Michael Andrews has commented on my blog about Vaughan Roberts, who I described as an embattled conservative evangelical priest struggling with a ‘homosexual orientation’.
Michael reads from the Bible and worships a god with a small g who is very different from the God of Jesus Christ, the God I worship as infinite and unbounded love in creation.
Michael accuses me of cherry picking, removing all parts of the jigsaw puzzle that talk of God’s anger, wrath, punishment, and hatred. This, he says, removes the full joy of God’s propitiation, justification, sanctification, and ultimately, glorification of the saints.
Yes, Michael, that’s what I do. I make judgements about the many stories and images of God found in the Old Testament, of which there are vestiges in the New Testament, primarily in the Epistles and Revelation but occasionally in Acts and the Gospels. He accuses me of a lack of biblical understanding. I prefer to see myself as having Biblical wisdom rooted in four decades of reading and meditating on the Bible.
There is no place in Jesus’ teaching about God and his experience of God for a god who is vindictive, judgmental, wrathful, cruel and hate-filled. If God is angry, then he is angry with those who judge others and diminish their humanity by holding prejudices against them, whether because of gender, race, or sexuality.
The mind set of those groups in the Church of England who identify as conservative evangelical or anglo-catholic has internalised an Old Testament awareness of god. They select Biblical teachings which reinforce ideas of a god who is partial, unfair, judgmental, and cruel. This god has legitimated various prejudices in the course of human history and now legitimates the diminishment of women and LGB&T people in the Church.
Michael is the victim of his own prejudice, sharing this trait with other evangelical commentators, by accusing me of something I don’t believe. He accuses me of suggesting that the church should accept acting on all sexual impulses. I have never said this and don’t believe it. As he says, this is an absurd position for a Christian to hold.
Neither have I said that Mr Robert’s choice not to act on his homosexual feelings is unbiblical or ungodly. I do believe, however, that God is as fully present in society and the life of the whole world as much as in the Churches, and sometimes more so.
I take the Bible very seriously and I am not ignoring the New Testament’s moral code. I take the moral and ethical code of Jesus of Nazareth very seriously indeed, with its radical challenge to my assumptions and the assumptions of Church and society about what is holy, just and true.