Tag Archives: Bible

CAN YOU BE DR MICHAEL BROWN AND A CHRISTIAN?

THE STAR CHRISTIAN WHO SHOULDN’T BE ONE

Dr Michael Brown – insultingly and damagingly some would say – doesn’t believe anyone ever has the right to call themselves a “gay Christian”. He has written a book Can You Be Gay and Christian? to insist you can’t. He has also stressed the point in a recent (June 28th), much anticipated debate with Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian on Moody Radio.

My question is can Michael Brown be called a Christian, and should Christians like those of  Charisma News and Christian Post who give him space, interviews and general star billing as some kind of religious authority, despite his approval of even Uganda on homosexuality,  accept him as any voice of and for Christianity. The answer is yes if you care to approve ideas and trends you have no place as Christians to be doing.

THE BROWN/VINES GAY DEBATE

I will briefly review some of the points made in the recent debate. Vines started from the position that while all the Bible’s rare references to same sex behaviour are negative, none are negative towards real relationship, to refuse the possibility of which can be seriously damaging to people. He might usefully have mentioned but didn’t, that the Leviticus ban, the core   issue along with Paul in Romans 1, was understood by the first century Jewish philosopher, Philo, to refer to pagan shrine prostitution (Philo, The Special Laws, III, VII, 40-42). It makes most sense if such is the case, and there’s little question that Paul, much influenced by the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon in Romans 1, makes a close association of his unnatural sinners (whoever precisely they  are ) with pagan idolatry. Brown of course makes the Leviticus ruling a principle of universal natural law it is not presented as being and which much of the Torah including on sex never is – would Brown wish to campaign for raped women marrying their rapists, a ruling deeply involved with the most ancient  values quite irrelevant to Christians and even Jews today?

Brown proposed there is zero tolerance for and nothing positive said or indicated for same sex relations the length of the bible whose call is simply to deny oneself, not to affirm oneself.

Well, obviously we are meant to affirm and love ourselves (which some gays may have difficulty doing amid hostility) because the commandment is to love our neighbour as ourselves. So plainly there’s denial and denial to consider.

Brown compared the gay situation to that of the gospel’s rich young ruler who sadly denies discipleship to cling to his money. The comparison is false and misleading. Money is something one can be reasonably objective about if one tries. A person’s most instinctive, spontaneous sense of self and ability to relate is something very different, and personally I would say that beyond the romantic/erotic attraction Vines defends, being genuinely gay  engages an entire psychology and world view as any cultural studies can show. It’s not for the denying in the way Brown imagines.

MICHAEL BROWN’S GAY NEGATIVE BIBLE

Brown’s claim there is nothing gay positive the length of the bible is merest opinion. It doesn’t allow anyone else ( myself included as a gay scholar and theologian), their opinions to exist. In various of my books and in the article God and the Gay Gaps in Matthew Vines’s Vision (http://bit.ly/1izBz2C) I refer to everything from the plainly same sex attraction of David and Jonathan who have a covenant/marriage, through the unmarried Jeremiah and his ignored but real homoeroticism, to the more dangerous territory of Jesus and John (it’s Brown’s fellow Jewish Christians like Bishop Hugh Montefiore and Canon Paul  Oestereicher who have suggested Jesus’ humanity was probably “homosexual” by current standards) and Jesus’ teaching about “eunuchs” born differently. In the times of Christ eunuch didn’t automatically refer either to castrates or even celibates. So I don’t agree with even Vines that the Bible is negative about everything same sex.

Brown protests that no goodness of relation could justify the sin involved in anything gay. He bolsters this idea with the claim the Bible offers nothing but an Edenic pattern for sex and relating. Humanity is not created with their “parts” to fit other than heterosexually. And there’s no emotional or spiritual compatibility possible save between opposite sexes.

Even ignoring that many Christians today take Eden more as parable than history, what nonsense! Then, even ignoring as regards gay compatability potential that David’s love for Jonathan was self-declared to be above that for women, what we must affirm is that the design argument is as silly and irrelevant as claiming that because the mouth was made for eating it was not made for kissing also. And homosexuality is anyway not against or unknown to nature generally, it is simply a variation intelligent people should accept. But then Brown also contends that people (properly submitted to the Lord!) have left homosexuality behind. Change is possible.

To the last point Vines protests that Exodus and its former leader Alan Chambers would deny the cure claims though he personally accepts that some people do have a “fluid” sexuality but it should be clear enough most people don’t. He accepts that observed stability of orientation and its implications for relation is a rather modern issue. (I somewhat question this for reasons other than Brown – what were all the medieval church marriages of brethren about?).

MICHAEL BROWN’S GAYS AGAINST GOD

For Brown, to suggest the relationship issue is modern is tantamount to accusing God of writing a bad bible oppressing us for centuries. It suggests Jesus didn’t understand orientation as we do (I would insist Jesus very much did realize there was a gay orientation even if Paul didn’t) and it places sex before all else as an identity in a purely modern way. And what about the claims that the likes of a man fixated on pre-teen girls could make if we concede to gay demands, asks Brown?

