Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bryden Black Responds to Tobias Haller


On Anglican Down Under, through recent posts in late August, early September 2013, an intense theological debate (IMHO, of the highest quality) was conducted through Comment threads, particularly involving Bryden Black (NZ) and Tobias Haller (USA). Specifically, in terms of their interchange, in the thread of comments following this post, here.

Below, Bryden Black takes up a particular challenge made by Tobias Haller to Bryden's 'line of argument'.

Peter Carrell.

Bryden Black writes:

Well Tobias, how best to move forward by a step something of what we have addressed/tried to address under this thread?

I’ll select only three elements for simplicity’s sake.

1. Evoking premises and/or systematic approaches is laudable to be sure at first blush. There is of course that famous opening para by Rowan Williams in his contribution to The Way Forward?, where he points to “beginning from the same premisses” and then our “concluding” rather differently. Something I have observed in such cases is that often we (i.e. folk generally) colour those supposed common premisses rather differently in fact. Approaches to Scripture and its interpretation leap to mind in our current Communion debates. I’ll come lastly to one such element in this comment. A second line has to do with your own ideas re the “systematic”. I’d raise two points here.

Firstly, as has already emerged on this thread (and also in R&H), systematic in your hands often tends to mean ‘abstract’; just so my own insistence (via the subjunctive exercise initially but not solely) on the temporal dimension of “reality”. I have found it far more rewarding to try to not abstract one’s approach from the sheer historical nature of our world, both generally and especially re our own mortal and moral lives. To that effect, I particularly appreciate this comment of Jenson’s: “God does not create a world that thereupon has a history; he creates a history that is a world, in that it is purposive and so makes a whole.” Which comment directly precipitates the second point: what passes for the systematic, the rational has a cultural historical context itself, as clearly evidenced in Pope Benedict’s Regensburg address of September 2006.

Despite their best efforts, the media totally missed his main points, one of which precisely concerned “the reduction of the radius of science and reason” to the instrumental by much of the contemporary west (I’ll pick this up in another way very soon with what you yourself say/request). To wit, teleology as a genuine expression of the rational is very much eschewed; yet even in biology form and function coinhere (or did you miss my metaphysical shift to the language of “form” when you were discussing male and female vis-à-vis ousia/hypostasis?!). That’s enough on this first element. But I trust you can see by now there are many ways of actually being systematic and/or rational, just as there are a plurality of premises in actual fact. We shall all have to await the Parousia for that universally understood and understandable and acknowledged ‘premise’; meanwhile, as Sykes correctly observes in The Identity of Christianity: Theologians and the Essence of Christianity from Schleiermacher to Barth (1984), we are left with the inevitably contested nature of Christianity’s identity, where both methodological questions and matters of substance go hand in hand.

2.1 Gen 1& 2. Any student of OT101 will soon be introduced to major motifs of Hebrew poetry, parallelism being to the fore. Lines in apposition will complement, or contrast, or amplify, etc. Only this last w/e in MP did we have Deut 32:1-12! Modern EVV of Gen 1:27 and 2:24 will indent these verses to help make the point they are forms of poetry:

So God created (the) adam in his image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female (nouns) he created them.

 The first two poetic lines are also a chiasm, stressing the expression image of God. Just as you Tobias correctly want to point out the parallelism formed by the second line ending in a singular and the third in a plural, so too do I wish to point out how lines two and three are similarly parallel in how they begin: the image of God // male and female. My entire thesis (nor am I alone in this; far from it!) springs from this sheer textual observation, which frankly is a no-brainer! The difficulty of course is what we (can) draw from this textual observation, that “image of God” and “male and female” are in strict apposition, thus interpreting one another. What indeed constitutes the next forward step?

Sure; much of the Tradition has tried to locate “image” language in some quality or capacity of the human. Your quote from Augustine re Ps 49:20 is delightful! Yet Wenham is surely correct to point out: “In every case there is the suspicion that the commentator may be reading his own values into the text as to what is most significant about man.” Just so, Plotinus and the entire neo-Platonic tradition sought to locate this special human something as precisely those interior qualities Augustine prizes; other Greek ideas spoke of some divine spark. Now; I don’t see anything wrong exactly in this approach; it sort of works, and sort of explains how the next verse might operate: “dominion” is realized by means of such capacities. Yet the stubborn parallelism of the text remains, with male and female interpreting the image of God. Hence the Barthian notion ...! Yet even he needfully qualifies his interpretation: “There can be no question of anything more than an analogy. The differentiation and relationship between the I and the Thou in the divine being, in the sphere of the Elohim [the Son being the eternal “counterpart” of the Father], are not identical with the differentiation and relationship between male and female.” Which remark brings me necessarily to a canonical reading.

Sure; there are intertextual readings to consider as well: Jesus quoting Gen 1& 2, and running them together. Or re-reading Matthew once we’ve realized the end notion of baptism in the triune Name, ch.28, prompts us to better appreciate the subtlety of Matt 3; or ch.1's “Immanuel” // “Behold I am with you always ...”; and then we’ve to richly conflate these summary key theological ideas that are the Gospel’s bookends. But richer again is the sheer grammar of the NT that gives rise to Trinitarian doctrine proper: ‘God’ = Father Son & Holy Spirit. What then might be “the image of God” in which human being is created, when we read back into the OT this NT conclusion? The stubbornness of the sheer text of Gen 1:27 demands this question and its probable answer that Imago Dei evokes the triune deity - analogously.

Thereafter, Rahner’s conclusion: “Grace gives rise to not-appropriated relations of divine persons to man.” Or Jenson’s summary: “The one divine ousia, the varied sharing of which distinguishes Father, Son and Spirit, and the varied sharing of which qualifies their joint act as God, is ...” (emphases original). I.e. the idiomatic identities of Father, Son and Spirit are uniquely and specifically complementary - just so their respective idiotēs or proprium. Analogously, so too are the human forms of male-and-female, that which respectively indicates a male and a female human person - even if the sexual complementarity of men and women is not necessarily contingent on or reducible to procreation per se, though it naturally and/or normally involves it.

