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Source: (consider it) Thread: ++Katharine Jefferts Schori Likes Demon Possession
mousethief

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The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (USA) has come out in favor of demons. She declares that St. Paul's healing of the demon-possessed girl in Acts was wrong.
quote:
Paul can't abide something he won't see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it. It gets him thrown in prison. That's pretty much where he's put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God's nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!
She goes on to explain that this demon gave the girl the gift of spiritual discernment, which cannot possibly be a bad thing.

I think that even if you take this story as allegorical rather than historical, you have to take the story on its own terms and not interject your own beliefs into it, then condemn actors in the story for not living up to how they should have behaved, had the story been set up according to your retelling / recasting.

Shippies' thoughts?

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The link is sparse on details aside from the usual outrage, which is a rather easy thing in these days when all are outraged and few are inraged. Was the sermon more about Paul?

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Zach82
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Bishop Schori is guilty of two things in that sermon. One, she had something she wanted to preach about and shoe-horned it into the scripture for the day, which is bad, but hardly an uncommon sin among clerics. Two, she has yet to figure out how sound-bites work in an age of petulant, dishonest internet outrage. Which is also bad, considering the dedicated smear campaign and shrill paranoia she is a victim of.

Bishop Schori is talking about spiritual gifts in that sermon. To take it to means she likes demon possession is silly.

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IngoB

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FWIW, the full sermon is here.

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goperryrevs
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There's a thread running here in Keryg too MT [Smile]

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Zach82
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Yeahbut, purgatory we can talk about things besides her exegesis. The comments section in MT's link shows the sort of shrill paranoia I was talking about.

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
FWIW, the full sermon is here.

Thanks for that. Is this a translation? or was it in English?

It seems that the issue hinges on whether the label for demon within the slave girl is correct (what a loaded label for this person), and whether there was any demon at all. No demon, and Paul was a jerk. The bishop might have considered another biblical passage to make her point.

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Grammatica
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Would I Corinthians 12:3 be appropriate here? Whether or not the slave girl was demonically possessed, she was calling after Paul and the others "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved."
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Schroedinger's cat

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I am with Zach in that she is contorting a passage to fit with a theme that she wants to preach about. Her first point - that "different" is not "wrong" - is a great point. But it is not something that is supported by this passage. She could have chosen other passages that covered her topic far better, and not got her into so much trouble. It was naive.

Having said that, to take it to imply that she "approves of demon possession" is an astounding stretch of imagination. And so exactly what we expect of the press and certain religious factions.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
Having said that, to take it to imply that she "approves of demon possession" is an astounding stretch of imagination.

Does she call it a "beautiful thing" or does she not?

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IngoB

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quote:
Originally posted by Grammatica:
Would I Corinthians 12:3 be appropriate here?

No. That verse concerns a profession / exposition of faith (in context, at a Christian gathering) not a statement of fact. We know that demons can recognise Christ and make those they posses acknowledge His Divinity vocally, e.g., Matt 8:28-34, in particular Matt 8:31 which makes clear who is speaking.

The key problem for ++Schori's inept exegesis is simply this: 'But Paul was annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, "I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.' (Acts 16:18) Rather obviously, the Holy Spirit would not be driven out of someone in the name of Jesus Christ, the Trinity is not divided against itself! The very success of Paul means that it needs must be a demon speaking, not the Holy Spirit. ++Schori is talking rubbish (at least as far as that piece of scripture is concerned).

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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Bishop Schori is guilty of two things in that sermon. One, she had something she wanted to preach about and shoe-horned it into the scripture for the day, which is bad, but hardly an uncommon sin among clerics. Two, she has yet to figure out how sound-bites work in an age of petulant, dishonest internet outrage. Which is also bad, considering the dedicated smear campaign and shrill paranoia she is a victim of.

Bishop Schori is talking about spiritual gifts in that sermon. To take it to means she likes demon possession is silly.

Well the scripture says that the girl was clairvoyant because she had a spirit of divination in her. Schorii on the other hand explicitly attributes the girl's occult ability to the Holy Spirit saying:
quote:
It makes me wonder what would have happened to that slave girl if Paul had seen the spirit of God in her.
This strikes as very, very close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
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Barnabas62
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I'm thinking that exegesis of the passage should take place in Kerygmania, the more general issues of theology and homiletics should take place here.

