Thursday, October 25, 2018

Diocese of Sydney votes to join ACANZP!

Criticism of ACANZP's GS 2018 decision re permitting same sex blessings has included:

- where is the prior theological agreement for this step?
- bishops shouldn't be the ones giving permission, not least because it creates different rules for different regions
- this means the church lives with opposing views which is dangerous in the long run - "two integrities" on such a matter is impossible
- it goes against Scripture's clear teaching about sexuality

Thus we have seen and are seeing separation by those who cannot live with this situation.

Being a logician, I assume that overnight news from the Diocese of Sydney means that they have effectively voted to side with ACANZP and not with those disaffiliating from our church.

On the matter of permitting the remarriage of divorcees after a separation occurs because of abuse, the Diocese of Sydney according to this article has:

- not waited for theological agreement on this step
- put it into the hands of bishops of the Diocese whether they give permission or not
- will live with opposing views on the matter (including opposition from the head of its theological college)
- gone against the clear teaching of Scripture (which never mentions a compassionate pathway through Jesus' and Paul's teaching such has now been taken), including the previous response of the Diocese which was consistent with that teaching.

To any disaffiliating Kiwi Anglicans reading this: come back!

Sydney and ACANZP have a common compassionate, pragmatic (or "personalist") approach to challenging matters of human sexuality and are charting the way forward for a realistic engagement with 21st century issues: all are welcome to share in it.

44 comments:

Unknown said...

Or, Peter, it could be that both ACANZP and Sydney are taking resolute if unintentional steps back toward a sane reliance on bishops guided, not by the Zeitgeist, but by tested, hence sacred traditions. For we have seen again in That Topic what our ancestors saw in Richard Hooker's day: anti-traditional factions, whether biblicistic or rationalistic, are necessarily too presentist, too identitarian, too xenophobic, to make peace around a stable centre.

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, may I say right now that I think your title for this post is very misleading. I, for one, would not like to think that we in Aotearoa/New Zealand were even remotely thinking of a close legal alliance with the 'Anglican Diocese of Sydney' - which, to my tiny mind, would be antithetical to ACANZ's Gospel outreach to people on the fringes of society in its recent determination to accommodate the understanding of God's Blessing on all faithful and committed legal marriage relationships.

The Sydney diocese is only just coming into the real world of human frailty in the matter of recognising the reasons for legitimate (if regrettable) marriage breakdown. At last, some of Sydney's more pastorally aware clergy are alerting the diocese to the urgent problems of marital abuse (even in clergy families) which seems to stem from ancient biblical (patriarchal) ideas of women's submission to their husbands even when they are being abused by them. Such abuse is no longer tolerated by civil law. How much less should it be even countenanced by the Christian Church?

If I even thought that ACANZP were going to forge a jurisdictional relationship with the Sydney Diocese, I would have to seriously rethink my own allegiance our Anglican heritage in these Islands.

Glen Young said...


".........are alerting the Diocese to the urgent problems of marital abuse
[even in clergy families] which seem to stem from ancient biblical [patriarchal] ideas of woman's submission to their husbands ......" Ron @9.43.

Ron, please do not insult my intelligence by asking me to accept a false narrative on God given binary relationships as the cause of marital abuse.
Did not Adam say; "This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Gen 2:23/24. Jesus said:"Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so." Matt 19/8. So please put the cause of domestic abuse where it belongs; in the "brokenness of man and woman.

Father Ron said...

Glen, are you deliberately misinterpreting my comments above, or is this an attempt to justify marital abuse against women?

Jean said...

Well that was a very tricky post Peter. Is there any theology done around what constitutes divorce in a covenant? In the OT it often seems God saw Israels use of violence - e.g. the adoption of human sacrifices etc - as reason to constitute a potential divorce between himself and his chosen people. A link interestingly used in Malachi 2 where divorce and violence are mentioned in close proximity. In the latter is the quite likely interpretation of violence against the Covenanted partner being divorce itself rather than violence in the relationship. But I would be curious to know if in the Christian covenant of marriage there was, is, any understanding of intentional harm towards the other being a breaking of a covenant.

