Failing the Green Test – a critical examination of the material from the House of Bishops

The Green test

When I began my study of theology in Oxford in the 1980s  one of my theological mentors was the late, great Michael Green. Among the very many things I learned from him was the ‘Green test’, the two questions that a student should ask of any item on a theology reading list. These two questions are (a) ‘What is this writer trying to sell me?’ and (b) ‘Is this something I should buy?’

In this article I shall apply the Green test to the material produced by the House of Bishops last week as their response to the Living in Love and Faith process.  I shall apply the Green test and I shall argue that (a) the bishops are trying to sell a wholesale revision of Christian sexual ethics and that (b) the Church of England (and specifically the General Synod) should on no account buy what they are selling.

What the bishops have produced

The bishops produced two items last week.

The first item was a report entitled  Living in Love and Faith:  A response from the Bishops of the Church of England about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.[1]

This report is in four parts.

  • ‘A pastoral letter from the Bishops of the Church of England,’ which includes an apology  ‘for the ways in which the Church of England has treated LGBTQI+ people.’ [2]
  • ‘About Prayers of Love and Faith,’ which provides an introduction to and a rationale for the new set of liturgical resources produced by the bishops.
  • ‘Towards new pastoral resources,’ which gives details of the work that will be undertaken by the members of a new Pastoral Advisory Group’ to  ‘support and advise bishops and dioceses on pastoral responses to circumstances that arise concerning identity, relationships, sexuality and marriage among clergy, ordinands, lay leaders and the lay people in their care.’ [3]  The advice produced by this group will supersede the existing 1991 House of Bishops report Issues in Human Sexuality.
  • ‘Areas for the Church to attend to and develop,’ which sets out the further work that that the bishops think that Church of England needs to undertake in the four areas of ‘Human Embodiment.’  ‘Singleness, celibacy, friendship, community, family and household,’ ‘Human identity’ and ‘Everyday faithful relationships.’

The second item was Prayers of Love and Faith.[4]  These are the liturgical resources previously mentioned and their purpose is to provide ‘resources in praying with and for two people who love one another and who wish to give thanks for and mark that love in faith before God.’ [5]

Following a ‘Pastoral Introduction.,’ these resources are in four sections, which are ‘Prayers Acclamations and Promises’, ‘Psalms and Readings, ‘Service Structures’  and ‘Sample Services.’ Among those for whom the resources are intended are same-sex couples who have ‘registered a civil partnership, or entered into a civil marriage’[6] and no distinction is made with regard to whether the relationships involved are sexually active or sexually abstinent.

The motion to be debated at Synod

On 8 February the members of General Synod will be asked to endorse the material in these two items by means of the following motion:

‘That this Synod, recognising the commitment to learning and deep listening to God and to each other of the Living in Love and Faith process, and  desiring with God’s help to journey together while acknowledging the different deeply held convictions within the Church:

(a) lament and repent of the failure of the Church to be welcoming to LGBTQI+ people and the harm that LGBTQI+ people have experienced and continue to experience in the life of the Church;

(b) recommit to our shared witness to God’s love for and acceptance of every person by continuing  to embed the Pastoral Principles in our life together locally and nationally;

(c) commend the continued learning together enabled by the Living in Love and Faith process and resources in relation to identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage;

(d) welcome the decision of the House of Bishops to replace Issues in Human Sexuality with new pastoral guidance;

(e) welcome the response from the College of Bishops and look forward to the House of Bishops further refining, commending and issuing the Prayers of Love and Faith described in GS 2289 and its Annexes;

(f) invite the House of Bishops to monitor the Church’s use of and response to the Prayers of Love and Faith, once they have been commended and published, and to report back to Synod in five years times.’[7]

If this motion is passed, the material produced by the bishops will have been endorsed by the Church of England. So, the question is ‘Should the motion be passed?’  I think the answer is ‘No’ and to explain why I want to move on to look at what the bishops are selling  in their material.

What the bishops are selling

The initial reports about the bishops’ new material in the media, both secular and religious, have concentrated on three things, that the bishops have apologised to LGBTQI+ people, that they have refused to allow same-sex marriages, and that they are going to allow services of blessing for same-sex couples.

