Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Pope's remarks re Gays - Time Magazine reflects.

Time Magazine's article (Gene Robinson) sees the Pope's remarks as "Baby Steps". Robinson says in his article, "..Francis' softening in tone is being reflected elsewhere in the Christian church. Mainline denominations are taking an ever more tolerant approach to homosexuality. Conservative evangelicals, especially younger ones, are looking for a way to affirm gay Christians and the love they come to know with other people. Fuller Theological Seminary, the U.S.'s largest evangelical seminary, has a new OneTable group exploring a biblical way forward in how its members can more deeply accept their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters in Christ. Even evangelicals understand that changing their stance on this issue may be key to attracting young people, whether gay or straight, to the church and keeping them."

On behalf of the evangelicals I would take exception to the last sentence. I do not think most thinking evangelicals change their thinking for pragmatic reasons. Getting people into the church has never been either a necessary or a sufficient reason for a seismic shift in Biblical theology. No doubt Time Magazine will get a post bag reflecting a certain amount of outrage at this suggestion.
However, I think that there are times when society at large outpaces the Church in understanding right and wrong. The Church is a flawed arbiter of the ethically high way. We might prefer it if God kept us in the loop or even gave us first dibs on new revelations concerning what is good, but, let's face it, He sometimes uses non church people to freshen up our thinking and understanding. We really don't like this, but occasionally it is necessary, both for our pride's sake and for the sake of people who need to be reached by God's love.

So, Fuller is opening up dialogue and debate around the topic as are many evangelical groups. Good on them. I hope that we may see more good debate around the topic, rather than the rather boring repetition of position statements, which is what happened at the Church of Scotland's General Assembly, albeit in a gracious, polite and well groomed way, and may be what reformist groups within the church are hoping they can do too: win the argument against by repetition and strength of numbers. 

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