RSS

Richard Holloway on Church and Ethics

13 Sep

Richard Holloway

The former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway states that Christianity and other revealed religions have a problem with keeping up with the best of modern ethics.

He says that a lot of church values are bronze age values; the subordination of women, seeing gays as an abomination (Leviticus) and how slavery was authenticated.

Holloway says, “If you believe that your revealed Scripture (‘our sacred title deeds’) is timelessly perfect in every regard, then you’re stuck with these bronze-age attitudes.”  The following quote is verbatim from ABC RN – Big Idea.

Christianity has to recognize that ethical challenges can come from the state and from secular society.  They don’t have a monopoly on goodness and idealistic thinking and the real challenges to the church in my lifetime have all come from outside the church: the challenge of women – the feminist movement – it took the church a long time to catch up*, and the gay thing, most people under 40 in my country (Great Britain) – the issue’s over – and we’re tearing ourselves apart about it, because it’s there in our sacred title deeds, and we need to reposition ourselves with regard to the title deeds.

It is said that a fish is unaware of the water it swims in.  In the same way many are oblivious to this discord between secular and conservative Christian ethics.  For some, equality and respect are corollaries with belief in a loving God, while for others, a hierarchy of humanity and exclusivities are necessary for belief.

What are the exclusivities in your congregation?  Are women in your congregation doing any of the following:

  • reading the lessons of the day
  • being stewards
  • assisting at holy communion
  • serving on your pastoral committee or church council (and doing something other than secretarial tasks and taking minutes)
  • serving as congregational chairperson
  • preaching the sermon
  • serving as pastor of your congregation

       It is an absolute certainty that one day women will serve in all of these roles and more.

*T   * The LCA, at this point, has not yet caught up with the equality of women.

       Reference: Religion: the next chapter – Big Ideas – ABC Radio National Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Sa

S

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

24 responses to “Richard Holloway on Church and Ethics

  1. Wally Schiller

    September 16, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Somewhat surprising that a person of this kind should be given credence in regard to ethics when one reads the following description: ‘This self-described “expectant agnostic,” who does not believe in god or heaven but has no desire to convince you that you shouldn’t, was until nine years ago the Bishop of Edinburgh and titular head of the Scottish church.’ I would read his assessment with no more than a smile. That anyone might somehow read this as an indictment of the LCA eludes me entirely!

     
    • Christoph Donges

      September 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or unrelated belief of the person supporting it.[1] Ad hominem reasoning is normally described as a logical fallacy, more precisely an informal fallacy and an irrelevance.

       
      • Katie and Martin

        September 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm

        Indeed! Thanks Christoph. We need to listen to all the arguments. There just may be truth hidden there.

         
        • Wally Schiller

          September 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm

          Listening to the arguments is fine – no issue with that. Drawing unrelated conclusions from them as you have done – an as you so re3gularly do – is far more removed from reality than my questioning in my first comment.

           
      • Wally Schiller

        September 16, 2012 at 11:34 pm

        “unrelated”! That one doesn’t believe in God is hardly unrelated – it is in fact, central, basic and unavoidable!

         
        • Christoph Donges

          September 17, 2012 at 1:09 am

          How is belief in god related to ethics?

           
          • Wally Schiller

            September 17, 2012 at 2:17 am

            The real question is: Will anything be gained from attempting to give an answer to such a question? Experience tells me: No. Suffice it to say that any ethical response on matters of the Christian faith made without God is incongruous.

             
  2. Katie and Martin

    September 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Richard Holloway’s criticism is difficult to disagree with. Those who believe that Scripture is “timelessly perfect in every regard” are inconsistent beyond rationality.
    We choose to reject a first century interpretation of Scripture, in favour of a more contemporary world view and scholarly understanding of the gospel. First century Palestine (and maybe even Jesus) believed that Earth was the centre of the universe, that the creation happened in 6 days and that slavery was an acceptable part of the social order, but that doesn’t bind us to such a world view today. Jesus gave us reason and intellect in addition to faith.

     
    • Christoph Donges

      September 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      Agree

       
    • Wally Schiller

      September 16, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      I don’t find it difficult to disagree with a criticizer who uses emotive argument and blanket statements based on a self-professed lack of belief in God.

