Monday, May 6, 2019

Probably time to get back to Anglican matters ...

Believe it or not, the Anglican Communion continues, notwithstanding a lack of attention from this most Anglican of blogs :)

Though I think I could be excused for being somewhat reluctant about getting back to the life of the Anglican church today because - yes, you guessed it - that life is still dominated by You Know What.

Take, for example, this latest Communique of the Communion Partner bishops (of TEC and ACCan) which does say various things about the general life and renewal of the churches from which these bishops are drawn but which addresses first and foremost continuing developments re You Know What in North America.

Speaking of North America, the city of Christchurch recently received a visit from Archbishop Foley Beach, Archbishop of ACNA and Chair of the GAFCON Primates Council. Unfortunately I was away in another part of the Diocese but otherwise would be been pleased to meet with Archbishop Foley. His visit is just a few weeks out from the inaugural synod of the newly forming "extra provincial diocese" of Anglican churches formed out of disaffiliations from ACANZP. Two expected outcomes of that synod are an agreed name for the new entity and an announcement about a bishop-elect to lead the new entity. All of which is, of course, a development due to the decision our church made nearly a year ago about You Know What.

Then ACC-17 has been meeting in Hong Kong. Many important matters have been discussed and these can be traced through some Thinking Anglican posts here and here (and links therein). But, seemingly inevitably, a running thread through ACC-17 has been You Know What, focused on the machinations (that seems a fair word) about Lambeth invitations issued by ++Welby: which bishops are invited? (all; no wait, ACNA bishops, as observers only); which spouses of bishops are invited? (only those conforming to Lambeth 1998 1.10; but, wait, aren't there some bishops not conforming to that resolution?).

Thus, as pretty much has been the case since 1998, things are messy!

I would like to be clear, however, that I am fairly neutral about the fact of Anglican messiness re Lambeth. I do not feel negative about the path ++Welby has taken on the invitations. What would any of us have done, if we, like him, were seeking to get the most Anglican bishops in one conference possible in circumstances which are ... messy!

Is there a way forward?

Rather than answer that question with a simple yes or no, I am minded to note to you that I am enjoying reading Diarmaid McCullough's Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life (which has a very sweet promotional line from Hilary Mantel, author of Tudorian historical novels such as Wolf Hall, "This is a book that - and it's not often you can say this - we have been awaiting for four hundred years.")

Cromwell lived at the heart of change in Henry VIII's England, Wales and Ireland, playing both a political and an ecclesiastical role (which, of course, in that era, were intertwined roles), the like of which has never been seen again since for a layperson.

As a (mostly) sympathetic proponent of the Continent-influenced English Reformation in an England tilted theologically in a Catholic direction (so the Henrician mind) but canonically in a Protestant direction (so the Henrician ambition to both break from Rome's control and to gain financially from dissolution of monasteries), did Cromwell ever clearly see "the way forward"? England was very "messy" in those emerging Anglicanism days!

And, if all seemed well (after Cromwell was executed in 1540) because of what happened in the reign of Edward VI, t'was not so when Mary Tudor ascended to the throne. Then came Elizabeth ... o happy days for those longing for the mess of the 1530s -1550s to end.

Is there a way forward for the Anglican Communion? Yes but likely not seen and agreed to this year, or decade.

Postscript: one fascinating aspect of reading Cromwell's story, at least until the point when Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn are out of the story, is that years and years  were spent trying to resolve "the King's Great Matter", i.e. the matter of securing agreement that his marriage to Katherine should be annulled.

Obviously a significant amount of agreement was secured within England itself, but there was a great effort made to secure agreement on the Continent, including working with theologians and philosophers in contexts where local monarchical or ducal rulers seeking political alliances might be inclined to support both Henry's aspirations re peace and trade as well as re annulment of his marriage.

As the story of this European wide search for support unfolds in MacCullough's telling, I couldn't help thinking of today's desperation on the part of Theresa May and her government to secure European agreement for what they want re Brexit.

In both cases, it is the will of Europe that the island nation experiences unhappy failure to reach agreement!


Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
Please do not use the word "homophobic" or its cognates when talking about fellow Christians (unless you also adduce direct evidence of homophobia which justifies the use of such language). Accordingly I am toning down the comment you have recently submitted here. And redacting one or two other thoughts that are less than helpful to healthy discussion.


Greetings, Peter, from Valencia - en route to Gibraltar - aboard 'Explorer of The Seas'.

In your last sentence about 'the will of Europe', this could perhaps be substituted for 'the will of Gafcon' seeming to relish the failure of the Anglican Communion to reach a happy solution to the problems of 'You Know What'.

However, in this instance, Gafcon is hell-bent on its very own ANGLEXIT - preferring to go it alone using every means in its own arsenal to destabilise the Communion - even here in ACANZP, by despatching its latest episcopal recruit Foley Beach to gird up the spindly loins of the local Gafcon affiliate - FCANZ [...], [...]. [...] [Editorial note: no election has yet occurred.]

I am not as sanguine as you, Peter, about the intentions of the local Gafcon set-up - although it is doubtful it will be able to enrol many Thinking Anglicans in Aotearoa/NZ to its [] cause. Bishop-girded or not, I fear its only effect on local Anglicanism will be to make it a laughing stock to the citizens at large. The whole prospect of an alternative Anglican Church in NZ makes me glad to be a part of the doughty original which, though imperfect, has served these Islands well for a couple of centuries - having initiated enough changes within its structures to bring it into the modern world without too much trauma - and of which you are now its latest episcopal representative (saving the first female Maori Bishop so recently appointed; another mark of our felicitous contemporaniety, a mark that Gafcon will inevitably scorn).

Make no mistake, Peter; this will not be the last crisis to affect our local brand(s) of Eco-Christianity in Aotearoa/NZ. [...]

In the meantime, the world cries out for the salvation and mercy of God-in-Christ as represented by those whose belief in the embodiment of the Son of God whose unique Incarnation linked him with the flesh and blood of All God's children..

Anonymous said...

What Peter calls "messy" the rest of the world calls "incoherent" and "contradictory". With different parts of the Anglican world now promulgating a different doctrine of marriage (in Tec, Brazil, Scotland and - "messily" - in NZ), global Anglicanism cannot be said to teach one faith any longer. What is essentially a secular polity has overtaken the soteriological definition of the church.
But there is no longer much point in flogging this horse, nor is there much desire to do so. A new, orthodox entity for traditional biblical Anglicans is taking shape in New Zealand and this may spell an end to those disputes, at least.
What I can predict, however, is that the departure of evangelicals from the old Anglican structure will leave the 'remainers' older and more liberal; just like Tec, in fact. With few young people and no restraints on radical and liberal ideas and practices, ACANZP will decline into a South Seas version of the Church of Sweden.


Anonymous said...

From it's very beginnings Christianity has always been a very diverse religion. All religions are. Factions and splits have been the norm from the early church onward. At no time in history was there ever a single unified Christian church. Even the Medieval church was riven with internal dissension. Politically forced unity merely obscured the reality. Nor is this the first time Anglicanism has gone through a split. It's fraught with grief and worry, but it's as normal, and as inevitable, as the sun rising and setting. Sooner or later it would have happened regardless, and if not for this particular issue then for something else.

Anonymous said...

I think Shawn overstates things. I don't buy the idea that the Apostles (at the "very beginnings" of Christianity) disagreed on fundamentals, although James Dunn came close to pushing that idea 30+ years ago in his 'Unity and Diversity in the NT'. Of course you can get the *idea of the great diversity of something if you enumerate the parts but fail to see (or only minimize) the overarching (or underlying) unity. That was Dunn's error - one of many he made in his enthusiasm for a reminted 19th century German liberal theology. (For example, I always thought Dunn did mental somersaults to deny the obvious way of reading Philippians 2 or Colossians 1 and certainly Hebrews 1.) And if you follow the Orthodox or Rome, you will see a remarkable unity unfolding, in time, as the Niceno-Constantipolitan Creed. The crisis in Anglicanism today is incomparably the worst it has ever been, and it's really the breach between the old "white" liberal churches and the growing "black" churches of the post-colonial world. But ecclesial colonialism is dead and new structures are replacing the Victorian heritage that still clings on. For the vast majority of African and Two-Third World Anglicans, Lambeth isn't that important any more, and Gafcon is becoming the new structure of koinonia. This matters as well to evangelical Anglican churches in the "west" who have been feeling increasingly homeless in the last decade. That doesn't mean the new structures won't make mistakes, and some for very carnal reasons. But unity in the Spirit is not just something we possess but something the Apostles tells us to pursue.


