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The truth of Scripture vs. modern ideals

Calvin Robinson | The Church of England may not have an “official definition for a woman” but the Bible does

Bishop Robert Innes (left) with Pope Francis in Rome in 2017 Associated Press/Photo by Gregorio Borgia (file)

The truth of Scripture vs. modern ideals
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The Church of England’s governing body met earlier this month at General Synod to discuss pressing issues such as “What is the Church of England’s definition of a woman?” The Right Rev. Dr. Robert Innes, the church’s bishop in Europe, responded to the question proposed by a lay member: “There is no official definition, which reflects the fact that until fairly recently definitions of this kind were thought to be self-evident, as reflected in the marriage liturgy. The Living in Love and Faith project however has begun to explore the marriage complexities associated with gender identity and points to the need for additional care and thought to be given in understanding our commonalities and differences as people made in the image of God.”

We must be sure to address issues of Biblical truth with compassion and charity, but the truth must not be avoided. There is no room for ambiguity in terms of finding definitions for marriage and gender, for they are obvious in both science and Scripture. Bishop Innes may very well claim that the Living in Love and Faith project is about exploring those complexities, but what it actually seems to be about is redefining Scripture and the sacramental signs to fit in line with modern ideals of marriage and gender. These issues are not complex. We only need to return to Scripture for the answers and stop attempting to make Scripture fit around societal norms. The Bible is supposed to shape us, not the other way round.

Marriage is the union of one man and one woman under God. It is that simple, despite what theologians might do to overcomplicate matters. Descriptions of holy matrimony appear abundantly throughout the Holy Bible. One cannot make sense of the Biblical sexual ethic without this most basic of norms informing the rest of the Biblical canon.

The definition of “woman” is not a complex moral problem. It’s a social dilemma brought on only by elite culture’s unwillingness to reckon with nature, now aided and abetted by careless church leaders.

It seems the Church of England is facing two problems, one being that it is no longer referring to the Word of God, and the other is that it seems to want to pick and choose which part of the Word is truth.

“Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). “And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man” (Genesis 2:22). The Bible makes it explicitly clear that there are two sexes, male and female, and that God designed us that way. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created” (Genesis 5:2). “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). In Matthew’s Gospel, we read Jesus’ own words, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4).

It seems the Church of England is facing two problems, one being that it is no longer referring to the Word of God, and the other is that it seems to want to pick and choose which part of the Word is truth. In response to a thread on this topic, an Anglican vicar spoke out on Twitter saying, “The Bible being taught as the inerrant word of God is a twentieth-century construction.” Of course, that is another mistruth. As an example, Thomas Aquinas wrote in the 13th century, “It must be said that Sacred Scripture is divinely ordered to this: that through it, the truth necessary for salvation may be made known to us.” The Apostle Paul himself says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16–17), a statement that is backed up in 2 Peter 1:21.

Scriptural inerrancy is a core Christian tenet. If all Scripture is inspired by God, how could it possibly contain errors? Unless, of course, the Church of England is claiming God is and can be wrong. The Scripture is clear on these truths, even if the Church of England is not.

Calvin Robinson

The Rev. Calvin Robinson is a British broadcaster, political adviser, and commentator.


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