Will Shipmates please try to stick to that? I appreciate there are overlap difficulties.

In particular I'm going to copy IngoB's latest post to the Kerygmania thread and suggest you follow up his post in the new location.

(BTW, I think he has made a very good point)

Barnabas62
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Grammatica
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quote:
Originally posted by daronmedway:
quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Bishop Schori is guilty of two things in that sermon. One, she had something she wanted to preach about and shoe-horned it into the scripture for the day, which is bad, but hardly an uncommon sin among clerics. Two, she has yet to figure out how sound-bites work in an age of petulant, dishonest internet outrage. Which is also bad, considering the dedicated smear campaign and shrill paranoia she is a victim of.

Bishop Schori is talking about spiritual gifts in that sermon. To take it to means she likes demon possession is silly.

Well the scripture says that the girl was clairvoyant because she had a spirit of divination in her. Schorii on the other hand explicitly attributes the girl's occult ability to the Holy Spirit saying:
quote:
It makes me wonder what would have happened to that slave girl if Paul had seen the spirit of God in her.
This strikes as very, very close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, as I mentioned above, Paul himself says: "No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit." So, could she have said what she did -- for days on end -- unless she had, in some sense, the Spirit in her? Perhaps the Spirit was warring with the spirit of divination using her to make money for her masters? She can't have been making money for them all the time she followed Paul and his companions.

Couldn't Paul have been a little hasty -- forgetting the message of the Samaritan woman at the well?

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daronmedway
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People and demons can say the words, "Jesus is Lord" in the same way as they can say the words "sausage and eggs". This isn't about the mechanics of verbal utterance; it's about the sincerity of a person's profession of faith. The point Paul is making is that no-one can genuinely confess the Lordship of Jesus without a work of the Holy Spirit in their life.

To attribute the work of an unclean spirit to the Holy Spirit is entirely different thing, and very close to ascribing evil to the Holy Spirit.

As for the other speculations in your post, they are just that: speculations. They cannot be drawn from the text, and so my question therefore is where do they come from?

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quote:
Originally posted by daronmedway:
Well the scripture says that the girl was clairvoyant because she had a spirit of divination in her.

The scripture in question was written by Luke, in Acts, who was with Paul right? Who is telling the girl's side of the story? Nobody. We don't know much about what motivated her and why she shut-up.

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Barnabas62
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i do appreciate the difficulties; try to keep the exegesis in Kerygmania.

B62, Purg Host

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Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras
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I would imagine that the Presiding Bishop doesn't think this story should be taken at face value. You could therefore speculate about the putative events all you liked and put them to whatever use (although I don't think this was a particularly opportune illustration for what the PB was trying to get at in the overall thrust of her sermon). I for one would wonder if this girl was simply taking the mick, and Paul and Silas tolerated her insolence for several days, hoping that if they ignored her she'd go away. Finally Paul let his annoyance get the best of him and gave her a good tongue-lashing, which succeeded in getting her to shut the fuck up. My point is that no supernatural explanations are needed. The PB seems, I think, to have taken a somewhat similar approach in construing the incident.
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mousethief

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On that reading, she is then taking some parts of the story and ignoring others, thereby creating a story of her own devising, then excoriating Paul for not doing what would be (according to her) the right thing to do in the story that she has devised -- rather than in the story as it is written, which is where his actual response is given and the context in which it is meant to make sense.

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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet:
quote:
Originally posted by daronmedway:
Well the scripture says that the girl was clairvoyant because she had a spirit of divination in her.

The scripture in question was written by Luke, in Acts, who was with Paul right? Who is telling the girl's side of the story? Nobody. We don't know much about what motivated her and why she shut-up.
The book of Acts is canonical scripture and Paul is a holy apostle appointed by the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Jesus Christ.

The girl's side of the story is there in the scripture. She was delivered of an unclean spirit which had been the source of her exploitation and which was causing a disruption to the proclamation of the gospel. As the old saying goes, don't believe the devil even when he's saying something true.

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Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras
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Well, you can take a naive, literalist view toward Scripture if you wish.
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras:
Well, you can take a naive, literalist view toward Scripture if you wish.

Not what I was saying. But fine, let's not discuss it.

Indeed, as I said in the OP, it's fine to take the story as an allegory, or as fable, or whatever you want. What's not fair, though, is to pick over it and create something that's not there, and then blame Paul for not doing what he should have done in your new version of it. Like changing the background of the painting and then blaming the foreground for clashing with the background.

[ 28. May 2013, 19:27: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras:
Well, you can take a naive, literalist view toward Scripture if you wish.

What, as opposed to a cynical and twisted view? Much better to engage with what it actually says, I think. That's not naive or literalistic (whatever that means), it's just the way any normal, honest person engages with a written text. Engage with what it says.
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Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras
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That was directed to the former Mr Numpty, actually, MT.
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras:
That was directed to the former Mr Numpty, actually, MT.

Quotes and vocatives help to prevent this kind of confusion.

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The Silent Acolyte

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quote:
Originally posted by daronmedway:
She was delivered of an unclean spirit...

I know this isn't Kerygmania, but this is not correct. A spirit of divination was commanded out of her, not an unclean spirit. Upon reflection, one might talk about the various meanings of unclean spirit and divining spirit, but the text has one and not the other.
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Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras
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quote:
Originally posted by daronmedway:
quote:
Originally posted by Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras:
Well, you can take a naive, literalist view toward Scripture if you wish.

What, as opposed to a cynical and twisted view? Much better to engage with what it actually says, I think. That's not naive or literalistic (whatever that means), it's just the way any normal, honest person engages with a written text. Engage with what it says.
Well, there are some problems with that when you are engaging with a pre-scientific world view, and one in which social institutions and many societal values were quite different than our world today. Most people these days don't take fortune-tellers very seriously: they're more a source of entertainment and a curiosity at best, or else the resort of the desperate. Fortunately, we also don't have slave girls running around with full public approval of their status (I do realise, of course, that there are many exploited young women kept illegally or simply through bad circumstances and manipulation in what amounts to a state of involuntary servitude).
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daronmedway
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There are 30,000 registered ministers of the Christian religion in Britain, there 80,000 registered Clairvoyants and occult practitioners - many of whom charge for their services. That's serious business.
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Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras
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Are registered sooth-sayers possessed of divining spirits? What do you suppose is the typical educational level, actual degree of credulity, and psychiatric status of their clients?
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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras:
quote:
Originally posted by daronmedway:
quote:
Originally posted by Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras:
Well, you can take a naive, literalist view toward Scripture if you wish.

What, as opposed to a cynical and twisted view? Much better to engage with what it actually says, I think. That's not naive or literalistic (whatever that means), it's just the way any normal, honest person engages with a written text. Engage with what it says.
Well, there are some problems with that when you are engaging with a pre-scientific world view, and one in which social institutions and many societal values were quite different than our world today
Knowing the cultural-historical context is one of the tools whereby we can engage with what the text actually says. Jefferts-Schori doesn't do that. She invents a whole new narrative - a narrative which has no historical-cultural justification whatsoever. Quite, the opposite in fact. It is a shameless imposition of 21st Century political-theological ideology onto a 1st century text of scripture.
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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by Lietuvos Sv. Kazimieras:
Are registered sooth-sayers possessed of divining spirits? What do you suppose is the typical educational level, actual degree of credulity, and psychiatric status of their clients?

Let's stick to the point shall we? Contrary to your assertion clairvoyance is still big business.
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Schroedinger's cat

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
Having said that, to take it to imply that she "approves of demon possession" is an astounding stretch of imagination.

Does she call it a "beautiful thing" or does she not?
Actually no. There is nothing in a proper reading of the sermon that indicates she supports demon possession. What she says is "Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it." What she is saying is that Paul does not appreciate the beauty in the other person. Valid point, but it doesn't mean that she approves of the demonic in the other.

I think she is mistaken in using this text to express this, because it is twisting it to say this. It is also asking to be misinterpreted. As she has been.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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quote:
Originally posted by daronmedway:
The book of Acts is canonical scripture and Paul is a holy apostle appointed by the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Jesus Christ.

The girl's side of the story is there in the scripture. She was delivered of an unclean spirit which had been the source of her exploitation and which was causing a disruption to the proclamation of the gospel. As the old saying goes, don't believe the devil even when he's saying something true.

