Lambeth Erred on Gays, Liturgist (Reverend Paul Gibson) Asserts in Book

By De Santis, Solange | Anglican Journal, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Lambeth Erred on Gays, Liturgist (Reverend Paul Gibson) Asserts in Book


De Santis, Solange, Anglican Journal


Writer says Bible is wrongly used

Rev. Paul Gibson went to England to the 1998 Lambeth Conference (the church's decennial meeting of bishops from around the world) as a member of its support staff and came back home nearly shaking with anger.

"I was not sure I wanted to be a Christian, much less an Anglican (after Lambeth)," he recalled, in an interview. What upset him was the instantly-famous resolution "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture" and rejecting the "legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions" and the ordination of "those involved in same-gender unions."

The resolutions were based on a view of the Bible that Mr. Gibson feels is erroneous and contrary to Anglican tradition. As a result, he has written Discerning the Word: The Bible and Homosexuality in Anglican Debate, recently published by the Anglican Book Centre.

Just 95 pages long, it is a clearly-written critique of how the Bible has been used in the debate over homosexuality, in society and in the church. The book is accessible to laity as well as clergy, written in an even tone that addresses "this tradition-treasuring but wonderfully flexible Communion."

Mr. Gibson, 68, worked for 27 years as a consultant for theological education and as General Synod's liturgical officer. In a biographical note, he writes that he "was born and spent (his) childhood in conservative sectarian Christianity in which biblical literalism and infallibility were taken for granted."

He was raised in Ontario and the churches were Baptist and Plymouth Brethren, he said in the interview. At the age of 16 he attended a service where he "felt I and the congregation were being manipulated by calls for conversion."

After a short period of non-observance, he wrote, he became an Anglican "and began a long and sometimes painful journey towards an understanding of the Bible that is, I believe, not only authentically Anglican but deeper and more honest than unquestioning literalism can ever be."

Mr. Gibson leaves no doubt where he stands. He writes that "the Bible is always open to liberation, transformation and change. …

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