the liberals still don’t get it?

what is amazing about the liberals in the Anglican Communion is that, despite our abundantly clear talk, they still don’t understand our position. It must be that they don’t understand because no-one, surely, could be so dishonest as to deliberately misrepresent what their opponent is saying?

Surely?

Thing is, that becomes a bit hard to believe when the person talking nonsense is the Primate of Canada, Andrew Hutchison

Here’s his blog piece from today.

I am going to a meeting with a gospel of hope and a preferential option for the poor and we are debating who is in and whom we are going to keep out. I have been at this long enough to know that it never boils down to one simple question. Meetings like this are filled with all manner of ego, authority and power but as we gather and are preparing to begin, that endless stream of humanity that I saw on my way haunts my memory. I wish we were dealing with what difference a gospel of hope could make in their lives, rather than worrying about strategies for the Primates and the politics that are an inevitable part of such gatherings. Please remember to pray for my brothers and sister who share in these meetings in the next few days. There is a huge amount at stake and the world needs to hear the good news again – that the gospel does not say God so loved the Church – rather it says God so loved the world!

This is a great example of both abuse of and total avoidance of what the bible says. Consider his first statement about “a gospel of hope”. Notice how Hutchison uses those words in a completely different way to the Bible. For Hutchison, “hope” is about “a preferential option for the poor” (particularly those in Tanzania who he spends a whole paragraph describing in his post). In the Bible, hope and poverty are considered completely differently:

Colossians 1:3 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints. 5 Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel.

Simply put, the “gospel of hope” in the Bible is nothing to do with alleviation of poverty. It is about a certainty of an eternal future. Why is that eternal future so important? Well, Paul goes on to explain:

Colossians 1:21 And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds, 22 but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him 23 if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant.

The Christian hope is that whereas we used to be stangers and enemies of Christ (as the context makes clear) we are now reconciled to God by His death on the Cross. We are now considered to be holy, without blemish and blameless. What must we do? Simply “remain in the faith” – that is, just keep trusting Jesus who has done everything for us to make us right before God.

As Paul puts its, we should continue, “without shifting from the hope of the gospel you heard”.

But, Hutchison seems to have another gospel – one that’s not about presenting us as holy, without blemish and blameless before God but about the here and now.

And that’s why we worry so much about these things. Because unrepentant homosexual practice, the Bible is clear, is a bar to entry into that saving hope (just as other blatant unrepentant sin is) (1Cor. 6:9; Jude 1:7 etc). Hutchison, and so many like him, ignore the real gospel and, to compound their error, then encourage people in activity that scripture tells us is a bar to entry into that gospel hope.

And, to make it worse, he then butchers the words of Jesus Himself (not that other scripture is less authoritative):

There is a huge amount at stake and the world needs to hear the good news again – that the gospel does not say God so loved the Church – rather it says God so loved the world!

There is “a huge amount at stake” – as John 3:16 (which Hutchison has so abused) makes abundantly clear.

John 3:16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone would pursue the United Nations Millenium Development Goals.

whoops, no, hang on a minute – I think that’s wrong.

*flicks through bible*

oh yeah…

John 3:16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

That’s the gospel, Hutchison.

As someone once said:

John 3:10 Jesus answered, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand these things? 11 I tell you the solemn truth, we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony.

View this post at the WhiteHorseInn

Comments

comments

46 comments on “the liberals still don’t get it?

  1. The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

    Why even try disciplining them or working with them? They don’t care and never have. They need the Church as an instrument for their agenda and will cling to it at all costs.

    For that matter–why do the Evangelicals and Catholics share a church with each other? I know that, temporarily y’all are on the same side–but I look at a (non-liberal) Anglo-Catholic and I look at, let’s say, you and I can call you both brothers in Christ, but I could only possibly share a church building with one of you and consider it a functioning congregation.

    • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

      For that matter–why do the Evangelicals and Catholics share a church with each other? I know that, temporarily y’all are on the same side–but I look at a (non-liberal) Anglo-Catholic and I look at, let’s say, you and I can call you both brothers in Christ, but I could only possibly share a church building with one of you and consider it a functioning congregation.

