I have returned from my first CME residential and have quite mixed feelings about what happens at such events.
Meeting people and chatting ‘after hours’ are always the highlights for me at things like these. A particular highlight was visiting the Little Gem with some Lithuanian priests that had joined us for the conference. This was their first time in the UK and they were keen to see an English pub and drink English beer. As they sat in the Gem and learned that they were sitting in a place that had been a pub since the 1200’s they were amazed. It was great to be able to share the experience.
We had some top teachers – professors Richard Burridge and Ben Quash from Kings College. TBH Quash’s lecture was way above my head and I got totally lost, whereas Burridge’s stuff was quite fascinating. He argued convincingly that the crisis in the Anglican church was not actually about sexuality, but rather a reluctance to discuss around the table the ‘biblical viewpoint’. He used slavery and apartheid as illustrations where both were performed under the ‘biblical’ justification and yet we know they got it drastically wrong.
A taster of the lecture:
So this debate rages between traditional groups and those who want to be inclusive. The former assume that they are ‘biblical’, while the latter sometimes also claim this. This is why tonight’s lecture is entitled ‘Being Biblical?’ – with a question mark – in an attempt to answer the question. The problem with such debates is that it is often hard to hear each other. All sides have a position, with a pressure group, with websites and mailing lists, and people of similar views meet to plan strategy, motions for Synod, speakers to invite and so forth. There is little opportunity for differing views to come together – and even less for a meeting of minds in the midst of tough debate, dare one even say, in the heat of battle? Yet all of these are Christians, and we are talking about how we read the Bible, how we understand and receive God’s revelation and how we try to interpret God’s will for his church and the world. There has to be a better way to seek the divine intention.
you can read more here.
It’s an interesting read, and I think reminds us that to use the ‘biblical’ argument needs to be done so with care, but also and more importantly done in dialogue with those who think the ‘biblical’ thing seems to contrast with your view. If we only talk to those we agree with its very easy to be ‘biblical’ and convince ourselves we are right … the history of slavery and apartheid show us that only too clearly.
My personal opinion is that, actually and in all honesty, our desire to be ‘correct’ has over-ridden our desire to be ‘biblical’. To meet with others of an opposing view gives rise to the possibility that my view may change. If I change my view that means I was wrong. To admit that wrong can sometimes be painful and embarrassing. To asvoid that pain we refuse to meet with certain people, preferring instead to build our own camps to discuss, not biblical truth, but how we can win the argument.
To make real progress we need to talk.