Friday, 25 January 2013

The Blackburn clergy demanding the impossible

A few weeks ago now, I debated on the Jeremy Vine show the issue of same-sex ‘marriages’ in Anglican churches. My opposite number in this debate was the Revd Chris Newlands, former chaplain to the former Bishop of Chelmsford and now vicar of Blackburn. Chris is in a civil partnership but was disappointed that he would not be allowed to convert this into a marriage on Anglican premises.
During the debate, Chris attempted to link the issue of same-sex marriage to that of having women bishops, basically suggesting that opposition to the former arose from the same reasons as opposition to the latter. (He also, in this context, described me as being ‘from’ the Diocese of Sydney, to which, as a lover of that city, I can only say, ‘I wish’.)
Having just been speaking that morning to a clergywoman who (obviously) supports women’s ordination but was adamant I should miss our Chapter Christmas lunch in favour of speaking against same-sex marriage in the radio debate, I felt I was more than justified in suggesting Chris was throwing out a red herring. There is indeed no necessary link between being pro-women bishops and pro-same-sex marriage.
Nevertheless, for some people they are indeed twinned as objectives. I was listening to someone based in Church House just a few months ago, who said that (in his words) the liberals had three objectives: the defeat of the covenant, the introduction of women bishops and then the approval of same-sex relationships. They may be disappointed to find themselves with only one down and still two to go, but their objectives clearly remain the same.
In this connection, therefore, it was interesting to see that Chris Newlands has once again been in the news, this time organizing a petition of clergy in the Diocese of Blackburn, who have written to the Archbishop of York, “urging him to ensure that the next Bishop of Blackburn will be prepared to ordain women as priests, and fully affirm their ministry.”
Their motivation presumably comes partly from the fact that the last two bishops of Blackburn have apparently not been willing themselves to ordain women. As I have observed before, however, their suggestion is simply untenable.
The position of the Church of England regarding senior appointments, expressed in the 1993 Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod is that:
There will be no discrimination against candidates either for ordination or for appointment to senior office in the Church of England on the grounds of their views about the ordination of women to the priesthood.
If the Archbishop of York, or the Crown Nominations Commission, were to act contrary to this, it would throw the appointment into question. And were that to happen, then (unlike the case with the Bishop of Salisbury, where a stipulation similar to that from the Blackburn clergy was actually included in the diocesan ‘statement of needs’) I would be fairly confident of the appointment being challenged.
Now as I have also discussed elsewhere, it would be equally wrong for an appointment which ought to be open to clergy of any view to be unofficially ‘reserved’ for those opposed to the ordination of women. It would be quite appropriate for the Blackburn clergy to ask that this should not be the case, but that does not seem to be what they are saying.
I do, though, wonder whether these clergy are even aware of the requirement of the relevant Act of Synod. If they are not, then they may simply have signed the petition in ignorance, not realizing they are asking an Archbishop to break the rules. Nevertheless, it should be made quite clear to them that this is what they have done and that what they are requesting is simply impossible to grant.
Meanwhile, though, it highlights once again the drift in the Church of England from ‘we’re allbeing encouraged to get along’, to ‘some of us will be allowed to get along more than others’. If nothing else, this should be a warning that the introduction of the ‘option’ to remain a traditionalist will always be a Trojan horse if there is enough pressure in the Church and society to go the other way.
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  1. These are bad enough but there is one other place we are drifting to.

    A few years ago we were close friends with one of the elders of a non conformist church and his family. He had a very pretty wife who was a lovely person and they had 4 children under 13, the youngest being 3.

    One day he came to see my wife and I alone and said that he had explained to his wife carefully, (He taught Theology in a Christian University, Senior Lecturer) that the Bible taught that he could take a second wife and that HE wanted to! He asked us to support his wife and to help her accept his decision.

    As you can imagine it was a big mess. In the end he got his second wife but lost his first. His kids did not do too well but hey it was all about him so he was sorry they felt upset blah blah blah

    The common thing in all this drift in which Women Bishops and Homosexual marriage are just markers aloneg the way, is the worship of me, my wants. The drift started a long time ago. Soon many of the churches in the West will hit a rock and sink. The question is when it happens will everyone have drifted on their own path or will some Churches still have integrity left?

