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Source: (consider it) Thread: Biblical interpretation of apparently anti-gay passages
SvitlanaV2
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Maybe so. It would be interesting to know to what extent that's the case.

As I said, all sort of things may be happening without the church giving explicit approval, because individual Christians on the whole are unlikely to be seeking church approval in any case. One issue is perhaps whether particular clergy, congregations or denominations are willing or able to police the lives of their members. I feel that the taste for this has declined in general, but obviously not in every case.

(Out of interest, googling has led me to this new book on global Christianity, which has a chapter on 'Balancing Faith and Desire'.)

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
In reality, of course, we live in a culture where churchgoers (let alone those outside the church) don't really accept religious authority structures as the arbiters of their personal lives or personal morality. That's not what we use organised religion for nowadays. Our faith is much more personal, and we engage in organised religion for other reasons.

It just goes to show that people attend churches on their own terms. They have become spiritual consumers not believers.

[ 02. October 2015, 17:41: Message edited by: ExclamationMark ]

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leo
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Or they choose a church BECAUSE OF their beliefs e.g. I believe that the gospel includes peace and justice issues so I go to a church which is socialist on politics and inclusive on gay and women's issues.

I don't go to evangelical churches because I believe that their homophobia is unjust and their belief in penal substituton is heretical.

That's not consumerism. It's discernment of right doctrine and orthopraxis.

[ 02. October 2015, 17:49: Message edited by: leo ]

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My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Gamaliel
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We could parse this:

I go to church because I am a True BelieverTM.

You go to church because you are not a True BelieverTM like I am but a spiritual consumer ...

I'm not sure I'd want to sit as judge and jury as to why anyone does or doesn't go to church nor presume to have a 'window into men's souls' irrespective of what church people might be involved with - evangelical, Hifh Church, MoR or whatever else. To their own Master they stand or fall.

I really don't get how people who go to churches other than our own are 'spiritual consumers' but those who attend ours or churches we approve of are some how exempt from that censure - if that's what is being claimed.

Besides, surely it's axiomatic that anyone who attends any kind of church out of choice - which is pretty much everyone still in the pews these days - no-one's forcing them - is attending on their own terms to some extent or other.

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LeRoc

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I must have missed the part in the Bible where Jesus says that it's ExclamationMark's job to judge who is a believer and who is not.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
In reality, of course, we live in a culture where churchgoers (let alone those outside the church) don't really accept religious authority structures as the arbiters of their personal lives or personal morality. That's not what we use organised religion for nowadays. Our faith is much more personal, and we engage in organised religion for other reasons.

It just goes to show that people attend churches on their own terms. They have become spiritual consumers not believers.
I agree with your first sentence. As for the second, I think it must be hard to disentangle belief from the various 'consumer' benefits one might acquire from churchgoing. After all, belief itself could be one such benefit. Being in the regular company of believers can strengthen one's faith (although not always!).

Regarding the declining influence 'religious authority structures', some would say that all the competing churches, as well as the rise of pluralism and secularisation, have made it harder for individual congregations to impose certain behaviour on their members, or to discipline them when they transgress. Dissatisfied or chastised members can simply leave and worship elsewhere, or give up on attending worship altogether. This reality gives churchgoers a degree of power as 'consumers' but it doesn't necessarily indicate an absence of faith. Indeed, the individuals concerned might be very committed to the rightness of their 'unorthodox' beliefs.

It's not limited to the laity either; those who are the most faithful in their churchgoing and participation in church events are probably more aware than anyone else that their clergy disagree with (or at least are unsure about) some of the official, or at least the traditional, teachings of their denominations. I think this awareness must undermine priestly authority in the long run, although it might be pastorally useful in some circumstances.

Everyone is his or her own priest, theologian and biblical interpreter. Maybe this was bound to happen.

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Ricardus
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If there is more than one church that I could reasonably attend, how can my choice to go to one and not the other be distinguished from religious consumerism?

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Jolly Jape
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
In reality, of course, we live in a culture where churchgoers (let alone those outside the church) don't really accept religious authority structures as the arbiters of their personal lives or personal morality. That's not what we use organised religion for nowadays. Our faith is much more personal, and we engage in organised religion for other reasons.

It just goes to show that people attend churches on their own terms. They have become spiritual consumers not believers.
Have I got this right, EM? It is Christianity that we're talking about here, yes? You know, that belief system founded by the guy who said all that negative stuff about religious authority systems, who was accused by said systems of, amongst other things, ignoring the oppressive constraints laid down by such systems. Sheesh!

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
Have I got this right, EM? It is Christianity that we're talking about here, yes? You know, that belief system founded by the guy who said all that negative stuff about religious authority systems, who was accused by said systems of, amongst other things, ignoring the oppressive constraints laid down by such systems. Sheesh!

I often wonder, as I hear Christians speak and read their words, how many of the would become Christian if they were born 1st century Jews.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Your idea that adultery is only wrong because of the deceitfulness and disappointment is interesting. Perhaps in the future some Christians might become more open to mutually agreed polygamy. Depending on the circumstances, there might be some advantages to it; and plenty of biblical justification.

This is kind of like saying, "Your idea that oranges are sinful is interesting. Someday people might become open to eating apples."

quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
I can't speak for the RCC or the Orthodox, but the whole point of Protestantism, surely, is that you're not shackled to a single institution whose teachings conflict with how you want to live your life. You 'interpret' the Bible according to where you feel the Spirit is guiding you.

Finally, some honesty about what Protestantism is all about: making up your own religion as it suits you. But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

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LeRoc

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quote:
mousethief: Finally, some honesty about what Protestantism is all about: making up your own religion as it suits you.
Darn! He's onto us.

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Tortuf
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My impression over years of reading the Ships boards is that you are folks who generally take both versions of creation in Genesis as not being literal, but symbolic. And, you tend to take the point of view that the Gospels and the Letters were written by humans; humans who were striving to set out their understanding of God.

So, I am a bit surprised when y'all seem to want to do a lot of parsing of passages about homosexuality. Maybe I can join in on the fun.

So, how about a word count? How many words are about homosexuality out of the whole Bible?

Now, how many words are in the Bible? (If you are worried about the various translations count all the words in every single translation and average them out. Perhaps weighted towards the Vulgate because it is old and in a musty old language.)

Then, let's all count how many words are about slavery being OK, or maybe sacrificing children. If that is too icky, perhaps something about killing the priests of Baal, or every living thing in Jericho.

If you understand that the Bible has all sorts of bits that can cause you to recoil in horror because it was written by fallible people who has their own issues why give the bits about homosexuality so much weight?

Experience that God loves homosexuals every bit as much as any other person. Then let the narrow little souls who think they can judge homosexuals because of a few passages in a book that contains all those oh shit, did it really say that? passages delight in their own little fear filled stew. When they want to judge, ask them when they plan to sacrifice their kids, or get some slaves, or kill a priest of Baal.

Fuck em.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Finally, some honesty about what Protestantism is all about: making up your own religion as it suits you. But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

'Soul competency' is new to me. Googling shows that the term was first articulated and explained by a theologian in 1908, and so was not a foundational Baptist concept. It looks as though the SBs were officially happy to be identified with the term as recently as 2000, and I can't find an official rejection of it on the net, only individual detractors.

I can see that soul competency presents challenges to the church. It could lead to complete theological incoherence, and there's a certain postmodernity about it. OTOH, it's also a potentially very fruitful and liberating concept. It could certainly work in favour of positive biblical readings of homosexuality.

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Stejjie
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

According to the Southern Baptists website, they still hold to it.

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

According to the Southern Baptists website, they still hold to it.
You're a UK baptist aren't you Stejjie/ Isn't this compatible to what baptists generally believe?
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Stejjie
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

According to the Southern Baptists website, they still hold to it.
You're a UK baptist aren't you Stejjie/ Isn't this compatible to what baptists generally believe?
Yes, I am and it doesn't seem particularly outrageous/heretical to me; that each of us is ultimately responsible to God for our own lives. I can see how it can lead to a too-indivualistic view of faith, though I'm not sure it has to lead to that.

I'm also not sure it means what mousethief seems to suggest in his reply to Svitlana: it doesn't mean you have a free rein in what you believe, or a "pick and mix" view of Christianity (surely the Southern Baptists would be the last to accept that); just that, ultimately, it's between you and God.

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A not particularly-alt-worshippy, fairly mainstream, mildly evangelical, vaguely post-modern-ish Baptist

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But seriously, this sounds like "soul competency" which the Southern Baptists in the US have officially rejected. Are there any Protestant bodies who still hold to soul competency?

