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Richard Holloway on Church and Ethics

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.

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