Anglican Samizdat

October 17, 2009

For John Shelby Spong the listening process is over

Filed under: Anglican Angst — David Jenkins @ 12:27 am
Tags:

From Ruth Gledhill’s blog; apparently Spong has written a new book whose theme is “I will not listen”:

‘I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.”

….

‘I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality “deviant.” I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that “we love the sinner but hate the sin.” That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.

….

‘The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn’t.’

….

‘I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a “new church,” claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives.’

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by “fair-minded” channels that seek to give “both sides” of this issue “equal time.” I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude.

I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world’s population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture’s various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the “Flat Earth Society” either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union.

I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church’s participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of colour, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.’

He sounds a bit like Richard Dawkins giving his reasons why he won’t debate Creationists.

And, apparently, since I attend a church that is a member of the ACNA, I am a “pathetic human being” (without the saving grace of Christ, very true) who is “deeply locked into a world that no longer exists” (if only) in order to “continue to hate gay people” (I actually rather like the gay people I know), and “continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives.” (poor tortured me).

I suspect Spong’s pension fund must have been hit by the recession and this is a publicity stunt to sell books.

Advertisements

52 Comments

  1. “I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan.”

    Can he really not tell the difference between an utterly discredited Jimmy Swaggart and Bob Duncan and Albert Mohler??

    Comment by Kate — October 17, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  2. Here is the kind of rant Bp Spong rightly does not want to listen to any more:

    “Clinical health, police and science tatistics show this is an unhealthy, unstable, unhappy and harmful, dangerous lifestyle that leads to disease and early death. It would not be love to approve of and affirm homosex – either the feelings or the acts.

    “Homosexual feelings are engendered by a complex group of beliefs about self, others and the world. The feelings are symptoms, conditioned emotional responses due to buried pain and anger, negative emotions, fear, rejection, shame, inferiority, worthlessness, etc.

    “These feelings and behaviors are sin/pain-engendered and sin/pain-driven and sin-pain producing.

    “These feelings and behaviors are created by relational dynamics, identity and attachment disruptions.

    “They lead to disease, harm and early death.

    “The natural unregenerate fallen state IS a disorientation, a case of mistaken identity.”

    More and more this is being shown up as scum of the same order as racist and antisemitic rhetoric. Spong is giving a timely warning to those who are incurring guilt and embarrassment by continuing to use such langauge past its sell-by date.

    Comment by Joseph O'Leary — October 17, 2009 @ 10:42 am

  3. Joseph,

    I can’t see how pointing out that a homosexual lifestyle is unhealthy – a verifiable fact – is equivalent to racism or anti-Semitism.

    Comment by David — October 17, 2009 @ 11:47 am

  4. Here is the kind of rant that would be the racist or antisemitic equivalent of what you find inoffensive, David:

    “The record of history and all statistics show that being Jewish is an unhealthy, unstable, unhappy and harmful, dangerous lifestyle that leads to disease and early death. It would not be love to approve of and affirm Jewish blindness – either the error or the acts.

    “Jewish feelings are engendered by a complex group of beliefs about self, others and the world. The feelings are symptoms, conditioned emotional responses due to buried pain and anger, negative emotions, fear, rejection, shame, inferiority, worthlessness, etc.

    “These feelings and behaviors are sin/pain-engendered and sin/pain-driven and sin-pain producing.

    “These feelings and behaviors are created by relational dynamics, identity and attachment disruptions.

    “They lead to disease, harm and early death.

    “The natural unregenerate fallen state IS a disorientation, a case of mistaken identity. Judaism is the classic example of this.”

    But someone who believes homosexual orientation is diseased and sinful would probably also see Jews as deicides who deserve what they get and have no right to freedom and happiness, so I suppose I am talking to the wall.

    Comment by Joseph O'Leary — October 17, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  5. Joseph,

    You appear to be making up these maniacal ravings and you didn’t actually address the point: a homosexual lifestyle (not orientation) is unhealthy – to claim otherwise is hardly doing those engaged in it any favours.

    Comment by David — October 17, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

  6. Cleaarly you did not reflect very carefully before your first post. The incriminated comment is an attack on homosexual orientation, not just what you call “lifestyle”. If you mean that a promiscuous lifestyle is dangerous most would agree. But the current call for gay marriage is quite the contrary of that. Stable and loving relationships are clearly far less dangerous than promiscuity or isolation.

