Why I'm not afraid of Paul Gibson

Update: Here’s an article by JI Packer that’s germane to this issue.

Benediction Blogs On has posted an excerpt from an article by the Rev. Dr. Paul Gibson entitled, “Why I am not afraid of schism.” Read the excerpt for yourself.

As a new Anglican, it’s articles like this that really piss me off. Gibson rambles and muddies the key issues at stake in the debate on schism and homosexuality. Typical Anglican.

Time for some fisking.

If the price of unity is the continued treatment of homosexual people as second-class human beings (if that) and second-class Christians for one more year, one more month, one more week, one more day, would unity be worth it? Do the biblical virtues of justice, compassion, and recognition of the image of God in all of humanity have the higher claim?

Yes, but what do those biblical virtues mean? By what standard do you flesh out your definition of those terms? Perhaps the clue is in the term ‘biblical’ and not 21st century liberal categories imputed to ancient texts. If we run the show this way, I’m dead certain that we won’t find John the Baptist in the wilderness saying, “Hey lads, let’s give same sex blessings the good old college try.”

I am afraid of a church in which righteousness is understood to be the enforcement of a small number of prejudicially selected biblical texts to the exclusion of many others, some of greater clarity, forgetting that in the bible righteousness is realized in the practice of justice. There are at the most seven references to homosexuality in the bible (some of them are disputed and all require contextual interpretation) but the word “justice” (or its negative “injustice”) appears 194 times.

Oh my gosh. This is terrible hermeneutics. So we pit the large number of texts against the smaller number of texts and side with the larger number of texts. Wow. That’s fantastic. So much for attempted harmonization and interpreting each text in its original context (which apparently leaves prophets like Ezekiel marching with pride in Toronto). By doing this, Gibson is left with an arbitrary canon within a canon. Notice that justice is not defined here, nor is it defined anywhere in the article I perused. Gibson just assumes that the biblical concept of justice entails same sex blessings for gays. But, that’s the crux of the debate. By not considering this, Gibson hasn’t contributed anything of substance to the discussion.

I just recently listened to a lecture by Don Carson that inadverdently dealt with the concept of righteousness in the canon. Carson, citing the work of Mark Seifreid, notes that in the old covenant God’s righteouesness has both a saving and a judging function. It not only means that wrongs are rectified with God being vindicated, but in the process of rectifying wrongs, the unjust are condemned. This gives a ‘biblical’ picture of justice a very different texture than the one Gibson presents. A biblical picture necessitates boundaries of just and unjust and a standard to adjudicate between those two categories. And that’s where those seven, apparently disputed, texts on homosexuality come into play.

Divorced from Gibson’s thinking is any consideration of the Gospel. The Gospel necessitates repentance from sin and the practice of homosexuality is labelled by biblical writers (implicity and explicitly) as sin. There is no salvation without turning away from it. How ‘just’ is it to bless a same sex couple with this in mind?