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Dec 18, 2004


Tobias Haller

Questions well asked, and not just for reasserters. Much to think about here for anyone who takes Scripture seriously. Thanks!

Jim, Sr

I have to admit that I don't know what a "reasserter" is. Fill me in?

John wilkins

"Reasserters" is the name of those who think that justifications for the leadership of openly gay people are unavailable in scripture. The believe that their view is justified by scripture, whereas the opposing view is the "reappraising" side - who create breathing space in scripture for faithful gay christians in leadership.


How about some questions for you in return?

What does the verse, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." mean? And what might its implications be?

And how about the verse, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”?

Billy Harrison

John Wilkins, many excellent questions, of which I shall attempt few answers at this time, but I shall ponder them. I am not qualified to answer many of your questions (don't know enough). I will respond to two off the top of my head. As a reasserter, I have no problem with the "acquaintance" who is in my church, on my vestry, etc. as he is and as I know him. From the evidence, however, I would have to ask the question of his theological beliefs about homosexual acts being forbidden by the Bible, before I could recommend him for seminary, since he could then have souls under his care.

The discovery of new documents that "elaborate meanings" in our world is subject to much political correctness type interpretation, as we've seen in the change of propers and to some extent the change of the prayer book (and I love the 1979 BCP, but I have noted some changes that I would not have made from 1928). So before I could believe in new documents elaboration of meanings, I would have to look at who is offering the elaboration and determine if I believed that person had an agenda of some kind.

John, I would, also, note in your response to Jim, Sr about who are reasserters and who are reappraisers, you (perhaps in a Freudian slip) indicate that reappraisers have to "create breathing space in scripture," which indicates that without that "creation" it would not be there. I believe that is what us reasserters have been saying for some time ... it is not there and has never been there, and you reappraisers are creating it because of a social situation in our modern day culture that you want to promote or at least that you want to portray as normal, because to do otherwise would hurt the feelings of those caught in the gay lifestyle and agenda. There simply are some standards that the Bible does not give us any leeway on. Love is not one of them. Love is available for anyone, anytime, just as a person is (though love may not allow one to stay as one is). Homosexual acts are one of them. There is no justification for them in the Bible and there is only condemndation. Thus, you are having to create something that is not there and the only way of doing that is like my bishop did in his little post GC 2003 book, by saying "we no longer tolerate stoning for adultery, so we should now tolerate homosexual acts as normal."

By the way, I am going to be in Boston next month and would love to meet you and perhaps attend your church, if that is where you are, since you and I have traded so many comments over at titusonenine. If you are able, let me know where you are on titusonenine or here. If you don't want to release your identity or location, I understand.

Hope you have a blessed and peace-filled Christmas. Billy



Fair is fair...our experience of you on other blogs is that whenever YOU are asked a hard question, you before I reply to your questions, here are some for YOU!!

How do you determine the criteria for discarding or ignoring scripture that you don't like? If so much of Scripture can be safely set aside, why should Christians of today tithe?

How you might convince a non-scientific person, without using scientific language, that the theory of Evolution is reliable? How is it reliable?

If the pope tomorrow said that slavery was right, would you think the pope was anti-Catholic?

You have an acquaintance who is knows his scripture and is, by all accounts, a committed Christian. He serves on the vestry of your church, and leads bible studies. He offers 15% of his income to the parish. However, you believe you once saw him as an active participant at a white supremacist rally. Your pastor is biblically orthodox but says to you, "I think he'd make an excellent priest." What do you say?

Do our choices have consequences in this world? If so, why should we assume that this is not true in the eternal sense?

If one is baptized, can one do anything they please without further consequence? If Hitler was baptized would what he did have been a sin? Why or why not? If baptism is an automatic ticket to a right relationship with God regardless of any further decisions, then after we get baptized, why should we be involved in our local Episcopal Church, much less tithe to it?

Augustine one said that "all truth is one." Harmonize, if you can, insights from Adolf Hitler, David Duke, George Bush, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Osama bin Ladin, and John Wilkins with Biblical cosmology. Explain why it makes no difference in your interpretation of scripture.


Billy, Why do the reasserters like you care only about the issue of homosexuality, ignoring the Bible's teachings on divorce? There is more in the Bible on divorce than homosexuality and in the case of divorce Jesus himself conemns it (he doesn't mention homosexuality). According to your standards it is those who are divorced who should be ostracized, condemned and forbidden from holding positions of leadership. But that would hit a bit too close to home, wouldn't it?

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

4“Haven't you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

7“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Matt 19:3-8

See also Mark 10, Matt 5:31, 1Cor 7


Karen, don't expect any replies about divorce. I have posted this question in many forms many times on reasserter sites, and NO ONE has ever answered.