    Comment by Joseph O'Leary — October 17, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

  7. The author of the incriminated message is basing his thinking on Romans 1, according to which homosexual orientation is a punishment for idolatry. This kind of scriptural fundamentalism is a chief source of homophobia, just as other NT texts were a chief source of antisemitism and others again offered divine warrant for racism and slavery.

    Comment by Joseph O'Leary — October 17, 2009 @ 11:37 pm

  8. “This is my manifesto and my creed.” How sad it is to have a creed of what you will not do, what you don’t believe and who you discredit, dismiss as “pathetic human beings,” won’t talk to and from the tone of the language, actually hate. A manifesto??? Is he planning to be the next Marx?

    “I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church.” He discredits biblically based decision making, the institutional process of the Anglican Church, and then wants people to accept his individualistic position as expressed in this rant of a “manifesto” and “creed”????

    When oh when is someone in the hierarchy of the church going to put an institutional process in place for defrocking Spong and his ilk? When will people realise that discipline is a good thing?

    And I hate to break it to Mr Spong, but I highly doubt the Pope is interested in his verbal diarrhea.

    Comment by Sam — October 18, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

  9. Joseph,

    First, what is an “incriminated comment/message”? Did you mean “incriminating”? If so, I can’t see how any of the posts or replies are incriminating since homosexuality is no longer a crime in the West.

    Second, you brought lifestyle as opposed to orientation into this in #2. Very few gay people actually want to get married in an Anglican church and the simple fact is, homosexuals are more promiscuous than heterosexuals and it is not a healthy lifestyle.

    Third, Paul in Romans 1 is clearly talking about people engaged in homosexual acts, not those with a homosexual orientation – something that is not explicitly mentioned in the bible. Also, the implication of 1 Cor 6:9ff, refers to the practice of homosexuality: it makes no mention of a celibate homosexual being unrighteous.

    Comment by David — October 18, 2009 @ 4:51 pm

  10. David, the incriminated paragraph was from a response to Spong on BabyBlue website. Again you show prejudice by saying “the homosexual lifestyle is unhealthy” which is much the same as saying “the Jewish lifestyle is unhealthy” or “the black lifestyle is unhealthy”. A loving same-sex couple, of whom I know many, is leading a healthy lifestyle, just as a loving opposite-sex couple are. In any case, the screed I posted expressed hatred of gays in general on the basis of their alleged ungodly and voluntary “feelings” ascribed to purely negative factors.

    Just as the viciously anti-semitic Richard Wagner believed it was the godly vocation of Jews to disappear qua Jews, by conversion (and if not, he added, we must have the moral courage to exterminate them), so the correspondent whose rant you found unobjectionable at first believes gays must disappear as gays, by being cured through godly conversion, though he does not draw genocidal conclusions.

    Since God created gays and their sexuality, the author’s views border on blasphemy. It is odd how scriptural fundamentalism so quickly becomes blasphemous.

    Wake up and smell the hatred and prejudice that such rants betoken. Be vigilant.

    Comment by Joe — October 19, 2009 @ 1:17 am

  11. As to incriminated, the crime in question is “incitement to hatred.”

    “Paul in Romans 1 is clearly talking about people engaged in homosexual acts, not those with a homosexual orientation.”

    Get over it — there are lots of indefensible things in the Bible. A deutero-Pauline text assures us on divine authority that all Cretans are liars. Why not defend that as well?

    Naturally, Paul has no understanding of homosexual orientation (any more than the ranter I quoted claims to have), though his text is quoted in connection with gays by a Vatican document, Persona Humana. But he talks of “desires of the hearts” (epithymias ton kardion, Rom 1:24) and then of a “passion of disgrace” (pathe tes atimias, Rom 1:26). Such “feelings” as our ranter puts it are already wrong — and our ranter spefically identifies them with homosexual orientation. The passion of women for women and men for men is seen by Paul and our ranter as God-inflicted punishment, a wildly deviant swerve from the natural heterosexual orientation. It is because of these passions that they “exchange the natural use for the unnatural” (1:26}; the “acts” follow on the “passions”.

    I agree that Paul’s discourse had no real-life application today. But you cannot have it both ways: if you apply it to homosexual acts committed by normal and natural homosexual people, you must either ignore what Paul is actually saying or else maintain, as the ranter would, that homosexual passion is always a choice or a sickness constituting a deviation from an original heterosexual foundation. Gays thus do not really exist, and have no right to exist!