      I think you’re spot on. Personally, I think this is going to be a bigger problem in the long-run.

      • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

        *nod*

        The oddity of current Christianity is that the splits are primarily across and within denominations–not between them.

    • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

      We share a church because we need each other.

      To put it simplistically:
      The Evangelical needs the Catholic to remind them that physical worship matters.
      The Catholic needs the Evangelical to remind them that mental engagement and rigour matters.

      Seeing churches that spur each other on in the same town has been a revelation. In Cambridge, side by side are the ‘highest’ Anglican and the ‘lowest’ Reformed churches. They share study groups, Lent courses, creches, Sunday school and other provision. They have their own independent outreaches, but they work together.

      LSM are more catholic than the catholics, Emmanuel is Calvinist, and commemorates Bunyan preaching there. Yet they have found a way to celebrate difference and rejoice in the things they have in common to form an effective partnership.

      It’s like asking why a family needs an artist and an engineer as brother and sister…

      • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

        And you don’t need to be in the same episcopal body to do that. Churches band together and learn from each other across the US without having to be in the same State-run Club.

        • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

          Are you always this nasty or is this just generic thoughtlessness. Characterising Anglican thought in the UK as a ‘state-run club’ is fairly offensive in my book.

          I’m a Methodist, part of a group of local Methodist and Anglican churches seeking to work together to bring ourselves under one human overseer. I grew up Anglican (CofE) and while it is an established church, it is not state-run.

          We need to band together, because it’s a covenant, like a marriage. A commitment to be with each other for better, for worse. We need something stronger than just “let’s be friends” because that is only dependent on a couple of leaders being nice to each other.

          We need something stronger that requires a generosity of spirit. God has called all of us out (which is where Ekklesia comes from, and it came to mean ‘the gathering’) to accept his love, and we who accept that love and forgiveness are bidden to do his will. We don’t get a choice of who we work with. Being in one communion is a reminder that we have to work with all God’s people, whether we like it or not. And we don’t get to decide who ‘God’s people are’ – He does…

          • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

            Characterising Anglican thought in the UK as a ‘state-run club’ is fairly offensive in my book.

            Anglican thought, yes, the church itself–no. Reformed, Catholics and Evangelicals (then Lutherans) were forcefully made to share a church by the Elizabethan Settlement; in this way mainline Anglicanism is–wherever it exists–a “state run club”, the sharing of one church by varying factions for so long is something that was enforced by the state for a few hundred years and now exists on life-support… and mostly because there is a lot of money and property at stake to lose in lawsuits. This is why I have the utmost respect for my brothers and sisters in the Anglo-Catholic “Continuum” who risked much in order to separate themselves from communion with those who would hold to un-biblical doctrine.

            If I offended, I apologize, and there is a bit of generic thoughtlessness. I could have expressed myself better, I was just raised to the “blunt object” school of rhetoric.

            We need to band together, because it’s a covenant, like a marriage. A commitment to be with each other for better, for worse.

            No, it’s a body. The covenant is between the Church and Christ–we are collectively the bride, not 1,000,000,000 brides and grooms. No matter your ecclesiology, this is the Biblical doctrine at the core of it. The Church should preach to and love the non-believers and the heterodox, but it does not have to welcome it into its sacramental life.

            Being in one communion is a reminder that we have to work with all God’s people, whether we like it or not. And we don’t get to decide who ‘God’s people are’ – He does…

            One thing I love about the Church is how it forces us to deal with all sorts. Cranks, fools, saints, the flawed, the dispossessed, the wealthy, the ugly, the fair, the lovers and the embittered–we’re constantly reminded that we’re all one body, even if we find it hard to get along. Why? Because we’re united by our shared faith. When that faith is either A) not shared or B) expressed so differently, this sort of sharing cannot happen. I am most challenged by those who share my faith and disagree with me on other issues. We share the same weltangschauung, yet, we disagree! How? I then want to get down to the root of that, and if I only find myself spinning in the rationalist rabbit-hole, I realize the greatness of God and the smallness of human wisdom and (sometimes) the pettiness of our disagreements, sometimes mere side-effects of a fallen order. I can’t have this with someone who does not share my faith. We can work together, we can feed the hungry, heal the sick, and even teach (sometimes) together… but do we have to, and should we, commune with one another when we don’t share the same idea of what communion even is? And I don’t mean all the details… I mean the fundamental axioms from which you build and ecclesiology. We may share one or two… but that is not always enough.

            • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

              The church is not state-run, although it does have some powers by virtue of being established by Elizabeth. I sometimes think that being Established thus did us more good than had it been set about by Schism, because Establishment by Bess meant that the best of all worlds were taken into the church, not as a set of sharply defined words, in reaction, but as a way of bringing the country together and to prevent a bloody civil war as had plagued the country.

              I have respect for those that left the communion on principle, taking no money with them, no property. The ones I don’t respect are those that went because they were paid, or tried to drag church property with them.

              Having been to churches that struggled with local mission, I rapidly realised that the beautiful buildings need to get blown up ASAP, because they are stifling mission. It’s a government plot to muzzle the church, requiring it to take care of so many buildings that it hasn’t got the energy to say anything.

              I find myself reminded of the disciples – a tax collector and a fisherman don’t have much in common, neither does the elegance of John and the bluntness of Peter, yet Christ called them and bound them in his body here on earth.

              Of course the covenant is with God, yet by making that covenant with Him, we have made it with all the other cells in the body. When two humans marry, they become one flesh, so as two churches marry they become one body – in 2005 we signed a national ang-meth covenant.

              If the faith is under B) – expressed so differently – then maybe we need to start learning one another’s languages. As I have travelled round the UK the last 18 months, doing practical placements in churches, I started to realise how much language differs between churches.
              If I called ‘Class Meeting’ a ‘Cell Group’ or ‘Bible Study’ my home church would go ballistic, because the implication of the latter two is something with which they do not identify. Yet it fundamentally is both a Cell and Bible Study, at least in the language of another church I visited, that see ‘Class’ as an institution of a bygone age.
              If I talked of a God of Judgment, my home church would frown, because they refer to a God of Love, yet implicit in that love is an anger and a judgment. If I talked about the God of Love elsewhere, I would get shouted down for forgetting that God Judges, even though Love is implicit in the nature of Judgment.

              I think we should commune with each other if we understand that such a concept of communion can exist, and that it is shared in the love and salvation of Christ. I may have different terms of reference – the classic example is my unitarian friend.
              I set out my understanding of trinity from the bible, and he nodded all the way through. Then said “And?” – my reply: “I call that trinity, you call it unity, and both are right”. He still calls himself a unitarian though, because to him trinity has become debased into function by certain factions, rather than being relational.

              I spend a lot of time with people hurt by the church, where the church communicated in Attic which the people spoke in Koine, and the one didn’t comprehend the other.

              There are areas of genuine difference, yet they seem to be few, once you ask people how they see themselves, rather than how they define themselves in relation to someone else. So much of the argument is reactionary.

              And feeding the hungry is communion, if we eat with them also.

              • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

                The very fact that you think that some of these things aren’t that big of a deal–even though some of them, like the mere language differences, aren’t–goes to show how stark the difference really is.

                • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

                  As I understand it, only those empowered by the Holy Spirit are able to say “Jesus is Lord”, and that seemed to be good enough for the early church. The nature of “Kurie” seems to vary across greek, much like Herr does in german. As we come more fully to understand (or realise we don’t understand) so does our appreciation for the Gospel grow.

                  What’s such a big deal? God is Love, God is Angry, God is beyond all comprehension yet we can come to Him as children, God Heals, God Saves… What is there to disagree on?

                  Jesus is Lord!

                  • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

                    You’re changing the subject to subjective cultural preferences that vary wildly within any communion from the original topic I brought up–which is the problem of dwelling with radically differing ideas of what the church even is. We agree that these issues are trivial.

                    • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

                      But what I’m saying is that these are what is key to the church, that Jesus is Lord.

                      After that, then the disagreements start. I don’t think I’m changing the subject. I’m suggesting that things are getting too narrow, that we’re in danger of losing our perspective on the breadth of the church.

                      I am arguing that if a group of us can say “Jesus is Lord” by the power of the Holy Spirit, then we should be in communion with them. The signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit are well-documented, we don’t need to second guess. We might not do things with them, because we all have different gifts, again documented. However, we should not declare ourselves to be against them.

                    • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

                      Not being in the same church doesn’t imply you’re “against” someone. Dwelling in the same church, however, in spite of radical differences encourages faction in a different, more poisonous fashion. Familiarity certainly breeds contempt, as the sad spectacle unfolding in Africa shows.

                    • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

                      I think people aren’t familiar with each other – they’ve forgotten how to speak one another’s language and thus become split from each other. Instead of talking to each other for the last 15 years they’ve been talking about each other. They’re familiar with the caricatures, their caricatures, but not the people.

                      Deliberate schism certainly implies ‘against’ as does not working for unity. Ps 133 – how good it is for brothers to live in unity (off top of head – it’s around there) shows God’s desire for us to be of one group, as does the passage in Luke where Jesus longs to gather God’s people like a mother hen gathering her chicks.

                    • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

                      I do not think that God desires false or superficial unity–should the Arians have been allowed to preach what was not the faith in the Church?

                    • Re: The Evangelicals and Catholics still don’t get it?

                      Should the Dominicans have got away with beating up the Albigensians?

                      Were the Donatists right?

                      Maybe the Montanists deserved a better press?

                      I don’t know. What I do know is that getting too hung up on saying the right thing can be as dangerous as saying the wrong thing, or saying the wrong thing in an acceptable way.

                      History is usually written by the winners – we don’t know to what extent ‘the church’ really believed anything. I do know that a lot of the people in the pews are probably heretics in one sense or another.

                      I believe genuine unity comes from dialogue, and trying to get inside someone’s skin – walking a few miles in their shoes – and that goes for the ‘liberals’ as well. Having spent time in Brooklyn among those in a very evangelical Drug Rehab, I started to appreciate the way the Gospel was presented, something that I had struggled to do in England. I started to see where it came from, and started to understand their language.

                      Unity is only false if we’re secretly hating our brothers. 1 John, obviously. If we are loving our brothers, listening to them and they to us, then the unity is not false, however much we disagree.
                      If we keep talking to them, keep the emotional connection as well as the intellectual, then we start to get somewhere. It’s not enough to criticise someone’s ideas without reference to their soul, or understanding their context. You might win the intellectual battle, but kill a brother.
                      If I want to change someone’s mind (and I haven’t done it here as much as I should, for which I apologise) then I should seek to see things from their point of view. Opinions are not just based on text, but external inputs, and internal calibrations. They have an emotional reality as well. Keeping the emotional reality out of a conversation is not a Godly thing to do, because God loves the whole person, not just the intellectual capacity to argue – after all, He appointed Moses, didn’t He :).

                      So, what of your circumstance, beyond simply your knowledge of scripture, has led you to think this way?

  2. What about Luke’s Beatitudes:

    Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
    Blessed are you who are hungry now,
    for you will be filled.
    Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.
    Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
    Rejoice in that Day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
    But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have received your consolation.
    Woe to you who are full now,
    for you will be hungry.
    Woe to you who are laughing now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
    Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets

    That sounds like a fairly clear “preferential option for the poor”.

    What about the advice to the rich young man to sell all he had and follow Christ, or the advice to the disciples not to carry any extras.

    The hope is now – “The Kingdom of God is at hand”, which I understand to mean “the Kingdom of God is near by.”

    And we know that “The Kingdom of God is justice and peace” which suggests a need for the poor to be fed, for surely Justice is taking care of the poor, the alien, the widow and the orphan (for example in Ruth, and from the laws of Leviticus). God is very concerned that we should not exploit one another, and a lot of the Law concerns this – far more than the one proof-text verse in Leviticus about abominations.