    I don't know about you John, but I don't read in the Bible that we worship the God of everything goes.

    What I would like to know from the liberals that write on your blog is where do they see this ending. What is their vision of their utopia on earth, where everyone and every behaviour is included? Will they be happy when we accept and tolerate everything and rejoice when there are a few filthy beds at the back of the Church in case anyone and I do mean anyone, feels like a romp after the service?

    Outrageous? Cannot happen?

    So was the idea of homosexuals marrying in the Church just a few years ago!


    1. Spot on Phil. The liberals seem oblivious of where their direction is taking them. Integrity is the key to maintaining a true path. God Bless.

  2. Strictly speaking these clergy are not demanding the impossible, they are merely demanding the illegal. As we know from recent past experience (Salisbury for instance), the fact that what they demand is illegal is no bar to them getting it.

    I have noted that when denominations have really lost the plot this is what starts happening. The (canon) law is ignored by those who want to do whatever they want to do, but it is used to hammer down on others who want something different. The mis-users always seem to be the liberals...

  3. Strictly speaking, I do think support for WO and support for gay marriage (read the legitimization of homosexual desire) both proceed from the same root. That root is the use of an external standard to norm the Scripture. There are obviously differences between the two cases, but both positions begun with a denial of the created order. The apologist for WO imposes modern understandings of egalitarianism on Scripture. The apologist for gay marriage imposes modern understandings of autonomy on Scripture. The intent is to recast Scripture in saying that which the apologist wants it to say.


  4. Luther, you are, of course, quite right. (BTW, I do like real identities here. If you want to keep 'Luther' secret, you could just post 'anonymously', but write in the details at the end of your post.)

  5. John, you are quite right that the activity in Blackburn (and in regard to Whitby) is wrong - and not just in legal terms.

    I wonder, though, whether this might point to a way forward on the women bishops legislation. If a provision is made whereby parishes may opt for alternative episcopal supervision whether that is because their bishop accepts women bishops and they do not, or he doesn't and they do, then strong safeguards could be provided for those opting out without any question of it being discriminatory, nor of women being second class bishops. This would also provide an alternative form of expression for concern in cases such as the Blackburn one - although I suspect in practice few congregations would actually vote that way.

    Without such a measure, in the usual unspoken way of the CofE, I suspect it will become very hard in practice for able candidates who oppose women's ordination to become bishops.

  6. Carl

    I think you are right; both, to differing degrees express the same attitude to Scripture - an external standard trumps. I wonder what percentage of egalitarians eventually embrace the validity of same-sex relationships. Time will give the answer. I suspect it will be high.

  7. "There is indeed no necessary link between being pro-women bishops and pro-same-sex marriage." Thank you, John. :-D

  8. Rach

    There is a link.

    Look at the Churches that have adopted WB.

    Of course, silly me. They are just getting with it. To enable us to engage with people in the real world and celebrate what is accepted is right. So we see men being still boys until they are well past 30 and girls are women by the time they are 12.

    Male headship and celebration of fatherhood by the Church? Forget it. Men are only valuable if they become like women. The trouble is that all women want the man to be a proper man in her family, not a woman that shaves.

    Men as God made us.

    The Church needs to reflect that.


    1. Andrew Godsall, Exeter28 January 2013 at 15:31

      "Male headship and celebration of fatherhood by the Church? Forget it. Men are only valuable if they become like women."

      Gosh you don't read your bible very well do you Phil. Men are only valuable if they are equal to women in the sight of God. St Paul was pretty clear about that.
      Yes, let's forget headship. It's un-Christian. It's counter Christian. There is nothing to commend it.

    2. Andrew

      You know very well what I mean.

      Men and women are of equal value, of course that is correct.

      Turning men into women is a different matter entirely.

      Oh yes lets forget or ignore what the Bible teaches us about men and women and our Churches and families will thrive.

      Like they are doing in the West.



      Do you have a family Andrew?

      If so how long have you been married and do you have children?