    Comment by Joe — October 19, 2009 @ 1:35 am

  12. When you say most gays don’t want to marry, that is a very poor argument. Most blacks don’t want to marry whites, but to forbid them to do so tramples on the natural right to marry. Most Jews don’t want to marry Gentiles (or in some poll at some time that may be the case) but to forbid them to do so is again to trample on the natural right to marry.

    Comment by Joe — October 19, 2009 @ 1:39 am

  13. On gay promiscuity and the short duration of gay couples, you are defeatist. You see these data as nature but others would see them as nurture, in the sense that the lack of social support for stable relationships is a major contributing factor. Your statistics make no mention of homosexual women. I would agree that by nature and by nurture men are more open to promiscuity than women, but I would see the cultivating of stable quasi-marital relationships as moving in the direction that you seek to promote. All you have to recommend seems to be “celibacy” though you have no statistics to show that gay celibates are flourishing as human beings or that their celibacy holds out against the temptation of promiscuity better than a couple’s relationship does.

    Comment by Joe — October 19, 2009 @ 1:45 am

  14. I have the sad feeling that I have belabored the obvious for someone who would be perfectly capable of thinking all this out for himself. I see more clearly why Spong thinks the game is not worth the candle. Anyone who wants to see can see.

    Comment by Joe — October 19, 2009 @ 1:46 am

  15. To see, I mean, that gay couples are flourishing in our society on every side, and are the objects of a snide campaign from disgruntled fundamentalists who are too proud to admit that they have been in the grip of hateful error for centuries and have to make a deep apology for the way they have consigned hundreds of thousands of people to lives of misery.

    Comment by Joe — October 19, 2009 @ 1:48 am

  16. Joe,
    You seem to think the persuasiveness of your argument varies in proportion to the number of words you use: it doesn’t.

    I can’t see how encouraging a group of people to turn away from a lifestyle that is likely to kill them is “hatred”; Christian ministries such as the Zacchaeus Ministries show true love towards homosexuals rather offering something that doesn’t work – gay “marriage”.

    Comment by David — October 19, 2009 @ 8:46 am

  17. Kate: #1 above……

    I must take ‘some’ exception to your comment about Jimmy Swaggart.

    Can he really not tell the difference between an utterly discredited Jimmy Swaggart and Bob Duncan and Albert Mohler??

    Main Entry: 1ut·ter
    Pronunciation: \ˈə-tər\
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English, remote, from Old English ūtera outer, comparative adjective from ūt out, adverb — more at out
    Date: 15th century
    : carried to the utmost point or highest degree : absolute, total

    — ut·ter·ly adverb

    Comment by Gerry O'Brien — October 20, 2009 @ 11:29 am

  18. oooops…I wasn’t finished and it went ahead of myself on this thread.

    As I was saying, and as seen above, the word utter means absolute, total and as such I feel is too strong for what Jimmy Swaggart went through although he may have felt utterly discredited at the time.

    My point is this, had you said “publicly discredited” it would have been more appropriate because he certainly was publicly discredited.

    I rather doubt that, since he DID REPENT “Publicly” and as our faith teaches us, he has certainly been forgiven by our Lord then he has not been n’or was he ever been utterly discredited.

    Playing on words, no I don’t think so… If he had committed the unforgiveable sin, then I think it would have been “utterly discredited”.

    Are Jimmy Swaggart and ArchBishop Bob Duncan on the same playing field…. only Jimmy Swaggart, Archbishop Duncan and our Lord know for sure, but I’m sure in our humaness, we would all put Swaggart at a lower level….but, then….

    Comment by Gerry O'Brien — October 20, 2009 @ 11:40 am

  19. Joe – Boy oh boy, talk about beating a dead horse….and I thought that I have a tendency to go on and on and on and on….!!

    Comment by Gerry O'Brien — October 20, 2009 @ 11:44 am

  20. So bishop Spong will no longer talk or debate with anyone. Well, jolly good. So we (orthodox Christians) no longer need to talk to him – and can get on with the real faith, and living within reality. I’ve said before (http://www.affirmingthefaith.com/whatchurch.htm) that real Christianity and post-Christianity are two different and separate things, and the best is if we just go our separate ways, and not waste time with endless (fruitless) talk, pretending that some kind of unity exists (when it clearly doesn’t)

    Comment by John Thomas — October 20, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  21. So Spong refuses to listen! Is the next stop His refusal to speak? …We can only pray!

