Is the Creed “the” Sufficient Standard of Orthodoxy?

If a leader in the church agrees with the Creeds regarding the Trinity and the dual natures of Christ, then should we not accept him as a legitimate Christian teacher even though we might disagree about the nature of marriage and sexuality?

The question is an important one. It not only goes to the heart of discipleship (what does it mean to follow Jesus?) but it touches directly on some of the most heated controversies in the Anglican realm. Is it permissable to promote the ministry of men like Bishop Shannon Johnston of the Diocese of Virginia? Should we participate in Christian outreach/mission with leaders who promote same sex “marriage”? Should an orthodox seminary invite the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to preach in its chapel?

In answer to these questions, some have argued that the Nicene and Apostolic creedal formulas should stand as the primary measure of orthodoxy. Going beyond these, they argue, will create unnecessary division. If a leader professes faith in the Christ of the Creeds, who are we to deny him/her a place at the table?

There are at least two problems with that answer.

First, it is contrary to the apostolic witness. There is no evidence that the teachers against whom Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians were committing Christolological or Trinitarian errors. They were adding to the gospel of grace. Moreover, in that same letter, Paul lays down the general measure by which all teachers are to be measured and it is far more comprehensive than any Creedal formula: if anyone at all “should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed…”(Gal 1:8). The word for “accursed” is anathema. Let the one who contradicts what I have delivered to you be damned. Obviously, Paul does not consider the Galatian teachers to be “in Christ”. Paul’s measure for Christian teaching is whether or not it accords with the apostolic deposit, which, for us, has been inscripturated in the New Testament.

The apostle John affirms this principle in his second letter. There John warns against false teachers who do indeed teach an early type of Christological heresy but in the process of dealing with that particular error, he issues this broad declaration: “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God.”  The the genetive “of” there probably includes teaching “about” Christ and teaching “from” Christ. The apostles (as we’ll see below) were commissioned by the Lord to teach his word, not only the word that he gave them during his earthly ministry but also the ongoing instruction he promised to reveal through them. And so John, like Paul, indicates that to “go beyond” what the apostles deliver to the Church is to stray outside the bounds of the Faith.

Apostolic teaching is the measure of orthodoxy. This measure, of course, necessarily also includes the Old Testament since the Apostles and Jesus Christ himself in many and various places affirm its absolute authority as the word of God. By this standard those leaders who teach that sexual relationships between two men or two women can in any way be blessed or solemnized are not to be considered Christian teachers or leaders but “anathema” even if they affirm the Trinity and Jesus’ dual natures.

Second, rejecting the teaching of the apostles is necessarily to repudiate the Creeds. Even if we only apply the minimal standard of the Creedal formulas, which, as I’ve shown above would be contrary to the apostolic standard, those who teach that same sex relationship may be blessed must still be counted as standing outside the Christian faith.

The first Christological declaration of the Nicene Creed is: “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ.”

The first Christological declaration of the Apostle’s Creed affirms the same: “[I believe] in Jesus Christ, his [God the Father’s] only begotten Son, our Lord.”

The Lord Jesus in Mark 7:21 and Matthew 15:19 identifies “porneia” (translated “sexual immorality”) as one part of our sinful nature. As NT Wright and many others have pointed out, “porneia” in the context of first century Judaism would necessarily include homosexual sexual practice along with all the sexual sins identified in Leviticus 18.

Moreover, in both John 14:25-26 and John 16:12-15, Jesus promises to speak to his Church directly through his appointed apostles. Their teaching therefore, as I have already suggested above, is Christ’s teaching. When Peter, James, John and, yes, Paul, teach, Jesus teaches.

Finally, Nicene Creed identifies Jesus as not merely a human Lord but as God the Son. “God from God, Light from Light. Very God from Very God”. Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:16, declares that all scripture – that is an all-encompassing statement – is “God breathed”. If one professes Jesus as God then one must also recognize that the entirety of scripture, Old Testament and New Testament, is His Word.

The Creeds themselves, then, require obedience to Jesus Christ as the One Lord over all things. To profess the Creed but reject the word of God as revealed in the scriptures regarding marriage and sexuality is incoherent. It is, in fact, to reject the Lordship of Christ and to place oneself outside the bounds of Creedal Christianity.

Speaking out for Sexual Holiness is the Responsibility of all REFORM members not just the same-sex attracted

“Of course we need to ensure that our voice is heard but are the official ‘shared conversations’ the place to do this? There are 12 conversations with 60 people in each — a total of 720 individuals. These conversations will be controlled and must remain a ‘safe space’ for those expressing their views so it will be impossible to interrogate the false assumptions that are expressed by others…As the outcome of these discussions has largely been determined, we should perhaps see them as something of a ‘play fight’, which is followed by a ‘group hug’.”

The Reform leadership insists the decision to stay out “is not because we do not want to listen to the experiences of the LGBTIQ community; in fact many of our members would describe themselves as experiencing same-sex attraction”. Clearly, such members of Reform have an authoritative voice in this dispute. But because all communicant members of the Church of England should be owning its received teaching on sexual holiness, the responsibility to argue for biblical truth cannot be left to the same-sex attracted.

By God’s grace, the Church of England’s historic teaching remains clear and unequivocally biblical, as the Revd Stephen Keeble, Anglo-Catholic Vicar of St George’s, Headstone, has well expressed in an open letter to the chairman of Forward in Faith UK, Bishop Jonathan Baker.

Arguing against those who purport to “uphold the Church of England’s teaching on marriage in its canons and liturgy” and yet regard “the Church’s teaching on marriage as unrelated, in principle, to its position on same-sex relationships”, Stephen Keeble told Bishop Baker:

“This is wholly at variance with the historic and — as stated in Canon B 30 — definitive teaching of the Church of England in the Form of Solemnisation of Matrimony contained in the Book of Common Prayer which gives one of the purposes of marriage to be the avoidance of fornication by those ‘as have not the gift of continency’. Fornication — sexual intercourse outside marriage — is proscribed in Holy Scripture in both Old and New Testaments, and the teaching and discipline of the Church Catholic has always reflected this.”

