Saturday, December 18, 2010

Extra Credit Question

Compare and contrast:

John McCain maintains we cannot move forward with gay & lesbian equality in the military until the military completes its study and when the study is completed, he maintains it didn't ask the right questions.

The Anglican Orthodites maintain we cannot move forward with gay & lesbian inclusion in the Anglican Communion until we have "done the theology" and when we point to the theology that has been "done" they maintain we haven't done the right theology.

500 words. Open book. Get your Blue Books out. Ready. Set. Go!


Ann said...

Anglican Illegitimi -- bah

JimB said...

This is the position of an incompetent standing in the middle of the highway saying "NO!" to God's movement through history. Exactly the same crud was said about women bishops in England last Summer, about women clergy throughout half a dozen Christian churches, about various ethnic minorities and slaves. John McCain will go down in history next to Strom Thurmond, the Klan and AC-NA.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

They are mirror images of each other. "Stall and fall," that's their strategy. Shhhh . . . They think we don't know.

Nicole Porter said...

Not.The.Same.Thing. As soon as you separate the two (and delete the one, and you know which one), you might have more credibility.

Charlie Sutton said...

From the point of view of an Anglican conservative (part of which is the conviction that God inspired the Bible so that it conveys his truth, rather than the Bible, and other sacred books, being attempts by human beings to explain and explore their spiritual experiences), "progressive" Christians are indeed able to gin up justifications for certain positions they wish to take, using the Bible and tradition. However. doing so often seems to mean some implausible assumptions and some leaps of logic. Furthermore, while there seems to be "a theology of this" and a "theology of that," there is no systematic theology that puts the whole picture together. In fact, there seem to be a variety of semi-systematic theologies (depending on the interests and aims of the authors) that seem to have some presuppositions and objectives in common but which may clash in terms of actual theological statements on a number of fronts (or maybe not; the little reading I have done of them is like my reading French - I get some things but find much of it incomprehensible).

There are two other things I have noticed. One is that "progressives" are delighted to cite the OT and the Sermon on the Mount or parables when they want to show why people should lobby the government on tax legislation or issues of foreign policy - but run in horror when someone suggests, using other biblical texts, that sexual moral behavior should be regulated in some way.

The second thing that I have noticed is that "progressives" seldom counter the theological arguments of conservative Christians with a theological argument, but are much more likely to castigate the person as psychologically unbalanced or otherwise use an ad hominem argument. Indeed, a lot of "progressive" theology seems to be more psychological than theological.

uffda51 said...

Charlie, the theology couldn’t be simpler. “For God so loved the world. . .” Not just the straight world, or the conservative world, or the American world, etc. The world includes epileptics, lepers, red-haired people, left-handed people, people of all colors, and all the others we no longer demonize by citing the Bible.

Nicole Porter said...

uffda, please finish that passage. John didn't say that "God so loved the world,so we can do whatever we please". There are conditions that were put in place for salvation.

Charlie Sutton said...

uffda, of course our relationship to God is centered in John 3:16. Indeed, God loves everyone and invites everyone to come to him in faith. He makes no distinction - for all are sinners and no one can be acceptable before God on the basis of who he or she is or what he or she has done. As Isaiah says, "all our righteousness is as filthy rags." Our only hope is in God's mercy, and the atonement made at Calvary.

But does that mean we can do as we please? I love my children, but I did not simply let them do whatever they thought was right. God has told us what we are to do, and we are to do it - not to earn his mercy, but to reflect our thanks. God's aim for us, as Rom 8:29 reminds us, is to make us to be like Jesus in character, for if we are like him in character, we will do the kinds of things he did. It is a lifetime process - and it is all of grace from above.

On another note, as a left-hander, I have searched the Scriptures for God's thoughts on left-handed persons - and I have found none that say he rejects them. Nor have I seen any passages that write off the red-haired or anyone else you listed. God has told us that there are actions and attitudes we are to repent of and refrain from, and other actions and attitudes we are to adopt - but Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." NOBODY is written off - God loves us all - but that does not mean that God simply smiles at us and says, "Do what you feel like."

Ann said...

Nobody is saying we can just do anything. What we are saying is we do not believe there is anything that prohibits loving same sex relationships nor do we find anything in the Bible that prohibits them. The passages in the Bible do not speak to this subject at all. This is the one thing we are discussing and it is not sin though you may believe it is. Spend your energy on some other subject - like world hunger and our role in that if you want to talk about sin.


It's a busy week-before-Christmas and Southern California is about to flood off into the Pacific, so let me make this necessarily brief:

Charlie ... the atonement is A way to understand the salvific power of the cross. Not the only way. I can drag out a bunch of old patristics papers but not today. Maybe during Lent.

And since it (the atonement) isn't the one that works for me starting your argument with atonement as an absolute loses me from the get go.