Postscript Notation: Ron - submission itself is not patriarchal as both men and women are called to submit to one another in lover, however, the term submission may have been abused in its use by those with a patriarchal bent who substituted its meaning for that of subjugation. Glen - what you say sounds right to me, domestic abuse, relationship problems all stems from our brokenness both male and female, however, I think Ron has a point in respect to the fact that in recent history anyway biblical text has been incorrectly used in order to support a culturally traditional approach where women were seen as second class citizens. And I don’t mean that in a highly feminist way. Just cases like an older friend of mine (in her eighties) whom was told by her local minister when her alcoholic husband left her one day with three kids to raise, that it must have been because she wasn’t doing a good enough job (which was actually the current thinking in those days) and as such he said it was because she was the ‘female of the species’. Fortunately she is still a faithful adherent.

Anonymous said...

Actually domestic violence is *considerably more common among same-sex couples and a lesbian relationship is more violent than heterosexual marriage, as a number of studies from the United States have indicated. I had heard Gavin Ashenden mention this but had never checked it out till now:

https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2014/09/domestic-violence-likely-more-frequent-for-same-sex-couples

Whatever people would like to believe, homosexual partnerships are not more stable than heterosexual ones and *very few of them are sexually exclusive. The lack of reality-based thinking among NZ (and other liberal Anglican and Presbyterian) clergy is staggering. And how bizarre and sad that a future historian will have to record that the death of western Anglicanism was precipitated over a desire to valorise homosexuality. But not so strange when one considers the high level of self-interest in this: as NZ endocrinologist Dr Neil Whitehead notes in his book 'My Genes Made Me Do It (the title is ironic, I'll post a link to the pdf later), about 10% of Anglican clergy (and notably more Roman Catholics) have SSA, considerably more than the population at large. Homosexuality has always been massively over-represented among Anglican and Catholic clergy - which also explains why 80% of the sexual abuse cases among US Catholic clergy are homosexual abuse of adolescents.

William

Anonymous said...

You can download the fifth (2018) edition of Whitehead's book here, which covers among other things: genetic, epigenetic, environmental and situational factors (including sexual abuse); monozygotic twin studies; intersex questions (incl. hyperspadias); gender fluidity; bisexualism; and changes in sexual orientation.

http://www.mygenes.co.nz/mgmmdi_pdfs/2018FullBook.pdf

William

Liturgy said...

Dear Jean

I think you may be missing the force of Peter’s reflection.

Your allegorical reflection on “a potential divorce between God and his chosen people” does not lead to God marrying another instead. This points to the nub of the parallel Peter is writing about.

Sydney has opened the door to blessing the marriage of a divorced person to someone else, against what a third of the people voting see as contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible.

Three Sundays ago, Jesus was perfectly clear: “‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’”

That, significantly, was the Gospel reading read at services on the first Sunday of the disaffiliating Kiwi Anglicans [one presumes that, as they make so much of how seriously they take their vows, that they have the integrity to follow at least that agreement].

Finding a “compassionate, pragmatic (or "personalist") approach to challenging matters of human sexuality” ie, in this case, the blessing of adultery, is what Peter is writing about. Not simply the separation from bed and board because of violence that your comment turns it into.

No one has advocated that, in the context of violence, separation from bed and board should not occur. But the argument has been that such people should continue in life without an intimate partner to whom they will remain faithful. Should they do so, the argument continued, the church cannot bless such a relationship because it would be blessing something that is sinful.

The parallel to the decision made by our Anglican Church is well underlined by Peter, and care needs to be taken that it is not lost in distractions about what neither Sydney nor Peter are saying.

Blessings

Bosco

Jean said...

Hi Bosco

Fair comment I am going off on a bit of a tangent. The analysis of the similarities between the two approaches to accommodations for divorce and SSB does my head in when I think about it being, after having recently watched Christopher Robin, “a bear of small brain.”

I have, however, for a long time been interested in or wrestled with the biblical understanding of divorce and the underlying interpretations regarding adultery and re-marriage. The tangent of covenant; and how such is interpreted in a human context (ie: recognising we make human covenants with one another or in other words we are not God) is an extension of this interest albeit not the main point of this post; and I find the OT and the relationship between God and Israel, in the end between God and the tribe of Judah, weighs in on these deliberations.

All the best!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters,
Thank you Bosco for keeping this thread on track: namely why is one theological approach good for the Sydney goose but bad for the ACANZP gander.
So far not one commenter here, otherwise opposed to or questioning of ACANZP's decision has recognised/acknowledged the precision of the parallel I am drawing.
What is that about?
Surely there is no prejudice among readers here for the category of marriage/divorce and simultaneously against the category of same sex marriage?

Ron: no one will read my blog if I don't offer some provocation in my headings! I don't think you need to worry about actual, engaged unity between Sydney and ACANZP anytime soon.

