Open door?

by Richard on March 14, 2008

PamBG has some serious issues about the welcome that’s offered by the church

I’m deeply saddened by the knowledge that gay people feel that they have to leave our churches. My understanding was that, as a denomination, we were working toward taking the position that all people were welcome in our church, whatever their views on homosexuality. My understanding was that we were trying to accommodate people of all views as being valued in our churches.

This is a really important subject. In my experience, whatever we may say about offering welcome to all, the church does struggle to be welcoming to gay men and lesbians. Some big steps forward have been taken, but it is impossible to be complacent when so much naked prejudice still exists. Probably the best we can say is that homosexuals are less likely to meet open hostility in Methodism than in some other churches, but that’s a long way from being good enough.

Pam’s post reminds me of the case of Mehdi Kazemi, the 19 yr old Iranian homosexual who has been refused asylum in both Britain and the Netherlands, and who faces execution if he is returned to Iran. Happily, the British Home Secretary has agreed to review his case. If you’re British, please consider writing to your MP asking them to urge Jacqui Smith to grant this young man asylum in this country.

More than 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran since 1979.

Update: Sign the online petition. (Thanks, Paul)

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Kim 03.14.08 at 10:26 pm

Of course Pam isn’t the one who has some “serious issues” here, but thank God the church has people like her trying to help those who do, with gentle persuasion or righteous indignation as the particular case demands.

Peter Kirk, who sounds to me like what might be called a “moderate”, asks (on Pam’s blog) whether pastors should “conduct witch-hunts against anyone who displays any attitude which could be remotely considered as not entirely welcoming to gays.” Witch-hunts over attitudes? No, of course not: pastors aren’t the thought-police But any behaviour that is unwelcoming or discourteous, let alone offensive - yes, a pastor should- must - confront such folk and tell them that they are well out of order and that as long as s/he is their minister such behaviour will not be tolerated. It is a matter of church discipline.

Peter Kirk also says that there must be “tolerance in both directions”. Such an attitude shows complete ignorance of the power asymmetry involved here. The ethnic analogue is that there must be “tolerance in both directions” in racist communities. If Peter simply means that gays and lesbians must be as disciplined, patient, absolutely non-violent, and as fully prepared to suffer for righteousness as were the civil rights activists in the US and the anti-apartheid campaigners in South Africa, then what he says is unobjectionable. But I suspect he is speaking as if we have a level playing-field here and we most certainly do not.

So keep the faith, Pam, and know that you’ve got a lot of colleagues who are with you.

Finally, I am not a big “joiner”, because I don’t like the idea of “parties” in church, but there are two causes which, for me, belong near enough to the category of status confessionis - peace and homophilia - such that I belong to CANA (Clergy against Nuclear Arms) and the LGCM (Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement) - and I would urge colleagues and friends to join today.

2

PamBG 03.14.08 at 11:17 pm

Peter and I have been disagreeing for some time over the issue of how the church responds to homosexuality. As I indicated in my post, I’m prepared to be in fellowship with people who believe that homosexual acts are sinful and I believe that this is the only way that denominations won’t split. As far as I understand it, he sincerely believes that it is people who believe that gay sex is sinful that the church is persecuting. I was assuming that his post was directed at what he sees as being my intolerance.

3

Kim 03.15.08 at 12:06 am

What intolerance? Who are you persecuting? (”None” and “no one” are the correct answers!)

More to the point, what persecution do Christians who believe that gay sex is sinful actually experience? One heard a lot of this when the URC was heatedly debating the issue a decade ago. Often it seemed to amount to nothing more than hurt feelings that the church they know and love now has lesbians and gays in it. That is serious abuse of the word “persecution”. That is taking offense when none is being given (Calvin, by the way, makes this crucial distinction when discussing life together in the church). If, however, Christians who believe that gay sex is sinful are made to feel unwelcome, or experience discourteous or offensive behaviour, then, as with Christians who take a different view, that should not be tolerated.

The rubric is Romans 15:7: “Welcome/Accept one another as Christ has welcomed/accepted you, for the glory of God.”

4

James 03.15.08 at 12:14 am

A controversial topic which I think some people in the church show an unheathly obsession over. The problem is that it is impossible to accept homosexuals into the church without disregarding the authority of Pauls Epistles and with that much of our understanding of Christian Theology.

“he sincerely believes that it is people who believe that gay sex is sinful” Paul goes further than this and in Romans suggests that ‘unatural urges’ were given to them by God bacause of sin. Therefore, it is not alright (according to Paul) to be gay but not practicing as being gay is itself a punishment for sin.

So where do you go from here?

5

Beth 03.15.08 at 12:37 am

To spare Kim’s blushes, I would suggest you go to Faith and Theology and have a read of his Propositions on this subject.

6

PamBG 03.15.08 at 9:04 am

Kim, I’m going to let Peter speak for himself as it’s always dangerous to speak for another. I have put to you what I understand his and my past disputes to be.

Paul goes further than this and in Romans suggests that ‘unatural urges’ were given to them by God bacause of sin. Therefore, it is not alright (according to Paul) to be gay but not practicing as being gay is itself a punishment for sin.

Three comments:

1) I honestly don’t think that one can read that passage in context and come away believing that Paul was talking about faithful homosexual relationships or even that he was ‘zeroing in on them’. ISTM that he’s describing a culture of excess: sexual excess, gluttony and greed.

2) As a heterosexual person, am I absolutely certain that I am not affected by ‘unnatural urges’ such as gluttony or greed? Have I never lusted over someone who was not my husband? I wonder how many good Christian heterosexuals can honestly say ‘no’ to all three?

3) Do I honestly believe that at the time of judgement, Jesus is going to condemn me for honestly believing that the best way I could have treated the two little old ladies who lived together for 50 years was to love them? I don’t think so.

(I use the example of two little old ladies - pardon the Politically Incorrect terminology - because I knew two women who lived in such a relationship. Sadly, one has now died.)

7

Kim 03.15.08 at 10:07 am

Pam’s first two points are good ones (as is the third!). For Paul the human condition as such is disordered (that is the rhetorical thrust of Romans 1:18ff. - to suck in his unsuspecting Jewish audience who might think he is having a go at Gentiles alone, and then - wham! - Romans 2:1 - gotcha!). As far as disordered sexual desire goes, as that great Pauline scholar Augustine observed, that includes heterosexual desire as well as homosexual desire, but what he called concupiscentia covers all desire (cf. Pam’s gluttony and greed). Paul’s focus on “homosexuality” is explicable in terms of his historical, cultural, and religious (and non-scientific) context. What is ours? And do the conditions still hold? Would our thick descriptions of “homosexuality” match Paul’s? Are we talking about the same thing? Or might we bless practices and relationships which, through the Holy Spirit, seek to reorder disordered desire, homosexual or heterosexual? These, I think, are the questions that need to be addressed.

8

James 03.15.08 at 10:31 am

Go on then Kim - address those questions. I understand the context of Romans and it is quite clear that for Paul homosexuality was the very depth of depravity. He says this in the most his theologyically important book, Romans. If we argue that Paul is just a man who didn’t know science or whatever, then we are undermining much of what our system of Theology is based on.

PamBG - I don’t see how your points change anything.

Also earlier on you talked about respect and tolerance for the views of others. Have you got any Biblical references for that?

9

Kim 03.15.08 at 12:17 pm

Hi James,

I already have. I would (thanks, Beth) refer you to my “Twelve Propositions on Same-Sex Relationships and the Church”. Go to the sidebar at “Faith and Theology”, click onto my “Propositions” and you’ll find them.

Btw, as my mother would say, you seem to have a bug up your ass. There is no need - yet! Of course I have no biblical reference for this.

10

PamBG 03.15.08 at 4:24 pm

PamBG - I don’t see how your points change anything.

I’m not sure what it is you want to ‘change’, so I don’t know how to address your question.

I’m saying that I think we all sin in the same way to a greater or lesser extent. I don’t know whether you’re saying this or not, but if we’re going to exclude homosexuals from the church on the basis that church is a club for saints rather than a school for sinners, then we will have to exclude ourselves as well.

If don’t make a gay person so uncomfortable so that they leave my congregations, what will God ‘do’ to me at the final judgement? My last question is quite serious: Will I be punished for loving the elderly lesbian couple? Or will I be punished for not trying the change them into heterosexuals? Or will I be punished for not hounding them out of my church? This seems to me like a way of focusing the mind, don’t you think?

11

Andy 03.15.08 at 5:05 pm

HOW CRUEL WOULD GOD BE?

