively are about what sexual activity is clean/unclean or good/sinful. The particular speaking of Romans 14 and 15 is to how we handle ourselves in the controversy.

What I am not saying is that Romans 14 and 15 sheds light on the matter of whether sex within a permanent same sex partnership may be declared clean/holy/good. Other passages need to be engaged for that. I do not see those passages as making the declaration others seek. But I do see others in my church declaring that the passages are irrelevant and, on other grounds, the declaration can be made. I think they are wrong but they are still my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Shawn Herles said...

Ron,

"In some of the arguments - mostly made by conservatives - it would appear that sex has only been given by God for procreation."

Nobody on this blog has said that. What we have said is that sex is only holy within the bonds of covenant marriage between a man and a women.

"Your discourse is obviously causing some pain and embarrassment to some of your more conservative readers."

Not at all. We are just having a friendly debate.

Please leave out your speculations about other peoples emotions. Such claims border on Ad Hominem.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
Some Christians have been bad eggs. I don't think that changes the fact that they were Christians; nor does it mean that a reasonable definition of what a Christian is needs to be changed.

Shawn Herles said...

"I don't think that changes the fact that they were Christians. Nor does it mean that a reasonable definition of what a Christian is needs to be changed."

Are Mormons Christians? They consider themselves baptised believers in Jesus.

Is Loyd Geering a Christian? Don Cuppit? John Shelby Spong?

If someone claims to be a baptised believer in Jesus but rejects the divine nature of Christ, the atonement, the resurrection, the Trinity and the validity of Scripture, are they still a Christian?

Sadly the fact is, especially in these times, we cannot simply take at face value the claim to being a baptised believer in Jesus.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
I do not think your counter examples change the definition by much, just some clarifications:

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).

Though even that might be going too far since one test of a definition of a Christian is whether it would incorporate the penitent thief on the cross!

Shawn Herles said...

"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)."

Wouldn't that definition ( a good one by the way!) exclude at least a portion of the membership of the NZ Anglican Church, given that neither Scripture nor the Creeds are any longer authoritative for them?

Peter Carrell said...

I couldn't possibly comment, Shawn!

mike greenslade said...

I am sure you could comment, Peter. What we mean by terms like 'belief', 'authority', 'evangelical' and 'scripture' shapes how we engage with the task of making sense of our lives, our relationship with God, and our collective identity. It seems that much of the debate on this page reflects our (mis)understandings and then extrapolates to labelling and defining. I am interested in how that relates to "maintaining the bonds of peace in our church", and the move you identified (and I like!) from 'them' to 'us'.

Peter Carrell said...

If I did comment, Mike and Shawn, I would comment about people's beliefs in terms of their published statements, or oral statements I have heard for myself. In the past I have formed judgements based on hearsay, which is not the best way to proceed, especially given our Lord's strictures re judging others!

On that score, yes, there are some people in our church whose professed beliefs about fundamental matters seems somewhat at odds with the doctrine of Christ as understood by our church. There are also some whose statements are so ambiguous as to be more difficult to pin down than a feather floating in a gale.

But, generally, I find Anglicans these days are creedal Anglicans. And why not. There are better things to do on Sunday morning than gathering with believers when one has ceased to believe!

carl jacobs said...

Peter

baptised (in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, according to Christian custom)

Baptism is not a necessary condition for being a Christian. It may bring one into the Covenant. It may be an inward sign of an outward reality. It is not (in direct contradiction of RC dogma) a means by which a man is brought into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Many Credo-baptists are Christians before they are baptized. Many unbelievers have been baptized.

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).

And what do the clauses of those Creeds mean, Peter? It is not enough to point at the Creeds if you do not limit the allowable set of beliefs that may be attributed to the Creeds.

Your definition reduces to:

1. Someone who has gone through the external form of a Sacrament AND ...

2. Someone who asserts that he believes the Creeds where he gets to define what the Creeds mean.

That is why I say you have never attached a clear definition to 'Christian.' You steadfastly refuse to establish clear doctrinal boundaries lest you place some people outside the boundary by the mere act of drawing it. You need to establish those boundaries before you can appeal to Romans 14. Otherwise you argument becomes a simple act of rationalization. If your object is to maintain unity with all who claim the title 'Christian' regardless of doctrine, then you will struggle.

carl

Peter Carrell said...

By 'baptised', Carl, I mean that someone is a believer exemplified in deed not just words.