Gen 2:23. The JPS Torah Commentary on this verse delightfully picks up on this line of thinking in similar fashion: “in naming her ʾishah, he simultaneously names himself. Hitherto he is consistently called ʾadam; he now calls himself ʾish for the first time. Thus he discovers his own manhood and fulfillment only when he faces the woman, the human being who is to be his partner in life.” There is likeness between the two, the man and the woman, as you stress; yet this is not sameness but differentiation too - “opposite him”, ish/ishah. All the standard techniques of Hebrew poetry compressed into this verse prepare the way for the next verse: in the marital reality, the sheer word “husband” implies “wife”, and vice versa. As you wrote earlier: “But a husband is not a man because he is married; he is a man who happens to be married, and is therefore a husband.” Yet not quite so, since men and women generally also complement each other, not just quintessentially in marriage, together effecting the Image as per Gen 1. [This is one reason for me to endorse women’s ordination, biblically ...]

2.2. I will stand by my description of the doctrine of the Trinity “languishing” down the centuries, not least on account of such work as that of Rahner’s, who after Barth helped pioneer our current revival. For note his approach was not just “systematic”, it was an historical analysis, just as Jenson’s after him is resolutely historical, even theodramatic. I could cite many further contemporaries who reveal how the doctrine for centuries did not have that essential grammatical role it deserved upon theology and praxis generally, even as it was formally affirmed. Just one key corroborative assessment is that of Jason Vickers, who in Invocation and Assent: The Making and Remaking of Trinitarian Theology (2008) rightly locates Trinitarian speech in its setting of Christian initiation, which itself gave rise to the Early Church’s Rule of Faith. This matrix he then contrasts subsequently to those attempts during the Continental and English Reformation of the 16th and 17th Cs with their search for rational assent to this now established doctrine via the role of Scripture, which supposedly supplies clear and intelligible propositions of faith. All of which is one key stepping stone to the rise of Deism, etc. as he shows. For at root, it is one thing trying to claim in the abstract as you do a due form of Orthodoxy; it is quite another to actually engage with the historic and historical specifics of confession and belief and behaviour via concrete communities and their members (e.g. particular theologians!). All of which leads me to my third and final element.

3. You wish to focus our attention on “the area of pastoral or moral theology - which is where it seems to [you] the presenting issue lies”. Fine; but back to what I’ve tried to set up as the key framing of such an approach, in Regensburg, in forms of rationality, in ethical and moral reductionism (NB also Oliver O’Donovan’s opening chapter, “The Failure of the Liberal Paradigm”, in his Fulcrum series, “Sermons on the Subject of the Day”), in situating nothing less than my own moral premise now to be unfolded. For I do not think myself that we are actually dealing with a ‘New Thing’ today. What we are dealing with is the novelty of the demand to make kosher what has been hitherto considered an abomination, an Old Thing, symptomatic of our collective fallen broken human nature. Sure; there are countless rationalizations offered as to why this move might be akin to other seemingly similar moves: Gentiles versus Jews, liberation of slaves, etc.

You mention Tobias in passing that Gen 1 has an intertextual reference in Gal 3; I presume you mean Gal 3:28. However, is Gen 1:27 the driving force here in Gal, even as it probably echoes this text? Or is it rather “the threefold privilege for which a pious male Jew daily thanked God: that he was not made a Gentile, a slave or a woman—categories of people debarred from certain religious privileges”, as a commentator writes? Very helpful in understanding the significance of these religious and social categories of the day is Mark Strom, Reframing Paul: Conversations in Grace and Community (2000), Part 1, “Primary Reality & Everyday Reality: Ancient Frames for a Split World” (other sections are pretty helpful overall too). For the baptismal reality of being “in Christ Jesus” establishes something essentially novel, which nonetheless is but the fulfillment of the Creator’s intentions in the first place.

Romans 12:1-2 is my premise for any area of pastoral and moral theology and praxis that you or anyone else for that matter might wish to address. I choose this as it signifies the absolute fulcrum of Paul’s magisterial treatment of the Gospel. It also explicitly echoes, in v.2, the baptismal catechetical format of the NT Church. For there are at least four verses in the Epistles which suggest that very early the Church had a set pattern of basic teaching, by means of which it instructed its members. Rom 6:17 says that the Roman Christians “had obeyed from the heart (the) form of teaching to which (they) were committed/handed over”. EG Selwyn remarks: “the phrase connotes a limited course of instruction, which followed definite and settled lines.”

Both Eph 4:20-21 and Col 2:6-7 also allude to a given form of catechism, in which people “learned Christ”. More obvious is 2 Tim 1:13, which Selwyn paraphrases: “Have (i.e. have by you) a sketch or outline of the sound words you have heard from me, in the study we have had together of Christian faith and conduct (love).”

Overall, the NT baptisma (with its three elements, evangelical, sacramental and Pentecostal, Acts 2:38-9; yet which sadly we today have often torn apart due to various ‘traditions’ of “initiation”) precipitates a quite specific “form of teaching” which is evidenced throughout many parts of the Epistles. They are scattered throughout like tips of an iceberg; yet this only begs an enquiry into digging below the waterline to access and reconstruct the whole. [See EG Selwyn, The First Epistle of St. Peter (Macmillan, 1947), Essay II, pp.363-466, where he painstakingly collects the various texts in the NT and then constructs their overall “pattern” or framework via a form critical exercise - including BTW Eph 5 etc.]

In other words, my baptismal premise is somewhat more substantial than that of TEC’s as expressed in the “Koinonia Statement”, August 1994. It assumes, as does Rom 12:1-2, that there is a genuine tension between this age and the age to come, the one inaugurated by the Coming of the Kingdom of God in Christ Jesus, who embodies in himself the New Creation. It assumes - and I have had extensive pastoral exposure to this - that, while there will always be residual signs of the fallen old age in our midst, enough of the New suitably breaks into our lives to warrant the sorts of exhortations Paul is making here.

Nor should we miss the fact that these two verses link exegetically directly back to Rom 1:16ff, via worship motifs especially and their respective “spiritual/reasonable” expressions, notably via the “body’s” means as well (even as Rom 1 echoes the creation narratives generally, with particular male/female and man/woman references too).

It is one thing to uncover certain aetiological possibilities for such conditions as cancer of the bowel - something my own family and myself in particular know something about. It is quite another to then address such phenomena - in my case, surgery followed by chemo; or screening, etc. It is one thing to try to unravel the multifactorial aetiology of what we today term same-sex attraction or orientation. It is quite another thereafter to either give expression to this phenomenon, or to not do so. Yet the very phenomena (NB the plural) of multiple forms of same-sex erotic behaviours have been well known in many cultures down the ages: viz only Samoa today.

Nor do I reason St Paul was at all ignorant of these diverse expressions. His aetiology was almost certainly not quite as ours might be. And yet his counsel and the counsel of the NT Baptismal Catechetical Form in the face of such phenomena was and is immediate: put off/abstain! For you have been crucified and buried ... to walk in Newness of Life.

Now; we have to account for the social context of such commands, in the mutually accountable setting of the fellowship of members of the Church. The issue of the past 40 years, it seems to me, has been a failure on two fronts: the failure to morally support each other in our increasing transformation under the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, which support means both a strong call to holiness (sic - given the title of your own book) and moral purity, and an awareness that we all have various ‘weaknesses’ to be redeemed, together.

Given precisely such a twin dynamic, I can hear some call for a form of ‘monogamous companionship’ among members of the LGBT communities, who become Christian, as a means to address just this twin needed support in the area of ss-attraction. Yet I have had to conclude we should rather call such calls a tragic irony - given the explicitly gendered nature of the Imago Dei. Such unions will ever fall short of the created ideal, one that Jesus has now especially redeemed and seeks to transform yet further. The rationalizations often invoked are symptomatic more of the autonomous, humanist, individualistic, liberal ethics of recent European culture - back to “this age” of Rom 12:2 - where the cries of egalitarianism make absolutely no allowance for the clearly gendered differentiation of Gen 1& 2, and where freedom is mostly the opposite of due Christian libertas, or where postmodernity’s strong drift to homogenization does indeed exhibit more a gnostic androgyny!

What might one conclude from all this rich baptismal and catechetical NT data? I’ll let Louis Crompton summarize this third element: According to [one] interpretation, Paul’s words were not directed at “bona fide” homosexuals in committed relationships. But such a reading, however well-intentioned, seems strained and unhistorical [abstract?]. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstance. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any other Jew or early Christian. [Homosexuality and Civilization (Harvard University Press, 2003), p.114]


  1. Bryden, I fear you give me far too much to try to address; so this is not really was what I was after: simple statements, one argument at a time. You accuse me of being “abstract” but I find your style to be at times incomprehensibly florid.

    So I'll just briefly address the issue that Gen 1:27 is an example of parallelism, and the implications of your argument. You fail to note that there are several forms of parallelism in Hebrew poetry, and the one used here is not apposition, but in fact opposition or antithesis. The whole point of the shift from the singular to the plural is crucial. God makes humankind (adam, singular) in his image; and God makes both a male and a female – and the clause saying so explicitly drops the “image of God” language repeated in the first two clauses — the poetic link in all three is “creation” not “image.” The image of God is not referenced in the verse describing gender; the “image” isn’t “genderred” — on the contrary it is the male and the female who are. (God is One, without parts or division, and is not “constituted” by various forms being put together.)

    There are two possible ways to read this passage that take recognition of that fact:

    First, as Paul did in 1 Cor 11 (which I cited but which you appear not to have taken into account) that the male is God's image as made first (blending the 2d creation account) and the woman is man's image (much as Gen 5 records Seth as being in Adam's)

    Second, as the church has long received it (and which you appear to dismiss as some kind of neo-Platonic meme) that each individual person represents the image of God, and that this is situated not in the bodily form distinguished as gendered, but in the qualities that all humans share. This is also, of course, how the Rabbis understood the text, in terms of human dignity.

    What seems not to be possible is your reading: that the Imago Dei is "explicitly gendered" or “effects” the Divine Image.

    As I've noted, this reading also faces several objections:

    First, Paul's Gal 3:28 statement on "male and female" (note the kai not oude, a crucial point which directs us to Gen 1 explicitly). Some have posited, as you note, this as a rebuttal to the Jewish man's prayer; though there is debate that the prayer existed in Paul's time. Still, the concept may have been in his mind. However, this is unlikely as his use of kai rather than oude is meant to highlight a difference to the other two categories. It is the sex difference itself -- including in marriage -- that Paul declares to have lost its significance "in Christ." That is, the spiritual unity in Christ minimizes the distinctions (marked by “oude”) but transcends the bodily unity effected by marriage (marked by “kai”). This is not simply about three categories that no longer apply to an individual, but how unity is established where obstacles existed, and a typological but transient unity is transcended.

    Second, and more importantly, this reading fails to take recognition of Jesus Christ, the man from Nazareth, as the “express” and perfect Image of God. There is no need for a female to “complement” Christ as the perfect Imago Dei, any more than there is for any individual man or woman to be coupled in order to reflect, in each, the divine image.

    The foundation of your argument does not hold up. As I said, I find the rest of what you say here very hard to follow, but it does not seem to make any headway in support of your position, and just rehashes some of the usual objections to same-sex unions (such as that Paul wouldn’t approve, which may be likely but is irrelevant) which I’ve already addressed at greater length elsewhere.

  2. Hi Tobias / Bryden
    Thanks for a great response. I am enjoying this debate!

    Please note that I am about to take off for a funeral in Dunedin, getting back late tonight and may not be in a position to post any further comments for up to 24 hours.

  3. Greetings

    For this discussion to be of more use, Peter, it really needs to have the frame of what this is responding to. There is not even a link back to the discussion that this is part of. Better still would be to copy that discussion and paste it as the frame to start this one.

    Without diminishing the value of this kind of discussion, I will be very surprised to find either Bryden or Tobias changing their fundamental perspective through a discussion like this.



  4. You are right, Bosco, I cowered in fear of how many links I needed to find :)

    But am back now from the funeral and hope I can get to this later today.

  5. Sorry Tobias, but too busy initially to get around to your partial reply. Here are some similarly partial responses.

    Part A Genesis:
    1. What I wrote was: “Lines in apposition will complement, or contrast, or amplify, etc.” Your word, “opposition”, is hardly therefore not encompassed. Yet what exactly are the three lines of Gen 1:27 ...?!
    2. Of course “created” is dominant, as it gets repeated three times, in each line. Er; context ...
    3. That you try to refuse by mere assertion an interpretation I (and others) suggest does not actually rule out that interpretation: that “adam”, as the image of God, is “male and female”. I think a bit of your syllogistic style might have actually helped here! (... “adam” via the image of God is precisely “male and female” ... This is a perfectly possible construal of the three lines, together, and is the more plain reading, frankly.)

    As for your delightful quip, “God is One, without parts or division, and is not “constituted” by various forms being put together” - that is irrelevant and extraneous to my line of argument. How so? Of course the tradition would aver each individual human being as a bearer of the divine image, and this may be explained according to my schema in an equivalently analogous manner as the Trinity itself. To wit, while Jesus is wholly God and wholly human, as the Incarnate One, he is not the whole of God [the logic here is derived from the Patristic play with totus]; there is ‘more’ to God than the Son; there are the identities of both the Father and the Holy Spirit. Just so, analogously, human individual men and women, and the gendered Image itself. You are simply not allowing either the Trinity or the analogy to do their full work.

    Gal 3
    The crux is baptismal unity in Christ Jesus; on this we may agree. But what exactly is being unified? And what discounted now that was serving to erect barriers hitherto? For how did a woman previously enter into the Mosaic covenant, when only men could be circumcised? [BTW A threefold formula // to the one for which we’ve JEWISH textual evidence dates back as far as 6th C BC ...] You are right to highlight the formulation “male and female”,which departs slightly from the pattern of the preceding phrases, and which is probably due to the influence of Gen 1. But what’s the significance? According to Witherington, in alluding to Gen. 1:27, Paul’s intention is to assert, in opposition to the view of rabbinic Judaism that a woman must be connected to a circumcised male (husband or son) to ensure a place in the covenant community, that “in Christ, marriage, with its linking of male and female, into a one flesh union, is … not a requirement for believers”. In other words, while the barriers of ethnicity and religion and slavery operate in one way, the matter of gender functions differently. And while Gal 6:15 suggests the very notion of the previous demarcation of Jew/Gentile vis-à-vis covenant privilege is now voided in Christ Jesus, Rom 9-11 shows election per se is not destroyed: Gentiles are baptized into the Jewish Messiah. For does Paul envisage all aspects of “male and female” to be rendered void? Clearly their physiology is not altered or undone by baptism! Back to my opening questions therefore. What is to the fore are criteria for covenant membership - that is the “significance”. Any other arguments (from silence) are speculations and false extrapolations. At bottom: there is nothing in the entire Scriptures to suggest (like the gnostics) that in the Age to Come, gender among humans will be done away with - only that our human nature will be transformed, both as men and as women.

  6. Part B. Now for Christ the express and perfect Image. You try to make a real meal of this, especially via such things as the Chalcedonian Definition and elements of metaphysics. The first (part) answer is really rather simple: Messiah is already a representative figure; he represents all - men, women and children - pure and simple. Then secondly, the language of Ephesians led the likes of Augustine to construct the term totus Christus. The precise language of Eph 5 uses such terms as “as” (28), setting up a metaphorical relationship, that is then elaborated by “members” (30) - without forgetting 1:22-23 or 4:15-16. From all of which we might ask, what exactly IS the relationship between Jesus, the individual, and his individual brothers and sisters, his “members”, his “branches” [NB John 15 does not say Jesus = the trunk and we are fixed to it; rather, he is the entire Vine, the True Israel, and we are incorporated into it/him], the “cornerstone” (Eph 2:20) and other stones (cf. 1 Pet 2 also), etc, etc?? I.e We have simply a plethora of NT images and metaphors to describe this “mystery”, each with its distinctive focus and so application - unity, differentiation, activity, whatever. QED: what we may assert and what deny are functions rather of external agendas. And your agenda seems always to extinguish any gender differentiation ... and this despite natural and obvious indications to the contrary, textually, physiologically, and dare I say, spiritually.

    1 Cor 11. Tellingly, the text uses “headship” language before it echoes “image” and “glory” references. And then even more tellingly - the “nevertheless” - vv.11-12 spell out the situation NOW IN THE LORD. Frankly, we are both fully capable of reading, say, Thiselton or Fee for ourselves at this point, to see how Paul beautifully and artfully combines both creation logic with eschatological logic via subtle rhetorical artistry to establish mutuality, reciprocity - and differentiation.

    One last thing: re “florid”, do you have in mind some Mandelbrot set of fractals ...? They take time to enjoy, you know - and to tease out. We may not formulate them like some Manhattan espresso

  7. Bryden, the issue for me lies in trying to understand what your thesis is. It appears to me to be, from various things you’ve said, that the image of God is “effected” by male and female together; and that, further, this has something to do with marriage, and why marriage should be limited to couples consisting of male and female.

    I cannot accept your reading of Gen 1:27 for the reasons I’ve already laid out. No need to repeat them. What you regard as the “more plain reading” is not the reading of the tradition. That’s not to say your reading is impossible. My point has been that its novelty needs to rest on some explanation that actually supports it, and what I see from you is just an assertion, including that it is “plain.”

    What is plain to me, and is the traditional reading in both Judaism and Christian writing up through the 19th centure, is that God made Adam (the original human) in his image, and then created the woman from his substance. This is consonant with Genesis 2, and Paul’s reading in 1 Cor 11.

    Gen 1:27 says three things, the first two of which are, as you say, a chiasm, and the third of which is independent, subsequent, and in opposition. The plural indicates that both the male and the female were made by God (that is, there was no separate creation of woman by another creator). You raised the issue of the temporal: and here we have it: Adam first, then subsequently the woman; both created by God. But with no suggestion that the image of God is “constituted” by the two together. That is, the verse does not say either “God made them in his image” or “A male and a female he made in his image.” It deliberately and carefully avoids saying that, and brings the point home by using the singular for the image, and the plural for the couple. If the author had intended to say what you claim is “plain,” it could have been much more plainly said using either of the clauses I’ve offered above.

    I honestly don’t know what to make of your statement that Jesus Christ, as Son, is not “the whole of God.” Except to observe that that is the kind of Trinitarian error I suspected when you began to talk of God being “constituted.” Each person of the Trinity is wholly and completely God. There is no “more” to God the Trinity than there is to each Person. In Patristic terms there is only one divine ousia. I realize you find my use of metaphysical language unhelpful, but this is the “grammar” of the Godhead.

    As to Gal 3:28, the 6th c. BCE sources I know of are Greek, not Jewish. The earliest Jewish tripartite “saying” is from Paul! Rabbi Judah’s version is from the 2d century CE, and may have been a response to Paul, or to the Greeks, or have nothing to do with either.

    Paul’s point is not that gender is irrelevant, or that it will disappear (though we do assume slave status and nationality will, in the kingdom; and there is also no indication in Scripture that gender perdures into the life of the world to come.) However, Scripture is clear that marriage — as you rightly point out, the only way a woman could gain status in a 1st c. Jewish context — will cease to be “in Christ” — which also jibes with Jesus’ teaching that there is no marriage or giving in marriage in “the resurrection.” That, it seems to me, is what Paul is saying, too.

    I don’t see how that — upon which it seems we agree — advances your cause that there is something particularly revelatory of the divine in marriage.

  8. Most of your B comment is opaque to me. This is what I mean by “florid” as the first two paragraphs seem to full of all sorts of references but without a simple grounding statement of what they are about.

    I am affirming the teaching that Jesus is the express image of God. Your thesis — if I’ve got it correctly — keeps trying to insert gender differentiation into the “image of God” — and I don’t see how you reconcile that with the explicit maleness of Jesus. Jesus is not “male and female.” Yet he is the image of God. Therefore, male and female are not necessary to “constitute” or “effect” the image of God. That’s my syllogism. (I would also observe at the other end of reality, that male and female are what we share with animals, not with God.)

    I have studied the work of Mandelbrot and fractals. The complexity of the fractals arise from simple, clear formulae being iterated. In your writing, I see the complexity, but have trouble seeing the basic formulae that give rise to it.

    Somehow I think this would all be easier were we to be sitting at a table sharing a lager. We may not be as far apart as it seems given the nature of blogging, as I do detect some points of contact here and there. But what I do not see is how all of this has any bearing on the rightness or wrongness of same-sex marriage. I do not believe that same-sex marriage is any more a part of the “life of the resurrection” than mixed-sex marriage; or the image of God, for that matter. It is, for me, a question of human relationships, not cosmic significance.

  9. A. I’ll address only a few quick points:

    1. So you object to my all too strict a translation from the Latin of the same word totus; I’ll try again with more of a paraphrase: “each person is wholly God, and no one person alone is all of God.” Happier now! It is a Patristic tag, not mine! And I am perfectly happy with Nicene grammar ... It’s rather your sole use of only a few metaphysical terms in relation to Christology that I find inadequate, when there are many more in the philosophical armoury. However, the point of my recalling this totus tag is to point out how both a singular person = the image (as per Seth), and yet both-genders-together = the image also - analogously, as per matters Trinitarian.

    2. Your fourth para mixes a bit too freely the two Genesis accounts, in the first place (for eventually we bring them together - as does Jesus himself!).

    2.1 “...the third of which is independent, subsequent, and in opposition.” Here is the assertion on your part Tobias. It cannot be independent since “it/him” // “them”, as you and I agree. Next, the first two lines say the same thing, chiasmically, to endorse (a) created, (b) the image of God that is adam / adam = the image of God. Third, and subsequently, to make the additional further point: this adam/it/him = a male and a female. BUT this adam is ALSO still the image. And this line of parallel ideas is repeated in Gen 5:1-2. Hence the syllogism needed ... Oops! Nor is there any opposition, IMHO; singular and plural do not oppose each other; they richly interpret each other via these three lines of poetry: humankind is a specifically gendered form of being. That the tradition, with its penchant for interiorizing the image, for explicit cultural reasons, did not wish to exegete the text in this way is pretty well akin to foreclosing on any form of novelty and/or development. NOR BTW do I deny - to repeat - the value in their form of exegesis! It’s a case of both-and, not either-or.

    3. If we knew for certain what “headship” in 1 Cor 11 meant (and we can all read Thiselton et al), then it might be easier to understand the chain of ideas. But one thing is clearer: where Paul starts and where he finishes reveals a development, as I say, from creation to eschatology, and the nature of the community of the Church which fulfills persons rather than perpetuating something: just so, my summary, “mutuality, reciprocity - and differentiation”.

    3.1 “Messiah” per se is already a representative category. Secondly, the hypostasis of the Son/Logos, who assumes the an/enhypostatic humanity, constituting “one and the same” Jesus thereby, is also the One through whom ALL is created. Just so, his overall ability both to represent women and men, and to allow the full validity of a cosmic Christology as per Col. That he is male as opposed to female, etc., simply does not come into it (UNLESS you want to be a member of RCC!). The singular divine-human mediator has to become one gender, or the other! Lastly, can we assume that “image and likeness” in Genesis is absolutely equivalent to say Col 1:15 (cf. Heb 1:3)? Or has not the ANE setting of the former given way hugely to subsequent Graeco-Roman sensibilities?

  10. B.
    3.2 “Human Relationships”: well, of course! But these relationships are always concrete and among specifically men and/or women (barring the very few natural cases of hermaphrodites). And in expressing it in the way you do, you betray again the abstract style. Actually, we are either men or women, and such people are the ones in relationships.
    Then: “marriage”. I have a hang-up on this icon of the divine-human relationship because it is central to the Economy. A while back I envisaged a Q&A when presenting “Some Theses”.

    Q - Will there be marriage in the New Creation?
    A - No; the response of Jesus in Matt 22:30 & // is clear.
    Q - Will human being still be gendered in the New Creation?
    A - There is nothing in Scripture to suggest otherwise. Even the likes of Gal 3:28 does not imply otherwise. Rather, the scene from Rev 7, with its celebration of “every nation, tribe, peoples and languages”, completes the original covenant with Abraham that was to bring blessing to all the world with its dazzling created differentiation (Gen 12:1-3). Gal 3-4 speaks of this fulfilment of the global promise, indicating no social or religious marks of status or division count any more “in Christ Jesus”. This is the Christian baptismal reality, one that supercedes any claims to a priority of circumcision/torah, etc., which, as Rom 9:1-5 spells out very clearly, are indeed attributed to one set of human beings.
    Q - Why will there be no human marriages in the New Creation?
    A - Two reasons are uppermost. One: the archetypal marriage of the Lamb has arrived. Just so the self-description in Mark 2:19-20 of Jesus as the Bridegroom is a profound Christological title, fulsomely taken up in Rev 19ff; Eph 5:32 is not the only peg on which we may hang the key image of God’s people as the Bride or Spouse of God/Christ (see too Hosea, Song of Songs). Two: as the Lucan parallel, 20:34-38, to the question re marriage points out more fully, in the New Creation, human marriage, in as much as it provides for generational reproduction as an answer to human mortality, is no longer needed (v.36).
    Q - Why/how is it that God’s relationship with his people is likened to marriage?
    A - We are not dealing with a mere metaphor here. The sacramental ontology of the created order is vital to a richer appreciation of much biblical symbolism, not least this image of “marriage”. Indeed, with this question we approach the real nub of the issue facing the Church regarding same-sex relationships. [quote ends]

    Denying the inherent sacramental ontology of this world seems to me furthermore a severe betrayal of the Christian worldview. And in this way and in this way alone does the question of ss relations impinge ... This simple, clear premise naturally clashes with your desire to ignore the essentially differentiated nature of human being. And sure; if you’re a lager fellah and I’m ever in the Big Apple ...

  11. Your notes came to me reversed, so I address the second first:

    Thanks once again, Bryden. We may actually be making some headway here. However, I still don’t know what you mean by “abstract” – I’m being, to my mind, very concrete. I’m talking about actual human couples, same- or mixed-sex. This is not theoretical. I’ve a marriage certificate to prove it!

    That being said, I found your “catechetical” section most helpful. I think this form helps you to stick to the subject, which it the biggest problem I have following you at times.

    Moreover, there is very little to which I would take exception in this Q&A. I demur slightly from your assertion that “there is nothing in Scripture to suggest otherwise” than that human beings will be “gendered” in the New Creation. It depends in part on whether you think gender is “spiritual” or not, in Paul’s sense, concerning the “body of the resurrection” which is pneumatikon. And to what extent one believes the angels to have gender, as the redeemed are “like angels” according to Jesus in the saying on marriage; it may be a reference to immortality, but it could also refer to gender.

    In actual fact, gender difference is solely a result of the Y chromosome, which causes the development of morphological features characteristic of males. (I’m being very concrete here, and am content to remain agnostic on the question, to which Scripture provides no clear answer one way or the other! It boils down to the question of whether the soma pneumatikon, or the angels (some of them), has or have Y chromosomes — or chromosomes at all.)

    And I agree (or think I do) with your observation that marriage is used as a metaphor (not sure what you mean by “mere” or by “sacramental ontology”) for the relationship between Christ and the Church.

    However, if I understand your argument correctly, you appear guilty of “overthrowing the nature of a sacrament” (or a metaphor) by attributing to the type that which belongs to the antitype. You appear to me to be falling into the error of attributing things to “the creature instead of the creator” and are in danger of making a idol of marriage.

    Finally, no one (at least not I) is ignoring the essentially differentiated nature of human being. Every human being is essentially different from every other human being — and also essentially the same (in sharing a common human nature). You wish to preserve one aspect of “difference” (gender) as the sine qua non for human interrelationship in marriage but have not shown why the gender difference is essential to marriage. For, in fact, it isn’t — as a number of churches and even more secular entities have come to recognize.

  12. Now on to your “quick points”

    I’d love a source for your Patristic tag, “each person is wholly God, and no one person alone is all of God” as it seems to be a direct and pointed contradiction of, among other things, the Athanasian Creed. I’m having trouble understanding what you mean by “all of God.” God is not quantifiable or divisible, and is, as the Articles say, “without parts.” This is what I was getting at in refuting notions that God is “constituted.”

    As to Augustine’s doctrine of “totus Christus” – that the church is the body of which he is the head, that is fine as far as it goes. It’s not unlike Teresa of Avila’s “Christ has no hands but yours” — a vivid and powerful challenge to ministry! But of course, in that church, gender is irrelevant — the “body of Christ” on earth consists of men and women both, married (in both forms of marriage) and single.

    2. I actually do prefer to keep the two Genesis chapters apart, but you are the one who stressed “canonical interpretation.” The interpretation I give is that of rabbinic and Christian tradition, including Paul in 1 Cor 11. God made the man first, then the woman. The man bore the divine image before the woman was made; just as the New Adam is the perfect image: not “both genders together” as you wish to have it. The tradition forecloses this as well precisely to avoid anything like the “hieros gamos” or divinization of fertility that was common in the cults in the face of which the patriarchal faith had to define itself.

    2.1 By independent I mean that the Hebrew has three clauses, none of which says what you want it to say. You see your meaning woven in; I see it excluded, deliberately, by stating all of the accepted permutations and leaving out the one you would have liked to be there. The “plain text” does not say what you assert.

    3. I Cor 11 is admittedly one of the more troublesome bits in Paul, I’m not following you line of thought here. Paul introduces the reciprocity not of marriage but childbirth! (i.e., Eve came out of Adam, but every man is born to a woman.) You will get no argument from me that procreation requires male and female — but this whole discussion began with the disproven assertion that procreation is essential to marriage.

    3.1. Indeed so, which is also part of the relegation of marriage not to cosmic significance, but to an earthly phenomenon in which Jesus does not participate. He is male, but unmarried (or so it appears), and is free to enter into companionship and unity with his disciples, male and female, who become one in him (and not necessarily in pairs with each other!).

    3.1 You earlier pooh-poohed my effort to contextualize “image” in the ANE setting of a Middle Eastern temple, in which the “image” of the God is placed in the Holy of Holies. That is rather different to the Hellenistic language of Colossians. I would relate it more to the language concerning Caesar’s coin, which by implication indicates that what “is God’s” is stamped on every human being, just as Caesar’s image is stamped on the coin.

    So I cannot tell whether we are making progress. I’ve seen nothing here to persuade me I am mistaken, and you likely feel the same. I leave it for others to read, mark, and decide.

  13. Thanks Tobias and Bryden for first-class theological debate of the highest order.

    Re 'others to read, mark, and decide', I am following the debate carefully and working out when, where and what I might intrude into it ...

  14. Back from the Bigger Smoke of Auckland ... Orkland? Before three days out of town again. So one thing only (combining two of yours):

    If you return to Radner Undone thread - which I don't believe he has been for a moment, due to notably the essential integration of marriage and procreation - I think you've got me confused with others re the cosmic temple and John Walton's thesis to that effect - which I agree is one of the number of things that opening section of Scripture is revealing. Indeed, it makes once again the canonical observation that the sign of marriage between a male and female (Gen 1 AND 2 now!) becomes redundant at the Eschaton due to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19ff) the more ... significant (Temple imagery too is repeated and yet also transcended as is marriage 'typology'). For, thanks but no thanks: my sacramental theology is just fine, as is my appreciation of sacramental ontology ala ressourcement theology especially.

  15. Thank you, Bryden, for the correction. It was Dr Seitz who dismissed the ANE temple analogy with Gen 1.

    I remain unmoved by the nouvelle theologie of the ressourcement movement, and thank you for pinning "sacramental ontology" to that specific group of thinkers. Boersma (one of its American advocates) refers to it as “the conviction that historical realities of the created order served as divinely ordained, sacramental means leading to eternal divine mysteries.” As I alluded to earlier, I'm fine with that as far as it goes; but I do have concerns about the movement of type to antitype.

    Specifically in re marriage: if, as you acknowledge, this particular "type and shadow has its ending" as we are assured it will pass away, then fixing on which of "the eternal divine mysteries" the type is intended by God to be revelatory seems to me to be most important.

    To take the analogy of the Eucharist: in his hymn, Aquinas refers to "types" (not explicitly defining them, but likely sacrificial rites and manna, common tropes in his day) of the Eucharist as antitype. But the Eucharist itself, as sacrament, is also a type of the spiritual communion that awaits the redeemed community in the resurrection -- though it also effects it in the here and now in a kind or realized eschatology. But there is no "Eucharist" in the life of the resurrection, as that life will consist, at least I hope it will, in the full realization of unmediated (that is not sacramental) union.

    When it comes to marriage, I gladly acknowledge that the typology of marriage is used for the union of Christ and his Body the Church; and that part of the reason the "sublunary" marriage will pass away in the eschaton is the full realization of that union. But unlike the Eucharist, which in the "already not yet" actually does effect what it foreshadows (that is, communion of the faithful, though in a limited way), there is, as far as I can see, no indication that marriage "effects" the union of Christ and the Church. This is, in part, why I share the Reformer's view that marriage is not a sacrament "of like nature with" Baptism and Eucharist. It is a metaphor -- a powerful one -- but it does not in fact bring about that which it symbolizes.

    to be continued...

  16. continuing...

    The question before the churches is this: can that same symbolic function be served by the union of two persons of the same sex? And, furthermore, and more importantly, if not, then is that symbolic function the only or most important thing about marriage as a human and moral phenomenon, or was this simply one among several images that Paul laid hold of in his effort to address, in Ephesians, the "great mystery" of the Church in making the many one in Christ?

    I have noted, in R&H, for instance, that polygamous marriage worked equally well for the Prophets as an image to analogize one unifying Lord over many. The Hebrew Scriptures attest to this imagery in picturing God as husband to the sisters, Judah and Israel. I say this not in defense of polygamy, which as you know I argue strongly against, but to note, as I've said before, the dangers of attributing virtues to the type that belong to the antitype.

    For me the question is moral, not sacramental, since I don't see marriage as a sacrament. Polygamy I think immoral, even though it can be used as a type for the love of God for the Chosen but divided people. Perhaps same-sex marriage does not serve well as a type of the love of Christ for the church -- but then, I dare say not many today would embrace all that Paul says of women in Ephesians, in a specifically non-equalist picture of the relation of the sexes, as an ideal understanding of modern marriage; so modern marriage doesn't really fit too well in his mold, either. Indeed, I think the emergence of same-sex marriage likely coincides with a move towards more equalist relations between the sexes. (But that's sociology, not theology!)

    So thanks again, this has been very helpful; all the best in you next foray out of town...

  17. In sum Tobais.

    I fancy we might have done poor Gen 1 & 2 almost to death ... With a pair of views stated and restated and not agreed upon. Or shld that be asserted rather than stated?!

    Thereafter, I remain intrigued as to how you can one minute offer sensible reflection upon Aquinas (with whose approach I am familiar generally, as the world of medieval figural readings is known to me, and St Thomas in particular I regularly feed upon yet also diverge from occasionally - viz ST III q.3, in 8 articles, esp. art.8) and the next offer such a trivial view of differentiation. But then perhaps you have to trivialize gender differentiation - despite the very clear stipulation of Gen 1:27 by any reading or view - in order to reach the conclusions you want to.

    As for sacramental theology: I have over the years become frustrated with both trad RC schemas and Reformation ones; neither stance truly addresses the rich role of the Holy Spirit in effecting not only “union with Christ” but also how those “gifts” which ensure the ‘four marks/notes’ (say) of the Church similarly get effected. I have more than a passing knowledge of Billy Abraham and his Canonical Theism approach and agree with much he/they say(s). So; the line you try to effect yourself might not persuade really ... What does persuade are indeed those moral decisions made by Christians that effect their discipleship and affect the Church’s true identity and nature. Here then do we see marriage in many lights: as figure of Yahweh and Israel, and Jesus and Church; as JP2's “first church”; and dare I still venture the suggestion, as icon of the Trinity (analogously of course!). If these sorts of moves are allowed (and I grant you I have not argued at all for how the Holy Spirit in the Economy is idiomatically responsible for all this - but you might be able to see and join some of the dots), then I have also had to conclude (as I’ve said before) proposals for same-sex marriage are tragically ironic: so close yet so far away, and ever just falling tantalizingly short - and all especially so when that singular “icon” is the thing proposed. And that is why, I suspect, there are times when we appear rather close in our respective forms of argument, while at other times we are at other ends of the galaxy. Eh bien; au revoir et adieu! Et merci bien aussi!

  18. Byden, I’ll just focus on one thing here. You say that I have “trivialized” gender differentiation. On the contrary, I describe gender differentiation exactly as it actually is in accordance with medical and biological science. You may find science “trivial” but one of the challenges before us in our day is to take account of science and the impact it ought to have upon our theological notions, if we are to be taken seriously in a world that is in need of the good news, but will not accept it if it is discordant with reality.

    This is, by the way, the real “sacramental ontology” – that is, what we can read out of “nature’s book” has to be based on what nature actually is or “ontology” means nothing. If it is all “enchantment” and the theology conflicts with reality, it serves neither God nor man! This is not the first time that science has placed limits on theology; those who insisted that Scripture portrayed a geocentric universe eventually had to revise their thinking, and doing so opened a far larger view of God’s greatness.

    So, I am not trivializing in seeking an accurate description of what is; you on the other hand are, to my mind, overextending dangerously in exalting creation beyond its proper sphere. And in this, I think I have reality on my side. Male and female are not eternal opposites, a reflection of heavenly prototypes or Platonic ideas — as dualists would have it — nor a joint reflection of the nature of God (as you would have it), but are a feature of the animal (and some of the vegetable) world of biological life. In our position as “lower than the angels” we share with the animal kingdom in our biological nature — including gender — but with God in our ability to serve as God’s image and likeness.