  9. The follow on from John’s post is. Assuming that we got over all this silliness about our reluctance to accept WB and celebrating gay sex in church, what’s next?

    Poly, paedo, incest or are we drifting to some new expression in our new revaluation of scripture?

    The liberals presumably have some ideas? (You are very silent today!)

    Let’s hear where the drift is going next.

    I cannot wait and this is after all the nub of the issue.

    We all edit our Bibles and our consciences. Then will that be the end of it?


    1. Phil,

      How about Temple Prostitution? There's even a tongue-in-cheek defence online.

  10. Andrew Godsall, Exeter28 January 2013 at 16:22

    A really good hint at why the Blackburn clergy are right to highlight this issue is in an excellent blog post by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes here:

  11. My goodness Andrew!
    I've just read that link, which is deeply troubling. To follow Miranda's logic would confirm every fear that conservative Anglicans have, that liberals will, 1662 style, insist on institutional loyalty and have clergy & family marched out of their houses one St Bartholomew's day quite soon

    Darren Moore

    1. Andrew

      You can answer my question above....!

      Where is the next drift in the struggle for sexual freedom to be blessed by the church?

      Poly, paedo, incest or something else?

      Go on, pick one, be a man at least about your convictions

      Or is that an insult?


  12. Andrew

    I do not share your view that it is excellent. Miranda apparently does not realise the phrase ‘loyal Anglican’ comes from 1998 Lambeth Resolution 111.2 “that those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans” For loyal Anglicans around the world this obviously does not mean “accepting the decisions of the Church of England - and of the Crown-in-Parliament” as Miranda believes, so her historical perspective is misleading. In any case a loyal Anglican in England is signified by holding to the Anglican formularies such as the 39 Articles rather than any notion of institutional obedience.

    Steven Pascoe

  13. Andrew Godsall, Exeter29 January 2013 at 11:40

    Phil: Not sure what my marital/family status has to do with anything but I have been married more than 30 years and have three adult children.

    Steven Pascoe: I'm certain Miranda realises exaclty where the phrase comes from. It was, of course, used at Lambeth 1998 but also debated by General Synon in 2006.

    As to loyal Anglicans holding to the 39 articles: we now simply assent to them as 'historic formularies'. People from Reform, like John here, might have a particular liking for them but this is a tiny tiny minority of people within the C of E and many of the 39 articles have now been clearly outdated. They described a very political situation at the time of their origination and are 'historic' and 'formulaic' rather than dogmatic. Interesting history.

    The impression that Reform in particular gives is that it wants to live in some separate little bubble. Fine. But don't pretend it has anything to do with being a loyal Anglican. Reform and FiF simply don't trust bishops and are quite open about it. How much more disloyal could you be!

  14. Andrew,

    You need to read over your post & those who asked you the question. I don't think Phil as asking about YOUR personal marital situation. Rather, what will you accept/promote next.

    As for loyalty, 39 articles etc. Bewildering. So, Anglicans are what Anglicans do then? There is nothing to anchor it, just the whims of the majority. This is just like OT Israel. In fact, distrust, doesn't show disloyalty, it shows either paranoia, or that the object of trust hasn't demonstrated that they are worthy of it, or both. As for 39 articles etc. What is your church? Not the "Once recieved", not, "with angels, archangels & all the company of heaven", i.e. not the church found around the world and through time. But a group of aging committees of a small denomination on a small island off the coast of Europe. That isn't The Church.

    So, if you've ditched the 39 articles to history & to be consistent you'd have to ditch your liturgy too, "with, umm, just us here" - then why not just set up a new denomination, with a big dressing up box and start everything from scratch, because you've scrapped the Bible, the doctrinal formulaes of the C of E and historic witness of the church, all that's left is what a few people left fancy doing. So, then gay marriage, etc. fine, just do your own thing. But you need to come clean and own that.

    1. Andrew Godsall, Exeter30 January 2013 at 15:48

      Maybe Phil could tell us exactly what he WAS asking about then? He very clearly asked if I was married and had children. How else can that question be interpreted?

  15. Andrew

    "I'm certain Miranda realises exaclty where the phrase comes from. It was, of course, used at Lambeth 1998 but also debated by General Synon in 2006."