How cruel would God be?
If He, if She,
Created people like you and me,
With a need to love,
With a need to be loved, Only to be denied, and condemned,
Just because we differ from the ‘norm’.

How cruel would God be?
If She, if He,
Said it would be great to “love one another,
Bt only if you’re straight”
How cruel would life be,
If I love you, and you love me,
But our love can never be, except platonically.

How cruel would God be?
If He, if She, if It,
Made people like you and me,
Different, yet the same,
With the same needs, Only to be despised and rejected,
Just because we aren’t “socially acceptable”.

How cruel would God be?
If She, if He, If It, If They,
Said it was unnatural, immoral, unacceptable, a sin,
To love someone, who, like you and me,
Was made, created, in the image of God,
Straight, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
All different, all the same,
How cruel would God be?

12

Andy 03.15.08 at 5:27 pm

I’m not an intelectual, a minister or priest, or a theologian. So I don’t really understand some of your arguments.

I am, however, a Christian, and a gay man in a faithful, loving relationship. I became “Born Again” 21 years ago. Since then, I have been made to leave so many churches because I am Gay. I have been through “Healing” ministry and been proclaimed “Healed” (Straight) - twice. I have been verbally abused, thumped (to beat out the spirit of Homosexuality); told that people like me shouldn’t mix with ‘decent, normal people’ - people like me should be ’shot, or hung’. This is the welcome, love, acceptance that gay people face. We have chunks of the Bible thrown at us; by people who think nothing of being serial adulterers, with several broken marriages, because at least that’s “Normal”. We get people telling us that they must “Love the Sinner, but Hate the Sin”; as far as I can see it is just a way of justifying Hate.

My REAL “Healing”, came when I accepted myself for who and what I am. I am now in a church that loves and accepts me, and my partner. We are both actively involved in the life and the ministry of our church. And accepted just as any other ‘couple’, which is what we are.

Let me leave you with a question. Would Jesus Discriminate?

13

James 03.15.08 at 8:22 pm

PamBG - you’ve missed the point entirely. You points mean nothing as they do not address the way we look at the works of Paul.

So Andy - not being emotive or critical - how do you deal with the passages written by Paul that say it is wrong? You focus on Jesus which is fair enough but Paul has structured Christian Theology to such a large extent that if we undermine his authority what are we left with?

Kim - Beths link does not work. If you want me to read your propostitions then paste them in the comments or something.

I note none of you have yet tackled my question about St Paul.

14

PamBG 03.15.08 at 9:21 pm

James, St. Paul is not my issue. I’m not attempting to answer your question because you are treating St. Paul as someone who wrote infallible case-law that can be objectively applied to all people in all times. I believe that St. Paul was - like me and everyone else - fallible, context-bound, writing a letter to an individual situation and not writing case-law.

Experience tells me that there is no point in trying to have a conversation.

And if all you have to say to someone who has testified that they have been verbally abused and thumped is ‘How do you square it with St. Paul’, then I think you’re missing something important.

15

James 03.15.08 at 9:43 pm

PamBG - you miss the point yet again. I am not saying ‘I love St Paul - he is infallible’. I am asking how you can pick and chose what he says in order to fit what you want him to say? Ultimately your reponse has just shown you’re making all this ‘religion’ stuff up.

16

Dave Warnock 03.15.08 at 10:36 pm

Andy,

I am so pleased that you have found a supportive and loving church that you and your partner are able to contribute to - that is encouraging news. But I am greatly saddened by all that you (and so many others as Pam originally pointed out) have had to go through so much to find that church home. I struggle with my own responses to churches that are not loving and welcoming of all people who wish to come to know and worship our Lord. I so wish that your experiences of intolerance and lack of love were banished from all churches.

Pam,

You are so right in your fight on this issue, I am 100% behind you.

James,

Reading this thread it appears to me that you have not answered other peoples questions while demanding that they answer yours. Why not try answering those of others and reading what they have written (for example Kim’s propositions on this issue do answer most of your questions.

I also want to say to you that when I hear simplistic statements about scripture with blanket statements about what Paul said and exactly what it means today then I wince and want to ask you if you have really wrestled with the ambiguities, historical context, linguistical challenges and complex theology of Paul. Not only that but have you taken what you hear in Paul and really spent time working through how that relates to the gospels. I know that Pam has done that and it is obvious from all Kim writes that he has too - to me (and yes this is an entirely personal feeling) your comments can appear aggressive and full of certainty that is unsupported by the Jesus of the Gospels in the first case and by the scriptural evidence in the second.

