What does it mean to call myself ‘evangelical’?

Thomas Renz writes: Labels can be powerful – and problematic. When we use a label to define ourselves, we generate expectations in others which we may or may not be willing to fulfil. In the USA the term “evangelical” has become so highly politicized that some who used to think of themselves as evangelicals have dropped the label as a self-designation. For them the name has become toxic, referring to a culture from which they want to distance themselves. But while some who affirm evangelical faith feel alienated from the evangelical subculture around them to such an extent that they wonder whether they should still use the label (e.g., Craig Keener), others who have left their evangelical subculture and strongly disagree with some positions widely attributed to evangelicals are nevertheless keen to retain the label “evangelical” for themselves (e.g., Jayne Ozanne).

Many of us have a strong desire to allow people to choose their own labels but there is perhaps also a growing recognition that as a means of communication the meaning of words cannot be privatised. For example, some “feminists” (another contested label) observe that allowing biological males to claim the label “woman” for themselves changes the definition of what it means to be a woman for everyone. Labels are powerful and therefore contested.

Labels cannot be owned, Humpty Dumpty notwithstanding.

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

The words are not in charge, but neither is the speaker. Meanings arise and evolve in a network of relationships and, as the producers of dictionaries recognise, are ultimately a matter of usage, something which is often context-dependent. The use of the word “evangelical” in US political contexts has only a tenuous relationship to its use in the UK. Usage in secular media often fails to differentiate between “evangelical” and “evangelistic,” employing both indiscriminately for anyone enthusiastically promoting an idea – any idea. The link with the evangel, the Gospel, has been completely lost.


Arguably the most influential definition of Evangelicalism is one offered by David W. Bebbington in his Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989; London: Routledge, 2003):

There are four qualities that have been the special marks of Evangelical religion: conversionism, the belief that lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible; and what may be termed crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism.

This quadrilateral goes with basic beliefs without which there may be some vague evangelical culture but not what Bebbington calls “Evangelical religion.” These are beliefs which many Christians who do not call themselves “evangelical” might also affirm, in which case “evangelical” is a matter of emphasis on these basics. They can be readily identified with reference to the Basis of Faith of either the Evangelical Alliance or, especially within the Church of England, of the Church of England Evangelical Council. The numbers and broad cross-section of self-styled “evangelicals” these organisations represent gives weight to the definition of “evangelical” they suggest.  Size matters, because ultimately the meaning of a word is a matter of characteristic usage and characteristic usage is a matter of frequency and frequency is a matter of numbers.

But there is another usage that is prominent within the Church of England. Many within our churches who do not think of themselves as “evangelical” have little understanding of what the term means for those who self-identify as evangelical. For them, “evangelical” refers to “happy-clappy” or “low church” and this can be a problem for self-styled “evangelicals” because while the categories overlap, they are not identical. While I count myself an evangelical in terms of the basis of Faith of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), I am neither particularly happy-clappy, nor particularly low church. If in our parish I called myself an “evangelical” without further explanation, I would generate false expectations or unnecessary fears because I do not minister within a “happy-clappy” or “low church” setting and have no wish of seeing the church changed in this respect.


My little difficulties are nothing compared with the serious issues now faced by those who self-identify as “inclusive evangelicals” or “accepting evangelicals” – those who were upset when the CEEC resolved to supplement their Basis of Faith with Additional Declarations taken from the Constitution, the second of which reads

We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.

Evangelicals who want to change the traditional understanding of marriage as being between “one man and one woman” to include other arrangements or who want to be accepting of sexual activity outside marriage as defined here cannot be members of the CEEC and if evangelicalism is their home (and especially if they don’t have another home to go to), they are understandably upset about being shown the door. Their argument would be that evangelicalism is a broad tent that already includes a diversity of views on secondary matters.

And this is the difficulty for evangelicals of various stripes would likely agree that the question of what we think about same-sex relationships is less important than the question of how and why we have come to our view. In this sense it is a secondary matter. Evangelicals

receive the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the wholly reliable revelation and record of God’s grace, given by the Holy Spirit as the true word of God written. The Bible has been given to lead us to salvation, to be the ultimate rule for Christian faith and conduct, and the supreme authority by which the Church must ever reform itself and judge its traditions (CEEC Basis of Faith).

“Accepting evangelicals” who continue to affirm this wholeheartedly are in more substantial agreement with “CEEC evangelicals” than, say, “CEEC evangelicals” are with non-evangelicals who reject same-sex relationships because they are disgusted by them. But equally, if this is (in part) how they define themselves as “evangelical”, such “accepting evangelicals” would be in more profound agreement with “CEEC evangelicals” than with those who, while also contending for a change to the church’s teaching, implicitly or explicitly reject our need to submit to the Scriptures as God’s word. Precisely because our attitude towards the Bible is more fundamental and so more important than our attitude to same-sex relationships, it is incumbent that evangelicals stand together here calling ourselves as well as others to repentance.


It is surely evident that while there are those who honestly believe that the Scriptures allow for sexual activity outside the marriage between a man and a woman, the clear majority of evangelicals and non-evangelicals, both scholars and other Bible readers, do not think so. This is why the clear majority of those who call themselves evangelical are unable to support a change in the church’s teaching, while the clear majority of those who contend for such a change do not hold to an “evangelical” view of Scripture as defined above. If the great schism within the Church of England is therefore about our stance to God’s revelation, those evangelicals who seek to revise the church’s teaching find themselves in the awkward position of having to call out the implicit and sometimes explicit disparagement of Scripture that is found among their fellow campaigners.

Those who subscribe to the Evangelical Alliance’s or the CEEC’s Basis of Faith would usually think of such a basis as a description of “mere Christianity” and hence as non-negotiable. But evangelicals do disagree on a number of other issues, obviously. Occasionally, disagreement has even been introduced on matters on which previously there was very widespread agreement. This may be true for the ordination of women and it was certainly true for annihilationism. Such stretching, however, occurred under the leadership of recognised Bible scholars who were in all other respects firmly in the centre of evangelical theology and outspoken about the need of the church to submit to its Lord who speaks to us through the Scriptures, e.g., Dick France and Tom Wright on the ordination of women, John Wenham and John Stott on annihilationism. The fact that these were or are recognised Bible scholars and teachers matters because of the central importance of the Scriptures for evangelicals. We acknowledge the temptation for all of us to use the Scriptures, in Luther’s famous phrase, as a wax-nose to support our own agenda. The careful application of reason as we interpret the Scriptures is therefore even more important when traditional readings are challenged.


It is perhaps a sense of contending together on the major (the creedal) issues that makes it so much easier to see ourselves as fellow evangelicals, even while disagreeing on the question of annihilationism or the ordination of women.

It is difficult to contend at one and the same time for the blessing of same-sex sexual relationships and for the authority of Scripture because those who seek to do so by and large find themselves with different, even opposing, “allies” in these two “battles.” But surely those who call themselves evangelical will consider the matter of submission to Scripture as of vital importance for the church. My reading of Scripture leads me to support the ordination of women but this does not prevent me from lamenting and decrying the disparaging way in which many within the Church of England, including clergy, speak of the apostle Paul, and if push came to shove I would rather be in a church that knows itself bound to the Scriptures but does not ordain women than in one that does ordain women because “we now know better than the authors of the NT.”

The hard question for “accepting evangelicals” is similar: would they rather be in a church that reads the Bible with the grain, knows itself bound to the moral commandments found therein (cf. Article VII of the Thirty-Nine Articles), refuses “to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written” or to “expound one place of Scripture” in a way that makes it “repugnant to another” (Article XX), and, wrongly in their view, enjoins Christians to refrain from sexual intimacy outside marriage between one man and one woman – or would they rather be in a church that is more accepting of sexual intimacy outside this context, happy to set aside Scriptural injunctions to the contrary?

If it is the latter, many evangelicals will find it difficult to accept their claim to being “evangelical” in any fuller sense of the word. I did of course make recourse to the Thirty-Nine Articles just now because I believe that being Anglican, in the classical sense of the word, is nothing other than one specific way of being evangelical. This is perhaps why I am not too bothered about having to avoid the “evangelical” label in some contexts where this could be misunderstood (as “happy clappy” or “low church”). I can wear the label “classically Anglican” and/or the “evangelical” label. At the end of the day, I want to avoid using labels in a possessive or polemical way. I much rather be understood. For that a common reference point is often more helpful than a label. Both the Thirty-Nine Articles and the CEEC Basis of Faith serve me well in this regard, even if there is of course more to being “evangelical” than doctrinal standards. There is indeed the desire to have the contours of one’s faith shaped fundamentally by the Bible, but also a focus on Christ crucified, a recognition of our need to be born again, and an urgency to share our faith with others.


I have no particular interest in denying the label to anyone. But I can see why, for example, David Robertson in 2014 confidently declared that Steve Chalke had departed from evangelicalism. And I certainly recognise that Republican “evangelicals” or “accepting evangelicals” who show little concern for the conversion of non-Christians, rarely extol the substitutionary atonement of Christ, barely urge repentance unless perhaps linked to their political agenda, and are coy in affirming the complete truthfulness and authority of Scripture, mean something rather different when they label themselves “evangelical” than I do when I claim the label for myself.


Revd Dr Thomas Renz came to England from Germany in 1993 to pursue doctoral studies and taught Old Testament and Hebrew at Oak Hill Theological College for 12 years before entering parish ministry. He has been Rector at Monken Hadley since 2012. His wife is a Modern Foreign Languages Teacher at St Albans School and they have two adult children.


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194 thoughts on “What does it mean to call myself ‘evangelical’?”

  1. “But equally, if this is (in part) how they define themselves as “evangelical”, such “accepting evangelicals” would be in more profound agreement with “CEEC evangelicals” than with those who, while also contending for a change to the church’s teaching, implicitly or explicitly reject our need to submit to the Scriptures as God’s word.”

    Yet some “CEEC Evangelicals” continue to caricature “accepting evangelicals” as liberals who “reject our need to submit to the Scriptures as God’s word.”

    Thank you for raising this issue.

    Reply
    • Yes, that is true. But the larger question is whether ‘accepting evangelicals’ really do believe those things about scripture.

      When I have asked them ‘what do you think evangelical means’ I get some vague response about quite liking the Bible. I reply ‘Well, that is true of Rowan Williams—but it doesn’t make him an evangelical’.

      Reply
      • When I have asked them ‘what do you think evangelical means’ I get some vague response

        One thing to especially beware of is constructive ambiguity: the idea that ‘I can call myself an evangelical if I can come up with a form of words that expresses a belief about the Bible that can be read in such a way that I can sign up to it and can also be read in such a way that a more traditional evangelical can sign up to it, even if those readings are fundamentally different’.

        Reply
      • Paul, for me, your response illustrates the problem with this debate.

        As the article says there are ““Accepting evangelicals” who continue to affirm this [the CEEC basis of faith] wholeheartedly”. Why do “CEEC Evangelicals” seem to insist they do not?

        It is if you are saying “they can’t possibly believe that so I will decide for myself what they believe”.

        I accept there are many people (lay and clerical) in the CofE whose relationship with the Bible is rather vague, but we are not talking about such people.

        That is what I find particularly helpful by the section on the different “speakers” in Chapter 13 of LLF it

        We have had the same battle over women in ministry where those evangelicals who cannot accept this characterised those who can as having rejected the authority of the Bible and they are therefore no longer evangelical – in some minds even Christian to the extent that they believe they can no longer be in the same church. Fortunately CEEC didn’t add this to the list of required beliefs for its members.

        Reply
  2. What a good article.
    On a narrower point, last evening, I facilitated our group Bible study on John 3:1-21, far too long for one session, but in Nicodemus’ encounter with Jesus it opens up the necessity for and meaning of “born again/from above and what it, is, why and how?
    I’m not sure we could have that discussion with any weight outside of the whole canon of scripture.
    Is the necessary BA qualification, a subset of evangelicalism or central to the evangel?

    Reply
  3. Reading this article, the lasting issue – the issue that remained with me – is the concern over same-sex relationships. I am not surprised. Evangelicals do seem to have a particular hang-up about sexuality and the practice thereof. Meanwhile evangelicals – in my experience – may not be so committed to the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, that we should freely give to those in need, that we should love our enemies, and freely forgive. In my experience – and of course this is subjective – those on the Evangelical fringes (perhaps the progressive evangelicals) are far more generous in their lifestyle, their outlook, and their lived desire for all to be saved and included in the kingdom of God. (In my experience) those in the Evangelical Centre seem to think that they hold the keys to the Kingdom.

    Reply
    • Evangelicals do seem to have a particular hang-up about sexuality and the practice thereof. Meanwhile evangelicals – in my experience – may not be so committed to the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, that we should freely give to those in need, that we should love our enemies, and freely forgive.

      Is it that evangelicals have ‘a particular hang-up about sexuality’, or is it simply that that is the area where they are most out of step with the surrounding culture?

      With regards to the sermon in the mount, I’m reminded of Tom Lehrer’s admiration for the singers of protest songs who have the courage to ‘get up in a coffee house, or a college auditorium, and come out in favour of the things that everybody else in the audience is against, like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on.’ These days, who isn’t, at least publicly, committed to the idea that ‘we should freely give to those in need, that we should love our enemies, and freely forgive’? (Of course, whether they practise it in private is another matter).

      There isn’t huge public pressure on evangelicals to recant their beliefs about giving to those in need, loving their enemies, or forgiving. Those things go with the grain of modern society, not against it. They are, as it were, part of the water in which we swim.

      But there is massive public pressure on them to recant their views about sexuality (and not just on same-sex relationships, on the whole virtue of chastity and lifelong faithfulness). Resisting that pressure can easily be read as ‘a particular hang-up’, but isn’t it more that this is just the area where their beliefs are being challenged, so of course this is where they are going to have to fight hardest, resist most fiercely, and therefore inevitably be most noticeable?

      Reply
    • Edward, thanks for your comment, which is an important reminder to look to ourselves first, and critically, and with humility.

      I am curious about your comment about ‘obsessed with sex’. I would certainly, along with others, really like to stop talking about sex at all. The difficulty is that there is a group which campaign relentlessly on this, and it is not evangelical! There is one person who always asks embarrassing direct questions about sex in Synod, and she is not a member of the evangelical group!

      I would agree with you that evangelicals are much more divided on social questions eg of welfare, and that evangelicals have often been politically at least as much on the ‘right’ as the ‘left’, whereas ‘progressive’ Christians are almost universally on the left.

      But research consistently shows that it is those who identify as evangelicals who give more of their own money to ‘good causes.’ And evangelical churches are often highly mobilised in actual projects. In our city, the largest welfare programme run by anyone is run by an evangelical church (not an Anglican one either).

      The question on sex is surely not whether it is important in its own right, but whether sexual continence featured as at all important in the teaching of Jesus in the gospels and in the rest of Scripture, particularly in the letters of Paul. I think there is some good evidence that it did.

      Reply
      • Oh, I think sexual continence is taught by Jesus and by Paul. I don’t know many Christians – liberal or evangelical – who would argue with that. The argument is surely on what sexual continence means in the context of sex before marriage, re-marriage, and same-sex relationship and other-sex relationships.

        I think also that we need to reflect on our approach to sexuality if we find direct questions on sexuality embarrassing. Why are they embarrassing?

