Thursday, 25 February 2010

The Decline of the Open Evangelical

Notice what is happening at the Fulcrum discussion boards?

It used to be a place where reasonable evangelicals (like Graham Kings) might debate with those like themselves and others, presumably to give credence to the notion that they have substance to their intellectual position and they can defend it.

Certainly people like myself have been able to post there, as an outsider, and its not something I have done or want to do on Conservative Christian blogs, and usually people like me are unwelcome there.

But Fulcrum has been captured by a small group of Conservative Evangelical posters, motivated by the gay issue, and because Open Evangelicalism compromises with them they have been neutered by the Conservative side.

Posters on this site of the restrictive kind go by the names of DaveW, Carl, Pageantmaster, Phil Almond and Nersen, the latter being Nersen Pillay or NP as once at Thinking Anglicans. They all have particular techniques of posting. Nersen is repetitive, and refers to the same touchstones as if they are factual set - such as "the mind of the communion", a phrase from Rowan Williams he uses at convenience. I knew when he first appeared that every argument would be forced into a sock of his own shape. All that matters for NP is that people obey the literalist rules: the silence of progressive bishops, regarding the recent House of Lords vote to prevent religious communities having registrars at gay partnership ceremonies, he sees as a good sign. Phil Almond treats Bible texts as given, and then quotes them as legal-like proofs of a stance in which most are condemned and few are saved according to a neo-Calvinist view, and in an argument with him he will refer back to a previous post made years ago if it is there. Pageantmaster (who posts similarly on Titus One Nine) insists that the Civil Partnership was not brought into law for the purpose the Quakers wish to put it, and he has stated:

A vicar or imam could bless Fido's dog tags and lead, and prayers could be said for the mutual fidelity of Fido and his owner, promises on the one party to provide tins of chum, and on the other part a commitment to bark at visitors. Similarly a service for the handing over of TV licences and tax returns could be held annually in the presence of the DVLA and tax inspectors.

Carl is simply a narrow literalist evangelical, and DaveW insists that there is but one Christian view on the whole gay blessings topic - his. He wrote, typically:

David Baker also makes a valuable observation about some of the tactics which spins the idea that when the individual poster is speaking about 2000 odd years of historic apostolic Christian belief its somehow just the individuals idea or a few crazy evangelicals. No, this is the Christian view, same sex sexual relations are error, there is no other Christian view.

There is, and other Christians make it. It is not for me to put the other view, but I have, adding my own extension:

the Bible says nearly nothing positively on same sex relationships - actual relationships - but it says a lot about relationships - about trust and faithfulness. But when the Bible is inadequate or wrong, it is to be said. It is both on this matter: it simply is inadequate regarding the breadth of human relationships, and wrong to equate gay sex with idolatry.

That these people are evangelicals, and are closing down debate with other evangelicals, shows how the ideology works. First it closes down an open evangelical position, second it goes after the liberal Christian view:

To Clare,

In an earlier post you wrote 'did Jesus say these thing, perhaps so of them'

What is your position then to discuss universalism when you cant be sure of scriptures what we base our trust and faith in. We know salvation is through faith in Christ according to the NT and yours is uncertainty in that respect. How can we discuss our faith compared to yours when they have such completely different worldviews and starting points.

I don't care what DaveW or anyone else calls my stance, which has moved on to a religious humanism. What I care about is how we think today, and why (it delivers results, sustains its arguments), and I ask how religious language as reflective and contemplative - asking ethical questions - can function among the ordinary understandings we have. Liberal Christian L Roberts has put it that it is:

Hard to equate the nasty posts here with true religion. But then that's satanic - right ?

That's the characteristic of this end of evangelicalism, as it comes on to a broader site. But it is on a mission, using the gay issue to crack eggs and force itself as 'the only view'.

24 comments:

Tim Goodbody said...

yeeeeeesssss ...
Looks like the old adage that if you want to keep someone quiet make them a bishop might be coming into play with regard to GK.
Jody is also busy preparing for orders and so her posting has been limited.
Just, however, as I used to encourage people like nersen to keep posting in the face of more liberal-dominated fulcrum boards in the past, hang in there AW.
Makes me laught that no matter how many times he goes off in a huff, LRoberts is always coming back too!

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I'll comment, but I am 'very' outside; there is a dearth of group places to comment - this and TA - and I suspect he is like me just saying there is another point of view. The issue is the squeezing of the OE viewpoint and a puzzle whether it exists on some matters.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Were you to squeeze into a haz-mat suit and venture into Viagraville, all those you have identified defecate there profusely. And they truly enjoy doing it in front of oscillating fans.

Erika Baker said...

So how do the genuine open evanglicals respond to this takeover? Are they caving in as meekly as liberals who just disagree quietly and let the politics drift further and further to the right because of their inability to see the danger?

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Dah • veed needs a reward for colourful imagery in his writing.

First of all, the Open Evangelical position is held by very few, and when Andrew Goddard (an OE) wrote on the gay issue it was clear that he was in a trap of his own conservative making - and the Goddards letter writing fizzled out without result. Andrew Goddard's position that once at least addressed Giles Goddard was in the same place as these conservatives. But they have since descended, and the issue under their rhetoric is forcing someone like Simon Morden into the 'liberal' camp and thus weakens any response from what was an OE position.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Adrian, I see what you mean about Fulcrum. From your latest post, I see that you've decided to stop commenting at the site. I don't blame you.

At Viagraville, I only lasted a few weeks until I was banned as a troll.

Dah-veed, yours is, indeed, powerful imagery.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I did stop once before, and held off a while. This time I intend to stay out - and also because I have moved on too.

Anonymous said...

do you think you will be missed?

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Whether I am missed or not, the situation was of talking past. In the past I left Surefish and stayed away. The ethos of Fulcrum has become different, closed off and judgmental, and shows the characteristic of much evangelicalism today. They are not going to persuade me or me them. The only thing left might have been matters on say the Anglican Covenant, but the obvious answer to that is that it is up to Anglicans to decide their fate. I might have a view for a broader friend, but then not into that group, even if that group contains its main supporter. The Anglican church I still attend is my last one, and I will not attend another.

Erika Baker said...

Adrian
so are you saying that the position on homoesxuality alone is what has become the defining difference between open and closed evangelicals, and that someone who has moved to the right on this issue is in all other respects also no longer open?

My evangelical friends tell me that the difference is about the whole way of reading and understanding Scripture, not just about ones view on one single issue. I wonder....

Anon (why are you guys ALWAYS anonymous! Says a lot, doesn't it!)
if you were genuinely open you should indeed miss someone like Adrian a lot. If you only want self referential and self congratulatory chit chat, then of course you're better off without him - and he's better off without you.

David Baker said...

Pluralist, the issue is one of our attitude to Scripture.

You state: "When the Bible is inadequate or wrong, it is to be said."

But that is not a position any evangelical (open, conservative, or charismatic) can ever take, or indeed do anything other than oppose, because it goes to the heart of what defines an evangelical. Read John Stott, or Nicky Gumbel, on the issue.

Or look at the Fulcrum statement on its own website which declares that Fulcrum "affirms the intrinsic authority and trustworthiness of the Bible, given by God, as the ultimate rule for Christian faith and conduct and the supreme authority by which the church should judge itself, its thinking, and its traditions."

Fulcrum also says at http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/aims.cfm?menuopt=1 that it "affirms and upholds as the doctrinal core of our unity the Basis of Faith of the Church of England Evangelical Council" viewable also on the Fulcrum website at http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/ceec.cfm

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

So when you do not share that basic approach to faith, there will never be any agreement, and that's probably why it feels so difficult!

If it's any encouragement, I suspect some of us post because we feel the Fulcrum website is often taken over by liberals very far removed from Fulcrum's own basis of faith!

With best wishes

David Baker

Grandmère Mimi said...

But that is not a position any evangelical (open, conservative, or charismatic) can ever take, or indeed do anything other than oppose, because it goes to the heart of what defines an evangelical. Read John Stott, or Nicky Gumbel, on the issue.

David Baker, how on earth can you make such a broad statement about "any evangelical"? Who is the infallible pope of the evangelicals amongst you, you, Stott or Gumbel?

And you cite Nicky Gumbel as one of your authorities on the proper attitude toward the Scriptures? Please!

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I always made it clear that my comments were another point of view simply because I did not agree with Fulcrum about the Bible. But others in Fulcrum had a different view about the Bible, that it said nothing on loyal and loving relationships that were same sex though it has things to say on loyal and loving relationships (but I'd say it has a lot to say on other relationships too, not all welcome). It is the latter voice that has to reclaim its position.

If you do have open discussion then others are going to come in, those others from the same Church. My own position weakened the more I described something else completely. In finding it attacked, the only response then was to describe the something else which was then far removed from Fulcrum. And in this case the nuisance wasn't as much what was expected from evangelicals, but the lack of voice regarding liberals.

Fulcrum won't be left with self-referential chit chat because the Anglican wars are between evangelicals as well as from them to others. The gay issue cuts even into their differences regarding the use of the Bible, but in the end it is more an institutional war than one biblical, because it is also a doctrinal war and a war about whether it is national or international.

David Baker said...

Hello Grandmere Mimi,

When you say "how on earth can you make such a broad statement about 'any evangelical'?" I am referring to the bases of faith that the main UK evangelical organisations have historically had and continue to have - eg CEEC, Evangelical Alliance, Fulcrum, Affinity, Reform, Church Society etc. That is quite a diverse group, but all would want to count themselves as evangelical, and all would say similar things about Scripture in their basis of faith.

That is why that statement is made.

So far as Nicky Gumbel is concerned, who are you to judge him?

Grandmère Mimi said...

David, I took the Alpha course. That is my authority on Nicky Gumbel. Enduring the course was the most difficult Lenten discipline ever for me. Once I saw what the course was, I stuck with Alpha only to be able to speak with some knowledge of how much I disliked it.

Anonymous said...

Pluralist

I am sorry, that i will not be able to read your post anymore. I think it is important to have diversity of thought. I confess you lose me sometimes academically speaking, that is me not you. I really do not think it is helpful to keep talking about conservative and liberal views, that is to disregard as you indicated once the very human view. Open evangelicalism can only exist if people like yourself are there to challenge the people who believe only their view is the right one, and take the humanity out of christianity by misapplying bible quotes to the wrong people at the wrong time in the wrong situation.
But also another side of the coin is that the independant voice in terms of independant forums, which have a good knowledge of evangelical forums may be what "open evangelicasm" IS. Those who are incapable of seeing another persons point of view if everyone moves forum they soon will not have anyone to share that view with. An unshared view is like grass without rain. closed evangelicalism is the Bible without Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Just a ps I am not the same anonymous as 12-58

Erika Baker said...

David
I agree with you that what defines evangelicals is their attitude to Scripture, and I agree that this is something liberals don't share.

One of my closest friends is an evangelical and it is absolutely fascinating to discuss all the major faith issues with her.
She often has a completely different approach to mine, yet I am amazed at how often we arrive at the same conclusion.

As an evangelical she feels insulted when other evangelicals tell her that there is only one way to read Scripture. She has made it her life to study Scripture and rarely finds an easy answer in it.
She wrestles with the verses I simply dismiss until she feels she understands them.
Her conclusions are never foregone and she is amazingly willing to change her mind if she believes the evidence demands it.

I have nothing but the deepest respect for evangelicals like her.
I have no respect for people who simply use isolated verses to shore up their own prejudice.

I do, of course, have the same problems with liberals who simply hold left wing views without engaging with their theology.

Whatever form of Chritianity works best for you, there are those who are open and willing to engage and to learn, and those who are absolutely closed and rigid.

Charlotte said...

But of course this has all happened at least once before in the English Church. The Puritans of the English Civil War were rehabilitated after the WW II by a group of neo-Marxist historians who tried to make them out to be social progressives, but they weren't, and aren't, and they go the same depressing way every time they get themselves into the driver's seat.

Anonymous said...

I came to offer my support pluralist (not that you need it-- i just wanted to give it; but you sound quite chipper ehre --so that is good) and to say I'll miss you on the F site.

(LR)

Anonymous said...

PS I'll probably quite site F myself without you there--no really.

BTW what is the viagraville ?

I tried to enroll here but it would nt accept my name but DID accept me as anon !Maybe i did something wrong !

But i can always sign LR or something and you 'll know me from the 'centre of open E' / site F..... !

hey ho

Its nice to see quite a few F. people popping in here AND Erika too. Erika's friend sounds impressive (as are Erika's posts and thoughtfulness).

I guess site F can be pleeased to have been taken so seriously and by you AW /P with such devotion and care in what you think and write.

laurence

Anonymous said...

It makes me laught that no matter how many times he goes off in a huff, LRoberts is always coming back too!

25 February 2010 21:11 Tim G

Gosh ! Fame at last !

I know I'm a bit sad ! ;-)

Anonymous said...

'Makes me laught that no matter how many times he goes off in a huff, LRoberts is always coming back too!'

25 February 2010 21:11
Mae'n braf i weld na yma ! ;- )
Good to see that here ! ; - )

V -word is phyphoce.

If the church had a machine like this --or indeed this one and genreated all these lovely words and like these; AND then used them in various lovely and loving ways, could it gradually give rise to new thoughts, new blessednesses, new fforms of orthopraxis --or even just day dreams, delight and daring to be simple happy and real ? !

-- i only wondered !

phyphoc shande renchem :-)

Anonymous said...

Makes me laught that no matter how many times he goes off in a huff, LRoberts is always coming back too!'

25 February 2010 21:11
Mae'n braf i weld na yma ! ;- )
Good to see that here ! ; - )

V -word is phyphoce.

If the church had a machine like this --or indeed this one and genreated all these lovely words and like these; AND then used them in various lovely and loving ways, could it gradually give rise to new thoughts, new blessednesses, new fforms of orthopraxis --or even just day dreams, delight and daring to be simple happy and real ? !

-- i only wondered !

phyphoc shande renchem :-)

4 March 2010 18:42

PS forgot to sign --tis moi L R

V-word autswees

oh that i might ...