What’s so special about the Bible?

Geneva Bible, first printed 1560

Geneva Bible, first printed 1560

This is an edited version of a talk I gave at St Brides Liverpool on 26th March.

Among Christians the authority of the Bible, and how to read it, are hotly contested. The best known debates at the moment are about the ethics of same-sex partnerships and gender relationships.

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Women priests: are liberals being inconsistent?

QuarrellingNo, sex and women priests are not the same thing.

In the continuing debate over the Bishop of Sheffield, liberals are often accused of saying one thing about women priests and the opposite about same-sex partnerships. I am grateful to a number of correspondents, including Tiffer Robinson and David Emmott, for helping me understand the point. Still, I think it is mistaken, and this post explains my reasons.

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Are liberals illiberal about women priests?

Group of childrenExclusive inclusives! Intolerant tolerance!

When Philip North announced his withdrawal from the post of Bishop of Sheffield, it was open season for his supporters to accuse liberals of being illiberal. This post is a defence of liberalism, inclusiveness and tolerance.

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Sheffield’s women and Christian sacraments

AltarThis is the third of three blog posts responding to the appointment of Philip North, an opponent of women priests, as Bishop of Sheffield.

In the first I described Martyn Percy’s argument that the appointment should not proceed as long as Philip rejects the priesthood of the women priests there. In the second I described the trend for ecclesiastical decrees from on high to substitute for theological analysis of the issue. This time I turn to the theological question.

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Sheffield’s women and church fudge

Mitre on fudgeThis is the second of three blog posts responding to the appointment of Philip North, an opponent of women priests, as Bishop of Sheffield.

In the first I described Martyn Percy’s argument that the appointment should not proceed as long as Philip rejects the priesthood of the women priests in Sheffield Diocese, because it would put the women priests in Sheffield in an impossible position.

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Sheffield’s women: who should tolerate what?

John Sentamu & Philip North

John Sentamu & Philip North

Outcry all round. Philip North, the suffragan Bishop of Burnley who opposes the ordination of women, is to become the next Bishop of Sheffield. This is the first of three posts on the subject.

It is a diocesan post, so he will have oversight of all the priests in his diocese. A third of them are women.

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The Bible as a wordsearch puzzle book

Wordsearch gridThe debate continues. In my recent post about same-sex relationships I accused Susie Leafe, Director of Reform, of making five errors about the Bible. In the comments at the bottom of the clatworthy edition (it isn’t in the Modern Church one) is a defence of Susie by Philip Almond and an invitation to continued dialogue.

I’m torn. Part of me feels angry that anyone should use such complicated systems to make the Bible mean what they want it to mean. The other part welcomes dialogue as our best hope of the two sides making progress. So I offer a general overview of the two most common ways to interpret the Bible, leaving to the end – as a kind of appendix – my detailed replies to Philip.

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What was that about the Bible?

radio studioThe BBC’s Today programme this morning interviewed Simon Sarmiento and Susie Leafe on the Church of England House of Bishops’ recent report on same-sex partnerships. If you want to listen to it it’s here , 1:21:45 in.

Simon was very polite about the bishops, much more than I would have been, but this post is about Susie’s contribution. Susie is the Director of Reform. I apologise in advance for the bitchy nature of my critique, but I strongly believe people who misrepresent the Bible while claiming to be its most fervent supporters should not be allowed to get away with it.

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You will be free to do what we tell you

Justin Welby, Archbishop of CanterburyThe Church of England’s General Synod is due to meet on 15th February, and some bizarre preparations are being made.

This post is about a long document, Setting God’s People Free , written by the Archbishops’ Council. On behalf of Modern Church I have written a response, much shorter but still over 4000 words, Setting God’s People Free to Do What They are Told. (Currently there’s a problem with the link. Click here and then click the link at the bottom of that page.)

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Here we go again

Bishop‘My primary feeling on reading the document was “here we go again”‘, Miranda Threlfall-Holmes remarks on her excellent response to the latest report from the Church of England’s House of Bishops on the apparently never-ending issue of same-sex relationships.

The Report is called Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations . I hope Miranda’s arguments carry some weight in the forthcoming General Synod meeting.

I’m not going to repeat what she says. This post focuses on why the Church of England’s leadership time after time comes out with statements like this, making no real changes while knowing perfectly well that the pantomime will have to end one day.

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