Greenbelt: divided about Gene Robinson?

by Richard on September 1, 2009

Christian Today is one media outley among many carrying a Gay bishop Gene Robinson divides opinion at Greenbelt Festival headline, more or less lifting the story from the local newspaper.

Controversial Anglican bishop Gene Robinson divided opinion at the Greenbelt Festival this year as he delivered three addresses to listeners.

The first openly gay bishop in the US Episcopal Church split opinion at the Christian festival as much as he did within the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has been fiercely divided by Bishop Robinson’s ordination in 2003.

What rot.

I dare say there were some at the festival who did not approve of the Bishop’s presence. And of course, some might have stayed away because he was there.

But to say he “divided opinion” is arrant nonsense. I’ve no idea what the capacity of the venue was, but I can tell you it was a lot. And at the end of the lectures I attended, at least 75% of those present were on their feet feet applauding with enthusiasm.

“Christians welcome homosexual bishop” might not be an attention-grabbing headline. But that’s what happened at Greenbelt.

(Incidentally, I’ve put a few of my pictures of the event here.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }


DH 09.01.09 at 9:34 pm

Richard, maybe within the attendees alone we can say it didn’t cause a “divided opinion” because it is too far gone?

Thank God that Christianity is not “majority opinion” but God’s which is one where sin is not condoned.


Dave Warnock 09.01.09 at 9:53 pm


I only heard his 2nd talk. (and I confess to a snooze in the middle). What I heard was excellent and the applause was loud and sustained.

He came across as a thoughtful, sincere and knowledgable man of God who showed a great deal of grace in his attitudes to others.


Richard 09.01.09 at 9:57 pm

All I can say, DH, is that if you ever get the chance to hear the bishop speak, you should. You might be surprised.


Tony Buglass 09.02.09 at 8:34 am

DH, I refer you to my comment on another thread that every heresy begins from a point of truth which is then taken out of context of proportion. From that point of view, I have often listened to or read books by people with whom I disagree - I think I have always learned something, even if I haven’t changed my mind on our point of disagreement. The most recent such experience was reading John Spong, and talking with a friend who’s met him: I still disagree with his thinking, but he is a warm, engaging, and lovely Christian man. I suspect if you were to listen to the bishop, you might find the same thing. “Too far gone” is a very judgmental and condemnatory thing to say, and I suspect your understanding of Gene Robinson is little better than caricature.


Jen 09.02.09 at 10:09 am

Centaur’s venue capacity is 2000, and I think it was full for the 1st talk. I thought the 1st talk was better than the 2nd (and I missed the 3rd), but both were v.good. The first, The Eye of the Storm, definitely deserved the standing appaluse it received at the end.


Chris 09.02.09 at 11:28 am

In Gene’s talks, it was very clear that he was not bias or attempted to distort God’s Truth about sexuality in any way.
In all his 3 talks, he was not ignorant or judgemental in any way either.
If we listen carefully, his talks have challenged Christians of all sexual orientations (including the gays).
I am gay myself where I have tried to live a celibate life. But honestly speaking, it has always been a painful journey with very little sense of hope.
After Gene’s talks, one word that I can say is that I feel extremely LIBERATED that I can be human again.
Although that does not mean that I will now seek a same-sex relationship, but through Gene’s talks, I hope we will continue to learn to love, to forgive and to pray for one another as a Body of Christ !
Thank you.


Richard 09.02.09 at 2:39 pm

Amen to that, Chris.

Thanks for sharing that, Jen. 2000 in Centaur? Wow. (2000 immoral reprobates according to DH, but I was glad to count myself amongst them)


Kim 09.02.09 at 3:04 pm

Tony, I met Jack Spong back in the nineties when he led a three-day URC Welsh Synod Ministers Summer School. And your friend is absolutely right: he’s a great guy (and his wife is a great gal). And despite his theology (when he described Walter Brueggemann as a “fundamentalist”, it re-confirmed my view that he is well off the sane end of theological liberalism), he’s had quite a prophetic social ministry. I’d be happy to walk side-by-side with him in a Gay Pride march anytime. (Hey, I’ve walked side-by-side with atheists on CND marches, so there wouldn’t be much difference!)


DH 09.02.09 at 3:10 pm

Chris, I commend you for seaking a celibate life. I totally hear the struggle you face every day for we all have temptations and heartache with those temptations. Our God is a miracle working God that can change the hearts of people including myself. I will continue to pray for you that God will be able help you to have a free heart away from the temptations to sin that you face everyday. While our temptations are different that doesn’t change the fact they are temptations nonetheless.

Richard, I never said they were “2000 reprobates”. I will say to say it is okay to be in a same-sex relationship is a reprobate statement. At the same time, as referenced by Chris, we are seeing in Chris someone who is tempted but is not sinning. I commend him for that and we should do the same as opposed to promoting him being in a sam-sex relationship.


Queerandy 09.03.09 at 8:34 am

Dh. What is a sam-sex relationship? Who is Sam?


Beth 09.03.09 at 9:50 am

Chris, you always were human. Personally, I don’t believe in a God who wants you to go through all that pain and hopelessness for something as minor as who you get naked with.

Honestly - the Last Judgement comes, and His words are not “well done for being charitable, kind, thoughtful, forgiving - well done for being everything you could be - well done for embodying my love to your fellow human beings…” - they’re “Oh My God - you fell in love with that guy and then the two of you were naked in the same bed and then… ewww! Hell for you!” Just can’t see that happening, myself. Whatever faults his followers may have, God is not a prude.

But hey. Good luck with your journey. Be happy.


DH 09.03.09 at 1:47 pm

“…something as minor as who you get naked with.?”

How about fornication, lasciviousness, adultry? Aren’t these issues where it is “….who you get naked with.” You may call this “prude” but that doesn’t change the fact these things with regard to “who you get naked with are sin”. Homosexuality is in the same regard.

I also never said “hell for Chris”. The guy has temptations to sin like we all do just in different areas of sin. I commend the guy for being celebate and just like God redeems people everyday for fornication, adultry, lasciviousness, etc. the same can be done for homosexuality. I’m not saying it is easy nor am I saying one sin is worse than an other because temptation.

Beth, I agree we are human and we are all tempted to sin. Also, the Last Judgement is determined if one has accepted Christ as their Savior not by “works”, “sin”, etc. I will say that “by their fruit you shall know them.” So that if a person continually intentionally sins that would be a sign of “fruit” that gives an indication of the strong possibility of not being “them”.

I find it very revoulting to call God’s attitude as being “prude” when in fact it is one of Holiness where God looks out for our own good. It is for our own good that God desires Holiness in every area of our lives including sexual.


Beth 09.03.09 at 3:00 pm

I like fornication and lasciviousness. Sorry about that. I don’t like adultery, because people get hurt that way. But a bit of lasciviousness really makes my day. It’s fun, it reminds you you’re alive, it makes you feel good, it puts a spring in your step and a song in your heart. No way did God create something so enjoyable, only to force us to deny ourselves.


DH 09.03.09 at 3:29 pm

I’m not denying that fornication and lasciviousness we desire but one cannot deny what Scripture clearly states and that is those things are sin. You can deny all you want but God in the NEW TESTAMENT states these are sin. God DID create sex to be enjoyable but only within the confines of marriage bed between a man and a woman.

outside of the clear statements from God’s Word on the subject, your telling me fornication and lasciviousness don’t get people hurt let alone one being Spiritual hurt by sin?

Jesus said in Matthew 15:18-20
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

Read Colosians 3

Ephesians 5:3-4
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

Galatians 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,[a] fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders,[b] drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

2 Cor 12:21
21And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

Jude 1

I mention this not in judgement but because I care about you and others. I know I sin like everyone else but we shouldn’t deny our sin but repent from it and turn away.

2 Chron 7:14
“If My people which are called by My Name shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and will heal their land.”


Kim 09.03.09 at 5:13 pm

DH, you treat the Bible like a baseball. You throw it at people. Even it hits home, it only gives people a headache. You must treat the Bible like I am sure you treat your wife: lovingly, caressingly.


DH 09.03.09 at 6:23 pm

Kim, I see what you are saying. If I’m coming across that way that truly is not the intent. I think the problem with the written language is that it is impossible to hear the “tone” of what is written. This promotes what your admonishment is directed towards to which I agree. What I said was not with an underlying harsh, yelling, hard tone. However, I understand how what I wrote could come across that. I will say that I put my own self into the picture by saying I sin, that I’m not being judgemental abd that I care about people. However, I can see how that can be lost by all of the words around that. :)

I’m not trying to give people a headache. That truly is not my intent. I am trying to be caring and loving in what I said.

I have a favor to ask Kim:
Kim, would you do me a favor? Is it possible to take what I said including some of the Scriptures I mentioned and rephrase it with “lovingly caressing” written words? It appears you agree 100% (okay 95%) with what I said but just not with the way I wrote the written word.


Kim 09.03.09 at 9:04 pm

It’s not as simple as that, DH. We’re talking hermeneutics here, and then a theology of sexuality and desire, and so on. Besides, I think Beth is being a bit hyperbolic about “lasciviousness”.


DH 09.03.09 at 9:25 pm

but Kim, fornication is sex outside of marriage and the NT is clear on that particular hermeneutic. With regard to sexuality and desire it seems that the hermeneutics can only be that it is appropriate only within the context of marriage between a man and a woman. I understand the “man/woman thing” is where you and I disagree but the hermeneutics where we DO seem to agree or should agree is one within the context of marriage. Just because we are created with a desire doesn’t mean all actions in response to those desires are good or not sin.

Kim, how was Beth being hyperbolic? Could you explain because it sure didn’t seem that to me.


Chris 09.06.09 at 5:29 pm

It has been interesting to read the debate (or call it ‘discussion’) you guys are having. However, be very careful not to fall into the trap of debating at no ends and forget to support the Body of Christ (which include the gays) in a practical way.

To live a celibate life, although it may be commended by some people, is quite an “inhumane” way of life if the body has the desire for intimacy.
I don’t think God is calling me to be celibate, but at the same time there is no attraction towards the opposite sex!
How do you resolve this inner conflict ?

Hope you don’t mind, why not try to shift the focus of your discussion for a moment, and share with me how are you going to deal with this if you are in this situation?

You will have brought for your fellow Christians a huge blessing if you can resolve this conflict, practically speaking !


Beth 09.07.09 at 9:16 am


Some theologians argue that homosexual sex is utterly unacceptable; some argue that it is perfectly acceptable. And every shade of opinion in between is probably also represented amongst Christian thinkers. They all cite biblical precedents for their belief. Some of them also support their arguments with historical and philosophical contexts.

The net result is this: there is really no way of knowing for definite how to think on this issue, whatever anyone tries to tell you. We can’t know for certain what God “thinks” about this.

So here’s how I would approach the situation you’re in:

1. I am not called to celibacy
2. I am attracted to people of the same sex
3. Enforced celibacy does not allow me to fulfil my potential as a human being
4. God wants me to fulfil my potential as a human being, within the bounds of living a Christian life
5. There is a huge body of respected theological writing that tells me that being in a stable, loving homosexual relationship is perfectly consonant with leading a Christian life
6. Therefore, I can - and idneed should - seek out a relationship with someone I can love and by whom I can be loved.

As the meerkat says - Simples!


Beth 09.07.09 at 9:18 am

Kimmy -

I wasn’t really being hyperbolic. If we take “lasciviousness” in its sense “voluptuousness, luxuriousness, lustfullness”, then I don’t see it as a bad thing at all. We all need a Diet Coke Break once in a while, after all!


Kim 09.07.09 at 2:51 pm

Diet Coke Break? It sounds more like a huge pig-out to me!

Seriously though, what I would insist on, with orthodoxy, is the reality of distorted desire, which, sexually speaking, the Bible refers to as “lust”. Of course I would not want to bang on about sexual, let alone homosexual, desire, because all our desires are distorted - this is the reality at which the doctrine of original sin gestures - and can only be de-distorted by the power of the Holy Spirit. In traditional language, this is called the process of sanctification. And, as you know, I believe that homosexual desire, like heterosexual desire, can indeed be re-directed, viz. towards the good.

[Cue DH for a a "Well ...", followed by a Bible-bombardment.]


Richard 09.07.09 at 5:35 pm

Thanks for that, Kim. I hesitated to reply to Chris because I didn’t want to reduce this to a question of “who is allowed to put what where and with whom”, aka “How far can you go?” I relied on you for an apposite thought, and you haven’t disappointed.

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