Incidentally, for clarity: I applaud Sydney's decision; I look forward to that Diocese continuing to consistently work its way through other matters concerning the messiness of human society and relationships therein. I believe that the synod has demonstrated their grasp of the basic principle that mercy trumps rules which lead us into theological contortions.

Unknown said...

Alas, bear of small brain that I am, I too am missing the force, the precision, etc of the parallel and inconsistency posited in Argument #11. But I do try to understand what people say about it whenever it is repeated.

To Bosco, it usually means that the inconsistent are wicked, hypocritical homophobes.

To Peter, it usually means that, if compassion can trump objectivity anywhere, it should do so everywhere.

To me it is a reminder that because synods are not courts bound by precedent, they do not strive for consistency.

BW




Anonymous said...

OK, I was ignoring your silly sensationalist headline, but if you think Sydney has adopted a "modern" approach to the "messiness" of human feelings and relationships, I think you may have misunderstood them. The issue for the strict scripturalist is under what conditions is remarriage after divorce acceptable for the Christian. Remarriage after adultery by the other party was broadly accepted following the Matthean exception. In recent years David Instone-Brewer, research scholar at Tyndale House Cambridge and a formidable scholar of first century rabbinic and Semitic linguistics, argued in a magnum opus that Jesus was also allowing divorce on a second ground given in Exodus 22, the denial of love and material support to a woman from her husband, a ground for separation recognised by the 'headliners' in the Hillel-Shammai debate. Spousal abuse is clearly a denial of love. Not all have accepted DIB's argument, but Tyndale House is hugely respected in Sydney as many of Moore's faulty study there, and I suspect this is the backstory- not liberalism but the attempt to be careful scripturalists.
By the way, has anybody here downloaded and read Neil Whitehead's very detailed book that I linked to above? If you haven't, you are missing an amazing and mind-expanding treat and possibly repeating some very dubious "science" about genetics and culture. Sadly I fear our host has fallen into that trap.

William

Unknown said...

As "a corporation hath no soul" and anyway "souls have no windows," even those in Sydney may be unsure why members of their synod adopted a new rule on divorce. In the life decisions of responsible couples, what ethical weight can it have?

And suppose that they had not adopted the rule. Would Instone-Brewer's interpretation of Jesus's words be any less persuasive? And if persuasive, might it not rightly influence the life decisions of responsible couples?

BW







Unknown said...

William, your understandable enthusiasm for Whitehead's work raises a very broad question-- how responsible is the Church for the perceptions about modern life on which members base their ethical choices? If it tells queer folk what to think about the molecular (epi)genetics of their desires, should it also tell bondholders what to think about the macroeconomics of full employment? Your criticism nay be right, but it is very consequential.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
You are missing the strength of the Sydney decision for Sydney Anglicans, especially Anglican women, who feel trapped in marital situations, possibly to the point of believing that the culture of their church requires them to remain in a victim situation. Your last comment above, to my way of thinking, completely misses the point of at least some synodical decisions: they contribute (positively) to changing the culture of the Diocese.

Further above, I suggest you are failing to engage with what I am saying about our church relative to Sydney. Set aside, please, your general critique of synods (all synods, everywhere!). Take account of a schism in our church in which the disaffiliaters are specifically saying that everything about our church prior to May 2018 was synodically fine (ordination of women, becoming a Three Tikanga church, permitting pretty much "no fault" divorce: all fine, none a reason for schism). Only one decision synodically has precipitated the schism.

Then, I am asking, take account of the way criticism and opposition to that decision has been framed in meetings and published articles since.

Then, take account of the alignment of this criticism with GAFCON, at the heart of which alignment lies the Diocese of Sydney noting that a significant proportion of the critics have been educated at Moore College.

That is the background to the parallels I draw and the questions I ask why what is bad for the goose is good for the gander.

