25 September 2022

‘We need more than just historical context’

19 August 2022

I would like to supply an extension to Bob Derrenbacker’s interpretative method in exegeting Matthew 19:3-9 in August’s Melbourne Anglican. I believe it does not go far enough in its work, and so draws a premature and misleading conclusion. 

Historical contextual exegesis is just the first step in interpreting how a passage may or may not apply to a contemporary issue. Naturally many contemporary issues will not be directly addressed by the Biblical historical context. By very definition, they are from a different era. 

Read more: Matthew 19 speaks into divorce, not same-sex marriage

The next step is to ask: “Is there an underlying principle in the passage that may relate to the issue at hand?” In this case Jesus provides a hermeneutical principle of profound relevance. He endorses the state of marriage prior to the entrance of sin into the world as normative. That such marriage is defined as male with female strongly implies that any variation from this model is most likely part of the fallen world, as with divorce. We might then ask whether same-sex marriage is to be considered a concession, as divorce is, to the reality of a sin impacted world. Yet in related Old Testament Scriptures, unlike with the provision of divorce, sexual relations (a defining aspect of marriage) with people of the same sex are strictly forbidden. A New Testament lens renders the same conclusion. My point is that while I agree wholeheartedly that contemporary interpretative application of Scripture must begin with exegesis of a passage in its historical context, it does not end there. 

Reverend Wayne Walters 

Noble Park 

No, the Anglican church can’t ‘split’ 

There have always been theological divisions within the Anglican Church world-wide and in each diocese. When I was first ordained in 1968 the big fight was between high church Anglo-Catholics and low church evangelicals. There was much animosity. For the last 40 years, the big fight has been between those in favour of the ordination of women and those who oppose it. In the last few years, the issue has become homosexuality, and specifically the blessing of gay relationships. 

Any individual Anglican who cannot live with such diversity can of course freely leave the Anglican church, and many have over the years. However, no Anglican congregation can break away from their diocese or take over ownership of their church building. All Anglican property is held in trust by each diocese. The national Anglican church or any particular diocese cannot “split” in any institutional sense. 

Read more: Church ‘can find a way to stay together’: Primate

If the GAFCON movement, initiated and directed by the Diocese of Sydney, has as its agreed agenda to promote faithfulness to the clear and consistent teaching of scripture it certainly deserves a hearing, and I for one would support it. However, if the GAFCON agenda is to “split” the Australian Anglican church to create a pure church, I would not support it. I do not think you can have a pure church in this fallen world, and I am opposed to schism. What I want to see within the Anglican church is open and vigorous debate on what the Bible teaches on important issues, something that has always taken place in the Anglican church. 

Reverend Dr Kevin Giles 

Doncaster 

You are wanted as you are 

The nation’s most conservative Anglicans known as GAFCON or the Global Anglican Future Conference gathered in the Canberra recently with some choosing to form a company called the Diocese of the Southern Cross. As an Anglican priest, what do I say to rainbow Christians when their freedom and safety is crashed in this way? 

Should I encourage them to stay when GAFCON is like a controlling partner, welcoming LGBTQIA+ people provided they don’t speak, look, socialise, or behave as if they desire someone of the same sex? 

Should I encourage LGBTQIA+ people to leave? That would be to surrender to views that are intrinsically harmful. 

Read more: GAFCON announces first bishop for new diocese, says strategy is primarily to encourage unit

Should I encourage protest? When people are exhausted and fearful that would be irresponsible adding yet more anger to an inflamed situation.  

Here’s what I will say to my LGBTQIA+ faith family. You are seen and wanted as you are. Your coming out is testament to the power and strength of love. You are not responsible for what others do out of their own fear and need for control. Don’t lose heart because we are all saved by Christ’s life and not the statements to which we subscribe.   

Wayne Brighton 

Cook 

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