    If she did, she did not mention it. And she would also realise that as the General Synod quoted the Lambeth Resolution verbatim, the meaning of 'loyal Anglicans' is determined by its original context (nothing in the General Synod resolution is contrary to this).

    The point remains: bishops are not going to be a focus for unity in the church if none are appointed who would be representative of a significant minority who are 'loyal Anglicans' and who do not accept women bishops as biblical.

    Steven Pascoe

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  17. Derek

    Still no answers from the liberals about my question where next?

    Temple Prostitution? Cannot see it working myself. There would be objections. Too cold in most Churches

    However, I cannot foresee any theological objections the way we are going.

    Can you?

    After all it will be argued. Jesus had dinner occasionally with prostitutes and perhaps Mary Magdalene was once one.

    Anyway like homosexuality Jesus never spoke out against Temple Prostitution. So using the same argument…….

    Seriously, what I don’t get is.

    What is the utopia Andrew and his ilk are hoping for. Say they succeed in their attempts to further weaken the family and corrupt our children. (As I said before this will only happen if we men are so weak to let it happen. It is so sad to me that we as fathers, need to protect our families even from people within the church). What then? Do they really think that their brothers and sisters in Christ will thrive if morals and virtuous behaviour are optional?


    1. Just to qualify one thing on re reading. I'm not saying that the liberals in the Church are necessarily bad people. It is just the wishy washy anything goes faith as Carl describes brilliantly below corrupts, especially children minds.

      As Christian parents our role is constantly undermined by schools, the media, popular music, their friends and the wider society. We don’t need to be undermined as parents by the Church in addition to all of this.

      The reality is that we are.


  18. Andrew Godsall

    They described a very political situation at the time of their origination and are 'historic' and 'formulaic' rather than dogmatic. Interesting history.

    So what then is the doctrinal center of Anglicanism? Does it possess anything other than the words in the prayer book - words that sit passively on the page and allow themselves to be manipulated as the reader sees fit? Is that the genius of 'broad Anglicanism?' To define nothing and draw no lines lest someone fall beyond the boundary?

    It seems an Anglican may believe anything he likes about any number of subjects. Is Jesus divine? Perhaps. Was he born of a virgin? Some may think so. Did he physically rise form the dead on the Third day? Well, that's the story. Did he die for the sins of men? Some call it divine child abuse. Does God even exist? Well, that's an interesting question. This is all very interesting history. It would be terribly unAnglican to speak about dogma when regarding such matters.

    Ah, well. At least we know one thing an Anglican MUST believe. He MUST believe in bishops. And he MUST trust bishops as well. To think otherwise would be disloyal. Well, now that we have settled that perplexing question, perhaps we could return to the esoteric stuff about the divinity of Christ.


  19. Perhaps we could leave the dead to bury their own dead.

  20. The Church of England does have the Declaration of Assent made by every licenced clergyperson ( plus canons /prayerbook etc....), not enough to satisfy someone who wants tight confessional boundaries I admit. Nor a church for someone who finds a broadly catholic polity... parishes not gathered congregations, a threefold ministry etc and liturgical worship unnecessary or theologically wrong.....but since 1689 they have been able to find a home outside the National Church.No one is forced to be part of it anymore.

    Perry Butler

    1. Perry Butler

      How about something that would at least defend the essentials of the Christian faith? Or has Anglicanism become a de facto denial that essentials of the Christian faith in fact exist? There is much talk about not separating over 'secondary' issues. But I can't seem to detect any primary issues.

      If you want to know why Anglicanism in general (and the CoE in particular) is disintegrating into particulate matter, this is why.


    2. Andrew Godsall, Exeter30 January 2013 at 15:45

      Carl: haven't you heard of the Nicene Creed? It was good enough for quite a few centuries of Christians to defend the essentials of the Christian faith, so why do you think we need something else? Perhaps your church is one of those which no longer bothers to say it on a Sunday?

      As to bishops - the C of E is an episcopal Church for goodness sake! If you don't want to belong to an episcopal church, why belong to the C of E? There are plenty of other options

      Phil: I fully agree with you on one thing. I certainly feel the need to protect even my adult children from the kind of nonsense clearly pedalled by the church you want to belong to.

