Professor David Catchpole on Biblical truths for our community

Finding truth in the Bible & taking that to our community was the title of a talk by Professor David Catchpole on Th 5 July. Margaret Heath writes:
This talk was part of Anglican Christ Church’s Taking Thology out of the Church series. The Professor discussed whether we could trust the bible as an authority on today’s issues. He argued that opposing points of view could find support for their cases in the bible. He spoke of controversy (CONtroversy, stressing the first syllable; does the divide come at around age 70?). It was healthy, he said: the fuss  over Antioch led to the spread of Christianity elsewhere. He made me think of “progress comes from the clash of opposites” as he illustrated his theme with examples.

On the resurrection he pointed out there were two distinct views in the New Testament. One was that Christ appeared as a flesh and blood human in a body which could eat and drink, the other that he was like an angel, without human attributes. Looking back at the OT there were those who argued that the three figures who appeared to Abraham and sat at his table ate and drank; others, such as Philo, asserted that they only pretended to do this. The story of Tobit and Tobias foreshadowed the angel theory, with the sudden vanishing of Raphael, as later the Christ  vanished in one account.

Then, similarly, the negative attitude of the church to women of early C20th Bishops of London and of Chelmsford could be supported by references to some of the epistles, ignoring the major part women played in the NT, being treated as people by Jesus himself. On the subject of hair the professor made the interesting observation that as a visible head of hair suggested sexual availability in contemporary culture the first Christians could get a bad name if the woman flouted the convention of the day; “Paul was theologically innovative but socially conservative”.

The influence of ever-changing contemporary culture on Christian thinking and of Christian thinking on contemporary culture could be positive or otherwise. The professor’s third and final example, which he did not go into at length, was the attitude to lesbian and gay people, or those who were not “straight”  (a word which in itself seems to me culturally loaded). He approved inclusion. Quakers would agree in putting the emphasis on the wisdom strand in the OT rather than the national, legalistic writing.

Where do we go from here? I wished this could have been addressed.

The final talk in the series is on Th 19 July 1930 at Christ Church Julian Road lower Mews. Revd Canon Michael Burgess of Chester diocese will talk on Does God laugh? an exploration of laughter, jokes and playfulness in the revelation of God. All welcome. No charge.

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