Saturday, April 21, 2012

refining the gold

I've come across the excellent Asbury Seedbed site, with some really brilliant resources on it.

Asbury Seminary is one of my favourite places, a Methodist Seminary full of that rather lovely holiness graciousness which speaks of our evangelical tradition at its best. It has been a place where I have made many friends, heard much wisdom, and occasionally been privileged to participate.

One of the videos the Seedbed site has up is an excellent offering, in that conservative but gracious and holy tradition the Seminary does so well, that speaks to how evangelicals view Scripture and Homosexuality. Dr Ben Witherington covers most of what you would expect to hear clearly, kindly and from a traditional standpoint in a little over seven minutes. Do watch it.

Now - I often say we should debate these things. I kind of disagree with a number of things that Dr Witherington says - not because of the spirit in which he says them, but because I think the Scriptures actually have been sometimes unfortunately handled by those who have gone before us, and we have allowed the holiness of many godly people, and the traditions of previous ages, to dim our eyes as we look to our God-given texts on these matters.

So I want to ask some questions. Not as someone who disregards the Scripture, but as someone who loves the Bible, and as someone who only hopes he might emulate in his life the grace of the holiness tradition that is Asbury at its finest, and which has so inspired me.

This is my response - not quite as concise as Dr Witherington, but still under ten minutes...

I've already invited some others to join in with their thoughts, and now widen that net: one caveat though. I will only publish thoughts and comments and responses that are generous and gracious. We are Christians, and we may disagree, but we must love one another. People are people, loved by God, and that's the bottom line here. Anyone who forgets that will lose their voice till they recall this!

One or two questions have already come in, and rather than write, as I usually do, I've simply put my thoughts on another video. So, by all means stop now. But if you are interested, and fancy a bit of a biblical work out - you can have a go at this one too:

As I say, this is a place for questions and thoughts and responses. I'd love to think it's possible to hold a safe place to talk where there are no sides, only Christians who may not all agree, but who do all share a passion for Scripture, a compassion for people, and a desire to follow Jesus.



Anonymous said...

My faith is a simple one really because the overriding message comes down to LOVE, my love,his love our love for others, So Dr Witherington was very interesting to listen to but the message love you but with conditions attached made me sad. Who should judge anothers heart and emotions? Debauchery, Immorality,etc is very wrong a sin I agree but not just homosexuals. Genuine,deep and compassionate love is a splendid and moving thing to see between two people regardless of gender. I I do get Romans 1 v 26 / 27 quoted to me often and have found it hard to answer it, Romans 3 v 10, has been one answer I try with. Is all this disharmony within the different denominations cause credibility loss for christians and our churches as there is big differences now within a congregation.? I dont expect this to be printed just let of some steam. ha Joyce

Anonymous said...

Man for woman, woman for man! That's the way God wanted it to be, and we should stick to what He say's! God was, God is and God will always be God! We should treat people with love and respect for each other. Jesus commands and instructs it, but God say's what is right and what is wrong, and we should never contradict Him and His Word!

Marcus Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcus Green said...

RIght. I invited comments, and here are two that come from different places. But first I need to say some things about how I like to run my blog. Anonymous comments generally get deleted. I'm allowing these in order to make this point! If you don't have a name, a place, a context, you don't have a voice.

That sounds pretty harsh - let me explain....

We are people here. The internet can be a terrible place where folk forget themselves and say things because anonymity allows them to speak without responsibility. I'm not going to allow that. We are human beings. This is not the comments page of the Guardian or the Telegraph where open war breaks out between faceless factions!

So - I've put these two up, but no more without names, thanks. Please, you need to own up to who you are if you'd like to speak here. I know the topic is difficult for some, but we have to start to trust each other somehow.

Second: I put these up because I don't doubt the value of both people and both people's faith. I don't doubt both want to be true to the Scriptures. My videos make it clear that whilst I don't want to contradict God's word (far from it) I don't think ethics are as simple as number 2 thinks. I would consider context and a dozen other issues to come into play; and I might gently suggest that number 2 also sets themself up for a fall on a hundred other issues. I hope they've never bought a shirt from M&S or Walmart... God clearly says mixed fibres are wrong, after all, and we should never contradict him and his word. Cheap shot, apologies, but it easily makes the point about simple application of these sentences.

The Scriptures are not to be used (as I just did) as weapons against each other. My point there was not that I think it's number 2 who is 'wrong'; I'd add that tempting as it is when we are confronted, number 1 doesn't need to fire a verse off against those who use Romans 1 as they do.

Why? Starting point: grace.

God loves us, and we are called to love each other. Verses as artillery doesn't really capture that spirit. In the heat of debate we spill over into the thrill of battle. Hmm. It's good to seek deeper truth, but it's better to do that working together than against each other. In all of this, that holiness tradition of grace that seeks not 'sides' but reconcilliation and sanctification has to be a better way.

I know where I stand in this debate, and I know what I've received; but if we reduce this to a "who's been hurt the most" competition, there will never be anything but losers. It's time to leave that behind.

Please - disagree with me. With each other. But disagree with open Bibles and open hearts and with love as our watchword. We belong to Jesus; let's live like it at the sticky moments, especially at the sticky moments, because then it's clear it's true.