    Comment by Stuck in Toronto — October 20, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

  22. #21 Good one!

    Comment by Kate — October 20, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

  23. Those of you who actually think or “believe” that being “gay” is a life-style that is chosen are pathetic to the Nth degree.

    As you most assuredly did not chose to be “straight”, it was thrust upon you, so was gay people’s sexual orientation. At birth.

    It is your thick-headedness that Bishop Spong is addressing. Blinded by ignorance and hate-filled bigotry, you literally cannot see, and he is tired of trying to teach you to be accepting of people who are slightly different than you.

    Personally, I truly feel sorry for you and your lack of appreciation of the diversity of your fellow man.

    As for the “gay lifestyle” being “unhealthy”, that is also incorrect. Sure, there are examples of both straight and gay people leading unhealthy lifestyles. But most people, be they straight or gay, try to lead healthy lives.

    Now, go in peace and love your fellow man. Isn’t that Godly?

    Comment by Bob Flanders — October 23, 2009 @ 12:12 am

  24. Who you are attracted to isn’t chosen – how you decide to live in the face of that attraction is.

    Comment by Kate — October 23, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  25. Kate – you are right – for the past 38 years I decided to live in a loving relationship with honor and mutual commitment.

    Are actually saying that “according to your beliefs” same-sex attraction is wrong, and therefore I should not be in a loving committed relationship with my partner? Or worse yet, do you suggest that I should deny the central core of my being and live in a relationship with a person of the opposite sex just to satisfy your idea of what you think is “right”? And what about the other person, what happens to them when they realize that our relationship is a sham, a lie, and unnaturally against my true nature?

    Are you saying that it is better for me to live alone, unloved and unfulfilled or worse, to live a lie and ruin two lives just to appease your idea of what is right or wrong??

    Shame on you.

    Comment by Bob Flanders — October 23, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

  26. Bob,

    You are free to choose to live any way that suits you. Similarly, others are free to offer the opinion that your lifestyle is wrong; no-one is forcing you to change. The compulsion that you seem to have to justify your way of life seems to me to betray a conscience that is not as clear as you would like everyone to believe.

    It is no shame on Kate or anyone else to disagree with the choice you have made.

    Anticipating the predictable “holier than thou” rejoinder, I admit that I have done – and am tempted to continue doing – many things that I should not have, and I expect Kate would admit the same. I would rather accept the forgiveness that Christ offers, though, than attempt to justify my moral failures.

    Comment by David — October 23, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

  27. Is Bob perhaps suggesting that being single is a horror to be avoided at all costs? I know many happy, fullfilled single people who would argue with you on that score. As for the rest, I can’t put it better than David did, thank you David.

    Comment by Kate — October 23, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

  28. How insidious! Of course Bob is to be congratulated on a stable relationship of 38 years, something far more difficult than marriage, given the prejudice on all sides. It is disgusting to put that relationship on the same level as the peccadillos of casual sex. Yes, Kate, many do flourish in a celibate lifestyle — who ever denied this? But many flourish in a quasi-marital lifestyle, and this is recognized by their families, friends and ministers.

    Comment by Joseph O'Leary — October 23, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

  29. the peccadillos of casual sex

    The plural of “peccadillo” is “peccadilloes”. Having got that out of the way, “It is disgusting to put that relationship on the same level as the trifling faults of casual sex” makes no sense.

    Comment by David — October 23, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

  30. I meant that it is degrading to put a stable 38 year-old relationship on the same level as inconsequential acts of casual sex. In the contorted thinking of many Christians such a gay relationship is considered much more gravely sinful than a long string of lapses (which take the form of casual sex). On this point at least the Vatican spokesman Jan de Visser saw more clearly — the stable relationship is the “lesser of two evils” and may be tolerated pastorally while the couple strive to a higher goal. (I hope this makes sense — moral theology has never been my forte.)

    Comment by Joe — October 24, 2009 @ 3:19 am

  31. Btw, ‘peccadillos’ is also correct.

    Comment by Joe — October 24, 2009 @ 3:20 am

  32. Btw, ‘peccadillos’ is also correct.

    So it is – I should have looked it up!