None of your responses to date, in my view, cuts the mustard as far as denying the inconsistency to which I draw attention.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear William,
It is always possible for a "scripturalist" to accidentally and unintentionally exhibit "liberal" tendencies!
DIB's work, which I have engaged with appreciatively, is not overwhelmingly persuasive (I have, in the end, concluded).
Whitehead, also your study re breakdown of same sex partnerships etc: I know of nothing in Whitehead which precludes the fact that some homosexuals are homosexuals and never have been and never will be anything else. My own thinking, whether or not I have succumbed to aliens etc!, is focused on a fair, compassionate and reasonable deal for homosexuals who have no choice in their sexual orientation.
On the statistics of breakdown, has any priest ever paused in his or her commitment to being available to marrying couples because the latest stats show an alarming increase in divorce?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you have actually read Whitehead or not. If you have, you will know that he says nobody "is born" homosexual or heterosexual- which is what your words mean. I haven't read a study as comprehensive as Whitehead's and it is constantly updated. But in case the point has been missed, *nobody* is born with his or her sexual affections - heterosexual or homosexual- established as you are born with fixed eye colour or hair type. A new born or two year old etc isn't gay or straight. Sexual feelings develop throughout adolescence, along with our emotional life, habits and fixation.
If you haven't read the book or the chapter summaries, have a look in particular at the data on the non-concordance of homosexuality in monozygotic genetically identical ) twins and the many, many examples of people leaving homosexuality, sometimes later in life - as well as the data of women embracing lesbianism later in life, often associated with sexual abuse. One thing I didn't know about until Gavin Ashenden drew it to my attention was the very high level of domestic violence in lesbian relationships- the data is easy to find. Homosexual male relationships also have notably higher levels of domestic violence, as even the BBC (an organisation with a self-reported 8 per cent homosexual employee level) admits.
Anyway, if you do read Whitehead you will find that he *does* explicitly deny what you and Ron Smith believe, contrary to all scientific evidence, that some people are "born gay". That's the point of the facetious title. But don't let the facts disturb you. The New Zealand Anglican Church (what is left of it) has decided to join TEC and therefore "born that way" has become liberal dogma. TEC is now competing with Unitarianism to die off first. And without Sunday schools in many of your churches, I can't imagine how you propose to continue after the current membership has gone to its reward.
William

Unknown said...

Peter, I can see why your OP was so much fun to write, but not how a soul departing ACANZP who agrees with the head of Moore is being inconsistent.

BW

Unknown said...

On synods, Peter, I agree that modern schemes of representation enable governance, but deny that they confer doctrinal authority, especially with respect to the power of the keys or pastoral acts, and further deny that their attempts at doctrine have been accepted by the *consensus fidelium*. This is not opposition to any or all synods.

BW

Father Ron said...

Dear William, Your preferred source on information about homosexuality, Mr Whitehead, is absolutely wrong in his assumptions. I can tell you, as an innately, intrinsically gay person myself, that the affections natural to a homosexual male (I am not speaking of bisexuality, which is different from my own situation) I am psychologically incapable of sexual congress with a female. My contacts with other innately homosexual men has convinced me that we are all - from an early age - sexually attracted only to people of our own gender. We have no other option!

My question is, does Mr Whitehead himself experience the phenomenon of same-sex attraction? If he does not, no amount of hypothetical speculation can alter what, for me, is the actual exclusive experience of homosexual affection. How we act on such affections is, of course, a matter of moral conscience - according to the law of the land and one's own Christian (or other) belief system.

This modern understanding is one which interested Christians are beginning to come to terms with - educated by the people who are actually subject to the phenomenon of variant sexual orientation - assisted by serious research into the biological, social and psychological ramifications.

Unknown said...

At least rhetorically, Peter, I like deep continuity and you like revolutionary change. Apart from that, how does your OP's last paragraph differ from my first comment in the thread?

BTW the thread is missing my irenic reply to William.

BW

Unknown said...

TWIMC. In the medieval West, sexual acts between a separated spouse and a third party were illicit, but often treated as fornication, not adultery.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Indeed, those disaffiliating here have common theological cause with the Principal of Moore College, rather than with the majority of the Synod of Sydney. Fair cop and intriguing possibility for consistency of theological outlook.

Of course such consistency, if followed through, could lead to the putative synod of the new Extra Provincial Diocese of the Blessed Isles determining that it is in impaired fellowship with the Synod of Sydney. Indeed, global consistency could see a fall out between GAFCON and the Sydney Synod.

I hope you will understand if I do not hold my breathe on either bit of consistency occurring.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi William
From memory I have in past times dipped into Whitehead which I think is somewhere on my shelves (most of which are in my garage, so forgive me if I am not particularly accurate on what I think is there!)

I am with Ron Smith's comment above, that "scientific evidence" is well and good as far as it goes, but if it does not cohere with actual personal testimony/lived experience of sexuality, then it begs a question or three about the applicability of the evidence.

