Matthew Dutton-Gillett: It’s Really Not About Sex

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* TheologyTheology: Scripture

Posted July 29, 2007 at 6:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Philip Snyder wrote:

I think he “gets” it in that it is not just about sex, but about Authority and any province’s authority in the face of Holy Scripture.  However, I see a common problem in his article that leads many reappraisers to discount Holy Scripture.  He calls the Bible “the expression of the Word of God.”  When I was ordained, I took a vow that said that I believed “the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God.”  I did not vow that they contain the word of God or that they express the word of God, but that they are the Word of God.
If it comes down to a debate between an expression of the word of God and my interpretation of what the Word of God Incarnate is saying, then the Word of God, Incarnate (and thus my interpretation) wil win every time.  However, if Holy Scripture is fixed and all revelation must be checked against Holy Scripture, then I can’t make up new revelation to reinforce what I want to do anyway.

Phil Snyder

July 29, 7:38 am | [comment link]
2. Larry Morse wrote:

Sigh. Watch out for this argument. We are going to be seeing it more and more from TEC, namely, that the Bible is simply an important document and that, somehow, one approaches Christ or He approaches you, directly, so that the Bible is, or can be, extraneous. Paul will provide the paradigm. Christ smitheth the unbeliever and maketh the true believer without the intervention of anything scriptural, and this model is applicable to us all.
This is a clever argument, a powerful one, for it is rooted in the Bible. And therein lies the irony and many a tale. This is the argument TEC has been waiting for. LM

July 29, 7:38 am | [comment link]
3. BrianInDioSpfd wrote:

If we are to restore unity amidst our differences, I don’t think we will find it in the Bible. After all, the expression of the Word of God par excellence for Christian people is not the Bible. It is, rather, Jesus himself – the Word made flesh. At the heart of our faith, we see Jesus as the most sublime expression of the Word of God, and we are convinced that Jesus as the Christ is not locked into a particular period of history, but is a living presence in the life of the church today and in the life of each of us who seek to be his followers. The Bible is a tool – and an indispensable one – in coming to know the Christ, as are tradition and reason. But the tools can ever only be tools – none of them can ever replace the One whom they help us to find.

He misses the point that there are as many ‘Jesus Christ’s as there are people.  We each have an image of him we have created.  The Jesus of the Koran is different from the Jesus in the imagination of a Hindu.  Is our Jesus created from poorly remembered sentimental Sunday School stories and Hollywood movies, or is our Jesus created from a living encounter with a the ‘real’ Jesus Christ? 

The Holy Scriptures keep our image of Jesus Christ close to the real one.  Making up our own Jesus and separating him from the Jesus of the Bible is idolatry.

Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love. Amen.

  BCP 124

July 29, 8:51 am | [comment link]
4. scott+ wrote:

I submitted this comment over at the referenced site:

Pelagius began with a notion of justice that he inherited from his culture. He brought this notion to Scripture and it blinded him to several important biblical notions. Flowing from this error were others.  This is the same error that Doctor Schori, much of the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the United States,  and you are making.  You are making the substitution of the contemporary cultures idea of justice for the Christian ideas of sin and forgiveness.

It has been said Pelagius recoiled in horror at the idea that a divine gift (grace) is necessary to perform what God commands. For Pelagius and his followers responsibility always implies ability. If man has the moral responsibility to obey the law of God, he must also have the moral ability to do it.  As logical as this sound, the Holy Catholic Church declared that it was heresy. 

Christianity is not an experiential religion.  That is not to say that there is not the place for the move of the Holy Spirit, but we must test all moves which appear to be of the Holy Spirit against Scripture and Tradition using logic.  When such testing show conflict, as it must in declaring homosexual acts as other then sin, we must assume that the apparent move was demonic. 

The heresy of Pelagius is one which is easy to fall into for the modern mind.  But it is heresy none the less.

July 29, 10:35 am | [comment link]
5. Cousin Vinnie wrote:

“If we are to restore unity amidst our differences, I don’t think we will find it in the Bible.”

Sadly, this may be true, but the fault lies not with the Bible but with those who would subordinate the Bible to their own ideas of right, wrong and justice.  Given that is the case, there will not be unity about the Bible. Nor anything else.

The error that really riles me is taking a proposition that has some truth in it—that no one can assert that he has the only correct understanding of the Bible—and applying it beyond its scope, to conclude that anyone is entitled to hold any belief and claim it to be Biblically faithful, regardless of the length of time that the Body of Christ has held otherwise, regardless of the unanimity of pre-existing doctrine, and regardless of a dearth of support for the revolutionary interpretation in either Scriptrure or Tradition.

July 29, 11:24 am | [comment link]
6. David Keller wrote:

This argument is really pointless.  If we don’t find unity in the Bible, which is our common heritage, then we have no Godly heritage at all.  We are the United Way, or I suppose, with the MDG’s, the UN.  Our rector just announced he is leaving.  At breakfast this morning I was saying to my wife, wouldn’t it be wonderful if our next rector took two or three months to do a sermon series on basic theology/Bible—starting with God’s intentional act of creation, the fall, Elijah and Elisha, the Judges, David, the prophets, the exhile in Babylon and the fulfillment of the story with the Word made flesh, the passion and resurrection; and finally the basic layout of Christianity—Romans.  Most of the people in my church (in TEC for that matter) have never had the story presented to them in a linear fashion.  The point is we exist because of that story.  It is the only unity there is.

July 29, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
7. Br. Michael wrote:

Also note how he sets Jesus against Scripture.  If Jesus/the Father/the Holy Spirit is the source of Scripture then they cannot be in opposition to each other.

July 29, 1:34 pm | [comment link]
8. Deja Vu wrote:

It is my understanding that we are talking about a personal idol if the god one worships (even if one calls that image “Lord Jesus Christ”) is not based on and consistent with the Holy Scriptures.

July 29, 2:01 pm | [comment link]
9. francis wrote:

Amen, Br. Michael.  There is only one Word of God.  Jesus is the Word.  The Word is Jesus.  Jesus did not beleive the law would pass away.  They cannot be divided.  There is no difference between the Word written and the Word incarnate.  They are the Word of God.

July 29, 2:53 pm | [comment link]
10. CandB wrote:

Unity - Smoonity.  Blah, blah, blah.  What should matter is it truth, not unity.  Right is right, even if no one is doing it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it.

July 30, 1:54 am | [comment link]
11. john scholasticus wrote:


As ever, I think you grievously mischaracterise liberal positions. Our friend here is not arguing ‘anything goes’: he is arguing that broader principles, themselves derivable from scripture, may reasonably (after due discussion, argument, etc.) override specific scriptural prescriptions.

As ever also, you and those who think like you represent scripture as uniform. But it isn’t. To take one specific example (of interest to me because I’m currently working on a paper on ‘Acts’), the Preface to Luke clearly implies that the author thinks that his narrative of Jesus and the apostles is better than ‘many’ previous ones. These ‘many’ must include Mark (one of Luke’s two main sources) and (I know it’s contentious) ‘Q’. Luke is clear that these are ALL ‘words’ about the ‘Word of God’. He nevertheless claims that HIS account is better. Criticism, discrimination, etc. is intrinsic to the NT canon itself - at least according to its own practitioners. Or don’t you agree?

July 30, 3:11 pm | [comment link]
12. Philip Snyder wrote:

JS (#11)
I never said that the liberal position is “anything goes.”  I said that divorcing the authority from a fixed (or relatively fixed) point (Holy Scripture) to a much more subjective point (the “Christ of Faith”) will lead to many of the conclusions that the reappraising church has arrived at.  (Yes, I am an American.  I will end my sentences in prepositions and find it altogether proper to occassionally split an infinitive smile ).
I never said that Holy Scripture is uniform.  I am well aware that Luke explicity makes use of other sources (although I am not sold on the “Q” source.  “Q” is a hypothetical document whose existence is theorized based on the fact that there is material in Luke and Matthew that doesn’t occur in Mark).  We don’t know the sources for Luke since neither the Gospel of Luke, nor Acts contain bibliography or footnotes.  Scripture can be read to be confused and we see the same event with four different lenses and four different explainations.  To me, this show the truth of Holy Scripture rather than its lack of coherence.  A friend of mine and a member of my parish is the retired Sheriff of Dallas County.  He said that the testimony of multiple witnesses agrees in every detail, that is a sure sign that they “cooked” their testimony before being asked about it.

The point is that the priest who wrote the article referenced swore that he believed the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God - not to express it or to contain it, but to be it.  If we divorce the Word of God Incarnate from the Word of God Written, then we make Jesus into a pale reflection of our own desires and wishes and can then manipulate Jesus to teach us all that we want to hear.

Phil Snyder

July 30, 4:04 pm | [comment link]
13. john scholasticus wrote:


‘If we divorce the Word of God Incarnate from the Word of God Written, then we make Jesus into a pale reflection of our own desires and wishes and can then manipulate Jesus to teach us all that we want to hear.’

This, yet again, is crude, gross misrepresentation.

July 31, 3:06 pm | [comment link]
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