    3. Andrew

      I belong to an Anglican Church

      The vicar is a member of Reform.

      Guess what it is the ONLY Anglican church in the area to have easily met its quota and seen real growth.

      I wonder why?

      Presumably soon we will be closed down. Cannot have people being taught Bible nonsense!

      From your comment Andrew you would rejoice.

      You still haven’t answered my question. After WB and Gay sex in church is accepted by all (Of course if the Bishop says it is OK we must be Loyal Anglicans and agree… or else!) are you planning more “initiatives”.

      If so what other fun things can we to look forward to?


      You adult children need protecting against my views? Are your adult children so weak in the faith that they need protecting? Or have they seen first hand that a faith that says the bible is optional is a faith built on sand,


      PS Honestly now, how many of your “adult children” actually are active members of a church?

    4. Andrew Godsall, Exeter30 January 2013 at 17:36

      Have no plans or initiatives of my own Phil. Women Bishops are already a reality in the Anglican Communion of which you are a part. Have been for years. Ditto clergy and laity in same sex partnerships. What makes you stay if you find these things so distasteful?
      I don't think my adult children are any of your business Phil. Why did you want to know if I was married and had children in the first place?

    5. I stay because our vicar says that the middle road is the most difficult.

      Far easier to start your own exclusive church

      We may be forced to of course. But until that time we will continue to be a thorn in your flesh!


  21. Andrew,
    2 can play at that game.
    You say ask Carl if the the Nicene Creed is good enough (there are of course 2 other catholic creeds). Someone will ask you back, "Creed? What's wrong with the Bible? Isn't that good enough for you? The Church coped with that for long enough".

    But the reason why the creeds were written was because people were chucking all kinds of new rubbish into the mix. Part of the point was to say what Christians Don't believe, as much as what they do, that they weren't Arian, or Modalists.

    Later, other documents were written because of the issues of their day, for the Anglican, the 39 articles. Others have more specific ones.

    When you say, "If you don't like bishops get out" (well I have but I'm running with your logic & sort of answering as an evangelical anglican for a moment) - why are bishops more intrinsic than say, 39 articles? In the declaration of assent, for e.g. more is given to them. In which case, why don't YOU go & join another option. It always seems to be evangelicals are told to leave if you don't like it. If people like yourself like it so much, are you always trying to change it & introduce new things? The very point that Carl etc. were making is "leave it as it is". You're saying, let's change stuff, if you don't like it leave - that doesn't make sense.

    For most Anglicans the problem isn't Bishops, but an experience of certain bishops and the HoB in general that makes some feel that they are untrustworthy. That isn't intrinsic to being a bishop, just the current collection.

    Typically, you haven't actually answered any of the questions put to you. But one more, what is the nonsense pedalled by Phil that even adults need protecting from?

  22. Andrew Godsall, Exeter30 January 2013 at 17:28

    Darren: I can't see any questions put directly to me that I have not answered.
    Please tell me what it is from the Creeds that I am trying to change? Nothing that I can see.
    You are right, the 39 articles addressed issues of their day. We don't have the same issues any longer (civil war, succession of the monarchy, anti Roman Catholic feeling, suspicion about sacraments, vestments, candles etc etc) and this is the reason the 39 articles are simply historic formularies.
    We still DO have bishops as part of the threefold ministry we share with other 'catholic' churches.
    The nonsense pedalled by Phil's kind of church (please note what I said - not Phil, but the kind of church Phil wanted to belong to): literalism, sexism, headship, lack of generosity, self righteousness, self justification,......I could go on.

  23. Andrew

    It is not me but the bible that says that women and men are different and have differerent gifts. If you say that this is sexist then so be it. This is reality and part of the created order.

    You sound like the guy in life of Brian that "wants to have the right to have babies"

    As to lack of generosity, self righteousness, self justification,..I admit to all of these failings

    Do you?


  24. Andrew Godsall

    [H]aven't you heard of the Nicene Creed?