In particular, I live by three personal evidences:
(1) My own experience of life, in which I was clearly and distinctly heterosexual in my pre-pubescent feelings and even more so in my post-pubescent desires and motivations towards the opposite sex.
(2) Memorably, the first gay man I knowingly met, was a man who talked to a class when in my senior years at secondary school about his experience of being homosexual, which included his own pre-pubescent feelings which (unlike mine) never involved girls/women. A fixed sexuality if ever one was to be surveyed "scientifically."
(3) A friend who is bisexual and pins his sexual confusion down to be abused as a young boy by an older boy.

So, no, I don't believe that sexuality is flexible for everyone (it obviously is for some) as in your comment above, "But in case the point has been missed, *nobody* is born with his or her sexual affections - heterosexual or homosexual- established as you are born with fixed eye colour or hair type. A new born or two year old etc isn't gay or straight. Sexual feelings develop throughout adolescence, along with our emotional life, habits and fixation."

Anonymous said...

Well, Peter, I sent you a link to the pdf to the 2018 edition of Whitehead's book which clearly you haven't looked at. A shame, as it is very up to date and will save you the bother of rummaging in your garage. However, if you wish to remain untroubled by politically unhelpful facts in what remains of ACANZP, neither I nor Dr Whitehead can help you.

On your points 2 and 3, I would remind you that the plural of anecdote is not data.
As for personal testimony and self-knowledge, you sound amazingly Pelagian.

William

Liturgy said...

Dear Bowman

Please, could you clarify your comment (October 28, 2018 at 3:38 PM).

Do all NZ’s disaffiliating Anglicans in NZ agree with Rev. Mark Thompson (head of Moore Theological College and chair of the Doctrine Commission) and have they not and would they not marry a divorced person to someone else when the reason for the divorce was domestic violence?

Does the consistency you are claiming mean that those, in Sydney, who disagree with the Sydney decision should now disaffiliate from the Anglican Church there?

Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Perhaps, William, because I am time short re reading everything requested of me to read, you could help me out re one aspect of our discussion:
- does Whitehead's work, early or recent, involve talking to real people about their own experiences?

Anonymous said...

Ron:
1. It is *Doctor* Whitehead (not that he would fuss about titles, as you do), but I mention that he is an experimental endocrinologist with expert knowledge of genetics of many, many years standing with a great deal of international experience, with much more knowledge of developmental biology than you or certainly I have. You like to 'demote' people you don't agree with by the way you speak of them, but that hardly bolsters your case. It looks insecure to me.

2. I doubt you have read his book, but if you did it would probably disturb your beliefs. For one thing, Dr Whitehead would deny that you are "intrinsically, innately gay". That you developed same-sex attraction in your early years is your own testimony - but you were certainly NOT "born that way". That is the whole point of his book - which evidently you haven't read, although I have provided a free pdf to the 2018 edition. You could only have been "innately, intrinsically gay" ('innate' means 'born') if your genes or epigenetic hormonal experience *caused* same-sex attraction - so that you could not have been other. But Whitehead is at pains to point out that there is NO CAUSAL link between genes and SSA, as there is between eye colour or skin colour or hair type or the shape of your ears or most other things about our body type. In other words, there is NO 'gay body' and NO 'heterosexual body', just human bodies - and the infant brain is NOT sexually programmed. That is where all the scientific evidence points, and how you acquired SSA is a fact of your life history and the development of your personality and emotions, not your genes and your body. I am sure you did not "choose" your sexual feelings, any more than person with gender identity disorder "chooses" to feel he or she is "born in the wrong body". (Very strange, of course, because we are told by the modern day Pelagians that "God doesn't make mistakes" - except transgenders!) But human beings are a mystery - especially to ourselves (did you imagine you would marry late in life?!), just as recalling our own lives is never as easy or accurate as we imagine. Nietzsche has a lot to say on the tricks of memory and he was as anti-Christian as they come. Nevertheless, he learned well from his Lutheran pastor father. And our lives are shaped by the appetites we follow - which can reinforce feelings, especially if they give us emotional release from stress. Sex does this for some people, alcohol for many more others. Which is a good point to end this note: for as Dr Whitehead concludes, nobody is "born" an alcoholic either.
Ron, I have not conversed with you before because you do not seem able to debate with others objectively or to analyse ideas outside your settled liberal convictions, and the scorn you hold for traditional believers sits very uncomfortably with one who commends the (unquestionably ascetic) way of St Francis. So I will conclude with asking you to open your mind and actually read Dr Whitehead's book, remembering humbly that he knows more about genes, hormones and longitudinal studies than you or I do; and that all of us will appear one day before Christ the Judge to give an account of every word we have spoken and whether we have led others into harm. Satis. No need to reply.
William

Anonymous said...

ALL of Whitehead's book is based on actual interviews with people and includes the work of Hamer, LeVay, Yarhouse and Jones, Spitzer, Nicolosi, Socarides etc etc. This is obvious to anyone who actually bothers to look at the book. But as I used to say to students, I can teach you and I'll do my best, but I can't do your learning for you.

William

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks William
That clears up a few things but still leaves open the question, as I see it, "However I have derived my sexual orientation, if (as it appears to me and I am reasonably well qualified to comment on that appearance) it is fixed, feels like that has been so from my earliest memories of my encounters with other people, might my orientation be readily changed to fit with either society's or Scripture's "normality"?"

John Sandeman said...

Peter,
I guess you had to be there. But William is right. There was a powerful speech at the Sydney Synod that cited David Instone-Brewer's research. Mark Thompson chair of the Sydney Anglican Doctrine Commission as well as Principal of Moore College spoke immediately after and his speech turned not on what the doctrinal position of the diocese should be, but that the issue should be referred to the doctrine cCommission. All the speeches on that side of the debate i recall made that point. The mover of the motion Lyn Bannerman's most powerful point had been that the Doctrine Commission had been considering it for 34 years without result.
It was clear in the debate that friendly conservatives had helped Ms Bannerman craft a motion which would get through the Synod - calling for the Bishops to consider making being a survivor of domestic Abuse a ground for remarriage after divorce - rather than the Synod itself making that decision.
It was a very Sydney debate by which I mean there were high quality speeches on both sides. (One speech dealing with pastoral work with survivors made by a more conservative speaker was accompanied by a plea to keep it confidential)
But from my perspective the argument from the Exodus passages as referenced in Instone-Brewer's work turned the debate. there was serious exegetical work cited.
That is where i believe Peter's attempt to draw a parallel breaks down. In my view the work of constructing a exegesis that would give comfort for conservative evangelicals within an affirming church is not yet present.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear John
Thank you for your first-hand support for my points of comparison.
- the matter should be referred to a doctrinal commission before a decision is made (tick for the many in our church who think that);
- after a very long time of doctrinal consideration the church is "without result" (tick for the fact that in our church, after several hermeneutical and theological hui, no clear theological "winner" emerged);
- crafting a motion which would get through the Synod (tick for the process of our church which could not agree in 2016 and so worked harder to get the (set of) motions through the General Synod which got through);
- high quality speeches on both sides (tick);
- calling for bishops rather than synods to put the motions into effect (tick);

So, in Sydney, the debate turned on some quality exegesis (DIB etc): excellent. That, in itself, does not mean that DIB is correct! The words of Jesus on divorce and remarriage are hard to overturn - chat to Roman Catholics about that! But moving past them can be negotiated (cf. RC annulments; many Protestants' "second chance"; and now some Protestants (e.g.) Sydney relying on DIB's "we can assume that Jesus meant X was ok even though there is no direct attestation that Jesus did so."

In our own debates here we have some quality exegetical moves to move past Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 etc - exegetical moves which take account of God's compassionate love for people in difficult circumstances (as Sydney has done for those who are victims of abuse). But, I concede, they have made no impact in comforting conservative evangelicals.

Nevertheless, Sydney's decision gives us all hope: that the reality of life may trump doctrinal commissions, albeit if 34 years go by :)

Unknown said...

Bosco, just as my enemy's enemy is not always my friend, so my friends's enemy is not always my enemy. In fact, even my own enemy is not always my enemy.

Life is too short to debate whether others are being consistent or not.

BW



Unknown said...

NEWS BULLETIN. The Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm announced this afternoon that it will decline to award the 2019 Nobel Prize for "Consistency...in all philosophical endeavors but especially in Theological Reasoning." The Consistency Prize is most famous for being obscure, a generous prize that has not been awarded since Karl Barth declined to accept it in 1937. That refusal prompted the first of a whole series of *anti-lectures* given by non-winners. In one of these, Karl Rahner protested,"Consistency is an inhumane demand on the risk and surprise of human existence."

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, I know this subject is not really specific to your original thread, but for any readers who take seriously William's contribution here, I have to ask him these question:

1. When did you actually decide to be heterosexual?

2. Do you think that you could ever be persuaded to think/act like an innately homosexual person?

If you answer to the first question is; "I didn't. I have never known any other sexual orientation" then allow homosexual people to offer the same answer - from their own experience.

If your answer to my second question is no (and I'm pretty sure, from your attitude towards this whole question, it would be 'NO')
then try to imagine an exclusively homosexual person's experience of this sexual identity to be equally unalterable.

This is precisely why the General Synod of the Church of England has petitioned the U.K. Government to outlaw 'Gay Conversion'. One can presume that G.S. members realised it would be equally immoral to attempt to 'turn' an intrinsically straight person (like yourself) to become 'gay'.

Regarding theoretical research on this important human phenomenon,
may I suggest that an ounce of experience is worth a ton of theory?

It is precisely this 'fear' of the possibility that homosexuality is a natural variant in the human species that God has created, that has helped to breed what behavioural scientists now call homophobia - which the majority of Christians now consider to be a sin.

Sadly, patriarchal devotees in conservative Christianity cannot bear the thought of God creating something different from their own definition of sexuality as capable only of purely binary attraction.
I suspect the real threat is to their own masculinity (for men).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Humour is always welcome here and I am treating your responses to Bosco's comment as humour.
Of course in the Blessed Isles charges of inconsistency matter hugely because they underpin the arguments for people disaffiliating and the disaffiliations have caused pain and anger.
So, for myself, it matters whether we are seeing consistency or not. Because the "or not" might be about a lot of unnecessary pain and anger.

Anonymous said...

"...the disaffiliations have caused pain and anger... a lot of unnecessary pain and anger."

Wisely, Peter, you have begun a meditation on what the apostles learned from Jesus about pain and anger transfigured through life in Him. Of course I wish your readers every blessing in that journey past the carnal man's unreflective emotions into the regenerate heart of mature Christianity.

By "unnecessary" I think you may mean "avoidable." Certainly the occasion itself could have been avoided; I have suggested several alternate paths myself. However, given that the occasion was at some point inevitable, could those who now feel the pain and anger have avoided those unpleasant emotions? Yes, of course-- every emotion begins with perceptions and appraisals that we habitually choose to entertain or not. If we train ourselves to reject the triggers, we acquire immunity from their sequelae.

Intellectually, every psychologist knows this. But the inner life of the carnal pre-Christian usually offers no practical defense against the body's helpless response to words and events. Hence one sincerely though mistakenly believes that others cause the way that one feels. and speaks from experience, albeit misleading experience, in blaming them for those feelings, and even in regarding these bubbles in the stream of consciousness as something horrible.

But the Holy Spirit teaches self-control to those with *pistis* in Christ. That *metanoia* changes both the way we appraise events and our preconscious primed responses to what happens. Thus changed, one empathises all the more with those still quivering at every sling and arrow of outrageous fortune, and yet one also recognises from one's own experience that they could escape them by deepening their *pistis.*

But to do this one must usually stop identifying oneself with the way one's elders managed their emotions and be open to learning a new way from God. Despite warm regard for many on both sides of That Topic, I have not often seen this *pistis* on either of them. And so I am unsurprised that some on both sides feel pain and anger, regard that as an unmitigated tragedy, and blame others for it. Those who live by the sword die by the sword, both in this world and in the one to come.

Anonymous said...

The unregenerate on the two sides seem to be trapped in their suffering by errors that look superficially different but are in fact the same one.

Some have resiled from the Bible because of what they take to be its moral errors; through that distraction from its spiritual use, they have learned nothing from Christ about the Power that made martyrs rejoice in their martyrdom. This is because the rigid *righteous mind* in which happy warriors rejoice shuts down their openness to the spiritual learning that alone can deliver them from eternal death.

Others hold their Bibles open with a tight grip, and read it with a fixated gaze, but that again can be the same rigid *righteous mind* that closes the mind to what God is trying to teach souls to save them. And again, those who are fixated on the opinions of others seem not to be of the religion of those who thanked God for imprisonments and martyrdoms.

Whichever one's tribe, it is deadly unbelief to think that the Holy Spirit is using the Bible to reinforce one's own lifelong intuitions about justice, purity, etc. A fundamental willingness to give all of these up is what Jesus meant by the *pistis* that makes us whole now and saves us in the end. If one's thoughts and feelings are not being changed by a new appraisal of them from within, then one is not being saved from eternal death. This is a hard reality for those who want to be Christian, but also want to stand with any merely conventional wisdom, whether of the left or of the right.