       
  3. Kristen

    September 17, 2012 at 6:19 am

    In Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, it was the Jews’ despised enemy who showed what compassion and neighborliness should look like. We should not reject the voice of an “enemy” when it tells the truth. The Church does not have a monopoly on ethical thinking, and an agnostic is quite capable of knowing right from wrong, and of seeing where the Church has let tradition blind it to that knowledge. The full equality of all human beings under God, and the responsibility of Christians to love our neighbor even when he or she is LGBT, are the ramifications of the gospel, and those ramifications have borne themselves out in Western democracy. The Church should not ignore them through myopic concentration on the letter of the Book. That’s what the Pharisees did.

     
  4. Christoph Donges

    September 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Wally Schiller :
    The real question is: Will anything be gained from attempting to give an answer to such a question? Experience tells me: No. Suffice it to say that any ethical response on matters of the Christian faith made without God is incongruous.

    Secular society has been leading many churches in the past in ethical areas such as slavery, woman’s and homosexual rights. God doesn’t seem to have a good track record lately.

     
    • Wally Schiller

      September 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      Ah, Christoph, funny (and sad) that you should blame God when it is actually self-seeking human beings, sinners as we all are, who are really at fault. It is better we seek his will instead of our own. And how do we do that, before you ask? By reading, hearing, studying his Word and seeking to live by it in our lives, not by changing it to suit the thinking of the day.

       
      • Christoph Donges

        September 17, 2012 at 8:12 pm

        How do we know god wrote the bible?

         
        • Wally Schiller

          September 18, 2012 at 12:11 am

          So, we are back to the same tactic: an answer is provided, it is ignored, and in its place, a different question. You have asked that question in another forum, an answer was given and you have chosen not to accept it. There is therefore little point in continuing on that path, so I will leave it at that.

           
          • Christoph Donges

            September 18, 2012 at 1:01 am

            My only ‘tactic’ is a search for truth. You haven’t answered that question. How do we know that the bible is a reliable guide for ethics? How do we know the bible is inspired?

             
          • Wally Schiller

            September 18, 2012 at 1:34 am

            I have made my point clearly. I will leave it at that. The Word stands better than I do.

             
          • Christoph Donges

            September 18, 2012 at 2:23 am

            Wally Schiller :
            I have made my point clearly. I will leave it at that. The Word stands better than I do.

            You haven’t and it doesn’t.

             
          • Wally Schiller

            September 18, 2012 at 2:48 am

            So, the Word doesn’t stand better than I do? Hmm! Thanks for the confidence, but I don’t accept it. Sadly, it seems we are on different paths. God bless.

             
          • Christoph Donges

            September 18, 2012 at 2:51 am

            Wally Schiller :
            So, the Word doesn’t stand better than I do? Hmm! Thanks for the confidence, but I don’t accept it. Sadly, it seems we are on different paths. God bless.

            Yes, Unlike god in the bible I don’t think you sanction genocide or child sacrifice.

             
          • Wally Schiller

            September 18, 2012 at 4:21 am

            Your response again proves my point – another issue! You are indeed a master of this tactic! But, the Word stands even above your tactics.

             
        • Kristen

          September 18, 2012 at 6:29 am

          God didn’t write the Bible. Christians believe the Bible is God-inspired, but written by humans. How inspiration works is another matter, on which Christians differ. Many Christians believe in “incarnational” inspiration, which means the Bible reflects the attitudes of the times in which it was written. As for how we know it’s inspired– I personally believe it’s inspired because of the comfort, strength and courage I receive from it. YMMV.

           
  5. Christoph Donges

    September 18, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Wally Schiller :
    Your response again proves my point – another issue! You are indeed a master of this tactic! But, the Word stands even above your tactics.

    Wally Schiller :
    Your response again proves my point – another issue! You are indeed a master of this tactic! But, the Word stands even above your tactics.

    I just don’t think the bible is a good moral guide. For example genocide:

    And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain. Deuteronomy 2:34

    And we utterly destroyed them, … utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city. Deuteronomy 3:6

    And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them. Deuteronomy 7:2

    And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them. Deuteronomy 7:16

    Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. Deuteronomy 13:15

    But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. Deuteronomy 20:16-17

    And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21

    So smote all the country … he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. Joshua 10:40

    Thus saith the LORD of hosts … go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:2-3

     

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: