Category : Theology: Scripture

(Authority & Interpretation of Scripture)

(Catholic Herald) Andrew Sabisky–Conservative Anglicans are close to despair. Is the CofE about to split?

Anyone with a lick of sense can see that the Church of England is in serious trouble. Congregational decline, child abuse scandals, and financially desperate cathedrals are just the most obvious symptoms of a very broad disease. As an Anglican, I have been confident that the Church would manage to turn things around in a few decades. After the most recent meeting of General Synod, however, I am no longer so confident.

On the face it, the Synod’s changes were all fairly minor. For all the fuss, the proposal to write official liturgies affirming the new gender identity of transgender people may well be ignored even by Church’s own bishops; and the changes on regulation of vestments merely rubber-stamps what already takes places across swathes of the Church.

But the most significant thing about the Synod was the manner in which it was conducted. The bishops stayed largely silent as Synod did theology by endless anecdote. The only notable episcopal contributions came from the liberal northern prelates (especially Paul Bayes of Liverpool). An outburst of anti-capitalism from the Archbishop of York provided comedy value amongst the general dour air of neo-Puritanism. The monotonous drumbeat of socialism and sexual liberalism was only broken by the ecumenical contribution of Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who warned Synod that it’s bad for PR and the soul to spend so much time talking about sex. His plea fell on deaf ears.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Gafcon) Chik Kaw Tan–Fundamental shifts in the General Synod

Within the next 3-7 years I anticipate three tumultuous and tragic events:

1-There will be a major split in the Church of England over sexuality issues. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury is, apparently, willing and ready to accept that.
2-There will be deep division between the orthodox who choose to remain in the Church of England and those who choose to leave (whilst remaining Anglican within the Anglican Communion or leaving the denomination entirely)
3-There will be a more formalised split in the global Anglican Communion, along with the continuing re-alignment between the orthodox across all Christian denominations.
It is time for deep reflection and prayer and we need to prepare for the evil days ahead. But for the faithful, whatever the tribulations, we can confidently trust in the God who is ‘from everlasting to everlasting.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Archbishop Welby outlines plans for exhaustive review of sexuality

Hannah Grivell (Derby) asked whether the House of Bishops had considered advising Diocese Directors of Ordinands to stop using Issues in Human Sexuality in the discernment process of new ordinands until a new teaching document is available, ‘given that it was never intended for use in this way and is 26 years old’.

To which Bishop Hardman explained that this is one of the questions that will be put forward to the pastoral advisory group ‘with some urgency’.

Jane Charman (Salisbury) asked if the House of Bishops intends to learn from the Scottish Episcopal Church and their deliberations on the matter.

The Archbishop of Canterbury responded explaining saying “we will certainly be seeking to learn from all the provincesof the Anglican Communion’, which could include Canada, New Zealand and Australia as well as other provinces who have taken a different view to those mentioned.

“They will be learned from, there’s a lot to learn from the experience around the Communion,” he added.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, “Thou art my God.” My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors! Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

–Psalm 31:15-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Is The Church of England General Synod competent?

There are several reasons why these two motions should never have been debated. The first and most obvious is that both issues will certainly be addressed in the teaching document that the Archbishops have commissioned, so the motions are trying to short-circuit a wider discussion. The second is that both take the form of false binaries; essentially they say ‘Do you agree with me—or do you hate gay and transgender people?’ No matter how faulty the wording, failing to pass either motion would not have looked like good PR, and there would have been howls of protest from various quarters. In the voting, it was evident that the bishops were acutely aware of this, and taking both motions by a vote of houses (so that they had to pass separately in each of the bishops, clergy and laity) which would normally make it harder for a motion to pass, in fact made it easier, since the bishops could not afford to be seen to be the ones who were blocking.

The third reason was the poor wording of both motions. The PMM talked of ‘conversion therapy’ but used this as an ill-defined catch-all which made proper debate very difficult. Every single speaker, including those who proposed and supported significant amendments, agreed that any form of forced or coercive treatment of people who are same-sex attracted (whether they are happy with that or not) is abusive and must be rejected. But another part of Jayne Ozanne’s agenda is to have significant movements in the Church, including New Wine, Soul Survivor, HTB and Spring Harvest labelled as ‘spiritual abusive’ and therefore illegal. This is why the motion was seen as a Trojan horse. Her motion was also asking Synod to ‘endorse’ a medical opinion, and a controverted one at that, which is simply not within Synod’s competence to do so. But suggesting that Synod ‘does not have the competence’ to express a view is like holding up a red rag to a bull (or any colour rag—bulls are colour blind). In the end we passed an amended motion that ‘endorsed’ a different medical view—but few had read the details, still less understood the issues within it, and such endorsement is meaningless except as tokenism.