Here Brown is getting really ridiculous, though as regards the bad bible idea this is just fundamentalist and pedantic literalism at work. Brown’s Bible gets read like the Koran, every word direct from heaven. As there is no room for any cultural or personal or historical filters to the revelation.  The supposed plain sense is all that matters and interpretation scarcely exists. All that does exist is people defying and challenging the God-dictated Bible with their false opinions and self-affirmations….. But the Taliban could and do bring the same kind of charges against supposedly lax or liberal Muslims!

As to those Brown mentioned who could claim rights for their fixation on pre-teens, paedophiles in effect, let’s note (against the terrible fundamentalist libel that gay and paedophile is more or less the same thing) that paedophiles often turn out to be fathers of families or visitors of prostitutes. They are not fixated on youth to the exclusion of all else but just playing around with an alluring alternative.

Contrary to what Brown assumes, as I pointed out in the article prior to this, we DO have the right to challenge and argue with scripture, not totally dismiss and ignore it but meaningfully question it without being condemned as hopeless egotists or blasphemers. In Numbers 27 the daughters of Zelophehad challenge the justice of a Torah ruling and it is changed in their favour.  ( Rather along these lines, Jewish commentary on Torah I have, says that in the light of what we know and the great complexity of the subject, Leviticus on n  same-sex needs re-assessment, an issue taken to the leaders of the faith for special guidance).  In Acts 10: 14  we have Peter denying the call to change given in vision because it appears to go against scripture. We are supposed as per Revelation to hear “what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:11) not just the bible. I have also pointed out that I believe some evidence of revelation on things gay today exists, but conservative Christianity isn’t even beginning to listen to it. Sola Scriptura mania stops its ears.

THE WEEPING INTRANSIGENT

I won’t go further as regards the (uninspiring) debate. Instead I will comment a little upon the frustrating character of Michael Brown with its deceptive “this hurts me more than you” approach to his theme and which has him saying he has felt pain and wept at the pain of homosexuals….at the same time as he believes in zero tolerance for their opinions.  Facts like for example – and disgracefully to a Christian community – someone Vines knew was in danger even of going out in public once he had admitted to his orientation, still doesn’t leave Brown questioning whether his Koranic, Taliban-style attitude to bible,  (bibliolatry), truly works and makes for justice, righteousness and health. Suicides, breakdowns, depression, nothing moves Michael Brown. His Bible is necessarily as right as was the Inquisition’s Pope and Church.

People tend not to understand such a mentality and Christians who promote persons like Brown tend not to inquire into it, but I’m afraid  I do and must. I can moreover see a few things via that mode of analysis that is as much “abomination” to evangelical Christians as homosexuality itself, namely the astrology that despite Talmudic rabbis and Essenes on the subject they see unilaterally fit to condemn as forbidden “divination”.

Michael Brown who was born a Jew but became a Christian following a youthful career as drug addict, is a Piscean, the weeping “I’m in pain” kind. (Ironically his nadir, Matthew Vines, is also a Piscean as was John Boswell of the ground breaking Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality. At the end of the Piscean era, whose end Christians should be taking very seriously, Pisceans are having a big day out on the gay theme before the inevitably more individualized and gay friendly Aquarian era fully dawns).

Neptune “rules” Pisces and, afflicted, is major in the charts of addicts of any sign. I rightly guessed I would find Neptune afflicted at Brown’s birth, – the pattern is Neptune square Uranus and quincunx Sun in Pisces. Afflicted Neptune also inclines to muddled facts and major illusions such as Brown tends to display in his shocking lack of awareness of the kind of responsibilities he has for evangelical influences in Africa and Russia on gay issues. He sees himself as Pisceans often do, as kindly, sensitive, helpful.

The fact that Brown just can’t leave gay issues alone is involved with the fact he has the gay planet Uranus in positive trine aspect to his natal sun which could help make him very gay sympathetic….except that there are the Neptune afflictions and on the sexual level fluidity and bisexuality have much to do with these; so he feels a constant need to defend his borders lest the Piscean waters overflow, so to speak.

I don’t like to criticize Messianic (Christian) Jews as they can sometimes have a rough and alienated time of it (which itself might have taught Brown a few things about the gay situation) but Brown belongs to the crazy wing of Jewish Christian. There has been some association with sensations seeking Sid Roth who just recently has been promoting a Messianic rabbi who will improve your prayer efficiency by reciting things in Hebrew. Roth has even promoted supernatural kits to induce greater nearness to God and power while for the height of scandal and presumption which surely no gay Christian could reach, selling CDs to help you manage to speak in tongues properly! In short Roth is not far off Simon Magus himself. One should beware such people and the Browns who associate with them.