    Yes, I have heard of it. I have heard of bishops 'crossing their fingers' while they say it as well. Bishops!

    It was good enough for quite a few centuries of Christians to defend the essentials of the Christian faith, so why do you think we need something else?

    Then why do you have clergy in the CoE who deny essential articles of the Christian faith as enumerated in the Nicene Creed? Each of the items I listed above - Divinity of Christ, Virgin Birth, Physical Resurrection, the nature of the Atonement, and the existence of God - relate directly to Creedal statements. If the Creed is sufficient, then why is it routinely denied?

    Unless you are saying that there are many acceptable understandings of the Creedal clauses. But this stands the purpose of the Creed on its head. It denies the very thing you are trying to affirm - that the Christian faith has essential doctrinal content. If multiple understandings of the Creedal clauses are accepted, then there isn't essential content. Men would be required to give assent to nothing more than the words on the page, and not to any meaning implicit in the words. If I can attach any meaning I like to "on the third day he rose again from the dead" then it is no trick for me to give assent to the words. I am not constrained by that affirmation to say anything in particular.

    If you want to use the Creed, well and good. But you are going to have to define what those clauses mean, and then hold people accountable for believing them. Boundaries are useless unless they are enforced. If (for example) a member of the clergy denies the virgin birth, then remove him from the clergy. He has denied an essential of the Christian faith according to the very standard that you have specified. He is a false teacher and a wolf among sheep. But of course this will never happen. You couldn't get uniform agreement of the clauses of the Creed. And that self-evident fact puts paid to this whole idea of the Creed acting as a standard.

    In fact it is a blind. It gives the illusion of spiritual unity to preserve organizational unity. The ambiguity and sparseness of the Creed is precisely the point. We can all say the same words, and yet avoid making any firm doctrinal claims on the conscience of the man next to us. File that under 'broad church.'


  25. umm, that sounds rather self righteous & self justifying. & you know about their lack of generosity? I know for a fact, that per head giving in certain Evangelical Churches in the poorest 5% of Parishes is higher than any in their Diocese... except for Evangelicals in richer areas.

    I don't know if you want to change anything from the creeds or not, directly at least. That wasn't my point.

    Surely if you're going to say that we don't face the same issues that they did for the 39 articles, the same applies to the creed. Now, as it happens, I think that the articles are subordinate to the creeds. BUT, the creeds are subordinate to Scripture. As the creeds make clear themselves "according the Scriptures" & Athanasian, even more so!

    So, you're not being consistent. You're saying
    - 39 articles, just historic, what some Anglicans believed in the 1500s. How interesting
    - Creed - binding
    - Bible, ?unclear? interesting, binding when it talks about some things, but not on gender issues, morality, sexuality, anything that would embarrass us in front of the neighbours
    - Bishops - binding to make ourselves 'catholic'

    BUT, 'catholic' goes beyond the 3 fold offices. That would include views about marriage, & that "Priests" & Bishops be men. So that doesn't really stack.

    Of course, Presbyterians (& others) would say that they are also catholic, as they believe the catholic creeds & historic Christian doctrine. In the Bible Presbyters & Bishop is used interchangealy & bishops had a rather different role in the early church. But we'll leave that to one side.

    The questions you didn't ask, were Phil's about where do you see this stuff heading. & IF you do want "progress" to stop at some point, then where & why?

    My question to you would be 2 fold. 1st If you believe the creeds do you "literally" believe, that Jesus is both 100% God & man, that he was born of a virgin (as typically understood), that he died for our sins (as understood by those who wrote the creeds) & that he PHYSICALLY rose from the dead & ascended, & that the Spirit has spoken through the prophets?

    If the answer to that is yes, then the follow up is WHY? None of that is obvious from looking out of my window. The reason why I believe all that is because it is the teaching of the Bible, which informs me of what I'd otherwise be ignorant of. Once you've accepted that, what stops you accepting other plain teaching from the Bible, which, if you want to be 'catholic' about it, has been recieved, & accepted for 2,000 years. Unless of course the church hasn't been catholic, untill recent times!?!?!

    1. sorry, the question you didn't ANSWER, not ask. I type faster than I think

  26. Andrew

    OK you will not or cannot answer my questions

    What I don't understand is ...

    Why are you a vicar when you don't believe the bible is true?

    You also obviously hate the sort of church that believes. Why? The things that we believe, are they really beyond the pale and totally unacceptable to you? The things you mention (literalism, sexism, headship, lack of generosity, self righteousness, self justification,) even if they are all true just means that we are sinners. We know that already and need to accept the sacrifice of Jesus to make us right with God.

    Why are you so keen to force the acceptance of your views onto other Anglican Christians? Are we all “living stones” or not?

    Every day we meet people with messed up lives and broken hearts because they conformed to the wisdom of the world.

    What can the church offer these people if we simply do likewise?

    Cornelius was not told by Peter that you are basically a good guy, just carry on and you will be saved. Cornelius needed to be transformed.

    If we say that rules are optional. Scripture is optional. What are we saying? Faith is optional?
    Is that where we are drifting to?

    That is the road to anarchy not God.

    I don't hate you like you seem to hate me or my Church. I just don't understand. Why?


  27. Phil,
    I believe Andrew is a Canon in a Cathedral not a vicar. While I see where you are coming from I do not think that Andrew anywhere in his writings suggests that he 'hates' you.

    As for literalism, then I think there is a case to be made against an unthinking interpretation of biblical passages by many evangelicals that fails to take into account both the cultural and social contexts in which they were written which I think is what he means. That is acknowledged as such by many evangelical scholars. Not that I suggest that you do this.

    Chris Bishop

  28. Chris Bishop

    I should love to know the definition of 'unthinking interpretation.' Such a construction is principally employed to suggest that the advocate's position is the 'thinking interpretation.' Surely the 'thinker' must be more correct than the 'non-thinker.' It's a clever way to win the argument by definition.

    I do not think that an accusation of 'literalism' has anything to do with interpretation absent the 'cultural and social context.' A sound exegete of course considers the 'cultural and social context.' The problem arises when the exegete asserts a universal Scriptural imperative that others would prefer to nullify on the basis of 'cultural and social context.' In other words, it's a problem of authority, and not understanding. 'Literalism' is a disguised attack on Scripture as Norma Normata.

    People who take Scripture 'literally' are often juxtaposed with people who taken scripture 'seriously.' The former consider the Scripture a binding source of authority that cannot be normed. The later consider Scripture one authority among many, and apply it as they think best in combination with other authorities. That is the actual nature of the conflict. As always, we find men seeking to silence Scripture so that man may be heard.


  29. umm ... Norma Normans, not Norma Normata. I blame Microsoft.


  30. Andrew Godsall, Exeter31 January 2013 at 09:46

    Oh this thread gets better and better!
    Phil: please make your questions a bit clearer; I have no idea what you are asking.

    BUT before that we need to address carl's incredible allegation regarding bishops and the Creed:

    "I have heard of bishops 'crossing their fingers' while they say it as well. Bishops!"

    Seriously? C of E Bishops? So you have names and proof of this? Please tell us so that we can be sure you mean what you say. Names. Proof.

  31. Andrew Godsall

    Seriously? Quite serious.

    C of E Bishops? Did I say 'CoE bishop?' But why on earth should that matter to a general case about the ability of the Nicene Creed to act as a standard of Christian orthodoxy?

    So you have names and proof of this? Please tell us so that we can be sure you mean what you say. Names. Proof.

    Gene Robinson, for one. He is the source of the 'cross you finders' statement. If you want proof, go to Google. It's not hidden.

    Now perhaps you could address the substantial portions of my post, instead of dealing with these ancillary issues. Or is it simply much easier to pound the table about names instead of rehabilitating a failed argument about the Nicene Creed?


  32. Actually, contrary to Andrew's assertion, I think this thread is not getting 'better and better'. In the interests of giving you all the chance to do something more useful, therefore, I'm closing it!

    Two things I would try to encourage if you want to keep threads open.

    1. Try and stick to the topic of the post you're commenting on.

    2. Remember, especially if you occupy a pastoral position, the admonition of 2 Timothy 2:25 "Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth."