Friday 23 November 2012

Effectively Chucked Off Fulcrum

In effect, Fulcrum has kicked me off their pages. In fact, I think they are right. I have stressed a number of times that I have been a visitor, and clearly now there is the addition of troubled times in the Church of England. I don't really want to be posting on such a web forum and my views are not within the evangelical sphere of any kind. They have a doctrine to uphold, a general stance to discuss, and they also have increasingly difficult times with Conservative Evangelicals, and I have no interest in upholding any of these doctrines.

Fair play to them for holding my opinions at all! They do genuinely stretch out and there are fuzzy borders. I'm not even near them: I represent liberality in religion full stop. There are Conservative Evangelicals who call Fulcrum people 'traitors' (I've just read this elsewhere) and such is indicative of the present condition of internal Anglican relationships. It is obviously unfair. But the recent vote in the General Synod does expose Fulcrum and its own failure to advance the consecration of women from an apparent evangelical viewpoint.

The problem is that I see a knife through the middle of Fulcrum's position. That is, the blocking minority of Conservative Evangelicals will attract some in Fulcrum more committed to evangelicalism. But others are appalled at what they have done, and must see a future more with liberal types. The centre ground doesn't hold. I've said this before; well, some things get repeated.

Perhaps Fulcrum is having a clear-out. I can think of some other repetitive posters there, though one Conservative Evangelical who nearly sabotaged the site with his aggressive repetition has been quiet for a while. Perhaps he was chucked off too.

I received this:

Hi Adrian

I'm afraid I'm not prepared to authorise this post. You have come up with similar lines again and again. I honestly think you should take a rest from Fulcrum.

John Martin
Gen Secretary

[I had been asked by Bowman: What is your actual difficulty with Rudolf Bultmann's old demythologising program as applied to the Resurrection?]

Because it is a deception. To know that dead people do not come back to life, but to continue to 'use' it in some scriptural dynamic of the Church, is not having your cake and still eating it. For most folks, it appears by such 'sophisticated use' that the dead person did come back to consciousness. It brings theology into discredit. No other subject operates in this way, other than fiction. So better to be clear. And indeed groups do and can form without such belief and do so for ethical purposes.

Hi Adrian

Likewise I will not authorise this


No measure for the ordination of women as bishops will pass. The division is there and the road is towards more sectarianism of the Church from society. The Conservative Evangelicals will now get proportionately stronger. The pro-equality people say in the future a single clause is the only way. The resistance will say a third province or minimum male-led non-geographical diocese. So it will not pass. People who are progressive minded, actual liberal minded, ought to leave. The URC is making reasonable progress on these grounds, though I don't give much towards its longevity.

The debate above the above had been this (in time order):

Posted by: Pluralist     Wednesday 7 November 2012 - 06:43pm

There is a different approach altogether. These scriptures are nothing more than of a different culture separated by time as well as others are separated by space. They require he equivalent of a social anthropologist to imaginatively 'time travel' as well as any contemporary person trying to show them loyalty. They contain beliefs and ideas that we simply do not share any more, either in intellectual thought or common practical thought. Like creeds, the exist in a museum of thinking. The more fundamentalist a Christian, the more capable they seem to be of throwing a switch to live in this world with all its standard explanations for things, and then live in their church-world of their strange imagination.

The fundamentalist approach to scripture is like a person who extends energy but does no work. The texts do no work. They explain nothing wider than their own curiosities.

Posted by: Pluralist     Saturday 17 November 2012 - 06:32pm

Regarding your reply to me: These are not cultural equals. One of them, ours, does actual work, it delivers results, and delivers results sometimes contrary to as we might wish. The other, delving into the biblical mindset, as if we can, does not work because it is fanciful and imagined. It shows a belief in things supernatural, in after-death, in beyonds, in rapidly ending things that did not, matters now that would be good for fiction and imagination, but no more than that. I'm aware of the philosophical arguments, including about the limits of language, but the strength of evidence-based thinking is in the delivery and knowing the lack of delivery and thus the need to keep looking. This is not to deny the place of arts, culture and awe, and about human service and exchange, but they exist in their relativities and not in some imagined world claiming superiority never mind equality. And I see no purpose in a religion that involves the cult of the individual when the individual himself never wanted it. Gandhi, who was aware of the same possibility regarding himself, said a clear no in advance, and of course we know far more about Gandhi and his ethical stance and then anti-tribal position (which you do not get from Jesus) and self-sacrifice than we do regarding Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha etc. The question is not about what they did, each or all, but what we end up doing and critically using our own culture to achieve it, including the transferable ethics they and other previous folks may have passed on.

Posted by: Bowman     Friday 9 November 2012 - 03:05am Adrian-- Drained of its snark, the basic idea in your last post is more right than not, and quite useful. Reading the bible as canonical scripture does require a bicultural mind, the first culture coming involuntarily from some accident of birth, and the second from a civilisation acquired voluntarily and largely from the scriptures themselves. And yes, as with any bicultural identity, it does take cultivation and skill to see the world in a binocular way. Switching? A monocle really isn't necessary unless one is weak in one eye. Some actually are, but most human beings do learn to see with the second eye of one civilisation or the other. So it can't be that hard to begin with, though there are those with exceptional vision and attentiveness, and different civilisations open different vistas. A few of us, as you say, are capable enough to compare them. And fundamentalism? It's the attempt to be religious whilst being monocultural on the old modern model-- just the first culture just because it was first. In today's pluralistic societies that seems hopelessly stubborn and egoistic, eh? But it is best not to judge the one-eyed. Does anyone intentionally make such a sad, drastic sacrifice of the intellect as to live all one's life in a labyrinth of accident whilst realising that there is so much more outside it? I don't think so. Those who find the exit take it.

Posted by: Bowman     Monday 19 November 2012 - 04:03am

Adrian, despite your courteous opener, your post does not seem to have responded to my last post. It's very good to hear from you in any case, of course. However, the standard arguments that you did post in your reply seem not to engage my proposed views on either the scriptures or Jesus. This is not surprising-- the latter have barely been presented. Alas, given the normal time constraints of a useful life, it cannot be a high priority for me to explain or defend arguments that I am not actually making. As the thread actually progresses, however, then my own arguments should get clearer, and if you still believe that your arguments have some interesting traction on them, then I hope that you will raise them again yourself.

Meanwhile, I should note that if you can show that e.g. John McDowell's influential critique of the impossible "disentangling manoeuvre" is mistaken, then your place in the history of Western thought will be assured. The more profound epistemological critique synthesised from many thinkers in Hilary Putnam's Collapse of the Fact/Value Distinction appears to have made this development irreversible. However, if you cannot discredit at least McDowell's argument, then there is probably no value-free (or, if you prefer, "evidence-only") sphere from which one can critique bodies of thought.

Posted by: Pluralist     Monday 19 November 2012 - 12:41pm

Seriously, Bowman, I look forward to your arguments getting clearer. I am aware of the apparent absence of neutral ground to argue from, but I look forward to another non-interventionist defence of an interventionist religion. There is a funny thing about, say, dead people not coming alive again that no amount of words can disguise - these things either happen or they don't. They don't.

Posted by: Bowman     Tuesday 20 November 2012 - 04:04am Thanks, Adrian, for the uncanny, timely reminder of your "dead men don't rise" argument. # A reply was composed, but my connection timed out as I hit "send," losing the text. Dead texts don't say anything either, but I believe in the reconstruction of the said, and some transform of it should appear over the weekend. # Neutral ground? No need for it, if we have shared ground in the pursuit of justice, peace, and beauty. # McDowell's argument is useful in the defense of pluralism and eclecticism, among other things. Putnam's "Reason, Truth, and History" is a free download, and interesting, but "The Collapse of the Fact/Value Distinction" is a better overview.

Posted by: Bowman     Thursday 22 November 2012 - 02:12am Adrian, I'm realising that despite many explanations your own view is unclear to me. # (1) What is your actual difficulty with Rudolf Bultmann's old demythologising program as applied to the Resurrection? After all, to accommodate your premise that normal people can't believe in "miracles" of any kind, he situated the event of the Resurrection in the non-miraculous kerygma of the Church. That is, he accepted the ordinary "methodological materialism" of the science he knew, but not the "eliminative materialism" that would deny the reality of everything else. Setting NT hermeneutical and hustorical considerations completely aside for a moment, why would even that kerygma not be a reasonable basis for banding together to feed the hungry, fight for justice, work for peace, create beauty, discover things, etc in Jesus's name? People actually do those things in churches I know well. Do you think that they should stop? (2) What in your present religious views supplies a reasonable basis for people to band together feed the hungry, fight for justice, work for peace, create beauty, discover things, etc? Do people actually do those things for that reason in non-traditional fellowships you know well? # Unlike some villagers, I agree with Tom Wright among others that reasoning about the Resurrection is intrinsically (cf. theologia crucis) non-coercive. Some people get it, and go on to collaborate and do things because of it. Other people don't get it, which proves very convincingly that other people don't get it. We have known this for a long time.

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