According to the Southern Baptists website, they still hold to it.
Okay investigating further I see that decisions made at their annual conventions are, strictly speaking, non-binding. Although I daresay if, through soul competency, you decide that baptism is not necessary, and refuse it, you probably wouldn't be accepted in the club.

quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
I'm also not sure it means what mousethief seems to suggest in his reply to Svitlana: it doesn't mean you have a free rein in what you believe, or a "pick and mix" view of Christianity (surely the Southern Baptists would be the last to accept that); just that, ultimately, it's between you and God.

I can't slide a knife between those pavers. Can you explain what you see as the difference? How outrageous must my claims of hearing the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture be before you --or other Baptists-- cry "too far!"? At that line, soul competency dies.

[ 04. October 2015, 17:35: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
'Soul competency' is new to me. Googling shows that the term was first articulated and explained by a theologian in 1908, and so was not a foundational Baptist concept.

That does not follow. I am sure you could find a Baptist or three who will say that although the term was not yet coined, the concept it denotes was there all along.

(ETfix code)

[ 04. October 2015, 17:37: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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hatless

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The Wikipedia article says that soul competency means each person has the liberty to choose what his or her conscience or soul dictates is right. The Baptist Union (Great Britain) Declaration of Principle says that each church has liberty under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to interpret and administer God's law.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The Wikipedia article says that soul competency means each person has the liberty to choose what his or her conscience or soul dictates is right. The Baptist Union (Great Britain) Declaration of Principle says that each church has liberty under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to interpret and administer God's law.

Which would not be soul competency but parish (or if you prefer local-church) competency, surely? I can see how one could argue the former from Scripture*. The latter? That's a harder sell.

_____
*Although Paul's call to admonish one another seems to tell against it.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Gamaliel
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I've had Orthodox Christians - albeit of a more 'zealous' or fundamentalist bent - tell me that I'm 'inventing my own religion' - to which I've riposted that I'm doing nothing of the kind, simply following leads and threads that we've all inherited from them - many moons ago ...

My question to Mousethief would be where does 'soul-competence' or an apparently overly individualist approach end and 'theologoumena' - which I understand the Orthodox are comfortable with - begin?

So, for instance, my Orthodox interlocutors would say that the Anglicans have gone their own way and done their own thing by taking a view of auricular confession that holds that, 'all can, none must, some should.'

Of course, evangelical Anglicans would consider that to be going too far ... but you get my drift.

Obviously, groups like the Baptists are going to be looser - by and large - on creedal and conciliar declarations - although, in some instances, such as most Southern Baptists, pretty strict and prescriptive on particular interpretations of particular texts.

But generally they're riffing on a commonly accepted theme - they aren't all sat in their rooms on their own inventing new doctrines and new perspectives every five minutes -- they're improvising around a tune that's been handed down.

How is that substantially different, say, to an Orthodoxen who says that the Proto-evangelium of James is 'pious legend' or RCs who ignore Papal strictures on contraception?

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I've had Orthodox Christians - albeit of a more 'zealous' or fundamentalist bent - tell me that I'm 'inventing my own religion' - to which I've riposted that I'm doing nothing of the kind, simply following leads and threads that we've all inherited from them - many moons ago ...

My question to Mousethief would be where does 'soul-competence' or an apparently overly individualist approach end and 'theologoumena' - which I understand the Orthodox are comfortable with - begin?

Theologoumena begin at the end of dogma. Soul competence says there is no dogma.

quote:
Obviously, groups like the Baptists are going to be looser - by and large - on creedal and conciliar declarations - although, in some instances, such as most Southern Baptists, pretty strict and prescriptive on particular interpretations of particular texts.
At the point they become prescriptive, soul competence ends, and they in fact believe only in limited soul competence. As do we. We then just disagree on where the line is, and who has authority to define it. And it seems to us that their understanding of that authority is confused and internally inconsistent, or even magical thinking.

quote:
How is that substantially different, say, to an Orthodoxen who says that the Proto-evangelium of James is 'pious legend' or RCs who ignore Papal strictures on contraception?
The one is imposing doctrines/dogmas on some things, which we admit we do, and not on others.

The other is an entirely different question about the relationship between the "two lungs." Which has nothing to do with dogma or or theologoumena per se; each side has its own of each. It's an apple to dogma's orange. While the dogmas of Orthodoxy are binding on me, the dogmas of a church I don't belong to are not. That seems so obvious as to be obvious. An entirely different thread and almost wholly unrelated to the dogma/theologoumena question.

[ 04. October 2015, 18:16: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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hatless

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The Wikipedia article says that soul competency means each person has the liberty to choose what his or her conscience or soul dictates is right. The Baptist Union (Great Britain) Declaration of Principle says that each church has liberty under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to interpret and administer God's law.

Which would not be soul competency but parish (or if you prefer local-church) competency, surely? I can see how one could argue the former from Scripture*. The latter? That's a harder sell.

_____
*Although Paul's call to admonish one another seems to tell against it.

There's surely plenty in Paul about bearing with each other, and his example of debating with James (telling him he was wrong!) and appealing to other leaders in the churches.

I would say that our Declaration establishes that people are not to launch off on their own, but to listen to voices within the congregation, to check out their insights against those of others, and to seek the guidance of the Spirit, which must entail reading scripture and taking note of Christian traditions.

Theology is always done within that continuing conversation which is Tradition.

It's only lacking the big black hats that stops us being Orthodox.

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LeRoc

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quote:
hatless: It's only lacking the big black hats that stops us being Orthodox.
I have a beard (although probably not long enough).

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
It's only lacking the big black hats that stops us being Orthodox.

Big black hats? You're thinking of Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Our bishops by and large wear gold hats, our priests many colors, and our male laity, none. Women can wear whatever they want.

But you do not have a top-down hierarchy that gets to call the shots, unless I am very mistaken.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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hatless

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
It's only lacking the big black hats that stops us being Orthodox.

Big black hats? You're thinking of Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Our bishops by and large wear gold hats, our priests many colors, and our male laity, none. Women can wear whatever they want.

But you do not have a top-down hierarchy that gets to call the shots, unless I am very mistaken.

It depends which way up you are looking at it. If you have a hat on, you're probably standing on your feet in which case you're right: we're bottom up.

But I didn't think Orthodox hierarchy got to call the shots. I thought the past did that. Isn't 'we never change' your motto?

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
But I didn't think Orthodox hierarchy got to call the shots. I thought the past did that. Isn't 'we never change' your motto?

1. It is our motto but it is delusional. 2. Not all shots are permanent and universally binding. Our bishop tells us what translation of the liturgy to use, whether tonsured readers can wear hats when enrobed, whether we can have vesperal divine liturgies on the eves of Great Feasts, and many, many other things (those are just the ones that came immediately to mind (ones that bug me) (there are others as well)).

quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
hatless: It's only lacking the big black hats that stops us being Orthodox.
I have a beard (although probably not long enough).
I never judge a man on the length of his, um, beard.

[ 04. October 2015, 18:46: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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hatless

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It's all about how we are constrained. Soul competence looks to me like an attempt to assert that the believer has no external constraint. And I don't buy it. It's never just about the individual, and a moment's reflection or a few years' experience will demonstrate that.

And discussions about the Bible, about Romans 1&2 for example, are really a way of talking to each other by proxy. The limits to interpretation are partly imposed by the text, but partly by all the other people that text also belongs to. Bible study is a public activity.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
The limits to interpretation are partly imposed by the text, but partly by all the other people that text also belongs to. Bible study is a public activity.

I can go with that.

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Gamaliel
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Yes, absolutely -and I like the idea of tradition or Tradition as a conversation ...

MT has answered my question to some extent but I'm not sure he understood what I was getting at with the RC reference - probably because I didn't express myself clearly.

Anyhow, I'm grateful for what he's shared.

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Stejjie
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
I'm also not sure it means what mousethief seems to suggest in his reply to Svitlana: it doesn't mean you have a free rein in what you believe, or a "pick and mix" view of Christianity (surely the Southern Baptists would be the last to accept that); just that, ultimately, it's between you and God.

I can't slide a knife between those pavers. Can you explain what you see as the difference? How outrageous must my claims of hearing the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture be before you --or other Baptists-- cry "too far!"? At that line, soul competency dies.
I'm far from an expert on soul competency - this is the first real reading I've done on it! - and I only had about 3-4 hours' sleep last night; so those are my excuses in case what follows is an incoherent mess. And hatless has also replied, probably better than I will (I'm really selling this, I can tell). With that in mind:

1) Here's a definition from this website Baptist distinctives:
quote:
Basically it means the God-given freedom and ability of persons to know and respond to God’s will.
So it's not just "believe what you want", it's more to do with each person having the competence to know and respond to God, which suggests to me (and I'm no expert) that this at least could be seen as a divine-led thing: God reaching out to all people and all people having the capacity to respond to him.

2) In one sense, I suppose you're right - you can believe what you want and no one can tell you otherwise. Freedom of religion, especially from government control, is a biggie for us (though sometimes I feel we're lacking in the 'extending it to others' department). But "accountability before God" is the key thing here: if you get it wrong (whatever 'get it wrong' means), then you've got to answer to God about it and you can't blame anyone else. As it says further down on that website,
quote:
With this competency and freedom comes responsibility and accountability. Choices have consequences.
You can't just do/believe what you want then claim soul competency as a defence if it leaves you in a mess.

3) Again from that list, soul competence - each individual's ability to know and respond to God - does not preclude listening to other voices within the local church, within the wider Church and, yes, within capital-T Tradition. These are good things and people to consult and the Spirit can and will speak through them: but they can't replace each person's personal accountability to God for how they live and how they respond (or not) to him. (I personally would take that further and suggest that doing this is absolutely essential - but would still want to hold on to that it's down to you what you do with what you hear as you seek God through these and, the biggie for Baptists - Scripture, which kind of gets "trump card" status over the others).

As I say, I'm no expert on soul competency and there may be others who could answer the question better. They're my first thoughts, though, for what they're worth.

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A not particularly-alt-worshippy, fairly mainstream, mildly evangelical, vaguely post-modern-ish Baptist

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
I personally would take that further and suggest that doing this is absolutely essential - but would still want to hold on to that it's down to you what you do with what you hear as you seek God through these and, the biggie for Baptists - Scripture, which kind of gets "trump card" status over the others.

Aye, but whose interpretation of Scripture? And how much weight does another person's, or institution's, interpretation of Scripture bear for me when I'm puzzling out the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my own life? There's the rub, the Great Undefined on the Baptist side. No amount of hand-waving will make this question go away, but few can answer it definitively, or will.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
MT has answered my question to some extent but I'm not sure he understood what I was getting at with the RC reference - probably because I didn't express myself clearly.

Well, if I didn't answer it, it's not because I was trying to avoid doing so. So I must assume it's because I didn't understand what you were asking.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Stejjie:
God reaching out to all people and all people having the capacity to respond to him.

So would you deny the exclusive points of TULIP?

quote:
In one sense, I suppose you're right - you can believe what you want and no one can tell you otherwise. Freedom of religion, especially from government control, is a biggie for us (though sometimes I feel we're lacking in the 'extending it to others' department).
Vehemently agree here.

quote:
But "accountability before God" is the key thing here: if you get it wrong (whatever 'get it wrong' means), then you've got to answer to God about it and you can't blame anyone else. As it says further down on that website,
quote:
With this competency and freedom comes responsibility and accountability. Choices have consequences.
You can't just do/believe what you want then claim soul competency as a defence if it leaves you in a mess.
But no earthly authority can tell me to knock it off. If I believe God is telling me to shoot women going to abortion clinics, I may get arrested and thrown in jail, and if I'm mature enough rejoice that I am suffering for the sake of the gospel, but under soul competency there is no ecclesial authority that can say I was wrong about what God wanted.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Gamaliel
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Well, yes ... that's what I said, I didn't explain myself very well Mousethief.

Anyhow, as you were ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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hatless

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I don't like the word competence. It implies the soul is enough, that it has no need of anyone else. I understand the wish to reject authorities, but I don't think we ever stand alone. We are always in relationship. We form our beliefs and ideas through conversations, influences, tensions and reactions to and with and from others, but always in relationship.

It's never the self versus the world, because there is no self without the world.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
It's never the self versus the world, because there is no self without the world.

Sadly the idea that there is the self with the world has taken over a good swath of religious-right America. It is the Grand Lie of libertarianism, and a huge number of American Christians have swallowed it. It's depressing.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
'Soul competency' is new to me. Googling shows that the term was first articulated and explained by a theologian in 1908, and so was not a foundational Baptist concept.

That does not follow. I am sure you could find a Baptist or three who will say that although the term was not yet coined, the concept it denotes was there all along.


FWIW, I did come across one academic source which claimed that the Baptists (in England) were not originally inclined towards 'soul competency'.
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LeRoc

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Am I the only one who wants to compose a James Brown style song about soul competency?

Soul competency
You know you've got soul competency
Now give me some soul competency
Now break down ♪♫


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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
But no earthly authority can tell me to knock it off. If I believe God is telling me to shoot women going to abortion clinics, I may get arrested and thrown in jail, and if I'm mature enough rejoice that I am suffering for the sake of the gospel, but under soul competency there is no ecclesial authority that can say I was wrong about what God wanted.

Although the flip side of that is that there's also no earthly authority to tell you that you must shoot women going to abortion clinics. Or (to take examples that have actually happened) ostracise and excommunicate people who have had abortions, or who have remarried after a divorce. Or that you must burn heretics, persecute Jews, or support racial segregation. Authoritarian religion has its problems.

Individualist religion does, too, of course. I've no reason to think that I'm intelligent, knowledgeable and holy enough to work out for myself all that God asks of me. As a Christian, I'm called to belong to a faith community which knows more than I do, and learn about God through membership of that body.

I think how I see it is that there are traditions and authorities within the Church (defined, me being a Protestant, as all those professing faith in Jesus) which I can go to:

* to tell me things I don't know;
* to cast light on doubtful or dubious questions;
* to show how other, better, Christians have done things;
* to make such decisions on religious observances as are best made collectively;
* to say what sources of scriptural authority have been found valuable;
* to guide me on how such matters have been, and should be interpreted...

... that sort of thing.

But no earthly authority can rightly require me to believe something that seems to me to be obviously wrong, or do that which is evil.

Applying this to the OP, my contention is that the traditional view of homosexuality is now in the "obviously wrong" category. No sound arguments have been, or can be, advanced in its defence. It relies solely on setting up authority against the best discernment of reason and conscience. Therefore it goes too far: and however many scriptures, popes, theologians, and traditional teachings are cited in support of authority, the most that should make me do is question my confidence that gay and straight relationships are morally equivalent. If I do that, and find (as anyone must find) that no good reasons for making the distinction are known to anyone, conscience wins, and authority loses.

Is that enough to clear me of the charge of "making up your own religion as it suits you"? Possibly not. But even so, I don't know how to believe, on authority, something that's clearly wrong.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Steve Langton
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Soul competency

Looking back over a lot of previous posts here....

Protestants generally have sometimes ended up being a bit individualistic in a way that can be selfish; at the same time I think Luther was basically right in the assertion that one man here on earth with God's Word on his side is effectively a majority.

Anabaptists generally regard bible interpretation as a matter for the church acting together, not just the individual. Where we have a problem with the RC, Orthodox, Anglican and similar is that they are basically 'Constantinian'; that is, derived from the era when the church was wrongly connected with the state in contradiction of scripture. That state connection led to a situation in which it was rather taken for granted that all in a state/society were 'Christian' by birth and infant baptism – yet of course many would not have faced the necessary steps of personal repentance and faith to be truly 'born again'.

This could even apply to leaders of the church – indeed in a necessarily worldly church, because of its links with and access to state power it would perhaps especially apply to leaders many of whom would be seeking leadership for its worldly power. That clearly happened in many cases in the RC church, eg the 'Borgia popes'. I doubt if the Orthodox can claim it doesn't ever happen in their circles, and state church Anglicanism is also not immune.

From an Anabaptist perspective, a church based on that kind of “everybody assumed to be a Christian” model, and compromised by worldly power in the state, does not really have the same 'competency' as a church made up of conscious/intentional believers who have been personally 'born again'. (It is not denied that even so not everybody in the church will be truly Christian – but at least there can't be the fundamental confusion that exists with a state church, and at least certain kinds of worldliness in the leadership are discouraged or impossible).

Anabaptists assert the right of biblical interpretation not as 'individualistic' but in opposition to the 'state church' situation. It is the state church, to our mind, which is relying on something quasi-magical in that they are asserting some kind of 'infallibility' in a leadership compromised by a wrongful relationship with the state and ipso facto demonstrably not infallible or anywhere near. In effect, ordinary Christians working together have an authority which a Borgia pope or similar can't realistically claim.

