Monday, 8 March 2010

Accepting Ethical Diversity?: A Critical Appraisal of the Bishop of Liverpool’s Presidential Address

The Presidential Address of the Bishop of Liverpool is a significant development in the evangelical and wider Anglican debates about sexuality. It draws attention to key questions and is driven by a passionate concern for unity and more Christ-like patterns of discussion. It is, however, seriously flawed in its response to these concerns, unconvincing in its arguments and offers a way forward that in reality threatens to create greater incoherence and division.
This response sketches Bishop James Jones’ journey over the last decade before demonstrating the flaws in his central argument that Anglicans should “accept a diversity of ethical convictions about human sexuality”. Both in what it says and in what it fails to say the address apparently marks a significant step away from the traditional biblical, evangelical and catholic understanding of sexuality and the church’s teaching and discipline in this area. The heart of his case is an appeal to differences between Christians over just war and pacifism. This argument is shown to be inadequate in various ways but most basically because an appeal to diversity on one ethical issue cannot justify diversity on a quite different ethical issue. Read more
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