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27 September 2009



I think that should be "experts" ,not experts. And I SPECIFICALLY asked a question aimed at Beat's area of expertise that didn't get answered!!

You were good though - it's not easy to answer highfalutin' theological questions off the top of your head (and I hope you don't have TOO much experience of being heckled!)

Beat Attitude

Beat's area of expertise...

No, sorry, you've lost me :)

(PS I didn't know what a polymath was...)


Q:"And your specialist subject is?"
A: "Drums, ceilidhs and the collected works of John Piper"


Question was about Jay-Z. My other ones were great too!

NB - I did find it strange that the "gender" of God wasn't considered important by the panel; I'm a progressive sort, but I don't see who one can claim to be orthodox and then say (albeit implicitly) that we might as well worship Mother, Daughter and Holy Spirit. And , was I mishearing, or was Gordon really implying that criticising a church service constitutes the unforgivable sin of Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?! Guess that means I should be going to Hell. Glad it doesn't exist :-).

Fr Dougal

Ryan, if JP Sartre was right and "Hell is other people", then you may already be there!! The question of Trinity and gender specific language is thorny. Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer is often used. I rather like Big Daddy, Junior and the Spook myself! But I'm a happy heretic:-)

Cathy Wilson

I have a question about God:

Is anything completely 'unforgivable'?


Beat Attitude

LOL Ryan!

Re: gender... I don't think that was implicitly said. We wouldn't worship "mother, daughter & holy spirit" because the act of doing that implies that we view gender politics as something of greater importance than our position before God. Being more concerned with small issues rather than the big issues was something Jesus came to cure us of.

What is heretical is to talk of God as though he is constrained by the squabbling limitations surrounding by gender politics, or as though he is made in the image of humans. I suspect most of this arises out of a desire to personify God, unknowingly with the aim to classify and reduce him in such a way as to place him in the same field as "other human beings I might meet".

Interestingly, I read recently (in that N.T. Wright book!) that the idea of a hen gathering its brood under its wings (as Maggs mentioned) was an image of what a hen does in a fire, so that once the fire has passed, you find a charred, dead chicken, but with its wings protecting live chicks. I found that a powerful image that transcended the gender aspect.

Cathy: the question "is anything unforgivable?"...does that mean "is there anything we are entitled to not forgive?" or "has God decided that some sins, once committed, will never be forgiven?"

This was the question I passed on since it didn't seem to have a hope of being answered unambiguously in a soundbite...

The idea of "sinning against the holy spirit" really worries some people. The question that results is "if I have knowingly blasphemed the holy spirit, is there any going back for me?". How do you know whether you have done this, too? Is it possible that you are pinning your hopes on Jesus and then don't get into heaven on a technicality? "Sorry, you blasphemed the holy spirit back in 1986. You can't come in".
I think the context of the bigger picture of Jesus ministry, particularly his healing ministry, needs to be understood. People were saying "he has an evil spirit" when it was exactly the opposite. Were those people who were in error sealing their own fate? Probably not, although perhaps their blasphemy was confirming their own fate, foreshadowing the judgement to come. If we come before the judgement seat of God insisting that what He says is Good, we say is Evil, then this is a fairly fundamental issue of disagreement! Surely forgiveness and restoration is predicated on the guilty party being able to acknowledge guilt. Sin has to be dealt with, not simply ignored.

So Jesus was perhaps issuing a prophetic warning here to highlight the mortal danger of calling the spirit of God evil.

Slightly more of a soundbite and probably only slightly more useful.


"Is anything completely 'unforgivable'?"

I know this one! Blasphemy against the "holy spirit". (matt 12: 31-32). However what exactly that is is a subject of disagreement amongst christians. Some (usually the creationist type fundies) say it is simply denying its existence (that's me off to hell then). Others that it is insulting it. Yet others that it is an irreversible turning from god. I think the best case is that it is attributing its deeds to the devil. This is supported by the context of matt 12.

Some also say apopstasy is unforgivable too.

Do I win a prize?


OK, here is a question. Do you think evolution is compatible with christianity?

Beat Attitude

On that subject Billy, have you come across this at all? http://www.collisionmovie.com/

Debating made cool with copious hip hop sound tracks and slow motion walking shots ;) Something for everyone!


Re: 'is anything completely unforgivable'?

It isn't a 'trick question' - honest!