In a sense as Pam has already done I challenge you to tell us how you feel Jesus will respond to Andy face to face. Then to go with those other challenges Pam has made on how God will respond to the way she responds to people who are gay. [Actually, unless your response is going to be Christlike please don't bother - as Andy has pointed out people who are gay have already had more than enough abuse from Christians].

17

PamBG 03.15.08 at 11:04 pm

I am asking how you can pick and chose what he says in order to fit what you want him to say?

Right. ‘I’m not saying you ever beat your husband. I’m asking you when you stopped beating him.’ Right.

18

PamBG 03.15.08 at 11:06 pm

James, the bible is full of ambiguities and contradictions. I read all of Scripture in the light of the life of Christ as best I can discern the message of Scripture through tradition, reason and experience. I don’t consider my interpretation as infallible; I simply do the best I can at interpreting. I don’t condemn people who disagree with me about homosexual acts, but I do have very little patience for people who have little use for compassion.

19

James 03.15.08 at 11:56 pm

I think Kims propositions on the issue are pretty delusional. As with much Theology - it’s just made up. I would be very embarrassed about using them as an argument with someone like Dawkins simply because of their weakness.

Dave - I do not know how Jesus would respond to someone like Andy but i do have a fair idea about how Paul would… You say Pauls writings are affected, and therefore made subjective, by the historical context. However, you are too conceited to see that so too is your own opinion affected, and therefore made subjective, by the historical context that you think in etc…

PamBG - I simply do the best I can at interpreting” what I (you) want the passage to say?

I personally am undecided about this particular issue - but it does concern me that if we take a more liberal approach we are admitting what Paul wrote came out of his own head - and none of it from God.

20

Dave Warnock 03.16.08 at 1:22 am

James,

“You say Pauls writings are affected, and therefore made subjective, by the historical context.”

Sorry but that is rubbish, I never said anything of the kind.

Studying Paul in detail and that must include every aspect of the context is not about subjectivity (actually it is a lot about being subject to the text, forgive the poor attempt at a pun).

You are implying that if Paul’s writing is related to context then is cannot be inspired. That has to be rubbish. It is like saying that the teaching of Jesus is not connected to his being a Jew and all that entails.

As for the comment “I do not know how Jesus would respond to someone like Andy but i do have a fair idea about how Paul would…” then my response is that as a Christian I worship Christ not Paul.

21

BD 03.16.08 at 1:33 am

James, quite unlike you, Kim might have actually debated Dawkins.

So when did you stop beating your wife?

22

Methodist Preacher 03.16.08 at 9:29 am

Why is it that discussion threads on this blog often end up with personal abuse?

23

James 03.16.08 at 10:26 am

Dave - it’s becoming quite clear that you’re just making all this stuff up. Lets face it your not really engaging with Paul, you’re just making up what you want him to say through poor arguments. “I worship Christ not Paul.” But as I have said - Paul formed early Christian Theology to such an extent that to undermine him would leave you with nothing.

BD - I don’t understand what you wrote but you probably intended it to be offensive so just go away.

24

PamBG 03.16.08 at 12:31 pm

PamBG - I simply do the best I can at interpreting” what I (you) want the passage to say?

What? Where did I write that?

I see you’ve written it about me, but I’ve not written it.

Why do you expect me to defend propositions that you’ve made up out of thin air?

Here’s my version of reading your mind: You obviously have no intention of listening to anyone else, so it’s not worth trying to communicate with you.

25

Dave Warnock 03.16.08 at 12:46 pm

James,

“it’s becoming quite clear that you’re just making all this stuff up.”

What precisely have I made up?

“Paul formed early Christian Theology to such an extent that to undermine him would leave you with nothing.”

a) I have never mentioned abandoning Paul’s teaching, only studying it carefully and with respect.

b) Leave me with nothing!?!?!?! Sorry where is the Christ that Paul teaches us of. What happens to the Gospels?

26

Kim 03.16.08 at 1:34 pm

Hi James,

How dare you call my Propositions “delusional”! “Crap” perhaps - join the club! - but “delusional”? Nor do I have the imagination to make all that stuff up. Better to have accused me of plagiarism.

And Dawkins - where did he come from? But as you imagine engaging the Great Satan in argument, how do you think he would respond to your “But Professor Dawkins, St. Paul said …”? That’s some apologetics!