Glen Young said...

Hi David,

It strikes me the the A.B.C. and the A.C.C. are about as relevant to today's England as the Tories are. What's the latest polling, Brexit 30% and Tories 13%.

Twenty six Bishops sit in the House of Lords and only one will speak out on his faith.Their Parliament has just received a report that 245 million Christians around the world face persecution and those 25 Bishops sit silent.Their leadership, from the Royal Family down, have no constructive ideas on how to formulate a meaningful society. The sins of the "fathers and the fathers before them, (in the form of colonization) are now plaguing them.

It is interesting that in a community of such diversity,with people going to and throw, on British passport;our Maori people are, contrary to Article 3 of the Treaty, denied such passport.

The blindness of those in A.C.C. who can not see the issues that they manufacture with their promotion of "social justice"; in nations that do not allow such freedoms,is to me,unfathomable.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Glen -
My impression of the English scene is that nobody pays much attention to what Anglican bishops have to say about the issues of the day, as they are all from the same cookie cutter and don't show much interest in winning the English people to Christ. For example, on Brexit, EVERY English bishop (AFAIK) is on record as being against leaving the EU - even though self-described Anglicans voted 66% to leave - perhaps even giving the "winning" margin in the 52-48 vote. The English system of episcopal appointment seems to be a top-down Nomenklatura, the system that gave us the USSR. And so the English bishops are increasingly unrepresentative of the 800,000 or so English people who still show up in C of E churches on Sundays. New churches are being established, but almost always outside "official" Anglican structures. And the C of E continues to decline, while the population climbs toward 70 million.
The English bishops are hobbled by their own "safeguarding" or abuse issues, as the sorry saga of disgraced ex-Bishop Peter Ball has shown, as well as the disgraceful slander against the memory of George Bell (falsely accused by the highest clerics in the land of child abuse decades after his death) - for which no one has yet apologised. And there are ongoing complaints (Gilo, Ineson) against some very senior bishops there for failure to act against real abuse by priests - but they are stonewalling on this.
As you intimated, the Mountstephen Report by the Bishop of Truro did indicate that 80% of the religious persecution in the world is against Christians, but to date, not a single Anglican bishop has commented on this. Evidently it is too hot to handle in a country where the fear of Islamic extremism is so great that every school teacher now undergoes mandatory "training" in how to detect "extremism among the young". Britain once prided itself as a haven for refugees (think of the Kindertransport from Germany), but now it is not even safe for a victim like Asia Bibi from Pakistan. And again, not a single English bishop has spoken up for her (at least in public). It's not a free society but one constrained by fear. But it is by no means alone in that respect. Who in NZ politics or church life, for instance, is speaking up against the religious and civic oppression conducted by Communist China? Michael Reddell seems like a lone voice here.


Anonymous said...

Bishop Carrell - the Gafcon Quarterly Q2 2019 states that a same-sex marriage took place in a church in central Christchurch and that you were present and said, 'I gave my blessing and approval for it to take place and this is part of our journey as a diocese.'
Is this report correct?

Thank you,

Peter Carrell said...

Dear All
Bishops undoubtedly have their faults and shortcomings but on the matter of Lambeth, who will turn up, whether the Communion is dividing on white black colour lines, how about we wait to see?

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

It is not the question of whether the Communion is dividing on white/black color lines is not what should concern us.This is simply a red herring put out by A.B.C. The real issue is,as to whether the Bishops who are attending, are actually faithfully fulfilling their "vows of ordination". Peter,as a Bishop,the Nicene Creed is yours and yours alone.It does not belong to the clergy, let alone to the laity. As Dr Bicknell states:"In the end,it is for the Bishops and the Bishops alone to state what is heresy, and what the Church has always and everywhere believed".The problem for the ACANZP is that Synod took that function upon themselves; and/or the Bishops allowed a decision to be made which could only be made by "Bishops in Council". Either way,it raises questions of the value of any further meetings of Bishops; because what is the purpose of their meeting.If Bishops will not meet their Episcopal functions;what is their value?

