Nous -'knack' in scouse? Nous: Greek 'mind' some use? Nous: we -French- oui? Oooh. Life -don't talk to me about life: me with this pain down the diodes in my left side ... Here's not-nearly-random-enough loggings of what feeds my promiscuous curiosity. Your pay-off is some useful[?] links and provocative thoughts but also more insight than you may care on my thought-processes.

20 January 2013

Tweets, twits and the word of God

I've just been reading twitterati responses to Steve Chalke's reappraisal of homophile relationships (see my blog post a few days back). I'm a little concerned by the failure of many conservative responses to think through the logics of their responses. (PS -'twits' in the title may seem provocative -I understand that 'tweeters' or 'twitterers' might have been less so lest anyone think I was passing a judgement rather than simply enjoying the word play. Iow -no offence meant and the word is now enshrined in the permalink).

Here's a few that concern me and some comments on why I'm concerned |(I'm not naming people because I'm wanting not to get into personalities but you can find the originals at Twitter #SteveChalke).
How often does apostasy begin with a leader taking the authority of the Bible "seriously"?
This one concerns me because it implies that the only way to take the authority of the Bible seriously is by only letting it say what we've already decided it says. This, of course, would not pass the slavery test.

Or this one
So cofe and  have both entered the Christian hall of shame. Anymore takers compromise and popularity awaits! But heaven doesn't
Ironically, this one works by appealing to popularity -in this case stay popular with 'our set' by rejecting popularity with 'their set'. Compromise and popularity work both ways and both are neutral with regard to truth.

Then there are the reactions that almost literally demonise those who disagree:
How many more so-called  leaders like  will betray the Saviour?The  is riddled with a Judas spirit.
This worries me because there's no discussion allowed: 'my/our interpretation is right, end of ...'. And so there's no way to recognise the Christian bona fides of those designated opponents. 'Judas spirit' completes the demonisation allowing those who disagree to be written off as beneath contempt and certainly consideration as real Christians. Even 'love your enemy' would be better! This is the equivalent of sticking fingers in ears and saying "Lalala". The problem with this is that outsiders will see that and see someone precisely trying to remain faithful to the Saviour by upholding justice and compassion (at the very least) and being met by some of the so-called faithful not acting with love and generosity and mercy. Hardly going to commend the faith, is it? When we disagree we do so in public. The way we disagree is part of our message. If we fail to treat one another in disagreement as we would ourselves like to be treated, we have signally failed to love our neighbour as ourselves. The watching world will note that we don't really take Christ's most fundamental teaching seriously and conclude that we are indeed hypocrites.

Back to a response that fails the 'further implications' test:
If you follow the path of 'Did God Really say...?" You walk straight towards its author! Doesn't generally end well.
The problem with this is that it is actually too broad. The effect of this move is to outlaw any questioning of received interpretations (and by 'received, in effect 'our ...' or 'my interpretation' is meant). The point of any Bible study is to discover what God might be saying and any honest discussion has to ask 'does the text say ...?' in relation to contexts whether these contexts are historical, cultural, textual, developmental or whichever. This is not the same thing as saying 'did God say...?' as it is seeking to understand in the first place.

This is compounded by a misleading implied hermeneutic of the Genesis 3 passage alluded to. In Genesis 3 the serpent asks 'Did God really say ...?' and presents an exaggerated and deliberate misunderstanding of God's instruction to Adam. The purpose seems to be to create a conceptual space which by implication portrays God as a niggardly power against humanity. This is not what Steve Chalke is doing. In actual fact, he's probably doing the reverse.

Of course, the real frustrating difficulty here is that it takes a particular result of the enquiry into what God might think of sexuality (one that could be flawed by human frailty and sin) and uses that conclusion to outlaw other conclusions without entering into an enquiry about whether the means by which that conclusion has been reached actually do 'hold water'. In a sense it 'forgets' that it too is a result of interpretation while dissing other views for being evil interpretations.

How about this
another step away from evangelicalism
Which seems implicitly to define evangelicalism as a position on human sexuality: Steve actually engages the debate as an evangelical -he uses Scripture as authoritative and recognises the wider debate. This response is a further example, I think, that too many Evangelicals actually rely on the authority of their leaders' interpretations and positions than on the values of historic and classical Evangelicalism.

So, it's sobering to note how many response seem to be more about shoring up received interpretations than engaging with the substantive issues raised.
For further tweets and comments on them go here.
For an earlier post asking just what counts as sex and suggesting there should be some comparability between homo and heterophile relationships ....


Gilda Fleming said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andii Bowsher said...

Gilda -flattering though your comment appears to be the strange appearance of what seems to be advertising links makes me think that you're messing us about. My policy is to delete any comments that don't deal with the issue in the post. Flattery gets you no-where, real conversation might.