I do not agree with you that a Christian not only has to believe the creeds but also believe them according to a specific meaning attached to them. Who determines that meaning? Who polices it? Where is such definition required by Scripture?

I am interested in your answers to these questions! And trust they do not involve any crypto-romanism!

carl jacobs said...

Peter

I do not agree with you that a Christian not only has to believe the creeds but also believe them according to a specific meaning attached to them.

What then is the purpose of the Creed? You claim it as a sufficient definition of the Christian faith, and then empty it of all ability to perform that very purpose. A Creed with definite meaning is not a Creed.

Yes or no, Peter. Can a man deny the reality of the physical resurrection (as attested in the Nicene Creed) and legitimately call himself a Christian. Can he instead claim a spiritual or metaphorical resurrection?

carl

Shawn Herles said...

Peter,

I'm not interested in naming names. I am just making the point that not all who profess to be Anglican Christians come even close to any reasonable understanding of what that means.

I have heard for myself in Anglican churches here in New Zealand, unitarianism, Gaia/the "Earth Goddess" added as a fourth person of the Trinity, that Jesus was only a normal human being who was killed for his political activity, that his death has no saving power and that the resurrection is a myth.

I have even heard the idea that God has an evil side, and that holiness means reconciling good and evil.

A while back there was a news story about a Presbyterian minister who had begun placing statues of Canaanite Gods on the altar.

And I have mentioned Cuppit, Geering and Spong.

These may be extreme examples, but they are not isolated examples by any means.

The assumption that simply because of Baptism and some vague affirmation of Jesus we are all brothers and sisters in Christ who must maintain unity with one another is just plain wrong.

It does not remotely reflect the reality of the situation in the universal Church, let alone in the Western Anglican Church, and these kinds of serious differences and, lets call a spade a spade, outright heresies, cannot be overcome by trying to make Paul's comments on food stretch to paper them over.

At what point does Scripture cease to have any authority in the Church and in our lives?

What would Paul think of the examples above? Would he counsel unity and brotherhood? Hell no!

Father Ron Smith said...

"Baptism is not a necessary condition for being a Christian." - (?)

You could have fooled me! This has been the premise of the Church for quite a long time now, so who is this advocating an idea that certainly wasn't with the writer of Acts when Ananias baptised St. Paul.

Talk about 'revisionism!

Father Ron Smith said...

My wife , Diana, and I are daily readers of a publication called New Daylight. We can thoroughly recommend it as an aide-memoire to those who may have forgotten some of the Scriptures. Today's Reading was from Luke 6:37ff

"Do not judge and you will not be judged: do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.

"For the measure you give will be the measure you get back." (Can it be the same with judgement? That the measure you give will be the measure one gets back, I wonder).

And then comes the 'piece de resistance' :

"Why do you see the, speck in your neighbour's eye but do not notice the log in your own eye? ........
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour's eye" !!

Makes yer fink dunnit? A very good exercise for us all during Lent.

"Have mercy on me, O God, in your great kindness"

Happy Ashing!

liturgy said...

Are Quakers Christians? Are members of the Salvation Army Christians?

Blessings

Bosco

Anonymous said...

"I do not agree with you that a Christian not only has to believe the creeds but also believe them according to a specific meaning attached to them. Who determines that meaning? Who polices it? Where is such definition required by Scripture?"

You are tying yourself up in knots here, Peter. The Creeds are not a wax nose that can mean anything one subjectively wishes, otherwise you have sold the pass on liberalism. If you don't believe in the pre-existence of Christ, you are not a catholic and biblical Christian; ditto if you don't believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ. I am fairly sure - from his own words on the internet - that Glyn Cardy rejects these cardinal doctrines, as they have been historically understood. The scandal is that someone like Glyn Cardy, who mocks the beloved Mother of Christ, has standing in a professed Christian Church and is not even rebuked by his bishop. Is this not cause for shame and tears?
Your questions ('who determines' etc) only highlight the doctrinal catastrophe that has overtaken NZ Anglicanism, as has happened also in Tec and Canada. As for your concluding question, a bit of basic Reformation hermeneutics answers that pretty well. But if Calvin and Turretin are not to your taste, read 'Words of Life' by Tim Ward.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
Of course there has to be some meaning to the creeds. They are not vacuous statements. Indeed they are statements to be read in conjunction with Scripture, and Scripture is to be interpreted in accordance with them.

