Theses in Support of Biblical Marriage and Morality Pinned to 5 British Cathedral Doors This Week

Declarations posted on the door of Rochester Cathedral. Open Use. Provided by a Church of England priest.

By Tom Gilson Published on November 4, 2017

“500 years ago Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to a church door in Germany. He did it because the church had become corrupt. Today a Declaration is being fixed to a cathedral door here in England because the Established Church in our land is becoming corrupt.”

So begins a document nailed to five British cathedral doors by anonymous evangelicals this week. PJMedia reports that the declaration went up on the cathedral doors on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The declaration goes on to say,

The Church of England claims it has not changed its doctrine but its practice on the ground has already changed: clergy are already adopting lifestyles which are not biblical and teaching that such lifestyles are holy in the sight of God.

This revisionism is causing a crisis not only in Southwark Diocese but across the whole of the Church of England. It is weakening and destroying the church as it has done in the United States of America and in Canada. When the church redefines sin and eliminates repentance, it can no longer off the good news of eternal salvation from sin in Jesus; the church no longer remains distinctively Christian; it is no longer salt and light in the world — see Matthew 5:13.

The Southwark Declaration has been signed by a good proportion of clergy and Parochial Church Councils of Southwark Dioceses to affirm and defend traditional teachings about the Bible and marriage and the kind of relationships God wants for his people.

The Bishops of the Church of England now have a very narrow window — from now until General Synod next February — to regain the confidence of Bible believing Anglicans in this country and around the world and to avoid a rupture in the church.

It is often said, “Leadership abhors a vacuum.” Where leaders refuse to repent and submit themselves to the word of God, the Lord raises up new leadership for His church, and new structures: just as He did through Martin Luther 500 years ago.

Soli Deo Gloria

First published on Reformation Day, 31st October 2017

Declarations posted at the choir entry to Canterbury Cathedral, week of 31 October 2017. Open Use. Provided by a Church of England priest. Via PJMedia

Declarations posted at the choir entry to Canterbury Cathedral, week of 31 October 2017. Open Use. Provided by a Church of England priest. Via PJMedia

Also pinned to each of the five cathedral doors, alongside this statement, was a copy of the Southwark Declaration in support of biblical and historic views of marriage and morality. The Southwark Declaration has been signed by at least 60 priests.

Christian Today dismissed the act as a “stunt.”

Kent Vicar, the Rev. Stephen Rae, is the one identified participant in the campaign. He issued a press release expressing the “great sadness” with which he participated in the posting at Canterbury Cathedral. “God never calls his people to innovate in matters of first importance, ” he wrote.  “If a leader of the church does this, he has misunderstood his calling.”

Other cathedrals chosen for the timely and symbolic nailing of the declaration were St. Paul’s, Hereford, Canterbury and Rochester.

The campaign is being chronicled through the Twitter account @TurbulentParson.

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  • honestynow

    Good for them. Someone needs to wake up the COE and get it back to the Bible and not their own made up version.

  • tz1

    Did the theses recant the acceptance of Contraception at the Lambeth Conference in 1930?

    • Andrew Mason

      Want to elaborate on what the problem is?

      • tz1

        Contraception was UNIVERSALLY condemned by both Catholics and Protestants before 1930. At the Lambeth Conference, the Anglicans said “in extreme circumstances it can be permitted”. Casti Connubi – the encyclical was the Catholic response. Charles D. Provan wrote “The Bible and Birth Control” and documented every recorded sermon from a non-heretical source condemned it, including Luther (“a sodomic sin”), Calvin, Wesley, and Zingwle.

        Humanae Vitate – Catholic encyclical in the late 1960’s explained and doubled down.

        Procreation is an intrinsic part of the marital act. Separating it out denatures Marriage and devalues women. You can read the encyclical yourself.

        Did this Anglican “Support Biblical Marriage” say to condemn contraception or not?

        • Bryan

          I don’t know the answer to your question, tz1. I do have a question for you though: If it doesn’t condemn the use of contraception, would you still support what these ministers are doing? If not, why not?

          • tz1

            First, the condemnation of Contraception is a historical fact, and if you wish to argue, you are arguing against 18 centuries and against the great theologians like Luther. Luther said contraception was a Sodomic sin. If you reject that, then why should you accept his position that caused the reformation.

            Second, I support what these ministers are doing in exactly the same way I support those attempting to end abortion. If we can get a “pain” or “viability” ban, around 20 weeks, I’m for it. If we can get a heartbeat ban, 6 weeks, I’m for that too. Live does begin at conception, so that is the target.

            What do they want to do about divorce? Right now in the USA it is harder to get out of student loan debt than a marriage. It should be the reverse. We allow “gay” marriage, but no “covenant” marriage – that could only be broken for aggrivated abuse, adultery, or abandonment, isn’t considered valid – perhaps if we added mandatory binding arbitration like almost every software or financial contract of adhesion we could get that (you can’t go to court if your credit card cheats you).

          • Andrew Mason

            Luther is also reported as saying that Jewish schools and synagogues should be burned, and their homes razed. Since he isn’t God what he taught is flawed. Perhaps we should sift what he’s taught based on what the Bible actually teaches and respond accordingly?

          • tz1

            But then we get to the problem of who can authoritavely interpret the Bible. The Catholic Church laid claim to that and to establishing the Canon. Luther may not have liked Jews but he didn’t like the Greek canon for the OT so he went with the Hebrew one.
            So when you say we should “sift … based on what the Bible Actually teaches”, how are you a better, more informed, knowledgable exegete than Luther himself? What you really seem to be saying is I should accept what you (or your teachers at the moment) say that the Bible says, but you’ve given no evidence you are a superior authority than Luther or the Catholic Church or some other source.
            How do you know that Luther was wrong on the Jewish schools and synagogues – you neither presented his argument, nor a refutation. There is a case to be made to treat (by religion) jews as pagans, and the Jews were ordered to commit genocide.

          • Andrew Mason

            God ordered the genocide of the Canaanites. To condemn the Jews for being faithful to God would be highly problematic.

            No I didn’t present Luther’s argument. What I advanced was a reference since I haven’t seen the original, or a translation. I would suggest the approach is highly inconsistent with anything taught in the NT – Christians endured but didn’t fight back or persecute.

            Am I a better, more informed, knowledgeable exegete than Luther? I doubt it, nor is that my claim. I have access to a wider arrange of tools and perspectives than Luther had. Luther also advanced the notion of sola scriptura – that Scripture is sufficient and accessible to all. I’m simplifying obviously, but plain text is plain text. No I’m not suggesting you accept what I argue based on my authority or superiority to you. Such an argument is absurd. What I’m suggesting is that you look at the interpretation and consider how it matches. It’s a question of logic, not authority.

            Scripture is open to all . It is a generally literal and accessible text. Some passages are obviously metaphorical – parables for instance, more cryptic, or require contextual knowledge e.g. being hot or cold is acceptable but not tepid.

          • Bryan

            I’m not debating whether contraception is historically condemned or not. It’s not relevant to my point, which is, what use is it to, upon the first hearing of something that is a step in the right direction, to accuse it of not going far enough? Since you’re asking the original question, you had not seen the theses in person. And based on this response, in which your first point is to question me about my view of whether contraception is a sin or not and to tie that to my acceptance or rejection of the premise of the Reformation, I conclude your motivation is to push your agenda on to this movement.
            I have no idea whether they are condemning contraception or not but at least they are standing to say, the line has been crossed and we will go no further. I’ll grant that it is in a overly theatrical way that is probably very different from the first posting of theses in Wittenburg. Nevertheless, they have made a stand and if they follow through or the church repents, both will be cause for celebration regardless.
            If you wanted to contact the ministers in question and have a theological discussion about contraception, that’s fine. If you want to encourage them to your view as explicitly or implicitly biblical, then be all means do so. But don’t condemn something you know little about with the self-righteousness of a Pharisee and expect people to jump on the bandwagon with you.

          • tz1

            Well, they could have published them online or the article could have had a full link to the texts.
            Somehow I think it is disingenuous to complain I have’t read something you’ve posted to a door thousands of miles away and didn’t bother putting them somewhere on the internet. There are many free places.

        • Andrew Mason

          I find this curious. Scripture never mentions contraceptives, and they kinda didn’t exist way back when so what was the basis for opposition?

          I found a link to some of Provan’s points and frankly they aren’t valid. Be fruitful and multiply was a command to Adam and Eve, but not one Jesus echoed, even in reference to marriage, and Paul mentioned both celibacy and abstinence. Provan argues that Jesus does point towards the Adam and Eve command, but there’s nothing in the text to support the claim. Provan argues that children are a blessing, but that’s not an absolute. Couples with bad genetics can be confident that their offspring will inherit major health issues and so refrain from having children – I know at least a couple of couples who are in this situation. Provan argues childlessness is unfortunate, except society has changed. Children are no longer critical to support you in your old age, nor a matter of honour. Provan then conflates Onan’s refusal to father a child to continue his brother’s line with contraception.

