Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Thursday, May 1

Voted off the PCC

Yes its true - sacked!

Well OK, my term had ended, I was up for re-election, there were 8 candidates and 5 vacancies. They did better speeches than me, plus they had their gangs of cronies. Is this how God intended the church to be governed?

So now, the Vicar is thinking of ignring the will of the poeple by co-opting me back onto the PCC in my role as deputy warden/reader. Is that not wrong, too?

Theologically Conservative, Liberal at Heart, but changing

Ahh at last. For some time Blogger has not accepted my password and I couldn’t write, but now its all sorted. I blame Google.

What has happened since I last blogged?

Well, the main theme is my ongoing internal debate on homosexuality.

My theology has moved.

Mainly because I have been having to do some research for the event at church. (by the way, they keep messing me about on this. The latest plan is to bring in liberal and conservative clergy to express the relative cases, and for me to present a more vacillating middle ground. How can I prepare for the vent when they keep changing what I am expected to do?) Yes... the research.

I read “Reluctant Journey” by George Hopper.

I have to say that the vast majority of this book was very weak, confused and self-contradictory.


  • While proclaiming to be Evangelical, George dismisses swathes of the OT as just a product of ancient Israelite culture and basically, well, wrong. If he was truly ‘Evangelical’, he would recognise the OT as ‘God Breathed’ so even allowing for culture it would still be right.
  • While proclaiming that the crucial verses in Leviticus apply to temple prostitution and homosexuality as we know it was unknown, the people wrote the book against homosexuals for fertility reasons. This can’t be, if as he says a) the verses are not about that and b) they don’t know of it.
  • While insisting that homosexuality is a biological given, he says it was unknown in OT times.


BUT, in the midst of all this nonsense, there was actually a bit of good Bible study regarding those crucial verses.

He agrees with me that it all hangs on the definition of ‘arsenokoitai’ in Corinthians. He demonstrates that this word stems almost letter for letter from the Septuagint translation of Leviticus. Again, I had already worked something like this out. But where I had focused on that word, in Leviticus he looks also at the word translated as ‘abomination’. The Hebrew word translated thus here is different from where ‘abomination’ appears in the English elsewhere. It is a Hebrew word that is linked directly to idolatry.

Moving on to the NT, he compares the lists of sins in various books. He finds that references to homosexual acts are only found in letters to cities which had particular issues with temple prostitution. The more general letters don’t have it. Now I have a feeling that I spotted an inconsistency in his argument here, which I need to go back and check because I was tired when I read it. But if correct, it is significant, and it is the kind of exegetical technique that works for me.

So what is my response to all this?

Well, as an evangelical, and a fairly intellectual one who likes to have all t’s crossed and i’s dotted, this is the kind of approach that I like. I can dismiss the more wishy washy parts of Hopper's book as trash, but here is something that might stand up to the scrutiny.

And if it is the sensible, logical, etymological approach that I think it is, and if it is right, then it does definitely take out the fundamental central plank from my historical opposition to homosexuality. I have defined it as a sin based on what I thought was a clear wording in the scripture. But now, if true, it turns out that I have got it wrong, and what I thought defined all homosexual acts as sin cannot necessarily be extended to all such acts, just as heterosexual temple prostitution being forbidden does not outlaw other heterosexual acts.

This is a fundamental shift in my position.

Now there are still many questions unresolved. Hopper argues that the Bible is silent on modern civil unions, therefore they are OK. I would say that silence does not mean it is OK. Besides, for heterosexual marriage there is a whole weight of scriptures affirming the rightness of it but nothing equivalent for civil union, and there is a lot of theology around ‘One flesh’ – Eve comes out of Adam but in sex they are re-united into one flesh. Also man:woman = Christ:church etc.

So I remain confused as ever.

But I find that I have definitely changed. No longer am I nauseated by even thinking of gay acts – I can now see them in a positive light. I now have a method of accepting civil union that is potentially consistent with my evangelical approach to theology and God's word.

Yet there is still a deep fundamental terror that I am letting the devil deceive me into going against God’s will, and that as a preacher I will lead others into sins as well.

I don't want to bless what God has cursed.

I don't want to curse what God has blessed.

We can but continue to study and ask for Him to have mercy on us when we get it wrong.