        Reply
        • What argument?

          On same sex marriage:
          Rom 1:26-27 ESV
          “For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error”.

          On sex before marriage:
          1 Cor 7:1-2 ESV
          Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.

          On opposite sex relationships:
          Gen 2:24 ESV
          Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

          Remarriage is not the issue currently being debated in the C of E.

          Which covers each of the items Penelope said are part of “the argument”. There is no argument.

          People who admit to not believing the Bible should be able to post on this forum. And people who believe the Bible is the word of God should be able to post on this forum as long as they are willing to substantiate their views using the Bible. But people who in the things they say show they don’t believe in biblical authority shouldn’t be able to selectively refer to the Bible as if beliving that the specific part they refer to has greater authority than the words of man – they are in acting in this way misappropriating its authority.

          Reply
          • Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.“

          • Philip

            Romans 1.26 is not about same-sex marriage.
            I don’t quite know what you think Bible-believing means. But I hope it means taking scripture seriously and not imposing modern meanings on the text.

            You may be surprised to learn that I have also read the other texts you cite. They do not mean what you think they mean.

          • Penelope – your said that Romans 1:26-27 is not to do with same sex marriage – but to simply say that is inadequate for two reasons:
            – you don’t say what Rom 1:26-27 is about
            – it’s possible for a passage to about a subject which relates to same sex marriage without it directly mentioning it. For example the fact that Boris Johnson is a human being not an elephant is perfectly useful information to draw on in any discussion concerning whether Boris Johnson is or is not an elephant.

            You then continued to say nothing by simply saying that the verses I quote don’t mean what they mean (their meaning is not disputable any more than the sentences you wrote and I am writing need a manual to come with them so that they might be understood).

            Ian, if people continue to white ant the comments of people without actually presenting any REASONING for their views I do not believe that they should be allowed to continue on the forums. People should be allowed to point out INTERNAL INCONSISTENCIES in what people say without feeling the need to lay out the reasoning and foundations of their beliefs. But when they begin to say that a passage from the Bible doesn’t mean what it reads to mean without saying what they believe it means – or make statements that verses don’t mean what they say without explaining why (interestingly Penelope said this about when all I did was quote verses – I NEVER SAID WHAT I THOUGHT THEY MEANT – she just realised that what they were saying was obvious!) they do less than should be required to be a participant on this forum.

            Over to you Penelope – if you wish to be a serious participant here please tell us why each of the verses I quoted should not be interpreted to mean what they say – and why Romans 1 – in talking about sexual desire for the same sex – is unrelated to same sex marriage.

          • Philip

            Since Ian has kindly allowed you to express quite outrageous opinions on here, I think he’ll be fine with my hermeneutic.
            Actually, he isn’t fine with my hermeneutic at all, but he generously allows my comments on his blog.
            I think he might also allow Tom Wright or John Stott, were the latter alive to comment too, though neither is a Christian, apparently.
            The Romans text most probably condemns one particular male same-sex activity, cf. Leviticus. It most likely does not condemn lesbianism, but women taking the superior position in intercourse (very rude in the Greco-Roman world). This jas nothing to do with SSM.

            Yes, Paul says it is better to marry than to burn with lust. Yes, most couples, even Christian ones, live together before the wedding ceremony. Which is not a modern innovation. Since the couple themselves are ministers of the Sacrament, the marriage doesn’t begin at the ceremony.
            Genesis 2 doesn’t preclude same-sex relationships. The couple are the same flesh not different flesh.
            And this is why I believe the verses you cited, selectively, do not mean what you think they mean. Besides, proof texting is so otiose. We’ve all read those texts, even though you don’t believe we are Christians. Fortunately you don’t get to decide on that either.

          • ‘The Romans text most probably condemns one particular male same-sex activity’ I don’t think Penny there is any evidence for that at all. Again, there appears on both sides to be rehearsals of things which have been addressed well in the literature.

          • The Romans text most probably condemns one particular male same-sex activity, cf. Leviticus. It most likely does not condemn lesbianism, but women taking the superior position in intercourse (very rude in the Greco-Roman world).

            But as Paul’s sexual ethic is in general very Jewish, and very much against the Greco-Roman ideas of sex, why on Earth would something being ‘very rude in the Greco-Roman world’ make the blindest bit of difference?

            Since the couple themselves are ministers of the Sacrament, the marriage doesn’t begin at the ceremony.

            Does the Church of England now think marriage is a sacrament, then? When did that change?

            Genesis 2 doesn’t preclude same-sex relationships. The couple are the same flesh not different flesh.

            Genesis 2 does however point out that the reason for the two complementary sexes into which God’s image was divided coming together to form one flesh is in order to re-make that completed image. Obviously that only works if there’s one each of male and female.

          • Hi Ian

            It condemns what I might call buggery. Probably. Following Leviticus. Probably. Building a sexual ethic on 2 slightly obscure texts which find AS icky is a bit fragile.

          • ‘Building a sexual ethic on 2 slightly obscure texts which find AS icky is a bit fragile.’ Which of course is not what the argument for male-female marriage is resting on.

            Again, can I say I find this endless parodying of opposite views, and the demolition of baseless straw men, utterly pointless. I do not understand why you keep doing this…on either side. What is the point?

          • S

            Your binary is ill informed. Asceticism was quite popular in the GR world and thatm rather than Judaism, most probably influenced the asceticism of early Christianity. And Paul lived in the diaspora. Most 1st century Jews were Hellenised – even those who lived in Palestine.

            The CoE believes that, although marriage is not one of the 2 dominical sacraments, it is sacramental in character.

            If you believe only other sex married couples image God, then there’s little I can do to help you.

            Go well.

          • Your binary is ill informed. Asceticism was quite popular in the GR world and thatm rather than Judaism, most probably influenced the asceticism of early Christianity. And Paul lived in the diaspora. Most 1st century Jews were Hellenised – even those who lived in Palestine.

            That still does explain why you think Paul would have been influenced by what standard Greco-Roman culture thought of as ‘very rude’. Whether influenced more by Jewish sexual ethics or asceticism, he is clearly reacting against the standard sexual ethic of the time, and so is unlikely to be rehashing its ideas of what is ‘very rude’.

            The CoE believes that, although marriage is not one of the 2 dominical sacraments, it is sacramental in character.

            What is the distinction?

            If you believe only other sex married couples image God, then there’s little I can do to help you.

            Why would I need help?

          • Penelope, saying that my opinions are outrageous is different to engaging with them. Which is a relief because you already raise enough things which must be responded to by others who are rightly concerned that otherwise your views might appear to be reasonable. Or are you saying that people should decide on the reasonableness of people’s views by the number of people who hold them? And reject them just because they are “outrageous”?

            You said that I said that Wright and Stott were not Christians. I said that their views should for the reasons I gave make them outside the bounds of what is considered evangelical. I haven’t made the mistake of imagining that as someone who is not an evangelical that you brought them up out of concern for their reputations. But for the benefit of others let me say a little more clearly than before that there is a synergy between Stott’s undermining the significance of rebellion against God by believing in annihilationism – despite eternal life and eternal destruction being compared in Matt 25 – and his undermining the significance of disobedience by arguing for remaining in fellowship with those committed in their teaching to undermining the truth. Even if either action existed on its own it would still have to be included in the combined evidence that should be used as evidence to understand the motives and beliefs of Stott. Both actions are failures of planning – not failures of execution. I believe my reasoning is sufficiently worthy to warrant being engaged with by those who disagree – yet no-one has.

            Your views are completely unsubstantiated Penelope:
            – you say that Romans PROBABLY condemns some kind of same sex activity. Why probably?
            – you say that the passage “most likely” doesn’t condemn lesbianism. Why do you at one minute support same sex marriage as if men and women are interchangeable – yet at the next minute act as if the Bible’s directions to one sex are not directions for the other?
            – you say that most Christians live together before they get married. Why are using the fact that there are people who profess a faith but disobey scripture (see 1 Cor 7:1-2) as evidence scripture doesn’t say what it says?
            – you say that Genesis 2 doesn’t preclude same sex marriage. Why mention that? It doesn’t preclude abseiling either. What is the possible reason to consider marriage not to be exclusively between a man and woman in the light of the passages you show you are aware of in Leviticus? (You write “cf Leviticus” as if you have have “cfed Leviticus” but you haven’t. What “kind of same sex activity” do you think it outlaws? Why did you refer to these passages without explaining why they don’t actually mean what they say? You mentioned them as if you have them sussed – yet you can’t quite manage to get around to saying why.

            Lev 20:13
            If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.
            Lev 18:22
            You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

            What is marriage in Ephesians 5? Why does Ephesians 5 give different directions for husbands to wives? Why “Christ and the church”? What about same sex couples? Are they Christ and Christ? And the church and the church? Are there two heads – or none?

          • Well, Ian

            The point is, I am weary of proof texting (not you).
            And I am weary of magisterial responses which suggest that the Bible speaks univocally and with complete clarity and which brook no contradiction.
            We’ve discussed this often and I know your beliefs about marriage are far more nuanced and careful than an appeal to Romans or 1 Corinthians, so why suggest that these texts say anything about modern faithful, stable etc. relationships? Your response might be that Paul (and the GR world) knew about SSM. I disagree and I still argue that Helen King is a much better historian than Tom Wright.
            Some people do appear to base their sexual ethic on Leviticus, Romans and 1 Corinthians. It’s a very shaky foundation.

          • S

            You misunderstand. Paul is condemning (probably) women being on top. That was considered rude by 1st C society, of which Paul was a part. Sex workers charged more for it.

          • Philip

            I know those verses in Leviticus, because I think are probably the source of Paul’s admonitions in Romans 1.

            I say ‘probably’ because surely we need to be tentative in our reading of scripture this side of the eschaton.

          • Paul is condemning (probably) women being on top. That was considered rude by 1st C society, of which Paul was a part.

            But all the rest of Paul’s sexual ethic is quite at odds with the society of which he was a part. Why would he have gone with first century society on just this one point?

            I know those verses in Leviticus, because I think are probably the source of Paul’s admonitions in Romans 1.

            But you were just arguing to me that Paul’s sexual ethics wasn’t derived from Jewish sexual ethics but from aestheticism. Which is it? Make up your mind.

          • S

            They weren’t at odds. Asceticism was prevalent in the Greco-Roman world. Paul was an observant Jew, following the sexual ethics if Pharasaism.
            It’s a both/and. Paul’s sexual ethics were consonant with his context.

          • Paul was an observant Jew, following the sexual ethics if Pharasaism.

            Right. And Pharasaism didn’t see anything particularly ‘rude’ about a woman taking any position, did it?

            So why would Paul — who was as you point out ‘following the sexual ethics [o]f Pharasaism’ — have seen anything particularly ‘rude’ about it?

            So there’s no reason to think that any of his expressions of sexual morality are in any way derived from that particular idea of what is ‘very rude’, is there?

          • What bit of Paul was a Hellenised Jew did you miss?

            You can’t just assume that because someone was a member of a given society, they hold to the common sexual ethic if that society. I am a member of the society of 2020 Britain; would you think that I hold to the general sexual ethic of 2020 Britain? No, because everything I write conveys the opposite.

            Similarly, just because Paul was a Hellenised Jew doesn’t mean he holds to the general sexual ethic of the first-century Greek / Roman world; everything he writes conveys the opposite.

            So, which bit of ‘every time Paul writes about sexual matters, he writes in opposition to the general sexual ethic of his [Greek, rather than Jewish] society’ did you miss?

        • Penny, Dale Martin, the gay NT scholar who is often cited in relation to reading 1 Cor 6.9, believes that any kind of sex can be holy as long as it is conducted in the way that is in accord with the degree of commitment in the relationships, be it faithful or a one-night stand. So, no not everyone does believe in ‘continence’.

          I don’t have a problem with direct questions per se; I am just pointing out who is obsessed.

          And it is a bit wearying to have to rehearse the basic of this discussion *again*. Romans 1 is not about SSM per se, but it is Paul’s theological refutation of the possibility of *any* kind of SS sexual relationship, since any such thing rejects the duality of male-female forms which reflect God’s creation intention, and thus is tantamount to idolatry since it makes the sexual activity more important than honouring God as creator.

          Reply
          • And there is the issue. Do we understand the canon of Scripture to be God’s word written, to be ‘God-breathed’, to offer apostolic testimony to Jesus, to be the authority for all matters of life and faith?

            I do; you appear to see it as a collection of people’s opinions. That is the issue at stake here, and always has been.

          • It is perfectly possible for the scriptural canon it to be ‘both/and’, rather than ‘either/or’. I see it as both/and, and always have. The way you see it, the canon of Scripture has to be infallible. For others, it simply can’t be. It has too many internal contradictions. And when faced with those – e.g. the different genealogies – the response I have got here is that the genealogy is just ‘scene setting’ so doesn’t matter. That’s just a ‘both/and’ approach dressed up as exception to the rule.

            For the way you see it to be correct, Paul has to be infallible. Which means Paul has to be God. And scripture records God’s mind changing about things. It even records Paul’s mind changing about things.

            So, I don’t find scriptural infallibility or Pauline infallibility to be internally consistent, or reasonable. It doesn’t pass the test of scripture, reason or experience. It is simply a strand of tradition.

          • For the way you see it to be correct, Paul has to be infallible.

            No, he doesn’t. God — as the ultimate author and final editor of the Bible, the one who providentially controls what gets recorded and what doesn’t — has to be infallible, not Paul.

          • That doesn’t work S. That removes any human part in the very long chain of hearing, recording/physical writing, translating at many stages.
            The scriptural writers clearly have their own styles. That’s a human attribute. You can’t allow some human attributes but not others on a whim. You are simply elaborating a tradition.

          • The Bible is inerrant for its purpose Andrew. It’s not inerrant as a romance novel, or as a street directory, or as a science textbook. It’s inerrant for its purpose which is that we come to know God, his commands and his plans. That doesn’t mean that historical details are of no consequence – for example Jesus rising from the dead is a matter of history central to the Christian faith. It does mean that some details in the Bible can be wrong without being of importance to its purpose. Although it’s a mug’s game trying to work out which details are wrong – people often find the time brings information which shows that their certainty was inappropriate.

            It is only left to you Andrew to explain how any of the Bible can be authoritative for you if it isn’t in some way inerrant/authoritative.

            As I posted elsewhere there should only be two groups of people who are allowed to post on these forums – people who believe the Bible is inerrant for its purpose (who should be required to substantiate their views using the Bible) and people who don’t believe the Bible is the word of God – who aren’t Christian. There is no third group – those who at one minute get to use the Bible to make their points as if its words are more than the words of man whilst at other moments explaining why they do not believe that it is authoritative. To do that is to misappropriate the authority of the Bible.

          • That doesn’t work S. That removes any human part in the very long chain of hearing, recording/physical writing, translating at many stages.

            It quite obviously doesn’t. The fact the God acts at certain points in the chain doesn’t ‘remove’ the actions of humans at other links in the chain.

            Indeed for your view to be correct we would have to believe that God doesn’t act at any point, except possibly at the very beginning by providing the initial spark of inspiration which is then imperfectly recorded, and imperfectly passed along the chain, accumulating errors as it is passed from imperfect human to imperfect human, until at the end of it we can have no idea what is true and what is false.

