Saturday, 20 October 2007

Jonathan Sacks: What happens when we lose moral consensus?

(Ed: this article by Jonathan Sacks is superb.)

What happens when we lose moral consensus? Morality is reduced to taste. “Good” and “bad” become like yum and yugh: I like this; I don’t like that. Imagine two people, one of whom says: “I like ice cream”; the other: “I don’t”. They are not arguing. Each is simply declaring his or her taste.

We have lost the basis of morality as a shared set of values holding society together. We are living “after virtue”; that is to say, in an age in which people no longer have roles and duties within a stable social structure. When that happens, morality becomes a mere fa├žade. Arguments become interminable and intolerable. The only adequate answer to an opposing viewpoint is: “Says who?” In a debate in which there are no shared standards, the loudest voice wins. The only way to defeat opponents is to ridicule them.

If there is no agreed moral truth, we cannot reason together. All truth becomes subjective or relative, no more than a construction, a narrative, one way among many of telling the story. Each represents a point of view, and each point of view is the expression of a group. On this account, Western civilisation is not truth but the hegemony of the ruling elite. Therefore, it must be exposed and opposed. Western civilisation becomes the rule of dead white males. There are other truths: Marxist, feminist, homosexual, African-American, and so on. Which prevails will depend not on reason but on power. Force must be met by force. Lacking a shared language, we attack the arguer, not the argument. Read more

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Thursday, 18 October 2007

Motions passed at the 2007 Reform Conference

1. Reform Conference 2007 proposal on Future Ministry in the Church of England

This conference believes that the Church of England can provide a uniquely effective framework for the exercise of full-time Bible-teaching ministries. In the light of growing divisions within the Anglican Communion, it requests the [Reform] Council to explore ways of fostering these ministries in a new climate, in particular by developing the work of the panel of reference, and by considering what further steps might be necessary to provide financial and episcopal support for ministers who have to consider irregular action to defend biblical truth and promote the gospel.

2. Reform Conference 2007 proposal on Women Bishops

This conference notes that proposals are being developed by the Manchester Commission for those who cannot in conscience accept the episcopal oversight of a woman and resolves that the only oversight that will be acceptable will be alternative (not extended) oversight with clear and fully independent jurisdictional powers.

3. Reform Conference 2007 proposal on Lambeth 2008

This conference notes that a significant number of bishops will not be attending Lambeth 2008 and that without them the event will lack credibility and be a failure. It believes that firm action in relation to TEC, to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to convene a meeting of Primates is the only way of preventing fractures in the Anglican Communion from becoming permanent. It therefore calls on the Primates of the Anglican Communion:

a) to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet the request for a meeting of Primates as a matter of urgency.

b) to declare that TEC has placed herself outside the bonds of that Communion; and

c) to encourage the provision of alternative episcopal oversight for orthodox parishes in the USA and in other countries where a need has been demonstrated.

4. Reform Conference 2007 proposal on reforming the Church

This conference asks the council to consider further the proposals made at its session on Tuesday 16th October 2007 for reforming the Church of England by action both within the ‘existing structures’ and ‘from the edge’.

5. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill

Reform recognizes

1) that at the heart not only of Christian ethics but Western Civilization has been Jesus Christ’s endorsement of the Old Testament commandment from Leviticus 19:18,

“to love your neighbour as yourself”;

2) that the understanding of biblical love as evidenced from the previous verse, requires love for the sinner but discrimination against sinful behaviour, Leviticus 19:17,

“do not hate our brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in his guilt.”

3) that the New Testament apostolic commandment is clear:

“love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Rom 12:9)

so Christians are called to hate the sin but love the sinner;

4) that the bishops of the Church of England have summarized the biblical teaching on homosexuality as follows:

“there is ... in Scripture an evolving convergence ... Sexual activity of any kind outside marriage comes to be seen as sinful, and homosexual practice as especially dishonourable” (Issues in Human Sexuality).

Reform, therefore, asks the House of Commons Committee on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill

1) to ensure that there is no amendment to the Bill that fails to distinguish homosexual orientation from homosexual behaviour which Christians must vigorously oppose;

2) to realize that Christians, following Jesus Christ who forgave an adulterous woman but also said, “go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11), also have to love the sinner but hate the sin;

3) to understand that as the biblical understanding of sin includes all sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage it must include all “homosexual practice”.

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Monday, 15 October 2007

Abortion inquiry asks scientists to disclose links to faith groups

(Ed: So, Christians must disclose their affiliation because they will be biased, whereas atheists have no bias at all when it comes to abortion. Right. Glad that's cleared up.)

An influential inquiry into the future of Britain's abortion laws will begin today amid controversy over an apparent attempt by faith-based organisations to skew the balance of evidence presented to the committee of MPs.

At least eight submissions of written evidence have come from medical professionals who have not disclosed their membership of Christian groups opposed to abortion on faith grounds. Six of the doctors are members or activists with the Christian Medical Fellowship, an organisation that has given its own evidence to the inquiry.

Suspicion that contributors had not been transparent about their affiliations has led the clerk of the committee to take the unusual step of writing to all those who gave evidence asking them to disclose their links to any relevant organisations. Read more
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CABC Photos urgently needed

At the Chelmsford Anglican Bible Conference someone was taking photos of the audience and speakers. They said they would send them to me, but I've not heard anything, and I URGENTLY need them for an article in 'The Month', the Diocesan newspaper. If anyone has the photos, or knows who took them, can they contact me at the e-mail address to the right.

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Interview with Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon

[...] As the outgoing Anglican archbishop of Nigeria's Kaduna state, he oversees a Christian flock in a traditionally Muslim region where thousands have died in interreligious strife there.

[...] Why does it matter so much to African Anglicans what the Episcopal Church thinks and does about homosexuality?

I think it is wrong to say it is between Americans and Africans, or the West and the Southern hemisphere. It is between two groups of people who understand the authority of Scripture differently. You see, for me as a Christian from Nigeria, my parents are Christians. My grandparents had practiced traditional religion before they became Christian. Now, in African traditional religion, if I had an attraction to a male person, that is considered as an abnormal thing, a spiritual problem. ...

Now, when my grandparents met the English, who introduced us to the Christian faith, they read the Bible to my grandparents, and said, look, this thing you're talking about, the Bible agrees that it's sinful. So for us, the Bible supports our pre-Christian theology. We accepted it. We became Christian. And that is why in Africa, generally, if you have an abnormal sexual orientation, you don't brag about it. ...

That's why we feel we are deceived, we have been cheated by the people the Lord Jesus Christ used to introduce us to the Scriptures, to bring us to a new faith in the Lord Jesus. They are telling us that it's not wrong after all, that it's a natural way. But we say: You are wrong; the Bible is right. So it's not just a question of human sexuality. It's about the authority of Scripture. For us, Scripture judges every culture. What I hear in the Western world is that culture judges Scripture. That's the basic difference. It's not a question of sex or no sex. Read more

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Canada diocese backs gay blessing

A diocese of the Anglican Church in Canada has voted for the blessing of same-sex relationships in church.

The vote, by a wide majority, sets back efforts to stem the disintegration of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Ottawa diocese was the first in Canada to consider the issue of gay blessing since June. Read more
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Archbishop Peter Jensen interviewed

Archbishop Peter Jensen in a radio interview covering various subjects, including women bishops, homosexuality and the forthcoming elections. Read more
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