1/23/2008

Faith in the Eye of the Storm.

Bishop Gene Robinson has a new book coming out, The Eye of the Storm, published by Church Publishing. Look for it soon.

Right now you can read four installments from one chapter of the book on the Episcopal Majority website. It is very much worth the read. The texts are HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. It is a hopeful book by a faithful person. Here is the last paragraph of the fourth installment.

"In the end, I know everything will turn out right. Christians are hopeful by nature – not because we have any special confidence in the desire of human beings to do the right thing, but because of our confidence in God to keep prodding, inspiring, and calling us until we do it. The world may be ready for change, but our faith tells us that change is anything but random. God is always working for the coming of the kind of Kingdom in which all are respected, all are valued, all are included. I believe the Holy Spirit is working within the Church and within the culture to bring that full inclusion about, and in the end, God will not be foiled. In the meantime, we need to work with all our might, intellect, dollars—and all our hearts--to bring that new world into existence."

When down and troubled this is the hope to which I too turn - to "our confidence in God to keep prodding, inspiring, and calling us untill we do" what is right.

Bishop Robinson is in many ways a conservative Christian, believing that God will guide us to right action and right belief. Among those things that count as right for him is the matter of full inclusion. So he sees that as what we must work for if we are to work for God's kingdom and justice. We must conserve the hope that is in us by action that works to "bring that new world into existence."

I too am hopeful, although I am not sure it is about bringing that new world into existence as much as it is about anticipating with joy and awe both the coming of the Lord and the passing away of this world. By which I mean I suppose (this being written much too early in the morning) that I believe that our longing is about anticipatory living in the presence of the Christ. Somehow that means that I must come to see Christ present in Gene Robinson, Bob Duncan, Peter Akinola, the Mad Priest, and even in myself.

Full inclusion is a conservative idea, in that it concerns holding close the notion that God will not be foiled and God's will wills out. But full inclusion is also a radical notion: the notion that if we live now in the presence of the Christ the scales will fall from our eyes and we will know one another as anointed and loved.

Thanks to the Episcopal Majority for posting these passages from Bishop Robinson's book. When it comes out, buy it and read it.
Meanwhile get a taste by reading the sections posted on the Episcopal Majority website. Again, the texts are HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

15 comments:

  1. Don't really see the bishop proving that the bible actually backs his case - do we?

    He mentions a couple of passages but does not show that they do not mean what is summed up in Lambeth 1.10, does he?

    Either certain behavior is "incompatible with scripture" or it is not.... it cannot be both. What has always been lacking is a strong biblical argument to justify the decision made through a vote of Anglicans in NH

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  2. Pfalz prophet23/1/08 8:12 AM

    Your link to part 1 earns you a '404 not found'. Please update.

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  3. "...Gene Robinson, Bob Duncan, Peter Akinola, the Mad Priest, and even in myself."

    Well, three out of five ain't bad.
    (yes there is a pun there)
    cheers

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  4. pfalz prophet (great name)...thanks. I think I've got it updated.

    Anonymous...try to use some sort of name other than anonymous so that I can tell folk apart.Thanks.

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  5. To anonymous 7:36am:

    Don't really see the bishop proving that the bible actually backs his case - do we?

    There are numerous books by Biblical scholars in a variety of denominations written over the past 40 years (Anglicans like William Countryman, Catholics like John McNeil, Presbyterians like Chris Glaser and many different conservative evangelical scholars) that already back VGR's case. Have you read ANY of them?

    Why should +VGR repeat the same arguments that others have done in depth elsewhere?

    (And can this really be "proven" one way or another anyway? If that could done there wouldn't be thousands of denominations all insisting they read the Bible correctly.)

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  6. Either certain behavior is "incompatible with scripture" or it is not.... it cannot be both. What has always been lacking is a strong biblical argument to justify the decision made through a vote of Anglicans in NH

    Here - for the thousandth time! - is the position the Episcopal Church takes on homosexual partnerships, in the form of Resolution 2003-C051 of General Convention 2003, Point 4: "That we reaffirm Resolution D039 of the 73rd General Convention (2000), that "We expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God," and that such relationships exist throughout the church."

    So which "behavior" was this about, again? Which of "fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and holy love" do you have a problem with?

    They sound pretty "Biblical," to me. I always wonder why everybody seems to think not....

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  7. christopher+23/1/08 10:16 AM

    Not to belabor the obvious, anonymous, but the Bible has been used throughout the ages for both good and evil purposes, especially as a means of inerrantly "proving" God's support for all manner of human wickedness, including the holding of slaves and the persecution of Jews.

    In retrospect, it is now obvious to most that these things are "incompatible" with God's loving purposes. Agreed? But it wasn't obvious to many (or most) at the time, just as it is apparently not now obvious to many (or most) that marginalizing and oppressing gay people (directly and indirectly, both) is just another abuse of the Holy Scriptures for human purposes. There are plenty of intelligent exegetical works on issues of biblical ethics and sexuality. Bishop Robinson does not need to elaborate on those for them to be readily available to anyone truly interested in strong biblical arguments in favor of inclusion.

    Too, Lambeth 1.10 is a snapshot of one vote of bishops at one moment in the Communion's history; it is NOT an authoritative final statement of shared belief. We all need to bear that in mind.

    There are indeed many things that are incompatible both with the Holy Scriptures and with the example of Jesus. We would do well to focus on some of those for a change. It's far too easy to fixate on those who differ from us and concentrate on excluding just them.

    Logs, eyes, et cetera...

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  8. ok, sorry, Canon Harris....I will call myself Londoner

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  9. Anonymous, The overwhelming message of scripture is love. Read the gospels and try to see how Jesus was so much against a legalistic approach to scripture. Jesus' scripture was the Old Testament. Focus on bringing justice for all! Follow Jesus' example on how to view scripture.

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  10. One of the things that the large number of us who pray the Daily Office discovered a long long time ago is that "The Bible" is not a particularly reliable guide for sexual morality. (Actually reading the Bible leads into all kinds of trouble!) Oh, yes, there are some very good parts, but also some parts that are pretty appalling. (The texts say what they say. Get over it.) We take the parts that are consonant with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and build from there. Which is what Resolution 2003-C051 did.

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  11. Thanks for bringing this to a wider audience, Mark.

    Anonymous Londoner, I don't think it was Bishop Robinson's purpose to provide a systematic theological/scriptural exegesis. Several others here have made that point. I sense his book is more a memoir than a theological work. In this chapter, though, Bishop Robinson does provide some insights that (for me) shed some additional light on some scriptures.

    Toujoursdan has provided some resources that do provide such exegesis. I tried to compile a few specifically Episcopal documents here. There's some rather intemperate language there, which -- were I writing it today -- I might tone down. But on that day back in August 2006, I was weary unto death about folks asking the question (much like yours) who (a) hadn't bothered to do any of the reading "our side" has produced and (b) clearly had no interest in or intent to do such reading, but were simply plopping a denial posed as a question.

    Just FYI, Anonymous Londoner: Jesus did not say that gay/lesbian behavior is "incompatible with scripture." That was a pronouncement of some bishops at Lambeth -- not Jesus. There's a difference.

    I do observe, though, that one time Jesus said (as recounted in John's gospel) "I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me," and shortly thereafter said to his followers, "I have other sheep that you don't know about." Apparently, Jesus, too, had a problem with consistency. ;-)

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  12. Dear All

    Thank you for your responses.

    Christoper+ ... yes, sometimes people have misused the bible to justify their own wishes (eg slavery) or culture in the past. I wonder if we will in the end see in the same light the attempt to deny that the bible only teaches positively about marriage between a man and a woman and consumation in that context. (Even the ABC says this is so and that the bible says nothing positive about the kind of relationship that some would justify, as pointed out by bls)

    toujursdan - yes, which is why I wonder why Lambeth 08 is being designed to avoid the debate? Surely we should have the debate with both sides well represented and come to a common mind and all stick to that agreement for the next 10 years....and then have the debate again if necessary? As it stands, we have Lambeth 1.10 but the duplicitous position in which people turn a blind eye as some completely ignore it.....no integrity in either of these actions.

    We miss the point when we focus on the negative and prohibitions....and some very good people of integrity and honour naturally run to defend those who suffer certain prohibitions. I think this is the important question.... what does God bless? What does he call holy? What is he positive about?

    Thanks again for responses and for your blog, Canon Harris. Have a good day, all!

    Proverbs 3:5-7

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  13. "the bible only teaches positively about marriage between a man and a woman"

    You've read St. Paul? He didn't seem to think positively of marriage - except maybe for the weak.

    Perhaps we could take Paul's approach to the current issue. "It is better to marry a person of your own sex than to burn with desire."

    Next you claim that we should have the debate at Lambeth (fine) and then "stick to that agreement." Lambeth resolutions are not "agreements." They are resolutions which represent the majority opinion of those present. They may have some moral authority. They have no canonical or juridical authority and dissenters are not obliged to submit.

    Finally, it is a bit much to rail on about people "turning a blind eye" to one clause of 1998 1.10 when those complaining the loudest are turning a blind eye to the rest of that resolution - and to countless resolutions affirming that Lambeth has no canonical authotity.

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  14. Nom de Plume24/1/08 5:11 PM

    Two points:

    1) Lambeth is not a constitutionally defined body. It is not a legislature and has no specified authority. Its resolutions are neither Holy Writ nor canons. Lambeth Resolutions only become authoritative when a Province, by its own constitutional process, adopts a Lambeth Resolution as its own. And then said resoluutino only carries authority within the Province that has adopted it. Thus, Lambeth 1.10 is not a binding regulation. The same goes for the Windsor Report.

    2) I don't see how any debate at Lambeth 08 on the question of the place of gays and lesbians in the Church can be productive unless and until the Provinces which have not yet done so spend some time engaged in the study of sexuality called for by Lambeth 78, Lambeth 88, and Lambeth 98. It's one thing to do the study and come to the conclusion that nothing has changed. It's another to punish certain Provinces who actually did the homework they were asked to do and then acted on the conclusions that they had arrived at. Surely these repeated calls for study over thirty years were not intended simply as an academic exercise?

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  15. Nom de Plume24/1/08 5:14 PM

    Sorry, another point:

    I am reminded of the wit who said:

    "If you don't believe in same-sex marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex."

    I wish I could attribute the quote to the proper author.

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