Patricia Templeton: New 'Bible' welcome

Years ago, I was in the hospital room when a beloved parishioner was disconnected from the machines that were keeping her alive. I prayed at the bedside with her family, anointed her with oil, then stepped back to the corner of the room, trying to be both present and unobtrusive during those sacred last moments of life.

The mood in the room was somber, filled with tears and hushed voices. So I was a bit disconcerted when a man I didn’t know came up to me and heartily introduced himself as a cousin of the dying woman.

“Are you the preacher?” he asked.

I nodded yes.

“Does your church believe in the Bible?” he demanded to know.

I was both stunned and offended at the question. Out of respect for the circumstances, I quietly assured him we did indeed, then quickly stepped away to speak to someone else.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, Theology, Theology: Scripture

20 comments on “Patricia Templeton: New 'Bible' welcome

  1. samh says:

    I suppose they’ll keep saying the same things over and over again, hoping they’ll become true.

  2. Rolling Eyes says:

    More lies.

  3. AnglicanFirst says:

    The revisionist rationalizations regarding Scripture have become so repetitive and trite that I ‘tune out’ whenever I start reading them.

  4. Dale Rye says:

    Re #1 & 2: For something to be a lie or something “they hope will become true,” the speaker must know that it is currently untrue. Where is your evidence that the author of this piece does not believe every word she wrote? Calling somebody a liar requires more than your subjective belief that they are mistaken. Without objective evidence, it is no more than a personal insult. Why should I accept your good faith when it is clear that you do not accept the honesty of anyone who disagrees with you? It is far easier to dismiss everything you say as rank emotionalism without any basis in fact. Name-calling is not good evangelism.

  5. Rolling Eyes says:

    “Why should I accept your good faith when it is clear that you do not accept the honesty of anyone who disagrees with you?”

    Fine, #4, I’m completely open to the possibility that she isn’t a liar, and is instead completely ignorant about what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. Either way, she is misleading her audience.

  6. George Conger says:

    Views of scripture aside, this was a “failed” pastoral encounter. One where the “me” was of more immediacy than the pastoral needs of a wounded person.

    In the midst of death a grieving member of the family approaches a minister, asking a question. The priest responds to the hurt and anger of the words, failing to hear the emotions behind them. If this account accurately represents the encounter, it is hard not to read it as one where a tone deaf priest reveals her own insecurities and projects them upon another.

    Misdirected and inappropriate anger is very common in death. A minister should know this.

  7. Dale Rye says:

    #5: Calling her ignorant isn’t much better than calling her a liar. The article makes it clear that she is completely familiar with what the Bible [b]says[/b] about homosexuality. She just does not read that data so as to agree with you about what the Bible, taken as a whole, [b]teaches[/b] about how we should treat gay and lesbian persons today.

    She may be completely mistaken in her conclusions, and may as a result be misleading her audience, but being mistaken is a rather different thing than being stupid or dishonest. If you disagree with her conclusions, you should be attacking those conclusions directly, rather than via an [i]ad personem[/i] attack on her intelligence or honesty. That just provokes personal attacks in reply and the audience end up trying to figure out who is the nastier debater, rather than which one is more likely correct.

    Of course, replying to her arguments might require paying attention to them rather than “tuning them out.” That is admittedly a lot more work than just dismissing her arguments as the work of an ignorant liar, but intellectual laziness is no excuse.

  8. Dale Rye says:

    Re #7: NOTE BENE–I am not accusing anybody of being lazy, only suggesting that personal attacks can be a shortcut to avoid the work of engaging ideas on their merit.

  9. Christopher Hathaway says:

    Calling her ignorant isn’t much better than calling her a liar.

    So what is she Dale? Is what she says about the Bible true or not?

    Moreover, what are you?

  10. Jeffersonian says:

    I think what Dale is trying to say is that if one can offer up threadbare sophistry to support one’s belief in some stylish zeitgeist in rebuttal to 5,000 years of Scripture and Judeo-Christian teaching, you’re morally in the clear.

  11. Irenaeus says:

    Comments on this thread are becoming needlessly personal and abrasive.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    As for Templeton’s veracity, I would distinguish between personal dishonesty and intellectual dishonesty.

    I have no reason to believe Templeton personally dishonest. But her use of the shellfish argument (to use one example) is intellectually dishonest. Jesus Himself made some sharp distinctions between the Mosaic Law and the norms binding on Christians. St. Paul and later Christiqan theology have underscored those distinctions. As a seminary graduate, Templeton has studied those distinctions and is presumably familiar with them. Yet she ignores them and in so doing may gain a sort of cheap rhetorical advantage with readers who don’t know better. That is intellectually dishonest.

  12. The_Elves says:

    [i] This elf hopes that the other commenters listen to Irenaeus and lessen the personal and abrasive comments. [/i]

  13. rob k says:

    No. 6 = Are you sure what the emotions and thoughts of the cousin were? It sounded like a rude and confrontive question to me.

  14. George Conger says:

    Rob K. I was assuming it was a rude comment in my post. However, a well trained or experienced priest would know that in such situations (death, extreme stress, loss etc) rude and confrontational comments are not unusual.

    The priest in question made a rookie’s mistake of taking a comment personally … viewing it through a personal prism, rather than hearing the pain and anger in the voice of the questioner and responding pastorally and appropriately.

  15. Bill Matz says:

    Dale, two other examples of falsehoods: 1) saying that all conservatives are biblical literalists and 2) saying that the bible “promotes slavery”. In the latter case, arguing that Biblical counsel not to resist slavery = promoting slavery is equivalent to saying that Jesus’ counsel to turn the other cheek is promoting violence. At the very least these (and others) are intellectually dishonest, as Irenaeus notes, as they are deliberate and knowing distortions of what oppoents believe.

  16. rob k says:

    No. 15 – I often agree with Dale, but what you say in this post is so right.

  17. Alli B says:

    St. Dunstan’s is an extremely liberal parish. This isn’t Rev. Templeton’s first offensive article in the AJC either. What disturbs me most about this article is that it is so clear that she is unable to minister to people who do not share her particular theology. It’s all about her and, unfortunately, the large chip on her shoulder. She seems to be unaware that the current crisis in our beloved Church is on the minds of concerned Christians to such an extent that we must question whether the person wearing the collar truly shares our deeply held beliefs.

  18. rob k says:

    What should she have done or said, after telling him that her Church did believe in the Bible? The question was not only rude and confrontive, but also totally inappropriate in the situation at hand. I’d guess that he was, personally, a fundamentalist who took it upon himself to police what was happening.

  19. libraryjim says:


    have you never heard the proverb: “a gentle word turns wrath away”? In order to bring a Christian witness, we need to ‘be ready to give an answer to all who ask’ (i.e., [i]apologetics[/i]).

    Not all of us are equipped to do so in a scholarly fashion, but she certainly IS trained to be a pastoral counsellor in situations like this, and should not have taken it personally, but given a solid Christ-like answer.

    one suggestion:
    Perhaps she could have offered to pray with/for him?

  20. rob k says:

    No. 19 – LJ – I agree with you. It would have been much better if she would have handled it along the line you suggested. Thanks for the modification.