All I am resisting is that we do not end up with a narrow range of meaning so that, effectively, my definition of the meaning of the creeds (creeds a la Carrell) is the definition of what a Christian is. Further, I want to allow latitude so that both Romans and Eastern Orthodox ( who, as you know, differ on the procession of the Spirit) or Protestants and Romans (who may differ on whether Mary was a perpetual virgin) are Christian in their belief.

My question about determination is about taking care that the definition of the meaning of the creeds is not in the hands of any one commenter here. But perhaps if we could agree together, we might be on the right track!

mike greenslade said...

Cool. I was getting a bit sick of the "by their fruits ye shall know them" test for who is in and who is out. This new set of criteria is so much easier to assess.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
Salvationists and Quakers are Christians who have not yet grasped the importance of baptism. As you know I myself am also trying to grasp its importance!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
I think a person who claims to be a Christian while denying the Nicene creed is taking a great risk in their journey of faith, a risk that they will unbecome a Christian.

As for someone denying the physical resurrection, I would always ask what they mean, as I have noticed a few sleights of hand can be involved when theologians use words like 'physical', 'spiritual' or 'metaphorical' when talking about the resurrection. A denier might be denying 'physical resurrection' means something akin to resuscitation, and if so, I would not think that unmakes them as a Christian. However a denier of the emptiness of the tomb is taking a risk with their faith as they are entertaining the possibility of denying the fourfold witness of the gospels.

Joshua Bovis said...

Peter,

You wrote:
"I am suggesting that controversy over homosexuality in churches, especially the manner of it within my own ACANZP, is being spoken to by Romans 14 and 15 because Romans 14 and 15 speak to matters on which there is division in the church."

It seems to me Peter that you are failing to acknowledge the greater context in which the homosexual debate within the Anglican Communion is being debated - the very definition of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 14 and 15 is dealing with 2nd order issues not the question of what is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Your appeals for unity appear to be based on everything but a true biblical and theologically basis.
For example you say that the basis for unity is that:
1. We Belong to the Lord
Mormons say that they belong to the Lord, so do the JW's. But they are don't because the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is theologically and biblically defined. The Christ we are to believe in order to be a Christian must be the Christ of the NT. They believe in a different Jesus and therefore a different gospel.

The Jesus Christ of those who are promoting Rebellion against God (homosexuality -see Romans 1:18ff) as Blessing from God believe in the Jesus Christ who says "Come as you are and stay as you are." Which is not the Jesus Christ of the NT - who says "Come as you and go differently".

When you are challenged about what belonging to the Lord means you then say:
2. how about 'a baptised believer in Jesus Christ'
But again, you still have not defined the basis of the unity. Baptism, but again this also comes back to the very nature, definition and essence of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When you are called out on this again, you then mention:
3. The Creeds -
However the Creeds are not exhaustive and there are people who for example deny penal subtitionary atonement and still think that they believe the creeds. So believing the creeds also needs further defining which is what another commentator said when they wrote:

"I do not agree with you that a Christian not only has to believe the creeds but also believe them according to a specific meaning attached to them".

But you respond by saying:
4. Who determines that meaning? Who polices it? Where is such definition required by Scripture?

Surely you don't really mean this when ask these question?!?!

Scripture determines the meaning. Who policies it? Scripture does. The 39 Articles point to this. (Articles VI & XX).

A number of Reformed-Evangelicals (such as Carl, Shawn and Rosemary) have consistently called you out to ask you where you stand and to define what it is to be an authentic Christian, what the definition is of a Christian - in order to establish the basis for the unity that you so desperately attempt to achieve.

You really do appear to be trying to be in two camps. How long will you waver between two gospels?

Peter Carrell said...

And have you seen the low quality of apricots in the supermarkets this year and the high price being charged for them, Mike? :)

Peter Carrell said...

For goodness sakes, Joshua, when I talk about belonging to The Lord, I am talking about The Lord of the New Testament. Whatever gave you the idea that I was talking about The Lord as understood by JWs etc?

Again you presume in a stereotypical way that all proponents of same sex partnerships being blessed do not support repentance. Where is your evidence for this sweeping generalisation?

If baptism into Christ in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit (I.e. shared belief in the Trinity) is not a good basis for Christian unity, what else could be? You talk about the very essence etc of the gospel. But that essence is expressed in terms of baptism in both Matthew 28:20 and Romans 6. Is there something deficient about baptism which I have missed in my reading of Scripture and theology?

Where in any definition of being a Christian, in Scripture, the Creeds, or the 39 Articles, is 'penal substitutionary atonement' mentioned as being crucial to the definition of a Christian? (So as not to be misunderstood: I believe that Christ died a penal substitutionary atoning death for all sinners. But I do not see that I am required to believe how Jesus saved me in order to be saved.

In a slightly earlier comment, I have referenced the importance of reading the creeds in the light of Scripture and vice versa.

Is it possible that I have responded with a definition of what an authentic Christian is, but now I am being told that my definition is not good enough?

I think a little acknowledgement that I have responded to the challenge might be polite, and a further acknowledgement that I have a wider basis on which I believe Christian unity is founded than you do would be appreciated. Charging me with wavering between two gospels is il-considered on your part. How about fronting up to the fact that one can be a genuine Christian and have a broader definition of what being a Christian is than another Christian does rather than lazily throwing around charges about two gospels against those who do not agree with you?

Anonymous said...

I am pleased to see Martin spoke of "bodily" resurrection and that you Peter pointed to some of the problems of using the word "physical" about the resurrection body.Even Tom Wrights use of the term "trans physical" still seems to me to be rather too near to a resuscitated corpse.Othodox Christians affirm that Jesus was raised to resurrection life "bodily" and that the tomb was empty but the nature of the resurrection body is a mystery.
re Joshua the creed says Christ was crucified "for us"..I am no patristic scholar but I imagine in the 4th c there were several images of atonement and what that meant..there are in the NT and there were subsequent to Nicea ( Anselm /Abelard etc..some more adequate than others no doubt).The Church hasn't canonised one particular understanding of atonement to my knowledge.If we draw the bounds of orthodoxy too tightly history suggests we simply get schism with more and more churches /denominations and sects...the history of Protestantism alas!

Perry Butler Canterbury UK.

Joshua Bovis said...

Peter,

Lazy? I worked hard on that last post.

Quick reply in point form as I am about to retire.
1. The reason I challenged you about belonging to the Lord is that you did not define what this means. I am not the only one who has called you out on this.

2. Re not supporting repentance - because this is the white elephant in the room. The division in the Anglican communion is due to the different belief systems that operate under the umbrella of the Anglican Church. God does not condone homosexuality, it is an expression of rebellion against God's rule (Romans 1:18ff) which is the opposite of repentance and also see 1 Cor 6:9-11 - of course homosexuals can become Christians, and many do and I praise God for this, but to say that they engage in this lifestyle is sending the message that they can stay as they are. Thus no repentance.

3. Re Baptism - it is a good case, but it needs defining. We are saved through faith (Eph 2:8-10) not baptism.

4.PSA - self explanatory. To deny this is to have Jesus who is not our substitute and is a different Jesus.

Off to bed now

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Joshua,
Yes you worked hard at your post, but I think some of your thinking is 'lazy' i.e. not thinking deeply and carefully about what I am trying to say and the context in which I am saying it (a church full of people who say the creeds and mean them, who ash people on Ash Wednesday with the words 'turn from sin and be faithful to the gospel', who subscribe to the Bible's teaching in 1001 ways, yet with differences of view amongst us ... yet no Mormonisms nor JWisms amongst us because we are Trinitarian believers so that when I say we belong to the Lord, in the context of Romans 14 and 15 when Paul presumes all his divided readers are yet united in their faith in the Lord, I mean we belong to the same Lord Jesus and you, Carl and others here do - I saw no need to define what belonging to the Lord meant because time is short and I thought I could reasonably presume the definition when writing as a Christian in a Christian church context about fellow Christians ... do we have to be suspicious of our brothers and sisters in Christ? I sometimes disagree furiously with my [natural] siblings but that doesn't make me wonder if they are not really related to me!!).

'this lifestyle' begs its own question about what you mean by that? (!!) The simple, and challenging question proponents of SSM/SSP are asking is whether the condemnation in the Bible of "homosexuality" applies to any and every instance of sex between two people of the same gender, or whether it applies to casual sex, promiscuous sex and such (which they would agree is condemned in Scripture) but not to a relationship with the same commitment to the same values as marriage between a man and a woman. You and I agree that even in such a relationship we find no Scriptural support for the idea that it is blessed by God. Where we disagree is that I do not see that asking the question concomitantly lumps the questioner in with bodily resurrection denying, fingers crossed when I say the creed liberal Christians. Even conservative evangelicals are asking the question (Campolo etc). In other words, 'this lifestyle' is a generalization which does not meet the issue at stake with precision. At the least, to be pro SSM/SSP is coherent with being pro-repentance from any other kind of sexual relationship. I am suggesting that some respect, some grace could be shown those who are pro SSM/SSP and otherwise are orthodox in what they believe.