There is more one could say. I won’t however say more than I think it’s time Dr Brown either told himself, or the Christian community told him, to find some other subjects than the gay one to engage him. I am far from commending all that leaders of the gay community or even notable gay Christians say and do, but to avoid unnecessary spiritual and psychological damage, contributions like those of Brown should be opposed. It’s absolutely not good enough  to in effect excommunicate gays inside and outside the churches from  Christ and Christianity from the outset by declaring there’s a 100% heterosexual bible which they must accept or else.

It’s not only untrue about the Bible but it’s an offence to some people’s deepest sense of integrity as regards who and what they are. This is not the way of Christ who didn’t turn away the almost certainly gay centurion who wanted his “boy” cured, and it must not be presented as such. Some will never cope, a few from conservative  homes may at worst   go suicidal while Brown  smiles sweetly on and requests prayer support in his spiritual battle against gay “agendas”. But suppose he is himself a part of the spiritual problem,  preventing God’s word to this generation being  heard?

I accept that Brown has suffered some  merely scurrilous attacks from gay extremists that most of us would never approve, but to some extent he is too upsetting a figure not to  have invited  something of this.  The weeping Christian, the avuncular image, the martyr to truth I think Brown sees himself as being, in reality are scarcely more helpful than the Taliban imposing Sharia law for people’s best whether they see it as such or not. The tears don’t excuse the mistakes, I’m afraid. People do  get hurt and confused as Brown rattles eagerly on. And he does speak very fast.

Other gay theological articles and poetry at :

https://gaythoughtsblog.wordpress.com/ 

 

 

 

 

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THE FATAL FLAW IN THE MATTHEW VINES, ALBERT MOHLER GAY DEBATE

SergiusBacchus  (Ss Sergius and Bacchus, gay saints of the early church)

THE FATAL FLAW IN THE MATTHEW VINES, ALBERT MOHLER GAY DEBATE

AN ARGUMENT OVER “AUTHORITY”

Matthew Vines, a young writer just published for God and the Gay Christian and then immediately critiqued (in over 100 pages!) by Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary, belongs with a wider phenomenon not especially edifying for the (American) churches in the intensity of its obsession and the levels of  alarmist statement it can engender.  (According to how we respond the gospel itself is said to be at stake!).

American churches already have something to answer for in the way their beliefs and attitudes have poisoned public life from Africa to Russia as regards gays encouraging, however unintentionally, vigilante violence and open social and legal discrimination. The current conservative backlash is not helpful to the soul life of gays inside or outside the churches; if anything it is rather selfish and reduces things to some kind of theological boxing match that is no glory to God.

But faced with this latest round in the Christian-gay controversy it might sound strange, especially coming from someone who sufficiently esteems scripture not to count as a dyed in the wool theological liberal, to propose that a great flaw in the current debate is the approach to the “authority” of the Bible. This is something seen in their different ways by gay Matthew Vines and straight Albert Mohler as absolute, though of course Mohler is accusing Vines of undermining biblical “authority” even while he defends it.

Where understanding of homosexuality is concerned, Vines  wants and is promoting a “New Reformation”. But what is really needed is a “New Reformation” away from a rigid, purely sola scriptura treatment of every subject  towards a new position where at very least scripture is permitted to critique scripture and more importantly where the voice of Christ and the Spirit can be heard as per Revelation’s “Hear what the Spirit [not the Bible] says to the churches”, a refrain throughout Rev 2. And with this move we may hope to get away from the “By no means Lord” error of the apostle Peter at Joppa who refused divine vision itself because it appeared in his eyes to refute scripture and tradition (Acts 10:14). There would needless to say have been no bible, no Judaism or Christianity if every time a prophet spoke they would be denied a voice because they weren’t duplicating some word of scripture!

THE WEIGHT AND BURDEN OF OFTEN ILLUSORY “TRADITION”

Presently what I am getting at with all this  will be explained and in a particularly absolute way. It will be insisted  through something conventional commentary ignores or cannot answer, that not only did Jesus have certain views on the gay situation which prejudice and mistranslation and “tradition” have buried ( I have already somewhat covered this in my God and the Gay Gaps in Matthew Vines’ Vision at http://bit.ly/1izBz2C and various of my books like Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency  http://bit.ly/Y42WZo), but that the risen Christ disapproved or at least warned Paul from the first about the kind of views he would express as in the first chapter of Romans, views subsequently often and damagingly repeated over the centuries.

Great men make great mistakes as the saying goes, and as Jesus warned, “the first shall be last”. And the fact is that not everything the prophets of God declare is either intended by God or good. Still less so are words of the Christian philosophers, and I notice that critics of Vines like Mohler and Andrew Walker add to their  authority position the supposed “authority” of the centuries (as does sometimes Vines himself)  via not just scripture but the likes of Augustine, Luther and John Chrysostom.

Can they and should they even do that? I take it these good Southern Baptists and others don’t accept with Augustine, virtual founder of Catholic medieval philosophy, that it is more humble to pray to Mary than Jesus or that unbaptised infants go to hell and numerous other errors. I hope that they don’t accept with Luther, great though he was in many ways, that we should burn down synagogues. Possibly they really do believe the nonsense of Bishop St John Chrysostom of the Greek church that homosexual behaviour is worse than murder. The tongue of this so-called golden mouthed bishop, much like the devil as an angel of light, almost single handedly invented and corrupted the church, especially the Eastern Churches, with a fanatical anti-Semitism which echoes to this day and has justified pogroms. Are these ‘saints’ and doctors of the church any guide to the true position of the churches on anything?

This use of “authorities” betrays the Calvinism of even American Baptists – Vines himself is Presbyterian, a Calvinistic church tradition – but Calvin himself was something of a monster who ran a virtual inquisition in Geneva. He was happy to burn a heretic and unforgivingly required very public penances of those who laughed at or opposed him in any way. His unprecedented doctrine of work and money has perverted American Christianity to this day and runs behind prosperity gospel heresies. All these people presumably would know God’s mind and will regarding gays?!

WHAT AND WHERE IS THE IMMUTABLE BIBLE?

But let’s briefly consider the Bible as the immutable absolute it is for conservative Christians. What even constitutes this Bible? The only secure parts of it in strictly canonical terms are the Torah, the Gospels and a few prophets like Isaiah. The Septuagint Bible that was used and argued from by the early Church included some apocryphal books Southern Baptists would throw out as trashy, superstitious nonsense. It took a thousand years for the Eastern churches to accept Revelation was any revelation. The evangelical notion of a very fixed bible is a convenient fiction. The Apocrypha informs us that the legacy of Moses was destroyed at the fall of Jerusalem and Ezra employed the assistance of scribes to reconstruct what was lost. Almost certainly the version of the OT we possess is an edited “final” edition from around Ezra’s time and it is open to question whether elements of the Torah that seem objectionable to us like marrying a woman for life to her rapist, don’t owe something to the tampering scribes Jeremiah condemned.

The essential spiritual elevation of the Torah is evident, but conservative Christians who take the side of the OT as regards same sex, don’t care to stress the more primitive, almost Taliban-like features of the Torah on some subjects. Nor do they do stress how much the OT is anyway inconsistent on the same sex issue but suggestive of possibilities for development on the subject precisely through being so. Thus although Leviticus has the same sex couple supposedly executed, in Deuteronomy plainly it was not reckoned they would be so since the male prostitute (to whom the Leviticus ban probably originally first or chiefly applied) is not permitted to use the proceeds of his work as any temple offering. Also, though evangelicals like to stress that anything same sex is “abomination” (toevah a term indicating something closer to ritual impurity than “sin” as such), hence akin to and equal to incest and bestiality so categorized, evidently the writer(s)/editor(s) of the Torah weren’t so convinced. At any rate, while those other “abominations” were listed with the curses of Deuteronomy 27, same sex wasn’t included with them.

There is or should be some room for development and argument where scriptures are concerned. Such is the rabbinic position, and it is surely the sense of “come let us argue/reason together says the Lord” Is 1:18). (I have already  been told in response to this article that any idea of arguing with God over the Torah is absurd, but surely the simple answer is that precisely that is what  the daughters of Zelophehad do in Numbers 27 where their appeal gets the conditions changed. I don’t say they could do this to the core covenant and key ideas like the ten commandments but other things are less written in stone).  Jesus alone was regarded as the Word, (“Word of God” means more Jesus as Logos than “Bible”) and he is recorded as speaking with authority and not like the rabbis (who argued and still reckon to). The Bible is not the Koran with every part of it and every word dictated from heaven. It has settings and it has mediums of delivery, some more or less efficient to convey things and let’s note as sola scriptura believers aren’t keen to do that St Paul in Romans 1 on gentile depravity and “homosexuality” (though that word isn’t used) pretty much lifted his argument out of the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon it was so much not dictated from heaven and not “biblical”.  Jesus moreover observed that one searches scriptures in vain if you are not finding him there (Joh 5:39).

So what did Jesus hold about gay issues (which even gay theologians will usually tell you Jesus never referred to) and what may he have indicated to his chief apostle? As regards the gospels I will say no more here than what is suggested with a little more detail in the mentioned article (at http://bit.ly/1izBz2C) namely that Jesus in a way that undermines certain cure claims, maintains that some people are definitely born “different” and that this difference doesn’t automatically signify celibate vocation. I also pointed out concerning meanings of the racah passage in the Sermon on the Mount for condemnation of homophobia. There is more of relevance to gay issues within the gospels but I turn here to Jesus on Paul.

ST PAUL ON GAYS MAYBE, AND IF SO, WHAT?

St Paul’s almost purple passage first chapter of Romans in which something relevant to same sex issues is involved, is celebrated. It almost stands out there like a key to his work that it nevertheless isn’t. After reading extensively over the years on the great variety of interpretive views both conservative and revisionist that scholarship offers on St Paul’s references to those who wilfully “exchanged” their nature, I remain unsure just who and what in terms of his society and times the apostle was really talking about. Vines’ stress upon the evil of sex as “excess” as the ancients understood it must however carry some weight.

Personally I don’t think we can ever now quite know the truth (gay, bisexual, recreationally bisexual, pederastic, male prostitution or what) when it comes to who and what Paul had chiefly in mind. But what we can know is that –  practically –  whether gays as we understand the word today were the intended object of Paul’s tirade or not, the fallout has been huge, and sometimes irreparable in terms of the suicide, nervous breakdown, depression, family splits, persecution, imprisonment, torture etc that his extreme words have managed to justify across the centuries. Whoever he refers to are people whose mind is so twisted and filled with evil, so given to shameful conduct they have exchanged all truth for a lie and exist to receive God’s wrath. Please! Is this what all gays who believe they are “born that way” really are if and when they seek in any way to express themselves?

Even Dr Michael Brown, that tiresome sower  of every confusion (he is one of those who has approved bad policies in Africa) , a man who emphatically denies it is ever possible to be gay and Christian has recently  conceded:   “Some grew up feeling that God hated them, or there was something wrong with them. Some grew up feeling that they could never possibly serve God because they were under God’s condemnation…”.  Well that’s some compliment to St Paul and a recommendation to read scripture uncritically  isn’t it?! This, if ever, as Vines would have it referring to the gospel saying on the tree that bears corrupt fruit, is the bible as a voice for evil and sadly too with words which the apostle has mixed in and confused with what  is a not bad argument for the Creator God and conscience. How can any Christian, if they are honest, call St Paul’s words in Romans 1,  hugely influenced as said by the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon which links sex with idolatry, some kind of  words uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit and speaking to the churches for their good?

The apostle lived and travelled in a Roman world of widespread evil, great exploitation, slavery and torture for even entertainment. To have made “gays” or whatever  sexual minority he had in mind, any linchpin for any argument about good and evil was unnecessary and even scandalous. It’s a bit like talking  in racist fashion about blacks as an example of the “blackness” of human sin.  Though we needn’t question there were some seriously decadent,  orgiastic Romans and their exploitation of especially children could be very ugly,  the apostle’s angry generalizations (all the more dangerous for being precisely generalizations that can’t quite be pinned down so they assume the force of rumour)  do risk turning into  just hate speech and I think Christians have to concede that unfortunate fact.  At this point in his discourse the overall effect  is to make the apostle stand  less as a prophet of God to us than as a man of his times akin to certain pagan moralists and writers like Ptolemy the Egyptian astrologer who believed it didn’t matter if effeminates were bashed up in the streets.

Who is it opposes and persecutes gays today?  The leader of Boko Haram (who is under the illusion not even animals act homosexually), North Korea (which has dismissed Justice Kirby’s evidence against the nation because the forty years partnered Kirby is “a filthy homosexual”) , and various Muslim and African nations with a bad reputation for justice and human rights generally. It is a pity that Paul should be thought near to them in any way. And are any Pauline and ancient world assumptions about “nature” anyway correct?  We now know that homosexuality is in evidence throughout nature and the position of the male g spot itself raises some questions regarding how unnatural and unintended same sex activity intrinsically could be within the order of creation. That there is a distinctive gay mindset  and inspiration any serious study of culture will attest to against the Pauline position, and certainly strongly enough for the likes of Mohler not to protest convincingly that Vines and gays should never raise personal experience of the self in theological arguments.

But just as we are indebted to the imperfect Luther, we are indebted to Paul for many positive things, and I do mean that (Christianity might not even exist without him); but for his sad failure in Romans, and recalling Jesus’ warning that the first will be last, we can be reasonably certain Paul won’t take any highest place in heaven and we can be sufficiently assured too that Jesus was no more pleased with him about this than God was pleased with Moses’ bad temper at the rock and that he even tried to prevent him. How can we tell?

THE MYSTERY OF JESUS’ WORDS TO ST PAUL

It has always been a mystery beyond the power of theologians to explain and mostly just avoided by them, that the presence and introduction of Jesus to Saul/Paul at his conversion is as a semi-Dionysius, the wine god of ecstasy – Jesus is self declared in the gospels as “the true vine” – widely seen as a kind of gay or bisexual deity. Improbably, Paul’s Jesus even employs to the correct metre the words of the gay playwright Euripides in The Bacchae for this outlaw god (recall my other Vines article stressed the so-called “eunuch” figure is the outsider), whom the God of Israel’s Temple, due perhaps to its vine leaf designs pagans widely believed Yahweh to be. The question posed in the play by Dionysius to Euripides’ heteronormative anti-woman( and we may imagine homophobic)  persecuting King Pentheus,  the Gentile mirror image of Paul, becomes Christ’s to the heteronormative Saul: Why are you persecuting me, why will you kick against the goads?

The old KJ “kick against the pricks” accidentally reflects something of the ambiguity and polyvalence of the Greek expression which has several meanings including “the necessity” or sexual drive. St Paul is surely being told he really must stop persecuting the Christians but he needs to stop persecuting people altogether, if need be on a sexual basis. (We may assume a few unresolved sex problems in the apostle though I don’t follow the Bishop Spong line he was closet gay – there aren’t enough gay  traits in him and he had almost certainly been married and divorced – he could not have had his evident one time association with the Sanhedrin if he had not been married). Just as it seems Paul didn’t heed the warning of the prophet Agabus, so Paul the stubborn ox resisting the goads (though we appreciate he needed to be stubborn to take on the Roman Empire and the Jewish establishment!)  never quite learned this particular lesson, never recognized Jesus for who he was, Jesus in his own ambiguities and because of this failure there will be problems for everyone….A chance towards visionary understanding at deep unconscious levels was given and refused. And historically Christ has continued to be  persecuted by Christians in some of their attitudes and dealings with gays and almost anyone on the social margins.

THE TRUE “NEW REFORMATION” BEYOND MATTHEW VINES’ APPEAL

In the failure of St Paul and its dire historical consequences, let us learn a major lesson and make it an opportunity for insight and renewal. Matthew Vines wants a New Reformation. He won’t have it if he continues to peddle the “total” authority of scripture line (even while he is accused of undermining by reinterpreting it). The “New Reformation” so badly needed is one that, while still retaining a high view of scripture, releases us from its absolute authority, a kind of enslavement like that Paul described in relation to the Law. Christianity is not just, or not only, a tradition; tradition itself can be imperfect, it is a faith we are still living and forming.

Yes scripture is important, but no person is perfect nor is any witness to God. Christ, not the Bible is the primary “Word of God”. It is in light of the general sense and drift of scripture and Christ’s words we are bound to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches”  and it is not for evangelicals rigidly to refuse the possibility that God is speaking on this issue and to suppress all witness to it. My A Special Illumination  on  gay spiritualities ( http://amzn.to/17b8z1b  )  did if only briefly include (since this was a doctoral study) concerning alleged divine declarations about the gay situation.  But currently there is no attempt at hearing what the Spirit says to the churches on anything unless at the lowest possible level, even in a counterfeit form among a charismatic movement. This has promoted heresies like prosperity gospels which seriously do contradict the Bible it claims to follow and contradict it far more than persons questioning a few teachings on a rarely biblically mentioned “homosexuality” issue could possibly do. As stressed in my other article, we stand at the end of the era, and in conformity with the new influences of the era, the churches must dynamically change on this entire subject of same sex relations.

[June 21st: My points about sola scriptura, Calvinism and and hearing the Spirit are unexpectedly confirmed in the way that popular Californian Calvinist preacher John MacArthur has now shockingly declared that parents of “come out” gays should hand them over to the devil. This is the same person who has been condemning any spiritual gifts and charismatic Christianity as unbiblical]

See the also relevant, related article: Can You be Dr Michael Brown and a Christian? at http://bit.ly/Tu1LWz

A poem of this theme A Saint’s Mistake: A Poem of St Paul can be found at http://goo.gl/gBL4oA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE ‘SON OF GOD’ MOVIE

THE SON OF GOD MOVIE

JESUSMM

This is almost the year of American biblical/religious movie and Feb 28th marks the premiere of the much hyped Son of God  film,  an enlargement and adaptation  of the made for TV Bible Series. Hollywood is offering a film on a child’s alleged trip to heaven for Easter, a film on the Rapture  in June, and even a disaster movie type film on Noah at I’m not sure what date – I’ve seen more than one.

I would like to recommend  Son of God more than I feel able. From clips I’ve seen it looks to have some good elements, good settings  and  even a quite effective Jesus actor in the Portuguese Diogo Morgado who is getting called variously ‘the Latin Jesus’ and ‘Hot Jesus’   – for my article on Jesus images and actors and the Easter’s Heaven is for Real film see http://wp.me/p2v96G-lH  – but I still find the task of appreciation a hard one.