In contending for the loving truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, Reform members, particularly those who teach the Bible in local churches, have a spiritual responsibility to argue for the Church of England’s biblical doctrine on God’s call to sexual holiness as courageously and faithfully as this Anglo-Catholic.

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK – www.oughtibridgechurch.org.uk

Why do left-wing clerics insult and alienate right-wing laity?

Why do left-wing clerics insult and alienate right-wing laity?

I don’t just disagree with Ukip. I despise them. I despise them for their smug Little Englander mentality. I despise them for their total absence of fellow-feeling towards vulnerable people who look and sound different. I despise them for the way they scapegoat immigrants and whip up the resentment of the white working class. But I especially despise them for the way they dress all this up as the protection of something they call Christian England.

These are the words of the Rev’d Giles Fraser – one-time Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral; now parish priest at St Mary’s Newington – who, writing in his Guardian column, berates Ukip for perverting Christianity and lambasts Nigel Farage in particular for nullifying the very essence of gospel of Christ – that is, the exhortation to love one’s neighbour as oneself. How can Ukip demand the “muscular defence of our Judeo-Christian heritage”, he growls, if they can’t grasp the “basic Christian doctrine” inherent in the parable of the Good Samaritan?

The question isn’t without merit, though Giles Fraser, being a deep-thinking sort of cleric (not to mention a nice guy) who is routinely paid (quite handsomely) by the left-wing media to philosophise on complex matters of theological morality (which he usually performs rather well), does himself a disservice by reducing Ukip immigration policy to the crass caricature of an Owen Jones / Katie Hopkins binary rant of agonisingly dichotomised apprehension. Certainly, some Ukip policies are delinquent in their principles and deficient in their expression. But – let’s be honest – so are some Conservative, Labour and Liberal-Democrat policies, the proponents of which might also be accused of the failure to grasp “basic Christian doctrine”. But you tend not to hear many bishops giving Labour hell, or clergy giving the LibDems a bit of what for, do you?

Right-wing Conservatives, however, are just a precarious breath away from the loony Kippers: those evil Tories spend their days scheming how they might best torture the disabled, victimise the vulnerable and the persecute the poor. Their creed of greed and cult of selfishness and individualism are epitomised by the idolatry of the wicked witch of Grantham, Margaret Thatcher, whose grasp of “basic Christian doctrine” was manifestly as anti-Christian as that of Nigel Farage. When bishops and clergy denounce Ukip, they are simultaneously and vicariously censuring the Conservative Party: there can be no fellowship of Anglican light with Tory darkness.

To be fair, Giles Fraser isn’t alone in this sort of tabloid vilificaction: only a few weeks ago Bishop Pete Broadbent of Willesden tweeted that precise “Little Englander” left-wing vernacularism in the context of constitutional reform: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are, it seems, permitted their nationalistic yearnings for independence, but God forbid that the “little Englander” might demand something as bigoted and xenophobic as English votes for English laws. Bishop Pete has also dismissed Ukip as “vacuous” and “a blot on the political landscape”, even going so far as to exhort his flock not to cast a vote in their direction, the inference being that to do so would be somehow antithetical to Christian values and an offence against Christ.

One tires of countering these pervasive political caricatures and the left’s hegemony in the Synod’s houses of Bishops and Clergy. People are being lost to salvation; time is precious, and life is short. The Rev’d Giles and Bishop Pete know exactly what they’re saying and precisely what they’re doing: while they minister to the poor, feed the starving and house the homeless (and they do), they cloak their left-wing politicking in the rebuke of Christ, alienating all who derive the same simple-souled inspiration to social works of compassion from quite a different political tradition or philosophy of theology. Their knowing and feeling are not inferior: in the collusion of faith with life, there are variable understandings of duties, limitations, obligations and renunciations. The right-wing monuments are just different in their hermeneutic from the left-wing movements, and somewhere between the two extremes is a richer social justice and a deeper un-thought expression of relationship which bishops and clergy ought to be fostering, not disproving.

Both left-wing and right-wing politics aspire to social goodness and expressions of Christian-ness. For sure, we might differ on means, priorities and the relative ordering of questions, and there may be greater virtue in one specific response to a particular dilemma than may be found in its political parallel. But, from Socrates to Nietzsche, the philosophy of man has erred: his insights have conflated vice with virtue and irrationalism with reason. In a representative liberal democracy, Christians who vote are bound to deal with left-wing confusions and right-wing mystification: both traditions are cloaked in respectability, and both polarities expound a pastiche of religion. But we are not dealing here with good versus evil: Parliament is not divided into into sheep and goats.

Bishops and clergy of the Church of England have a primary pastoral function and duty in this messy democratic context, and it is not to characterise as evil that which seeks to do good, and it is certainly not to foment strife and make enemies where there is none. There are many sincere Christians in Ukip – Margot Parker MEP being just one (the Church of England even has a Kipper vicar – the Rev’d Sam Norton). We may differ on the relative extents of their goodness, and interrogate vigorously their worlds of ideas and ideals. But the church which does not welcome Nigel Farage along with Nelson Mandela is simply not the Church.

Setting aside “basic Christian doctrine” (which, let’s face it, left-wing bishops and clergy routinely do where it does not conveniently accord with their interpretation of the “social gospel”), what of basic Christian praxis? One wonders, for example, whether Jesus entertained more prostitutes and tax-collectors than Giles Fraser and Pete Broadbent have ever voluntarily dined with Kippers, Thatcherites or other bigoted blots on the political landscape.

Who or what defines the Anglican Communion?

By Mark Thompson
http://sydneyanglicans.net/
In an interview with the editor of the Church Of Ireland Gazette(Canon Ian Ellis), the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has given his opinion on what defines a church as part of the Anglican Communion, and therefore, by implication, what is critical for Anglican identity.

In the interview he remarked that on his tour around the provinces of the Anglican Communion he has discovered that virtually everywhere the definition of being part of the Anglican Communion has been ‘being in communion with Canterbury’. He was, apparently, surprised to hear this, but it is equally clear he was glad to hear it. This is obvious when, a little further into the interview he insists that the Anglican Church of North of America (ACNA), is not a part of the Anglican Communion but a separate church. ACNA could be, and perhaps already is, an ecumenical partner with the Anglican Communion but it cannot be considered a member of the Anglican Communion because (and this last bit is the implication of what he said rather than his own words) it is not in communion with Canterbury, it has not been recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself.

This is a gigantic slap in the face to the Primates who represent the vast bulk of practicing Anglicans around the world and who, meeting in London in April 2009, recognised the Anglican Church in North America ‘as genuinely Anglican’ and called on all Anglican Provinces to ‘affirm full communion with the ACNA’. The churches which make up this new province are very largely refugees from the Episcopal Church (TEC) and its liberal and extraordinarily litigious Presiding Bishop (Ms Katherine Jefferts Schori).

Many have suffered the loss of their property and the vilification and deposition of their leaders but were prepared to endure this rather than surrender to the revisionist theology and practice of TEC.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s insistence on communion with his office as a–if not the–defining characteristic of Anglicanism ought to come as no surprise. It is an institutional and process-driven answer to the question of Anglican identity from one who has shown himself to be more comfortable thinking in those categories than in theological ones. It makes the matter a simple one, one which can avoid divisive questions about whether a particular group has remained faithful to the confessional formularies (the 39 Articles and the books of Homilies, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal) or obedient to the Scriptures in matters of theology and Christian discipleship. Of course, it is not hard to see why avoiding those questions is desirable, especially to someone committed to maintaining some semblance of unity in a global institution which has been tearing itself apart for the past thirty years or more. Archbishop Welby has an impressive record in dispute resolution and he knows that institutional inclusiveness is a more achievable goal than theological agreement and a common commitment to biblical patterns of discipleship.

We must deny categorically and in the strongest possible terms that communion with the see of Canterbury is the determining factor when it comes to Anglican identity. It is not and never can be. A church, diocese or national body does not have to be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury in order to be a legitimate member of the Anglican Communion, especially if a majority of other Anglicans around the world recognise it as part of our fellowship. Anglican identity is fundamentally a matter of certain theological commitments, anchored ultimately in the authority of Scripture as God’s word written (Article 20), together with an agreement to operate with a common pattern of church government (the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons). The Anglican Church has always been confessional in nature, as witnessed by the history of subscription to the Articles, which began in the time of Cranmer and continues around the world today. Ordination for Sydney Anglicans, for instance, still includes wholehearted assent to the 39 Articles of Religion.

This does not mean that every genuinely Anglican province must express itself in both form and content in an identical way to every other province. There is room for cultural diversity and appropriate modification of the way we do things in order to communicate the gospel more effectively in our own particular context. The 39 Articles themselves envisage this: ‘It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly alike; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s word’ (Article 34). But it does mean that any genuine unity we have is a unity of confession and the practice of discipleship first and foremost, not an institutional unity. It cannot and must not be confused with appropriate respect given to an ancient office in the Church of England.

In 2009 the Primates who represent by far the majority of Anglicans worldwide accepted ACNA as genuinely Anglican. They did not all necessarily agree with everything ACNA was doing and there has been increasing occasion for comment in the years since. However, along with that other long-excluded but genuinely Anglican province, the Church of England in South Africa (or REACH South Africa, as it is now known), its acceptance is based most of all on a common confession and a common determination to live faithfully according to the Scriptures as disciples of Christ taking his message of life and hope to a lost world.

The Rev Dr.Mark Thompson is the Principal of Moore Theological College and a canon of St Andrews Cathedral, Sydney

The Vindication of Antonin Scalia — A Sad Milestone for Marriage and Morality

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world. More →

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A giant milestone in the moral revolution passed today when the U.S. Supreme Court turned down every single appeal from several states on the issue of same-sex marriage. This decision not to take at least one case under consideration stunned both sides in the same-sex marriage battle. Last weekend’s edition of USA Today featured a front-page story that declared the virtual certainty that the Court would take at least one of the cases and declared same-sex marriage to be “a cause whose time has come.”

Well, same-sex marriage may well be an issue whose time has come in the culture, due to the massive moral shift that has taken place over the last few decades, but the nation’s highest court has decided that now is not the time for it to take up such a case. Faced with the opportunity either to stop same-sex marriage in its tracks or to hand down a sweeping decision tantamount to a new Roe v. Wade, the Court took a pass.

Some will argue that the Court’s decision was a strategic choice intended to preserve its dignity and stature. Already, many defenders of natural marriage are doing their best to argue that the Court’s refusal to take a case is better for the cause of marriage than a sweeping decision in favor of same-sex marriage. The proponents of same-sex marriage had hoped for just such a decision, and attorneys were jockeying for position, wanting to be the lead counsel for the “gay marriage Roe decision.” But make no mistake, the proponents of same-sex marriage won this round, and they won big. They did not get the sweeping coast to coast ruling they wanted, but what they got was an even faster track to the same result.

Had the Court taken one of the cases, the oral arguments would not have taken place until early 2015, and the decision would not have been likely until the end of next June. Until then, same-sex marriage would be on hold to some degree. Now, the Court’s decision to allow lower court rulings to stand sends an immediate signal — it is full steam ahead for same-sex marriage coast to coast.

As of last week, 19 states and the District of Columbia had legalized same-sex marriage by one means or another. The Court’s decision not to take one of the cases from the lower Federal courts means that every one of them stands. Therefore, not only will same-sex marriage be legal in the states that made a direct appeal, but in every state included within the same U.S. Circuit.

That result is that the decision made clear by the Court will lead, automatically, to the fact that 30 states will have legal same-sex marriage within weeks, if not days. The news from the Court means that the vast majority of Americans will live where same-sex marriage is legal, and three fifths of the states will have legalized same-sex marriage.

But the Court’s decision also sent another even more powerful message. The remaining federal courts were put on notice that same-sex marriage is now the expectation of the Supreme Court and that no appeal on the question is likely to be successful, or even heard. You can expect the lower courts to hear that message loudly and clearly — and fast.

This day in U.S. legal history will be remembered for many years to come as a landmark day toward same-sex marriage. It was the day the nation’s highest court took one of the lowest paths of least resistance. It now seeks to maintain its prestige by avoiding the backlash the Court experienced in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade in 1973. It wants to have its victory without taking further risks to its reputation.

Given the recent remarks made by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, even some of the Court’s most liberal justices wanted to avoid a backlash while achieving the same eventual result. Today’s announcement means that their hopes were achieved.

antonin_scalia-photographBut the decision today also indicates something further — it points to the vindication of Justice Antonin Scalia. When the Court handed down the decision striking down all state sodomy statutes in 2003 in Lawrence v Texas, Justice Scalia declared that it meant the end of all morals legislation. The majority opinion in that decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose legal reasoning was ridiculed by Scalia in one of his most scathing dissents.

Kennedy, said Scalia, had created “a massive disruption of the current social order,” that could not be stopped. Further: “Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”

Eleven years earlier, Scalia had dissented from another Kennedy majority opinion, that time on abortion. Justice Kennedy had sustained a right to abortion, maintaining the central impact of Roe and pushing further toward a mysterious existential argument. Kennedy had written, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Scalia famously rejected that language as Kennedy’s “sweet-mystery-of-life passage,” and he saw that same reasoning behind the Lawrence decision.

But Scalia also said this about the 2003 decision: “This reasoning leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.” Further: “Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as a formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is ‘no legitimate state interest’ for purposes of proscribing that conduct … what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples?”

Indeed, the Lawrence decision did put all laws limiting marriage to opposite sex couples on shaky ground. Very shaky ground. Justice Scalia saw what now appears obvious. The Court’s decision in Lawrence in 2003 set the stage for today’s news.

Even more recently, Justice Kennedy was the author of the Court’s majority opinion in the Windsor decision striking down the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act. That decision, handed down in June of 2013, set the stage for today’s development in a big way.

Once again, Justice Scalia saw it coming. He called the Court’s decision to strike down DOMA “jaw-dropping” in both its audacity and its reasoning. Then he offered these memorable words: “As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe.”

That “other shoe” was the inevitability of same-sex marriage as a national reality.

What happened today at the Court — or perhaps what didn’t happen — is a direct vindication of Scalia’s warnings. He saw it coming and he warned us.

What the Court’s majority has now decided, evidently, is to allow shoes to fall at the hands of lower courts that will follow its reasoning and obey its signals.

The news from the Court today means a sad vindication for Justice Antonin Scalia. It means an even sadder day for marriage in America.

And it means, no matter what you think you heard or didn’t hear from Washington, that the other shoe has dropped.

The Unraveling of the Anglican Communion

Anglican Curmudgeon

For some time now — ever since ECUSA’s unilateral decision to consecrate V. Gene Robinson as a bishop — the Anglican 62c95-globalsouthanglicans28229Communion has been unraveling, but since it was such a loosely based agglomeration of churches to begin with, hardly no one has noticed. And yet, there were warnings aplenty.

From the October 2003 statement of the Primates who gathered specially in London before the consecration scheduled for November:

If [V. Gene Robinson's] consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy. In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognised by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level …

From the Windsor Report of a year later:

In terms of the wider Communion, and our wider relationships with a number of key ecumenical partners, the consecration [of V. Gene Robinson] has had very prejudicial consequences. In our view, those involved did not pay due regard, in the way they might and, in our view, should have done, to the wider implications of the decisions they were making and the actions they were taking….

There remains a very real danger that we will not choose to walk together. Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart.

From the statement issued by the Primates meeting at Dromantine in February 2005:

Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered.

From the statement issued by the Primates meeting at Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) in February 2007:

The response of The Episcopal Church to the requests made at Dromantine has not persuaded this meeting that we are yet in a position to recognise that The Episcopal Church has mended its broken relationships… We are deeply concerned that so great has been the estrangement between some of the faithful and The Episcopal Church that this has led to recrimination, hostility and even to disputes in the civil courts….

The strained attempts by the collected Primates to hold on to unity took two directions after the Tanzania gathering: on the one hand, they placed their hopes in a new Anglican Covenant; and on the other, they tried to establish arrangements for alternative pastoral oversight within the divided churches of Canada and the United States. Both attempts came to naught.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was unable and unwilling to do what was necessary to save either of the two initiatives. Consequently, the bishops of ECUSA (who received their invitations to Lambeth as though nothing had happened) had no motivation to change course. Indeed, the latter were only too willing to see the Primates’ efforts fail, without their having to do anything overt to torpedo them. And Lambeth itself was both a collegial dud (thanks to the imposed but phony indaba gimmick) and a financial disaster.

By 2008 the hostility and disputes inside ECUSA spilled over into the uncanonical depositions of four orthodox bishops — three of them diocesan (+Schofield, +Duncan and +Iker). The lawsuits picked up in earnest, and largely remain unabated to this day. These blatantly illegal actions by the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA directly brought about the formation of what in time became the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). The division of ECUSA was now formal — even if most of those whose actions had led to it refused to recognize what had happened.

Dr. Williams’ dithering over Lambeth, ECUSA’s thumbing its nose at him over pastoral oversight, and its continued actions against dissident bishops and clergy, greatly widened the fractures in the Anglican Communion. Over three hundred bishops from African denominations refused to attend Lambeth, and a number of the Global South primates announced GAFCON’s first gathering, timed to take place before Lambeth 2008 even convened. The division within the Anglican Communion was now formal, even though again most refused to recognize what was happening.

After the events of 2008 within ECUSA, there was no longer any reason for the revisionists in ECUSA to hold back in the slightest. The 2009 refusal by bishops in ECUSA to honor a moratorium on further confirmations to the episcopate of priests in same-sex partnerships wrote finis to the career of Dr. Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury. He had made a personal plea to General Convention not to proceed with the approval of the elections of two lesbian-partnered women to the episcopate, which that body spurned (one could say: contemptuously).

The broken Communion limped along, with all pretenses of unity ringing hollow. The seventh and last meeting of the Primates was a total failure to heal the splits within the Communion in January 2011. The paper on the “purpose of the Primates Meeting” adopted at its conclusion now reads rather plaintively in light of the widening fissures. The new Archbishop has not even bothered to try to resurrect the body, which is now irrevocably sundered.

General Convention 2012 completed the dismantling of the Windsor Report by formally (and again, uncanonically) licensing bishops to authorize same-sex blessings within their jurisdictions. Rowan Williams resigned as Archbishop as of the end of the year. His replacement, while listening to the alienated primates, has been unable to reverse the causes of their alienation, and indeed, has only added to them with the recent moves by the Church of England to authorize same-sex (but theoretically celibate) partnerships between clergy.

In short, the Windsor Report’s much-touted “Instruments of Unity” have failed to fulfill their calling. The Lambeth Conference, after the precedent set in 2008, has no further Communion-wide purpose, and the Church of England will probably not agree to finance it again. The Archbishop of Canterbury has lost all his stature within the Communion, and is now having trouble even keeping the Church of England together. The Primates Meeting is dead. And the crevasses that have opened wide in the Communion have rendered the Anglican Consultative Council into a meaningless gathering for futile debates and pursuits — much like Jonathan Swift’s Academy of Lagado.

From 2003 to 2013 — it took just ten years for ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada to unravel the Anglican Communion. Which fact goes to show how loosely knit it was in the first place: the rebellion against papal authority which began the movement replaced that authority with the English monarchy — but its Erastianism could not be imposed upon the branches which the Church began to found in other countries. Those branches came to view themselves as autonomous, and none more so than the Americans, who had to fight the English for their freedom.

Yes, Americans had to fight the English, but not for their religious freedom as Anglicans. England instead fully cooperated in establishing apostolic succession in the branch that would bring about the Communion’s unraveling, just 225 years later. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York who ordained the first American bishops did so on the latter’s promise that “We are unanimous and explicit in assuring your Lordships, that we neither have departed, nor propose to depart from the doctrines of your Church. . . .” (see this post for more details).

So much for promises. ECUSA is now part of only one-fourth of a Communion, while the vast majority of persons who call themselves “Anglicans” are part of the other three-quarters. The Archbishop of Canterbury has cast his lot with ECUSA, as have those denominations which depend on ECUSA for financial support.

Money, however, cannot a Communion make. Instead, as ECUSA’s wealth grew exponentially from the 19th to the 20th century, we must now conclude that with greater wealth came greater  irresponsibility — just as it did with all the great and wealthy families of the world. Money, indeed, has unmade a Communion.

Meanwhile, ECUSA continues blithely along, acting as though nothing of moment has happened.

And of course, since in its own collective mind it is not responsible for anything, then of course nothing has happened.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Stay-at-home mothers ‘have the most worthwhile lives’

Official ‘well-being’ index shows those who do not work because they are caring for children or loved-ones have strongest belief that their life is ‘worthwhile’

Talking to and cuddling your children regularly helps their development, says Laura Perrins

Those who do not work to care for children or loved-ones have strongest sense their lives are ‘worthwhile’

New findings from the UK’s national “well-being” index show that those classed as economically inactive because they are caring for a family or home are also among the happiest people in Britain.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, also show that people across the UK have got progressively happier, less anxious and more satisfied with their lives in the past year.

The improvement is thought to be linked to the economic recovery and falling unemployment – even if people are not necessarily better off than a year ago.

The ONS said the improvement appeared to be linked to optimism and improvements in people’s personal situations even though typical household incomes are lower in real terms.

The latest figures also suggest that the 70s are the golden decade of life, with the highest proportion of people rating their personal happiness at the top of the scale.

Meanwhile, they confirm Northern Ireland as the happiest place in the UK topping the national league tables both on a regional and local level.

Four of the five happiest local authority areas in the UK are located in the province – Antrim, Fermanagh, Omagh and Dungannon – with Babergh in Suffolk the only place in mainland Britain making it into the top five.

As part of a programme backed by David Cameron to measure the nation’s well-being, people were asked to rate their lives on a scale of nought to 10.

They were asked to do this in relation to four separate questions: how satisfied they are with their lives overall; whether they feel that what they do is worthwhile; how happy they were the previous day and how anxious they were the previous day.

The average rating for life satisfaction across the UK was 7.5 out of 10 – up 0.06 points on last year while the typical rating for feeling worthwhile also edged upwards to 7.7.

Average scores for how happy people felt the previous day also rose steadily to 7.4 while anxiety ratings fell to 2.9 on average.

The ONS also analysed the findings on the basis of personal characteristics such as people’s marital status, health, or employment situation.

When the results are broken down by work status pensioners emerged as the happiest overall, with a rating of 7.73 out of 10, but students and stay-at-home mothers or carers also scored noticeably higher than average.

But when responses to the question on how “worthwhile” people consider what they do in life to be were analysed, those looking after home or family emerged well ahead of other groups, scoring 8.03 out of 10 on average.

Overall 83 per cent of full-time parents and carers rated their sense of worth as high or very high.

Laura Perrin, a barrister turned full-time mother who campaigns from the group Mothers At Home Matter said the figures showed that government policies designed to encourage more parents to work full time could be doing more harm than good.

“This just goes to show that the idea that we are all at home depressed and unhappy looking after our own children – which a lot of politicians would like to believe – is simply wrong,” she said.

“It is clearly a worthwhile vocation, should you choose to do it.”

The group campaigns for greater recognition of marriage and traditional family life in the tax system. It argues that the Coalition’s childcare tax breaks for couples in which both parents work, penalises families in which one parent has given up work to care for the children.

“David Cameron has set his face against the more traditional set-up with a mother at home caring for her children but his own figures show that not only are they happy but they recognise their lives are worthwhile,” she said.

“They are not only making their own family happy but also making a contribution to society as a whole.

“They should stop their constant campaign against the more traditional set-up”.

Dawn Snape, co-author of the report, said the consistently high happiness and life satisfaction ratings from people in Northern Ireland could not be explained in purely economic terms.

“Aren’t they great?” she said.

“They’re a real conundrum for us.

“Unemployment is high yet they really buck the trend – at the moment we don’t know the answer to this.

“It may be down to social connectivity, a great sense of community, maybe it is down to how life is going there now compared with 15 years ago.”

“It is not clear to us yet, we need to do more (research). But it seems quite consistent that people in Northern Ireland rate their wellbeing at a very high level. They have a positive outlook.”

AC Grayling’s call to abolish RE in schools is dangerously ignorant

A couple of weeks ago I was in a conversation with a BBC producer discussing faith schools and their admissions policies. We talked about the possibility of my appearance on BBC1′s Sunday Morning Live to debate the subject.

In the end it didn’t happen, but I wish I’d had the chance to take on the British Humanist Association’s chief executive, Andrew Copson, as he repeatedly made claims that there was factual evidence that faith schools select wealthy pupils by the backdoor, are divisive and basically have nothing good to offer. He didn’t mention that the ‘factual evidence’ was drawn from the BHA’s own research which only suggests that these might be the case if you join a few dots and squint a bit.

Faith-school bashing continues to be a popular pastime for the BHA and their friends but given that they employ someone full-time to campaign for their abolition,  it’s not entirely surprising; they’ve got to do something to keep themselves busy after all. It also doesn’t help that the Accord Coalition, which includes the BHA alongside the NUT and ATL teachers’ unions, campaigns against faith school admission policies with the support of an eclectic bunch of religious individuals.

“Look!” they say, “It’s not just humanists who don’t like faith schools; there are plenty of religious  leaders who have a problem with them too.” Even though the majority of these ‘leaders’ represent a miniscule number of people. Still, it adds enough credence to their message for the media to take notice and sow a few more seeds of doubt as to whether faith schools should be allowed to carry on as they are despite their continuing success and popularity.

The Accord Coalition might want to dump admission policies based on belief and collective worship, but they do at least admit that Religious Education serves a useful purpose. Apparently not all of their public supporters agree with this, though. The Philosopher AC Grayling, who has been referred to as the ‘Fifth Horseman of New Atheism’, may have his face on the Accord website, but he has written a stinging attack in this week’s Times Education Supplement on not just faith schools but the entire subject of RE, which he sees as being no more than a sad and pathetic branch of philosophy.

AC Grayling is a clever man who has held a number of high-profile positions and now appears to want to take over the role of arch-antagonist-towards-all-things-religious from Richard Dawkins. He has plenty of form when it comes to this matter, having described religious indoctrination of small children as “child abuse” in the past. In his five-page feature that will be sitting on the coffee tables of staff rooms across the country right now, he continues the dogged bombardment, setting out to undermine Religious Education legitimacy as a subject within the school curriculum. He writes:

Suppose that instead of RE, schools taught the history of humanity’s attempts to make sense of itself and the world around it. In this system, it would be seen that religions are just part – and truth be told, a rather primitive part – of a much larger and more complex adventure of thought…

Placing religion in this much larger context dramatically changes how it is viewed by students. How would our schoolchildren react to the Christian story, for example, if they knew that it was an iteration of commonplace tales abounding in Egyptian and Greek mythology? One could show how every feature of the Christian story is lifted from earlier mythologies.

Moreover, the “answers to the deepest questions in life” offered by religions are often very bad ones, and it needs to be made clear that much better answers exist in the secular traditions of thought.

RE should be replaced with a far more general history of ideas, in which the various beliefs of the world are merely one strand. Knowing something about religions is good; it is often remarked that otherwise one could not make sense of paintings in a public art gallery, and this is true.

Religion is organised superstition, and setting an example for children to respect superstition is wrong… The stories are silly, the promises vague and the concepts largely undefined.

Grayling is right when he says that philosophy should be an established part of children’s education, but his view of religion as a feeble-minded strand of it exposes how little he understands about the nature of religion. If all religions were like Buddhism, which requires no belief in the supernatural, then he might have a point. But reducing religious faith to a set of ideas and fairytales that can be fully explained away at a purely rational level completely misunderstands what it means to believe in the existence of a God or gods. Grayling reveals that his atheistic mind is unable to make sense of this and it leaves him little option but to dismiss it all, lock, stock and barrel. To him, religion is little more than an outdated curiosity.

Perhaps AC Grayling could do with a gentle reminder that, as an atheist, he is in a small minority in this country and even more so globally. Atheists make up 2 per cent of the world’s population and the non-religious another 16 per cent. That leaves 5.9 billion supposedly deluded people he and his comrades in atheism have to convince that religion is of no real significance.

It would be an interesting experiment to put Grayling’s proposals into practice and allow him to do the teaching. Would he be able to teach all aspects of philosophy and a neutered version of religion in a way that genuinely allowed pupils to make up their own minds entirely without prejudice? Given his inability to give the New Testament account of Jesus’ life a fair hearing, would he be able to find a way to impart to his students what he has been unable to do himself?

Grayling, in his own disgust, appears to have missed a basic truth. As soon as you begin to teach children, you start to impart your values and understanding of the world on to them. Encouraging independent thinking is not the same as passing on knowledge, and this is always under the control of the teacher. If the whole concept of God is a load of rubbish, then Grayling may potentially have a point about child abuse, but if God is real in any form, then surely Grayling’s staunch atheistic approach is actually the one that is potentially more abusive to children.

We are painfully aware in these times that religious belief can lead to suffering, division and bloodshed. But it is also capable of producing far more good than evil. Deliberately reducing a generation’s already-slender grasp of religion and belief is not going to do anything to increase community cohesion in our multicultural society or make sense of the role of religion in the politics and conflicts we are witnessing daily further afield. Ignorance is certainly not bliss in this case.

Religious Education is far from perfect as it stands. The Church of England revealed last week that more than half of its primary schools are delivering poor quality RE lessons which give pupils little more than a “superficial” grounding in the subject. This serious failure to deliver acceptable levels of understanding is not going to be fixed by abandonment. Instead, there needs to be a move away from the observation and study of religious paraphernalia to the understanding of core theologies and the impact of faith on the lives of individuals and groups.

AC Grayling’s views on this matter are both blinkered and dangerously ignorant. Those who oversee the delivery of Religious Education would do well to look elsewhere for wise advice on the subject’s future.

Chairman’s September Pastoral Letter

To the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friendsBP Eliud

from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya

and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council

September 23, 2014

‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who if of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the heart of the contrite.’ Isaiah 57:15

My dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings in the precious name of our Risen Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

Here in Nairobi, we have just concluded our Divine Conference. We have enjoyed four wonderful days of fellowship, worship and teaching as hundreds of people have been drawn daily to hear God’s Word at All Saints Cathedral. We have come to the Lord in repentance and we have experienced the truth of the great promise we have in Isaiah 57:15, that the God who dwells in the splendour of holiness also dwells with the contrite and lowly. God has indeed drawn near. He has saved the lost, brought back the wanderers, lifted our burdens and given us a new joy in Jesus the Son of God, in whom all His promises are fulfilled.

Many of us were also present last October for GAFCON 2013 and I have encouraged people to think of the Divine Conference as  ‘Continuing GAFCON’. In the Nairobi Commitment and Communiqué, we stated our intention to become much more than a big conference every five years.  As long as the Great Commission is at risk through the promotion and toleration of false teaching and immorality in the Anglican Communion, we must have ‘Continuing GAFCON’.

Our Divine Conference reflected the partnership we have with other Confessing Anglicans as we welcomed international guests and speakers from other nations, including Uganda, the UK and the Anglican Church of North America. My brother Archbishop Stanley Ntagali reminded us that true unity comes when Christ is at the centre of the Church and urged us to see that ‘GAFCON is a revival movement to revive the Anglican Communion’.

We were also delighted to receive greetings from Archbishop Foley Beach through his special representative, Canon Alan Hawkins, and a mission team of church planters from the Anglican Church of North America’s Greenhouse Movement came alongside parishes in Nairobi and joined us for the conference. All Saints Cathedral and Greenhouse have now committed to reciprocal mission visits and I rejoice to see the GAFCON vision for faithful global mission being put into practice in this very practical way between the great cities of Nairobi and Chicago. I hope this will be the first of many similar initiatives.

In the twenty first century, it is becoming clear that we must see the once missionary nations of the West as now themselves mission fields. The fact that the United Kingdom came close to breaking up last week is a symptom of the disintegration that follows when a once common Christian faith has been lost and I want to appreciate the work of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) who are sharing with other mission minded Anglicans in England as they meet for the ‘ReNew’ Conference this week.

AMiE is authorised by the GAFCON Primates to work within and, where necessary, outside the structures of the Church of England as a missionary society. In my message of greeting to the conference I said ‘We understand the challenges that faithful Anglicans face in England.  At GAFCON 2013 here in Nairobi we recognised that the focus of the struggle for biblical faithfulness has shifted from North America to England. The temptation to dilute the message of Jesus Christ and compromise with the surrounding culture is strong, so it is vital for the gospel in England, and also for the world, that you continue as a beacon to the revealed truth of the Scriptures. The salvation of people from hell is at stake. So nothing could be more important.’

As Chairman of GAFCON I give thanks to God as I see brothers an sisters in Christ round the world standing firm and partnering together to make known the good news of our Lord Jesus in season and out of season.

Finally, let us not forget those who are suffering. The terrible barbarities of ISIL have focussed our minds on the evil that has befallen many believers in the Middle East and those facing similar threats in other parts of the world.  Let us be steadfast in prayer for them and trust God that the ancient Churches of their lands will, by God’s grace and power, rise from the ashes. And may their suffering strengthen our resolve to be faithful soldiers and servants of Jesus Christ wherever we are, knowing that nothing can separate is from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Posted September 25, 2014

Biblical Theology and the Sexuality Crisis

Biblical Theology and the Sexuality Crisis

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Western society is currently experiencing what can only be described as a moral revolution. Our society’s moral code and collective ethical evaluation on a particular issue has undergone not small adjustments but a complete reversal. That which was once condemned is now celebrated, and the refusal to celebrate is now condemned.

What makes the current moral and sexual revolution so different from previous moral revolutions is that it is taking place at an utterly unprecedented velocity. Previous generations experienced moral revolutions over decades, even centuries. This current revolution is happening at warp speed.

As the church responds to this revolution, we must remember that current debates on sexuality present to the church a crisis that is irreducibly and inescapably theological. This crisis is tantamount to the type of theological crisis that Gnosticism presented to the early church or that Pelagianism presented to the church in the time of Augustine. In other words, the crisis of sexuality challenges the church’s understanding of the gospel, sin, salvation, and sanctification. Advocates of the new sexuality demand a complete rewriting of Scripture’s metanarrative, a complete reordering of theology, and a fundamental change to how we think about the church’s ministry.

Why the Concordance Method Fails

Proof-texting is the first reflex of conservative Protestants seeking a strategy of theological retrieval and restatement. This hermeneutical reflex comes naturally to evangelical Christians because we believe the Bible to be the inerrant and infallible word of God. We understand that, as B.B. Warfield said, “When Scripture speaks, God speaks.” I should make clear that this reflex is not entirely wrong, but it’s not entirely right either. It’s not entirely wrong because certain Scriptures (that is, “proof texts”) speak to specific issues in a direct and identifiable way.

There are, however, obvious limitations to this type of theological method—what I like to call the “concordance reflex.” What happens when you are wrestling with a theological issue for which no corresponding word appears in the concordance? Many of the most important theological issues cannot be reduced to merely finding relevant words and their corresponding verses in a concordance. Try looking up “transgender” in your concordance. How about “lesbian”? Or “in vitro fertilization”? They’re certainly not in the back of my Bible.

It’s not that Scripture is insufficient. The problem is not a failure of Scripture but a failure of our approach to Scripture. The concordance approach to theology produces a flat Bible without context, covenant, or master-narrative—three hermeneutical foundations that are essential to understand Scripture rightly.

Needed:  A Biblical Theology of the Body

Biblical theology is absolutely indispensable for the church to craft an appropriate response to the current sexual crisis. The church must learn to read Scripture according to its context, embedded in its master-narrative, and progressively revealed along covenantal lines. We must learn to interpret each theological issue through Scripture’s metanarrative of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. Specifically, evangelicals need a theology of the body that is anchored in the Bible’s own unfolding drama of redemption.

Movement One — Creation

Genesis 1:26–28 indicates that God made man—unlike the rest of creation—in his own image. This passage also demonstrates that God’s purpose for humanity was an embodied existence. Genesis 2:7 highlights this point as well. God makes man out of the dust and then breathes into him the breath of life. This indicates that we were a body before we were a person. The body, as it turns out, is not incidental to our personhood. Adam and Eve are given the commission to multiply and subdue the earth. Their bodies allow them, by God’s creation and his sovereign plan, to fulfill that task of image-bearing.

The Genesis narrative also suggests that the body comes with needs. Adam would be hungry, so God gave him the fruit of the garden. These needs are an expression embedded within the created order that Adam is finite, dependent, and derived.

Further, Adam would have a need for companionship, so God gave him a wife, Eve. Both Adam and Eve were to fulfill the mandate to multiply and fill the earth with God’s image-bearers by a proper use of the bodily reproductive ability with which they were created. Coupled with this is the bodily pleasure each would experience as the two became one flesh—that is, one body.

The Genesis narrative also demonstrates that gender is part of the goodness of God’s creation. Gender is not merely a sociological construct forced upon human beings who otherwise could negotiate any number of permutations.

But Genesis teaches us that gender is created by God for our good and his glory. Gender is intended for human flourishing and is assigned by the Creator’s determination—just as he determined whenwhere, and that we should exist.

In sum, God created his image as an embodied person. As embodied, we are given the gift and stewardship of sexuality from God himself. We are constructed in a way that testifies to God’s purposes in this.

Genesis also frames this entire discussion in a covenantal perspective. Human reproduction is not merely in order to propagate the race. Instead, reproduction highlights the fact that Adam and Eve were to multiply in order to fill the earth with the glory of God as reflected by his image bearers.

Movement Two — The Fall

The fall, the second movement in redemptive history, corrupts God’s good gift of the body. The entrance of sin brings mortality to the body. In terms of sexuality, the Fall subverts God’s good plans for sexual complementarity. Eve’s desire is to rule over her husband (Gen. 3:16). Adam’s leadership will be harsh (3:17-19). Eve will experience pain in childbearing (3:16).

The narratives that follow demonstrate the development of aberrant sexual practices, from polygamy to rape, which Scripture addresses with remarkable candor. These Genesis accounts are followed by the giving of the Law which is intended to curb aberrant sexual behavior. It regulates sexuality and expressions of gender and makes clear pronouncements on sexual morals, cross-dressing, marriage, divorce, and host of other bodily and sexual matters.

The Old Testament also connects sexual sin to idolatry. Orgiastic worship, temple prostitution, and other horrible distortions of God’s good gift of the body are all seen as part and parcel of idolatrous worship. The same connection is made by Paul in Romans 1. Having “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Rom 1:22), and having “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom 1:25), men and women exchange their natural relations with one another (Rom 1:26-27).

Movement Three — Redemption

With regard to redemption, we must note that one of the most important aspects of our redemption is that it came by way of a Savior with a body. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14; cf. Phil. 2:5-11). Human redemption is accomplished by the Son of God incarnate—who remains incarnate eternally.

Paul indicates that this salvation includes not merely our souls but also our bodies. Romans 6:12 speaks of sin that reigns in our “mortal bodies”—which implies the hope of future bodily redemption. Romans 8:23 indicates part of our eschatological hope is the “redemption of our bodies.” Even now, in our life of sanctification we are commanded to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God in worship (Rom. 12:2). Further, Paul describes the redeemed body as a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) and clearly we must understand sanctification as having effects upon the body.

Sexual ethics in the New Testament, as in the Old Testament, regulate our expressions of gender and sexuality.Porneia, sexual immorality of any kind, is categorically condemned by Jesus and the apostles. Likewise, Paul clearly indicates to the church at Corinth that sexual sin—sins committed in the body (1 Cor. 6:18)—are what bring the church and the gospel into disrepute because they proclaim to a watching world that the gospel has been to no effect (1 Cor. 5-6).

Movement Four — New Creation

Finally, we reach the fourth and final act of the drama of redemption—new creation. In 1 Corinthians 15:42-57, Paul directs us not only to the resurrection of our own bodies in the new creation but to the fact that Christ’s bodily resurrection is the promise and power for that future hope. Our resurrection will be the experience of eternal glory in the body. This body will be a transformed, consummated continuation of our present embodied existence in the same way that Jesus’ body is the same body he had on earth, yet utterly glorified.

The new creation will not simply be a reset of the garden. It will be better than Eden. As Calvin noted, in the new creation we will know God not only as Creator but as Redeemer—and that redemption includes our bodies. We will reign with Christ in bodily form, as he also is the embodied and reigning cosmic Lord.

In terms of our sexuality, while gender will remain in the new creation, sexual activity will not. It is not that sex is nullified in the resurrection; rather, it is fulfilled. The eschatological marriage supper of the Lamb, to which marriage and sexuality point, will finally arrive. No longer will there be any need to fill the earth with image-bearers as was the case in Genesis 1. Instead, the earth will be filled with knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

Biblical Theology Is Indispensable 

The sexuality crisis has demonstrated the failure of theological method on the part of many pastors. The “concordance reflex” simply cannot accomplish the type of rigorous theological thinking needed in pulpits today. Pastors and churches must learn the indispensability of biblical theology and must practice reading Scripture according to its own internal logic—the logic of a story that moves from creation to new creation. The hermeneutical task before us is great, but it is also indispensable for faithful evangelical engagement with the culture.

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