Comments: Bishop Frade explains

Thank you Bishop Frade.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 5:42pm GMT

I thank God for the wisdom, clarity, and faithfulness of Bishop Frade. The pregnancy metaphor, related to Bishop Duncan, is precious and apropos.

The situation is very much like someone charged with conspiracy and intent to commit a particular crime, under civil law; the law does not, and should not, wait for the completion of the criminal act that is being planned, and already underway.

In similar fashion, Bishop Duncan's intentions are clear, and his (admittedly open) conspiracy to depart from the canons to which he pledged obedience is clear, and he has simply not completed the schismatic act regarding the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Either he should renounce his actions, to date, and conform to the canons, or he should immediately resign.

That would be the honorable thing to do, and if he fails to act honorably, then the honorable thing would be for the three senior Bishops to inhibit Bishop Duncan, and if one of them prevents that from happening (as Bishop Wimberly previously acknowledged for his role), then the honorable thing for the House of Bishops to do would be to depose Bishop Duncan.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 6:38pm GMT

Frade: "You can not just be a little pregnant."
Joe: "And the PB/TEC leadership is not just a little apostate!"

Posted by Joe at Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 7:12pm GMT

I firmly believe that any bishops whose words and actions are in violation of this oath, as stated by church canon, should be equally subject to the appropriate canonical discipline.

While I totally agree with this statement, I thought the Episcopal church decided at the Righter trial that it no longer cared if its Bishops violated their oaths, and that that is the reason why Bishop Spong was never brought to trial despite denying every single tenet of the faith once delivered.

How come it is back in fashion now?

Posted by MargaretG at Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 8:36pm GMT

Joe is obviously angry, that he and his friends can't get their own way, so he is trying to use a word that has many meanings, and in a context that only he, and they, are to be permitted to define.

How sweet.

If you disagree with someone within the Church, just call them "apostate."

Don't deal in facts.

Don't admit that someone can legitimately believe non-core matters differently.

Just call them a name. Wow, I suppose we could try calling some of the schismatic diocesan bishops some other faith-related names and beat the fans of Schofield, and Duncan, and Iker to the punch, before they move on from "apostate" to something much worse.

Or perhaps Joe could move on from name-calling to specifics, and try validating his concept of those specifics.

Bishop Frade provided a very clear analysis in his letter at the top of this thread, and the Review Committee provided a wealth of specifics that trumps the use of schoolyard name calling.

So, let's do better.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 8:52pm GMT

Joe is inadvertently quite correct. The presiding bishop and the Episcopal Church are not just a little apostate. They are not apostate at all. This kind of libel has been concocted by people who don't know their theology, their Bible or their standards of common civility.

Posted by trueanglican at Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 9:11pm GMT

What ever the bishop's motive in writing this, his opinion did not prevail. So this sounds a bit like the theological equivalent of sour grapes.

It is interesting to note that someone solicited this letter. The TEC “front office”, and its councilor, are no doubt smarting at the failed strategy to Inhibit Duncan so are now looking for a bit of public relations propraganda as cover. Why otherwise publish this on the Episcopal Café??

Posted by Ed Lowrie at Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 9:14pm GMT

John Spong stayed with his Church; he is part of the search in faith and a legitimate Christianity.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 10:13pm GMT

"What ever the bishop's motive in writing this, his opinion did not prevail. So this sounds a bit like the theological equivalent of sour grapes."

So, Ed, what's your take on Bishop Wimberley's beating Frade to the draw by two days with "Why I did not consent to inhibition"? What right does Wimberley have to public discussion of his motives in this decision that Frade does not? Incidentally, your inquiry of Frade's piece, "why otherwise publish this on the Episcopal Café??", holds equally good of Wimberley, whose apology, as you may not have noticed, also appeared in Episcopal Café.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 11:04pm GMT

If John Shelby Spong did not exist, then the Right would have to invent him. A movement based on spite must have its bogeys or die.

Posted by counterlight at Sunday, 20 January 2008 at 12:00am GMT

Hello Lapinbizarre;

Didn’t know about the +Wimberley thing. A TEC bishop friend of mine sent the Frade letter to me as part of his cyber-ministry but not Wimberly.

You’re right, though. The issue holds equally well for both sides that appear to me as couple skunks with tails raised high and backsides pointed at each other. It's all most unseemly for supposedly intelligent gentlepeople who are supposed to serve God and not their own egos or political and pecuniary agendas. How in the world can a life-long Episcopalian in his Medicare years respect these people? The answer is simply that he cannot and will likely move elsewhere.

Posted by Ed Lowrie at Sunday, 20 January 2008 at 2:28am GMT

" I thought the Episcopal church decided at the Righter trial that it no longer cared if its Bishops violated their oaths"

No. The Righter trial determined that there was no violation of doctrine in Righter's ordaining an openly gay man to the priesthood.

As for Bishop Spong, if he were not around, you'd be flailing away at poor old Bishop Pike.

Much of what Bishop Spong has enunciated is a rehash of Bishop J.A.T. Robinson's shocking discovery that we no longer consider the world to be a flat disk from which Jesus ascended like a hot air balloon. See his book "Honest to God."

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 20 January 2008 at 1:09pm GMT

Margaret, the conservatives could have brought charges against Spong any time they liked, but they never even attempted it. They only did so in the case of Righter.

That simply confirms for many of us that despite all the talk of how "it's about 'orthodoxy,' not the gay thing" in the end it really is all about the gay thing.

Posted by JPM at Sunday, 20 January 2008 at 6:17pm GMT

Good for Cynthia mentioning +John AT Robinson. Pope Benedict XVI keeps quoting him in a positive way in some of his writings published in the late 1990s.

Posted by John Henry at Sunday, 20 January 2008 at 8:31pm GMT

Jack Spong is one of the great apologists and evangelists of the twentieth century.

I'm glad the name of John Robinson evoked here.

The two Johns' work constitute a great anti-dote to fundamentalisms and other forms of obscurantism.

-- but means nothing to those who have suspended their disbelief and set their inteligence and common-sense aside.

Posted by L Roberts at Monday, 21 January 2008 at 12:02am GMT

I too like the work of Bishop JAT Robinson. His Priority of John was a masterpiece, even though he did not live to complete it -- and his Redating the New Testament (in which he argued that ALL of the Gospels and almost all of the epistles had to be written prior to AD 70 ie well within the life time of the witnesses to the events of Jesus' life) has stood the test of time.

I doubt that Bishop Spong is indeed a follower of JAT Robinson -- who clearly did believe the tenets of the faith once delivered in a way that Spong has shown repeatedly he did not.

By the way it is not up to the conservatives to act -- as you can see in this case it is the responsibility of the Presiding Bishop and the leadership of the church. Their silence in defending the faith once delivered has been truly revealing.

We can have muslim priests; wiccan priests; and most recently Bishops who apologise for sharing their faith with Hindus --- but attempt to bring charges against Bishops who stand with the teaching of the scriptures and 2000 years of tradition in the church.

And that is the wide tent of Anglicanism -- anything but Christianity !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by MargaretG at Monday, 21 January 2008 at 4:45am GMT


I'm not sure what you would charge Spong with. Not believing in a literal virgin birth? That puts many of us out in the cold.

Not believing in a literal incarnation?
That deals with another huges cross section of Christians.

And on and on we go.
Spong denies the literal truth of everything, but affirms its theological and spiritual truth.

You don't have to share his beliefs, but I fail to see what you can actually charge him with other than not being a literalist.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 21 January 2008 at 7:44am GMT

I’m still puzzled why so many seem to think Spong isn’t a Christian.
The following on the Resurrection comes from a speech answering Don Cupitt:

"The biblical record itself is inadequate, incomplete and even contradictory. That's not a statement that can be called either liberal or conservative, that's just a fact available to anybody who will take the time to read the resurrection narratives of the New Testament...

... We'll do this first by asking certain questions of the biblical text. Who was the first person to experience the resurrection? He appeared first to Cephas, said Paul. Mark said he did not appear to anyone. Matthew said he appeared first to the women in the garden. Luke said he appeared first to Cleopas and his friend in the village of Emmaus (though Luke does say that between the time they had that experience and the time they returned the six-mile journey that Peter had barely preserved his primacy by having an appearance in that intervening moment). No, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, said John. It is clear that the gospel does not quite know who stood in the primary relationship to that experience.
Who went to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week? That question cannot be answered because every gospel gives you a different list of women. You meet women you've never met before, like Salome and Joanna. They come out of the woodwork . . .
Did the women see the risen Lord on Easter morning? No, said Mark. Yes, said Matthew. No, said Luke. Yes, said John...."

But, in his explanation of his thesis he says:
"It was an act of God that was beyond history. Is it real? Of course it is
real, unless you believe that anything that is not physical is finally not
real. "God is spirit," said the Johanine Christ, "and those who worship God must do so in spirit and in truth." This God was in Christ, said the first Christians, and so this Jesus was lifted into the very life of God to share in God's eternity and to be available to us as a living presence, for that is who God is."

I truly fail to see how any of this is extraordinary.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 21 January 2008 at 8:57am GMT

There's a difference between finding common ground with people who are different to you and then becoming the same as each other.

As Cynthia Gilliat reminded us recently "'unity' doen't equate with unanimnity".

There's nothing wrong with drawing parallels between the idea of the Spirit of Grace from the Abrahamic traditions and the Hindu understanding of Shiva. Both are to do with the God of gods intervening to end periods of suffering and tyranny, not because the humans concerned "deserved" it, but because God realised that humans were incapable of resolving their problems on their own.

To dispute that God ever intervenes in history in such a manner pits one's theology directly against the whole purpose of Jesus' incarnation.

Just as the early missionaries into Europe linked into the earth mother imagery that was popular in many parts.

Just as Paul linked into Greek philosophical thinking. Reread Acts 17, Paul didn't go into a diatribe about the statues he found in the field. He found the common key that could engage the locals into discussion and went into a discourse and dialogue from there.

I don't have a problem doing such things with Hindus. Nor quoting Ecclesiates 7:8 that "the man who fears God avoids all extremes" to those of Buddhist or mystic backgrounds.

It also shows a respect for others, it recognises that others have managed to build civilisations that have lasted for thousands of years and, just maybe, they've picked up some wisdom and know-how along the way. God knows, there's enough ignorant bullying Christians who could do with learning about more than how their peers flatter them while they are behave like sanctimonious selfish snits.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Monday, 21 January 2008 at 9:26am GMT

"... Bishops who apologise for sharing their faith Bishops who apologise for sharing their faith..."

... sharing their faith...


Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 21 January 2008 at 9:42am GMT

I am also suspicious of Spong. In many ways, he's a fundamentalist. I'm appalled at how his ideas on science seem, at times, to lead him astray. Ironically, his enlistment of science in the "explanation" of religion is not unlike that of Christopher Schell. ( Sorry, Christopher, not a sideways snipe at you, just a way of explaining my reactions to both Spong and yourself). He (Spong) denies the Incarnation based on what we now know of embryology. That's just soulless. Surely God who made all the "rules of nature" can cause a conception in defiance of those rules if he wants. Same with Spong's denial of the Ascension based on the fact we now know there is no "up" in the sense that god is "up". It's all very soulless and concrete, and doesn't engage God on the very supernatural level that I understand Him to be. For Spong, it seems, there is no supernatural, just natural and representational, and I don't, from what little I know, think he makes a good connection between the two. Things must be one or the other for him, and if they can't be proved to be concrete, then they must be purely representational. It leaves me cold. Not slavering after his inhibition from ministry, just utterly uninspired.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 21 January 2008 at 3:59pm GMT

Thanks for the keen comments about bringing up Spong on charges that he is not sufficiently literalistic in his readings of scripture. Quite congruent with much of the bottom line point, I think, about our underlying differences in doing ethics and/or theology.

The realignment counter? If you do not read scriptures literalistically, then you do not take scriptures seriously.

Problem is, even our best 21st century physics of the physical is now reaching wide and deep and high into constructive theoretical yet hypothesis-testable realms which so radically revise what we take to be the common sensically real-physical that the distinctions between literal truth and non-literal truth only make sense from inside certain specifiable narrative contexts. Thank you, Wittgenstein.

Now add 21st century biology with increasing forays into some of those non-literalistic empirical trends and ballparks, and you can begin to understand what the new conservative fuss is all about - they feel like they know something true and understand something true so long as most ethics or theologies seem to presume something left of flat earth cosmologies; and they so fear the intellectual efforts that obtain when the earth turns out not to be flat that they sound screeching alarms and tell us that - just a passing example - queer folks innately cannot be ethical in daily life because they are defined as innately immoral by scripture, eternal and true.

If diseases are caused by toxins, bacteria, viruses - not by evil spirits as formerly conceived among us widely in various old and venerated civilizations - then the alleged true literalisms of evil spirits and related healing voodoos make less and less and less sense.

Then conservative literalistic believers get puzzled - even deeply offended? - when the rest of us start talking about the fading appeal of flat earth ethics and theologies.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 21 January 2008 at 7:53pm GMT

Well caught Goran -- it was very badly expressed.

I should have said "non-Christian Bishops apologise for others sharing the Christian faith with Hindus".

I refer of course to Bishop Bruno's recent apology to the Hindus for Christians who wanting to convert them. Clearly he is not a follower of the One who commanded "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

As this command came from our Lord Jesus Christ, after whom Christians bear their name, he clearly cannot bear the name of Christian.,1,7144896.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california&ctrack=1&cset=true
and in particular:
"During the service, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, issued a statement of apology to the Hindu religious community for centuries-old acts of religious discrimination by Christians, including attempts to convert them."

I await the response from the Presiding Bishop to this gross deviation from the faith delivered and the last 2000 of Christian tradition.

Posted by MargaretG at Monday, 21 January 2008 at 8:59pm GMT

I agree to an extent.
Spong was brought up a fundamentalist and then set out to show that those beliefs were not literally true, thereby moving to the other extreme.

Ultimately, it's not about scientific truth (the How), but about theological truths (the Why). And so I can see why Spong might appear soulless.
I would say that he is a bit dated. With a few exceptions the question of the literal and scientific truth of the bible is not what occupies theologians any longer. The trend is towards rediscovering the spiritual.

But that doesn’t invalidate him. Where he says that images and metaphors are "representational" he does not deny the supernatural, only the kind of stern God people imagine to sit in the sky on a cloud with a white beard ready to smite us all.

Nowhere does he deny the numinous, the ultimate reality of God as something for which we can have no words. If you look at the explanation of the resurrection I cited earlier you don't find someone who believes that all religion is purely a human construct:

“Easter has little to do with earthquakes, empty tombs or resuscitated bodies. It has everything to do with a living God who calls you and me to share eternity inside that God presence that we have experienced in Jesus of Nazareth. For the same God who raised him will also raise those of us who live in him to be part of God forever. That is the faith of Easter into which all believers are invited. “

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 21 January 2008 at 10:20pm GMT

"non-Christian Bishops"

How is one a non-Christian bishop? Oh, I see, one who does not seek to spread the Gospel. Well, that would to my eye leave out most of the modern "conservatives". How they can think their actions spread the Gospel is beyond me. But then you give a quote in which the bishop apologizes for:

"centuries-old acts of religious discrimination by Christians, including attempts to convert them."

He is apologizing for the coercive ways that Christians can "Evangelize". I am always amused by the idea that one sees among some people that Evangelism is about making converts through any means necessary. Or do you think that what was called evangelism in places like India was above board? Talk to anyone from that part of the world, and you will hear the resentment still held over the "rice Christians". It would seem you think such things were good as long as they made converts. Frankly, the level of disrespect held for the "heathen", then and now, is disgusting, not unlike the disrespect one finds in some quarters today towards the rest of us who don't even seem to rate the name "Christian" to some people. Are you aware of what went on in Canada with the residential schools? i think the way people went off to convert the heathen, "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" ringing out loud and clear, is something we ought to apo.ogize for. there's better ways to spread the Gospel than forcing people to comply.

centuries-old acts of religious discrimination by Christians

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 12:09am GMT

As an American Roman viewer of TEC I find all this a bit much. Where were the Global South and all these inhibitting minded bishops when Spong et al were touting their revisionist Christologies? A far more serious issue than anything else currently acting as coals for the ecclesiastical furnace. I find myself siding with the +AC - the fundamental issues facing the Communion are ecclesiological - something which has never been clear since Henry. There once was an Anglican Pope, it was the English monarch. Someone once did have the "ultimate say" in the Church of England (and maybe by extension the Communion?)...maybe such and instance of a personal "ministry of unity" should be revisited.

Posted by James Thomas at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 12:15am GMT


I could accept your explanation of "He is apologizing for the coercive ways that Christians can "Evangelize"." if that was what he said.

It wasn't.

I am still swaiting the Presiding Bishop's response to this gross violation of the faith delivered and the tradition of the church.

Posted by MargaretG at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 4:30am GMT

"There once was an Anglican Pope, it was the English monarch."

If this was ever truly the case, the execution of Charles I more or less squashed it as a viable reality. Moreover, if it WERE a reality, I suspect TEC, along with a number of other churches in the Anglican Communion, would have severe issues with it - which just happens to be the case with the draft Covenant.

For a Roman Catholic viewing these arguments the ecclesiological side of things is really a moot point, as none of the *ecclesial bodies* that constitute the Anglican Communion is really a Church. At the end of the day, the Roman view of the matter sees things through a distorting prism: at the provincial level, Anglican polity has actually been clear enough, and in TEC we're seeing it at work. If the Anglican Communion is a mess, it'd have to be at least 90% the doing of bishops, given that they seem to be the majority of the people doing the running. For what it's worth, I would suggest it's now obvious that the ecclesiological issues are being generated (or perhaps more accurately, forced) very much by bishops such as Schofield, Iker, Duncan and their extra-provincial cohorts. These are the ones who are talking about realignment and the creation of new extra-provincial structures. Truly, they shall have their reward soon enough; I very much doubt it will come from the desired papal or pseudo-papal hand.

Posted by kieran crichton at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 10:54am GMT

I am not a subscriber, so I cannot read the link you provided. I only have your quote to go by. If the original article has more material to show that he thinks it is wrong for us to spread the Good News, I apologize. The material you provide, however, is an apology for religious discrimination, including attempts to convert. Well, I live in a country where the Anglican Church now has to pay millions of dollars in compensation to the victims of our past "conversion" attempts". We have a lot to apologize for.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 11:17am GMT

Ford - I too am not a subscriber -- and I can get the link to take me to the whole article.

I am sorry you feel that you are so ashamed of your faith, and so unwilling to follow the commands of the Lord Jesus that you too feel the need to apologise too for ALL attempts to convert -- the issue of coercion is a total red herring, as you of course, were well aware right from the start.

I am still waiting the Presiding Bishops rapid response to the violation of both the faith delivered and tradition. She seems to be slow on this one -- which has actually happened -- when she was very quick to take action against someone who has said that they MAY take action.

Perhaps it is because she is worried about what the fall in the stock market is doing to the Trust funds (including the retirement savings) that are underpinning her legal action.

Posted by MargaretG at Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 9:43pm GMT


I see nothing in Jesus' literal words in the great commission, nor in any possible subtext, that calls on us to FORCE anyone to become a Christian, either by violence or law or anything else.

Baptism is a choice that must be made by the individual or, in the case of infants, by their guardians. If the only way we can make someone get baptised is with a literal or virtual gun to his head, then we violate not only his conscience but our own.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 12:36am GMT

"I am sorry you feel that you are so ashamed of your faith, and so unwilling to follow the commands of the Lord Jesus that you too feel the need to apologise too for ALL attempts to convert -- the issue of coercion is a total red herring, as you of course, were well aware right from the start."

This is false, and I never said that. If you can look at the way European Christians have treated nonChristians around the world for the past several centuries, and NOT feel a need to apologize, you either have never spoken to a nonChristian, which you have earlier claimed to have done, or you have an incredible sense of entitlement over the rest of the human race. An apology would be following the commands of the Lord Jesus, actually, Margaret, far more so than defending that sort of behaviour. Coercion is precisely the issue. Every Indian I have ever spoken to, and I have spoken to and worked with many over the years, makes reference to the issue of rice Christians and forced conversions. Not only Indians. Good God, even non-Christians here on the other side of the planet refer to it, usually in the context of telling what the Church has done to THEM, as yet another example of patriarchial power run amok. The most painful part is that they know it isn't consistent with the Gospel, far better than the "Christians" who are still doing this sort of thing, here as well as "over there". Or is it just that you feel "shouldering the White Man's burden" was a good vocation well carried out? Didn't Ghandi say something like "I have great respect for your Christ, it's just his followers that are the problem"? (I paraphrase)

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 1:00pm GMT

Margaret's slanderous misrepresentation of Ford's position is breathtaking in its dishonesty. Unfortunately, it is altogether to typical of how "conservatives" engage in these discussions.

Margaret, if you really are a Christian, you should stop lying.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 3:51pm GMT

A bit of a clamer rethink. In the conservative position there is a lot of fear coming from the loss of the traditional power structures. It's also about loss of certainty at how the world works. This generates anger. It's why Consevos seriously think they are being oppressed when they are told they can't act with impunity. It's why she thinks white poeple are oppressed by the three tikangas of the NZ Church, and it's why she has to savage someone who is honestly acknowledging the hurt that aggressive Christianizing has caused, both to Christians as well as nonChristians. To acknowledge the hurt is to suggest that the traditional power structure might have done damage, might have made people hostile to the Gospel, thus might not be a good thing, thus might be better done away with, and that's just too frightening. Go to, say, Venomonline if your soul can stand it. The level of anger expressed there is intense. Why? Fear of loss of power and the uncertainty a new way of thinking brings. I have posted a couple of times on Venomonline, suggesting they simply not be so angry and hatefilled. For ages, attempts to post just get ignored. Yet let one conservative be challenged here and we are accused of being oppressive liberal hypocrites! We all get our posts rejected, myself frequently, yet how many conservatives claim they are being silenced by this? Why is there such anger on one side of the world about the sexuality of a bishop on the other? Because it suggests their comfortable conservative societies can change too, and that's too scary to contemplate.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 4:42pm GMT

I don't have a problem with Christians apologising for bad manners and coercion.

It's a very Christian thing to do, to rebuke priestly castes who desecrate God's name and go to great lengths to convert others to adopt their appalling bad manners and distorted theology. Actually Jesus rebuked the rude missionaries of his time too.

Matthew 23:12-31 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?… “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. “Woe to you, teachers of the law… you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous… So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.”

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 7:30pm GMT

Every Indian I have ever spoken to, and I have spoken to and worked with many over the years, makes reference to the issue of rice Christians and forced conversions.

Perhaps Ford a completely different group of Indians live where you are (I presume the USA but I am not sure). Where I live (New Zealand) the many, many, many Indians who are Christians are very, very grateful for the work of the missionaries who came,lived,taught and in many cases died in their homeland so that they or their forebears could hear the Christian faith. I have yet to hear of any instances of force or coercion (and I have heard stories about coercion being used against converts including a very good friend of mine who is from Kashmir whose muslim family tried to kill him when he converted to Christianity -- but that is not unusual, and indeed seems to be expected by the Muslim converts from Indonesia).

And as no-one is coerced in this country, I fail to see why they would maintain a faith once they arrived here that they had only adopted because of force. In fact when I think about it, I have never seen any of the many Indians, Chinese, Koreans etc who are first generation Christians that belong to my own parish church turning up to church under any threat or under the impression that they are "rice Christians". (About a quarter of our congregation has english as a second language (that statistic is from a recent survey so is not a guess), and a very high proportion (at a guess 75%) of them are Christian converts.) As we have six converts from other religions in our housegroup (admittedly mainly Korean and Chinese with only one Indian) which meets every Monday (except over January so I can't ask them for a few weeks) I think I would have come across the phenomenon if it was as prevalent as you claim.

I think you are rewriting history here ---- most missionaries in the past were more likely to be coerced than to coerce --- more likely to die at the hands of others than to kill -- and much, much more likely to be female than male!!!

But the facts aren't the issue ....

Posted by Margaret at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 8:38pm GMT

I agree with your analysis about why the "conservatives" are so enraged. But none of that justifies the way they so consistently lie about what other people believe, do or say. They would do well to remember that "Thou shalt not bear false witness" made the top ten sin list - unlike the peccadilloes they have attempted to turn into the greatest sin of all.

I have been reading Al Franken's 2005 book "Truth - with jokes." In particular, I've just finished a section describing Karl Rove's approach to politics - an approach much like that of our "conservative" opponents. In particular, he describes a judicial election in the southern US where Rove and his acolytes made up stories that their Democratic opponent was a paedophile.

Even the most cynical PR operative knows that, in the long run, lies won't work.

Karl Rove and Margaret have yet to learn that - in part because lies can work in the short term.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 8:40pm GMT

Malcolm+ --- what exactly did you think I lied about in my last post? I have re-read it and it is totally and utterly factually correct, so in light of your comment above, it is up to you to list the lies you believe are there.

Posted by Margaret at Thursday, 24 January 2008 at 3:09am GMT

"But the facts aren't the issue ...."

For some that is so true.

That is why it is okay to purport that talking to Indians in a relatively peaceful and pluralist society such as New Zealand supposedly reflects te experience of Indians both internationally and over time.

I promise you that an Indian's perspective of being made feel welcome in India is different to one who has survived race riots in Fiji, Apartheid in South Africa or harassment in the Phillipines. It is also different to those Indians who lived under English rule prior to independence.

Let us not forget that Mahatma Gandhi was inspired to lead the idea of a non-violence policy based on the injustice and degradation being done to Indian people. Further, unlike some complacent souls, Gandhi had the empathy to realise that Indian peoples' suffering was not unique to them and that there needed to be a transcendent solution that covered all souls and not just a cruel elite.

Shall we let a reknown theologian (who can't use their real name lest we be jealous) ignore facts as they quote from a complacent elite who have either never experienced or ignored the suffering of their own race, let alone others?

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Thursday, 24 January 2008 at 10:09am GMT

"I think you are rewriting history here ---- most missionaries in the past were more likely to be coerced than to coerce --- more likely to die at the hands of others than to kill -- and much, much more likely to be female than male!!!"

No, Margaret, I don't rewrite history, and I am not against evangelism. I know very well the stories of the martyrs of our colonial past, but their martyrdom does not mean that others behaved as honourably. If you don't know what has been done in the past 2000 years in the name of God, then you haven't read much history. And no, I'm not in the US, I'm in Canada. Your last statement that the facts don't matter cuts with me today. I have just finished reading blogs that blatantly lie about what happened in this diocese this week. Our bishop, a good Godly man, has been accused of requiring priests to accept gay marriage or leave the diocese. This is totally untrue. The issue hasn't even been debated at our synod. This shows very well how little the facts matter to conservatives seeking power. I was undecided on the issue till now. But, if the right can slander a man like Cy pittman in this fashion, the truth is simply not in them, on any issue.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 24 January 2008 at 4:08pm GMT

Well, Margaret, let us begin.

Margaret said:

"I am sorry you feel that you are so ashamed of your faith, "

Malcolm observes: Ford is not in the least ashamed of his faith, and you have nothing to support this slander.

Margaret went continued:

"and so unwilling to follow the commands of the Lord Jesus"

Malcolm observes: You have exactly no evidence to support this slander either.

Margret went on:

"that you too feel the need to apologise too for ALL attempts to convert"

Malcolm observes: Ford did no such thing. Slander number three.

Margaret kept going:

"the issue of coercion is a total red herring, as you of course, were well aware right from the start."

Malcolm observes: This might have been a legitimate debating point - had you uttered a single true statement preceding it. Since everything you said prior to that was false . . .

I don't think I need to go on.

Saw an interesting youtube video last night showing comedian Al Franken debating with "conservative thinker" Ann Coulter. He relates the story of getting ready to go out when his wife says she has to go adjust her makeup. Franken made a bet with his researcher that he could take Coulter's latest book off the shelf, open it at random, and find a lie before Franni was done adjusting her makeup. He then shares the lie he found. Coulter has no defence, and so claims that her misrepresentation was a "paraphrase."

It is possible to debate issues without lying. Christians really ought to do so.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 24 January 2008 at 8:57pm GMT
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