Yes, we are saved by faith. But baptism is the outward sign that our expression of faith is not a spur of the moment emotive response to what we have heard about Jesus; baptism (or, in Anglican contexts, baptism received as a child followed up by confirmation) is the objective profession of that faith. I understand Paul and Jesus to be tightly linking faith and baptism. (It is a theologically tragic misunderstanding of Scripture that some fine Christian churches - Salvation Army and Quakers - have not realised this truth).

PSA: I agree, it is important not to deny this. I suggest that many Christians around the world who have never had PSA explained may neither affirm or deny it, and are just fine in their relationship with God!

Anonymous said...

Perry Butler writes: "..I am no patristic scholar but I imagine in the 4th c there were several images of atonement and what that meant.."
Imagine no longer. You can easily consult somewone who *is a patristic scholar, Dr Mike Ovey, the Principal of Oak Hill College and co-author of 'Pierced for our Transgressions' (see esp. pp. 161-181), or Professor Gerald Bray ('Creeds,Councils and Christ' and many other books) who can easily confirm (from Eusebius, Hilary, Athanasius, Augustine, Gelasius, Gregory etc) that PSA was very widely taught in the patristic church. The 'ransom ot the devil' idea of the time was pretty silly, though.
"...there are in the NT and there were subsequent to Nicea (Anselm /Abelard etc..some more adequate than others no doubt)."
Anselm was rather off-beam in his feudal restitution of honor idea. Better to stick with the NT itself. Read Denney, 'The Death of Christ', Morris, 'The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross' and Stott, 'The Cross of Christ' for accurate exegesis of these passages.

"The Church hasn't canonised one particular understanding of atonement to my knowledge."
Have you never read the Canon of the Mass?? It is very obviously PSA.

"If we draw the bounds of orthodoxy too tightly history suggests we simply get schism with more and more churches /denominations and sects...the history of Protestantism alas!"

A loaded sentence. "too" much of anything always implies disapproval. Isn't liberalism inherently schismatic from the Church Catholic?

Martin

Anonymous said...

Perry Butler writes: "I am pleased to see Martin spoke of "bodily" resurrection and that you Peter pointed to some of the problems of using the word "physical" about the resurrection body."

No, I don't think Peter pointed out "problems"; those who deny the bodily resurrection of Christ are not (in my experience) making some fine point about denying (temporary) 'resuscitation'; they are stating that Jesus's crucified body decayed. That is what Bultmann and most liberals have believed.
"Even Tom Wrights use of the term "trans physical" still seems to me to be rather too near to a resuscitated corpse."
No, you have misunderstood Wright. He is clear that the actual crucified body of Jesus was reanimated and amde incorruptible and immortal through the Holy Spirit. This is nothing like a "resuscitated corpse". Liberals like David Jenkins of yesteryear and Peter Carnley are mistaken about the NT teaching and incoherent in their own.

"Othodox Christians affirm that Jesus was raised to resurrection life "bodily" and that the tomb was empty but the nature of the resurrection body is a mystery."

As is every miracle (= special divine action). quid novi?

Martin

Anonymous said...

"I am suggesting that some respect, some grace could be shown those who are pro SSM/SSP and otherwise are orthodox in what they believe."

Sounds to me like you are preparing to concede you have lost this one or are no longer certain about the rights and wrongs of the matter.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

I agree, Martin, that PSA is in the Canon of the Mass. That only deepens the puzzle as to why the Reformation took place :)

Anonymous said...

"I agree, Martin, that PSA is in the Canon of the Mass. That only deepens the puzzle as to why the Reformation took place :)"

You ask this seriously or whimsically? A genuine question. As you know, the dispute was centrally about whether the eucharist 'recalled' or re-presented', i.e. repeated the events of Calvary, and the nature of the bread and wine.

For myself, I have never understood how anyone could read about and proclaim 'the sacrifice of Calvary" and not understand it was about substitutionary atonement, either eing recalled or re-enacted. Catholics and Protestants didn't argue then about the meaning of Christ's death.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin,
Yes, in our church - ACANZP, I concede that "we" (evangelicals) have "lost this one" and the questions of the next two years are the exact manner in which the "loss" is worked out.

No, I do not concede that I am personally uncertain; but I concede (as indeed I think I have been at pains to point out above) that the case (in its best form) being mounted by the pro SSM/SSP proponents is, so to speak, "a case to answer". And it is so, not least, because we are talking about fellow human beings and fellow Christians trying to work out whether Paul's "it is better to marry than burn" has any bearing on the burden their sexual drive places on them, as I know it has placed on me (and thus for marriage, I am most grateful), we all being frail and fallible vessels as we live with what God has granted to us as the circumstances of our lives.

Peter Carrell said...

Theologically speaking you are correct, Martin, re PSA/Reformation. But is that the usual evangelical myth re the Reformation? I think we speak about the reason for the Reformation in a more populist manner: the church strayed into heresy by saying that good works were needed for salvation, then Luther came along and pointed out that the Bible taught we are saved by grace/faith not by works; an almighty row ensued and as a result the church split. The grain of fact at the core of the myth is that Tetzel's preaching was promoting good works (via contributions to building St Peter's) and this got up Luther's nose which was already distraught through his own despair at living an obedient life.

If Rome had understood its own eucharistic theology (i.e. PSA), and Luther had understood it too, the Reformation would not have happened ... I venture to suggest!

Shawn Herles said...

"I concede that "we" (evangelicals) have "lost this one" and the questions of the next two years are the exact manner in which the "loss" is worked out."

No, Peter, that is not the question.

The question is why did we lose (if in fact we have)?

BECAUSE WE DID NOT FIGHT!

We sat around practicing good old Anglican/English politeness, pretending that we are all Christians, pretending that the proponents of ssm are genuine Christians trying to work out this issue, speaking nicely and politely, and heaven forbid, never actually offending anybody!

And what happened? WE GOT TRAMPLED ON!

Liberals were allowed to overtake the church, pervert the Faith, split the Church along racial lines (and that IS apartheid) to suit Maori racial supremacists, allow unitarians and pagans to preach from pulpits unhindered, and most evangelicals just sat back and did nothing.

Well Peter, the chickens have come home to roost, and now is not the time to make things worse by continuing to pretend that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We are NOT. Liberals giving lip service to the creeds means nothing.

The "gospel" of "radical inclusivity" is a false gospel, a demonic lie.

It is time to put on the armour of God and FIGHT!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
Off and on I have been engaged in these matters in our church since 1994. The only time I thought the numbers counted for succeeding in the 'fight' were when both Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pasefika were of one mind with the minority in Tikanga Pakeha. As you know, a shift has occurred in Tikanga Maori in recent years (a historian might determine that the precise date was the day ++Hui Vercoe died). That shift is an important part of my assessment that we have "lost" since Tikanga Maori now join the majority view within Tikanga Pakeha.

What I am not prepared to prognosticate on is exactly what will happen in 2014, not least because I am convinced (somewhat against you own analysis) that our church is not in the grip of liberal theology per se, rather in the grip of a hierarchy which is determined to work pastorally to include as many Anglicans as possible, including conservatives.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Isn't liberalism inherently schismatic from the Church Catholic?"

Martin

The answer to this silly question - A resounding "not necessarily!"

I guess the conservative Scribes and Pharisees considered Jesus' enlightened attitude towards 'prostitutes ans sinners' to be immoderate liberalism. Was Jesus wrong in his Liberation Theology?

I find this 'holier than thou' stuff and nonsense really counter-productive to the ethos of the Gospel of Christ.

"Judge not, that ye be not judged" is a pretty good counter to hubris

MichaelA said...

"not least because I am convinced (somewhat against you own analysis) that our church is not in the grip of liberal theology per se, rather in the grip of a hierarchy which is determined to work pastorally to include as many Anglicans as possible, including conservatives."

Hi Peter, I don't know the situation in your church. But I tremble at the resemblance between this sentence and similar things said to me by members of the Episcopal Church of the USA prior to 2003. In hindsight, those people were incredibly naive. I hope you don't end up with the same experience!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael,
Good point, but haven't things panned out in TEC in a mirror-like manner to the 'take no prisoners' political culture of the States?

Down here we Kiwis are a wee bit different!

Father Ron Smith said...

"Hi Peter, I don't know the situation in your church." - A Commentator -

Then it might be dangerous to make any judgements of its polity.

MichaelA said...

Yes, Peter I have noticed your gentle and loving culture on the rugby field... ;O)