All these three points are true, but they do not get to the heart of what the bishops are proposing. As I have said, what the bishops are proposing is a radical revision of Christian sexual ethics. To understand this point it is useful to employ the motion on human sexuality passed by the General Synod in 1987 (the ‘Higton motion’) as a base line since this is still the official synodical teaching on the matter. This motion runs as follows:

‘This Synod affirms that the biblical and traditional teaching on chastity and fidelity in

personal relationships is a response to, and expression of, God’s love for each one of us,

and in particular affirms:

▪ that sexual intercourse is an act of total commitment which belongs properly

within a permanent married relationship;

▪ that fornication and adultery are sins against this ideal, and are to be met by a

call to repentance and the exercise of compassion;

▪ that homosexual genital acts also fall short of this ideal, and are likewise to be

met with a call to repentance and the exercise of compassion;

▪ that all Christians are called to be exemplary in all spheres of morality, and that

holiness of life is particularly required of Christian leaders.’[8]

That is, officially at least, where the Church of England currently stands. Now compare the 1987 motion with the following quotations from the new bishops’ material.

From A Response from the Bishops of the Church of England.

‘We are united in our desire for a church where everyone is welcome, accepted and affirmed in Christ. With joy we cherish and value the LGBTQI+ members of our churches and celebrate the gifts that each brings as a fellow Christian. We are united in our condemnation of homophobia. We commit ourselves – and urge the churches in our care – to welcome same-sex couples unreservedly and joyfully.’ (p.3)

‘We continue to seek to be a church that embodies ‘the radical new Christian inclusion’ to which the Living in Love and Faith project was called by the Archbishops in 2017: an inclusion that is ‘founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it – based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.’’ (p.3)

‘We want to find ways of affirming same-sex couples – inside and outside the church – while committing ourselves to respecting the disagreement, in conscience, of those who believe this compromises the Church’s inherited tradition and teaching.’ (p.4)

‘The Living in Love and Faith process has called the Church of England to reflect on the diversity of relationships that we recognise in our worshipping communities and among our friends and families. This has revealed a need for the Church to find ways of responding to the goodness of relationships between two people who are committed to one another in love and faith.’ (p.5)

‘While not explicitly stated in the Church’s Canons, for many years the Church has taught that the only rightful place for sexual activity is marriage. There is disagreement in the Church about how this applies in our culture today. The reality within which the Church now lives is that couples inhabit their relationships differently. Many would say that when two people aspire to be faithful to one another and fruitful in their service of others and of God, these ‘goods’ of relationships are worth recognising and celebrating. The prayers offered here are an attempt to respond by celebrating what is good and asking God to fill these relationships so they can grow in holiness.’  (p.8)

From Prayers in love and faith

‘These Prayers of Love and Faith are commended by the House of Bishops as resources in praying with and for two people who love one another and who wish to give thanks for and mark that love in faith before God. To celebrate in God’s presence the commitment two people have made to each other is an occasion for rejoicing. The texts are offered to express thanksgiving and hope, with prayer that those who are dedicating their life together to God may grow in faith, love and service as God’s blessing rests upon them.’ (p.2)

What we find by comparing the 1987 motion and this new material is that according to the 1987 motion that Church of England holds that same-sex sexual activity, like all other forms of sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage, are sins and are to be responded to not only with that compassion that Christians must show to all sinners in need of the grace of God, but also with a ‘call to repentance.’

The new proposal, by contrast, is that the ‘radical Christian inclusion’ to which the Church is called means that all same-sex couples, even if they are in a same-sex sexual relationship, must be unreservedly and joyfully welcomed affirmed and celebrated by those in the Church on the grounds of the ‘goodness’ to be found in such relationships.

This includes marking such relationships liturgically with thanksgiving and celebration and with prayer that God’s blessing will rest upon them. This is important because the ancient Christian principle Lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of praying is the law of believing) which the Church of England has always accepted means that how the Church prays shows what it believes.[9] It follows therefore that if the new liturgical materials are adopted by the  Church of England then this will mean that the Church of England holds that same-sex sexual relationships, including same-sex marriages, are worthy of thanksgiving and celebration and may be expected to be the subject of God’s future blessing.

Paul Roberts may well be correct in his claim that the service which the Church of England is offering to LGBTQI+ people in the new rites is not ‘comparable to what it offers to heterosexual couples following a civil marriage.’ [10] As someone who is not a liturgical expert, I am prepared to accept his opinion unless shown otherwise. However, even if this is case, that is not the main issue. The main issue is that what the Church of England is proposing is a form of liturgy that must mean that same same-sex marriages and same-sex sexual relationships in general are acceptable before God. If this was not the case they would have to be met with prayers of confession, penitence and absolution rather than with prayers  of thanksgiving and celebration and for blessing.

It follows that the critique applied by J I Packer and Edith Humphrey to the prayers of same-sex blessing introduced by the Canadian diocese of New Westminster back in 2003 also apply to what is being proposed by the bishops:

J I Packer writes:

‘To bless same-sex unions liturgically is to ask God to bless them and to enrich those who join in them, as is done in marriage ceremonies. This assumes that the relationship, of which the physical bond is an integral part, is intrinsically good and thus, if I may coin a word, blessable, as procreative sexual intercourse within heterosexual marriage is.’[11]

Edith Humphrey writes:

‘ What would it mean to bless same-sex erotic arrangements? It would be to declare that these so-called “unions” are in themselves pictures or icons of God’s love, to say that they display the salvation story, to rejoice that that they are glorified or taken up into God’s own actions and being. It would be to declare that they have a significant and fruitful part in creation, and that they are symbols of the in-breaking and coming rule of God, in which the Church now shares and in which we will eventually participate fully. It would be to “speak a good word” about this sort of relationship, explicitly declaring it to be a condition in which the way of the cross and the way of new life come together.’[12]

A number of further consequences also follow from what the bishops are proposing.

First, the other things that the bishops say fill out the content of the apology that the bishops offer to LGBTQI+ people for the Church’s past conduct. This apology runs as follows:

‘We want to apologise for the ways in which the Church of England has treated LGBTQI+ people – both those who worship in our churches and those who do not. For the times we have rejected or excluded you, and those you love, we are deeply sorry. The occasions on which you have received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful and for this we repent. As we have listened, we have been told time and time again how we have failed LGBTQI+ people. We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong.’ [13]

In this quotation the precise details of what is being apologised for are not specified. However, if the Church now believes that the proper response to same-sex couples is  unreserved and joyful welcome, affirmation and celebration, it follows that the Church’s failure to do provide this must be a at least part of what the Church is apologising for. That in turn means that all those churches, clergy and laity who have followed the Church’s existing teaching by suggesting that same-sex sexual activity is sinful and requires repentance have been in the wrong and themselves need to apologise.

Secondly, all the future work proposed by the bishops will be governed by the principle of ‘radical inclusion’ understood as outlined above. This in turn means that everything that the Church of England believes and how it acts will gradually be shaped by a belief that same-sex sexual relationships and other items on the LGBTQI + agenda must accepted and affirmed.

Thirdly, although the bishops talk about ‘respecting the disagreement, in conscience’  of those who believe that the approach the bishops are commending ‘compromises the Church’s inherited tradition and teaching’ what will inevitably happen in practice is that these people will find lees and less room to exercise this disagreement because as just noted the Church of England will move further and further in a revisionist direction and those who cannot ‘get with the programme’ will become an increasingly despised minority whose freedom to act in accordance with their conscience will become increasingly restricted (as has happened in all the other churches where developments similar to those the bishops are proposing have been implemented).   

Fourthly, if what the bishops propose becomes the position of the Church of England then there can be no good reason for not holding same-sex weddings in church. If same-sex marriages can and should be marked liturgically with thanksgiving, celebration and prayers for blessing then there is absolutely no theological reason for not going the whole way and celebrating same-sex marriages in the same way as opposite sex-marriages. All that will prevent this is institutional inertia and that will not last for ever.

Should Synod buy what the bishops are selling?

The first reason why it might be argued that Synod should buy this is that it is necessary to uphold the unity of the Church of England. To quote the Synod motion it is needed  so that we can with ‘God’s help… journey together while acknowledging the different deeply held convictions within the Church.’

Obviously, it is important to try to ensure the institutional unity of the Church of England to the greatest extent possible.  However:

  • Such unity could also be achieved through action to ensure that in future everyone accepted and acted upon the existing policy of the Church as set out in the Higton motion – an approach which the bishops do not seem to have even considered.
  • Unity might also potentially be maintained through the kind of structurally differentiated unity that the Church of England Evangelical Council explores in its paper Visibly Different[14] and which has been discuss by Evangelicals and Liberals together in the St Hugh’s Group – once again an approach which the bishops do not seem to have considered.
  • Unity is not an absolute good. As the Elizabethan theologian John Jewel noted in his Apology for the Church of England ‘there was the greatest consent that might be amongst them that worshipped the golden calf and among those who with one voice jointly cried out against our Saviour Jesu Christ, ‘Crucify Him!’’[15] In other words, unity that is based on acting against God’s will is not a unity that is to be desired.

This brings us to the question of whether what the bishops are proposing is for or against God’s will. According to Anglican tradition there are three principal ways to know the will of God. The reflection of reason on the natural order that God has created, the reflection of reason on God’s additional revelation in Scripture (which confirms and supplements what is revealed by the natural order) and the teaching of the orthodox Fathers and Councils of the Early Church and of the ‘historic formularies’ of the Church of England, the Thirty-Nine Articles, The Book of Common Prayer and the 1662 Ordinal (see Canons A5 and C15), which bear faithful witness to the teaching given to us in Scripture. This approach is often summarised by saying that Anglican theology draws on Scripture, reason and tradition.

The bishops give a nod to this traditional approach when they write that:

‘It has been our work as bishops and teachers of the faith to draw on Scripture alongside tradition, reason and prayer to discern the direction we believe God is calling the Church to take regarding same-sex relationships.’[16]

However, all they give is this nod. They make no attempt, and I mean no attempt, to show that what they are proposing is in accordance with the revelation of God through the natural order, through Scripture and through the witness of the Fathers and the historic formularies.

The fact that they fail to ‘show their working’ in this way is of itself a good reason not to give their work approval. More fundamentally, however, even if they had attempted to show that nature, Scripture and tradition support their approach they would necessarily have failed in this attempt.

A study of human nature shows us that human beings have many things in common. As we have seen previously in this series, all human beings have bodies and souls and human bodies have common features such as heads, feet, hearts, and fingernails. However, alongside the things humans have in common there are also differences which allow us to tell one human being from another.

For example, some people have red hair while others are blonde, some have blue eyes while others have brown eyes, and some people are tall while others are short. Such differences enable us to distinguish Frank, who is blonde, has blue eyes, and is tall from Bill, who has red hair, has brown eyes and is short. The most significant of these differences between human beings is that they differ in their sex.

There are various physical and psychological differences between men and women which develop from the moment of conception, but all of these differences are characteristics of people who are fundamentally differentiated by the fact that their bodies are ordered towards the performance of different roles in sexual reproduction and in the nurture of children once they have been born. It is because male and female bodies are ordered in this way that the human race continues to exist. Every human being is in existence because one parent had male physical characteristics and the other had female physical characteristics.

Like nature, Scripture teaches us that there are two sexes, male and female. However, in Genesis 1:26-31 and Genesis 2: 18-25 the Bible gives us additional teaching about our existence as men and women.

First, it teaches us that the division of human beings into two sexes is not an evolutionary accident. It is how God, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, has created human beings to be. ‘Male and female he created them’ (Genesis 1:27).

Secondly, it teaches us that, like everything else created by God, the division of humanity into two sexes is something that is good. ‘And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31).

Thirdly, it teaches us that it is as male and female that human beings are the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1: 26-27). For human beings to exist as the image and likeness of God means that they have the capacity to know and love God, each other, and creation as a whole and the vocation to rule over creation on God’s behalf. However, they can only rightly exercise this capacity and fulfil this vocation as men and women acting together. That is why God says in Genesis 2:18 ‘it is not good that the man should be alone.’

Fourthly, it teaches us that there is a correspondence between the existence of human beings as male and female and the life of God himself. As the plural verb in Genesis 1:26 (‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’) indicates, God exists as three divine persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who possess both identity and difference. They are identical as God, but different in the way they are God.

As Genesis goes on to say, God has made human beings as persons who are likewise marked by both identity and difference. The identity and difference between men and women (identical in their humanity, differentiated by their sex) is the primary form of this human identity and differentiation from which all other forms of identity and difference then flow.

Fifthly, it teaches us that by creating the first man and woman and then bringing them together in marriage (Genesis 2:22-23) God has established the model for human sexual relationships for all time. As the American Old Testament scholar Richard Davidson notes, the introductory word ‘therefore’ in Genesis 2:24  ‘indicates that the relationship of Adam and Eve is upheld as the pattern for all human sexual relationships.’[17]

According to this pattern, the context for sexual intercourse is a permanent marital relationship between one man and one woman that is outside the immediate family circle, is freely chosen, is sexually exclusive and is ordered towards procreation in accordance with God’s command that men and women should ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:28).

In Scripture all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage thus defined are seen explicitly or implicitly as what the New Testament calls porneia – forms of sexual sin which have no place in the life of God’s people. This includes all forms of same-sex sexual activity (see Genesis 19, Judges 19:22–30, Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Deuteronomy 23:17–18, Mark 7:21, Acts 15:29, Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–1, 1 Timothy 1:10, Jude 7. [18]

No provision is made in Scripture for same-sex ‘marriages’ or partnerships and there is no theological room within the teaching of Scripture for them to exist. As Michael Brown observes:

  • Every single reference to marriage in the entire Bible speaks of heterosexual unions without exception, to the point that a Hebrew idiom for marriage is for a man ‘to take a wife’.
  • Every warning to men about sexual purity presupposes heterosexuality, with the married man often warned not to lust after another woman.
  • Every discussion about family order and structure speaks explicitly in heterosexual terms, referring to husbands and wives, fathers and mothers.
  • Every law or instruction given to children presupposes heterosexuality, as children are urged to heed or obey or follow the counsel or example of their father and mother.
  • Every parable, illustration or metaphor having to do with marriage is presented in exclusively heterosexual terms.

In the Old Testament, God depicts his relationship with Israel as that of a groom and a bride; in the New Testament, the image shifts to the marital union of husband and wife as a picture of Christ and the Church.[19]

It is because Scripture is thus clear about the matter that not only the Church of England but also the entire Christian tradition in all its forms has consistently upheld a pattern of sexual ethics based on either heterosexual marriage or sexual abstinence and has rejected same-sex sexual relationships as intrinsically sinful.[20] Space does not allow me to quote the sources in detail but Augustine speaks for the tradition as a whole when in the Confessions he describes the sin of the men of Sodom as ‘shameful acts against nature’ and comments:

‘If all nations were to do such things, they would [equally]be held guilty of the same crime by the law of God, which has not so made men that they should use one another in this way.’

Similarly, Thomas Aquinas declares that homosexual acts are ‘…always an injury done to the Creator, whether or not any offence is at the same time committed against one’s neighbour’ (as in the case of adultery, fornication and rape) the reason being that they violate God’s creative intent for his human creatures and the beauty of His work in creating them.

This being the case, there is no place within the principle of lex orandi, lex credendi as Anglicans have understood it for the Church of England to allow for the liturgical affirmation of same-sex partnerships. The marriage service in the Book of Common Prayer declares ‘that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s Word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful’ (‘lawful’ not just according to the law of the state, but according to the law of God).

All forms of same-sex sexual partnerships (same-sex marriages included) are examples of relationships ‘otherwise than God’s Word doth allow.’ It is for this reason that the Church of England as a church, with a liturgy based on Scripture, cannot give any form of liturgical affirmation to such relationships.

Because all this is case it follows that we have to say that from an Anglican perspective we have no choice but to say that what the bishops are proposing is contrary to God’s  known will and therefore not something Synod can rightly support.

The reference that bishops make to prayer is irrelevant. Private revelations received by bishops in the course of prayer are not an accepted Anglican authority (particularly when they contradict Scripture, reason and tradition).

It also needs to be further noted that in so far as what the bishops propose is contrary to the established doctrinal tradition it goes against the insistence in Canons B4 and 5 that any liturgical innovations ‘shall be neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter’ and as such is arguably illegal.

It might finally be argued that notwithstanding what has been said, what the bishops propose is necessary in order to show love to LGBTQI+ people. As Christians we are called to show love and this is a way to do it. However, this argument fails to understand the difference noted by Natasha Crain between the modern secular idea of love and the biblical approach. As she explains, the secular view holds that ‘feelings are the ultimate guide, happiness is the ultimate goal and judging is the ultimate sin, so love equals affirmation.’  In the biblical worldview, however, love is ‘the act of wanting for others what God wants for them’ [21] In wanting to give to LGBTQI+  people what God does not want to give them (i.e. affirmation for sinful behaviour) the bishops are thus proposing not to show them love at all and so this argument too falls.

What follows from all this is that the members of Synod cannot justifiably buy what the bishops are seeking  to sell them. The bishops have failed the Green test.

This means that either the bishops should withdraw their proposals, or that the clergy and laity in Synod should unhesitatingly vote ‘No’ to the motion that they are being asked to accept.

Appendix – response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a question about the blessing of same-sex unions

This official statement from Rome in 2021 points us to what the bishops should have said.

‘…..when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. Therefore, only those realities which are in themselves ordered to serve those ends are congruent with the essence of the blessing imparted by the Church.

For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.

Furthermore, since blessings on persons are in relationship with the sacraments, the blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit. This is because they would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing invoked on the man and woman united in the sacrament of Matrimony, while in fact “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”

The declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of the same sex is not therefore, and is not intended to be, a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them.’

The full text can be found at: Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex (vatican.va)


[1] This can be found at:  https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2023-01/FINAL%20Bishops%27%20Response%20to%20LLF%2020%20Jan%2023_0.pdf

[2] Bishops response, p.2.

[3] Bishops response p.9

[4] This can be found at https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2023-01///FINAL%20Draft%20Prayers%20of%20Love%20and%20Faith.pdf

[5] Prayers of Love and Faith, p.2.

[6] P.2.

[7] GS 2283, The Agenda, February Group of Sessions 2023, p.11 at https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2023-01/GS%202283%20Agenda%20Feb%2023%20v2.pdf

[8] General Synod Report of Proceedings, Vol 18 No 3, London: Church House Publishing, 1987 pp.955-

  956.

[9] See Martin Davie, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi (London: Latimer Trust, p.,19).

[10] Paul Roberts, ‘Prayers of Love and Faith – The Draft Rites’ at http://digitaltheology.uk/paulsblog/?p=752

[11] J I Packer  ‘Why I walked’  at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/january/6.46.html.  

[12] Edith Humphrey ‘The New Testament Speaks on Same-Sex Eroticism’

https://www.wycliffecollege.ca/archive/document/new-testament-speaks-same-sex-eroticism

[13] Bishops’ Response, p. 2

[14] Visibly Different at https://ceec.info/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/visibly_different_-_dated_26_july_2020.pdf.

[15] Quoted in Philip Hughes, Theology of the English Reformers (London: Hodder and Stoughton. 1965), p.254.

[16] Bishop’s Response, p.6.

[17] Richard Davidson, Flame of Yahweh – Sexuality in the Old Testament (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007), p.43.

[18] See, for example, Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995), Ch.16; Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Nashville Abingdon, 2001); Michael Brown, Can You Be Gay and Christian? (Lake Mary: Front Line, 2014); Martin Davie, Studies on the Bible and Same-Sex Relationships since 2003 (Malton: Gilead, 2015) .

[19] For this point see Brown pp.86-90.

[20] See S, Donald Fortson and Rollin G. Grams, Unchanging Witness (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2016).

[21] Natasha Crain, Faithfully Different (Eugene: Harvest House, 2022), Kindle edition, p.95.

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2 thoughts on “Failing the Green Test – a critical examination of the material from the House of Bishops

  1. Thank you once again, Martin, for your excellent and clearly stated, careful argument. Could I add a ‘Gospel Test’ to this? Those who say that they have not sinned also deny their need for a Saviour (1 John 1.7-10). Secondly, the Gospel is ‘good news’ not only because it tells us that, through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven, but also that, through the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit, we can live transformed lives no longer under the power of sin (Rom. 6). I fully believe that Paul would call the proposal before this Synod to bless what God calls sin ‘another gospel.’ The proposal is not only to allow and celebrate this sin but also to ‘depart from us’ (1 John 2.19) as a Christian Church proclaiming the Gospel.

  2. You noted “people will find less and less room to exercise this disagreement…” I agree. I completed the online “consultation/response form” after doing the LLF course and I don’t recall a question about the importance of scripture, traditional ethical values rooted in reality or an opportunity of dissenting any of the “progressive” message.

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