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May 2018 

Re: More than a preacher

Excuse me, the Bible clearly teaches that women are not allowed to teach. This is a very liberal view that women can be pastors. It's not scriptural at all
Matthew Hughes (via Facebook)

Baptists come from an evangelical tradition that believes that Paul, along with Jesus, taught and demonstrated that women should serve alongside men in absolutely every area of church life and ministry ... which includes teaching, preaching, leading, all the gifts of the Spirit, serving the poor and absolutely anything else that you can think of. Texts that appear to say something different need to be examined in the light of controlling Gospel texts such as Galatians 3:28 and in the light of Jesus' constant practice, eg. affirming Mary's right to sit at his feet as a trainee teacher. The equal ministry of women has been affirmed by the Baptist Union of Great Britain as a settled view for nearly 100 years.
Mary Taylor (via Facebook)

Re: Avoiding 'agreeing to disagree'  

Thank you for this. I felt under pressure to follow advice to "agree to disagree" when my child was found to be gay and self harming and I now believe that this does not solve the problem, but merely suppresses it. I think it might be safer for LGBT people if the leadership views were made clear, however it would cause much bad feeling within the church too. The suicide of Lizzie Lowe and the inquest made it abundantly clear that it was silencing the topic in church that caused her despair and death. Agreeing to disagree in silence is proved to be a safeguarding issue.

You recently published an article by an author with the pseudonym 'JT'. The article was entitled 'Avoiding 'agreeing to disagree''. It consisted of an extended argument that it is impossible simultaneously to say that what someone does is sinful (in this case sex with a person of the same sex) and also say that they are welcome at a church. Such an argument is a long way outside a historic Christian understanding of sin and repentance irrespective of the debate about whether to revise the church's understanding of sexuality.
Any church has to be able to hold together the truths that (a) people sin (in many ways including pride, using unkind words, greed, adultery, idolatry etc) and (b) they are nevertheless welcome at the church. If it is seriously being argued that a church can only authentically and honestly welcome those it believes do not commit sin then such a church would have seriously undermined its commitment to the Lordship of Christ and the universal call to repentance.
One suspects that JT's real concern is that the church he mentions holds to a historically orthodox view of human sexuality while he does not. Instead of challenging the substance of the church's position, however, he opts to accuse them of dishonesty. Such an argument is unfounded and should be rejected.

Phil Fellows
Pastor, Hersham Baptist Church

Dear JT
Thanks for your article which I (and I'm sure many others) have read with interest.

Like many churches we have faced the question of how we respond to people of different understandings about sexuality and gender. I am not sure we have concluded that we should agree to disagree but we certainly haven't hammered our colours to a particular mast either.

As a local ecumenical partnership, we recognise that there are matters of theology that we disagree about - baptism, governance and the like - and we allow each other to hold those differing understandings. We are all seeing through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12)

We didn't hold a church meeting but discussed the matter at an ecumenical church council meeting where we concluded that we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and need to receive His grace and show grace to one another. We decided, just like those other topics, that it's OK to hold different views about gender and sexuality as long as we show the same love and respect to people with different views. We also can not judge until we have made sure that every particle of plank is out of our own eyes and when we preach we acknowledge that there are different understandings.

This stance seems to have worked. All are welcome to play an equal part in our church fellowship.

My concern with your proposal of a church publicly declaring where it stands on any aspect like this is that it requires everyone to toe a party line - a new creed - and prevents further discussion and questioning. We need the freedom to share and learn from one another's understandings and experiences.
Hugh Boorman, The Ladygrove Anglican/Baptist LEP

This article reminds me that there is no room for bigotry or prejudice in the Kingdom and everyone should be welcome in the church and everyone should be loved and respected equally.

However, that does not translate to accepting that everyone's way of living is in accordance with God's best wish for us. To love someone is not to agree with them all the time. It is possible to love with all your heart and still not agree with behaviour.

The Bible is clear about who should be in leadership of a church and the attributes they should have and the type of lives they should lead. There are many people who would not be accepted into leadership for many reasons. I expect that churches fudge certain issues because they would face great criticism if they were clear about their heart response, particularly when they are taking a stance against the politically correct view.

I am writing this response with fear because I am challenging the PC view, but I truly believe that the church (in a broad sense) needs to look at itself before a Holy God and make a sober judgement as to whether we look anything like the pure bride of Christ our Lord is expecting to see when he comes again.
Claire Speake

Re: 'Not for me' - on those critiquing Michael Curry's sermon

Thank you Michael, and your last reflection. We spend too long being critical within church and often denomination, and the world sees and questions that if we spend so much wasted time, what message do we really have to give to the hurting world?
We don't have one. Jesus does. Don't study your own navel, study His words and actions, and tell the world of His love. Don't waste time on yourself!
Keith Rugg

Re: What’s the point of theology?

I don't think you're a theologian if you're a Christian... I spent my child eating liquorice bootlaces... didn't end up as a bondage queen. You're just a follower of Christ.
Jordan Kiefer (via Facebook)

There is a place for followers of Jesus Christ to learn things in more detail (solid food, rather than milk)
Ben Stevenson (via Facebook)

Re: 'Don’t dream your life, live your dreams'
Every Tuesday we have Tuesdays @ Bloom, lunch, chat, talks, and activities for those in later years. This is often a neglected group in society and books like this are to be welcomed.
@bloomcentral (Twitter)

Re: House of Lords and Brexit Democratic principles 
In defence of the Biblical principle of 'The Nation', I got onto BBC 'Any Questions' on Radio 4 on 5th May 2018, and so was able to speak to millions of people including top politicians. The question was,"Is the House of Lords an anachronistic affront to British democratic principles?"

I said, "Lets start by saying that the Referendum was a specific command by the people, of what Parliament is to do. -And that command is to get us out of the EU!  Now opposing that, the House of Lords is now commanding the EU to give us the worst deal, so we don't actually leave.  And supporting those Lords, is Emily Thornbury who complained about being, "2 years in".   Now under 'Article 50' EU Law gave 2 years to negotiate a future 'Trade Deal'.  Now the EU has broken EU Law, by refusing to negotiate future trading arrangements. That's because they oppose 'Free Trade'.  The EU will only talk about, forcing us to hand over £Billions. Talk about borders.  Or talk about 'Transition Arrangements'. Talk about EU citizens.  But refuse to talk about a 'Free Trade Deal'.  And they are relying on 'Remainers', particularly in the House of Lords now, to overthrow that people's democratic decision to 'Leave'."

Andrea Cathwood, the interviewer, responded, "Roland do you agree then with Liam Fox who has accused the Lords of trying to block the democratic will of the British people?"

I replied, "I used to have a dog which used to chase it's own tail. -And by getting the MPs to send the Government back into Europe to negotiate an offer by the EU. -It's a never ending circle that's going to be going on there.  Now 'Remainers' in the House of Lords are trying to force us to stay in the 'Customs Union'. So let's be clear, the 'Customs Union' is the EU. And the EU stops you having 'Free Trade' with the world.  If you stay in the 'Customs Union', which is what the Lords are all about, then you can not trade with the world.  Britain is the 6th biggest economy in the world, and it's leaving to trade with the world! Including I want to see it become a 'Financial Centre', because that's what we are good at, for 53 Commonwealth nations providing banking for 2.4 billion people in those nations.  Britain is to become a gateway to the world, including the EU if they will behave sensibly. The EU are trying to keep us under their direction and control."

Roland R. Parsons, City Preacher, Speakers Corner, London.

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