Thursday, April 09, 2015

Shared Conversations

The Church of England has embarked on a season of shared conversations about human sexuality as a result of the Pilling Report.

There are two competing schools of thought currently on this issue. What the Archbishop hopes to achieve through this process is 'good disagreement' in light of it being unlikely there will be consensus:

1. One school (my own) reads from the Bible to the culture which lands you in a place that acknowledges the shift in the culture but seeks to remain faithful to the teaching of the Bible and the historic position of the church on issues and definitions of marriage and sex. The C of E (as overseen by its Bishops), for the time being, remains doctrinally in this place.
2. The other (taken by revisionists) reads from the culture to the Bible and seeks to change the churches position on the nature of marriage to line up with shifts in both attitude and practice in (Western) culture.

I personally found this discussion an interesting and informative one that covers quite a few of the critical issues that will no doubt be raised and discussed at length during these many shared conversations. The content offers no radically new material for those who have, like me, read and thought a lot around this issue but it does collect most of the arguments helpfully into one place. Jackie Hill's short description of why Jesus is good news to all of us is well worth watching at the end and really blessed me.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I would take issue with your characterisation of the 'revisionist' position. I guess you would consider me in that camp, but I don't see it as a one-way 'culture to Bible' dynamic.

I find in the Bible a God who engages profoundly with the world, who challenges us when we stray, but delights in our arguing with, and challenging him. So I find an imperative to allow the Bible to challenge our cultural norms, but also to allow our culture to challenge [our reading of] the Bible.

Our culture tells us that on this issue the church's historic teaching is unloving, judgemental and intolerant. Many faithful Christians tell us that they encounter the love of God in same-sex relationships. So I find myself compelled to revisit the church's teaching, and I discover that the Biblical witness (as opposed to our usual translations and interpretations thereof) is scant and open to multiple interpretations.

My conclusion (and many, I know, disagree) is that the dominant reading of the Bible hitherto has been overly influenced by the attitude and practice of the prevailing culture, and that current changes in secular expectations are an invitation to us to rediscover a more authentic and accepting reading of the Bible.