Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dispatch from the House of Bishops ....

Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 [redacted]:02:18 PM
Subject: [HoB/D] Boundaries for Biblical Interpretation

Dear Friends,

The two questions that continue to be at the center of the struggle in all Christianity are, "What sort of authority to we assign to Scripture?" and "How do we interpret Scripture?" I would add a third, "Are there boundaries of acceptable interpretation and if so, what are they?"

I add the third because I think there may well be boundaries at both ends of the spectrum to what is acceptable and not acceptable in the employment of scripture. At the liberal end it may way be too complete a deconstruction of the texts that suggests we can edit out portions just as Thomas Jefferson did. We spend a good bit of time chewing out liberal
interpreters for this sort of thing. At the other end, however, there are also genres of interpretation and authority which do violence to scripture and subsequently violence to people. We only need look at centuries of pogroms against Jews, the justification of the enslavement of and brutality towards Africans (and others), the justifications of violence against women in order to ensure their submission to their husbands, and the total hysteria about homosexuality that leads to its criminalization, violence against gays and lesbians and their marginalization.

It is easy to dismiss the sort of nutcases who have over the years written the most reprehensible pamphlets abusing scripture for the purpose of justifying violence against people. But it is really at the closer in boundary where we need to be clear about what is and is not violence against scripture. This discussion will be much harder and the boundary tough to
demarcate, but it is important to do so. The tacit permission someone like ++Akinola gives to the imprisonment and violence against gays is unacceptable and we as a church should say so loud and clear.


This email sent to the HoB/D listserv is from Michael Russell, who contributed to this "olive branch", and oh by the way believes that the best response to departing parishes is to change locks and freeze bank accounts:

What I see here is a clear case of someone trying to back into his own choice of result by maneuvering folks into believing that his approach is reasonable, basically by proving from the git go that all other approaches (which do “violence” to everyone) are unreasonable. It’s the same old “when did you stop beating your wife” argument (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!).

Truth is, Mr. Russel has obviously never considered the idea that Jesus thought being in sin the worst offense of all, worse than being a wife, worse than being a slave, worse than being beaten bodily, worse than the most unimaginable earthly despair. He obviously cannot wrap his brain around that fact (as can almost NO revisionists) and as such must find an alternate, more “reasonable” and progressive solution.