I never managed to get through the TV series for sheer annoyance at the silly, unnecessary, incongruous distortions, the weird Asian angels of Sodom, the difficult young Moses and much more, oddities upon which this film seems unlikely to improve notably. (Son of God will even lack the fairly crucial element of Jesus’ temptation prior to the ministry because the actor taking the role of the devil is felt to look too like Obama to be comfortably included! That a black actor was even  chosen to play the devil  – a figure biblically said to be able to appear as an angel of light –  is part of the  eccentricity of the production that alienated me from the original Bible series whose purpose was never clear). Morgado has been telling TV audiences  he is getting strong reactions from atheists who feel impelled to look at life more closely, doubtless a good thing but not quite the same as pursuing religious belief. Morgado himself speaks of the gospels as showing us “the greatest love story”, one that helps to make us kinder;  we needn’t argue with that idea provided we recall the gospels were specifically written to encourage belief that Jesus “is the Messiah, the Son of God” (Joh 20:31).

The official trailer is problematic from the distortion of its first scenes. In these Jesus wades out towards the boat of a Peter whom he asks does he want help which Peter  doesn’t. Jesus intends to give assistance anyway (though he’s helpless enough to need pulling into a boat in another clip) a boat which he is in effect impounding to do what he intends, which is  to go fishing.  Peter insists there are not fish to obtain, but Jesus casts for fish anyway and a huge haul is made. Peter blankly and almost rudely asks Jesus, “how did this happen?”. He also almost sullenly asks Jesus what they are “to do”.  Jesus’ discipleship call to Peter is then not as per the gospels to fish for men/souls but “to change the world”. The gruff Peter apparently warms to this.

This sequence appears to place the miracle of the fish attributed to the post resurrection Jesus in which Jesus tells the disciples, not just Peter, to cast for fish and which they, not Jesus bring up (Joh 21: 4-8),  to the call of Peter by the lake at the beginning of the ministry where no such miracle is involved (Matt 4:18-20). There is in any case nothing authentic about even the feel of things in the portrayal.  From the first Jesus was, and inevitably so, respected by the disciples  as at least Master and Rabbi. There would therefore be nothing like a near modern rudeness towards Jesus, nor would Jesus be likely to be merely casual, lolling quizzically at the back of a boat. Anything miraculous he might do wouldn’t be queried like so many conjuring tricks. Either his miracles came for God or the devil. Jesus’ miracles meant to the disciples he was the Promised One but so did his teachings which it was said had authority not like those of the disputing rabbis. It is however the miracles rather than the teachings which get emphasized, ten of them the length of the movie.

What the script is presenting is  a species of modern, democratized paraphrase of the text with re-adjustments to the story. The treatment is so oblivious to the kind of respect in which Jesus was held by his followers as at least a rabbi and son of David and then to the likely ‘presence’ Jesus himself would have conveyed, that in the late scenes it still shows Jesus dressed in peasant garb as opposed to the precious purple robe with its regal implications for which the centurions dice at the crucifixion. Throughout the film, I gather, Mary Magdalene is presented as though an additional disciple to the twelve which, despite her undoubted importance, she was not and could not have been given existing customs.

The real miracle about the Son of God movie is just how taken in by it evangelicals and fundamentalists are  though otherwise and normally they are insistent upon the authority of a literal, inerrant word of God in the Bible. As indicated, there is some serious infidelity to the given facts, words and general feeling of the gospels in this  film; but those ever strange evangelicals (who leave one reeling with what they have just encouraged and approved in Uganda), seeing an opportunity to have religion in the news and reach the masses with the Word suddenly lack critical sense in relation  to what they are promoting. But evangelicals are now also being joined by Catholic bishops who feel that seeing the film will help bring the gospels to life for people.  Maybe it will, but I suggest the priests  haven’t been doing too good a job at any bringing to life and teaching basic facts where Christianity is concerned if they need this film’s errors to assist them!

In the final analysis Americans are people of the trend and as this film is associated with  sufficiently successful and known “names” in especially Hollywood  it can pass even if the producers who call themselves Christians are effectively New Agers one of whom, Roma Downey admits to get far and high on the teachings  EckartToller, an anything but Christian, indeed almost an anti-Christian guru. I am allowed to feel rather disgusted by all this effectively Rick Warrenesque  religion as someone who from outside America and unknown, though qualified, either can’t reckon to get a theologian or  religious journalist to reply to me – unless perhaps to get insulted because I offer some alternative, original reading of a scriptural verse. There is something  repulsive about the way modern American Christianity works. It has been contaminated by the values and methods of big business even if and when it isn’t doing big business and the attitudes are often those of what St Paul condemns as “menpleasers” in the old King James language that  American churches would do as well to ditch for good.

As to the timing of all this, interestingly enough Son of God appears within days of exactly 10 years from the premiere of The Passion of the Christ. Late February is a good or at least suitable time to issue anything on Jesus as in relation to his natus  – which can be known, but the menpleasers are too conventional, too careful of their reputations or tenures to even look at it –  the sun is near or on Jesus’ Uranus in Pisces and fortunately, helpfully trine his Neptune/Venus. And Neptune as any astrologer knows is at one octave about any films. What however may be more significant this time is that Mars is transiting in late Libra and due soon to make an apparent retrograde in the sign. This means that there are and will be aspects made to the asteroids for Jesus and Christ and the other Jesus names/titles which fall in super conjunction in late Libra.  Mars here can be aggressive promotion and/or controversy,  and these we have already.

Truth to tell, these days when society is being increasingly subject to Islamization and inter-faith concerns, it is controversial to place the stress on the story of Jesus as Son of God, the status the Koran denies he has and which is cited on the Al-Aqsa mosque built over or near the  historic Temple area (that modern Islam increasingly denies ever  existed). The title “Son of God” needs explaining today, but I don’t see the film or its advocates as helping to do this.  It is not to deny the doctrine of sonship as either present in the Bible and true in itself to point out that for early Christians the title did not have the same degree of privilege it has obtained for moderns and Americans.

For the first Christians Jesus the Son was also the Logos (the Word), the Sophia (the Wisdom), “the Angel of the Lord” finally manifested in flesh, the Messiah, the King of Kings, and to the extent he was the Sophia he was at least by implication a kind of Daughter as well a Son of God. Today “the Offspring” or “Face” of God” might better summarize the meaning and feeling of original formulations.  The main point is that Jesus is the representative of God and the principle of mediation with the God whom no one might see and live. Prior to Jesus Judaism reached God through priests, or, if more personally and directly as in the Psalms, (many  of these accorded prophetic status) it was in light of the coming Messiah who would be a kind of chief priest for contacting God.

If advocates of the film keep trumpeting around the Son of God title without taking it as the opportunity it could be today for describing its real meanings, it will only seem like the film and its promotion constitute more blind insensitivity, even a kind of anti-feminist move against the spiritual possibilities of women.  Understanding the role and need for mediation with God does not affect just theology but psychology as I will stress in some material I will be putting out in a few weeks on McCleary’s Alternatives in relation to the poet Rilke.

PS  Re THE ALLEGED “EROTIC”  QUALITY  of the ‘SON OF GOD’ MOVIE

I see that here in Australia the ABC has been debating whether Morgado’s Son of God  Jesus doesn’t seem a bit too “sexy” and in a way that even gives a different tone to a statement like the Last Supper’s  “this is my body”. (One could well debate whether the almost immediate popular impact of the film doesn’t owe something to the audience feeling attracted to this Jesus figure no matter what he says or does according to this film’s rather trendy rendition of the gospels!).  I have already expressed opinions about images of Jesus in art and film in the article at http://wp.me/p2v96G-lH  not mentioning any possible erotic dimensions as I shall now briefly do.  I have been critical of Son of God  as a movie, but if an element of unfamiliar ‘erotic’ appeal is associated with  it, this might be my least complaint against it.

Certainly the film seems to offer almost the opposite to the most ethereal and ‘divine’ Jesus performance which was given by Robert Powell  in Zefirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth.If however I were to judge from the data I regularly use for Jesus, I feel it would be almost impossible Christ would not convey some kind of erotic power  (albeit not in any merely blatant fashion).  Born with Venus in the sex sign Scorpio conjunct dreamy, glamorous and today films-associated Neptune itself in turn conjunct asteroid Eros, it would be impossible not to exude some kind of  probably mysterious(Scorpio)  charm or lure. Also the natal Mars, again in Scorpio, and strong is also conjunct Jupiter. (At one of the first lectures I ever gave on my data for Jesus someone observed the pattern looked like someone who might seem quite sexually charged).

The mentioned article on imagery explains what was almost certainly culturally understood and intended by the biblical prophetic statement regarding the Messiah “he has no beauty that we should desire him” and it certainly does not imply ugliness or mere plainness. I have also theorized on good grounds in my Solomon’s Tantric Song http://bit.ly/12t7gEHv  how and why Jesus could even be thought of as among other things the Eros of God. As to the statement “this is my body”, while obviously it does not by itself prove any theories regarding a gay Jesus, I have always suggested it could well belong with such speculations because such extreme statements must be uttered, even just humanly, with appropriate conviction, and it is the gay rather than the heterosexual male who is more inclined to display or somehow affirm the body as the self itself.

It is possible to get into a lot of trivial, silly talk on this subject, but I still think it’s not inappropriate to think of Jesus as somehow conveying an erotic energy though I wouldn’t perceive it as quite like Morgado’s Capricornian spontaneous expression of that. Handsome Capricorns like the hetero Elvis Presley and the gay Ricky Martin do convey sex, or even a kind crowd seduction, rather strongly in the mode of the Pan archetype which is not exactly the kind of energy mode one associates with Jesus even given an erotic input. So again there’s right and wrong in the signals given by the film, though  I still think Morgado overall does a good job presenting a quite good  and roundedJesus image within a film which supplies plenty of scope to criticism otherwise. Any Jesus role is a tour de force  for casting and acting alike. One needs something transcendent and suggestive of the divine, but also sufficiently human to be, let’s say, even if not positively erotic, still embraceable.