As with everyone else here that you are talking at, you have to address the question of the nature and authority of biblical texts, and wrestle with the issue of hermeneutics. Otherwise you are being not only intellectually but also theologically obscurantist and irresponsible. Personally, I don’t for a moment think you are that stupid or reckless. I reckon you’re just winding us all up. I had to check my calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st!

Take care,
Kim

27

Bene D 03.16.08 at 1:44 pm

James this is not like you.
You have been here a long time and are able to engage politely and thoughtfully on all kinds of topics.

In this thread you are the minority, and your distress is painful.
The cognitive dissonence isn’t ours, it’s yours.

People are trying to be sensitive to your anxiety without capitualting to your demands.

We understand nothing is good enough for you, you are not going to project without being called on it.

You have been treated fairly.

I’m was not abusing you, I was hoping to ease you down.

David is right because he says so.
When it comes to berating David should know, he’s the master.

With Hallam circling there will be blood in the water soon.
You get your demand. See ya.

28

Andy 03.16.08 at 4:38 pm

Dave Warnock & PamBG. Thank you for being the voices of reason.

James. Do you actually know any gay people? Thankfully I don’t have to answer to you, or Paul. Jesus loves me and gave his life for me, just as with all us sinners. It is Jesus that I follow, and it is to him that I will have to answer. As will you, and your ‘friend’ Paul. Do you think your argument was in the least bit original? As if I haven’t had Paul’s writting thrown at me a million times before! (And yes, I’ve had all the OT verses thrown at me too).

Would you like me to tell you about a local man who was so badly treated by his church because he had gay “feelings”, that after they had kicked him out of fellowship - he went home and hanged himself?

Shall I tell you about a 15 year old boy, who guiltily confessed to being gay to his church, and was held down to be ‘prayed over’ and then violently raped?

Do you know what it is like when people who are supposed to love you withdraw their friendship? Do you know what its like to have people assuming that because you’re gay you must have AIDS and refuse to sit by you?

Hope you and Paul are very happy together. As for me; I’ll stick with Jesus.

29

James 03.16.08 at 5:32 pm

First of all I’d like to put the homosexuality issue to one side as I think the thread has moved away from that. (Also it’s a more emotive issue than I expected and some of you are getting upset)

This is about the authority of Pauls Epistles. There can only be two schools of thought:

1) The Shelby Spong group where Paul is just some bloke who wrote stuff 2000 years ago, enterpreted it for him and his time but now is redundant due to context etc… This I understand and it is quite a strong argument.

2) The view that Paul was inspired by God and that everything he writes has Gods approval. This helps when dealing with more imaginary concepts like Grace and Justification but for our enlightened minds we cme unstuck when it comes to creationism and (of course) homosexuality.

However, you people seem to be in the middle. You will accept his teachings about Grace and the Love of of God as universal truths, but when it comes to other things like wrath and homosexuality you say his view belongs to his time. However, as Shelby Spong argues - his view of justification etc… could be explained away as his personal view etc… just as you guys are explaining away his views on homosexuality. Finally I would like to point out your Theologys are a product of your times just as much as Pauls Theology is.

Where do you stand on this?

“He has sat on the fence so long the iron has entered his soul” Lloyd George

30

Kim 03.16.08 at 5:57 pm

James, now you are being embarrassingly ridiculous. Your two options - Spongian liberalism and “The Bible says” fundamentalism - make the entire history of the church, from the the second century Apologists to contemporary Radical Orthodoxy, quite simply unintelligible. To steal Nietzsche’s great image, you do theology with a hammer - which is why it isn’t surprising that everyone seems to look to you like a nail. Slow down, please, and learn to be more discriminating.

31

Methodist Preacher 03.16.08 at 5:57 pm

Bene D.

One of the good things about blogging is that you get to know some really good people.

One of the downsides is that you get abused by someone you don’t know.

A major problem with Connexions is that it quickly descends into personal abuse.

One of the reasons why these days I only observe and rarely participate. It isn’t worth the abuse.

32

James 03.16.08 at 6:32 pm

“James, now you are being embarrassingly ridiculous.”

OK. I note you haven’t actually given any logical reasons why. Why is Galations 3:28 a valid passage and Romans 1:27 not?

33

PamBG 03.16.08 at 7:51 pm

There can only be two schools of thought:

There can only be two schools of thought? This is something that you can just state authoritatively, with no argument whatsoever? Case closed? No other viewpoints allowed? And you say it without nary a bit of theological, biblical or rational defence? It is very rare that there are ever only two points of view on any subject.

And see Kim’s post.

As far as this statement goes: You will accept his teachings about Grace and the Love of of God as universal truths, but when it comes to other things like wrath and homosexuality you say his view belongs to his time.

My precise question to you is that you appear to be happy to accept biblical statements about wrath yet when it comes to Jesus’ teachings about grace and the love of God and not casting the first stone, you don’t even seem to believe that these come into the picture? How do you justify your approach?

And my answer to these questions is that we both have to wrestle with the contradictions - you and I. And we might come out with different answers.

Just as you keep repeating your Pauline question over and over, I could equally just keep asking you over and over ‘Why do you ignore Jesus’ command that only he who is without sin should cast the first stone?’ But that wouldn’t really result in a conversation. I have to say that I’m amazed that you seem to think that the teachings of Jesus have little to do with Christianity?

34

Richard 03.16.08 at 10:42 pm

James - You ask: “Why is Galations 3:28 a valid passage and Romans 1:27 not?”
The answer is of course that they’re both ‘valid’ (whatever that means, but they both need interpretation if we’re to understand what they mean.
You suggest that the only available alternatives are (essentially) fundamentalism or the liberalism of Spong but, as others have tried to say, there are a huge variety of different approaches to scripture. If I’m reading you correctly — and I accept I may not be — you appear to believe that ‘inspiration’ has to mean that the scriptures were dictated. If you’re interested in exploring some of these issues a bit more deeply, see if you can track down a copy of Stephen Dawes’ little book, “Why Bible-believing Methodists Shouldn’t Eat Black Pudding”. It’s a very valuable introduction.

David - I’m sorry you feel that way, but if connexions bothers you that way I don’t think anyone forces ou to come here. For what it’s worth, I no longer feel able to comment at your site either, so maybe we’re quits. I’ve got no interest in falling out with you. Life’s too short.

35

BD 03.17.08 at 1:15 am

“One of the downsides is that you get abused by someone you don’t know.
A major problem with Connexions is that it quickly descends into personal abuse.”

I agree David, the up side of blogging is you do meet really good people, interesting, diverse and unique people. I enjoy reading people with different viewpoints, dissent is not disunityl Abuse is rampant and best avoided, depending on our personalities.

The internet is a free for all, you wouldn’t want to know some of the abuse connexions writers have experienced. We’ve learned.
And you showed you dish it out with the best of them.

I’m pleased and relieved to read you are choosing to lurk, I’m tired in living in fear of your comments, and I to chose some time ago not to comment at your blog out of self respect, boundary setting and respect for you.

Richard where can that book you recommended to James be found? I’d be interested in reading it.

Andy, Pam, Dave, David, Beth, Kim thank you for your challenging look at pastoral care and church member acceptance.

Andy your story is powerful, I commend you and recommend beyondexgay, SoulForce, Peterson Toscano and others for doing what you are doing, sharing their experiences and for enlightening and educating us.
I’m so sorry you went through abuse and rejection, joyful you have found peace in Christ and in His community.

36

Methodist Preacher 03.17.08 at 5:55 am

No problem Bene. I don’t recall anything of consequence on my blog from you, but feel free not to contribute.

37

Richard 03.17.08 at 7:46 am

David - I’m sure I won’t be the only one who notices the irony of you complaining about personal abuse and then in the same breath dismissing someone else’s contributions as of no consequence.
I’ve got no idea why you feel such animosity towards me and my blog, but it clearly doesn’t do your blood pressure any good. Have a good Holy Week and Easter.

38

Methodist Preacher 03.17.08 at 12:57 pm

Richard, I thought this could have been an interesting thread, even referring to it on my blog. I thought James put up some interesting arguments and was disappointed that it so quickly was dismissed, often in an abusive fashion.

As to dismissing Bene D’s contribution to my blog - I really can’t remember if he had ever contributed. Perhaps the words “of consequence” (which may seem ironic) may be a reflection of my 5.30 am start!

Still an interesting thread, spoilt by some unwanted abuse.

You ahe a Happy Easter as well. Let us hope that God speaks to us all.