This is the reality that GAFCON presents to you.It's not about white/black; but about Episcopalian function.It is the question of whether the ACANZP Synod has any validity or whether being a Bishop means anything?

Glen Young said...

Hi David,

Every time I return to England, makes me less inclined to ever go back; forget about Glasgow. All the "great institutions" which one had any respect and love for,are only a shadow of their past. But sadly I must agree with your the last paragraph of your last blog. I feel a stranger in the lands through this journey of life has taken me; except for my wife and family and my FAITH, I feel alone.The Church I was born into has deserted me for political and expeditious reasons.

There is such a crackdown on "hate speech" with anybody posting on social media but Ali Hammuda, an Imran at Cardiff's Al Manar Mosque told his congregation that war is coming and Islam allows them to take women as slaves and rape them.The three "Cardiff jihadis" attended this mosque prior to travelling to Syria.


Anonymous said...

"As Dr Bicknell states:"In the end,it is for the Bishops and the Bishops alone to state what is heresy, and what the Church has always and everywhere believed""

The problem here is that the church has not always and everywhere believed the same things. Prior to the Reformation the Church had, predominantly at least, always and everywhere believed that prayers to Mary and the Saints, and prayers for the dead, were legitimate, even necessary. After the Reformation Protestant churches rejected all of that, and thus were no longer practising and teaching according to what the church had always and everywhere believed. The same problem is true of the issue of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. How many conservative evangelical Anglican churches are in line with what the church has always and everywhere believed on that issue? Not a lot, if any.

Then there is the problem of the Nicene creed. Which one? The one with the filioque clause or the one without it? And which Biblical canon? The Protestant, Roman, Orthodox are all different, even if just slightly. But a slight difference is still a difference. And if we add in the Ethiopian Orthodox canon, things get really interesting.

So definitions of what the church has "always and everywhere believed" are inevitably arbitrary, and arguably, completely meaningless. Definitions of heresy more so. They cannot be anything other than subjective opinions informed by personal opinion and tribal theology.

What else can they be based on? The Bible has to be interpreted, and interpretations have varied wildly throughout Christian history. Tradition? That again just raises the question of which one. The Holy Spirit? Everyone from Pentecostals to Roman Catholics to Mormons claim the Holy Spirit is leading them.

So perhaps it's time to rethink the job description of bishops?

More seriously, perhaps it's time to worry more about just loving God, as we understand him (or her) and loving our neighbour, and less concerned about whose theological opinions are right and whose are wrong. Because the only Truth is, none of us know. Bishops included. No offence Peter! :)

Peter Carrell said...

Dear David
Re you 3.18 am comment which i have only just discovered and published.
Those words are found in a Stuff newspaper article,
I cannot find the GAFCON Quarterly Q2 on the internet, can you supply a link?
There was a same sex wedding.
It did not take place in a church.
A blessing of the wedding did take place in a church, as our General Synod decision provides for, where the bishop gives approval for that to take place.
Approval was given and I supported the approval being given (I was bishop-elect at the time).
The Stuff article also makes clear - does the GAFCON Quarterly? - that my election papers said that I would give such approvals, providing such bless would enhance and not diminish the common life of the ministry unity concerned.
I was present.
I was supporting a friend and my friend honoured me with an invitation to attend.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Carrell,
The Gafcon Quarterly Q2 does not appear to be on the net but you have confirmed that it is essentially accurate in what it says, that in February 2019 you were present at the "blessing" of a "male same-sex marriage ... in a church in central Christchurch" and quote you as saying, "I gave my blessing and approval for it to take place and this is part of our journey as a diocese." I am deeply dismayed to read this. For any Christian the standard of ethics is our Lord. He was present at the wedding at Cana but I cannot believe He would ever have gone to a 'same-sex ceremony' to 'support a friend'. "WWJD" may be a cliché at times but sometimes it yields a clear result. I was talking only a few hours ago with a former clergyman of Christchurch diocese who told me they had no wish to leave but every effort at compromise (seeking alternative episcopal oversight) was rebuffed, and in the name of gospel faithfulness, they believed they had no alternative but to leave, even if this meant abandoning property to which they had faithfully contributed for so many years. He told me they were now looking forward to extra-provincial Gafcon episcopal oversight. I am glad that those who wish to remain faithful biblical Anglicans can still do so, even if they feel they have been driven from their homes.
I very much regret the direction you have taken, which is in the path of Tec, ACC and the Scottish Episcopal Church - all churches in very serious decline and very prone to heterodoxy. I do not believe it is faithful to the example and teaching of Christ and it is certainly not the action of an evangelical. This is a salvation issue, and so I will not be bothering your blog again.