Providentially, it is easier to orient oneself to the gospel today than it has been in a millennium and a half. If one recognises the gospel in Romans 5-8, then one will neither throw one's Bible across the room, nor be misled by Romans 1-4 into a mindset too rigid to read as the Holy Spirit teaches. Nearly all of the theological scholarship that we have discussed here at ADU is helpful in attuning the mind to God. But it is for naught until we open the moments of our lives and our feelings about them to the Holy Spirit.

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

". Nearly all of the theological scholarship that we have discussed here at ADU is helpful in attuning the mind to God. But it is for naught until we open the moments of our lives and our feelings about them to the Holy Spirit." - Bowman Walters -

Thank you, Bowman, for this wisdom.

"Come Holy Spirit, re-kindle within in us the fire of your love through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN."
(All Saints Eve)

Unknown said...

Actually, Father Ron, I should apologize to you for unwisely mentioning a lot of theology here without also mentioning the way it is practiced. Over the summer, when I was reviewing the standard books on spiritual direction, I finally realized that the new wine does not keep in those wineskins.

Bowman Walton

Jonathan said...

Bowman, a comment on your your comment "To Peter, it usually means that, if compassion can trump objectivity anywhere, it should do so everywhere" ...
To ask questions about our interpretations of Scripture (and applications) on remarriage, and a whole lot of other things (which Scripture might be perfectly clear on), is to ask questions that potentially shed light on how we come to those conclusions. In other words, the evangelical process for understanding and interpreting Scripture. William Webb had a good go at this and obviously his isn't the only process that could be used (google his critics, for instance...)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Jonathan. Yes, a comparison of hermeneutics is revealing.

Those who read Romans with eg Schreiner and Moo emphasise an externality and impersonality of divine law that is integral to the whole system that they and we were taught. Given that reasonable starting point, their conservative and inflexible approach to That Topic mostly makes sense.

Conversely, those who, like Peter and me, see St Paul laying out benchmarks for conduct that are internal and personal read Romans with at least a New Perspective understanding of what he means by *law*, maybe an Eastern reading of *eph ho* at 5:12, and maybe even a Campbell and Gaventa apocalyptic view of human agency. We are not better people; we are following the scholarly consensus even where it undermines the theological system that we have all been taught.

While we are surely more right about the Word, ours is an inherently risky position-- and we share it with some who fear and loathe the Bible. While they read the Word through faulty lenses, they are able to conserve more of the familiar theology that worked tolerably for generations. For those mature in Christ, charity in this difference is not difficult, and the necessary resolution of it is not hard to imagine.

BW

Unknown said...

So, Jonathan, the comparison that you suggest shows five (5) salient things about our unhappy divisions.

First, there is sound reason and tradition-- as well as inadequacy and vulnerability-- on both sides of the theological divide. And I say that with no doubt at all about my own position.

Second, there are no moralising or sentimental shortcuts around the theological difference. Neither side will ever feel guilty or sorry about following Jesus. Rising political polarization has polarized the moral sentiments.

Third, when liberals are militants, liberal values cannot mediate. As Oliver O'Donovan has pointed out, the old style of leadership through acommodation (eg Peter) only worked for Liberals who were *neutral* in disputes between Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals making incommensurable claims. It never has worked for leaders whose credibility depended on a clear theological identity, nor does it work now for militant liberals.

Fourth, our three-way dispute requires more than one cease-fire on the way to a unifying peace. A resolution that works for the Rev'd Chris Sparks but disgusts Father Ron Smith-- or vice versa-- is untenable.

Fifth, whilst future movements of the free Spirit are beyond our knowing, it seems plausible that the wisest path is to open an informal quasi-ecumenical dialogue on the differing views of scripture noted above. No polarization ends until the centre neglected or suppressed by the extremes is recognized.

BW

Unknown said...

Finally, Jonathan, the trialog that seems needed is easy to imagine once we grasp three realties of our moment.

(a) Perfect agreement across the spectrum is not needed. What is needed is for the left to appreciate a mainstream way of reading scripture that the right can also respect, whilst the right and left both see some system in that centre that supports their pastoral work.

(b) That Topic did not itself cause the left and right to ignore the mainstream approach to the scriptures now taught in most schools. Rather, a polarization of views inherited from the mid-C20 has made it harder to discuss That Topic with respect to the scriptures.

(c) Progressive Christians deeply distrust conservative Reformed readings of scripture, but they are not often content with their own approaches. Anglicans who are Reformed-ish are cautious and methodical, but are not *a priori* resistant to the new approaches of eg Tom Wright and Mike Bird.

BW