I think Ann covered the ever-popular "anything goes" argument. But if you need more, here's from my Holy Family Values sermon:

"The Christ Child made the Holy Family holy – what made them a family were the values that bound them together as an icon of God’s love for the whole human family. Those values have nothing to do with either the gender or the genetics of those who make up a family and everything to do with the inclusive love of the God whose deepest desire is for this human race – created in God’s image – to become the human family it was meant to be."

Finally, on the left-handed thing, I think you've made "our" point. There isn't anywhere in scripture that condemns left-handedness but that didn't stop the Church from persecuting left-handed people as "from the devil" during the Spanish Inquisition.

There's lots of great work debunking the "clobber passages" that have been used by the Church to do the same thing to gay and lesbian people ... twisting texts out of context to try to condemn life-long committed relationships with passages condeming cultic prostitution and ritual rape.

Finally ... as I head off into this dark and stormy night ... you might want to take a look at John 3:17. It's kind of the punchline.

Charlie Sutton said...

Susan, thank you for your patience in the face of both Christmas preparations and the ghastly conditions in southern California.

I am not trying to persuade you or anyone else of the rightness of my position. These comments are rather seeking to help you understand why conservatives say that you have not “done the theology,” even though you have written on the subject.

I have three points to make, hopefully briefly –

1) Your way of using Scripture is deficient from the point of view of conservatives. For instance, X cites John 3:16 and you cite John 3:17 as though these two verses trump any other verses. These verses do indeed reveal the love of God for all and that Christ did not enter human existence to condemn humanity. Yet you ignore the next few verses (18-21) that speak of the condemnation of some because there are those who “loved the darkness rather than the light.”
To use a somewhat inaccurate analogy, it appears that progressives treat the Bible as garden from which they may go and pick flowers as they desire to make an arrangement that pleases them. Conservatives, on the other hand, see the Bible as a wonderfully landscaped garden than is to be viewed and appreciated as a whole, and where each flower needs to be seen in the context of the whole.
While progressive writings often deal with what you call the “clobber verses,” no progressive writer has (I believe) sought to address all the verses on marriage and sexuality. And no progressive writer has been able to counter the work of Robert Gagnon, who has written extensively at both the popular and scholarly levels on the biblical rejection of same-sex sexual activity.

2) There is also an inherent conflict in two assertions that one sees in the progressive justification of same-sex sexual relations. On the one hand, it is asserted that the authors of Scripture did not know that sexual orientation is a congenital condition over which the individual has no control. (The idea of congenital orientation has yet to be shown conclusively, which is another area to address). Because of this ignorance, it claimed that the authors did not know what they were talking about and their prohibitions can be ignored. The second assertion comes when Romans 1 is being discussed. When Paul speaks of same-sexual relations in verses 24-27, he uses the term “contrary to nature.” Here it is claimed that Paul was talking about those with a heterosexual orientation acting contrary to their created orientation by engaging in same-sex intercourse. For those with a same-sex orientation, it was perfectly natural and so not condemned. (The text, however, is not talking about the nature of those involved in sexual behavior, however, but about people acting contrary to the created nature of human beings as a whole.) There is a disjuncture between the first assertion, that the authors did not know about orientation, and the second, which makes the prohibition apply to one orientation but not the other.

Charlie Sutton said...

3) In your “family values” sermon, and in the writings of other progressives, the focus is entirely upon the subjective nature of the relationships. The reality of physical creation having male and female is ignored, as is the proclamation that God created humanity in his own image, “male and female he created them.” So are Jesus’ own references to marriage as being between a man and a woman, based on the sexual differences made in creation and called “very good.”
To focus entirely upon the subjective aspects of familial relationships (which are vital aspect, of course) but ignore or denigrate the physical differences created by God is to enter the realm of the Gnostics. To claim that the difference between male and female is simply a matter of “plumbing” is a theologically dangerous move.

I have tried to be brief in describing the reasons why conservatives find your theology inadequate, but I hope I have been clear.

Theology aside, I hope that you can have a blessed and peaceful Christmas, and I am praying for relief and for all the recovery and repair that is in store for you all.

Charlie Sutton said...

PS - as a Protestant Christian, I would not, and can not, seek to defend the Inquisition. That was the Church of Rome run amuck. They had no biblical warrant whatever.

Ann said...

Charlie - what about those who fall in between the categories of "male" and "female." There are a variety of sexes - not just 2 - how do they fit in your world?


Charlie ... thanks for taking time to share your perspective.

We could go on and on ... but that isn't going to happen on the day before the day before Christmas.

What this reminds me of is the experience of a colleague of mine who was defending her doctoral dissertation which (in a nutshell) explored the post-systematic nature of feminist theology.

The critique of the panel? Her dissertation wasn't sytematic enough.

We've "done the theology." Some folks don't agree with our conclusions or argue with our hermenutics. Not agreeing with it isn't the same as not doing it.

Thanks for the Christmas wishes. Back atcha.

(But be careful about that Protestant Pot calling the Roman Catholic Kettle black stuff ... the Salem witch hunts were in their way another kind of Inquisition.)

Anyway, Happy Ho Ho and Blessed Christmastime.