          • tz1

            So handicapped or Down’s syndrome children aren’t a blessing so we should abort them? The Catholic church quotes St. Paul saying abstenence during the fertile period (norpro/NFP) is licit for good reasons, but not artificial contraception.

            You are toeing the modernist liberal line on everything. Society has changed. We have fornication, divorce, abortion, pornography, rape (see Hollywood, Bill Clinton, etc). The 4th commandment says to honor your father and mother – but they don’t need to because we have Social Security and Medicare? Are you a Christian, Atheist, Heretic, or something else? What if the west goes Zimbabwe and Venezuela and able children become necessary to help the elderly again?

            Genesis 38’s Onan incident was universally considered that coitus interruptus – not the levirate failure (I think it is Deuteronomy 25 where the penalty for not doing the Levirate duty was mentioned, and Onan lost more than his sandal – note Ruth untied Boaz’ sandal as a hint). That was Luther’s, Calvin’s and Wesley’s position. If you want to invent some kind of non-traditional Christianaty that rejects the great Protestants of the past, go ahead, but you are creating the Humpty Dumpty Bible Dictionary where the words mean what you want, not what everyone for over 18 centuries believed.

          • Andrew Mason

            Down’s syndrome? Not what I was referring to but if you want to consider that as an example that’s fine by me. I was actually thinking of something like extreme post-natal depression affecting the mother, or muscular dystrophy or schizophrenia affecting all or most children in a particular generation. With that sort of genetic baggage it can easily be argued that it is downright immoral to pursue the quiverfull route. And no I’m not suggesting abortion – I’ve yet to hear any justification for murdering children.

            Liberal, me? :-O That’s … a novel accusation. I tend to be accused of going too far the other way! I’m not quite sure how you go from parents don’t need children to supply their Social Security and Medicare to children don’t need to honour their parents because the government takes care of them. Children may not need to keep their parents, that doesn’t mean they get to dishonour them. And if the West does go the ZimbabweVenezuela route, which I doubt, then a lot of older parents will be up the creek without a paddle – they forced their children to be self sufficient, taught them not to rely on them, and many move citiesstatescountries in pursuit of work of lifestyle. Why then would the children suddenly reject their parents teachings to care for their parent? Note I do think it entirely possible that we will see a return to an older family model – multigenerational homes and younger children only moving out when they marry, but that’ll only really work where there are functional relationships.

            When and where was Onan considered coitus interruptus? I don’t think I’ve ever heard or seen that particular interpretation. Deuteronomy 25 refers to the public shaming of a brother who refused to perform his duty. In the case of Onan however he publicly appeared to do his duty, but secretly thwarted it. Can’t comment on what Luther, Calvin, and Wesley taught since I’ve not anything they’ve said on the subject. That being said the real issue is not what they taught – Luther was reported to be somewhat anti-Semitic, but what the Bible teaches which is that he didn’t want to give his brother children so spilled his seed on the earth (not floor) when he visited his brother’s wife.

          • tz1

            Charles Provan “The Bible and Birth Control” (can be found online) quotes Luther, Wesley, Calvin and about 100 other sermons and sources saying Onan’s sin was contraception (and the form was coitus interruptus), not the failure of his Levirate duty.

          • Andrew Mason

            As already mentioned, I’ve seen and skimmed part of Provan’s text. I found it to be poorly reasoned and inconsistent with what Scripture teaches. If he contorts what the Bible says to make his point then it is plausible that any other quotes will be likewise skewed, but without tracking down the original context for each quote it’d be impossible to know and I don’t see the logic in going to so much effort.

          • tz1

            It is perfectly consistent with what Scripture teaches, from the Didicae through the Catholic church and EVERY orthodox protestant denomination until 1930. So people far smarter and more recognized as correct theologians including the Black Robe Regiment that gave us the US Revolutionary war were really stupid when it came to the Bible, as were the founders of the Reformation and stars like Wesley?
            “If he contorts”
            You are not arguing anything here. If you simply did the research yourself and showed that the paragraph length exerpts in his book were out of context you would have something, but you just assert – without evidence and in bad faith – that he is distorting what they said and making things up. No evidence.
            The logic in going through the effort is to know the truth. You don’t want to open the box to see what is inside so you are saying there is no logic in opening the box or it is not worth the effort.