            Does that sound like the Christian God? Einstein famously claimed that God did not play dice with the universe, but you seem to firmly believe that He plays Chinese whispers.

            More to the point, if that is really your view, why on Earth are you a Christian? What possible reason can you have for believing any of it?

          • Fortunately Philip I don’t think you get to decide who posts on this or any other blog than your own. Ian generously allows a wide variety of view points to be expressed, and that is why his blog often attracts hundreds of comments on a post. I’m not aware of any other blogs of this type that do that. It is something to be very grateful for.

            Sorry S: you are just inventing new extensions to tradition on the fly. Either the whole of the scriptural texts have to be inerrant under your view or none of them are. You already admit that some parts are less authoritative. You call them ‘scene setting’ and compare to journalism. And when asked to prove which bits are which, you just say that it is self evident.

            In other words, interpretation has to be used. And once interpretation is used, then it becomes clear first that people interpret different parts of the bible in different ways. And that’s understandable – the bible is not one sort of writing. It is many different sorts of writing.

            Where we are on this subject is that different people interpret the same texts in different ways. Again, nothing new here. The story of creation is interpreted in different ways by different groups of Christians. So are the texts about divorce. So are the texts about what constitutes work on the sabbath. And many many more. Welcome to the world of scriptural interpretation.

          • Sorry S: you are just inventing new extensions to tradition on the fly.

            I’m absolutely not, for the simple reason that I care not one jot about ‘tradition’ when it comes to doctrine. What matters when it comes to doctrine is what is true, not what is ‘traditional’. Tradition can be wrong (you certainly think it wrong on several matters).

            Either the whole of the scriptural texts have to be inerrant under your view or none of them are.

            I would never use the word ‘inerrant’; I don’t think it has a clear enough meaning to be useful. So if you like I suppose that does mean I consider none of the scriptural tests to be inerrant. I also consider none of them to be cromulent.

            You already admit that some parts are less authoritative. You call them ‘scene setting’ and compare to journalism. And when asked to prove which bits are which, you just say that it is self evident.

            No, I haven’t admitted any bits are less authoritative. I’ve simply pointed out that some bits aren’t mean to record things that literally happened. For example, there was no actual historial traveller who was set upon by thieves and rescued by a Samaritan. Nor where there ten virgins who waited for a bridegroom while half of them ran out of oil. That does indeed seem obvious and self-evident to me, but perhaps you have trouble with the concept.

            If we’re flinging stones, on the other hand, you have put a lot of weight when called to justify your ideas on the fact that Jesus said, ‘Blessed are they who believe without seeing’, which you interpret to mean we should accept believing things irrationally. But when challenged you couldn’t come up with any reason, on your terms, that you would believe that Jesus ever said such a thing, or indeed that His entire post-mortem encounter with Thomas actually happened and wasn’t just made up by the writers of the gospels.

            At least, I suppose, you do have a consistent hermeneutic for determining which bits of the Bible you will take as reliable and which you won’t: if you agree with it it’s from God and reliable, if you don’t it’s the product of fallible humans getting things wrong.

          • “I would never use the word ‘inerrant’; I don’t think it has a clear enough meaning to be useful.”

            Well absolutely. And there you and I agree, but Philip Benjamin doesn’t. So there is another split in views about biblical authority.

            If the bible is wrong in historical details S, (e.g. there was no traveller on the road as recorded in the Good Samaritan, and the Genealogies are incorrect historically) how do you possibly know which bits are fact and which fiction? You are in the realms of tradition whether you like it or not – a particular tradition of biblical interpretation.

          • If people cannot handle the word inerrancy (and I have explained that inerrancy should be understood according to the PURPOSE for which the Bible exists – that we may know God, his character, his commands and his plans) then that means that for such people there is no word with which the Bible can be described which is consistent with it being authoritative – either scripture is reliable in respect of its purpose or it is not.

            In a month from now when Andrew is expressing an opinion which requires him at that moment to pretend he believes that scripture is authoritative – such as for example he did here in criticising the 39 articles – few will remember – or have noticed here in order to remember – that he announced here that he does not have any confidence concerning which parts of the bible are fact or fiction. Do you require people Ian to respond to him without knowledge of this inconsistency? Are those of us who are aware obligated to read his comments and then time after time remind him of what he actually believes? He says that it is fortunate that Ian is the one who chooses who can post on the forum. Let’s agree on one thing – it’s fortunate FOR HIM that even in these circumstances he is still allowed to post.

          • Oh Philip I have confidence in the method used to interpret the bible. We look at the internal interpretation; we look at tradition; we look at reason; and we look at experience. A month from now that is what I shall still be doing. That’s what we did in deciding whether or not women should be ordained. And people came to different conclusions about those texts as well. And sometimes people change their minds on things like the ordination of women. Interpretation allows for that change of mind.

          • If people cannot handle the word inerrancy […] then that means that for such people there is no word with which the Bible can be described which is consistent with it being authoritative – either scripture is reliable in respect of its purpose or it is not.

            Well, ‘reliable’ is in fact the exact word I would use.

            In a month from now when Andrew is expressing an opinion which requires him at that moment to pretend he believes that scripture is authoritative – such as for example he did here in criticising the 39 articles – few will remember – or have noticed here in order to remember – that he announced here that he does not have any confidence concerning which parts of the bible are fact or fiction.

            I think anyone who actually bothers to read these comments sections in depth will remember perfectly well. I think anyone who bothers to read these comments sections in depth has got Andrew Godsall taped, no matter how much he tries to dissemble and conceal his true beliefs.

            But then anybody who bothers to read these comments sections in depth has got to be a pretty strange fish indeed.

          • So that’s good then. I repeat what I said to Ian earlier up the thread, and to which he hasn’t responded. I am happy to wait for his response. I’ve heard yours and Philip’s S. and neither are at all convincing.

            For the way you see it to be correct, Ian, Paul has to be infallible. Which means Paul has to be God. And scripture records God’s mind changing about things. It even records Paul’s mind changing about things.

            So, I don’t find scriptural infallibility or Pauline infallibility to be internally consistent, or reasonable. It doesn’t pass the test of scripture, reason or experience. It is simply a strand of tradition.

          • ‘For the way you see it to be correct, Ian, Paul has to be infallible. Which means Paul has to be God.’ This is a bizarrely facile argument, and it suggests that you haven’t read much about the theology of the inspiration of scripture.

            This exchange of views from either extreme, which appear to make no attempt to understand each other, seem to me to be completely futile. I think you are all wasting your time, and you are not listening to each other or seeking to persuade. I really with you (pl) would desist.

          • Again Andrew chooses to disqualify himself from commenting on any issue which rests on the interpretation of scripture. Because as he says it has neither scriptural infallibility or Pauline infallibility – because Paul isn’t God. Why didn’t we think of that?! Yet at the same time he says his method of interpreting scripture involves a combination of reason, church tradition and experience. But to what end – when the end result is that Scripture has no authority no matter what method he uses?

            No point in waiting for Ian to respond Andrew – his response won’t cause your choosing to criticise people’s views using scripture – while refusing to consider it authoritative – to be consistent with each other.

          • Hi Ian

            I know. That’s why I said many Christians believe in sexual continence. I know others besides Martin, who would honour more ‘open’ sexual relationships, but not many. Actually, I don’t know many atheists who support promiscuity.

            If the HoB stopped trying to make windows into gay people’s bedrooms, then the speaker at Synod might be happy to get on with the rest of their life. Of course gay or trans people cannot help being ‘obsessed’ when they are being abused by Ben John and CC.

            I am a bit weary of Robert Gagnon type sub platonic, dualism readings of Romans (and Genesis 2), which means that unless they marry someone of the other sex, men and women are incomplete. Human flesh is human flesh. And Paul, in Romans, most probably condemns one particular male same sex activity. It’s had to bear a heavy weight of tradition, that poor verse. Although, there was a time when it wasn’t read thus.

          • I know. That’s why I said many Christians believe in sexual continence. I know others besides Martin, who would honour more ‘open’ sexual relationships, but not many. Actually, I don’t know many atheists who support promiscuity.

            You support promiscuity, though. You’re on record as supporting one-night stands, remarriage, and serial monogamy — all forms of promiscuity.

            I am a bit weary of Robert Gagnon type sub platonic, dualism readings of Romans (and Genesis 2), which means that unless they marry someone of the other sex, men and women are incomplete.

            You have clearly totally misunderstood. A salt-cellar isn’t incomplete without a pepper cellar; but when the two come together, the two things, which are each complete in themselves, also form a complete set over and above the simple sum of the two (and which obviously would be pointless if there were two salt-cellars instead of one of each).

          • S

            As you know, but continue to ignore, I do not support all one night stands.
            As you know, most ‘members’ of the CoE support remarriage after divorce.
            As for your rather trite salt and pepper analogy, I have responded above.

            Tragically some Xtian tradition still thinks the salt wholly images God, whilst the pepper doesn’t.

          • As you know, but continue to ignore, I do not support all one night stands.

            You support some one-night stands, so you support promiscuity. All one-night stands are promiscuous.

            As is serial monogamy, and you’ve supported that too.

          • Penelope, saying that my opinions are outrageous is different to engaging with them. Which is a relief because you already raise enough things which must be responded to by others who are rightly concerned that otherwise your views might appear to be reasonable. Or are you saying that people should decide on the reasonableness of people’s views by the number of people who hold them? And reject them just because they are “outrageous”?

            You said that I said that Wright and Stott were not Christians. I said that their views should for the reasons I gave make them outside the bounds of what is considered evangelical. I haven’t made the mistake of imagining that as someone who is not an evangelical that you brought them up out of concern for their reputations. But for the benefit of others let me say a little more clearly than before that there is a synergy between Stott’s undermining the significance of rebellion against God by believing in annihilationism – despite eternal life and eternal destruction being compared in Matt 25 – and his undermining the significance of disobedience by arguing for remaining in fellowship with those committed in their teaching to undermining the truth. Even if either action existed on its own it would still have to be included in the combined evidence that should be used as evidence to understand the motives and beliefs of Stott. Both actions are failures of planning – not failures of execution. I believe my reasoning is sufficiently worthy to warrant being engaged with by those who disagree – yet no-one has.

            Your views are completely unsubstantiated Penelope:
            – you say that Romans PROBABLY condemns some kind of same sex activity. Why probably?
            – you say that the passage “most likely” doesn’t condemn lesbianism. Why do you at one minute support same sex marriage as if men and women are interchangeable – yet at the next minute act as if the Bible’s directions to one sex are not directions for the other?
            – you say that most Christians live together before they get married. Why are using the fact that there are people who profess a faith but disobey scripture (see 1 Cor 7:1-2) as evidence scripture doesn’t say what it says?
            – you say that Genesis 2 doesn’t preclude same sex marriage. Why mention that? It doesn’t preclude abseiling either. What is the possible reason to consider marriage not to be exclusively between a man and woman in the light of the passages you show you are aware of in Leviticus? (You write “cf Leviticus” as if you have have “cfed Leviticus” but you haven’t. What “kind of same sex activity” do you think it outlaws? Why did you refer to these passages without explaining why they don’t actually mean what they say? You mentioned them as if you have them sussed – yet you can’t quite manage to get around to saying why.

            Lev 20:13
            If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.
            Lev 18:22
            You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

            What is marriage in Ephesians 5? Why does Ephesians 5 give different directions for husbands to wives? Why “Christ and the church”? What about same sex couples? Are they Christ and Christ? And the church and the church? Are there two heads – or none?

          • Sorry my previous reply should not have been posted here – I have added it also where it does belong. Sorry Ian – this post and it can be deleted (if you have any way to do that). Sorry if not.

          • “No point in waiting for Ian to respond Andrew”.

            Not much, no. He does not believe in the inerrancy of scripture in the same way that you appear to.
            Ian’s problem is that he has different views on the authority of scripture depending upon the topic. For example, he supports the ordination of women and allowing women to teach in church, and to have authority over men. But the plain reading of scripture will not allow those things. He will claim that this matter is adiaphora.
            I have no idea where you stand on those things Philip. Or the remarriage in church of those divorced. Or how you interpret two very different genealogies. Or whether you allow for evolution. So I have no ideas how consistent you are in your view that scripture is inerrant.

            There is more than one way to read scripture.

          • Is there any chance I could put the four of you (Andrew G, S, Philip Benjamin and Penny Cowell Doe) in a room, and let you slug it out?

            You can come out again when you agree on something…

          • So we’re all ‘controversial’, but describing Martin as a ‘gay scholar’ isn’t.
            I think you might need to look at your unexamined prejudice.

            Perhaps, responding to ‘S’ and Philip is a futile exercise. But you host them. Are their eccentricities to be ignored?

          • Dale Martin describes himself in this way; I wonder if you have read his 2008 piece about having sex as a gay man?

            I cannot police everyone’s comments. I have asked for a better way of engaging, but so far in vain.

          • Ian: I think a better way of engaging is to listen carefully and engage with the ideas rather than the person.

            S proposes this: “God — as the ultimate author and final editor of the Bible, the one who providentially controls what gets recorded and what doesn’t”.
            S thinks that this statement is a statement of fact. I would love to know how widespread the idea of God being an editor and controller of the biblical texts really is, and how it can be claimed as fact. The statement strikes me as an opinion and belief. I think it perfectly valid, as a way of engagement, to ask exactly what is meant by this phrase. And to note that whilst I respect it as a belief, there are other views and beliefs about the texts.

            I think you are absolutely right to say that the issue that it comes down to is biblical authority. But you must surely recognise that there are quite a number of different views about that within the C of E. There is not just one way of engaging with the notion of biblical authority. There is a distinctively evangelical way, and a distinctively liberal way. But there are variations even within those two broad schools.

          • S proposes this: “God — as the ultimate author and final editor of the Bible, the one who providentially controls what gets recorded and what doesn’t”.
            S thinks that this statement is a statement of fact.

            Of course I do; I wouldn’t make it if I didn’t (well, unless I was playing devil’s advocate, but in this case I’m not).

            Others may disagree that it is a statement of fact; they should then attempt to provide arguments to rebut it. I then respond to those arguments, and in this way we (humanity, collectively) advance towards a clearer knowledge of what the facts really are.

            But this does not work if you refuse to engage with what the word ‘fact’ means, and claim that there can be multiple ‘opinions’ or ‘beliefs’ about factual matters, all of which are ‘valid’.

            There are not: about factual matters (and whether God really does providentially intervene to ensure the reliability of the Bible is a factual matter; it is either objectively true or it isn’t) then there are no different valid opinions or beliefs.

            Either I am right, in which case my facts are correct and my view is the only valid one; or I am wrong, my facts are incorrect, and my view is not valid it all.

            And figuring out which of those is the case is one of the most important things in the world, because which it is affects the eternal destiny of every woman, man and child that exists on the planet, that has ever existed, or that ever will exist.

            To claim that there are a variety of ‘other beliefs and options’ is a total cop-out on a question of this magnitude. There aren’t. There is one correct answer: either the Bible is reliable or it isn’t. That is a fact.

            You think it’s a fact that it isn’t; I think it’s a fact that it is. And which one of us is right matters. Vitally.