I don't think it works that way. God or the risen lord doesn't appoint, rather you get asked. You can refuse, though there might be consequences, like the allegory of the Garden of Eden, and of Moses not getting into the promised land. So Paul went along with what he discerned was right and did the apostle gig.

The scripture calls it an unclean spirit, sure. The canonical scripture has any number of errors and inconsistencies, just read the gospels side by each. Calling it an unclean spirit tidies it up when they wrote it all up. We could just as well have a reinterpretation that Paul got annoyed with the girl and got her to stop being annoying, which is also a lovely projection on Paul (in the psychological defence sense), who was annoying to rather many. So I think the point of liking demons and unclear spirits is rather over-stating it. Paul may not have liked an annoying person, and of the lowest sort: female and slave.

We could continue the psychological analysis of Paul if we wanted. As a female slave are you generally (ab)used sexually in addition? Slave stories from the Atlantic trade in the 16-19th centuries suggests yes. So the girl is a slave with a sexual overlay, and we know how much Paul thought about sex, and what he expressed about it.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
proper reading

If we can't agree on a proper reading of the scripture passage, how in the hell are we going to agree on a proper reading of Jefferts Schori's mangling of it?

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The Silent Acolyte

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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet:
The scripture calls it an unclean spirit, sure.

No, it doesn't.¹
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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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quote:
Originally posted by The Silent Acolyte:
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet:
The scripture calls it an unclean spirit, sure.

No, it doesn't.¹
[Hot and Hormonal] I accepted prior posts with inadequate discernment, of which the fault is all mine. I am no prophet.

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CL
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There's a lot of special pleading going on in this thread.
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Martin60
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Whack Job.

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Love wins

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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no prophet wrote:
quote:
We could continue the psychological analysis of Paul if we wanted. As a female slave are you generally (ab)used sexually in addition? Slave stories from the Atlantic trade in the 16-19th centuries suggests yes. So the girl is a slave with a sexual overlay, and we know how much Paul thought about sex, and what he expressed about it.

no prophet - I think if you are going to suggest a text is in the form of a projection, you might have done better than to inflict an entire sequence of your own hypotheticals on us.

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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by The Silent Acolyte:
quote:
Originally posted by daronmedway:
She was delivered of an unclean spirit...

I know this isn't Kerygmania, but this is not correct. A spirit of divination was commanded out of her, not an unclean spirit. Upon reflection, one might talk about the various meanings of unclean spirit and divining spirit, but the text has one and not the other.
Fair comment in terms of the actual wording of the text. However, a wider reading of the NT will show that the deliverance formula "in the name of Jesus Christ" for the removal of spirits is only used for demonic (unclean) spirits.
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The Silent Acolyte

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Originally posted by CL: There's a lot of special pleading going on in this thread.

Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard: Whack Job.

So are both your mothers. Are you going to "get your brain in gear" for serious discussion or just throw rocks?

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Golden Key
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Thanks for the sermon link, Ingo.

I suspect interpretation depends on whether you think demons exist. Given that KJS is both Episcopalian/Anglican and a scientist, she well might not.

Maybe there's also some context, local to Venezuela, that we don't know? The rest of the sermon implies parallels between Venezuelan history and the way the girl was treated.

She may also have thought, "Here is this woman, pointing out the truth, and Paul is being a total jerk, and not seeing who she really is."

I'm not sure I would've used that story to make the points she did in that otherwise beautiful sermon. But if I interpreted it the way I just suggested KJS did, then I might well have done so.

Is there anyone here who's never at least entertained the possibility that Paul could sometimes be a jerk?

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--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
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Barnabas62
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Recognising the massive overlap with the Keryg thread, perhaps I can raise the issue of homiletics here, by quoting myself from Keryg (with a bit of amendment for clarity)

quote:
I wouldn't mind if any more general conclusions which the Bishop might have were made overt.

e.g

1. "I believe that a lot of the biblical material, coming from the time it does, displays attitudes which today we would describe as patriarchal and sexist. We can see that in (these texts)"

2. "I believe that the writings of the Apostle Paul display some of these attitudes. We can see that in (these texts).

3. "Therefore when we come to this story, I am wondering whether Luke, or Paul, or both, really read what happened in a way which is fair to the slave girl. Is it possible that ...."

That seems a reasonable way of looking critically at the material and then presenting a bit of speculation, a bit of eisegesis. But from the text of the sermon, the Bishop doesn't seem to have spoken that way. She doesn't present her version as a bit of speculation; she presents it as "what happened".

I don't think that can be justified.

That seems to me to be the real issue. I'm not sure if those preliminary statements actually do represent to any extent the Bishop's views about the New Testament material or the Apostle Paul. If they do, or get reasonably close, then that opens up the possibility of seeing the story in a different way. But it's a speculative view.

When you're in the pulpit, your homiletic should surely take into account the range of views of the congregation. In any broad church, you'll find folks with the sort of views I outlined, folks with more traditional outlooks and lots in between. So if you want to speculate in a sermon, you make your offer "on an open hand", also conscious of your departure from lots of received wisdom on the text of the day.

Some folks wouldn't go that far; personally, I'm OK with that kind of approach. But the Bishop didn't do that i.e. offer "on an open hand". That bothered me.

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Golden Key
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KJS might also be sick of women's gifts being devalued, and read through that lens.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

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Spiffy
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quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:

Is there anyone here who's never at least entertained the possibility that Paul could sometimes be a jerk?

I wrote a study once entitled, "Paul was kind of a dick."

So, to answer your question, yes, I have. And there's a reason I'm extremely rarely asked to preach.

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Golden Key
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Spiffy--

I'd love to hear you preach. [Big Grin]

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

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Leaf
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The OP and title are misleading. Why is it that the very people who accuse this bishop of eisegesis insist on repeating the word "demon", which is not actually in the text? Irony much?

(The detractors are also remarkably silent about this line from the sermon: "The reading from Revelation pushes us in the same direction, outward and away from our own self-righteousness..." Wonder why.)

I agree with Zach82 that the bishop seemed to have a message that she wanted to deliver, and her interpretation of the text fit that message. But her interpretation isn't that far of the mark. The spirit of divination is not identified as demonic; the girl was speaking the truth; Paul's actions were fuelled by irritation (a rather suspect motive for doing anything); and, contrasting with Jesus' asking the man at Bethzatha if he wanted to be healed, Paul did this without the girl's consent.

It is an act of eisgesis to assume that the spirit must have been bad because Paul cast it out. FWIW, it's an eisegetical assumption I support, but ++KJS doesn't. At least she is willing to consider - against a stained-glass view of Paul - that maybe he was just being a dick and that this action was not to his credit. He seemed not to see the girl as a whole human being, but only interacted with her based on his feelings of annoyance. It's rather like praying AT someone rather than FOR them.

I go with the eisegetical assumption that ultimately, Paul was doing the girl a favour with a kind of involuntary rehab... but I don't blame ++KJS for not interpreting the text in that way. IMO her version is supportable.

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TomOfTarsus
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I just posted a longer drivel on the other thread, but then I realized one contrast here with most situations involving a spirit that needs exorcised is that, in this case, no one was asking Paul to deliver the girl; rather, they owned her as as slave and were capitalizing on her. In the society he was in, ISTM that what he did was akin to an outsider giving you child medical treatment against your will and without your consent. Though their motives certainly were not as noble as that of a parent, the would have had custodial "rights" as owners.

It seems he held off as long as he could, but whether out of compassion for the girl or irritation (or, like most of us, a mixture of the heavenly and oh-too-human motives), he delivered her, knowing it would cause problems.

[ 29. May 2013, 03:56: Message edited by: TomOfTarsus ]

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By grace are ye saved through faith... not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ... ordained that we should walk in them.

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Leaf
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quote:
Originally posted by TomOfTarsus:
... [Paul] delivered her

Eisegetical assumption. She was changed; was she delivered?
quote:
knowing it would cause problems.
Eisegetical assumption. How did he know this? Where does it say that?

Why are your eisegetical assumptions superior to those of KJS?

At least have the [plural noun not specified] to admit that you believe something that is not actually in the text and that you are interpreting it through that lens. I too believe that Paul in some way did the girl a favour, but I freely admit that that is an eisegetical assumption on my part.

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The Silent Acolyte

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You are slanging the eisegetical club about rather freely. If you're not careful you might actually hit something with it.

Would you care to step outside, to Kerygmania, to have a proper discussion?

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