The transgender motion asked for the bishops to ‘consider whether’ they should formulate some new liturgy, and in one sense that is an empty statement; they might well ‘consider’ it for five minutes and decide not. But to even raised the question of liturgy, before we have any consensus of understanding on the issue, is putting the cart so far before the horse that the horse has lost sight of it.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(PD) Nathan Smith–On sex Before Marriage: Our grandparents were right, and we are wrong

On the other side is the glory of marriage, and while there’s more to that glory than the selfish genes can explain, they shed an important light on it. For when two people marry, “leaving father and mother” as the Bible says and committing to lifelong monogamy, their genetic interests are united, at least approximately, creating a harmony of instincts. Ordinarily, our instincts put us in competition with our fellow human beings. In marriage, instinct is on the side of love.

Children are the large, obvious reason why marriage is good for society and why premarital sex isn’t. Sexual relationships always absorb a lot of people’s energy and attention, so they impoverish society unless they give something back. Marriage makes the next generation, under the most favorable conditions. Premarital sex is usually not intended for procreation, and if it does result in children, they enter life at a disadvantage because they lack stable parental commitments to raising them.

But even compared to childless marriage, premarital sex has an unwholesome character because, by failing to address genetic conflicts of interest through marriage, it allows competition, exploitation, and fear of betrayal to penetrate into the heart of the most intimate human relationships, not stealthily, but openly and as if by right. There is no way to make premarital sex promote the good of society or of the individuals involved. The world would be a better place if it never happened at all.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology: Scripture, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Prime Minister May: The Church should ‘reflect’ on allowing same-sex couples to marry

The Church of England should “reflect” on allowing same-sex couples to marry in church, the Prime Minister has said.

Theresa May also said her father, the Reverend Hubert Brasier, would have supported church blessings for gay couples.

In an interview for radio station LBC, the Prime Minister said she believed her father “very much valued the importance of relationships of people affirming those relationships and of seeing stability in relationships and people able to be together with people that they love”.

Asked whether she herself would like to see the law “evolve” she said it “had to be a matter for the Church”, adding: “the Church of England has itself come a distance in terms of looking at these issues, and obviously they will want to reflect as attitudes will generally change as society changes.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Robert Innes offers Reflections on the recently Concluded C of E General Synod

One of the things that would most effectively undermine the church’s mission would be a serious split over issues of human sexuality. Over the course of the long weekend, the Synod was bowled two difficult questions that would (again) test the church’s unity. Neither motion came from the bishops: one was a private member’s motion on ‘conversion therapy’, the other was a motion from Blackburn Diocese on ‘Welcoming Transgender People’. Both motions could be viewed as totemic of the relative influence of different groups or proxies for other issues. And, of course, both could be spun.

I have to say I found myself rather uncomfortable debating ‘conversion therapy’. The ethics of therapy offered to gay/lesbian people (and all the more transgender people) is something which challenges even those who are experts in their field. Only a very few members of synod have this kind of expertise. And I was nervous discussing a subject in the adversarial style of a full synod which bears upon issues affecting individuals and families so deeply and personally.

In the event, I think we managed to discuss the issue with openness and compassion. Two amendments had been proposed, both of which in my view significantly improved the original motion. One was defeated, the other was accepted. The final motion endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding signed up to by all the relevant professional bodies, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It can be found here. This MoU, describes ‘efforts that try to change or alter sexual orientation through psychological therapies as unethical and potentially harmful’. The motion was passed overwhelmingly.

The second issue in the sexuality area was a motion ‘recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church’ and calling on the House of Bishops to ‘consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition’. During this debate we heard several stories of people who had transitioned between gender identities, and of the mental anguish that gender variance can cause to an individual and their family/community. There was considerable debate as to how to best to respond. I felt the Bishop of Worcester expressed well the mind of the Synod when he said: ‘Our response needs to be loving and open and welcoming and the passing of this motion would be a very important factor in that.’ The motion was duly passed by a big majority.

I hope that gay, lesbian and transgender people feel reassured and encouraged by these votes. Neither vote changes the church’s doctrine….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

–Psalm 38:21-22

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(1st Things) Carl Trueman–The Church of England’s Nietzschean Proposal

In a world of change and flux, it is reassuring to know that some things remain the same. Take, for example, the motion passed by the Church of England General Synod, calling for a liturgy to help transgender people celebrate their transitions. This motion is consistent with liberal Protestantism’s age-old calling, that of baptizing the moral norms du jour of the respectable chattering classes, presumably in hopes of enhancing the appeal of religion to its cultured despisers. Transgenderism was bound for liturgical acceptance.

By now, experience should have taught even the moderately self-aware that, where religion is concerned, cultural relevance is a cruel mistress, always promising the Church a place at her table but never quite delivering. Alas, self-awareness has never been the strong suit of those liberal Protestants who have perfected the art of always being belatedly in support of whatever nonsense the sexual revolution is now declaring a self-evident truth that only a hate-filled bigot would deny. And so we have this liturgical proposal which, as with all liturgies, tells us a lot about the General Synod’s understanding of its church’s purpose. It points toward a view of the Church as offering a religious idiom for the therapeutic concerns of modern Western society. So far, so conventional.

But the proposal is actually far more sinister than the usual capitulation to the latest sexual hobby-horse. What is missing in this doubtless well-intentioned move is any reflection upon the deeper philosophical implications of transgenderism. To treat it as yet one more legitimate human choice, which can be included in the pantheon of human freedoms, is to miss the real issue. Transgenderism challenges traditional notions of human personhood at the deepest level. For that reason, it is perhaps appropriate to recognize transgenderism in a liturgy: A liturgy reveals a church’s deepest beliefs as it articulates the dialogical relationship between a people and God, and thus dramatizes who they are in relationship to each other. For the Christian, liturgy presupposes identity. Indeed, the Christian liturgy legitimates identity.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells.

–Psalm 26:8

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Al Mohler–The Agonizing Ordeal of Eugene Peterson — You Might Be Next

Consider these lessons from Eugene Peterson’s ordeal.

First, there is nowhere to hide. Every pastor, every Christian leader, every author — even every believer — will have to answer the question. The question cannot simply be about same-sex marriage. The question is about whether or not the believer is willing to declare and defend God’s revealed plan for human sexuality and gender as clearly revealed in the Bible.

Second, you had better have your answer ready. Evasive, wandering, and inconclusive answers will be seen for what they are. Those who have fled for security to the house of evasion must know that the structure has crumbled. It always does.

Third, if you will stand for the Bible’s clear teachings on sexuality and gender, you had better be ready to answer the same way over and over and over again. The question will come back again and again, in hopes that you have finally decided to “get on the right side of history.” Faithfulness requires consistency — that “long obedience in the same direction.”
That is what it means to be a disciple of Christ, as Eugene Peterson has now taught us. In more ways than one.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Monday Morning Food for Thought–Daring to Believe the Gospel, Craig Keener on Matthew 13

Sometimes daring to believe in opposition to the values around us means believing the gospel even in contrast to the practice of Christianity we see around us! These people dare to make a difference in the world for the name of their Lord Jesus. Jesus already understood what many of us who work for him have yet to learn: in the long run, drawing crowds is less significant for the kingdom than training those who will multiply the work by training others in turn. Perhaps many of us prefer numbers in the short term over spiritual depth because we lack the faith to believe that such depth is essential (compare v. 12); but fifty disciples with spiritual depth will produce greater numbers in the end than a million raised hands without commitment ever could.

We should take careful note, however, of Matthew’s description of the fruitful person: the fruitful person is the one who understands the message (v. 23). Only those who press close to Jesus, persevering until they understand the real point of his teaching, will prove to be long-term disciples (vv. 10-17; compare Jn 8:31-32; Marshall 1974:62-63).

–from his Matthew IVP New Testament Commentary

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Biblical Commentary & Reflection, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Amy Carmichael–No Scar?

From here:

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?

(also used by yours truly in the morning sermon)

Posted in Christology, Poetry & Literature, Theology, Theology: Scripture