An Important Vote – The SEC on SSM

An Important Election

Yesterday there was an important election which took place in Scotland. It was much closer than expected although the result turned out to be the same. The Scottish Episcopal Church voted to change its rules on marriage and to redefine marriage so that they can perform same-sex marriages. In one sense this is of far more significance than the other election that was taking place throughout the United Kingdom. Kingdoms rise, and kingdoms fall, but the Church of God goes on forever. However not every institution that calls itself a church remains as such.

When churches turn away from the word of God, they are losing their foundations and they will soon collapse, even though the outward appearance may look the same. The church is of far more significance than any political institution, and so in this year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, it is distressing that one of its main fruits, the Anglican Church, has at least in part, departed from the word of God, which was the foundation of that Reformation.

The decision was in one sense taken by the narrowest of margins. If just one clergyman had changed position then the motion in favour of same-sex marriage would not have passed. I have discussed many times the biblical position on marriage – summed up simply in the teaching of Jesus that marriage is between a man and a woman. For any who profess to be his followers, to turn away from that teaching, is something to be mourned and not celebrated.

its time for the church to celebrate what is celebrated in secular society”.

Kelvin Holdsworth, the Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow put it quite starkly: “its time for the church to celebrate what is celebrated in secular society”. In that one sentence he describes precisely what is wrong with what has been done. Can you imagine the apostle Paul, Calvin and Luther, Cranmer or most importantly, Jesus, saying such a thing? downloadThe Scottish Episcopal Church has decided to be guided by the zeitgeist of the secular society, rather than the word of God. In so doing it has removed itself from the teaching of the rest of the Anglican Church, from the vast majority of the rest of the Christian church, and most of all from Jesus Christ. Christ is no longer head of the Anglican Church. They may talk about the Holy Spirit having guided and spoken to them, but to my mind that comes very close to blasphemy – saying that the Spirit contradicts himself and denies what he inspired in his own word.

Compromise and Unity 

It’s always interesting how this is presented as a compromise. We are told that no clergyman will be compelled to do a same sex marriage – as though this were some kind of great concession. It’s a bit like the church voting to permit slavery, and then saying, “well you don’t have to have a slave”! The fact is that this is a church of turning away from the word of Christ, and then having the nerve to say to some of its clergy, well you don’t have to!

Scottish_Anglican_Web

The Rebels

Along with this, the victors celebrated by declaring that this was a church that had decided to stay together. They may have been somewhat premature. There are a small group of faithful Anglican churches and clergyman within the Scottish Episcopal Church who refuse to bow the knee to Baal, and who are in the process of setting up separate oversight.  This is their press release:

The Scottish Anglican Network is a movement of Christians – including clergy and laity – within the Scottish Episcopal Church who are seeking to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ, and therefore to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of Anglican churches in Scotland. Today the majority of the members of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church approved an amendment to its canons in order to change its doctrine of marriage and permit same-sex weddings to be celebrated by nominated clergy in its churches. We completely disagree with this action.

As Christians, we believe that it is through Jesus Christ – and only through him – that we can truly know God, and truly know ourselves. Jesus clearly taught that marriage is a good gift from God, and is a faithful, lifelong union between one man and one woman. Though all of us fall short of his standards, not least in the area of sexual morality, we believe that following this teaching is essential to the flourishing of his forgiven people.

The Scottish Episcopal Church is today rejecting this teaching, failing to support those in our churches who are same-sex attracted but who choose to live their lives in obedience to Jesus’ teaching, misleading the church and the world, and acting in a schismatic way towards the worldwide Anglican communion today and the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of which it claims to be a part.

Our fellowship with the Scottish Episcopal Church has therefore been impaired by this action, and we will now work on how this must be expressed. We will continue to trust, uphold and contend for the teaching of Jesus Christ in his church in Scotland, and to share the momentous news that he died and rose again so that anyone can come to him for forgiveness and eternal life.

We are thankful for the Anglican Primates leading the GAFCON movement who have supported us in prayer and with their wisdom. We are also grateful for their decision to consecrate a missionary bishop to provide oversight and care for churches facing circumstances like ours. We look forward to building stronger relationships with the leaders and churches of the global Anglican Communion who remain faithful to Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible.

www.scottishanglican.net

This is how to stand up to an apostate denomination when you are a member within it. Well done to our faithful Anglican brothers and sisters. There is surely a challenge here for those within the Church of Scotland who hold to the biblical teaching. If the Anglicans can set up a separate bishopric, why can’t evangelicals in the Church of Scotland not set up a separate presbytery? It’s time to rebel against those who rebel against the word of God.

Why are we interested in this?

What does this have to do with other Christians? Everything. What goes on in any branch of the church of Jesus Christ affects all of us. Rev Scott Rennie, who was the cause celebre for the same issue within the Church of Scotland clearly thinks so. He wrote the following in the Herald.

 “As they meet in Synod this week, I hope they will catch the Spirit of God, which sets us free: to love and be loved. I wish my friends well, and hope they will take a step forward in recognising the blessing of marriage in the lives of all couples, including same sex couples, by amending canon law. I for one will celebrate with them. Many, like me, will be remembering them in prayer all through this week.

All great institutions much adapt and change in order to make sense of the world in which we live, and to give meaning to it. Otherwise those same institutions wither and die – in their failure to reflect the realities of our human existence. In that regard, marriage and the institutional churches have a lot in common.

Let us hope this will be a fruitful week for the Scottish Episcopal Church as it seeks to respond in its own life, to the diverse patterns of life in which God’s love and grace are revealed in Scotland today. Their progress can only encourage and give strength to their Christian sisters and brothers in other denominations.”

Scott Rennie – The Herald – 6th June

Scott Rennie, Kelvin Holdsworth, Steve Chalke and their like, seek to justify their departure from the word of God, by stating that this is something that will enable the church to grow. This is all about adapting to contemporary society, making ourselves relevant and “being led by the Spirit” into a new understanding. The irony is that Scott Rennie is right in saying that the church will wither and die, but he fails to recognise that what he and his colleagues are teaching, is the cause of that withering and dying – not the remedy for it. Whenever any church turns away from what Jesus says then it is not long before it ceases to be a church of Jesus Christ and becomes instead just a mere formal institution – with the appearance of a church but in reality it is just a secularised spirituality, dead as a dodo, and heading for the same extinction.

I want to praise and support those of our Anglican brothers and sisters who will now face immense pressure “not to divide the church”, from those who have already divided it by divorcing it from the word of God. Behind all the nice words and the desperate attempts to keep the money providing evangelical churches on board, there is a thinly disguised contempt. One man tweeted to me “You lost. Get over it. Go back to demanding slavery.”  This is the kind of opposition that we have to face. We must remain faithful, gracious and courageous as we stand against the tide of this world, and its continual invasion of the church.  And we must stand together….to my Anglican brothers and sisters the Free Church will stand with you….lets work together for the Lord.

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I leave you with a short article from Rev. David McCarthy, of St Thomas Episcopal Church in Edinburgh. This article will appear in the July edition of the record – so this is a wee Rev. David McCarthybonus preview for you. Why not subscribe to the record and ensure that you continue to get cutting-edge news of the church in Scotland today!

The Scottish Episcopal Church – A View from the Inside David McCarthy

‘Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.’ ‭‭ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

‘Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.’ Richard John Neuhaus

The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) lays claim to being both catholic and reformed. I’ve served as church leader in it since 1988. In order to do so, one has to entertain a certain, shall we say, diversity. I’ve heard all sorts of things being espoused as compatible with Christian faith; a little bit of Buddhism, a lot of universalism and even some clergy who are in same-sex relationships.

Now the SEC has reached the point of changing its canon on marriage to remove any reference to marriage being between a woman and a man in order to introduce same-sex marriage by nominated clergy. There will be a conscience clause which will allow clergy to not conduct such ceremonies, but all will have to accept that this is one of the understandings of marriage in SEC and commit to ‘good disagreement’.

However, in changing this canon, the SEC will be departing from what the Bible teaches, the Church has practiced and what most Christians around the world still believe. Thus while reforming its teaching in marriage (and not in a good way!), any claim to being catholic will be broken, as the denomination unilaterally makes a decision to break with what has been.

My spiritual roots are Presbyterian, but the Lord lovingly led me into the SEC and it has been a wonderful privilege to serve four different congregations. But now, my heart is breaking as I watch a church which Jesus loves disobey him so wilfully, and claim that in doing so, it is the Holy Spirit that is the inspiration. It’s like the old story of the young man who goes up to the pretty girl in the youth group and declares, ‘The Lord has told me that we are to go out together!’ The girl replies, ‘Well, he hasn’t told me!’

Since 2005, evangelicals have worked hard both to be at the heart of the SEC but also to keep it orthodox in terms of marriage doctrine. Our influence has grown, but clearly this has merely been at the glossy surface level. Evangelicals have always been tolerated, though sometimes with a whiff of displeasure. The last church I served in was St Silas’, Glasgow. On one occasion an Episcopalian cleric asked me, ‘St Silage? And who exactly was St Silage?’, thus revealing his disdain and his ignorance at the same time.

Though for some we might not do church properly, we fall within the broad spread of what can be described as Anglican. The leading bishop of the church has even described evangelicals as ‘the new establishment’. When I heard him say it, I knew that something had gone very wrong. Many would say that the Church began to go off the rails when it joined the establishment in the fourth century. My sense is that the Church is at its best when we are not pandering to our society, cultures or betters. We can still be attractive and winsome, full of Grace and Truth, yet resisting the temptations to please those around us.

The SEC has long been a home for same-sex attracted people. The churches I’ve served have always been welcoming, though not affirming. When I trained in Edinburgh, perhaps one in three of the ordinands was gay. At a time when the Office of National Statistics figure for people self-identifying as LGBT in Scotland is somewhere around 1.1%, it might be surprising to know that one diocese has revealed that 25% of its clergy are gay. This perhaps reveals the internal pressure to change the canon on marriage to allow people of the same sex to be married in church by nominated clergy.

The other factor is fear. Fear that our greying congregations are in decline and that if only we can be more attractive to the world, surely they would come and enjoy the solemn beauty of our liturgy. Sadly, the evidence from North America is that the reverse is true. The decline has continued despite the introduction of this doctrinal innovation.

What are orthodox people to do? It’s not only evangelicals struggling with this. Many people from across the SEC simply cannot understand why the church is departing from Jesus’ teaching and the overarching authority of the Bible on this matter. Some are moving theologically, having declared same-sex marriage as a secondary issue. We must expect more evangelicals to do this in the near future, citing ‘missional reasons’.

Some will put up with the change, worried about their homes and incomes and looking forward to retirement. Then there are those few who will stand firm in faith as archbishops from around the world offer their practical and spiritual support. They will seek to maintain an Anglican presence in Scotland which is rooted in the Bible and Anglican tradition and which seeks to reach out, alongside our brothers and sisters in the other streams of the Church in Scotland, to the least, the last and the lost. Please pray for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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40 thoughts on “An Important Vote – The SEC on SSM

  1. yes David, your words are Truth…this is why I have walked away from the Episcopal Church here in the US—for this very “embracing of the world”
    and you are so right when you say when the church yields to the world, so goes our Christian foundation…as kingdoms will come and go, the Kingdom of God will remain forever—with or without those denominations who foolishly choose to walk away….

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  2. “All great institutions much adapt and change in order to make sense of the world in which we live, and to give meaning to it.”

    This statement is proof if it were necessary , that the natural mind finds attraction in a lie . No true believer in Jesus Christ would dare think it , far less agree to its text . !

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  3. It seems clear that every genuine saint must ” come out from among them and be separate. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2Co 6:16-18)

    Just like Luther or Bonhoffer , there comes a time when must leave the unclean thing or stop calling the unclean thing a clean thing. This will take courage from leaders and those who do not have the courage will ramble on about unity and so on. There can be no unity between truth and gross error. What communion can there be between light and darkness? If this issue will not compel saints to leave an organisation that is Christian in name only then what will? Next these very same people will be saying there are many paths to heaven and Jesus is only one of them, and still people will not ” come out from among them.” Ultimately it is the worship of man made things ( denominations) rather than what God has assembled ( living stones) Poor old Stephen was the first martyr because he told them that God did not dwell in temples built with human hands.

    Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
    (Act 7:48-52)

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  4. Is it any wonder?

    Is it any wonder when there is so much clamour for “authenticity” from our leaders: a clamour for them to be who we want them to be, to be and to live lives like ours, as demonstrated in the parliamentary elections. We want WYSIWYG, not sound-bites, not managed propaganda, We pride ourselves in being able to see through it all, all except our own own, self generated to get our own way. We see through everything, therefore see nothing solid.

    Is it any wonder when those in prominent positions peddle their own authenticity, which is picked up and pushed by like minded media?

    Yesterday, driving home from holiday, listening to “pm.” on BBC radio 4 , there was talk about the Conservatives aligning with the DUP. As last word summary comment, the recording of part of a talk given by Ruth Davidson given in N Ireland last year, yes last year, was played. In it she self identified as Christian, protestant and gay. In context, it was a comment against the DUP, in effect, in opposition soley, or primarily because of her sexuality. That was the import of the recording played – nothing was mentioned about any “other” DUP “policies”.

    Does she really think that Scottish people voted for Tories in Scotland, because of her own personal, right- on, progressively authentic sexuality?

    Does the church think that people will be attracted to the authentic gospel of the authentic God-Man, Jesus Christ because of the authentic sexuality for those who attend church?

    You wrote this: “However not every institution that calls itself a church remains as such.”

    Some years ago, I was part of a team seeking to evangelise in Tunbridge Wells and in Gravesend. We used some street theatre sketches to attract attention. Once the sketch ended it would be followed by a gospel message.

    The “Chicken Sketch” was one . In it someone would act like an aeroplane, someone like a chicken and so on. They would be stopped in their tracks and asked what they were doing. I’m a chicken, the reply The punch line always was, “just because you think you are a …(chicken) doesn’t mean you are one. The sketch ended with someone acting as a Christian. And yes, you’ve guessed the punch line: “just because you think you are a Christian doesn’t mean you are one”, followed by a gospel talk.

    Yes. Just because we think we are a Christian, doesn’t mean we are one.

    What does it mean to be an authentic Christian, rather than authentically sexual, (im)moral.

    What does it mean to be authentic anything? An authentic doctor, teacher, What are the qualifications and how do we qualify?

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  5. As far as Ruth Davidson is concerned she has already made it quite clear which issue is most important in her eyes.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-40229826
    A question of looking to what’s important to her and a few other people rather than looking to what the majority of people are interested in? What was that about the many, not the few?
    Needless to say, the BBC reported it.
    Meanwhile, the Guardian tells us that the DUP stands for ‘climate denial’ and is anti-abortion. To the Guardian those things are, of course, to be despised but to some of us they are to be praised strongly.

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      1. These two comments reflect badly on you. Firstly the fact that ‘the majority’ of society support something does not make it right. If the majority of society supported killing Jews would that make it right? In terms of supporting SSM I am not convinced that is true – at the moment most people are brow beaten – being told that if they don’t agree with what the elites tell us on SSM then they are lunatics. Your second comment reflects that. It is an ignorant, prejudiced comment which makes you look both foolish and intolerant. Maybe next time you comment you could take some time to think before you give us the fruits of your knowledge?

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    1. Why shouldnt Ruth Davidson consider her marriage to her same sex partner of primary importance? For years David has been arguing (illogically) that SSM somehow ‘undermines’ marriage between a man and a woman. That this view is illogical doesn’t alter the fact that he is understandably concerned about the status of his own relationship under law. For Ruth Davidson, as for thousands of others, SSM is a big deal. Understandably she wants to know that SSM will not be used as some sort of bargaining chip in a coalition with the DUP. By the way, it’s depressingly predictable that its view on this particular issue is one of the key issues seen to mark the DUP as ‘christian’. Might I suggest that crowing that you don’t believe in climate change doesn’t do you any favours.

      On the wider issue of the SEC’s position (also that of a good many in the C of S), it’s really quite wicked to suggest the church is now clearly apostate or that it is simply ignoring the Bible. People of considerable integrity have put a great deal of thought into the subject and have vome to a conclusion that differs from your own. Every week the SEC preaches Jesus Christ, the Son of God as the Risen One, Lord and Saviour. I know because that’s where I usually spend my Sunday mornings; enjoying worship and fellowship with christians from almost every tradition imaginable (including some from the Free Church of Scotland by the way). Do you not think we oughtn’t to at least try to speak of other christians, even those we disagree with most profoundly, with more respect? Once upon a time, the Roman Catholic church was written off by evangelicals as apostate because of its theology of eucharist and the role of works in salvation, amongst other things; now, it’s churches supporting SSM. Now many evangelicals have changed their minds about the RC church despite the fact its theology hasn’t really changed. Perhaps what makes RC believers christian is their views on SSM and abortion?
      Personally Im utterly scunnered trying to defend the integrity of my own denomination against the slurs of those in other denominations that appear to relish writing it off. I admit it’s often two-sided which is why I also spend a great deal of time defending the right of other denominations to take a more conservative view. It’s right to observe how wider soviety views the church. What does it see? Infighting a backstabbing over an issue the majority consider a non-issue. Even where folk outside the church don’t particularly agree with SSM, that don’t fall out about it; it’s just not that important.

      When I mention being a christian and cburch goer at work, almost invariably the first thing people mention is creationism (Im a geologist working alongside geoligists). After that, it’s SSM. Opposition to SSM appears to be the church’s message. It’s not a good one. I

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      1. Its not the whole SEC – there are those within the SEC who regard the decision as apostate. You think they are wrong. I think that Kelvin does not preach the Christ of the Bible at all. He ignores what Christ says about marriage. That is the key issue….as you well know Kelvin wants to State to punish churches which hold the biblical position by withholding charitable status….this is hardly the ‘unity of the Spirit’! As for the majority considering SSM a ‘non-issue’ – not amongst the elites…why do you think the DUP are being so attacked?

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      2. Why is it “illogical” to hold that the church being willing to declare that certain same sex domestic partnerships were “marriages” in God’s opinion, by redefining the word “marriage”, would undermine ordinary marriage? Redefining a word, to give it a new meaning, is bound to undermine the usefulness of that word, to refer to the thing to which it originally referred. To abolish a word, in its original primary meaning, inevitably undermines the concept that the word was originally used to express.

        There is a large body of literature that uses the word “marriage”, to mean what most of the Church still means by that word, the two new #GretnaPink churches excluded. The value of that old literature is seriously undermined, if nobody can understand it, unless they remind themselves constantly that the word “marriage” referred to something different, when the old books were written.

        If the #GretnaPink phenomenon spreads, soon we won’t even have a word to use in church and liturgy, that means what the word marriage used to mean.

        A local man asked a minister to conduct a wedding, in which he and his intended could make promises before God and the church, and be pronounced man and wife in the eyes of God. He had checked first with the civil registrar that there was no law forbidding this. There wasn’t. Numerous churches already do this. It is up to the couple to interact with the state subsequently, if they have a reason to want to be legally married in the queens opinion too, not just in God’s opinion.

        The premises of that church were not registered for the contracting of state-recognised marriages, by inviting the government to send an official to the church ceremony to witness it.

        The minister asked his congregants to go and have an atheistic, either-sex state “marriage”, at the town hall, which he and the church would be happy to “bless”. The would-be husband had a conscientious objection to participating in the state’s fake and now unholy marriage, and asking a Christian church to “bless” that fake “marriage”. The minister’s denominational overlords would not permit him to conduct an ecclesiastical solemnisation of holy matrimony for a couple who were not not already “married” in the eyes of the queen of England. They said that that was in the bible, but it isn’t. Bishop Valentine was martyred in 296AD for conducting ceremonies of holy matrimony that were not recognised by the Emperor of Rome as creating Roman marriages.

        In the circumstances, the man and his intended simply started to live together. His church considered this to be sinful, and asked the man to resign his church membership or to have a British government fake marriage. The man considered that it would be sinful for him to enter into a British government, either sex, fake marriage, so he resigned his church membership. Was he being “illogical”?

        It is not for you to say that another person’s moral beliefs are “illogical”. That man’s conscience told him that it would undermine his church weddings value, if the church ceremony on offer merely “blessed” a fake, either-sex, godless, unholy, British government marriage, which he and his intended did not want or need. He couldn’t see any value at all in going though such a mockery of a liturgy, as a church “blessing” a fake marriage. He considered it more noble to simply start living together with his common law “bride”, perfectly openly.

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  6. Thank you for your concern that my words reflect badly I me but after some consideration I’d like to stick with them. Firstly the point I was contesting was not the morality of same sex marriage it was that he is not acting on the interest of a small few. The majority of society support LGBT rights including same sex marriage. As for the DUP, when their MPs are saying things like ‘climate change is a manmade con’ and that they find gays ‘pretty repulsive’ I really think they should be challenges. Those comments are both offensive and unscientific and in my opinion pretty bonkers!

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    1. Again you are missing the point….it doesn’t matter as to the rightness or wrongness of it if the majority support it or not. And yes those who make daft remarks should be challenged (which is why I am challenging you) but you cannot say that a whole party is tainted by one or two people’s eccentric comments. I find that your comments are both offensive and unscientific and in my opinion pretty bonkers – but so what! Try to stick with evidence and don’t demonise a whole party which you clearly have no idea about..

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  7. “… this is of far more significance than the other election that was taking place throughout the United Kingdom …”

    The same thought occurred to me, when the news came through. I didn’t move from my computer whilst awaiting the outcome of the SEC vote, even though it was election day, and i was a candidate myself.

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  8. Perhaps Edward should look to apply the No Religious Test of the American Constitution to edit and evaluate his verbal ejaculations about the DUP.

    Article VI of the US Constitution declares that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    For the avoidance of doubt and misunderstanding by Edward, that means that religious conviction should not be a disqualification, though the searing ignorance displayed in his comment would exhibit viperous black holes in his own CV.

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  9. There is a belief in the Church of Scotland that a move in this direction could attract 50,000 new members (10% of 10% of the population). It is all about money.

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  10. David I don’t agree with everything Kelvin does as you know. Neither does everyone in the congregation, not by any means. All the same he’s my pastor and I’m grateful his support.

    The SEC is a fairly broad church that operates in pretty much the same way as the C of E. Change comes about only where there is agreement between laity, clergy and bishops. Whilst the required 2/3 majority was achieved by only one vote in the House of Clergy, it was very easily achieved by the laity and bishops.

    What I’m really interested in is when does a church become apostate? As far as I can tell, the NT sets out fairly clear tests relating to the Person of Christ. We profess the God-Man Jesus Christ raised from the dead and glorified. We believe he died for our sins and that he is Lord of all. The NT says nothing about homosexuality in that context and where it touches on the subject at all there is at least some uncertainty as to meaning.

    Rightly or wrongly I come at sexuality partly as a scientist. There is now an overwhelming body of data that reveals that not only is it innate, homosexuality is within the range if normal expressions of human (and animal) sexuality. The biblical writers could not have known this any more than they knew the age of the earth. In the case of the latter, the science has tended to lead to review of older interpretations. I can’t see that the same isnt at least a thing to consider when discussing homosexuality.

    It’s a serious thing to charge a church with apostacy and shouldn’t be made lightly.

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    1. The Lordship of Christ means that we believe what Jesus said about marriage. And he was quite clear. Once you start playing the post-modern game of ‘words mean what I what them to mean’ everything, including the Bible becomes meaningless. Here is a wee experiment for you…what if the Bible did teach clearly about homosexuality – would Kelvin accept it? I realise it is a serious thing to charge a church with apostacy and I don’t make it lightly. It is even more serious to be apostate.

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    2. “Rightly or wrongly I come at sexuality partly as a scientist. There is now an overwhelming body of data that reveals that not only is it innate, homosexuality is within the range if normal expressions of human (and animal) sexuality.”

      Citation needed.

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  11. The point about this pragmatic decision is surely not the peddling of Salvation but the counting of heads and the accretion of capital.

    Anyway, we must , when considering the Episcopals with both humility and a sense of historical fact, remember the words of that old Fenian rascal Brendan Behan, ” The cornerstones of the Church of England are the bollocks of Henry VIII.

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  12. David

    I can’t speak for what Kelvin may or may not do in a hypothetical situation and it’s unfair to ask me to. Obviously he doesn’t believe the bible is clear on homosecuality. That’s a position to can accept or reject.
    Frankly, I think far too much of the debate has been conducted in a rather ungracious manner in which both sides, evangelicals and progressives, question not only the motives but the standing before God of the other side. For what it’s worth? I frequently get considerable abuse for defending the integrity of those that oppose SSM on what they believe to be biblical grounds. I haven’t entirely turned my back on my Free Church background.
    I utterly fail the understand how on its own a person’s view on same sex marriage can be seen as indicative of whether or not they’re Christian; saved, as evangelicals say. Don’t believe Jesus is God incarnate? Such a person is anti-Christ. That Jesus is Lord? For sure. Paul says as much. Died for our sins and rose for our justification? Undoubtedly. That’s why he came. Not the same as your theology of the cross, incidentally. Marks of grace? Hopefully a work in progress. Love for Christ’s body? Pretty key. Not a peep about homosexuality. Even the passage where Paul says ” neither malakoi nor arsenokoitai…shall inherit the kingdom of God” is disputable. Again you can argue as to the cogency of various interpretations but please, let’s try to be a bit kinder about it.

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    1. Kelvin does think the bible is clear on homosexuality and he doesn’t care….The opinion on SSM does not prove one is a Christian or not….just as it is possible to have the biblical opinion on SSM and not be a Christian – so it is possible to be a Christian and be wrong on SSM. The question is- if Jesus is Lord then do we believe what he says. Imagine if I said that Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification – but I still think its ok to be racist and to beat my wife. Would that mean I was still a Christian?!

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      1. To answer David’s question first, it is entirely possible to think that it OK to be “a racist” (whatever that is supposed to mean) and a wife-beater, and yet to be a saint.

        David and you will discover that you are both on the racist spectrum yourselves, if you both submit to the black-white psychological test here:
        https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/uk/

        Now then Alex.

        The word of God is sharp enough to “judge” heart attitudes. But we are not to pass judgment on each other, over disputable matters. However, we must eschew and ostracise and beware of false teachers, who peddle false doctrine about matters that are not in the least bit disputable. So, we have two conflicting principles in tension. Being a broad enough church for all orthodox saints if we can, versus strident denunciation of undoubted and serious heresy.

        The new doctrine of Christian Same-Sex Marriage, is not to be conflated with the doctrines against homosexuality. That is what you are doing, with your talk of malakoi and arsenokoitai.

        The very suggestion that David could have married Jonathan, because they got on like a house on fire, and loved each other more than either loved any women in their lives by all accounts – in the sense in which the bible uses the words “marriage”, “wife” and “husband” – is indisputably plain ridiculous. It is beyond dispute that God’s servants speak in scripture about marriage, bother literally and also using it as a metaphor for another thing (e,g, the Church being the Bride of Christ), meaning an institution in which David and Jonathan could not have been joined.

        The clash between those who preach biblical marriage, and those who wish to redefine that word, differently from the Law, the Prophets, the Wisdom, Jesus in the gospels, the Apostles, Jesus in Revelation, Church tradition and the consciences of the vast majority of the saints in all ages, is not about one of those disputable matters about which we are not to pass judgment.

        The separate questions as to whether, or how sinful this or that homoerotic activity is, in this or that situation, with this or that emotion, are interesting in its own rights. But they are not the same question as to whether same sex Christian marriage is a heresy, the answer to which is as plain as a pikestaff: it is a heresy.

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      2. No its not entirely possible to be a saint whilst being a racist and a wife beater. You shall know them by their fruits. Such a teaching is itself false doctrine.

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      3. “No its not entirely possible to be a saint whilst being a racist and a wife beater.”

        David, that wasn’t the question. What you wrote was this:

        “Imagine if I said that Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification – but I still think its ok to be racist and to beat my wife. Would that mean I was still a Christian?!”

        That is not the same as:

        “Imagine if I said that Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification – but I was an extreme racist myself, who hated people of another ethnicity from mine and sinned against them not just in attitude, but in word and deed, and who viciously beat – and I mean really BEAT to the criminal standard – my wife, not in self-defence, nor in retaliation when she had physically attacked me first, but out of cruelty. Would that mean I was still a Christian?!”

        I do not wish to criticise you on your own blog, but by your black and white thinking about a shades of grey sin, you have risked distracting Alex from my efforts to disentangle the homosexuality issues (which Alex pretends are disputable matters on which we can agree to disagree) from the SSM issue (which it is much easier for you and me to prove is not one of those disputable matters).

        Please, I beg you, complete the psychological test I linked to, instead of thinking you know what a racist is, and that you are not one, because you are STILL seeing these issues in black and white. Then you might begin to understand that most people are somewhere on the racist spectrum, whether or not they realise it. The key to thinking clearly about racism, homophobia, or being an abusive spouse, is to understand that these are not on/off, true/false words. They are not black and white issues. They are fifty shades of grey issues.

        It is never a simple question, of whether or not one is homophobic (or heterophobic), or a racist (or a “reverse racist”), or a spouse abuser (or a wimpish victim of spousal abuse who jolly well ought to stick up for herself better instead of letting herself be used as a doormat), or a masculist sexist (or a feminist sexist). The question, in each example, is where one lies on each such *spectrum*, not whether one is, or is not, the horrible stereotype at one end of the spectrum. Please do the Harvard racism test online, and thus learn to think clearly about the trap you fall into, whenever you “condemn racism” or “condemn spouse abuse” or “condemn homophobia”, not understanding that these are all *spectrum* words, rather than “guilty or not guilty?” words.

        I love you. I am praying for you.

        The doctrine that the Church in future will be able to solemnise, in God’s name, “holy matrimony” between a David and his Jonathan, is a heresy. It Is easy to make that case, from every authority that any orthodox church has ever acknowledged up until a few years ago. It is necessary to make that case without needing to get embroiled in sterile arguments about biblical passages that are about sodomy, not marriage.

        Please stop thinking that same-sex marriage is wrong, because it is “gay marriage”. It isn’t “gay marriage”. It simply isn’t marriage as we know it at all.

        Otherwise you are going to remain stuck in a loop with the cultist who complain, ridiculously, that God’s biblical definition of marriage discriminates against certain people, and that the Holy Spirit is therefore leading them, in these latter days to redefine marriage in a non-discriminatory way, as their wisdom has now overtaken that of the Law, the Prophets, the Wisdom Literature, the Apostles and the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as quoted in scripture.

        Our foolish toleration of the misnomer “gay marriage” for this new doctrine, stands in the way of exposing it for what it is. God have mercy on us.

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      4. I was responding simply to your statement that it was possible to be a racist and a wife beater and a saint. So you made it the question. I don’t agree and more importantly neither does the Scripture. I’m not stuck in a loop…I know I can’t justify sin – especially my own. Your remarks about SSM I agree with

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      5. I don’t want to be a thorn in your side, but …

        “I was responding simply to your statement that it was possible to be a racist and a wife beater and a saint. So you made it the question.”

        There are several points you seem not to be getting.

        1) I didn’t mention racism or wife-beating first. You did.

        2) I didn’t ever raise a question, or make any sort of theological statement, about (a) sainthood and (b) anything to do with racism of wife-beating. You did.

        3) The question you raised WASN’T whether one could be a saint and a racist and a wife-beater all at the same time.

        4) The question you DID raise was whether one could be a saint and “think it was OK” (for somebody) to be a racist and a wife-beater. That is a DIFFERENT question. It is still a bit of a vague question though. It immediately creates the demand that one defines racism and wife-beating.

        5) The shrewd response to the demand that one defines racism, or wife-beating (a true-or-false definition being what is asked for), is to acknowledge that these two terms, like (as it happens) the term “homophobia”, are modern psychological SPECTRUM words, not old-fashioned, black-and-white sin-or-righteousness words.

        6) I challenged you to try a certain Harvard psychological test for measuring your racism – where you fit on the racist spectrum. That test doesn’t give you a “guilty or not guilty” verdict, telling you either that you are a racist (and therefore, in your theological view, not a saint), or that you are not a racist (except very rarely, when people are plonk in the middle of the spectrum). It measures how racist you are, and whether you are biased towards white or black people. Most people are biased, one way or the other.

        Unless and until you try that test, I don’t think you are ever going to be able to get your head around this idea of being on a racism spectrum, a homophobic or heterophilic spectrum, or a domestic violence victim-perpetrator spectrum. I think you need to take the psychological tests, because I have tried several times now to explain the concept of being on a spectrum to you, and you keep wanting to mark off spectra into sin zones and righteousness zones, so that if (say) one scored to far one way or the other on the Harvard test for racism, one was heading for hell, as a racist, whilst if one scored somewhere else on the racism spectrum, one might possibly be a saint. (As you see it.)

        The Harvard link also has a homophobia-heterophobia test, for you to find out where you fit on that spectrum too, if you want. Try it. I haven’t bothered to, because I already know that I am quite a lot more homophobic than most people, and I know why too. But take the scientific homophobia test, because you “condemn homophobia”, whereas I just accept it, as another of those things that psychological tests can measure.

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      6. This is the loop I thought you might be in danger of getting stuck in:

        You explain well, as do I, and countless others, that the doctrine is heretical, by almost any well-respected test for heresy, that the Holy Ghost is nowadays revealing to certain (shall we say?) more *advanced* believers, a new understanding of God’s intentions when ordaining marriage at creation: That, in the fulness of time, Christ’s Bride (or, I suppose, nowadays, His “Partner” or “Spouse”), has become about to be split again, between those with the prophetic wisdom to realise that the Spirit is now saying that the Spouse of Christ has become authorised to declare, in His name, that two people who loved each other as much as (say) David and Jonathan had loved each other, had become, upon the taking of vows (arguably not necessarily such as “with my body, I thee worship”, but any old new liturgy really), joined together in Holy Matrimony. (Whom God hath … asunder etc.)

        So far, so good. You have attacked Christian SSM, without saying a word about h***sex**lity.

        The problem arises when other people try to suck us into futile conversations, about the Hebrew and Greek words in verse in the bible that denounce what is nowadays called “homosexual” behaviour. We get stuck in a loop if we let that happen. We don’t need to. Our biblical case against homosexual behaviour and our biblical case against SSM, are independent of each other. Make THAT point, and you have done your job, and silenced your foes.

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      7. John this is what you said ‘ To answer David’s question first, it is entirely possible to think that it OK to be “a racist” (whatever that is supposed to mean) and a wife-beater, and yet to be a saint.”. Bottom line is that is just false. That is all I was responding to…

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