As it is well known that I am that rare thing - a fan from within the LGBT community of Evangelical Alliance leader (as well as being a Commissioner with the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission) Joel Edwards, I thought I'd pass comment on his latest forays into the public sphere (I might even make this a regular item).
I should make clear that I do rate him as a thinker who is capable of both depth and brevity at the same time (he gathers both very good attributes in one whereas some religious thinkers only have the one, as the Archbishop of Canterbury is very deep (probably) but can't make his thought clear to ordinary folk).
So his latest forays have been an intriguing letter on the recent Dispatches programme, In God's Name.
Joel is at pains to distance himself from Stephen Green stating:
Stephen Green, a key example given of this fundamentalist movement, is an extremist. The vast majority of Christians who watched last night would, like me, have recoiled in horror at some of the statements he made.
The kind of fundamentalism shown by Stephen is not growing in the UK. Unfortunately, the oxygen of publicity provided by the media has exaggerated his influence. What is increasing is a movement of evangelicals, which currently numbers around two million.
He also uses the following in speaking of LCF's (Lawyers Christian Fellowship) Andrea Minichiello Williams
Talk about damning with very faint praise!
This is how a healthy democracy operates, and while Andrea may have been naïve and controversial in Dispatches, her actions were a legitimate and transparent part of the political process.
Possibly wrongly I think I have learned how to interpret Joel's statements because I think he is always saying the same thing - another thing I like about him.
It really is as Joel says important to see the diversity in evangelical thought and practice (presumably this means he is encouraging evangelicals (and LGBT activists?) to see our activist groupings as less monolithic (etym: consisting of a single stone), though not without consistency.
I must confess to a little more disappointment over his recent Thought for the Day. That's the transcript, the recording's as well as transcripts of other TFTD contributions is here and he has great reading voice so is well worth listening to if you get the chance.
I must admit feeling disappointed when he refers to Iain Duncan Smith's politically motivated actions around the 'need for a father' debate, quoting it as if it was a politically neutral group (in actual fact it was Iain Duncan Smith who moved the main 'need for a father' motion.
I was also disappointed he used Thought for The Day to wade into the debate on this issue which to my mind cuts across the BBC guidelines on impartiality.
Nonetheless I was interested by this section:
For a Bill providing loopholes by which Fatherhood becomes unnecessary seems strangely regressive. Same sex parenting is a feature in our democracy. But legislation which institutionalises the absence of fatherhood seems to me like a cultural time bomb.
It's great to see the recognition (don't blink you might miss it) of same sex parenting. The idea that law on IVF clinic treatment's is the place to tell fathers to take their responsibilities seriously is simply weird, when you think about it. Because parents, mothers, fathers, same sex, opposite sex should take their responsibilities seriously but it doesn't have to be in a heterosexual setting, does it?
I also noted this and see a little more (perhaps):
In the cacophony of voices on the subject there should be room for one more: it's the apostle Paul. "You have many teachers," he said, "but not many fathers." Fatherhood is not a biological accident or cultural misogyny.
Interesting. Interesting because Paul says 'not many fathers' - presumably you can have more than one .... Interesting also because Paul is arguing he is their (the Christians at Corinth) father, so he isn't actually addressing himself to biological fatherhood, which is the very point of same sex parenting .... where the second is ... a supportive parent? (i.e. the words the Government has put into the Bill).
And of course Paul also does describe himself (to Christians of Galatia) as their mother and we know that Jesus was raised by Joseph without being his genetic father.
Just a few thoughts. Or am I reading too much into it?
Well at the very least someone that quotes Moltmann and Tillich can't be entirely bad....
Example here of an evangelical tirade against Joel for the way he has expressed his more moderate views. I have bought the book and await its delivery from Amazon.