          • S: I agree that this is of vital importance. We have not been able to agree what a ‘fact’ is. I am quite clear how it may be defined:
            Fact: a thing that is known or proved to be true.

            I am not at all sure what definition you are using, so it would be helpful to know that, so that we can at least agree what a fact is.
            Your statement about God as final arbiter of what did and did not go in to the biblical texts does not satisfy this definition of fact. Unless, of course, you can verify it and offer objective proof. That would then need proof that God exists. And whilst I am familiar with the arguments for the existence of God, none of them have yet been established as proof for the existence of God. They are all theories.

            So I will continue to maintain that these are matters of faith and belief. I don’t need to offer anything further until you offer some proof for your statement. Simply saying it doesn’t make it true.

          • S: I agree that this is of vital importance. We have not been able to agree what a ‘fact’ is. I am quite clear how it may be defined:
            Fact: a thing that is known or proved to be true.

            Yes, this is wrong.

            A fact is something which is true, whether or not it is known or proved.

            For example, it was a fact that the Earth circumnavigates the sun before that was ever known or proved, wasn’t it?

            And it is either a fact that God exists, or it is a fact that God doesn’t exist, isn’t it? Even though we can’t know for sure, in this world, which of those is the fact and which is not?

          • S: your definition of fact is not one that appears in any dictionary I can find. You need to offer some proof for your definition.
            But leaving that aside, as you will not be able to offer such a definition, you still need to offer proof for your claim about God’s authorship of the bible. For without proof, we can not move forward or accept it is fact. You need to demonstrate that it is fact. Saying it does not make it so. If it did, anyone could claim anything and call it a fact.

          • S: your definition of fact is not one that appears in any dictionary I can find. You need to offer some proof for your definition.

            The OED, Fact, sense 8 (a): ‘A thing that has really occurred or is actually the case’; sense 8 (b): ‘A true statement’.

            And as I referred you to before: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/facts/

            ‘ What might a fact be? Three popular views about the nature of facts can be distinguished:

            * A fact is just a true truth-bearer,

            * A fact is just an obtaining state of affairs,

            * A fact is just a sui generis type of entity in which objects exemplify properties or stand in relations.

            Note that in none of these is it necessary for the fact to be known or proved to be, eg, a true truth-bearer in order to be a fact. It simply needs to be true, regardless of whether its truth is known, proved, or anything else.

            However, if you still object to the word ‘fact’, I will consider any alternative you propose. What word, if not ‘fact’, do you use to mean ‘a truth-claim that is actually true’?

            But leaving that aside, as you will not be able to offer such a definition, you still need to offer proof for your claim about God’s authorship of the [B]ible. For without proof, we can not move forward or accept it is fact. You need to demonstrate that it is fact. Saying it does not make it so. If it did, anyone could claim anything and call it a fact.

            The same applies to you: you need to offer proof for your claim that God is not involved in the preservation of the Bible. You need to demonstrate that it is fact. Saying it does not make it so. If it did, anyone could claim anything and call it a fact.

          • That is the difference. You claim yours as fact. I am not claiming my belief as fact S. it is an opinion. I do not have any proof or evidence for it. But neither do you have any proof or evidence for your ‘fact’. Unless you can provide these things, your ‘fact’ is of no consequence and can’t be defended.

          • That is the difference. You claim yours as fact. I am not claiming my belief as fact S. it is an opinion. I do not have any proof or evidence for it. But neither do you have any proof or evidence for your ‘fact’. Unless you can provide these things, your ‘fact’ is of no consequence and can’t be defended.

            Not going to acknowledge that I was right about the definition of ‘fact’, then?

            But as for you not claiming your belief as fact: okay, so it’s your opinion. Fine. Then we can all disregard it, can’t we? Opinions are of no consequence. Why even bother to mention your opinion, if you don’t think it is a fact?

            Nobody cares about your opinions. Your opinions are only of interest to you, as my opinions are only of interest to me. Any person’s opinions are unimportant. The thing that is important is the truth.

            So if you don’t think your opinion matches the truth, you should shut up about it. Because if it doesn’t match the truth, it is of no consequence.

            If I didn’t think my opinion matched the truth, I would shut up about it.

          • If your opinion matched the truth you would be able to evidence it. You are not able to. It therefore can not be regarded as true.

          • If your opinion matched the truth you would be able to evidence it.

            Rubbish. For a start, using ‘evidence’ as a verb is horrid. Please don’t do it.

            Secondly, not all opinions that match the truth can be shown by evidence. Galileo Galilei’s opinion that the Earth moved around the sun matched the truth, but he wasn’t able to show it by evidence — the instruments necessary to provide the evidence weren’t invented until long after he made the claim.

            You are not able to. It therefore can not be regarded as true.

            So your opinion cannot be regarded as true either, right? So why do you keep going on about your view of the Bible if you don’t think it can be regarded as true?

            Nobody cares about your opinion of the Bible, or about mine, or about anybody’s, if they’re only opinions.

            Opinions don’t matter. The only thing that matters about the Bible is which opinion is actually true.

          • We take different views about the bible S. Neither can be evidenced. Either could be true.
            No one cares about either of our views – unless they can be proved. At present they can’t.
            Your view that it is rubbish is just your view. No one cares about it.

          • We take different views about the bible S. Neither can be evidenced. Either could be true.

            Yep.

            No one cares about either of our views – unless they can be proved

            Wrong. No one cares about either of our views — unless they are true. That’s what matters: whether they are true, not whether they can be proved.

            If my view is true, then it is the most important fact in the history of the universe.

            I think my view is true.

            Your view that it is rubbish is just your view. No one cares about it.

            Unless it happens that I am correct, in which case everyone should care. And I think I am correct and that is why I think people should care.

            But if even you don’t think your view is true, why should anyone care about it?

            (By the way are you still not going to admit you were wrong about the definition of a fact? Everyone can see you were wrong, you know.)

          • No they can’t see that. They understand that unless something can be proved then it’s simply a theory or hypothesis. Once it is proved then we use the term fact for it. You are only quoting selectively from the dictionaries.

            What I will agree is that if what you claim as fact is actually true then it is the most important fact in the universe. Which makes it all the more ridiculous that you can’t even begin to prove it. And means it’s most unlikely to be true.

            I also agree with Ian that we need to find a more creative way to engage S.

          • No they can’t see that. They understand that unless something can be proved then it’s simply a theory or hypothesis. Once it is proved then we use the term fact for it. You are only quoting selectively from the dictionaries.

            As I have provided the references, they can see that I’m not. You claim above was that my ‘definition of fact is not one that appears in any dictionary I can find’; I have shown that it appears in three dictionaries and a website of introductory article to philosophy.

            What I will agree is that if what you claim as fact is actually true then it is the most important fact in the universe. Which makes it all the more ridiculous that you can’t even begin to prove it. And means it’s most unlikely to be true.

            Ah, so you admit that my claim has a truth-value, do you? So it’s not actually ‘an opinion’, it’s a proposition about the state of the universe which is either true or false. Like if I were to say, ‘Sydney is the capital of Australia’, that wouldn’t just be ‘an opinion’, but a proposition about the state of the universe which is either true or false.

            And you admit that it matters which it is.

            And you admit that if it is, it is the most important thing in the universe.

            So put those all together, and surely you can only draw the conclusion that this is not just a ‘matter of opinion’ or a ‘matter of belief’ on which it is okay to differ, but a vital matter of truth on which it is important for us to come to a firm conclusion as to whether it is a fact or not?

            Either I am right, or you are right, or neither of us is right, and (the stakes being so high) we should none of us rest until we have come to a firm conclusion as to which (if either) of us it is?

          • No. Your claim is like the manufacturers of a vaccine saying that it is a perfectly safe vaccine before any tests have been carried out. They can only claim safety as a fact once they have evidence. And evidence can only be claimed by testing. Only then is their claim a fact.
            Evidence S! You can’t produce a single shred of it and have no idea how to. So as I have said many times you are simply positing a theory. And a rather far fetched one at that.
            No facts. Just theory.

          • S: You are just the same as Donald Trump claiming that he won the election and that there was massive voter fraud. He keeps making the same claim, and even says it is a *fact* but can’t produce a shred of evidence to support his claim. Please give some evidence.

          • Ian

            OK, thanks. Though some people who do post on here assume that gay people and people who support SSM have a vested interest, while straight conservatives are neutral and objective 😉
            I haven’t seen Martin’s piece on gay sex. Do you have a link or a reference?

          • S you need to stop engaging with Andrew. His only oxygen is yours. In not believing in anything authoritative he has no source of food or oxygen of his own.

            Ordinarily in concluding that the Bible is just a book which has no means of holding those who profess a faith accountable to each other we would assume that Andrew was an unbeliever. And we would perhaps choose to tell him what the Bible has to say about human beings, about our isolation from God because of sin etc and about Jesus’ death on the cross. But he isn’t – he is a clergyman. When he isn’t on this forum not believing he is somewhere else posing as someone who believes. This puts him in another category – he is operating in deceit – he is a false teacher. And we aren’t supposed to interact with false teachers – at least those of us who believe the bible is the word of God aren’t supposed to.

            2 John vv10-11
            If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

            If Ian won’t do his duty (if he continues to imagine that we should treat people who act deceitfully – those who act as if they believe but deny the authority of the bible – with kindness – I am left wondering what in his mind a false teacher could possibly be if not this) this forum will continue to become what he has allowed it to become – a place for liberals to be given oxygen as they have been given in the C of E for decades. Soon he may even bar those who are evangelicals from his site for their lack of kindness – it appears to be touch and go – evidence of Ian’s inability to understand how to rightly relate to people who are brazen liars.

            Penelope is a signatory on a letter demanding that same sex marriage proceed in the C of E
            https://anglican.ink/2020/11/29/call-to-pro-gay-bishops-to-express-public-support-for-full-lgbtiq-equality-in-the-church-of-england/

            while acknowledging the teaching of Romans and Leviticus likely refers to buggery. Go figure. And Andrew is a clergyman who believes the bible is not capable of holding those who believe accountable to each other. Why are they allowed to participate here? What could either say which could be trusted? What deceit is left for them to perpetrate?

          • Philip

            You are priceless. This is Ian’s blog. He is a generous host, who ‘allows’ all sorts to comment on here, even those who don’t believe that Tom Wright and John Stott are evangelicals, or even Christians 🙂
            I can’t even begin to think why you believe Ian should censor certain views on here. Well, actually, I can, you want your pure sect to be undefiled by those who dare to have a hermeneutic different from yours. Bless, I think you might have found early Christianity quite tough.
            Yes, I was one of the signatories of ‘that’ letter which doesn’t demand anything about SSM.
            The CoE has a wide range of views on sexual ethics, on hermeneutics and on doctrine. If you can’t cope with that, might I, very tentatively, suggest that the CoE might not be your natural home?
            The thing is, Philip, I honour your beliefs, because they are your views, and I accept that they are serious and heartfelt. If they hurt or disparage others, I will object. Otherwise, you are entitled to your views. And so am I. This side of the eschaton we don’t know who is ‘right’. We might both be. Neither of us might be. But we’re going to have to rub along.

          • Ian, Penelope says that this side of the eschaton we don’t know who is ‘right’. If she was willing to act as if this was true all the time then she would just be a regular unbeliever – one with whom it was possible to engage. But she does not and is not – she can’t go one sentence without appealing to the authority of scripture and denying its authority alongside each other. For example the sentence I just quoted – she believes there is an eschaton – about this she expresses no doubt – but she isn’t sure what is true or not true in respect of faith between now and then.

            Since this is the case none of her criticisms of my comments are in fact criticisms. Leaving only her deliberate inconsistency to continue to exist.

            What if not same sex marriage are we left to imagine she believed she was supporting in putting her name to the letter? Never one to clarify a matter she simply doesn’t say. Although in fairness to her in the light of her continuing deceit/hypocrisy what difference does it make what she says?

          • Philip

            I am in the room. If you have any comments about my views please have the courtesy to address them to me.
            And if you do comment on my views, please be accurate. I signed a letter in support of SSM. I did not ‘demand’ anything.

          • Your claim is like the manufacturers of a vaccine saying that it is a perfectly safe vaccine before any tests have been carried out.

            Which is a claim about a fact. It may be a true claim or it may not; but either it is a fact that the vaccine is safe or it is a fact that the vaccine is not safe.

            ‘This vaccine is safe’ is not a mere opinion, a matter on which we can hold all different views and just agree to disagree. It is a truth-claim that we must, as a matter of vital urgency, evaluate.

            Just like our competing claims about the nature of the Bible are truth-claims that we must, as a matter of urgency, evaluate.

            Evidence S! You can’t produce a single shred of it and have no idea how to. So as I have said many times you are simply positing a theory. And a rather far fetched one at that.

            The thing about theories is that some of them are true. You have no evidence for your theory about the nature of the Bible either, yet you continue to think yours is true, don’t you?

            You are just the same as Donald Trump claiming that he won the election and that there was massive voter fraud. He keeps making the same claim, and even says it is a *fact* but can’t produce a shred of evidence to support his claim.

            Donald Trump claims there was massive voter fraud. The Democrats claim there wasn’t. Neither of them has proof. Yet one of those claims is a fact and one isn’t.

            Once again: a fact does not have to be proved to be a fact. A fact is a fact simply because it is true. We may not be able to know whether it is a fact — we’ll never know for sure John F. Kennedy was shot by John Wilkes Booth, but it is either a fact that he was or it is a fact that he wasn’t. One of those is a fact. We just won’t know, and will never know, which it is. But it’s still a fact, regardless of whether we know it or not.

          • The thing is, Philip, I honour your beliefs, because they are your views, and I accept that they are serious and heartfelt

            You shouldn’t. People can be serious about their beliefs, and heartfelt, and sincere, and also wrong. Beliefs only deserve honour if they are true. False beliefs deserve no respect; there is no honour in error.

          • “Donald Trump claims there was massive voter fraud. The Democrats claim there wasn’t. Neither of them has proof. Yet one of those claims is a fact and one isn’t.”

            I think you might want to tell this to all of the courts and judges who have thrown out the ‘facts’ that Donald Trump has presented to them.
            They have made it clear that has to produce evidence. No one has asked any Democrats for evidence as they are not making any ‘truth claims’ that are out of the ordinary.

          • “Just like our competing claims about the nature of the Bible are truth-claims that we must, as a matter of urgency, evaluate.”

            What would count as evaluation of your own theory S? How would we know that God was the final arbiter and author of the bible?

          • I think you might want to tell this to all of the courts and judges who have thrown out the ‘facts’ that Donald Trump has presented to them.

            Yes, that’s how courts work. They haven’t ruled that electoral fraud did not occur; they have just ruled that it hasn’t been proven to the required standard.

            What do you think the ‘not guilty’ verdict in a criminal trial means? Hint: it doesn’t mean the accused was proven to be innocent.

            No one has asked any Democrats for evidence as they are not making any ‘truth claims’ that are out of the ordinary.

            So you agree that the Democrats have not proved their claim (or even been asked to prove it). Yet you think that their claim is a fact.

            So there are some things you will regard as being facts even though they have not been proved.

            Interesting.

          • What would count as evaluation of your own theory S?

            Recognising that it is not an opinion but a claim about a fact, and then deciding whether you think it is true or false.

          • “So there are some things you will regard as being facts even though they have not been proved.”

            Precedence counts as proof.

            I’m afraid that we can go no further here S. I will stick by the Cambridge Dictionary for ‘Fact’: something that is known to have happened or to exist, especially something for which proof exists, or about which there is information:

          • Precedence counts as proof.

            No, it doesn’t. It quite specifically doesn’t, in fact: if you were a barrister prosecuting someone for theft, you would not be allowed to even mention that the accused had previously been convicted of burglary specifically because the fact that there is precedent for someone committing a similar crime in the past is no proof that they committed this one.

            It may count as circumstantial, suggestive evidence.

            But proof? No.

          • Our good friends in Cambridge help again:

            Precedent: an action, situation, or decision that has already happened and can be used as a reason why a similar action or decision should be performed or made:
            the way that something has been done in the past that therefore shows that it is the correct way:

            It is, of course, the reason the Democrats do not have to produce any evidence. The elections and counts are simply being carried out in the same way as in the past.

          • It is, of course, the reason the Democrats do not have to produce any evidence. The elections and counts are simply being carried out in the same way as in the past.

            The Democrats are claiming that the elections and counts are simply being carried out in the same way as in the past. Donald Trump is claiming that they aren’t.

            Neither side has provided any proof of their claim.

            But you admit, don’t you, that one side or the other is correct — that either ‘the elections and counts are simply being carried out in the same way as in the past’ is a fact or ‘the elections and counts are NOT being carried out in the same way as in the past’ is a fact, even though there is no proof for either?

          • It’s a fact because there is precedent. Elections and counts are just carried out in that agreed way, with observers etc etc. The Democrats have absolutely no need to provide anything by way of evidence. And that’s why they aren’t being asked for any.

            The crazy thing in this thread is that even if I agreed that your theory about biblical authority and authorship were a ‘fact’, you still could not produce any evidence.

            So I ask again: what would count as a way to evaluate your theory about authorship? How would we go about proving it?

          • The really crazy thing in this thread is that it is still going.

            You don’t really appear to be listening to one another, and neither side is persuading the other. Why keep going??

          • Why keep going? Because Christian truth is greater than one small version of it.

            Four really helpful articles about this question of what is an evangelical have emerged this week.

            From Fulcrum:
            https://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/articles/a-beautiful-story-a-serious-mis-step/

            From Bishop Jonathan Clark:
            https://clarkinholyorders.blog/2020/11/28/living-in-love-and-faith-and-peace-with-justice/

            From Simon Butler:
            https://viamedia.news/2020/12/04/llf-history-repeating-itself-the-beautiful-story/

            And From the C of E Newspaper by David Runcorn.

            All addressing the question of What does it mean to call myself Evangelical.

  4. I thank Andrew Wilson for the heads up to this podcast, which from the title would seem not to be relevant, but it is. as it drills down to the root problem, or to mix a metaphor gets to a source of one tributary of Critical theory: the place of scripture.
    Yes, I know, the very name of the caster will engender horror and opprobrium and antagonism in some. It may generate more heat than light and distract from the article. I’d suggest it does make a significant contribution to the discussion, perhaps not tangential, not central, but relevant, that is, logically probative of the fact at issue.
    https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/critical-race-theory-part-2

    Reply
    • I don’t think that forgiveness is particularly strong within the grain of our culture.

      Oh, it is. Perhaps less couched in terms of ‘forgiveness’ than in terms of a therapeutic ‘letting go’ and ‘getting past’ things, but the nursing of grievances and the holding of grudges — not to mention the actual taking of revenge — are certainly seen as unambiguously bad in mainstream culture, in a way that they haven’t always been (and indeed still aren’t in some subcultures, where not taking revenge for a slight would be seen as weak, whereas in the mainstream culture it is seen as ‘rising above’).

      Reply
    • Characters in soap operas are always asking for a second chance, to be forgiven etc. And Homer Simpson famously says ‘I would never have done it if I thought you would find out’. Having a second go, changing the rules to ‘best of five’ is a sort of plea to be forgiven.

      Reply
    • Certainly, not in the way consistent way that Christ calls us to. I think there’s more of – although less so with the rise of cancel culture and the honour cultures – a personal forgiveness being a higher calling with group forgiveness being .

      I would doubt whether the liberals are more forgiving, though. I think its common with the liberal lot – at least those that post on Twitter – to boast of how they’ll never forgive Brexit voters (or Trump voters). It is against human nature to be forgiving in the radical way that Christ calls us (to forgive the people that ‘they’ dislike more than you is quite easy) and won’t occur by any other method than the radical love of Christ and love for His commandments

      Reply
  5. Geoff
    It is a good article. It prompts me to say a number of things, for which I will need several posts.

    For starters, it prompts me to reflect on what the CEEC Basis of Faith says.

    What does paragraph 1 of the Basis mean by “….. of which the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are a general exposition”?

    It is a curious phrase is it not.

    Does it commit the CEEC to the doctrines of:
    Total inability (Article10)
    Unconditional Election (Article 17)
    Irresistible Grace (Article 17)
    Perseverance of the Saints (Article 17)
    The Atonement doctrines of Penal Substitution and the Appeasing of God’s wrath (via Article 35, the Homily on the Nativity and ‘And because death, according to S. Paul, is the iust stipende and reward of sinne, therefore to appease the wrath of GOD, and to satisfie his Iustice, it was expedient that our Mediatour should be such a one, as might take vpon him the sins of mankinde and sustaine the due punishment thereof, namely death’.) ?

    Or not?

    Phil Almond

    Reply
    • Or not,
      I think would be the answer, Phil. Is there an L missing? Or should that be a D? Or is L/D included in the doctrines of Atonement? Or are they now renamed doctrines of Apoplexy?
      I think Anglican scholar Alec Motyer, contributed to “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.”

      Reply
      • Geoff
        Thanks for your reply.

        I don’t understand all of it. I realise ‘L’ is for ‘Limited’ in TULIP and ‘D’ is for the more accurate ‘Definite’ (except that it messes up the 5-letter acronym). But I was just giving a view on the doctrines that might reasonably be derived from the 39 Articles. I don’t think that the doctrine of Definite Atonement can be so derived. I am not saying the doctrine is untrue – I think it probably is – just that I don’t think it can be derived from the Articles.

        I am not sure what you mean by ‘Or not, I think would be the answer, Phil’ and I am not sure what you mean by ‘Apoplexy’ and the reference to Motyer.

        Phil Almond

        Reply
        • Hello Phil,
          “Or not.” I’m unsure that there would be wholesale commitment to the Arts as you set out. But you know the group better than I.
          I’m not familiar with each of the 39 Arts, so I don’t know known whether L/D is included. Motyer wrote an article in the book mention, the topic being D. As he was Anglican I wondered if D is included. The book seems to be well regarded, but, even so, not persuasive to some/many.
          As for Apoplexy, (it isn’t related to Motyer) hasn’t penal substitution of atonement, been the cause and hence the removal, none acceptance by erstwhile evangelicals outside CoE such as Chalke and inside such as Ozanne? (Maybe/perhaps NT Wright?). Isn’t it seen as offensive?
          “Pierced for Our Transgressions,” co-written by Anglican Mike Ovey, was at the same time praised and rejected by some who would class themselves as evangelicals.

          Reply
    • Phil: in 32 years of ordained ministry, 2 years of theological college before that, and a year of discernment before that I have never met anyone who wants to take the 39 articles as a final statement of what the C of E believes, and especially of what it believes about 400 years after they were written. I went to a very mainline theological college. I was ordained by a very traditional bishop = Graham Leonard. Not once was I taught anything about the articles or asked any questions about them in any detail. In fact the only time I have ever referred to them is in the oaths and declarations, which, as I have said many times before, is simply a general statement that they are one of our historic formularies. They are. I have no doubt about that.

      They are an expression of a church and religion in turmoil. They can’t be expected to say anything definitive. So ‘general exposition’ is extremely generous.

      Given the undermining of LLF that CEEC have engaged in, and been reprimanded for, they aren’t in great favour for generosity but I’m being kind 🙂

      Reply
      • In fact the only time I have ever referred to them is in the oaths and declarations, which, as I have said many times before, is simply a general statement that they are one of our historic formularies

        Which ‘oaths and declarations’ are those? Mr Google’s engine found me this page:

        https://www.churchofengland.org/about/policy-and-thinking/canons-church-england/section-c

        In which sub-section 15 contains something called a declaration which reads:

        ‘I, A B, do so affirm, and accordingly declare my belief in the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness’

        The preface beforehand makes it clear that the thirty-nine articles are included in the ‘historic formularies’.

        Now by my plain reading that means that the declarer not just assents that the thirty-nine articles are one of the historic formularies; they ‘affirm and accordingly declare’ they they believe ‘the faith […] to which the historic formularies bear witness’.

        That is, anyone who makes that declaration is — on any plain reading — declaring that they believe (a) in the faith which revealed in the Bible; and moreover (b) that the thirty-nine articles bear witness to that faith.

        I don’t see how you could honestly recite that declaration if you didn’t think that the thirty-nine articles bore witness to the faith revealed in the scriptures, the faith you believe.

        Do you believe that the thirty-nine article bear witness to the faith you believe in?

        But perhaps you were thinking of a different oath or declaration? If no which?

        Reply
        • It is akin to taking the oath in Court, from which the crime of perjury can arise if the oath taker lies, falsifies.
          Would any other organisation take this so lightly, even as it occurs at the entry point to office.

          Reply
          • It is akin to taking the oath in Court, from which the crime of perjury can arise if the oath taker lies, falsifies.

            “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

          • Not akin to that at all Geoff. If anyone really believed that the 39 articles were a very good and effective witness then it would be akin. But nobody does believe that. People believe they are a badly worded piece of politics/polemic. How could they be anything other than that given their background.

        • Oh they bear witness. They just do it ever so badly and in a very incomplete way. They are a very poor witness. And if anyone else thinks otherwise, please tell me why no theological college teaches them in any detail whatsoever and why no one is examined in them?

          Reply
          • Oh they bear witness. They just do it ever so badly and in a very incomplete way. They are a very poor witness.

            Refreshingly honest. So it does depend what the meaning of ‘is’ is.

          • Andrew,
            Regarding the 39 Articles, if it was in your remit to do so, which ones in your view do you think are less relevant now or would you change or omit -and for what reason(s)?
            Alternatively, would you say they have had their day and need to be reformed and if so, in what way – a 39 articles Mark 2 say ?

            Should the Cof E formulate a new set or substitute them with something else do you think?

          • Thanks Chris. Very hard to do justice in a short post.
            Very briefly, I think there is work to be done in the language of the whole lot, but that’s understandable given they are over 400 years old.

            The first 8 are straightforward and credal. If you subscribe the creeds, then there ought to be few questions about those. They relate to questions of faith.

            9-18 express a range of mixed and confused theologies and I think have little bearing on faith.

            19-22 express highly questionable political statements that were no doubt important 450 years ago but are historical. No bearing on faith at all.

            23 and 24 strike me as common sense.

            25, 27, 28, 29 and 30 are matters of opinion, not faith.

            26 is profoundly important.

            31 makes no sense aside from the political turmoil of the Reformation. It needs ditching altogether.

            32-36 are unnecessary.

            37-39 are pretty much nonsense!

          • Andrew, thank you for your reply. I recognise that a single post cannot do full justice do your views. I was interested you wrote that

            ‘9-18 express a range of mixed and confused theologies and I think have little bearing on faith.’

            Do you think that regarding the Articles and bearing in mind that Anglicanism is a ‘reformed church’ that this is were liberal and conservative churchmanship most widely diverge?

          • I think that’s a broadly fair assessment Chris.
            It is interesting that even the conservatives posting on this point agree that the 39 articles are not taught, and have not been taught much to clergy for 100 years or so. That says quite a lot I think?

            As I have said before, I think if the 39 articles are to taken seriously, they need to be taught in theological colleges. I can’t see that happening when there is already a very crowded curriculum. But I’m happy to be proved wrong!

  6. I don’t accept the idea that issues such as women’s ordination and annihilationism have divided evangelicals. I instead question whether those who support such views are at their heart evangelicals.

    It is important to consider not only someone’s expressed beliefs on evangelical basics but how they behave in support of them. For example sixty years ago John Stott did much to ensure that the Church of England would find itself in the mess it is in now – he quashed Martyn Lloyd Jone’s attempts to make vicars at the time recognise that it was the teaching of scripture to separate from those who were not committed to orthodoxy – instead he argued that change could be achieved by remaining within the C of E. This tells me that he has a very different understanding of the character of God than me – he must have believed that God’s grace reaches to remaining close to committed sin – such a belief cannot be considered evangelical.

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/evangelical-history/50-years-ago-today-the-split-between-john-stott-and-martyn-lloyd-jones/

    And Tom Wright’s views on the ordination of women should not be considered within the evangelical camp because Wright’s approach to scripture is outside of the evangelical camp at its heart – in two important ways. He undermines the idea that the whole of scripture should be seen in the light of the cross – instead he pushes for the reverse – that the cross can only be understood with reference to the whole Bible. This is important – knowing God starts at the cross – the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom – and our fearing God is our dying with Jesus. And secondly Wright has undermined the love = justice + mercy duality of the cross by focusing on preachers who apparently preach that God so hated the world that he punished Jesus (where are these preachers? – I am only familiar with the kind who think that God’s holiness and justice have nothing to do with faith) and mock those who think that events like Covid-19 are the judgement of God.

    https://youtu.be/pkXI33hpe2o
    https://time.com/5808495/coronavirus-christianity/

    But what do these issues have to do with women’s ordination? They do because the heart of male and female differences is that men are oriented in such a way to enable them to favour principle over people (justice) and women people over principle (mercy). To remove these differences of orientation one must undermine this justice/mercy duality at the heart of the gospel.

    Reply
    • So you think that someone like Thomas Renz, who has taught at Oak Hill College, is wrong in his delineation of key evangelical issues? You appear to be defining ‘evangelical’ just as you want it in the same way (but in the opposite direction) as ‘accepting evangelicals’.

      Reply
      • Ignore my other comment – I understand what you have said to me.

        Yes I do think he is wrong. The problem with this issue – as with many – is it is approached by “clever” people without feeling the need to found their ideas in the character of God. Why do they allow this? Because they don’t choose to live as if things are not true until they are true to them personally – until they are RELATIONALLY true. There is nothing that God wants us to trust to be true which he isn’t willing to teach to us personally. It’s what we do when something about someone just doesn’t feel right – we mull it over until we realise what it is. We have in such a case discovered something which is RELATIONALLY wrong.

        A simple example – Nicky Gumbel has become internationally known – he would be viewed by most people as a Christian leader of international stature. All that was required of him to achieve that was that he do two things – say that he believed in a set of evangelical tick boxes – and communicate a portion of Christian truth with greater style than the average person. And have greater observable response from people. He was able to become a giant of the faith in the eyes of most people despite never preaching on the holiness of God, his justice, judgement, hell, mercy and the need for repentance because those who were listening to him were only relating what he said to a set of tick boxes – and inadequate set – but also and more importantly an UNGROUNDED set. The average UK Christian leader speaks in a way which allows truths to exist in mid air – and the average listener is therefore also unequipped to recognise a leader who is doing that.

        It’s good enough in the eyes of The Gospel Coalition for you Ian to have egalitarian views and yet be called an evangelical – no matter your reasoning. That’s because The Gospel Coalition’s complementarianism exists in mid air – the average TGC leader is ticking boxes – many wouldn’t notice that in your views on men and women that you have no overall coherent story to tell – you don’t set out to answer fundamental questions like why God made men and women and why marriage must be between a man and a woman (if you were right about reproduction being the reason then you would presumably support same sex couples being able to use a surrogate). In not being able to argue your views across scripture I believe that you fall short of what is required for you to be considered responsible with the authority of scripture. Thomas Renz is right in that he pointed out that it isn’t always our belief in something that brings our beliefs into question but the foundations for our belief.

        I think that those who argue for Calvinism without feeling the need to relate a decision by God to forcefully save some and not others to the character of God are similarly guilty. They behave in this way at the same time as believing that God is independent of human beings and unchanging in his attributes – and therefore he must be merciful towards all people and in all events. To what in God can we turn for an explanation for such a decision? I’m not saying God has to save anyone to be merciful – I am saying there is nothing in the character of God which explains his treating two groups of people differently. Being Reformed doesn’t make you an evangelical – it’s the way in which you use scripture to justify your views which does. If you Ian or anyone else can help me on this last issue (I wrote to a professor in the last couple of weeks who was Reformed and who was talking on a podcast about God’s impassibility thinking he might be the kind of person who would feel the need to answer me and he hasn’t replied) I would be grateful. Calvinism as far as I can tell is floating in mid air.

        Reply
        • Philip Benjamin
          Now I am the one who is not clever enough to understand what you are saying in your November 27, 2020 at 2:56 pm post.

          I believe the doctrines:

          Total inability
          Unconditional Election
          Irresistible Grace
          Perseverance of the Saints
          The Atonement doctrines of Penal Substitution and the Appeasing of God’s wrath

          Because God has revealed them in the Bible.
          Would you say these doctrinal convictions are ‘floating in mid-air’?
          Phil Almond

          Reply
          • Hi Philip,

            I’ve been absolutely clear as to the reasons I find myself where I am (please read all my posts by searching for my name on the page to best understand where I am coming from) – I’ve even asked those who hold Calvinist beliefs to set me straight if they know how. Calvinists and provisionists both believe (with few exceptions) that God is unchanging in his attributes and also that none of his attributes depend on human beings for their existence. Therefore a Calvinist must believe that God is merciful ALL THE TIME – which means that he is merciful towards all people and in all events. How then can God’s mercy or any other attribute of God’s be linked to a decision to save some and not others? I’m not saying that God had to save anyone to be merciful – I am saying that I see nothing in the character of God to which which I can link such a decision. The best I can come up with is that unlike every other command and action in scripture (where God wants us to see his HEART behind his actions and words so that we can rightly relate to him) he is asking people to trust that on the basis of his being merciful in all other matters that he is entitled not to reveal the relationship of this decision to his character. And the reason why we praise God for his decision and for his mercy is because God has shown that he is merciful in other events and therefore is entitled to be trusted. Is that your understanding of Calvinism? You are offended by my saying that Calvinist beliefs are floating in mid air. Instead of being offended why not show me what it is I do not understand? You may make a Calvinist of me yet. Instead of focusing on individual verses I believe that it’s right to start with the character of God (or with issues related to why the decision saving some and not others is not to be related to the character of God – because for example God has not shown to reveal his heart behind the decision).

          • Philip Benjamin
            I thought my email to which you replied on 28 November at 10.45 am had miscarried. I have just now seen it. I will try to reply tomorrow (Monday)
            Phil Almond

          • Philip Benjamin
            I will try to respond to your November 28, 2020 at 10:45 am post.

            As I see it we have recognise the fact that while the Bible is true in all it says it is not exhaustive in all it says. What it says is true for God and true for us but it does not tell us all that God knows to be true. We have to humbly bow before what God has revealed and be content with that, realising that we are fallen sinners and God is God. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law”.

            We have to consider the whole Bible to come to a conviction about the character of God. That truth can be expressed (at least in part) by the conviction that God is holy, righteous, just, real, majestic, glorious, sovereign, honest, angry with sinners, merciful, loving, gracious, compassionate, patient, tender, pitiful.

            To answer your “Therefore a Calvinist must believe that God is merciful ALL THE TIME – which means that he is merciful towards all people and in all events” I have to quote individual verses – Romans 9:13-23

            “Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
            What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
            “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
            and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
            It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
            One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
            What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—”

            We also have to face the fact that while Reprobation is clearly taught in Romans 9:21,22, the universal and sincere offer of the gospel is assuredly taught in Ezekiel 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9 and elsewhere.

            Kuiper comments in God-Centred Evangelism (page 41) “We may as well admit – in fact it must be admitted- that these teachings cannot be reconciled with each other by human reason. As far as human logic is concerned, they rule one another out. However, the acceptance of either to the exclusion of the other stands condemned as rationalism. Not human reason, but God’s infallible Word, is the norm of truth. That Word contains many paradoxes. The classical example is that of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The two teachings now under consideration also constitute a striking paradox…”

            Kuiper goes on to quote Calvin’s comment on “Ezekiel 18:23, which parallel’s Ezekiel 33:11”:

            “Besides, it is not surprising that our eyes should be blinded by intense light, so that we cannot certainly judge how God wishes all to be saved, and yet has devoted all the reprobate to eternal destruction, and wishes them to perish. While we look now through a glass darkly, we should be content with the measure of our own intelligence. (1 Corinthians 13:12.) When we shall be like God, and see him face to face, then what is now obscure will then become plain”. This is one of God’s secrets.

            Phil Almond

          • Hi Philip,

            Thank you for taking the time to write – it’s much appreciated.

            I found your Deut 29 passage helpful – I see that the Bible does specifically refer to things which aren’t made known (and obviously the things being referred to aren’t things that are specific to God like how he makes something out of nothing but mysteries which we might imagine ourselves able to know). It left me asking the question though whether these mysteries are those made known when Christ is revealed:

            Col 1:26-27 ESV
            “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”.

            or whether even with the coming of Christ the mysteries your passage refers to are still not made known and won’t be until we the end of this age.

            It seems that it is right from your helpful quote from Calvin that he at least believes that we must believe two things not yet reconciled – that God is both merciful in all things and towards all people yet choosing to save some and not others. I am not well enough informed to know that such quotes exist – but I guess I expected that they must – I don’t get the sense that Calvinists are saying that God isn’t always merciful.

            I will continue to consider things.

            I am not sure if you are familiar with provisionist interpretations of Romans 9. If you aren’t familiar you may find the following video of Mike Winger’s to be of value in at least understanding where those who differ from you stand on passages of the Bible which seem to scream Calvinism. It may not be the best provisionist presentation but I thought it was feasible.

            https://youtu.be/7y4yjSwEkfY

            I appreciate your concession that reprobation is real – I agree – I cannot come away from 2 Peter 2 thinking that the person in v20 has not escaped darkness when the passage says they have. But I wonder where this leaves Calvinism. I thought that Calvinist fundamentals included believing that God must completely override our will both at conversion and throughout the sanctification process (since why would our situation be any different in the two situations?) – I don’t understand how you fit reprobation into your Calvinism.

            Consider a heroin addict – are they enslaved? Yes. But what exactly is the nature of their enslavement? Could they resist doing terrible and wrong things to get a fix? No. Could they ask a friend to lock them in a room with food and water and not let them out for three weeks in order to be at least in a physical sense set free? Yes at a certain moment they may be able. A Calvinist (imagining now we are talking about enslavement to sin generally) believes that a sinner lacks even the will to make the big decision – and I agree with that – but God only needs to ensure that a person be given the will to enable them to make such a decision – he doesn’t have to override their will – he doesn’t have to take away their power to resist. So I therefore cannot understand the thinking behind forced conversion and sanctification.

            Thanks again for your input – I will continue to mull these things.

          • Hi Philip

            Thanks for your reply. I just want to mention here about the meaning of ‘reprobation’. Reading your “I appreciate your concession that reprobation is real – I agree – I cannot come away from 2 Peter 2 thinking that the person in v20 has not escaped darkness when the passage says they have. But I wonder where this leaves Calvinism” it seems to me (please correct me if I am wrong) that you are understanding ‘reprobation’ to mean something like ‘falling away after conversion’. In these discussions, certainly in the quote from Calvin I gave, it means those whom God has predestined to eternal death. I have further things to say in another post.

            Philip Almond

        • Hello Philip B,
          Anyone who sees God as the Unmoved Mover risk being an unmovable non mover, and doesn’t appear to have read the whole canon of scriptural self-revelation by God.

          A reformed but charismatic Baptist, Dr Sam Storms, who has his own blog, with a time limited comments section may be able to answer or signpost you to some resources, that is, if you are not put off by the description, charismatic.
          This is part of Grudem’s Systematic Theology on the question of God’s impossibility. It may help.
          “Chapter 2 of the Westminster Confession of Faith says that God is “without … passions.” This statement goes beyond our definition (the definition of God’s unchangeableness as: unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations. This attribute of God is also called God’s immutability) and it (WCF) goes beyond our definition of God’s unchangeableness and affirms more than that God does not change in his being, perfections, purposes, or promises – it also affirms that God does not even feel emotions or passions.”
          And Grudem is reformed and is opposed firmly to Process or Open Theology.

          Reply
          • Hi Geoff,

            Thanks for your reply.

            I didn’t understand the sentence “Anyone who sees God as the Unmoved Mover risks being an unmovable non mover and doesn’t appear to have read the whole canon of scriptural self-revelation by God”.

          • Hello Philip B,
            Re your comment of 4:58
            There is a risk that there may be a hard legalism, in relational matters, a legalism, as Keller might put, justification or righteousness becomes based on or is supplanted by self effort sanctification or legalism.
            If I could recommend a book by a WCF adherent, Dr Sinclair Ferguson, it would be “The Whole Christ” which delves into scripture, looking the same source for legalism and antinomianism: the deep unbelief in the Goodness of God.
            A key doctrine, much neglected in much of reformed circles and seemingly unknown or ignored in swathes of evangelicalism is Union with Christ, a doctrine shot through the NT.
            Sinclair Ferguson has written and spoken much on it.
            And if you want to look at Holiness his Devoted to God, is very good.
            Reformed Anglican Dr Mike Reeves has written or spoken somewhere UCCF or Word Alive in UK. on the doctrine.
            He points out that it is a key doctrine that NT Wright misses in his depiction / criticism of justification/atonement.
            His two books entitled ( in the UK) “The Good God” and “Our life in Christ”. Both are highly regarded, acclaimed.
            While I don’t know your finance, none of the books is to expensive. The doctrine has brought much need theological and Christian life-lived balance and ballast.

          • I absolutely believe that God’s embrace of us is not partial – undermining it as Wright does by saying that justification is only final at the end of our lives causes faith to unravel. However none of this precludes God’s embrace of us from being conditional upon our not setting our lives to resist God.

            If God’s embrace at the point of us at conversion was incapable of being undermined or resisted by human beings what does this passage mean?

            2 Pet 2:20 ESV
            For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

            Had they escaped or had they not? They HAD escaped but they allowed themselves to become entangled.

            To suggest that we have the power to undermine covenant relationships by setting our lives to rebel against God is not to weaken their significance – or their beauty – and in the case of our relationship with God – its saving power.

        • Hi Philip

          Thanks for your reply. I just want to mention here about the meaning of ‘reprobation’. Reading your “I appreciate your concession that reprobation is real – I agree – I cannot come away from 2 Peter 2 thinking that the person in v20 has not escaped darkness when the passage says they have. But I wonder where this leaves Calvinism” it seems to me (please correct me if I am wrong) that you are understanding ‘reprobation’ to mean something like ‘falling away after conversion’. In these discussions, certainly in the quote from Calvin I gave, it means those whom God has predestined to eternal death. I have further things to say in another post.

          Phil Almond

          Reply
  7. Thanks for a really good article, Geoff.

    “those evangelicals who seek to revise the church’s teaching find themselves in the awkward position of having to call out the implicit and sometimes explicit disparagement of Scripture that is found among their fellow campaigners”

    Are there any examples of this actually happening?

    Reply
    • Hello Oliver,
      Due to the way the comments are cascaded, I’m getting lost off, particularly, if your quotation marks are attributed to me. I might be particularly dull at the moment.
      Just saying.

      Reply
    • Hello Oliver,
      I didn’t write what you have quoted. You seem to be attributing it to me.
      If that is not what you mean, could you please explain what you mean by writing, “Good article Geoff”
      I find it is difficult to keep up with the comments, the way they are cascaded and they don’t always seem to be in the order that I think they would inserted.

      Reply
  8. I think I should explain at this point that Andrew and I have disagreed over many years about the Declaration of Assent and its Preface, Canon C15 and Canon A5. I will not rehearse the arguments here. Just to say here about Andrew’s “If anyone really believed that the 39 articles were a very good and effective witness then it would be akin. But nobody does believe that”. Clearly CEEC think they are important and true, and so do Anglican Theologians like Dr. Martin Davie and Oak Hill theological college.
    Phil Almond

    Reply
  9. I don’t believe that Tom Wright is what should be thought of as an evangelical. For reasons listed in the article but also because of ways in which his behaviour seems to express unfamiliarity with the heart of the gospel (such as for example in considering the idea that Covid could be God’s judgment to be ridiculous).

    https://christiantheology.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/is-n-t-wright-a-christian/

    It is tempting to consider people evangelicals because intellectually they are superior – their knowledge of the data outdoes ours. I think that when it comes to John Stott that we could also be inclined to make this mistake. He writes books like The Cross of Christ which receive acclaim but then leads the effort for those considered to be evangelicals to stay in the C of E instead of leave – when leaving conforms with the ordinary teaching of scripture and recognises that God’s holiness still counts for something – it means that grace doesn’t cover those who profess a faith while being committed to primary wrongdoing.

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/evangelical-history/50-years-ago-today-the-split-between-john-stott-and-martyn-lloyd-jones/

    Reply
      • Ian
        Sorry to but in. I need to catch up reading all the posts. But just to say that in my view the question ‘who is a true evangelical’ is not the right way of looking at it. The underlying question is: what are the truths of Christianity, the true doctrines. Those who claim the label ‘evangelical’ for themselves disagree about various things as Thomas Renz is pointing out; e.g. (in no particular order) Womens Ordination, Penal Substitution, Eternal Punishment for the unsaved/Annihilation, Effect of the Fall, Human Sexuality. Depending on our convictions on these disputed topics and the views held by e.g. Tom Wright and John Stott, we consider them either right or wrong in their view on particular topics. For example I think you are right about Human Sexuality but wrong about Ordination of Women and Penal Substitution. This all becomes very important if at the end of LLF conservatives want to distance themselves from what is decided. I want to post again on this important question.

        Phil Almond

        Reply
      • The suggestion, I think, is that N T Wright is not even a Christian. But then again, the article Philip Benjamin links to calls Tom Wright “Christianity’s most controversial figure”. Which is hilarious!

        Reply
        • Sadly those few words are all that Andrew feels the need to say for him to consider himself to have been responsible in engaging.

          Reply
          • No Philip. There are many more words that could be said, but sometimes only a few are necessary. When one group of Christians start writing off others as not really Christians, then it represents a failure. Something has gone wrong and there needs to be a reset. That’s all that needs to be said.

          • No Andrew – finding a few words which either may be – or are not – correct doesn’t negate all the ideas expressed in the article. You reveal in your latest comment that whenever a Christian coming to the conclusion that some other person who claims a faith is not a Christian (or is not to be treated automatically as if they are) they are “writing someone off”. If there was no freedom to consider these things anyone who said they believed yet believed ridiculous things and did anything imaginable would have to be considered by you to be a believer. I feel stupid engaging with you Andrew because your ideas are just an extension of your choices (you choose to embrace anyone in the C of E and outside who says or does anything yet professes a faith – you will at this point say that’s rubbish as you have in the past – that I am attributing ideas to you which are not true – but then fail to give any proof of your beliefs being any different to that) – but I do so for the benefit of anyone who is otherwise inclined to agree with you.

          • I spoke of groups – not individuals Philip.
            People are free to believe whatever ridiculous things they may like. If those things present a danger to themselves or others – and I agree that hate crimes fall in to that category – then law must intervene. Judgements of a more eternal kind are not ours to make.

      • Correct. Before you read on can I point out though that I only posted this when as a result of a delay in the moderation of my other post I thought you had refused it and I wrote this one. But you did end up accepting it. To know where I am coming from I suggest that you first read my reply to your reply to it and then return here as I think it shows where I am coming from at a deeper level.

        As I explain elsewhere those who profess a faith should not hold to beliefs until they have found them to be relationally true. As part of that my faith starts at the cross – there is no way to become right with God – to have insight concerning any of scripture – without first coming into relationship with God by bowing – dying – at the cross. From there nothing that is inconsistent with the cross gets to enter the library of what is considered to be true. That means for example that penal substitution relies on no other truths in scripture to be rightly understood. The only preparation for receiving it is God revealing to us even before we believe that there is a standard, that we fall short of it, and he shows in creation that he is merciful. If someone builds their faith starting in another place as Wright does you will end up with very different results. This has to be part of what is considered relevant to being an evangelical.

        It’s not particularly radical to consider someone not to be an evangelical because their actions contradict their words (I’m referring to John Stott here). Stott is just an early precursor to what we have now – even people like Tim Keller tweet ideas these days like this (the tweet below posted in the last week):

        “Sex, as prescribed in the Bible, is a way of saying, I see all of your imperfections and I am still completely, exclusively, and permanently committed to you. You are naked to me in all ways, and I still accept you forever”.

        He presents godly love as if it is without condition – as if it has annihilated God’s holiness and justice. God’s love is absolutely pure – overwhelming – but not unbounded.

        Reply
          • Hello again Phil, having read much of Keller with a number of his books and also listened to much, it is in in the context of it all, the that the tweet should be set. He doesn’t espouse a liberal sexuallity but press on a changed life, life transformation. I’d suggest the tweet needs to be read in the light of all he’swritten and said in relation to the while canon of covenants, covenant and promise keeping God.

          • Geoff, at no point did I suggest that Keller espouses a liberal sexuality.

            I am suggesting that he – and many preachers now – speak about God’s love as if it is not framed by his holiness and justice.

        • For what it’s worth I am disappointed with the way in which my comments have ended up not being made in a single place in a coherent order (I explained above that there was a delay before my first submission was posted and I thought it had been refused). I ask that those seeking to understand me read all of them before commenting on any of them. Thank you.

          Reply
        • Hello Again Philip B,
          Keller here is setting sex exclusively in the context of male and female husband and wife marriage. And it is to be read in the light of that covenant faithfulness. To read it any other way is a gross misrepresentation, I’d suggest.

          Reply
          • My point about Tim Keller’s tweet Geoff is not that it implies same sex marriage is acceptable but that he implies that marriage is an unconditional commitment – it isn’t – it is like our relationship with God – if we turn to idols it will destroy the relationship.

            Jonah 2:8 ESV
            Those who pay regard to vain idols
            forsake their hope of steadfast love.

            People think that God’s love for us is unlimited (not bounded by his holiness and justice) because they read verses like Romans 8:38-39:

            ESV
            For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

            But these verses only say that nothing IN CREATION can separate us from God’s love. They don’t say that we cannot turn away from God’s love or that God cannot choose to separate from us.

            Earlier in Romans 8:31 it says:

            If God is for us, who can be against us?

            The verse leaves open the possibility that God himself is not for us.

        • Hi David,

          Obviously some kinds of failure are considered proof that someone’s expressed beliefs should be doubted. The question is when.

          There are two types of sin – there is failure that arises from planning to do wrong – setting the course of one’s life so that failure is inevitable. And then there are failures of execution – where one plans to do right but fails due to human weakness. Grace only covers the latter kind of failure – it doesn’t cover those who profess a faith but who plan to do wrong. If it did then grace would cover every person on the planet who set their lives to defy God. Those who plan to do wrong can still be forgiven if they repent – but this is a different thing to saying that such failure is covered by grace. It is not.

          I don’t think that Stott’s choices – whether he chose to unite or separate with those living out liberalism – are made under any kind of enslavement or duress. The question then is what is the most favourable interpretation of his actions in respect of his motives. The best I can come up with is that he believes that it is not inconsistent with faith for Christians to persist in relationship with those committed to wrongdoing because doing so will have the effect of causing them to change. But how could Stott hold this belief without it also being true for him – without his believing that God is similarly committed to him even as he remains committed to wrongdoing. I therefore conclude that his advice to other vicars here and the decisions he chose to make were a failure of personal experience of the holiness of God. I think this kind of failure is sufficient to question whether he was at heart an evangelical.

          Reply
        • ‘I therefore conclude that his advice to other vicars here and the decisions he chose to make were a failure of personal experience of the holiness of God. I think this kind of failure is sufficient to question whether he was at heart an evangelical.’

          I think that is an astonishing claim. And I think you will find yourself in a minority of approximately one in believing this. It really is incredible.

          Reply
          • But it’s simply another step on from those on EGGS who forced out other members because they didn’t have the right view about human sexuality. Charles Read was another and he comments about the dreadful CEEC video:
            “I am one of those evangelicals who was pushed out of the evangelical group at GS when EGGS changed its constitution to say there was only one view (for evangelicals) on same sex partnerships and on gender identity. If you deem those who disagree with you as heretics, then of course you can say, that ‘all evangelicals agree…’.
            I could go on at length about e.g. women teaching on this video when many in CEEC / on the video think they should not because the Bible is clear on this matter. But I won’t .
            And it is a great exercise in shooting yourself in the foot…… This video will only serve to confirm to people like that (of whom there are lots in the Church of England) that they do not belong and are not welcome in the evangelical fold.”

            It’s a dangerous game.

          • I note that in expressing disagreement with my ideas that you didn’t criticise their reasoning. And for some reason bothered to mention that few would agree with me. You aren’t engaging with what I said.

          • No, Philip, I am not. I think your views are quite eccentric, and you are posting at length. It would be great to give others a bit more space. We are not going to be persuaded by a great weight of comment. And if you are not aware of how very far away you are from the centre weight of evangelical thinking here, I am not sure how I can help you.

          • Andrew G: being clear about what Scripture says isn’t ‘a dangerous game’.

            You omit to note that Charles Read himself confesses that ‘I let my membership lapse’. So he wasn’t sufficiently interested even to continue to engage. And, as I have pointed out elsewhere, the leadership were careful and cautious in making this move, and prepared by doing a straw poll of existing membership, 95% of whom had no hesitation in expressing support for this view before it became a formal part of the statements.

            The video has now been viewed 30,000 times. I don’t think that the majority here are watching in horror or dismay.

          • “Andrew G: being clear about what Scripture says isn’t ‘a dangerous game’. ”

            And nowhere do I say it is. What perverse twists of people’s words you are inclined to make. The dangerous game is judging who does and doesn’t belong in the evangelical fold – as is clear from the post I make above.

            30, 000? Tiny number. Maybe they, CEEC, and more especially Christian Concern – will heed the timely warning from the Bishops of London and Coventry.

          • It may be all three Ian (astonishing, incredible, and leaving me in a minority of one). But at least I give my reasons for my view and to this point no-one has questioned the logic of my views on ANY of the following:
            – that egalitarianism should not be considered within the realm of evangelical beliefs if it relies on reproduction being the reason marriage must be between a man and a woman (unless egalitarians are willing to also support same sex couples using surrogates and being parents of adopted children)
            – that Calvinism doesn’t appear at least to me – I asked for feedback – to be linkable to the character of God and yet it reaches to primary beliefs about the character of God. See my reasoning elsewhere.
            – that people’s actions must in some situations cause their expressed beliefs to be called into question (and I gave my reasons for why I believe it is valid to do this with Stott)
            – that it isn’t right to talk about God’s love in a way that annihilates his holiness and justice (I made this point because this is fundamental and yet even those considered to be evangelical giants either no longer hold – or never held – to this belief.
            – that Tom Wright (the author introduced Stott and Wright to the discussion – not me) starts his understanding of faith at the whole bible instead of starting at the cross and viewing the Bible from the perspective of the cross. And that this will change the whole nature of how someone will perceive what it means to be a believer.

            I find no comfort from my proximity to the views of evangelicals nor discomfort from being far from them. It is my duty as an evangelical to do neither of those things. I cannot call myself an evangelical if I don’t place the highest value on the reasons for my views and the reasons others provide for their views. To consider whether people are already viewed as being part of the evangelical club is to be un-evangelical in one’s thinking.

          • Philip Benjamin,
            Returning to the opening title of this thread, I confess to be struggling to understand what you consider an individual has to believe in order to be classed as an ‘evangelical’ Most of what you have written is around what you do not consider an evangelical to be.

            I assume from your writings that you do consider yourself to be an evangelical – am I correct? I am also unclear if you also regard yourself as a Calvinist. Could you clarify this for me also please?

            If so, for clarity could you *summarise* for us all, what you personally would class -to your mind,- as an individual being truly ‘evangelical’ ?
            How would you recognise them?

            Or alternatively, would you say that no precise definition is ever possible?

          • Hi Chris,

            Thank you for your question. Sorry it has taken me time to notice that your comment was directed to me.

            I think that the key component of being an evangelical relates to sin and the components of faith which are fundamental to our being saved from sin.

            An evangelical is someone who has come to understand that from a spiritual perspective without God they are blind. God has shown them that they are unable to understand anything about themselves from a spiritual perspective or about him or about the world around them (from a spiritual perspective) without his revealing it. Because it is only possible to see with God’s help it becomes necessary to turn to God first on all spiritual matters.

            This idea has implications. Since the means by which God reveals to us our sin/blindness is scripture we have little choice but to believe it more authoritative than we are. We must conclude that if God was willing to speak to us authoritatively through the Bible once he must be willing to do it more than once. There are intellectual reasons for believing the bible is the word of God (Jesus rose from the dead – proving that he is God – he believed the Old Testament is the word of God – and he promised to reveal his word through the disciples who refer to some letters written after Jesus’ death as scripture) but at the foundation of being evangelical is an experience of God that relates to our sin/blindness and the capacity and therefore authority of God to speak into that self-delusion/blindness.

            A range of beliefs from scripture arise from this base – a range of beliefs which are fundamental to faith and to our being saved:
            – God’s being holy
            – Our being sinners
            – The fact that God is just and punishes sin
            – Judgement/hell
            – Mercy
            – Jesus being God and man (and therefore being a bridge between God and man)
            – Jesus rising from the dead
            – Jesus death opening the door to relationship with God through his taking our punishment for sin and through our dying with Jesus and his resurrection in us.
            – The in dwelling of the Holy Spirit which is fundamental to our being able to please God.

            But all these things arise from the first dimension which has been lost – we have lost the foundation and now only have the tick boxes (without the foundation we don’t know how to rightly apply the tick boxes) – our beliefs arise from God authoritatively revealing our sin/blindness and our need of him. Only a person who has come to see the holiness, justice, mercy and grace of God FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THEIR SIN is saved. It is impossible to have a revelation of who God is without starting from the cross (there is no relationship with God until we begin at the cross) and from the starting point of our sin.

            I have made the point elsewhere that the actions of all of us must be considered evidence of whether in our hearts we believe some of the things I have listed above. There are many whose beliefs tick boxes but whose behaviour doesn’t arise from living out our only true identity as saved sinners before a holy, just, merciful and gracious God.

            I explained elsewhere that in the case of both Stott and Wright that there are reasons to question whether by the definition I have laid out above they should be thought of as evangelical.

            If my comments leave you with questions by all means ask and thank you for your question.

          • Yes Chris I consider myself to be an evangelical.

            Regarding Calvinism I am struggling with Calvinist provisionist questions. I am not fully settled either way. My chief issue is whether I am required by God and scripture to TRUST that God’s saving some and not others is consistent with his being unchanging in all his attributes and therefore unchanging in mercy (if he is unchanging in mercy we would expect that he would be merciful towards all people and in all events – I am therefore left without anything in his character to explain his saving some people and not others – I’m not saying God had to save anyone to be merciful – I am saying I cannot account for the DIFFERENCE in who is forcefully saved and who not). I also don’t see why when God could simply give us the freedom and sufficient desire to choose him that he must force us to choose him – that he must remove our ability to refuse him – when more than one passage of scripture implies our having power to refuse him. See 2 Pet 2:20, 2 Thess 1:8 etc. Whilst it might seem lame to talk about God only giving us SUFFICIENT DESIRE to choose him without it overwhelming us this is the pattern I see in scripture – we obey God on the basis of limited insight into his mercy and grace and only as a result of obedience to we then come to know him more deeply. (See John 7:17, John 8:31. James 1:22).

            My view currently is that prevenient grace draws us – that it enables us to choose God without forcing us – and that we must respond to a revelation of God’s holiness, our sin and God’s justice BEFORE we see the fullness of his grace (as for example we see in how the thief on the cross responds to Jesus and then Jesus to him). Only once we exercise faith in God’s right to our life on the basis of his holiness and justice and our sin do we then see and stand in the fullness of his grace (Rom 5:2).

            In all of scripture God’s actions are able to be related to his heart and character. Is there good reason for why his saving some people and not others must be taken on trust (making our gratitude for salvation a matter of faith) – does the Bible give me good reason for why from a relational perspective this must be an exception?

          • Philip
            “I think that the key component of being an evangelical relates to sin and the components of faith which are fundamental to our being saved from sin.”

            Well, as a card carrying evangelical, I am not comfortable starting here. Yes, second gen Calvinists with their TULIP may have begun with human sinfulness, but the Gospel doesn’t. An Evangelical is a gospel person – experiencing & extending the gospel. The Gospel is never spoken of as a Gospel of Sin – but rather the evangel of God, evangel of Jesus Christ, evangel of the Kingdom. Of course Jesus death for our sins and our necessary repentance and faith in Christ are at the heart, but the start is not our sin but God – his movement towards us, his love, his action. Sin is not of a greater ontological order than God’s act of creation and his love for us – so the gospel must begin before sin.

          • Hi Simon,

            Thanks for your reply.

            Yes the gospel is about God and his glory and sin is only revenant in as much as it can speak to the character and glory of God – but it must surely be fundamental to being an evangelical that no person can see the greatness of God except by being enabled by God and we cannot know the holiness, justice, mercy and grace of God – we cannot have saving faith – except from the perspective of our sin. That was the problem with those to whom Jesus said in Matthew 7 “I never knew you”. They had faith – they moved in the supernatural – but they didn’t have PRIMARY knowledge of God – they didn’t see God’s character from the perspective of their sin – they therefore weren’t repentant.

            There is no reason to look to the bible ahead of ourselves unless it is authoritative in speaking to us in a way that we are not in informing ourselves.

          • Thanks Philip

            we are not far apart, I’m sure – I agree that sin is central to the gospel – Jesus, Yahweh saves, saves us from our sins…. but he saves us Because he loves us and for union with him.

            Just as the Bible begins with God and not us, so I think God’s gospel begins with God and not us. I tense when I feel the gospel is weighted towards us and our sinfulness, rather than God who saw us from afar and loved us. Its about order – and weighting.

            I want to start with God’s creation of us, love of us, etc before his holiness/our sinfulness his rescue

          • We are indeed not far apart. Correct me if I am wrong you are talking about how to best frame the story. If I was seeking to share the gospel in a formal context I would likely start in the same place.

            Since we were asking what should be considered fundamental to evangelical belief I was focusing on the POSITION in which every evangelical we must be standing to rightly see what is primary about God and the gospel and to understand the nature of biblical authority.

            Have a good week and thanks for engaging.

          • One final observation – to speak of our sin isn’t to focus only on us. Our sin is only sin because it contravening the authority and character of God. Don’t interpret this statement to be me saying that we should not expressly establish in what we say God as the all powerful and holy God of the universe. Only consider me to be saying that sin when we rightly explain it is about more than us and what we do.

          • Thanks for your reply Philip

            Yes, I’m just nudging back at I thought you were suggesting, that “sin” defines evangelical gospel. I want to put the weight on God’s character not our condition. The gospel starts with God – his character of love and holiness and his desire for us.

            For sure – Sin is central to the evangelical understanding of the gospel: the first thing Jesus comes preaching is “Repent” – and Paul places sin central to his distilled gospel in 1Cor15: “the gospel – that Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures”.

            But the framing of this is the creator God who made us like him for him, and who goes out of his way in incarnation to rescue us from sin’s consequence ‘God so loved the world that he….’

            I am one of those old dinosaurs who still firmly believes penal substitution to be at the core of the gospel and the means for redemption from sin and reconciliation with God.

            However, I want both our sin and God’s judgment on sin on Christ at the cross at the cross to be framed within God’s love for us and desire for us to be with him forever.

            Whatever/wherever we weight our gospel, I think a focus on evangelism and conversion is the great mark of evangelicalism.

  10. I am interested in the comments about the Thirty-Nine Articles. I know plenty of people who really believe that the Articles have been a good and effective witness at the time and are still very serviceable. I am inclined to count myself among them. They did allow for Anglican clergy to be somewhere on the mainstream Reformed spectrum. Calvinists could sign up to them, even if they might be unhappy about some things left unsaid, but so could, arguably, Lutherans.

    From what I know, the Thirty-Nine Articles were still taught at theological colleges in the first half of the twentieth century. This perhaps ceased because the majority of Anglo-Catholics begun to disagree with them rather than argue that they can be read in a Tractarian way and a growing number of clergy stopped believing what the Articles affirmed for other (“liberal”) reasons.

    So as a matter of fact the Thirty-Nine Articles clearly do not bear witness to what Church of England clergy actually believe. (The majority of the laity never had to subscribe to them.) It could be argued that “evangelical” within the Church of England designates the group that is still comfortable with the Thirty-Nine Articles and the theology (!) of the Book of Common Prayer.

    (Exclamation mark for theology, because, on the one hand, there are many evangelicals who are less enthusiastic about the liturgy and language of the BCP, and, on the other hand, there are a number of non-evangelicals who love the liturgy and language of the BCP without loving its theology.)

    Reply
    • Time dims the memory…

      But…. I was at Oak Hill in the 70s for 3 years. The 39 Articles were known but not really taught. Possibly because they were not in hot dispute amongst evangelicals? David Wheaton taught Liturgy: Hugh Sylvester (later at Holy Trinity Platt) and Ian Cundy (who became the Bishop of Peterborough) both taught Doctrine.

      The “hot” issue in my time was the charismatic movement.

      I wonder if the realty is that they have only re-emerged as having importance as greater divisions have emerged.

      Reply
      • I suspect this was the case because following the Report of the Archbishops’ Commission on Christian Doctrine entitled Subscription and Assent to the 39 Articles ( London 1968) it became evident changes were afoot. ( The terms of Subscription had already been altered in the 1860s)

        Reply
      • Perhaps Ian it was because the Report of the Archbishops’ Commission on Christian Doctrine had published its report Subscription and Assent to the 39 Articles ( London 1968) and change regarding the terms of Subscription was clearly afoot. I am suprised though they didn’t figure in some discussion of the English Reformation though. Who was teaching Church History?

        Of course the terms of subscription had already been relaxed to some extent in the 1860s.

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  11. I’d be interested to see if anyone has done a study of what “evangelical” means in British culture (as opposed to church culture or American culture). I think for the moment it means “no idea – is it something religious?” which is probably harmless. But if it comes to mean “white and right wing” (which I think is its meaning in the US outside church circles) it will be time to find a new word.

    Reply
    • Ah yes, this is exactly what came to mind reading your article this morning; “Didn’t Alistair Roberts write a series on this?” and I was preparing to link to it myself as I read the comments. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy and value this piece as well. 😉

      Seconded.

      Reply
  12. Do any Christians (as a group) not believe in the ‘activism’ part of the quadrilateral for prticular activities?

    Also,m does the broad church believe in needing to be Born-Again?

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  13. Thomas Renz writes:……………………….
    “Precisely because our attitude towards the Bible is more fundamental and so more important than our attitude to same-sex relationships,”

    The flaw with this point of view is that ‘attitude towards the Bible’ is a general statement. What matters is the what the Bible teaches – in detail – the truths and doctrines; like same-sex relationships, the atonement, original sin, predestination, total inability, the ordination of women, whether preaching the gospel faithfully should include the Bible’s terrible warnings as well as the Bible’s wonderful invitations and promises. As I have said, evangelicals who all

    “receive the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the wholly reliable revelation and record of God’s grace, given by the Holy Spirit as the true word of God written. The Bible has been given to lead us to salvation, to be the ultimate rule for Christian faith and conduct, and the supreme authority by which the Church must ever reform itself and judge its traditions (CEEC Basis of Faith)”

    disagree about what the Bible teaches about all these things, some of which, in my view, are more fundamental, more important than the Human Sexuality disagreement. What needs to happen during the LLF process is that evangelicals face up to the fact that this is the case and start to debate how wide the doctrinal limits should be in any ‘organisational differentiation’ which may become necessary if at the end of LLF the church changes its Human Sexuality doctrine in a way that is unacceptable to a lot of evangelicals. It would be helpful if such a debate could be in the open, on the internet, not behind closed doors!

    Phil Almond

    Reply
    • The claim that “our attitude towards the Bible is more fundamental and so more important than our attitude to same-sex relationships” is another way of saying, e.g., that two people who agree that the Bible has intrinsic authority and trustworthiness and has been given by God as the ultimate rule for Christian faith and conduct and the supreme authority by which the church should judge itself, its thinking, and its traditions, but disagree in their take on same-sex relationships have something more fundamental and important in common with each other than two people who disapprove of same-sex relationships, one of whom seeks to submit to the intrinsic authority of the Bible, while the other hates the Bible. Would you not agree?

      Reply
      • Hi Thomas
        Yes I agree with that. But my post was pointing out that when “two people who agree that the Bible has intrinsic authority and trustworthiness and has been given by God as the ultimate rule for Christian faith and conduct and the supreme authority by which the church should judge itself, its thinking, and its traditions, but disagree in their take on same-sex relationships” the agreement of the two people on the Bible is meaningless because (repeating myself) “What matters is the what the Bible teaches – in detail – the truths and doctrines…”

        As I said your article raises the question of possible ‘organisational differentiation’ at the end of LLF and I was trying to point out that evangelicals disagree about several things, some (in my view) more important than the same-sex disagreement and evangelicals need to debate those more important things – like penal substitution and eternal retribution for the unsaved – debate them in the open, on the internet, not behind closed doors!!!

        Phil Almond

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  14. Thanks, Thomas, it’s good to have all those points put together.

    (trigger warning: this comment contains attempts at humour)
    Of course, the best ‘labels’ have always been provided by one’s opponents: Christians in the first century, Quakers in the 17th, Methodists in the 18th. I can’t imagine in the present conflict that Homophobes will catch on. Previously, labels have been forms of derision, such as Quakers, but being accused of homophobia is more sinister, carrying the insinuation of illegality. I don’t think ‘Evangelical’ derived from opponents although it has been a source of friendly mockery ( evan-jelly-moulds). I’m not sure why anyone handing out liberal doses of ‘phobe’ comment would wish to retain that label unless there are fifth column intentions.

    Equally, self-appointed labels end up with unintended consequences. I spent 20 years in a church in which the intention was to make it stand out from everyone else. That never sat well with me and I left eventually – it has now vanished. In the days when it was possible to have agreeable discussion and disagreement on the internet, I discussed ‘accepting evangelicals’ with someone who thus described themselves. I said it was a shame they couldn’t have thought of something better as it implied that the rest of us were ‘rejecting evangelicals’: a point he conceded (when did anyone last experience that!) A friend describes himself as a ‘red-letter Christian’: ones who concentrate on the words of Jesus in the bible. So when he tells me he has just read through the bible, I reply that it couldn’t have taken him very long.

    I’m really looking forward to the scenes depicted in Revelation where there are no more labels. I have backed right away from labelling anyone ‘they’re not a Christian’. That’s one thing the parable of the wheat and weeds at least teaches us. Dealing with divisive persons within congregations is a bit different: but does even that deserve the label ‘not a Christian’?

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  15. What defines an Evangelical and all those who are identified with the Truth and whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of the Life are set out in core emphases and practices of Evangelical Faith and Spiritualiy:

    1. The Finality and absolute Theological perfection of the LORD Jesus Christ.
    2. The Centrality of the Cross and the Power of the Blood.
    3. The Authority of Scripture.
    4. The Necessity of Conversion or Confession of Faith.
    5. The Assurance of Salvation.
    6. The Priesthood of all Believers.
    7. The Dependence on the Spirit and the Spirit Filled Life.
    8. The Commitment to Mission and Social Justice.
    9. The Call to Holiness and the Healing of the Human Heart.
    10. The Triumph of the Resurrection.

    If you cannot identify with all of the above descriptors you are not Evangelical. If you can you are…We will never give this up. This is a Revelation 12:11 matter and we mean it.

    Reply
    • It does not include the popular Theologian Molly Boot, who has been instructing and directing Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell in his development of a future vision for the Church of England, said in her response to Lee Gatiss commenting on Evangelical conviction and confession, in one of her more articulate statements on Theology in general said: “Absolutely F*** this” (expletive edited)

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  16. In one of his ‘Reflections of an Anglican Theologian’ titled ‘The Thing that Matters Most’ Dr. Martin Davie explains that he was prompted by Bill Clinton’s successful slogan ‘It’s the economy stupid’ to reflect on what should be an equally clear, brief slogan for the Church of England. He concludes:

    “When all is said and done, the Church’s core business is saving souls, and the only way that souls will be saved is if people come to realize that this life is not all there is, and that they need to put their trust in Jesus in order to avoid an eternity of damnation and enjoy an eternity of blessedness instead. The Church’s calling is to be God’s instrument to bring people to this realization, and for this to happen the leaders of the Church need to switch the focus of their message to the thing that matters most, the life of the world to come.”

    “It’s eternity, stupid”.

    Surely, then, to focus clearly on ‘The Thing that Matters Most’ the Church must believe, teach and preach both the terrible warnings, some from Christ’s own lips, as well as the wonderful invitations and promises to submit to Christ in his atoning death and life-giving resurrection, which are the two essential parts of the Gospel, the Church’s core message. As Warfield commented on Elijah’s experience in the cave,
    ‘….it is not the Law but the Gospel, not the revelation of wrath but that of love, which saves the world. Wrath may prepare for love; but wrath never did and never will save a soul’
    But wrath may prepare for love. And an honest, faithful preaching of the gospel has to include that warning. After all, Christ and his apostles gave us the warnings as well as the loving invitations and promises. The Church needs to believe and teach and preach both to be faithful.

    Only thus can the Church as a whole say with Paul, ‘Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God’; only thus can the Church as a whole take seriously the solemn warning God gave to Ezekiel that the appointed Watchman who ‘does not blow the trumpet to warn the people’ will be held accountable by God for the blood of the unsaved.

    With the publication of the LLF material the Church is about to spend considerable time and effort on the Human Sexuality disagreement. This disagreement is important. But it is definitely not “The Thing that matters Most”. What matters most is that the whole Church should believe, teach and preach both parts of her core message, the terrible part and the wonderful part, and the failure, as I see it, of the majority of the Church to preach the terrible part – the warnings.

    The LLF disagreement and this more fundamental and more important (as I see it) failure are linked: by the doctrine of the Fall and Original Sin. So I think that the present LLF situation is an opportunity for those who agree with me to challenge the rest of the church, both evangelicals and non-evangelicals about this most serious failure. I realise it is easy for me to suggest this challenge – I am not dependent on the Church for my livelihood and I have not promised to be obedient to any Bishop in all things lawful and honest. But I want to see that challenge take place, because I want those I dearly love to hear that warning, not just from me, but from the whole Church, before there is any talk of going separate ways on the sexuality disagreement. Put it this way: suppose at the end of the LLF process the church reaffirms the ‘traditional’ view on Human Sexuality. That would leave this most fundamental and most important failure unaddressed.

    According to General Fuller’s account of the battle of Waterloo in ‘Decisive Battles…’ there came a moment when ‘Napoleon still had in hand eight battalions of the Old Guard and six of the Middle, and had he sent to Ney but half this force, Wellington’s centre must inevitably have been overwhelmed…..’. But the decisive moment passed.

    I suggest that if evangelicals are ever going to challenge the rest of the Church about what she believes and preaches about Original Sin, the need to preach the warnings as well as the Good News, about wrath and retribution – this is the decisive moment to do it, by pointing out in the LLF debates that LLF is part of a wider, deeper issue. I suggest writing an Open Letter to challenge all ordained Ministers, including Bishops and Archbishops, and please, please, let the ensuing debate be on the internet open to all, and not behind closed doors.

    Phil Almond

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  17. To claim the label ‘Evangelical’ is a statement of intent, not a statement of confession/creed. It is too broad a label, it’s definitions too accommodating, to be of much use in classifying peoples’ doctrinal leanings….

    I find this whole discussion as interesting as it is exasperating, and moreso with every year.

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  18. “To claim the label ‘Evangelical’ is a statement of intent, not a statement of confession/creed. It is too broad a label, it’s definitions too accommodating, to be of much use in classifying peoples’ doctrinal leanings….”

    I think you nail it Mat.

    Reply

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