cam said...

Dear David,

Cameron here. Before you go, I would really appreciate you outlining in what way Bishop Carrell’s attendance at his friend’s blessing is a “salvation issue”. Salvation for whom… Bishop Carrell? The friend? Would your continued contributions to this blog endanger your salvation? On what basis and line of thought do you see this is as a salvation issue? Please speak plainly, I am a plain person, much of what I read on this blog goes straight over my head, but your contributions of late have been quite accessible. It would be a shame to lose your voice.
Peace to you this Eastertide.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear David
You are welcome back anytime.
A surprising number of commenters have indicating they are leaving this site only to return subsequently - and most welcome.
The action of an evangelical is to read Scripture intent on finding and proclaiming the gospel, God’s announcement of good news for all people.
I do not wish to argue here about the merits or otherwise of blessing same sex weddings (per decision of our church) but my own views on such blessings should not be directly inferred from a statement such as above, where I am acting and speaking in accordance with the polity of our church and in respect of my stated position as a bishop about permitting such blessings. (I completely accept that my position on the polity and on giving permission within that polity is unacceptable to many.)
What I do wish to say, however, about my position within the polity of this church, is that I believe there is a much greater chance of gay and lesbian Anglicans remaining in our church because of that policy.
At the best of times our brother and sister Anglicans who are gay or lesbian (or deeply concerned for gay or lesbian family members and friends) struggle with the church generally but are particularly upset by certain convservative stances - none of which have led them to repent/“repent.”
So, while I appreciate that an argument from faithfulness to the gospel, adherence to our Lord’s ethical standards etc is driving the choice re disaffiliations from our church (and motivating GAFCON etc within the wider life of the Communion), I do not see that any such moves are part of good news for gay and lesbian Anglicans, none of whom are going with the disaffiliations (as far as I know), nor seeing the gospel associated with departure/disaffiliations as connecting to their lives.

Glen Young said...

Hi Shawn,

I do have great difficulty in establishing a common and coherent thread to your blogs;I personally do not find the methodology of critique of our faith, as put forward in your blogs helpful or relevant to the solving the issues which we face as a Communion.To me, the Church, is the place where we can take the issues, which we are trying to rationalize in our lives and find a sane solution.

Your blogs seem to raise more questions and objections than answers.Your blog, May 12th @ 8.00 PM.: "More seriously,perhaps it's time to worry more about just loving God,as we understand him or her and loving our neighbor,and less concerned about whose theologies are right and whose are wrong.Because the only Truth is,none of us know."

Jesus said unto him:"I am the way,the truth and the life;no man cometh to the Father but by me." John 14/6. If we don't understand that "TRUTH";how do we understand who God is? What LOVE is? and who the neighbor is?

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn.

The common thread in my posts is that all religious doctrines and theological assertions are subjective opinions. That does not mean they are necessarily bad, it simply means that using them as weapons to define who has the ultimate truth and who doesn't, or who is saved or unsaved, or who is righteous or unrighteous, is wrong, wrong because nobody can lay claim to objectively knowing the ultimate truth about anything. It's the equivalent of saying that because I like the BBC or CNN, then everyone else has to as well, and anyone who doesn't is bad.

We are in real danger of an outright religious war between Islam and Christianity, because fundamentalists on both sides think they alone know the truth, and they alone are on the side of God. So the common and coherent thread in my posts is a sustained critique of that view.

Now, that does not mean we, as Christians, have nothing to hang our hats on. We have the two things that matter, Story and Sacrament. The Story is the one we tell every year in the liturgy, the story of Christ. We are invited to enter that Story through the imagination and the heart. The Sacraments are one way we do that. The Story is transformative, if we allow it to be, and if we approach it and enter into it with the heart, not the head. Worrying about whether the Story is literally true or not, or whether it's better than another religions story, is totally missing the point.

I don't claim to have any answers to the supposed problems in the Anglican Communion. I suspect the Communion will eventually split, and I'm not sure there is anything that can be done about that. I'm really not sure that it matters. The UN recently released a sobering report that one million of the world's animal and plant species are on the verge of extinction. The environmental crisis as a whole can reasonably be called apocalyptic. Human beings may literally not see the end of this century. In the face of that, arguing about who's god is the true one, or who can marry whom, or worrying about churches splitting, seems trivial and frankly, stupid. My posts here are in part a small act of repentance for the role I played in the past in promoting that stupidity.

As to your quote from John's gospel, are you sure you understand what Jesus meant? I would counsel caution there. One of the things I see in the gospels is that Jesus consistently criticised those people who were absolutely sure they alone were God's chosen ones, and they alone had the right doctrines and the "Truth". Jesus praised people who belonged to other religions, Samaritans and Roman pagan soldiers. And there is no indication that they changed their religions. Jesus never says that the Samaritan who helps the man assaulted and lying in a ditch converted to Judaism (or became a Christian). The pagan Roman soldier who's son Jesus healed almost certainly continued on worshipping his gods. He almost certainly thought Jesus' power to heal was a form of magic. Yet Jesus holds him up as an example, while harshly criticising the monotheistic Pharisees who strove to keep God's Law. In other words, be careful about assuming that when Jesus says "I am the truth" you now what he means by that.

Also, John's gospel is basically a treatise on Neoplatonic cosmology, and can't be understood without an understanding of that philosophy. On that score I doubt that what John has Jesus saying in that quote means what you think it does.

Peter Carrell said...

[Hi Glen. Not sure what is happening but your recently submitted comment, like a comment above, has come through with acres of blankness below you words. So I am editing out the blankness, but none of your words. Peter].

Glen Young's comment:

Hi Shawn,

If there is no objective truth,why is the UN report any more sobering than any other subjective statement; but people want to use these beliefs to harass us about our lifestyles and as an excuse to thieve more taxes of us.Have you noticed the hypocrisy of those who have most to say about man made global warming catching private jets to attend meetings on the subject???? Politicians who travel first class with all their hanger oners, when those seats leave four times the carbon footprint of a cattle crate seat; to do what could be done from home with modern communications.Why do all our politicians have to go to Wellington when they to could work from home? All this and what they have to say is only true for themselves, because there is no objective truth.

I have never claimed that my world view must be accepted by anyone else; however,I am equally adamant that I will not bow to anyone else'. So that is
my attitude to your perceived war between Islam and Christianity.I do not wish to force anyone to live by my beliefs and believe that no one should be forced to live by Islam anywhere in the world.Hence the separation of the Church and the State.Have you gone down to the local mosque and told them that the Koran is subjective and was not inspired by the Angel of God nor was Mohammod a prophet.

I do know why I bothering to type all this, as it is only my personal subjective truth and as "I think therefore I am" only establishes I am and not that anybody else; is there anybody out there.

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

Sorry for the inconvenience, the fault is probably at this end.My computer has decided it thinks, so therefore it exists and has a life apart from me,if only subjectively. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter.

I am not saying there is no objective truth. 1 + 1 always = 2. Science and mathematics can give us objective truth. So can any evidence based research, like the UN report. So I'm not arguing for radical relativism.

Nor am I saying there may not be objective truth in spiritual and theological matters, in fact there almost certainly is. It's just that I see no objective way of establishing what such truth may be. An objective truth is something that can be reasonably proven using evidence. Theological and doctrinal claims cannot be proven objectively. Now, that does not mean we cannot decide for ourselves what is or is not objective truth in such matters, but there is a reason why we call that belief. And here is where the rubber hits the road. If we are using our beliefs to engage in petty religious tribalism, or harming others (such as women or homosexuals), or promoting hatred or bigotry against people who have different beliefs, then I believe we are misusing those beliefs, and making claims for them we cannot prove. To put that another way, choosing to believe that there is only one God is fine. Chopping off the heads of those who believe differently is not. That is just my opinion of course, I may be wrong, but deciding that my beliefs should never lead to harming others strikes me as a good rule to live by.

On the issue of environmental hypocrisy we are all hypocrites to various degrees. That does not change the fact that the apocalyptic level crisis bearing down on us is going to cause immense harm to the planet, and radically re-order the way we live, if we survive at all. Taxes will be the least of our concerns.

Going to the local Mosque and saying the Quran is subjective would not likely be well received, and given recent events would be a heartless act. Yes, I think that's true, but more importantly, that's not my job, as I'm not a Muslim. Only Muslims can deal with the fundamentalists in their house. My job as a Christian and a Westerner is to do what very little I can to help clean up my own house.

"I have never claimed that my world view must be accepted by anyone else"

No, I'm sure you don't. However, as you know, some Christians do. Some would happily role back the freedoms we have extended to LGBT folks, and in parts of Christian Africa being homosexual, or being accused of witchcraft, can get you killed. We have seen a tidal wave of religious based terrorism and hate crimes over the last twenty years or more, much of it Islamist yes, but increasingly more of it in the West is by people who hate Muslims and Jews. The root of all of it is the belief that "I'm right, you're wrong, and being wrong makes you less deserving of the right to life and liberty". That root belief is what I am trying to challenge.

Glen Young said...

Hi Shawn and Peter,

Shawn's latest blog !4th May @1.24 PM, appears to be arguing that there is both objective truth and subjective truth; and that religious convictions fall into the later.

So if we accept that through science, we can formulate laws which display objective truths; and that genetic testing can determine whether one's genes are XX (Female) or XY (male),that is an objective truth.To claim that I do not feel happy in the body I was born with, is a subjective belief.For the purpose of this exercise,let's put aside the genetic misadventures which occur.So if one is to argue that there is merit in my subjective belief that I was born in the wrong body;then there is equal merit in my subjective (?) religious beliefs.

You may state that John's Gospel is a treatise on Neoplatonic Cosmology,but he does make us aware of a problem that modern science can not give us a rational explanation for;where did matter,life and consciousness arise.He states that something had to be eternal. "Nothing can not give rise to something". Further:"The effect can never be greater that the cause".

John states:"In the beginning was the Word,and the Word was with God and the
was God". But perhaps I have that wrong.

Anonymous said...

He Glenn.

Yes, religious beliefs, doctrines, theologies, are all in the category of subjective truth.

As far as the equal merit of subjective truths go, I would say it depends. Beliefs which can be shown to cause objective harm to others, such as a belief in racism, or slavery, or homophobia, do not have the same merit to me as beliefs which don't.

Science can in fact give us a rational explanation as to why and how matter, life and consciousness arose. Nothing can give rise to something. Scientists have observed this happening. You can Google it to see what I'm referring to. That said, it's an assumption that this universe arose from nothing. That may not be the case. There is a growing body of evidence that this universe may only be one of countless others, each giving rise to the next, eternally. In theory at least, the universe, this or any other, does not require a first cause.

That said, I, like most human beings, find a purely scientific explanation inadequate, and my own spiritual experiences strongly suggests there is far more to this universe, and to life, which is why I'm not an atheist. But, my chosen religion is just one approach to having a relationship to Spirit. It is no more valid than any other, whether Islam of Hinduism.

Glen Young said...

Hi Shawn,

In this, my last response to your blogs,let me admit that all of us display tell tale signs of the bias from which we are approaching a subject; whether it is how we construct an argument or the words we use. The wording of your blogs leads me to the conclusion that our world views are diametrically opposed.Without writing a book on the subject,I accept the view of T.V. Morris that all events require a rational explanation; and that any rational person would accept that the universe,life and consciousness need an explanation. Not all religions give an equally rational explanation.

With regards to human sexuality,your blogs are not clear, whether they are accepting that both objective truth (genetic validation-female XX and male XY) and subjective truth ( Gen. and Matt. 19) are correct or whether the subjective feeling that I am not happy with the physical body I was born with overrides the objective truth of my "Conception".

This becomes clear with the American Democrat's attitude to "LATE TERM ABORTION";which thankfully Trump stands against.Did God see me as just part of my mother's body????

Your last blog stares that you do not accept beliefs which include slavery,and homophobia and yet it concludes by saying that your belief is not superior to Islam.But as I have shown, Islam allows for the Capture and RAPE of woman.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn.

Yes, I suspect our worldviews are in many respects very different. Mine has undergone a pretty radical change over the last two years.

"I accept the view of T.V. Morris that all events require a rational explanation"

I don't. The universe is far too strange a place for me to think everything can be explained rationally or intellectually, or even theologically. Perhaps there is a rational, intellectual explanation for everything, but Iv'e not found it, even science has it's limitations, and for me embracing Mystery and strangeness seems to bring me closer to God, while trying to explain everything according to reason and nice tidy theologies did the opposite.

"Not all religions give an equally rational explanation."

Arguable, but regardless, for me it's not the job of religion to give rational explanations. The job of religion is to bring us into communion with Spirit and the Mythic. To put that another way, for me the path of the mystic is the beating heart of religion, including Christianity. The exoteric laws and doctrines are merely means to an end, to be discarded when they no longer serve their purpose or become oppressive.

On the issue of people being transgender, the objective evidence seems to be that some people deeply experience that their sense of identity is at odds with the body they were born into. This is nothing new, such people have been around for as long as human beings have walked the earth. So the objective issue of XX and XY chromosomes is only a part of the story. Human beings can't be reduced to biology alone.

"But as I have shown, Islam allows for the Capture and RAPE of woman."

So does the Bible. If we take the "standard" view that all of the Bible is the Word of God, then Old Testament law, supposedly given by God to the Hebrews, allows for slavery, the capture and rape of enemy women, the slavery of their children, and for an Israelite man to sell his daughter into slavery, amongst many other horrors. Not to mention, at least as far as the Canaanites go, genocide, and arguably nothing in the New Testament explicitly repudiates any of that. Just read Exodus and Leviticus and you can find all of the bad things in the Bible that you can find in the Quran.

I tried for years to reconcile all of that with my belief that all of the Bible was the revealed Truth and Word of God for all people and all time. It's can't be done, and evangelical attempts to do so end up tying themselves up in less than honest intellectual knots.

There is though a way through that knot, but it requires radically re-thinking our view as to what the Bible is, and what it can, and can't, be used for.

All I know is that I like Jesus. To whatever degree the Gospels give me an accurate picture of him, he is someone I want to know and follow. For now, that's enough for me.

Father Ron said...

Our last day in London.

re 'David's comment (11 May) conerning the 3rd world Bishops (mostly African but not South African); I was speaking yesterday with my bro-in-law, Fr. Graeme Watson (who, was a UMCA missionary in Tanzania some years ago, tutor at St.John's Theological College in Dar-es-Salaam. His opinion is that - after the expansionist colonial era of missionisation, the local Church in many African Provinces has reverted to the culture of Tribal eldership when appointing its local bishops. This, he feels, has in turn led to a culture of authoritarian tribal-style leadership tactics, which has produced many of the latest African bishops belonging to the GAFCON (G.S.) sodality.

Inevitably, this has led to the GAFCON Primates aggressive assertion of leadership - not only in their own local Churches, but also in the Churches of other Anglican Provinces wshere it has gained a piratical foothold. One could say that this is a 'payback' reaction to the authority exerted by the Anglican Missionary Churches - certainly those missionised by the likes of CMS and other Protestant Societies.

South Africa (not part of GAFCON) was missionised, mainly, by the more liberal Anglo- Catholic Societies such as SPG and UMCA. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one of the most outstanding products of this more progressive Anglo-Catholic tradition - which, itself, has had to deal with the sexist opponents of Women's Ordination who currently occupy the lobby of the ultra-conservative 'Forward in Faith' crowd.