            If Provan is wrong, first with his hundreds of quotes of founders, pastors, and preachers, it should be easy to prove, and that would be the first step. The second would be to establish their actual position as yours and not Provan’s.

            But the Bible says what you want it to say, not what the great lights of Protestant Theology said, not what the Church Father’s said, not what Catholics said…

          • Andrew Mason

            I seem to keep hitting the filter so not sure if this’ll make it through. If it doesn’t I’ll have to resort to posting a short comment that the filters don’t want me replying :-

            Okay since you want a lengthy piece, there’s a chapter of Provan’s work available here: http://wwwdotjesus-passiondotcom/contraceptiondothtm. My responses will be in reference to that. I don’t see the point in tracking down a lengthier work when the shorter version can be proven false.

            The chapter in presents 4 reasons to reject birth control as unBiblical which I’ll discuss in further detail than previously done.

            Provan references Genesis 1:27-28 arguing that humans are commanded to have children, and that this command is repeated in other passages – Genesis 9:1 and Genesis 35:11. The problem is this isn’t true. Genesis 35:11 is addressed to JacobIsrael. Worse, after the ‘be fruitful and increase in number’ passage, Israel has a single son – Benjamin. One child counts as being fruitful? All his children bar Benjamin were conceived prior to this command. Note too that it took IsraelJacob 4 wives to have the 13 children recorded, and most of the wives only had 2 children. Genesis 9:1 is to Noah and his sons and yet Noah is not recorded as having any more sons after the command. His sons each had 4-7 sons. Genesis 1 is directed to Adam and Eve, who probably had many children, but the details of most aren’t given. Worse, the be fruitful and multiply passage is only part of the verse. Leaving aside the issue of whether be fruitful is a command, or a blessing, there is also the section fill the earth and subdue it. So long as the Earth is filled, is not that command fulfilled? If the Earth is not filled – and every continent is presently occupied, including Antarctica, at what stage would you hold this command, assuming it is indeed a command on all descendants, fulfilled?

            Provan takes the position that it is indeed a command, but then adds a qualifier – that it applies solely to married couples. God never states this qualifier, and as noted with IsraelJacob, the fruitfulness was largely due to polygamy that occurred before God instructed him to be fruitful. And what of those celibate? Are they not thus being disobedient in refusing to be fruitful? Are they not deliberately flouting what Provan says is God’s command?

            In Provan’s text Martin Luther states that Genesis 1:28 refers to a blessing – that they may be able to be fruitful. He goes on to say that fertility was regarded as an extraordinary blessing and a special gift. It is one thing to call fertility a blessing, quite another to deem it a command. Luther deems it immoral to loathe your offspring, but this doesn’t pertain to the question of whether or not to conceive any. A paraphrase where a wife is called a sow is IMHO as much a condemnation of the husband as the motherwife – it takes both to produce children but the man apparently didn’t see that. Luther’s view is that a fruitful wife is a special blessing, and sterility a curse, that children are a gift from God. None of this addresses the issue of abstinence or contraception.

            Provan references Matthew 19:1-9 where the Pharisees question Jesus about marriage. According to Provan Jesus instructs the Pharisees to study how God established marriage in the beginning to see how it ought to be. On that point I agree, however Provan then insists that marriage was intended to be fruitful and not sterile – presuming that contraception is sterilty, and that the command to Adam and Eve continues to the descendants as opposed to being a blessing on them as Martin Luther previously phrased it.

            Provan discusses the inability of families to afford lots of children. he quotes Martin Luther who points at the example of Jacob. Luther’s contention is that trust in God will inevitably result in financial blessings. This strikes me as similar to the prosperity gospel. It also ignores the issue that Jacob was in service to a wealthy relative and subsequently departed with much of this wealth.

            Provan argues that obedience to God in relation to fruitfulness is backed by a guarantee of food, clothing, and shelter. The issue is, is fruitfulness a command from God? And if it is, why does Jesus never teach it? Why is there nothing in the NT discussing it, but passages that undercut it e.g. abstinence, or celibacy?

            Provan’s second line of argument is that children are a blessing, that more is always better, but is that true? Wealth and possessions can be a blessing God offers, but for others they are a curse and a stumbling block. And what of parents who seek to involve themselves in their children’s lives? A parent with 2 children can easily spend 5 or 10 minutes a night praying with each child but what if there are eight, or eighteen children as in Provan’s examples? Instead of 10 or 20 minutes a night that time blooms to 40-180 minutes each night. Can a parent really spend a couple of hours each night individually praying with each child? And what of other individual tasks? With greater numbers of children 1 on 1 time becomes impossible. Come to think of it transport becomes a problem too – you’d need a bus! In desiring to raise Godly children a smaller family may indeed be a blessing.

            Provan’s third line of argument is that childlessness is an unfortunate thing. He conflates the punishment of Israel – the prevention of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth, and the slaying of those children who survived. Exactly which passage he’s referring to is unclear so it’s hard to know the context. Since children were the social security net a loss of children was a serious threat. According to Provan God views childlessness, even less than the maximum number of children possible, as a negative, and yet this doesn’t accord with the NT. Where are Jesus’ children, where are the children of Paul, or Peter, or Timothy or …? Celibacy and a commitment to God were honoured, and times of abstinence praised. I agree the West is a dying culture, that it has embraced nihilism, but Provan conflates disparate facts. Birth control doesn’t absolutely prevent children – accidents can and do happen, it merely reduces the chances of any particular encounter resulting in them. The alternative is absolute abstinence. The reason the West has a population problem is not birth control, but abortion – the murder of the unborn. The 2 are quite simply very different concepts, and the West celebrates the latter as a ‘blessing to mankind’. Whilst abortion is a catastrophe, abstinence and birth control are not. In 1 Corinthians 7 for instance husbands and wives are concerned with pleasing each other, and commanded to fulfill their marital duty to each other. The only time children are mentioned is in reference to divorce and the sanctification of the non-believer.

            Provan records Luther as saying that Rachel saw her lack of children as a sign of God’s wrath yet the passage itself says “she became jealous of her sister”. So which is it? Was it a matter of jealousy as Scripture records, or divine wrath as Provan says Luther said? What then of Genesis 30:6 where Rachel claims God has vindicated her by allowing her maidservant to become pregnant after being given to Jacob? Rachel concludes God has blessed polygamy. Provan argues that 1 Samuel 1:10 pertains to childlessness, but ignores the fact that Hannah’s rival tormented her for her childlessness. In Luke 1:25 Elizabeth states that the Lord has shown His favour and taken away her disgrace. Provan argues that the world of yesteryear was in a better state, and that during this time barrenness was considered a sign of wrath, childbirth a sign of grace. Problem is the passages he references do not accord with his claims. They talk about jealousy, torment, and disgrace, not divine wrath. If there is a divine wrath it is not apparent, and the choice of targets appears random. Barrenness was a social stigma, plus a danger for old age. Provan argues that lust obscured the divine blessing, or perhaps he’s paraphrasing Luther – it’s really not clear.

            Provan notes that sickness is universally considered a bad thing, but then argues that Christians unite with heathens in declaring sterility a good thing – again conflating birth control with sterility. As noted above, 1 Corinthians 7 commands Christians to fulfill their marital duties, but says nothing about having children.

            Provan states that barrenness is a bad and undesirable thing, and yet continues to ignore the issues of abstinence and celibacy. He argues that birth control is temporary or permanent sterility, and yet couples that use birth control are not sterile – most will have children. Those who remain celibate by contrast cannot have children if living a life otherwise pleasing to God. Is it Provan’s contention that celibacy is a sin? Perhaps he addresses this issue elsewhere but I’m limited to the chapter I have access to. As for the passage in Deuteronomy, it is a blessing not a command. If the Israelites are faithful they will be able to have all the children they desire – none shall be barren, but whether they choose to have children is not directly addressed. Worse, if it is indeed a command, what then of Jesus’ disciples? There is no reference to any of them having children, and yet many would have been married. As a Pharisee Saul would have been married, and yet there is no suggestion he had children. Were he and the other disciples deliberately disobedient, or was having children not a command?

            Provan has Martin Luther as saying that Rachel was a very pious and continent woman, except as Scripture shows, she wasn’t. She stole the household gods when Jacob fled Laban with his family, she forced her servant to have sex with her husband so as to beget children, and she bartered her husband’s sexual favours in trade for a plant believed to cure sterility and have other magical properties. Is this the sort of piety Luther admires? And what of the reference to continence? It’s not a common term but refers to exercising self restraint, especially in regards to sexual activity. In other words Rachel purportedly practiced birth control aka abstinence. Likewise, in Genesis 16:2, Sarah trades her maidservants sexual favours for the hope of children. Is this praiseworthy? Provan appears to record Luther as saying this is good and saintly behaviour despite it’s clear deviation from the original concept of marriage that Jesus references in the NT!!!

            Ah yes the Onan incident – Provan’s fourth point. We agree that the issue is that Onan wasted his seed on the ground but Provan insists that those who advocate birth control believe this isn’t the issue that instead it is some other reason. He provides no basis for the claim, then establishes 3 strawmen to demolish. Since I’m not aware of anyone arguing those positions I’ll largely ignore them, aside from noting that Deuteronomy 25:5-10 differs to Genesis 38:8-10 in that the man in question publicly refuses to perform his duty whilst Onan secretly avoided the intent. Provan has Luther saying that Onan’s sin was greater than adultery or incest, and elsewhere saying that Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. Elsewhere it’s been stated that Onan treated his sister-in-law as a receptacle for his carnal pleasures, not as the mother-to-be of his brother’s child. That Onan betrays his brother, and degrades his widow is clear. Provan has Luther saying Onan engaged in CI and that this is an evil deed and a disgraceful sin. Provan quotes Calvin as saying that his act was abortion, that he slew his brother’s offspring and part of the human race in his efforts to prevent Tamar (the widow) conceiving a future human. So which is it, a possible future human, or an actual human? The two are quite different! Provan quotes Calvin as saying the voluntary spilling of seed is a monstrous thing, and yet Scripture says no such thing. In Leviticus an emission of seed makes a person unclean, but it doesn’t matter whether it is the product of sexual relations or not. The emission causes the uncleanness, not the act producing it. Worse, and to complicate the issue, early rabbis held that it was not CI that Onan engaged in, but self stimulation.

            See. What Provan asserts contradicts what Scripture teaches. I have no idea what the Didicae is and I’m not getting any hits when I search for the term. Yes the Catholic Church still generally rejects birth control, but I understand they make exceptions for infected spouses. To say that every orthodox Protestant denomination opposed birth control until 1930 is a bold claim, and a pointless one – it’s simply an appeal to authority when the real question is what does the Bible teach? Frankly the term Black Robe Regiment makes me think Triple K variant.

            Actually I was loathe to waste my time proving what I was sure was the case – that Provan was advocating something other than what the Bible teaches. I’ve now gone through the chapter and pointed out assorted fallacies and inaccuracies. It’s up to you to decide whether you prefer to believe what the Bible teaches, or what Provan claims it teaches.

            Since the great light of Protestant Theology can’t agree on some fundamental facts – the Calvinist:Lutheran:Armenian divide for instance, I’m not particularly worried. And to reiterate, an appeal to authority is not a valid technique. The only opinion that counts is God’s and what He has to say on the topic is found in Scripture.

            Okay hope this makes sense. I’ve had to use some euphemisms and acronyms for terms I’m guessing hit the filter.

          • tz1

            I am familiar with all the arguments. The problem is Provan’s are traditional and yours are novel.
            Similar exegesis has been done to justify that homosexuality and abortion are not evil or condemned.
            “This verse means what I say”.
            Chesterton called traditon “the democracy of the dead”. You take on Provan but only weakly and uncertainly Luther, and he was hardly the only one. You avoid the universal interpretation of the church on Genesis 38 and Onan.
            There are also Natural Law arguments which is something almost no pastor or scholar recognizes today.
            Yes, you have YOUR OWN interpretation of the scriptures, which I have heard. I have to choose between you and Provan, and he, and the democracy of the dead have the better case.

          • Andrew Mason

            There’s nothing novel about pointing out discrepancies between what Provan claims and what the Bible actually says.

            As for similar exegesis being used to justify homosexuality and abortion, you have that backwards. My approach is the same one that condemns homosexuality and abortion. The Bible says homosexuality is an abomination, that those who practice it will not enter Heaven. Provan’s approach would be to find a non-literal interpretation – claim that the term used means something else – birth control or cult practices, then dredge up quotes or paraphrases that appear to support the position.

            Obviously we’re not going to agree on this.

            Clearly Provan’s view is not a universal interpretation since I’ve never heard Onan be accused of birth control until now. It’s also inconsistent with what the early rabbis accused him of. Worse, much of my criticism isn’t a matter of interpretation, it’s a matter of simply saying what the text actually says e.g. Provan claims wrath, but the Bible never mentions such a thing.

            I’ll also note that you have avoided responding to any of the questions I raised, simply resorted to claiming my arguments are weak and uncertain. It’s easy to attack, it’s harder to defend or debate. Since you’re refusing to acknowledge and discuss obvious inconsistencies I’ll have to conclude you’re either trolling, or simply unwilling to discuss the possibility that your interpretation may not accord with Scripture. Which doesn’t really matter. On the plus side the analysis of Provan’s work has proven to me that if there are any arguments in favour of opposing birth control, they aren’t based on anything he’s written. If anything, Scripture would appear to be neutral on the subject with various passages implying the possibility of support.

          • tz1

            If you lived before 1930 and asked, Provan’s view of Onan would be the orthodox one you would have heard in nearly every instance.
            And it is tedious and tiresome to say “The Bible says” – It says lots of things including to stone Homosexuals and Adulterers to death. Jesus said in all 4 gospels that Divorce (and remarriage) is Adultery, Micah notes God hates divorce, but divorce and remarriage is generally accepted. In John 6, Jesus says unless you eat/eat/GNAW ON (from the greek) my flesh you have no life in you, but I doubt you believe the Eucharist is required.
            There is nothing within the Bible to decide if MY or YOUR interpretation of the various scriptures is the right one. Luther and Calvin disagreed. As did the Church of England.
            You too seem “unwilling to discuss the possibility that your interpretation may not accord with Scripture”.
            I can only bring up history, learned theologians and founders, and could go into natural law, but you have not presented anything similar except waving your hands saying “but scripture doesn’t say that”, or “mean that”.
            Find your interpretation in a sermon from an orthodox preacher before 1930, and you have started to refute my case. Make the case procreation (ordered, end as in telos, natural law) isn’t an essential part. Two theologians have 3 opinions on what scripture says or means.

          • Andrew Mason

            If I lived before 1930 I’d be 87+ 😉

            Yes the Bible says stone homosexuals and adulterers. Nor has that judgement on homosexuals and adulterers been lifted – both sins are serious. What has changed is whether the punishment is applied – Jesus forgave the adulteress and told her to sin no more whilst telling her accusers that the one without sin should throw the first stone.

            Micah or Malachi? Not sure the passage so foregoing commentary.

            John 6:50-51 I presume? And no it’s not referring to the eucharist but to Christ’s sacrifice. Neither the eucharist nor baptism are required for salvation as demonstrated by Christ’s words to the thief on the cross etc. And as far as I’m aware only Catholics adhere to transubstantiation.

            You can bring up but without specific quotes it’s merely a claim not an argument, not even an argument to authority. And yes I’m aware views on more complicated, and critical, topics differ – Arminianism v Calvinism v Lutheranism for instance.

            Very few sermons from the 1930s or before will be in existence and I have no interest in undertaking what would be a major research project for a very obscure topic. If 2 theologians have 3 opinions then by your own argument it is likely that a viewpoint comparable to what I’ve argued will exist.

          • tz1

            There are volumes of books of sermons from the 1600s through 1930 – they are in existence but you won’t bother looking them up. The question is not whether the topic is obscure, but whether the truth is worth it. You don’t believe Provan who DID THE RESEARCH – and documented things with footnotes everywhere, but are too slothful to check if he is telling the truth. That is why Christian churches are failing. I can bring you stacks of evidence and you will dismiss it and say its wrong without reading or refuting it, just say “it would be too hard to confirm or disprove, so I’ll assume someone who has claim to have done so is lying or wrong without any evidence”.

          • Andrew Mason

            Is absolute certainty about the truth worth it? In this case I’d say I’m already convinced I’m correct so no, there’s more important battles to be fought. If the issue were of first tier importance then it’d be clearer in Scripture. If there are volumes of sermons around – and that’s the first I’ve heard of that claim, I’m not sure how accessible they’d be. A quick look at a Christian bookstore lists George Whitefield, Spurgeon, Wycliffite and maybe a few others as having sermon collections but not a great many. Whether the titles in question are available isn’t clear, and some are excessively expensive! Given they’re hardcopy rather than digital it’d take some reading to get through them. In short it’d take lots of effort for minimal reward.

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