39

Kim 03.17.08 at 2:45 pm

Hi David H,

Are we folowinging the same thread here? “Interesting arguments”? You should be done under the Trades Description Act! The problem is that James did not argue at all. He declared, he cited texts, he certainly dismissed arguments without answering them (whatever else you may think of my propositions, they constitute well over a thousand words of reasoning, and if James thinks they are “delusional”, well check out the comments - a hundred or so: no one among some of the sharpest theological minds in blogdom accused me of being delusional). And his tone - well, if I say anything about that you will call me abusive - that’s always your default position. Anyway, yes, have a great Easter.

40

PamBG 03.17.08 at 3:53 pm

Conjugation of the irregular verb ‘to interpret’ - as in ‘to interpret scripture’

I interpret
You imagine
He/she/it hallucinates
We understand
You (pl) misunderstand
They rebel

41

Richard 03.17.08 at 4:52 pm

  :)

42

James 03.17.08 at 5:53 pm

Methodist Preacher - to be fair Richard did address my question. It was the others who just missed the point and then got upset.

43

Methodist Preacher 03.17.08 at 6:41 pm

James - Well done for turning the other cheek. I thought some of the comments about you (from people who have probably never met you) were out of order.

I don’t always agree with you but you put a different point of view and put it well.

44

PamBG 03.17.08 at 10:15 pm

It was the others who just missed the point and then got upset.

Actually, the rest of us did answer your question. You just didn’t like the answer.

Let me ask you a question - and hear it in a ‘Mr. Spock, that’s interesting sort of way.’ Do you think your questions were neutrally-phrased and, if so, why? You and David H obviously think that you behaved well and I’d like to know why you think that.

Because, from where I sit, it looked like all-guns blazing. And if you go in shooting, you shouldn’t be surprised if people shoot back.

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fatprophet 03.17.08 at 11:02 pm

I have read all the posts here and I really do think that many of the contributors have exercised a great deal of restraint in responding to James who seems to me to come across with an ‘I’m the only one who is right’ attitude.
It is very sad when we are not willing to discuss these things in a calm way without getting all worked up and making personal remarks.
It makes me wonder where the grace of God is in some of the comments I read.
I note Richard mentions the book about Black Pudding and I had already downloaded it and skimmed through it - from what I have seen it is a very interesting read that has some very challenging stuff in it - looking forward to reading the rest.
Perhaps we could have a truce in the blogosphere the remainder of this special week and try to be nice to one another and show the love of God to all.
There is a song about the Wesley Brothers in which the chorus says , “the love of God, the love of God, the Wesley brothers preached the love of God, John would preach and Charles would sing it was a most remarkable thing, when the Wesley brothers preached the love of God” Perhaps we could be a little more like them during this week and both preach and show the love of God.

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Beth 03.18.08 at 12:39 pm

My prejudices were severely challenged the other day. I was at dinner with a bunch of people from my college, and somehow the topic of homosexuality came up. The guy sitting opposite me expressed a distaste for this topic, to which I responded “Oh, bloody hell, you’re not a homophobe are you?” He told me not to be an idiot, and I said that I didn’t want to discuss it as it would be bound to cause bad feeling. He responded by saying that that was my right, but that he was sad that I didn’t feel we could have a rational discussion about it.

So, I thought about that, and decided that he was right, and we had the rational discussion. He was a conservative Christian from America, and we really couldn’t find any points of agreement in our discussion. But we laughed about it, talked about Christ and his message, and promised to think about each other’s views. His arguments didn’t change my attitude on this, but they did change my attitude towards conservative Christians. I had been too ready to dismiss him and assume he would be crass and offensive, basing everything he said in an unthinking reading of specific Scriptural passages. But I was wrong, and I’m glad that I was.

I’m not always known for my sensitive approach to discussion and argument. I believe that we should challenge each other and not turn away from the difficult questions for fear of giving offence. But the exchange over dinner suggested to me that I should think more about respecting the people with whom I discuss these issues, and this set of comments at Connexions confirms that view.

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DH 03.18.08 at 3:23 pm

Beth, I totally agree with you on your latest post. I hope you don’t see me as “crass or offensive”. I hope you can see me like you see this person you went to dinner with. I truly see you in that way. :) May God bless you.

P.S.: I can’t believe someone like James can call you terrible things. I stand by you on that. While you and I disagree on the nature of sin on the subject we can still need to be respectful and kind in our responses.

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