I have been pondering it for some time - I'd not thought about 'blaspheming the Holy Spirit' - more about the difference between 'guilty' and 'culpability':

- and if we need to be aware of and then confess and repent of that which we gradually become aware of within us of marring God's presencing with/within us (John 14 - 17) and within the general gambit of God's instructions to us and our interpretation of them for our culture and comprehension (as sanctification)

- and where the effectivness of 'grace' and the power of the cross sits with that.

How do we know when we sit in blind ignorance and 'playing church' and when we are convicted and turning around.

More - that was what I wasn trying to ponder out.


Beat, that would be good for parliament.

I'm not much of a Hitchens fan


David, you said on Sunday that some Christians believe that the earth is only 6000 years old and that's 'fine'. What's your personal view on the subject? I know that there's a distinction between an essentially political 'ex cathedra' announcement and your own private conclusions. But surely you're not actually a Young Earth Creationist? I am sympathetic to your position though - Keep the Nutters Happy is surely the first (albeit unwritten) rule of evangelical ministry ;-).


Sigh. Ryan, you *could* have a day off from being challenging. ;oP Peace!

I really enjoyed the service, and was (quite rightly) left slightly unsatisfied with the answers given. It's good to know that we have "answers" roughly, but not definitively.

One of my questions was answered too =D and it wasn't the answer I expected, either.
Thanks for putting on the service. Great idea.

I did notice the acknowledged avoidance of some topics, and you like to register my interest in an open conversation of similar ilk on the position St Silas has taken on some issues. Is that possible?



Hmm, perhaps it would be better if a question is asked and then David, or another 'expert', has to choose between four answers - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire style? He could have a bishop as the 'phone a friend'* option ! o{];-)

(NB: don't I know you from somewhere?! ;-))

*(am assuming - and hoping!- that non-dodgy/schismatic bishops still take Fr.Gadgetvicar's phonecalls ;-))


Hurrah, comments are back!!

David - I see commentators now have Gravatars beside their names - is there any way to choose a different one? I promise I'd pick something non-dodgy (such as the pic of Venom - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venom_(comics)- that I use over at Peter Ould's blog) and not.e.g,an image of +Gene Robinson or a semi-nude David Beckham!

David McCarthy

Sorry, Ryan, but I've checked and it seems that only comments from Typepad account holders get userpics (so the images aren't strictly speaking gravatars). Seems a shame to me, but maybe they'll make that a feature eventually.


Just signed up to Tyepad (and picked a photo from desktop) - hope it works! Surprised you don't have a more Bono-resembling pic yourself! :-)


You are a vestmentmentalist!


I was at a licencing of an associate vicar friend in Englandshire last week, where the bishop in question greeted me like a long lost friend - we had become acquainted as we waited for a plane through the night at Ben Gurion Airport. Don't think he's a schismatic and definitely non-dodgy! Asked him if he fancied a translation to Scotland, but his reaction was along the lines of, "Why would anyone want to move to that little Provincial backwater?".

I think he'd take my call.....


Oh, and of course, I've got a few bishop and even archbishop friends around the globe, who'd quite happily take my calls too, but you'll think they are well dodgy.


LOL! Surely,liberals AND conservatives love vestments - they're a Focus of Unity! Are you not amongst those traditional Anglicans who swam the Tiber today then? ;-)
(And, believe it or not, I did find a jpg of the most recent David Beckham Armani underwear ad on my desktop, but I still stuck to my promise below!)


And I'm curious if you picked YOUR userpic from a folder of PDFs entitled 'Favourite Bono-resembling pics' ;-)


Swimming the Tiber is always an option, but then I'm not a strong swimmer, so might drown on the way.....


Ah, I jest : I know you have lots of friends in high places (although, technically, I think Amnesty International and not just little old me believe that yer man Akinola is on the dodgy side). Will you be hoping to see Pope Benny on one of his Cathedral masses when he visits?

Wasn't Nazareth a Provincial backwater too? :-)


Do you not have any female C of E clergy pals who aspire to make purple? Surely, if Ruth Gledhill's story this week is to be believed, Scotland is the place to be! o{]:-)|>+

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Books - GadgetVicar is trying to finish:

GadgetVicar serves with:

  • Scottish Anglican Network
    A network in Scotland of Anglican churches and individuals who follow Jesus and are enthusiastic for Him to be known in our communities.
  • St Thomas' Church, Edinburgh
    A welcoming community of people in the West of Edinburgh who follow Jesus and who long for others to join them on that journey.
    Helping faithful Anglicans in the British Isles and Europe to proclaim the Gospel to the nations.
  • Tearfund
    A Christian charity passionate about ending poverty. I serve on the Scottish Advisory Group.