Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Discerning the Word: The Bible and Homosexuality in Anglican Debate

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Discerning the Word: The Bible and Homosexuality in Anglican Debate

Article excerpt

Discerning the Word: The Bible and Homosexuality in Anglican Debate. By Paul Gibson. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 2000. 95 pp. CDN $14.95 (paper); US $9.99.

This book, as its subtitle suggests, is a theological reflection on two linked aspects of the last Lambeth Conference. The author is concerned about the bishops' dismissal of the concerns of gay/lesbian Christians and argues for a much more positive stance. But, in his own words, he is "even more concerned about what the Lambeth Conference said about the place of Scripture in the Anglican Communion" (p. 14).

According to Gibson's analysis, the stance enunciated in the conference resolutions is more akin to Puritan and modern biblical literalisms than to the perspective of classical Anglicanism. He argues this case in terms of key documents from the Anglican Reformation and later eras and also in terms of the structure and diversity of the scriptural canon itself. He uses the idea of "symbol" to explicate Scripture's relationship to God and makes a telling comparison between modern biblical fundamentalism and the medieval doctrine of transubstantiation, specifically rejected by Anglican reformers.

Gibson also ventures into new areas vital for the future of the worldwide Communion, endeavoring to construct a context in which Anglicans of differing perspectives can, one hopes, learn to live side by side. To this end, he makes use of Harvey Cox's broad-brush distinction between the cultures of tribe, town, and "secular city." Gibson sees the absolutism of biblical literalisms as mirroring the unitary culture of tribe in some cases and the legalistic culture of town in others, while he presents the traditionalist Anglican perspective that he defends and maintains as more intelligible in terms of the realities of postmodern urban life. …

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