    Comment by David — October 24, 2009 @ 9:31 am

  33. The above discussion, in various forms and contexts, has gone on since the fall of Adam between those who believe there is absolute truth, rooted in God, and those who believe that truth is relative and rooted in man. For those in the first camp, what man thinks is ultimately of no importance. For those in the second, it is of great importance. This clash of thinking will not be resolved this side of heaven. Some in the second camp (fortunately not many) believe that peace on earth could be accomplished if those in the first camp could be gotten rid of. Those in the first camp are commanded to love those in the second; whether they are inclined to do so or not. If they stubbornly refuse to do so, they are really in the second camp.

    Comment by Warren — October 24, 2009 @ 11:19 am

  34. This first camp sounds like fundamentalism, and it is strange to think that they are any less willing to “get rid of” those in the second camp than vice versa. The dichotomy is false in any case, like that between Creation and Evolution. It is a tautology to say that truth qua truth is ultimate and rooted in God; concrete truths — such as the doctrines of the various religions — show human fingerprints as the products of history. The dialectic between these two aspects is what John XXIII pointed to in referring to the contrast between unchanging doctrine and its changing expression.

    Comment by Joseph O'Leary — October 24, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

  35. In regard to marriage, it is a very human and historical institution, bound up with different cultures in their complexity, and so a particularly difficult place for seeking eternal divine definition.

    Views of marriage change and the new view is then presented as eternally true. Examples: polygamy is no longer regarded as virtuous (vs. Abraham et al.), unitive end of matrimony is no longer regarded as inferior to procreative, since the mid 20th century (for Roman Catholics); marriage is a sacrament only since the 15th century.

    Comment by Joseph O'Leary — October 24, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

  36. Joseph (#34), as I said initially, “this clash of thinking will not be resolved this side of heaven.” I didn’t say “they are any less willing to ‘get rid of’ those in the second camp than vice versa.” We all have sinful natures. I said that “those in the first camp are commanded to love those in the second; whether they are inclined to do so or not.” If by “fundamentalism” (an easy word to fling around carelessly) you are referring to those who believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, then I am happy to be called a fundamentalist.

    Comment by Warren — October 24, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

  37. Polygamy isn’t regarded as virtuous in the Old Testament. It exists there, but it isn’t praised. In fact, the polygamous marriages are all unhappy ones.

    Comment by Kate — October 24, 2009 @ 8:02 pm

  38. I meant to add: Not everything in the bible is meant to be a positive example.

    Comment by Kate — October 24, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

  39. St Thomas Aquinas teaches that polygamy is compatible with natural law — arguing on the basis of the virtuous polygamy of the Patriarchs, David and Solomon. http://whatdidthomasaquinassayaboutpollygamy.blogspot.com/

    Nathan, the prophet, tells David: ‘I [God] gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your bosom’ (2 Sam 12:8). Nowhere does the text express disapproval in principle.

    As to fundamentalism, to say the Bible is the inerrant word of God is a very tricky claim, unless you explain it in the manner of Karl Rahner. If you don’t so explain it, you are obliged to believe a lot of very odd and false things, such as that all Cretans are liars.

    Comment by Joe — October 25, 2009 @ 12:36 am

  40. Joe (#39), with enough bending and twisting (and a few back flips), I’m sure you can make the Bible say anything you want.

    With respect to inerrancy, the Chicago Statement is just fine for me:

    http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/creeds/chicago.htm

    I don’t know where you came up with the Cretans bit, but I doubt that even liberal theologians, who believe the Bible to be nothing more than a man-made creation, would make a charge like that against inerrantists.

    I am curious though – why do you read the Bible?

    Comment by Warren — October 25, 2009 @ 1:21 am

  41. Good heavens, Warren, do you not know the scriptural reference to Cretans? It is very easy to uphold literal inerrancy if you remain in such blissful ignorant of what the letter of Scripture actually says.

    Comment by Joe — October 25, 2009 @ 2:54 am

  42. The Chicago statement is sparing of details, but one giveaway is its reference to “the flood” — Though it claims to respect literary genres, it does not go so far as to see that the flood narrative belongs to the literary genre of a folk tale or myth and need not be taken literally. Warren, do you take the flood narrative literally, and if so where do you see the spiritual superiority in this literal reading?

    Comment by Joe — October 25, 2009 @ 3:00 am

  43. A prophet from their own people said of them “Cretans are always liars, wicked brutes, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. For this reason correct them sternly, that they may be sound in faith instead of paying attention to Jewish fables and to commandments of people who turn their backs on the truth. (Titus 1:12-14)

    If “gays” were written in place of “Cretans” here, you may be sure that fundamentalist selectiveness would come into play and that the text would be posted on the front of their churches. As it is they assure us, no doubt, that the sacred author did not really mean what the text literally says.

    Comment by Joe — October 25, 2009 @ 3:07 am

  44. Inerrancy as such is a harmless doctrine, but the concrete selective applications of it are very dangerous.

    Comment by Joe — October 25, 2009 @ 5:08 am

  45. Joe (#41-44)), I am quite familiar with the Cretan passage. I’m just saying that no inerrantist applying a reasonable form of exegesis would reach the conclusion that you have suggested (with the spin and inferences you put on it). I just assumed you could read between the lines and realize that I was suggesting you were setting up a strawman argument (which you subsequently proved with your attempt to link the passage to gays). That said, I do believe that Cretans are liars in the sense that “all”, and “always” are often used in Scripture. For that matter, apart from those with mental incapacities, I believe that all men have likely lied at some point in their life (likely multiple times). I don’t believe that God intended the Bible to be a science text book, and have not fully made up my mind about the extent of the flood. I believe there was a flood, but am uncertain as to whether it covered the whole earth.

    Before I engage with you any further, I request the courtesy of knowing where you stand and what you believe. I don’t know if I’m in discussion with an atheist, an adherent to a major world religion other than Christianity, a pagan who believes in some form of superior being, or someone who claims to be a Christian even though they reject much traditional Christian belief. If you are unwilling to share, I will end the conversation. It is unproductive to continue if I don’t know where we have common ground or where we may be talking past each other. You also haven’t told me why you read the Bible.

    As far as myself, in addition to believing the Bible to be inerrant, I can affirm the Apostles’ Creed, Athanasian Creed, and Nicean Creed. I believe in justification by faith alone through grace alone, so am a Protestant. I don’t however, have allegiance to any particular denomination. I can fellowship comfortably with believers from many denominations, but don’t feel totally at home in any of them. I am evangelical, but find much to dislike or disagree with in modern evangelicalism.

    Comment by Warren — October 25, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  46. Warren. I am an RC priest who believes in Justification by Faith (a doctrine not well understood by Catholics or Anglicans in general). Your hermeneutics of the Cretan passage is fine and if evenly applied to all such passages would certainly solve the problem of fundamentalist abuse of Scripture.

    Comment by Joseph O'Leary — October 25, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

  47. Are Joe and Joseph O’Leary the same person?

    Comment by Kate — October 25, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

  48. Kate [#47],

    Yes.

    Joseph, could you please use the same name on your posts; it gets confusing otherwise.

    Comment by David — October 25, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

  49. Joe (#46), thank you for sharing. Even though we may have significant doctrinal differences, I won’t presume to lecture you on God’s Word – I’m sure your knowledge of Scripture exceeds mine. That said, some of the opinions you have expressed don’t seem to align with the teaching of the RCC. Mind you, my understanding is that the RCC is anything but a theological monolith and that the theological variations within the RCC rival that of Protestantism.

    Through many military moves, my wife and I have been affiliated with quite a number of denominations. We haven’t tried the RCC yet, but who knows. Although it would require major doctinal realignment on my part, if I put my money where my mouth is in terms of what I claim to believe about the sovereignty of God, I shouldn’t rule out the possibility.

    I was raised in a tradition that placed great emphasis on personal testimonies, and I’ve heard some dramatic and compelling ones over the years. None has moved me, however, as much as the testimony of Brother John Paul Mary (Paddy Kelly) which I listened to a few weeks ago. This is a young man who has truly come to know Jesus.

    http://www.medjugorje.ws/en/videos/john-paul-mary-paddy-kelly-family/

    Comment by Warren — October 25, 2009 @ 4:28 pm

  50. Sorry, Medjugorje gives me the willies. There are plenty of other ways of coming to know Jesus.

    Comment by Joe — October 25, 2009 @ 10:38 pm

  51. Joe (#50), you may be right about Medjugorje – I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be comfortable there. I was just impressed by the testimony.

    Comment by Warren — October 26, 2009 @ 12:08 am

  52. #39 Aquanias isn’t scripture. You’ll have more luck convincing a protestant if you stick to scripture.

    Comment by Kate — October 26, 2009 @ 7:53 am


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: