Believe it or not, that’s the line being run by a former evangelical, Keith Mascord, in today’s smh. After a brief summary of the potential issues with believing in a global flood (Genesis 6-9) he concludes,
the only reason a plain (and church-history-long) reading of the Noah story has been overturned in favour of seeing it as a localised flood, even if unconvincingly (or, more convincingly, as myth), is that scientific discoveries have made that necessary. Many of the first geologists were Christian clergymen. It was under pressure from their discoveries that the biblical text came to be reread and reappropriated.
This is, one must understand, a sophisticated argument. Not because the point being made is particularly brilliant but because it’s made by someone who understands Sydney Anglicans. They’re a conservative lot, but a popular position here is exactly that which Mascord outlines – geological evidence makes the acceptance of a universal Flood untenable. Mascord thinks he’s found a chink in the Sydney Anglican armour, and so on he goes…
There is good reason to think we will need to do the same with the issue of marriage equality. Throughout history and across cultures, and within the Bible itself, homosexual practice has been almost universally condemned. But we now know, or have increasingly strong reasons to believe, that people are born gay or lesbian. Far from this being unnatural for them, it is an example of God’s creative handiwork. And once again, advances in scientific understanding are occasioning a rethink of relevant biblical texts. As a result, straight Christians like me must take seriously the heartfelt desire of our gay and lesbian friends to share in the benefits and responsibilities of marriage
It’s a bit of a non-sequiter, isn’t it? The parallels just aren’t there. One might concede that “scientific evidence” means that we can’t accept a global Flood, but it’s not a concept that’s transferable to the issue of sexuality, or of any behaviour. It’s a little embarassing to say it, but Mascord gives the impression that he doesn’t understand basic orthodox belief on creation and sin. That someone is “born” with a particular trait is not necessarily evidence of “God’s creative handiwork”. We don’t live in a simple created world. It is both created and fallen. The argument would not hold for other behaviours.
If someone is born with a tendency towards violence, we don’t call that “an example of God’s creative handiwork”. If someone is born with a tendency towards alcoholism (of which there is much greater scientific evidence than any supposed “gay gene”), we don’t call that “an example of God’s creative handiwork”. If someone is born predisposed to certain cancers, we don’t call that “an example of God’s creative handiwork”. No, on each occasion we recognise, as Athanasius puts it, that the image of God is marred, flawed by the outworking of sin in the cosmos.
This is basic theology, friends. You might wish to concede the point on a global flood (although I wouldn’t personally – the approach itself betrays a certain attitude to Scripture) but that doesn’t mean you have to accept Mascord’s argument. Disagreements about the historicity of the flood are exactly that, disagreements over historical claims. Disagreements over being “born” gay are an entirely different category. That Mascord, who taught philosophy at Moore College for many years, seeks to equate the two arguments is particularly disappointing.
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Holy Cow! What a total disaster of an argument by Keith Mascord. What a dreadful shipwreck of a soul. May God have mercy.
Do you still stand by this?
‘What a dreadful shipwreck of a soul.’
Ok, no response, it has been over a year.
Perhaps then, Gordon’s comment should be removed for violating the website’s policy:
“No name calling, no matter what side of the table you sit on. If you can’t express yourself without calling someone something rude then you need to go and play somewhere else. If you’re a Christian and you’re name-calling then shame on you especially.”
“I value actual intelligent discussion of the issues before us, not the slinging of muddy soundbites that don’t actually seek to take their opponent seriously and engage with what they’re actually saying.”
Sorry Robert. That’s not “name-calling” unless you think the Apostle Paul is name-calling when he uses the term in 1Timothy 1.
Ok thank you David. This place is not for me then.
If you so wish. I certainly don’t hold that opinion. You are more than welcome here. Gordon simply thinks that Bishop McIntyre has shipwrecked his soul. He made no comment about you.
Don’t you mean Keith Mascord, not Bishop Bishop McIntyre.
I think many would read the comment as just nasty.
My apologies, you’re correct – the article was about Dr Mascord.
However, as for “nasty” – only if you think the Apostle Paul was being “nasty” when he wrote the same thing.
Paul did not write ‘the same thing’. (And even if he did, why would there be a precedent to copy him; and the words may be the same but the speech-act is entirely different between Paul’s and Gordon). I don’t see ‘shipwrecked soul’ anywhere.. perhaps the antecedent of ‘good conscience’. Is this what was meant, that KM has a shipwrecked conscience? mmmm. Sounds like ‘shipwrecked faith’ is what Paul meant. A long way from calling one’s soul ‘ship wrecked’
19 ἔχων πίστιν καὶ ἀγαθὴν συνείδησιν, ἥν τινες ἀπωσάμενοι περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἐναυάγησαν,
I still think you have not kept your own policy.
well you’ll have to live with it, Robert.
Are you agreeing that the flood was not global?
No, not at all. I think it was certainly global – hard to know how to read the text any other way.
I was simply pointing out that one can concede Mascord’s first point without in any way having to insist that it implies the second.
Mascord is also wrong about is claims for science. There is no scientific evidence for anyone being “born gay or lesbian”.
There are two lines of research that show that genetic factors may create a predisposition towards homosexuality:
1. Studies of twins separated at birth have shown that if one twin is gay, the other tends to be also, even if they have grown up separately;
2. Some men, with particular family traits, may have a predisposition towards characteristics that have traditionally been considered “feminine”. Specifically: the fourth boy in a line of boys may behave more “feminine” than his older brothers. Researchers theorise it’s because the mother’s womb creates hormones that make this alien creature – the baby – more like itself, viz, more female. That’s a hypothesis at the moment, not proven.
Both of these are a long way from “proving” that people are “born gay or lesbian”. Mascord’s overblown claims are, basically, bad science.
I’m all for taking scientific results into consideration – but we must evaluate these scientific results within all their limitations and qualifications, which honest researchers would themselves be quick to admit. Mascord has damaged both science and faith. Most disappointing.
In fact, the best “twin studies” have found that if one one of a pair of identical twins is homosexual, then the other will also be in around 7% of cases. Hardly strong scientific evidence for homosexuals being “born that way”. In fact, human sexuality, its formation and fluidity, is a vast area of complex study, but for anyone to baldly claim that people are “born” with a certain sexuality that is immutable, is simplistically naiive.
It would be great for some of you to present your case for Keith to reply to on his new blog page. Some interesting discussions there: http://arestlessfaith.com.au/blog/a-restless-faith/#comments
good point, Pete. Looks like there’s some good convesations happening there now.
I listened to an interview that Keith Mascord gave about his departure from ‘fundamentalism’. He mentions Moore College, I was wondering is this the only institution that the Sydney diocese recognise degrees from?
No, not quite. When someone applies for and is accepted for ordination in Sydney diocese they go to Moore College. As a result the vast majority of ministers here will be Moore grads. But others are accepted from outside the diocese from time to time. Two neighbouring parishes here have “out of town” ministers. As long as the Archbishop is happy to license them they are more than welcome.
There are, of course, a number of parishes here who differ from the mainstream evangelical convictions and, indeed, a few who dissent. But all have been able to get a Rector.
David, in regards to the flood issue. Good on you for letting the scriptures speak for themselves. I get disillusioned when I come across Christian after Christian letting the ‘wisdom’ of men influence their reading of the bible. And when Mascord claims that science agrees with his flood theology, he is showing a vast ignorance of the subject.
Where does it say in the Bible the truth of God is revealed to us by Science or the Medical Profession or Psychiatrists? I thought it was the Holy Spirit that reveals God’s Truth to mankind.
RO 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
RO 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.
RO 1:26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
RO 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.