You cannot bear them now...

Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." (John 16:12).


  1. Please explain. Are you suggesting that the disciples were well able to hear and to bear the Master's teaching to love one's enemies, to do good to those that persecute you, to have fellowship with tax collectors, to respect and submit to Roman authority, etc., but they would not have been able to hear and to bear a teaching about same sex relationships? On what do you base such a conclusion?

  2. Inquiring minds want to know who financed Mark Harris' archeological journey to the Holy Land where he unearthed this important manuscript - and why we were not given the privilege of helping to finance this important discovery.

    Maybe people of good will can petition Church Publishing Inc. to paste this into all future editions of the Book of Common Prayer.

  3. *blinks at previous commenters*

    It seems to me (Mark, please correct me if I'm wrong!) that the point of this post is that there's biblical basis for belief in continuing revelation -- that is, that we're supposed to be listening to the Word of God, which is certainly not restricted to the words of the Bible.

    And that Word may well be calling us toward radical inclusion.

    (And for those who want to take the post literally, please note that there would have been no need to include people of color in that "included" list in Jesus' time -- no one at that time would have been in any doubt as to Jesus' racial heritage. Sadly, we're as able to develop prejudices as we are to combat them, and maybe more so.)

  4. Let's ask the same question about slavery (and about the subjugation of women, and about racial prejudice, and etc.) that anonymous asks about "a teaching about same sex relationships" and see what happens....

  5. No one knows what the historical Jesus of Nazareth looked like. The traditional image in the icons and the parish bulletins is a concotion, based on ancient images of Apollo.
    All we really know about this character is that He was the bastard son of an unwed mother, grew up poor and illiterate in a then despised profession (carpentry), that He left home and the family businesss to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven, showed a special preference for the poor and those whom the society of His day regarded as outcast and unclean. He was condemned for blasphemy by the religious authorities, and executed by the Roman occupation for sedition.
    Sounds very much like the experiences lived out by LGBTs, a lot of Black folk, immigrant laborers of all kinds, women in most of the world, refugees, and many many others.

    Christ our Emmanuel, God with us indeed!

    ALL can claim Jesus as friend and savior. ALL are created in God's image. He belongs to EVERYONE.

  6. Mark - I'm surprised to see you quoting something from John's gospel. I thought the Jesus Seminar people, and most clergy in ECUSA had discounted anything from John's gospel as being a fabrication.

    As regards using that quote to sustain the idea of ongoing revelation, you need to remember the context in which Jesus spoke those words. He was speaking to the twelve disciples in the Upper Room on the last night he had with them, not to us. He knew he was going to see them again after his resurrection, which they didn't know at the time. This gave him another 40 days or so to fill them on all the details which would have only made sense to them after his resurrection, which are now recorded in Scripture, not continuing to be revealed to us.

    Furthermore, he was promising them the Holy Spirit who would come to them and testify to them about Jesus, and remind them of everything that Jesus had told them. We can depend on the Scriptures because the Holy Spirit came and did what Jesus promised He would do; and therefore they were able to write accurately everything Jesus had told them.

    It is an impossibly long bow to draw to claim that the Holy Spirit is only now finally revealing a new truth to us about human sexuality, which the disciples then would not have been able to bear.

  7. Well, the post from the anonymous one appears to show that there those who still cannot bear them. And will they ever?

    (Yet he or she appears to be sufficiently ashamed to take ownership of that post.)

  8. The consequence of infection from the bite of a mad priest?

  9. Brian F: then why did it take so long for us to learn about slavery?

  10. Brian F: where did you hear that "most ECUSA clergy" dismiss John as fabrication? Could you cite your sources?

    Or did you just fabricate that?

  11. LOL, Crazy Rabbit. I had the same thought: MadPriest is going to be so jealous!

  12. Tom, I share your outrage: How dare Mark make that journey and not include his TEM buds?!?! You think he's ashamed of us?

  13. thomas bushnell--Don't you get it? brian f is a proselytizer, and a lousy one at that. If he thinks that by going around imposing his own notion of the revealed word of God on everyone, he'll actually get people to, you know, consider his views, he's obviously got another thing coming, doesn't he?

    His lack of grace, thinly-veiled sarcasm, and stupendous harrumphing are oh-so-holier-than-thou, aren't they? I can't make it out from the tiny icon that is allegedly you, brian f, next to your "handle," but I suspect that there's a fair amount of smugness to be wiped off your face . Heck, if I were a Catholic (and perhaps I am), what would stop me from smiling pitifully at the notion that some upstart "orthodox" Anglican's vision of God's Word was, in fact, the "true vision? Grace, dear sir. Put yourself in another person's shoes, brian f, and you might learn something.

    Brian f's rants have become so formulaic that I've begun to suspect that he has a bot set to auto-reply to every one of Mark's posts here. It's to Mark's credit that he actually addresses them seriously at all.

    How do you like the "new" handle btw, brian f? Doesn't seem any less generic than "brian f" nor more generic than "anonymous."

  14. "We can depend on the Scriptures because the Holy Spirit came and did what Jesus promised He would do; and therefore they were able to write accurately everything Jesus had told them."

    A pack of illiterate ne'er-do-wells, farmers, and fisher-folk reporting anything accurately? Nobel Prize winners don't even get it right, much less the rest of us.
    The Apostles then were stand-ins for the rest of us. God deliberately decided to work in and through His own very flawed and limited Creation. The whole point of the Glad Tidings is not that anyone gets it "right" or "accurately". NO ONE gets it right. We're all blundering about in the dark here. The Good News is that it doesn't matter. Salvation is accomplished for all of us without price or pre-requisite. There's no form to fill out, no membership dues, no entrance exam, no drug test. No one pulls themselves up into Heaven by their own bootstraps. We're all the Thief on the Other Cross. We're the mob at the foot of the Cross that Jesus pardons anyway without their asking.

  15. I'm not a member of the Jesus Seminar, nor an ordained member of TEC; but the idea that the Gospel of John does not contain any direct quotations from the historical Jesus isn't exactly new, is it. (Was it new even one hundred years ago?) That hardly means that this Gospel is dismissed as theologically worthless - in fact, in elucidating the significance of Jesus it has proved to be profound and utterly indispensable for many.

    Like others I'm getting tired of the wilful misunderstanding of what non-conservative Christians actually believe, and why they believe it, on the part of certain opponents. I think that I could calmly and fairly put forward the case for what conservatives/fundamentalists believe; however much I disagree with them. But I don't think that they would be able to do the same for my position, just because they have not taken the trouble to genuinely understand it - at least, I don't get that impression.

    I've sometimes wondered - what if Jesus had been recorded or represented as saying something unambiguously hostile and condemnatory about same-sex love? What then? Would I automatically assume that I'm wrong about the issue? Or would I, like the Syro-Phoenician woman, have the gumption to challenge him on it?

  16. Now, wait, Anon E. Moose: Let's give Brian F. his due. We do agree we need to consider context, and the possibility that Biblical voices were speaking to their immediate audiences, and not to us.

    So, for example, all those "clobber verses?" Maybe they weren't intended for us, either....

  17. Oh, forgive me! That sounds an awful lot like interpretation of Scripture, doesn't it? Dear me!

  18. Thomas Bushnell - you can't blame the Bible and the whole of Christendom for the evils of slavery. And I fail to see any connection between slavery (where people are compelled to obey their owner's commands) and homosexuality (where people are free to decide how to act out their sexual desires). There is nowhere in the Bible which says slavery is ok, but there are a number of texts which say that sex between people of the same gender is not ok. The Bible assumes slavery exists and gives instructions on how slaves are to be treated; but it expressly forbids homosexual acts, and does not give any instructions or guidance on the right context for same sex acts.

    Some time ago I was discussing theological issues on Fr Jake's blog and the MadPriest's blog and got thoroughly derided whenever I referred to John's gospel, and was told noone believes anything John wrote in his gospel anymore. Certainly the Jesus Seminar has been instrumental in destroying many people's confidence in John's gospel. Because the theological position of those blog hosts seemed to line up pretty well with the mainstream theological position of ECUSA, I took their comments to be fairly representative of the majority of clergy in ECUSA.

  19. Brian f.... Too bad about your opinion of clergy in the USA and the Gospel of John. I don't know where you get this from.

    Far from discounting the Gospel of John I believe that Gospel is central as a reflection by the early but already formed Church on the incarnational source of its being. It concerns the materialized Word and views that Word from "the other side" of the Resurrection with great power.

    So John gets it right in the Prologue, so right that that hymn becomes foundational for all of us. He gets it right at the end with the incarnational encounters with the One who talks and eats with them.

    Getting it "right" and getting it historically accurate are two different things. John I believe takes liberties with events, but not with the Truth.

    I don't put as much stock on John's getting Jesus' words exactly right as I do on his getting larger perceptions of what those facts mean for the Church.

    I think your read on the relationship between John 16:12 and the matter of "the Spirit of Truth" and what happens in the resurrection experiences of the 40 days and the matter of continuing revelation highly problematic.

    The notion that the Holy Spirit, or The Spirit of Truth, or the Risen Lord are confined in their informing the church to the words of Scripture is unfounded, I believe. Scripture is written that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Lord. Having that faith, scripture and all else in creation helps us understand just how we ought to live out that belief.

    BTW...I am convinced that the Holy Spirit continues to inform us of how best to love our neighbors and love God, both at once.

    But then what do I know...I'm just a priest in the Episcopal Church.

  20. And a damn fine Episcopal priest, Mark - one I'm pleased to call my friend.

    Well done, good sir. MP will be quite pleased.

  21. brian f:

    "And I fail to see...'

    Yeah, that's the problem, isn't it? Although actually, isn't the real problem that you don't *want* to see? Your blind devotion to your own interpretation of the word has distracted you from the message.

    IIRC, a central part of that message is LOVE. However, the undercurrent of all of your posts, and the reason I (for one) find them so obnoxious, is that all love and all grace is completely absent from anything you post. In fact, all you seem to be about is one-upmanship. I'm not sure what you're trying to gain by being this way, but I can assure you that if your goal is to try to show us non-reasserters (well, me at least) the err of our ways, it ain't working.

  22. BrianF: Yes, there are texts which say that slavery is ok, going into details about under what circumstances slaves may be taken and how they should be treated, from whom they may be taken, and so forth.

    But we know better. Right?

    If you really think that a few people who derided you for something I know not what you said is therefore representative of all clergy in the Episcopal Church, you are a strange breed of fool.

    Should I assume that all Australians are bald because you are?

  23. brianf can't get his bible right, it appears.

    when Jesus says that the spirit will lead the church into truth, he didn't say I will lead you. He said the spirit, which is, as Acts clearly says, given to the church forty days later.

    so, if we are engaged upon a harmonization of Luke/Acts and John, as he seems to be, at least lets not distort what they say in the process, ok?

    or, i guess, it's ok to just make stuff up, and say "bible", even if it's just not what the text actually says, right?

  24. Brian F, let me add another example to that of slavery: anti-semitism. It's amply supported in tradition--Augustine, Anselm, the practices of the Popes and throughout Western Europe until Hitler showed us where such thought leads. And it too has roots in Scripture--"upon us and our children," to name but one.

    But the gifts of the Spirit may be recognized by their fruit, and what are the fruits of anti-semitism? Or, for that matter, of the traditional understanding of homosexuality--those fruits, among others, are the Nazi persecution, Fred Phelps, the Nigerian Church's advocacy of imprisonment for the "crime" of speech, the murder of, among many others, Matthew Shepard. I doubt Our Lord celebrates these gifts.

    Many Bible-believing Christians such as me--I love John's Gospel! Read William Inge's and William Temple's take on it to see just how rich it is--decline to read Scripture the way we would a statute book, or a cook book. And we recognize that, as St. Paul said of himself, we see now through a glass darkly--note that Paul said "we" not "you."

    Don't presume that all who disagree with you are secretly aching to throw over core doctrine; ask instead WHY might reasonable people disagree with you.

    Mark, thanks for your insightful commentary as always.

  25. Brian,

    Nice revisionist reading of the texts there! So, you know, in the face of 2,000 years of tradition that the Spirit was summarily quieted when the last words of one of the current canons of Scripture was penned.

    By the way, how did the councils of Nicea, Calcedon inter alia know? And why did they get it wrong so often that there are at least four canons out there? Chanted the 151st psalm lately?

    Fr. Mark "has a problem" with your reading. That is rather a bit more kind than that reading deserves but then priests are often too kind. I suppose it is an occupational thing.

    A more concise and fairer response might simply be laughter.

    Try reading the text without knowing in advance that God is on the side of your hompphobia. You will be amazed!


  26. Ha! Very good. And I agree with others: since when did the Episcopal Church call the Gospel of John a fabrication? That's a new one!

  27. Thomas - I take those texts referring to use of slaves not as endorsing slavery, but to ensure slaves were treated well, with compassion, and given an opportunity for freedom every 7 years - something which the slave traders never took notice of.

    Jesus never said the Holy Spirit will lead "the church" into truth - what he did say was: "when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth ...." (Jn 16:13) and my point still stands that he was not speaking to bishops or church councils, but to the 12 disciples in front of him on that night. But having said that, I still depend on the illumination from the Holy Spirit as I seek to read and prayerfully understand the Bible and its application to me now. But we must be very cautious in asserting we are being led by the Holy Spirit to believe and do things which are contrary to Scripture.

    And Mark - it is very difficult to understand what ECUSAn clergy believe, since there are such a wide range of beliefs promulgated without any correction or comment from the HoB. People are consecrated as bishops who cannot affirm all the statements made in the creeds. Clergy may be Wiccan or Muslim and practice all kinds of strange rites, and bishops laud these innovations as being interesting theological explorations. Disciplinary action against these seems to be taken only when the heat from bad publicity becomes too great, not from any desire to maintain orthodox faith. Others say that the church wrote the Bible, so she can therefore change the Bible. Others deny Jesus is fully God incarnate, claim he also was a sinner, deny that he rose bodily from the dead, and have speculated about his sexual orientation. Even the PB denies Jesus is the unique Saviour of the world (contrary to Jn 14:6), so she does not take John's gospel seriously. Many deny his death on the cross is the once for all perfect atoning sacrifice for sin. Fr Jake believes Jesus' incarnation on its own is sufficient to save us, and does not seem to believe his death and resurrection have any saving value. The President of Integrity claims Jesus' death saves us from fear of death, but cannot explain how or why; and has no substantial recognisably Christian belief in the afterlife based on the sermons published on her blog. The GC cannot affirm the 39 Articles as being core doctrine. And I have been derided for referring to John's gospel by more than a few contributors to these blogs. The derision was not for how I interpretted it, but for assuming we could depend on it having anything reliable to say. I am heartened by your higher regard for the Gospel according to John. The only consistent message from ECUSA's hierarchy is to do with the MDG's, blessing same sex unions, and preservation of property at any cost. No wonder the orthodox in ECUSA are dismayed, and I am confused about what North American Anglicans believe. I at least, along with the vast majority of Anglicans around the world can point to the the Creeds and the Articles and honestly say, "This is what I believe".

  28. brian f: what you say is so outrageously dishonest, i don't see any point in responding in detail.

    perhaps you simply have no direct knowledge of the episcopal church. but whatever the reason, your judgment of those you do not understand is outrageous, and your smug attitude of righteousness is appalling.

  29. Brian, my sweet Anglican brother,

    You are barking up the wrong tree. Your fellow readers think you silly, and unread. They find you amusing when they chat with you at the coffee hour. They await your moving on to a Baptist, or preferably AoG parish. Anything that you say, or any source that you cite has an answer. The answer doesn't have an actual answer, but it's loaded with questions that you can never fathom. There is no Truth, as Truth is unknowable. They will gentle you forever, push you towards some point at which you will question everything, and then you will find a new church down the hill, where the sermons do mean something. They will be happy that you have left. You should anticipate their joy, and participate in it, find the new parish, and pray for your brothers and sisters who despise you so.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.