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Steve Langton
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My last effectively cross-posted with Eliab's last. I'll hopefully be back later with my thoughts on it.
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Gamaliel
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Luther contra mundum? Athanasius contra mundum?

Whether we are Anabaptists or otherwise, there's no such thing as a Church of One.

As Wesley said of the Trinity, 'God is in Himself a sweet Society.'

Also, Christ is the Word of God (capital W). The Bible is the word of God.

We do not approach the Bible as individuals. We approach it in community.

The Bible and tradition (or Tradition) forms a conservation to which we are invited - not a monolith to trip ourselves over on.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Although the flip side of that is that there's also no earthly authority to tell you that you must shoot women going to abortion clinics.

But I don't need an earthly authority. I've got the Bible and the Holy Ghost telling me what to do. That's what soul competency is all about.

quote:
But no earthly authority can rightly require me to believe something that seems to me to be obviously wrong, or do that which is evil.
Or that which is good. Or prevent you from doing that which is evil, as was my point. Without authority outside yourself, you are a law unto yourself, a law and a gospel both.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
Where we have a problem with the RC, Orthodox, Anglican and similar is that they are basically 'Constantinian';

Zzzzzz.

quote:
that is, derived from the era when the church was wrongly connected with the state in contradiction of scripture.
Both the RCC nor the EOC predate Constantine by some hundreds of years. The Anabaptists, on the other hand, were derived from the individualism and anti-authoritarianism of the Reformation. This game plays both ways.

[ 05. October 2015, 13:45: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Gamaliel
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Yes, but the Anabaptist answer to that, of course, would be that they had no option but to separate from the historic Churches because they were so compromised and so 'Constantinian' ...

So they are waiting for the RCC, the Orthodox, the Anglicans, Lutherans and everyone else to play catch-up and get with the programme because it is so self-evidently better than the alternatives because they're untainted by the world and are more likely to be properly 'born-again' than anyone else ...

There is an internal logic there, whether we agree with it or not.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Crœsos
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Of course there's the problem that Biblical interpretation by a large body of lay believers is something that was impossible for the first fifteen centuries of Christianity's history. Absent the printing press and widespread literacy, the kind of "all believers reading and interpreting the Bible" being argued here is an impossibility. If that's the way you're supposed to do Christian hermaneutics, it seems like a massive design flaw that the "right" way to do it was impossible for most of the religion's history.

[ 05. October 2015, 15:04: Message edited by: Crœsos ]

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Gamaliel
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Which, of course is why God providentially put it all right by providentially sending the Reformation and then the Anabaptists to put it all right ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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hatless

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I think it's reasonable to claim that the Reformation was a product of the printing press.

And there's a symmetry in that it may be that the book, as in a folded and bound set of pages or codex as opposed to a scroll, was a product of Christianity. Travelling scriptures. Stick a leather cover on, slip it in a fold of your robes and head off to another country, whereas a scroll must never be taken out of doors, only unrolled with care, and be stored in a cabinet or a large jar.

The new relationship with scripture is already there in the codex, and fully realised in the vernacular printed Bible.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:
And there's a symmetry in that it may be that the book, as in a folded and bound set of pages or codex as opposed to a scroll, was a product of Christianity. Travelling scriptures. Stick a leather cover on, slip it in a fold of your robes and head off to another country, whereas a scroll must never be taken out of doors, only unrolled with care, and be stored in a cabinet or a large jar.

The other advantage of books vs. scrolls is that books are what we'd now call "random access memory". If you want to read a certain passage, like Romans 13, you can simply open the book at that point (with a little bit of flipping back and forth). Scrolls, on the other hand, are sequential access. You can only read the scroll version of Romans 13 by first unrolling Romans 1 through 12 from one rod and then re-rolling them on the other rod. You don't have to read them all, but you do have to 'scroll' through them.

The book isn't "a product of Christianity" in the sense that it was invented by and for Christian use, but Christians were what would now be called "early adopters" to such a degree that their scriptures are simply referred to as "the Book" ("Bible").

[ 05. October 2015, 18:35: Message edited by: Crœsos ]

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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