Catholics out scriptured by Anglican conservatives

January 4, 2008

I rage about so much about the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell that it’s easy to forget the Anglican Archbishop of that city, Peter Jensen can be equally horrible:

OUTSPOKEN Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen is galvanising opposition to homosexuality in the church, in the lead-up to an unofficial meeting of conservative bishops in Jerusalem.

As rifts in the worldwide Anglican Church threaten to become a schism, the Sydney Archbishop said American Anglicans had become missionaries for homosexuality in defiance of the Bible and Anglican teaching.

I guess it goes to show that American religiosity is not all fundamentalist biblical literalism. Good for them.

Earlier, in a statement, Dr Jensen said: “Some American Anglicans are as committed to their new sexual ethics as to the Gospel itself, and they intend to act as missionaries for this faith, wishing to persuade the rest of us.” He said the rest of the Anglican world must be vigilant to guard the teaching of Scripture. “The problems posed by the American church are not going to remain in America.”

Dr Jensen told The Age the worldwide church had irreversibly changed. Since the Americans defied the world’s bishops in 1998 and the Bible by endorsing same-sex unions and consecrating a gay bishop, Lambeth had lost its authority, he said.

Both atheists and moderate theists have long argued against the logic of scriptural literalism, with Christian moderates re-interpreting or labeling as anachronistic biblical strictures that do not fit with our societies constantly evolving modern moral zeitgeist.

We don’t stone people for working on the Sabbath, we don’t label menstruating women unclean, and we don’t execute disobedient children – all of which are supported by literal biblical scripture. And yet many religious groups subscribe to a belief in the inherent immorality of same sex relationships, based on scripture possessing the same authority as that prohibiting the eating of shellfish and supporting the appropriateness of treating of women as property.

In a country supposedly built around core ideals of religious*, political, racial and cultural plurality I find it difficult to understand how this kind of discrimination based on sexual orientation is tolerated, because it’s plain unjust regardless of where it is written or who preaches it.

* And non-religious. Of course.


5 Responses to “Catholics out scriptured by Anglican conservatives”

  1. tobias Says:

    dave, check out the new testament, it comes after the old. Romans 1:27 is pretty clear: “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” try and twist THAT to suit your purposes

  2. Dave Says:

    (1) I’m an atheist. I do not subscribe to the moral truth of any magic books – how is that quote supposed to convince me of anything?
    (2) The new testament also endorses slavery. Does that have equal weight?

  3. Kieran Says:

    (1) I agree with Dave. Tobias quoting the bible to those who do not regard it as the word of God is just as useful as him handing you “The God Delusion” and expect you to become an atheist.

    (2) Actually it’s a common misconception that the New Testament endorses slavery. How much of the bible have you actually read?? This is not to attack you; but merely out of honest curiosity.

  4. Dave Says:


    To be honest I’ve mostly flick read it, not as a structured narrative.

    Specific examples aside though, I was trying to illustrate that the Bible is a very old document, with a confused lineage, numerous translations and anachronistic prose. With these things in mind, a reader could potentially tease out a variety of alternate interpretations to make a specific argument.

  5. Kieran Says:

    How does someone judge the age of a document? It’s an important question, especially when you have conspiracy theorists contending that events did/didn’t happen (holocaust deniers come to my mind). Slashdot has had posts about what will happen to digital artifacts as technology moves on.

    I would contend that if the document details an event(s) of a time period of which no-one is left alive then we must judge the recollections of the event not only based on the document, but the number of copies that exist, and the time they were written in relation to the event. Obviously the sooner after the event the better. This also is the consensus of historical academics (to the best of my knowledge/reading).

    Compare 7 copies of Plato’s work, the earliest being dated at 1200 years after his life, 10 copies of Julius Caesar’s works, 1000 years after his life, and 24000 copies of the New Testament works written 40-90 years after the life of Jesus of Nazareth (non-bible sources can also included in this time period.)

    Therefore a person could argue that while the bible might be considered to old chronologically, given the volume of material that we have today, modern English translations can be seen to be quite accurate.

    Unfortunately you get people who profess to be Christians doing some God awful things in the name of God; and thus twisting the bible to suit their own selfish (and not very God like) ends. Something that you despise and I with you. The trick is really to filter out the religious nuts.

    Of course at the end of the day one can claim historical authenticity of the bible; the discussion of “the word of God” thing is best left for another post 🙂 However the contention I’d like to leave is that while people do twist the bible to suit their own purposes/agendas, due to the surviving material we can can go back to the original recorded words of Jesus/apostles and (assuming a Christian point of view) compare what people say vs what God thinks.

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