Thursday, 11 July 2013

A 'Must Read' Article

There aren't many things that qualify in my view as 'must read' articles, but this from Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude, is one of them. Here is a taster:
The Church of England knows it has a crisis on its hands. It thinks the crisis might be solved by gently persuading enough conservatives to overcome their convictions and vote yes for women bishops. I am convinced the problem is far deeper than that. I think we hold dramatically different understandings about the nature of God and they are irreconcilable. I believe in a God of love. They believe in a nasty, rule-bound, vindictive God who despite everything they say, hates gays. Until they overcome their prejudice, they will continue to drive the church towards a precipice. Until people, especially in Synod, have the courage and awareness to proclaim that God looks totally different from the conservative’s version of God, the majority of people in this country will treat us with disdain and many church members will continue to abandon the church.
You can read the rest here: A health report on the C of E following the York Synod And don't miss the reference to God as 'she'.


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33 comments:

  1. I am glad that Coward has made things clear; evangelicals and liberals like him believe in a different God and Gospel. 2 different religions.

    Ro Mody, Bournemouth

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    1. All I would add, Ro, is that Coward thinks our religion is not just different but morally deficient. They are therefore not just irreconcilable views but incompatible - which is to say the view he represents cannot allow the other view to 'coexist' in the same denomination.

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  2. John, are you not giving Rev Coward more importance than his views merit? He might like to seemlessly segue women in the episcopacy with his LGBT agenda but that doesn't mean the rest of us should. There are lots of people (like me) who support women's ordination but have no wish to be part of his 'team'. These two issues are quite separate and should be seen as such. Fern Winter, London

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    1. Fern,

      Many, not merely Coward, are linking women in the Episcopate with the LGBT agenda.
      The argument goes like this:

      1. Both issues concern sexuality/gender.
      2. Both issues concern central Gospel issues of equality, freedom, and justice.
      3. Both issues concern a hermeneutic of Scripture which interprets the bans on same-sex acts and women in church leadership as pertaining to the particular historical and church contexts of the 1st century, and therefore these texts are not applicable in today's very different culture.
      4. Both issues concern the interpretation of Gal 3:28 as the key for justifying both SS acts and women in leadership.

      You may believe that the issues are quite separate but more work needs to be done on the reasons why they are totally different.

      Ro Mody, Bournemouth

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    2. Fern,
      I'm delighted to hear that although you disagree with us on the headship stuff, you're with us on this one.

      But, there are 2 problems.
      1st political. I'm now on the outside of the CofE, but as those who hold the balance of power marginalised the "John types", or as they leave, so people like you will become the new conservatives. The "Colin types" will become, relatively, a bigger group, or less diluted.

      TEC is a test case there, the "conservatives" there although are associated with REFORM etc. are far closer to Fulcrum. REFORM/FiF types had long gone.

      Related to that, WATCH link the 2 and view women bishops as a significant step to the next thing.

      2nd, is it that different? On the last thread you had a bit of a go at headship in marriage. You didn't re-define it, you through it out. So why ditch those words and not these? & by the way, I am equally appalled at the examples you gave (& heard of another today, through mutual acquaintances, offered to try to meet with the guy...) but but what are we doing with NT words on the subject.

      Colin Coward certainly isn't the only one who links the two.

      Darren Moore
      Chelmsford

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    3. Out of curiosity, do you have any links to show WATCH linking the 2? I had a quick look through their website and can't see anything.

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    4. Women's ordination and gay clergy 'causes' are theologically distinct - but I agree that they are, politically, sometimes treated as almost interchangeable. And it does indeed seem to be the case that most women-priests are theologically liberal (for entirely understandable reasons), and that the push for gay clergy is primarily from liberals - including women. Each 'cause', typically overtly but certainly tacitly, advances the other: both are conceived as 'justice' matters by liberals.

      Delete
  3. Saying that the group you seek to "gently persuade" believes "in a nasty, rule-bound, vindictive God who despite everything they say, hates gays" is not a good start.

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  4. I have blogged with a number of "guys" on the C Attitude Site

    The views are certainly different!

    All sexual activity is good. Married, unmarried, Gay, straight, poly etc etc.

    All justified under the Gal 3:28 thing. I do of course mention that Paul mentions sexual relations specifically in some of his other letters.

    But in their worldview, Paul was wrong in some of his letters and correct in others!

    Ah so now we know then!

    Phil

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  5. Talktalk classify Changing Attitude's website as "Pornography". What does that say?

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  6. Fern

    The evidence is from around the world especially in Anglican Churches in the west, is that once Women are in the episcopacy, acceptance of the LGBT agenda is not far behind.

    I seems that both share a low opinion of scriptural integrity.

    Both put "me" rather than God first. What is more of a problem is that they infer it is perfectly acceptable, desirable even, to put "me and my needs" rather than God first.

    Phil

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  7. There is something to be explored by what he means by a God of love. Coward's God certainly doesn't love conservatives!

    But neither does he forgive, for there is nothing to forgive. So, there is no grace. Which means it's a works based religion, although VERY easy works. Hence always a slight tinge of arrogance, condescension and self righteousness.

    Rather, the Christian should be humble, even broken, then raised up... says that a few times doesn't it?

    Now, I'm sure someone will say Evangelicals are arrogant. Well, they certainly say what people don't want to hear. And yes some probably are, but then our theology tells us that's likely and we need to KEEP being reformed

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  8. Something to ponder:
    Proverbs 3:5-8

    Who is wise in their own eyes?

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  9. They believe in a nasty, rule-bound, vindictive God who despite everything they say, hates gays.

    Translation: "They believe in a God of Holiness."

    The Love of God in liberal conception is reconstructed into an expression of human autonomy. It begins with the assumption that man is basically good, and that therefore his autonomouus desires are basically good. Justice becomes an effort to enable people to act upon their autonomous desires. The "God of Love" becomes an ex post facto divine justification of human desire - a means to functionally deify autonomous man. This is the essence of liberal religion.

    "Holiness" by contrast begins with boundaries, the transgression of which produces divine wrath. Justice is a correct alignment reward and punishment with behavior. Man being a natural trangressor faces wrath for the sake of justice and the whole of the Gospel falls out. This is the essence of orthodox Christianity.

    Two very different religions indeed. Why be unequally yoked?

    carl

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    1. Good one Carl.
      Those who claim a lack of love from a Conservative God in reality are saying, 'Take me as I am'.
      They have no appreciation that they are loved but not their sin as defined by the scriptures. There is provision as to how to deal with those who refuse to change their way but how many churched apply that procedure today.

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  10. Good question Carl. I do not think it will be long before the yoke will be broken.

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  11. The sad thing is that the "yoke" is already in the process of breaking. Those, like Colin Coward, who disagreed with the way the CofE did things from a liberal perspective sought to change the church and remain. Many from a conservative perspective who disagreed left. What was once a truly broad church is now a lot less so.
    Is leaving rather than seeking to change the way evangelicals will always go? I know that I have my line in the sand that, if crossed, will show to me an irreversible decline (homosexual acts officially given the ok) but I just wonder if thing might have been different if we hadn't lost so many in the light of women priests.
    It also makes me wonder whether my own line in the sand is one I should stick to or ignore in the hope that what I may perceive as irreversible is reversed by God?

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  12. What I find difficult is the reluctance of the C Attitude type Anglicans in engaging in any discussion.

    At a recent weekend away,the speaker clearly had pity on us unenlightened Anglicans. "Don't you get it Jesus conquered sin, sin has no power over us and so we are free". Fair enough. But try "God does not judge us by our sins so we should accept sinful behaviors in others" Meaning of course homosexual acts. However, when I suggested that the speaker should therefore accept me getting up and knifing his wife and child to death in front of him (The child was in kids club, but the wife looked a bit worried) He just refused to answer and just looked pitying on me again

    Have I missed something you clergy types, because I am still confused!

    Phil

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  13. John,

    Is this anything new? A revisionist Anglican is simply telling one et al what Revisionists really think of Reformed Anglicans. He is simply being honest.Perhaps Coward is simply dropping the pretense of saying things like "We are a broad church, we can all be united" because he this so called unity that is being promoted by revisionists is faux-unity.

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  14. John:

    Mr. (Prof.) J. Gresham Machen, one of those several scholarly lions from old Princeton Seminary of the early 20th century, a Confessional Presbyterian, nailed the "basics" on this in "Christianity and Liberalism." Liberalism is not "Christian" along the major loci of theology.

    Colin nails it too--we, quite accurately, do have different views of God.

    Donald Philip Veitch
    Jacksonville, NC

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  15. Donald,
    You are (or rather Machen) right. The problem is how "Liberal" Christianity phrases it & at times how we do. They say that there's is a God of love, we might say that he is holy. Maybe a better distinction is that the contrast is a knowable God (traditionalist) with an impersonal un-knowable fuzz of love (liberal-ish). Hence they can't hold love, forgiveness holiness, justice & judgement together.

    For "us", God is still in a sense mysterious and incomprehensible, yet because he comes down to our level we can know some stuff truly. For the "liberal/liberal-ish leaning", how can they really be sure he is love, or anything at all?

    Darren Moore
    Chelmsford

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  16. John - do you think, realistically, that there is a way for these two "irreconcilable" groups to go their separate ways amicably? I'm sure that would be best, but it's hard to see it happening.

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    1. Forgot my location: York (but the Netherlands at the time of writing)

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  17. "But I did have conversations with some bishops for whom church attendance is more important than allowing people to find a path to faith that really does open hearts and minds and lives to God’s presence in the core of our being and in the unfolding energies of an evolving universe".

    I have a lot of sympathy with his frustration with bishops (and others) for whom the only thing that matters is church attendance. But that is a very revealing sentence on how God is known. I suspect the influence of Jurgen Moltmann, who has an essentially panentheistic conception, in which God develops along with creation.

    Stephen Walton
    Marbury

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  18. Not only is it a different concept of God, but of freedom. Jesus said to take up our cross and die is to find life. The gospel is often counter intuitive, which is why it's "week to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks".

    I'm sure "we" sometimes make our God sound far to grumpy. I thought this little piece brilliantly gets the 2 Gods 2 freedoms (& grumpy Evangelicals) really well
    http://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/blog/usefulresources/2013/07/15/the-not-so-straight-and-narrow-way/?utm_source=f-150713-02&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=blog

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  19. There does seem to be a feeling around that if our position as believing Evangelicals and Catholics becomes impossible within an increasingly unbelieving and disobedient C of E, we've lost Anglicanism and therefore have to disappear into the wilderness.

    Au contraire!

    Those Anglicans who believe in Jesus, the Scriptures and a balanced ministry of Word and Sacrament have a welcoming home with GAFCON, who form the largest group of Anglicans in the world. I, for one, cannot wait to be under the leadership of its bishops.

    Praise the Lord and roll on the GAFCON Nairobi Coference 2013!

    Mike Keulemans

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  20. Youthpasta 12 July 2013 08:40 - You ask if WATCH link the two issues. Well, those of us with long memories can tell you that some time ago they decided to throw in their lot with Inclusive Church, and their proud boast was that only two of their members resigned because of this.

    I can't find anything on their website, but they are certainly linked as supporters of Inclusive Church.

    http://inclusive-church.org.uk/links (scroll right down to the bottom).

    If you are in any doubt, you can read IC's Mission Statement here:

    http://inclusive-church.org.uk/about-inclusive-church

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  21. YP
    Likewise, I remember a statement, now can't find it. The statement was jumped on by a few people because it described women bishops as a bridgehead to "full inclusion", or something like that. And although I think we have to be careful about guilt by association, Jill's point is fair. Also on their website lots of talks are delivered at St James' Picadilly, which promotes "various spiritualities". So, they haven't tried to distance themselves.

    The question for Fern & others who are very pro women bishops but want to hold a trad line on sexuality; is your preferred fellowship with the complimentarian lot, or those who think we (including Fern) worship a different God?

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  22. After some women get "justice" and later homosexuality is cool and accepted by all (or else!) what then?

    What is next in a our brave new non biblical world?

    Greed OK? Murder? (sorry that is OK already, false witness?(um..."are we there yet?" with this one?)

    Or something sexual? Poly seems likely, but my guess is abandoning the requirement for faithfulness altogether.

    God loves us, he made sex good, (steady on didn't sex evolve?) so the more we have the better it must be for society. Quantity before quality perhaps?

    One thing for sure it won't stop with WB and gay is OK. Why should it if the Bible is irrelevant or is a pic and mix?

    Phil

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  23. Another thought on the different God idea. Colin Coward said "liberals" & "conservatives" have different Gods. But it seems that as well as Colin inventing his own God, he has actually invented "ours" too, i.e. it isn't really our one! This is a helpful interview.

    I like the line:
    ‘We want to be welcoming and rightly inclusive because Jesus and the gospel are for everyone. But part of the gospel is that God loves us enough to challenge us, change us, frustrate us and contradict us.’
    http://www.christianitymagazine.co.uk/Browse%20By%20Category/features/A%20different%20kind%20of%20coming%20out.aspx

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  24. I'm a traditional Anglican, respectful of the Anglo-Catholic theology but leaning towards the Scriptural, Reformed end myself. Hooker's three legged stool makes much sense to me, so I'm flexible , up to a point. I have yet to see any authoritative theology , justified in terms of Scripture, Tradition or Reason , in that order, to justify women Bishops and I have my doubts about female ordination as well. However I think I've decided that whilst I will work, as a Reader, with a church that has female priests and female bishops, but I will not stay if there are moves to redefine what it is to be male, female or the meaning of the concept of "family". So I will not stay if same sex relationships are deemed to be fine, as alongside the traditional way of seeing mum, dad and any kids families. That is my line in the sand. I will get on board an Scriptural based ex-Anglican, preferably but not necessarily, group. There are limits !

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