    Then we have Jesus’ own instructions: Matthew 25 vv.31-46 which implies that those being pious, but not feeding the poor will be sent from his sight.

    As another (modern) prophet said (paraphrasing the sermon on the mount):

    He said:
    Answer a stranger’s cry for help
    Love your brother as you love yourself
    You only need to seek and you shall find
    Love your enemy and drop that grudge
    Don’t judge others and you won’t be judged.

    That’s also the Gospel. Are you a teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand thes things?

    We know from James that Faith without works are dead – Christ has done all to enable us to be reconciled, but we must work within that reconciliation. In accepting that Grace we must live out the Gospel, and that means having the concerns that Christ had for the world. Reading Jewish critiques of Jesus, it seems that he rejected the baggage that had been laid on the old testament and got on with healing people, feeding people, and giving them hope. When I hear the loudest voices of the Sydney Diocese and others shouting about that, then I will be more inclined to listen to their “devotion” to the word of God.

    Maybe we should start with the Gospels. When we’re obeying the Gospel message, then move onto the finer details shown in the epistles, but until we have grasped the difficulties and the challenges of Jesus, and what he says in relation to the OT, and how this worked itself out in Acts, then maybe trying to get to grips with the finer points of Paul is beyond us.

    Which would mean that the issues over which we should get our collective knickers in a twist would be adultery, divorce and hypocrisy (in church leadership) and wider issues of poverty, proclaiming the kingdom, and bringing physical care and healing to all God’s people.

    If they wanted to make a point, the Evangelical bishops should have remained away from Dar es Salaam and spent the time in a leprosy mission. That would have got the attention of the world faster than all this nastiness and bitterness.

      • Re: please insert

        thanks for your lengthy response. I’m tempted to go into detail at a number of things.

        Let me, however, point one thing out – my main complaint here is that men like Hutchison have completely sidelined what the Bible says the gospel is: saving people from the wrath of God.

        They have made the outworking of the gospel (which you rightly point out includes social action (and I have never denied that)) the main thing. Thus they imperil people’s eternity.

        • Re: please insert

          It seems then that the heart of the discussion isn’t the role of the bible, but the nature of salvation. You present a wrathful God, who seeks to punish, whereas I see a loving God, who is hurt at those who do not understand his creation and downright furious at those who deliberately abuse the poor, the weak, and the frightened.

          I see one who first loves and who forgives, while the God that you put across is one that is first angry and then appeased. I’m not saying that is what you believe, but it is what comes across from the posts I’ve read on your livejournal.

          I would argue that the bible is many things – it tells of the presence of God in, through and outside of Creation, it speaks of incarnation and redemption, it speaks of the power of the holy spirit and a tender care for creation. It is the story of the changing people of an unchanging God.

          Jesus begins his ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God, that it will be a party, that there is healing and love. As people respond to that, then we find that there is a deeper work going on, the outworking of God in the world.

          All the focus on homosexuality doesn’t help. We all have sins that we commit, and sins that we consistently commit by virtue of who we are and the place we find outselves in.

          Not doing social action imperils people far more than doing it. For such as do it for the least of these, do it as for me. If we are working for Jesus, then we’re doing something right, in God’s eyes – we have replaced sinful action with good action, and as we know, as we change our actions, so our hearts are changed. (And as we change our hearts, so our actions change).

          The Anger of the Old Testament is … subdued? replaced by the rich love of Christ, the incarnation, the passion, the resurrection. By returning to human flesh, eating food, healing people, speaking to us, Jesus affirms the worth of our lives, the fact that it is important that we do His will in the here and now. The actions he chooses to perform in a limited time post-resurrection are telling: breaking bread and comforting people, healing the broken hearts of those who mourn, meeting people in the places where they are at (the fishermen).
          He doesn’t tell people “thou shalt not” – by then if they haven’t got it, they won’t – instead he focuses on guiding, loving, nurturing and strengthening. Oh, and forgiving. Especially forgiving.

          The church divided cannot do so much for the people that Jesus most cared about. Never mind the Theology of scripture, because it’s a debate that’s raged for 1600 years since scripture emerged from tradition into codex. If we are divided, we cannot do the things that Jesus tells us are the right things to do in the response to His loving mercy – to care for others. If we’re consumed with nurturing, so consumed as Jesus was for us, then we don’t have time for the dogfights.

          The reformation split the church, and the protestant movement keeps splitting itself, while the catholics and Orthodox remain united, doing much good for the poor, the weak and vulnerable. I would hate to see us splitting again, and in a sense proving the Romans right…

            • Re: please insert

              Thinking more – I think the anger is replaced by the vulnerability of Jesus, wholly of God and wholly human.

              And yet Jesus makes it abundantly clear that

              i He has come to take that wrath upon Himself – nowhere more clearly than in the words of GEthsemane “take this cup away from me”.

              ii He Himself is very angry at times with those that oppose His Father.

              And when we finally loose ourselves of those who consistently deny these central truths then we can get on with everything we need to do. But in the mean time we will not allow ourselves to be associated with those that deny the gospel and promote immorality.

              • Re: please insert

                I think in many ways you are both right! Okay, that sounds a cop-out. It’s not – the Gospel encompasses both points of view, and then some!

                Who was it who said that if you come to the Bible looking for love and compassion, you’ll find them – and, conversely, if you come to it looking for anger and judgement, you’ll find them, too!

                God is so much greater than our feeble imaginations can encompass that we’ll probably always have to agree to disagree, since what we find resonates with where we happen to be on our spiritual journeys.

                As so rightly says, it was when people started saying “Yes, but what do you mean when you say “Jesus is Lord?” that the problems started to arise. God is too big to fit into any of the little boxes we’d like Him to!

                Which is probably just as well….

    • I agree with and find it very difficult to understand how you can read the Bible in a way that doesn’t show God’s extreme concern for the poor. In St Luke’s Gospel, Jesus announces at the very start of his ministry that the Spirit is upon him because he is to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. The middle three of these are practical things for the here and now, and I suggest therefore that the other two ought to be read like that as well. Good news for the poor is not about a distant hope but about food to eat and shelter in the here and now. The year of the Lord’s favour is, in other words, the year of jubilee, the year when property etc is returned to its rightful owners. Given that the reason many of the people were poor was due to the oppression of the rich who took their land and so on, Jesus’ message is very clearly about God’s care for and deliverance of the poor.

      I don’t think that this is unconnected with questions of eternity, and if we consider the parable of the sheep and the goats in St Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus puts in very stark terms his concern for and identification with the poor. “Just as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me”. Our actions towards the poor are our actions towards God.

      There are lots of other places in the Bible where I suggest God’s preferential option for the poor is clear, among them, for example, 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and the Magnificat itself, countless injunctions in the OT law about care for the poor and the alien and many references in the Psalms. Job 5:8-16 explicitly links the great acts of God with hope for the poor. And then you have to consider the book of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah is concerned all the way through with justice for the poor and the oppressed and with God’s deliverance, and this is part and parcel, in my view, with his prophecies of the Messiah. Chapter 58 is an excellent example.

      I will agree that issues around homosexuality, homosexual practice and so on create many problems for faithful exegesis (and I have yet to see an exegesis of a relevant passage which is not supporting one agenda or the other) but that, to me, is an entirely separate issue to whether the gospel is about justice, joy and hope for the present, the future and eternity.

      • I agree with angelofthenorth and find it very difficult to understand how you can read the Bible in a way that doesn’t show God’s extreme concern for the poor.

        I think you misunderstand me. I never denied there should be concern for the poor. I challenged Hutchison’s assertion that it was, somehow, the essence of the gospel. It’s not. The words that he chose demonstrate that since the Bible uses them in a wholly different way.

        • Apologies for any misunderstanding.

          I don’t think that ++Andrew says that it’s ‘the essence of the gospel’, but it does seem to me that he considers it a very important part of it. The gospel we preach should be about – among other things – making a difference to people’s lives. ‘I came that you may have life in all its fullness,’ said Jesus. I don’t think that means simply once we’re dead.

          It seems to me that the problem is when we have too narrow a view of the thrust of the gospel. I agree that the position you attribute to ++Andrew – that the gospel is only about alleviation of poverty – is too narrow but I would also contend that ‘saving people from the wrath of God’ is a far too narrow (and possibly distorted) view of the gospel as well. Salvation and the grace of God are, to me, things which extend (potentially) into every part of life – it’s about feeding the hungry, it’s about the blind seeing, it’s about helping the poor, it’s about being freed from the power of sin, it’s about living a holy life. These things go together, and I would say you can’t have one without the other. I can feel the distortion to which ++Andrew draws attention when we see the church arguing and tearing itself apart in power struggles while the poor are forgotten and millions of people are still need to be clothed, fed or given a cup of water in the name of Christ.

          • I don’t think that ++Andrew says that it’s ‘the essence of the gospel’, but it does seem to me that he considers it a very important part of it.

            But he does. He made it quite clear that it was the hope of the gospel – his words. When the Bible uses those words it talks about something completely different to ++Andrew.

            No-one’s denying the need for social action – but the Bible’s view of hope is completely different to that espoused by ++Andrew.

                • Potentially another long comment

                  I believe that you’ve misportrayed Colossians as being the only sort of hope in the bible. Jesus shows concern for both the here and now (thus the resurrection stories e.g. Widow’s Son, Lazarus). If there was no hope – no dynamic of change in this world – then there is no point in resurrecting those people to this life. There is also no point in a physical, literal resurrection. That there is also hope in the world to come (the parables involving future feasts) is a given.

                  We therefore have two sorts of hope – a hope now, that involves changing this world as an imperative – and a hope of the world to come, that in the process of earthly change (Wesley’s doctrine of sanctification) we will be fit for heaven, not through any act of humanity but through the Grace of God.

                  The hope that this world will change is very much in the Gospels – the sower going out to sow. There is however an acknowledgement that there is some futility, that not every knee shall bow, not until Christ comes in glory.

                  “the harvest is great, but the workers are few” – there is much to be done in Jesus’ eyes, in this world. That the harvest also looks forward to people being in the next is a given.

                  It is dangerous to be “so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly use.” That is after all one of the messages of the pharisee and the tax collector, or the mote and the plank. It becomes easy to focus on what is to come, without correcting the blinding injustices of the here and now.

                  • Re: Potentially another long comment

                    I ask again, where does the Bible use the word “hope” in this way?

                    You claim that I misrepresent the Biblical use of this term but you don’t demonstrate in any way how scripture uses such a term in the sense that you insist it does. Furthermore, you then misuse scripture yourself.

                    “the harvest is great, but the workers are few” – there is much to be done in Jesus’ eyes, in this world. That the harvest also looks forward to people being in the next is a given.

                    The harvest here (Matt 9:38) is clearly the winning of souls – not the feeding of empty stomachs.

                  • Re: Potentially another long comment

                    It is dangerous to be “so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly use.” That is after all one of the messages of the pharisee and the tax collector,

                    no it’s not!!! It’s not even remotely the message of that parable! What are you on?

                    • Re: Potentially another long comment

                      As I recall it, the pharisee is going on about how good he is, neglecting other aspects of his present reality, emphasising how many of the laws he is keeping. One of the reasons for doing that would be an assurance of status in the here and now, based on the assumptions of a likely place in things to come. Physical status coming from a perceived spiritual status.
                      The tax collector is going on about how bad he is, how unworthy he is to come before God. No matter what good he’s done, he’s aware only of his smallness before God.

                      The Pharisee represents those who focus on all those who are getting things right, and how much they are getting them right compared to the others around them. That is, in effect, a positioning in the race to heaven, relative to others. That it is also a gross deceit, and thus disabling the pharisee from true faith, repentance and forgiveness is fairly obvious.
                      The tax collector is present in the moment, aware of his failings of his own accord, without external reference.

                      The pharisee is ‘no earthly use’ because he’s not dealing with things in the here and now that he’s got wrong. He’s relying on having done enough right not to need to do any more if the others around him are anything to go by.

                    • Re: Potentially another long comment

                      it’s eisegesis. You insist that the text addresses an issue that it doesn’t address.

                      More strongly, you abuse the text by forcing upon it a meaning that the author did not intend. Naming it “interpretation” makes no difference.

                      i still wait for you to demonstrate how the Bible talks about the “hope of the gospel” in the terms that you and Hutchison claim it does.

                    • Re: Potentially another long comment

                      I’m sorry, but you need better criticism than saying “no it doesn’t” if you expect me to see your point of view. I have given evidence of God’s concern for the here and now, which translates to a hope in this life. Christ became man, to make us Sons of God – that can be a hope for this life as well as the next.

                      I fail to see how it’s eisegesis. If a story is narrated, then there is more than one level of interpretation possible. Making a socio-critical reading of it is a perfectly legit form of exegesis.

                      Your denial of hope in the here and now as being a hope of the Gospel is dangerously close to denying the physical realm as being a place wherein God can dwell and therefore Hope can dwell. Which is Gnosticism.

                      If 3 things remain, faith, hope and love, then surely hope has been with us for all time, a hope in the present and a hope for the future.

                    • Re: Potentially another long comment

                      I have given evidence of God’s concern for the here and now, which translates to a hope in this life. Christ became man, to make us Sons of God – that can be a hope for this life as well as the next.

                      Little point in this. You read into my words things I don’t say – but not surprising since that’s the hermeneutic you display in reading the Bible too.

                      When you feel like addressing the argument that I actually made, rather than the straw man you have conceived, then please do get back to me.

                    • Re: Potentially another long comment

                      right – so the question is one of salvation by works or by faith, not the question of whether one should be working in soup kitchens.

                    • Re: Potentially another long comment

                      Not your most helpful comment.

                      I’m getting at a need to engage where we are, as a result of salvation by faith and judgment by works in this life.

                      It isn’t enough to say “I’m saved, I’m saved [insert mechanism here] go straight to heaven and collect reward” – unfortunately we have to keep treading this life.

                      I have never expressed any dissent that salvation through faith is core, can we be clear on this.

                      I also agree that there is hope for the future.

                      Where I am disagreeing it seems to me is the need for action now, and that action now is the heart of our response to the Gospel, and thus in some sense the heart of the gospel. It is incredibly difficult to have a long term hope without a hope to cling onto for the moment. I am arguing from the work of Jesus on earth, that the hope implied in the text is one of the here and now as well as one for the future.

                      Jesus doesn’t use the word hope, apart from in passing. Instead, he gives images and pictures – images that relate to the colossians passage, and images that relate to the hope that I have also described. He also does actions that further relate to the hope that I and Hutchison describe.

                    • Re: Potentially another long comment

                      no-one’s disagree with the need for action now. It’s just that the language of “hope of the gospel” is never used for such things.

                      The gospel hope is eternity with the Lord due to His sending the Son to be a penal substitute thus securing our future. THat’s what the Bible says. That you are still insisting otherwise, despite not once demonstrating that the Bible uses the words “gospel hope” in the sense that you claim is, well, it’s very telling of a certain way of misreading the Bible to make it say what you want it to say.

                    • Re: Potentially another long comment

                      Matthew 25:31-46 paints a very different picture! For Jesus, and indeed for St James (cf James 2:14-17), salvation by faith was very much about works!

                      Plus you are making it read as if salvation was down to us – it isn’t. It’s down to God. The Good Shepherd is constantly pulling on his barbour and wellies to go and find the one that has got lost…. who just has to wait to be found!

                      “I was lost but Jesus found me,
                      Found the sheep that went astray.
                      Put His loving arms around me,
                      Led me back into His way”.

                    • Re: Potentially another long comment

                      But Paul is just a commentator on the Gospels. Just because he says ‘X is the hope of the Gospels’ doesn’t mean that there isn’t space for another sort of hope in the gospels.

                      You’re dangerously close to gnostic heresy, denying the value of the here and now and emphasising purely the world to come. If there is no hope in the gospels for the here and now, then what is the point of a) the physical resurrection and b) the raising of Lazarus?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *