3.8.08

Update on a previous post and news from Melvin Tinker

On the 4th June, I posted the following:

In The Church Times, Paul Vallely looks at how GAFCON’s thinking is out of date. He clearly trips up Rev'd Melvin Tinker, who when explaining his traditionalist standing on homosexuality, perhaps rather foolishly said: "People decide whether something is good or bad...on the basis “Would you want everyone to do it?”

Rev'd Melvin Tinker clearly didn't do much to help the Conservative Evangelical cause by appealing to what most people at any one time would do. Conservative Evangelical polemic is usually proud to boast that it is very counter-culture; it pays no attention to what most of the people are doing most of the time. Paul Vallely discusses how Tinker's conservative evangelical-speak is a kind of 'Orwellian doublethink'.

Conservative Evangelicals like the GAFCON traditionalists refuse to embrace 'the gospel ethic of inclusion [because it] is a sign of being in thrall to contemporary culture' and yet are happy to play the culture card when it suits them.

My reporting on Melvin Tinker seems a bit harsh now, looking back on it. I don't think, like Paul Vallely, that ALL Conservative Evangelicals refuse 'the gospel ethic of inclusion [because it] is a sign of being in thrall to contemporary culture'. I think that SOME of the conservative evangelicals I have known seem to think many of society's values need to be resisted and give too much time and attention to this at the cost of helping to affirm what is atually instead rather good about our society and I think this is perhaps because a lot of 'Reform thinking' communicates itself through what it is NOT, rather than by stating what it IS. It reacts AGAINST the negative rather than affirming the POSITIVE. (Part of the reason why I don't sit comfortably inside the REFORM Christian worldview is in part because because I'm idealistic, joy-filled, upbeat, positive, yes, probably rather a niave, 'rosy-coloured spectacle -wearing' kind of person.) Conservative evangelical thinking can sometimes present itself as a series of statements which have been created in an exploration of the sin of the world; the depravity of humanity. Having said that, Conservative evangelicals do want their churches to be inclusive but they also expect repentance to follow as a consequence of God's love as people transform. They would expect homosexuals to repent of an active sexual life that they see as not in accordance with scripture. From, what I understand, they don't expect homosexual orientation to be repented of but they expect celibacy as a result of Christian commitment and they do not feel as though homosexual Christians should be ordained. I do not know if Melvin Tinker is Reform or not and I guess he simply made a mistake in referring to what most of the people do most of the time, but at least he actually went out to meet and greet the crowds (Gay pride march occurring at the same time as Gafcon). Anyway he has mailed me with the following explanation:

Dear Rachel,

Thought that you might be interested.

Yours truly, Melvin tinker.

I would like to reply to Paul Vallely’s comments on my little excursion to the Gay pride March in Jerusalem as a delegate of GAFCON.

First, let me assure Mr Vallely that I was not ‘undercover.’ I was invited by the BBC to openly attend and engage in a debate with Mr Baxter. This we did with great gentleness and respect.

As far as the pink shirt was concerned- why should gays have all the good colours?

But more seriously, Mr Vallely accuses me of adopting an argument based upon a discredited view of natural law (natural theology?).

He cites Hume as ‘knocking aside the pillars of its presuppositions.’ Some think that he did the same for the traditional belief in miracles. Does this mean that Mr Vallely who claims to be a ‘Papist’ no longer believes in miracles either? However, my argument was not based upon natural law at all, and certainly not natural theology (for which I have very little time), but special revelation which is simply backed up by creation- as one would expect to be the case.

The irony is that a new ‘natural law’ argument is being invoked to support the right to gay sex and same sex attraction, for the objection is raised: ‘Surely, such same sex-attraction is normal for those concerned, whether it is the result of genetic or environmental factors is irrelevant, it is right for them.’ (Some would ‘Christianise’ this argument by saying, ‘God made them this way’). But here a distinction has to be made between what is normal and what is proper. To say that something is acting normally is a matter of statistics, to say something is acting properly is a matter of design plan and purpose. For example, I might say that my car is acting normally if it starts after three turns of the ignition, but that is not what the manufacture had in mind when he designed the car in the first place. What, then, is the Designer’s plan for human beings? The Christian claim is that we have access to the Mind of God in Scripture, the Bible in general and the book of Genesis in particular. First of all, sex is linked to reproduction which God declares as good. This doesn’t mean that every sexual act must issue in children, but it still remains as one of its primary purposes, what it is designed to achieve- all things being equal. According to Mr Vallely, Rome under the onslaught of the Enlightenment abandoned the view that ‘the only purpose of sex is procreation’. So it should have, but the point is an irrelevance. I, nor the Bible, makes such a claim, but it is a purpose which is ruled out for homosexuals. In the second place, in the account of the creation of humans in Genesis 2, v18 we have the principle of unity in difference-,the two becoming one -psychologically, spiritually and physically. This culminates, and is literally consummated in the act of sexual intercourse itself. In others words, this is the design plan for sexuality-male and female. The activities of our bodies fit the way we were made. Simply at the level of biological anatomy-the male and female were made for each other, not male for male or female for female. This is not an argument from biology to morality (or a case based on natural law), but stating the obvious, namely, that biology testifies to the morality we have in the Bible. In homosexuality the element of complementarity is missing-the unity in difference. What we have in the genital expression of homosexuality is an impossible attempted unity in sameness. It is therefore clear that in the light of God’s design and intentions for humanity as set forth in Scripture, homosexual ‘sex’ is a disordered form of sex. It cuts across and frustrates the structures and purposes of God’s creation.

With all of this, I am sure Mr Vallely’s Pope would agree. I would therefore be surprised if Mr Vallely as a Roman Catholic, dissented from such a view.

It would be nice to hear from My Vallely as to whether his views accord with Rev'd Tinker's, but this might be unlikely.

Anyway, thank you Melvin for your comments. I think the press are always keen to cause the clergy to slip-up, hence my image; they are careful to not leave banana skins in the pathways of the marginalised so I suppose, being vociferous in your viewpoint, albeit a biblical one, is going to mean you are left in a vulnerable position, how worried you are by these comments by Vallely and the like, I suppose depends on whether you feel as though your point of view is helping to pomote the gospel or not. That is a very difficult one,. Whilst we need to live in accordance with God's will, we also need to ensure that the message that Christianity conveys is that nobody is denied access to the wonderful, life-giving love of God as the thief hanging on the cross and saved by Christ reveals. There is simply nothing that we can do to stop God from loving us. Homosexual people know that they are just as loved by God as the rest of us for we all fall short of the mark.




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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.