    You want to press your reading of a single verse of Scripture to your ends, to support your conclusion of an “irony” to same-sex relations. To do so you have confected a novel reading of that text — one that has been around for millennia but not read in the manner you do until the 20th century, even though you insist it is the “plain reading.” It is a reading that conflicts with the rest of Scripture, with Rabbinic, Patristic, Scholastic, Reformed and most Modern theological reflection on the nature of the Imago Dei. If there is a tragic irony here, I think it lies in that failed attempt — an attempt, it seems from those who support this novel view — solely designed to oppose any developments in thinking about the moral status of same-sex relationships.

    So, thanks for the conversation, but I do think we are operating in very different realms of theology. Again, I leave it for others, including our host, Peter, to decide which is the more reasonable case, remaining true to the foundations of Christian doctrine and anthropology — in which each human being is the image of God, and human marriage, sacrament or not, limited to this world, and not the next. All blessings on your ministry and life.

    Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

  19. Two concluding rejoinders Tobias.

    1. Now let’s see; I guess should one attend to agronomy and plant science, animal husbandry and parasitology, let alone meteorology (to name but a few) just about every week, then perhaps one has an appreciation of the (sacramental) reality you want to speak of. And certainly those involved in 21st C farming have more of have an embrace of such an understanding in my experience than just about every city dweller I have encountered! Unless of course that city happens to be Christchurch, which has been devastated by no less than four major seismic events these past 3 years. Its residents now have a better albeit tragic appreciation of these realities than they might have had previously ...

    2. Novelty: what’s good enough for the goose might just be good enough for the gander. That is, should you wish to try to assert the legitimacy of a new ‘moral’ practice, one that has been denied for centuries by the Tradition, then perhaps I (and those many others who also wish to ask novel questions of the text of Gen 1:26-28 not previously entertained) might have a certain degree of legitimacy similarly. Or might such an ironic (or subjunctive) note be too much on which to conclude?!

  20. I think the irony here is that both Tobias and Bryden are doing something theologically novel, but one admits it and one doesn't.

    1. Thanks for pitching in Amy. Actually; there's another irony altogether regarding the Gen 1:27 text. While there is a degree of "novelty" around Barth's exegesis (for some), and so for the likes of myself who wish to follow him, if one reads say either Gregory of Nyssa or Augustine, commentators have LONG pondered the meaning of the male and female forms of humanity in relation to the Trinity. Not least, there are delightful - or not so delightful - speculations about how the resurrected life might transform such gendered forms ... Plus ca change, rien ... There's nothing new under the sun. Or is there?! With the desire to sanctify what has hitherto been viewed as sinful ...? No doubt a much longer time frame will probably reveal what's what. Meanwhile, what exactly might it be that is being jeopardised? I suggest an answer to that question might very well take us back to Gen 1:27!

  21. Amy, I don't think the issue is just about what's novel or not (and I think both Bryden and I have admitted to the "novelties" in our positions -- from my side I would say it is rather obvious that I'm arguing for something new. The issue is: which is most likely to change over time: anthropology or theology? My effort has been to examine a change in moral teaching based on a "traditional" theological model. Bryden's effort is to come up with "new" theological objections to a change in morality.

    It is evident to me that morality changes: many things the Bible (or the early church) commends are no longer commendable; and several things they forbid have come to be seen as widely acceptable. Theology, it seems to me, is a different matter; and I find that the course Bryden has set -- which conflicts to some degree with established dogma -- is the more perilous course.

  22. Not withing to revive the debate, but as Bryden has chosen to attempt to enlist Gregory of Nyssa on his side, let me just cite this passage from Gregory's "Of the Making of Man" (XVI)

    7. We must, then, examine the words carefully: for we find, if we do so, that that which was made "in the image" is one thing, and that which is now manifested in wretchedness is another. "God created man," it says; "in the image of God created He him1 ." There is an end of the creation of that which was made "in the image": then it makes a resumption of the account of creation, and says, "male and female created He them." I presume that every one knows that this is a departure from the Prototype: for "in Christ Jesus," as the apostle says, "there is neither male nor female2 ." Yet the phrase declares that man is thus divided.

    8. Thus the creation of our nature is in a sense twofold: one made like to God, one divided according to this distinction: for something like this the passage darkly conveys by its arrangement, where it first says, "God created man, in the image of God created He him3 ," and then, adding to what has been said, "male and female created He them4 ,"--a thing which is alien from our conceptions of God.

    9. I think that by these words Holy Scripture conveys to us a great and lofty doctrine; and the doctrine is this. While two natures--the Divine and incorporeal nature, and the irrational life of brutes--are separated from each other as extremes, human nature is the mean between them: for in the compound nature of man we may behold a part of each of the natures I have mentioned,--of the Divine, the rational and intelligent element, which does not admit the distinction of male and female; of the irrational, our bodily form and structure, divided into male and female...
    That seems rather clear to me, and I think it supports my point rather than Bryden's. As I said in Reasonable and Holy, the sex-difference is something we share with the animal kingdom. It has nothing to do with the "image of God."

  23. Sorry Tobias, I fancy you have the wrong end of the stick: I’ll put it down to a hasty blogging environment. “My point” here is not exactly the previous main point re Barth’s quite legitimate exegesis of Gen 1:27, and the ‘new tradition’ he has thereby established, of which I am a trenchant follower despite your attempted denials. [You quite simply have to deny the interpretation; accept it, and it’s all over for the conclusion you steadfastly desire to reach beforehand.] Rather, it has to do with the multiplicity of views surrounding how to interpret the image per se (which thereafter may or may not suggest things divine). And so, on account of this multiplicity - of which a comparison between, say, Gregory of Nyssa’s progressively transgendered, angeloid theories, among many of his mystical comments, and Augustine’s drive to look ever inward may suffice (I suspect BTW both their respective takes on the neoplatonism of their day to a large extent drive these various views, given it’s the air folk breathe) - claims of “novelty” dim considerably. And BTW: it may look impressive to cut and paste material from NPNF, which is easy enough nowadays, but I hope the reference is right this time; previously Augustine’s Psalm was 49:20 rather than “LXIX” - again probably due to too hasty blogging.

    That said, a final point, re “the more perilous course”. From another thread over on ADU, I merely repeat this comment of Diarmaid MacCulloch, who wrote in Reformation: “This is an issue of biblical authority. Despite much well-intentioned theological fancy footwork to the contrary, it is difficult to see the Bible as expressing anything else but disapproval of homosexual activity, let alone having any conception of a homosexual identity. The only alternatives are either to try to cleave to patterns of life and assumptions set out in the Bible, or to say that in this, as in much else, the Bible is simply wrong.” Nota bene the author, who says this - who has the courage to say this ...