Dear Karen,

You are doing the same thing that my bishop has done ... "The church allows for divorce now, and Jesus said it is unlawful, so why then shouldn't the church ignore the condemnations of homosexual acts." The church is wrong on divorce, also, as far as its leadership is concerned. Prior to late 70s, divorced priests were routinely asked to leave the ministry after divorce, and one who attempted to remarry was defrocked, even if he had voluntarily renounced his vows. There were no divorced bishops. Now, due to the modern social situation, our church has ignored the teachings of Jesus in the gospels, the same as it is ignoring the Bible with regard to homosexual acts, and is allowing for divorced priests and even now, multi-divorced bishops, even those who marry, in the church, for the 4 or 5th time to his male lover (yeah, he was relieved of his temporary position in CA but no presentment was made against him). Sorry, your remark does not hit too close to home for me. The church and its leadership began losing its way in the 70s, as so many reasserters have said, and now the liberal movement of the late 60s and early 70s is running the church, and anything goes ... there are no standards, no requirements, every thing is love and flowers (sound like the hippies of old?) and we can ignore those pesky parts of the Bible that don't conform to our modern world, because after all, we know a lot more now than Paul did in his times (sound like the PB after GC 2003). Do we know more than Jesus did (and does)? Karen, you picked the cites, but I couldn't have don't it any better. They apply to Mr. Robinson as much as those in Romans. Your petard has been hoisted.

But you and I share the same bread and chalice. Billy


If that is true then I need no more proof that their arguments about scripture are nothing more than a way to justify their personal fear and hatred of homosexual people.



While I admire your position for its consistency, I still believe that tolerance and love are the core of Christianity and that "We will know they are Christians by their love" is the community ideal to which we should all ascribe. I see nothing wrong with "love and flowers", and nothing unChristian about them either.

And while you, yourself, may be consistent in your scriptural opposition to both divorce and homosexuality, the rest of the religious right is not--vociferously condemning abortion and homosexuality while accepting multiple divorce without a peep. The fact of this nearly universal inconsistency on the right can only be explained by hatred and homophobia. I'll take love and flowers, tolerance and acceptance, over hatred and condemnation any day.


Karen: Glad to see your own tolerance and love brimming over. I especially appreciated all the evidence you adduced to justify your statement "the fact of this nearly universal inconsistency on the right can only be explained by hatred and homophobia". I am so glad to see the "tolerance and love" that "are the core of Christianity" coming through your unsubstantiated allegations against a broad swath of people accusing them of hatred.

Karen: Glad to see your own tolerance and love brimming over. I especially appreciated all the evidence you adduced to justify your statement "the fact of this nearly universal inconsistency on the right can only be explained by hatred and homophobia". I am so glad to see the "tolerance and love" that "are the core of Christianity" coming through your unsubstantiated allegations against a broad swath of people accusing them of hatred.


Oh yes, because I refuse to embrace intolerance and bigotry, I must be an intolerant bigot. Brilliant.

John Wilkins

Rob, The first I would say is about actions having consequences. Fear, in such circumstances, is a gift. Which is why, perhaps, we should be afraid of war, stalkers, and the careless. Fear also creates a boundary, which is a signifier for holiness. And the wise know when to make distinctions.

The second is a tautology for the idealized community. If X then Y. But also Y then X. If you are really someone a member of the guild of firefighters, then you know how to fight fires. And if you are truly someone who knows how to fight fires, then you are a firefighter. It's a way of indicating who is in and out of the community. If you are someone who really knows how to fight fires, then you are a firefighter [or should be] and if you are a firefighter, then you know how to fight fires [and if you don't, you're not really one, even if you're a member of the guild].

Theologically: if you know God's mind [the Logos, the word, the logic], then you can live out his word [as a disciple], and you will understand truth; and you will be free. Thus Truth=freedom=god's Word=your life. That's the ideal.

The problem is discerning what is Truth; freedom; God's Word; or your life. If you can describe any one of these, you'll understand the others.

Santiago, your questions are child's play. Although they would be worth the intellectual exercize, I don't know how they would contribute to our discussion.

Billy, I wouldn't mind meeting up, but I'm in a suburb of Babylon, the financial capital, not in Boston.



My experience tells me you are wrong in your generalizations. Yes, condemnation for homosexual acts and abortion (doesn't our church believe a soul occurs at conception, regardless of what the secular U.S. Supreme Court says is viable, though obviously our church has again caved in to modern secular meanderings), and, I agree with you, that for a long time, most pewsitters watched and held their tongues regarding divorce, to go-along to get-along, which to a large extent is what reappraiser bishops and priests are asking now. As I understand the theology of the church on divorce, it is still considered a sin, but a sin, like any other, for which there is forgiveness through our Lord Jesus Christ, and that forgiveness wipes away the sin and, apparently, the stigma of it for priests and bishops, who are, in the last few decades, allowed to continue in their ministries, whereas before the 70s they were not. The difference with Mr. Robinson and the reappraisers who support him is that there is a denial that homosexual acts are sinful, at least in the context of a committed faithful two-person relationship. But there simply is no affirmative support for that position in the Bible or within 2000 years of church theological history, as far as anyone has provided (which is why the Windsor Report asked ECUSA to provide a theological defense of the actions it had wrought). So the pewsitters and the vast majority of the Anglican church have arisen on this one, because ECUSA has gone from forgiving sins to reclassifying them, without sufficient theological justification.

But, as I said, you and I still drink from the same chalice, and they will know us by our love (don't you love that song, I do), even though we may disagree. Billy


Karen, I feel that both reasserters and reappraisers make reasonable points. I don't think the former, by and large, hates homosexuals. We have a gay man (maybe more) in our reasserter church and he feels very welcome. But the problem for the reasserters, as I see it, is that they have allowed themselves to become defined by that to which they are opposed rather than that which they support. And they talk about homosexaulity at the expense of everything else much of the time, refusing to devote any energy to divorce, greed, lust - those people give big $$ to the church, so we need to pick on (not hate) a marginal group like gays.

If the problem is scriptural authority, then this whole Network business should have come about proactively, rather than as a reaction to Gene Robinson. But they couldn't get motivated to do that before Gene, which gives people the reasonable suspicion (though I don't believe this) that there really is hatred of gays on their part.

The reappraisers, for their part, need to get over Vietnam and all that 60s stuff about moral relativity and stop seeing every issue that comes our way through that lense.

I hope this helps.

Chris Jones


I'm not a "reasserter" because I'm no longer Episcopalian. But I was a "reasserter" back in the 1970s, which was what led me to leave the Episcopal Church after being Episcopalian for 30 years.

For what it's worth you can check out my answers to your questions on my weblog.

John Wilkins

Karen - hey - happy Christmas! It's nice to hear from you. Blessings to you and the kids this season [I'm guessing its the Karen from Graduate school, the scholar/professor/ fundraiser]


John Wilkins

Billy, in your last sentence you use the word "reclassifying" which is very useful. I think that there are consistent classes of sins in scripture, but that homosexuality is of the class [food before idols, blood purity, slavery] that is culturally plastic. Obviously, sins related to hospitality, property, hatred of God, idolatry, still remain.


Well, since nobody has asked Billy about shrimp and menstruation, what's the Billy-stance on them?


Let's at least be accurate for once: lesbianism isn't condemned in the Bible. The one possible reference to lesbianism (in Romans I) was thought for centuries - by St. Augustine, among others - to be referring to something completely different.

How come this little fact is always, always ignored, I wonder?


Karen –
You bring up an excellent point about the acceptance of divorce. As a conservative Anglican (OK, I guess the new term of the day is “reasserter”), I guess I pretty much gotta go along with what Jesus said in the passages you quoted. I believe that divorce should be a huge obstacle to the ordination of a priest or bishop. The only divorced Episcopal bishop I know of is the one from New Hampshire, but I’d bet that there are others.
However, I was always under the impression that it was the progressive movement in the Episcopal Church in the last 20 years or so that has led to the acceptance of divorce. Am I wrong? I know of no one in my circle of conservative Anglican friends who feel that divorce is OK.
I assume from your post that you might label yourself a progressive - how do you feel about this matter? Do you think divorce is perfectly acceptable, or do you believe that it is contradictory to Scripture? How would you feel if the Episcopal church not only accepted divorce, but actually started offering its blessing on the act of divorce?
In an eerie parallel to Chris’s experience, I have posted these questions on progressive sites, but no one has really ever responded.

Kevin S.

Divorce. It's a difficult issue. It goes against our ideas about romance and love and personal fulfillment to say that people should stay together simply because they promised God that they would. But speaking from my own experience, without the sacramental promise it'd be very hard to make it. There is sacramental marriage and then there is a civil contract though. For those who enter into a sacramental marriage divorce should be much less common than it is. But I'm not saying let's exclude divorced people AND gay people for the sake of consistency. All should be welcomed with love.

My original point was that straight men who find the idea of gay sex disgusting are quick to condemn homosexuality based on scriptural arguments. These same men are unlikely to turn to scripture when their marriage isn't as fulfilling as they think it should be and they'd like to start over with the nice young choir director.


Divorce is explained away by the fact that "human beings are imperfect, unfortunately, and we must sadly allow for occasional failure." Never, of course, is any such leeway given for homosexuality.

But let's try this once again: lesbianism is not condemned in the Bible. All of the passages trotted out by those who claim to be arguing from Scriptural authority concern men, specifically. So why should I, as a gay woman, have to rearrange my entire life around a nonexistent rule?

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