Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I have been grappling with the idea of interrelationism since I first read about it (15 years ago)in Carter, A., On Individualism, Collectivism and Interrelationism Heythrop College Journal, XXXI, 1990. pp 23-38. The table summarises (prehaps over simply) some of the ideas. What has particularly concerned me is that most of our western education and theories of adolescent development have been formed in the womb of individualism. My hunch is that impacts our approach to people and to the study of the bible. Not that I have been always able to articulate this well or can point to lots of examples. I wonder does interrelationism have something to offer? What changes if individualism is not so prominent?




The individual is autonomous and self directed.

Individuals are self directed, though influenced by others.

The individual is subject to the totality of social forces: he or she is directed by the collective.

The individual can and ought to experience self development and can do so alone.

Individuals can and ought to develop together and not at each others expense.

The collective ought to experience self development irrespective of individual members.

The individual is responsible for his or her own destiny.

Individuals are responsible for both their own and others destinies.

The collective is responsible for everyone’s destiny.

Only individuals really exist.

Individuals exist in relations with others. (you can not exist out side of relationship)

Only collectives really exist.

The individual should produce in order to satisfy his or her desires in his or her way without regard for others.

The individual should produce in a way which takes into consideration not only his or her own desires but also those of others.

The individual should produce in order to satisfy the collective and in accordance with a plan which has been dictated by the collective.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One approach to a difficult issue-Part 3

... For those who have embraced this freedom there is still a struggle ahead. On one hand while being set free means no longer being a slave to your own desires, putting to death those desires is a lifelong process. In our church those who have embraced the freedom offered in Christ have also embarked on this journey, they will walk alongside those who are exploring whether this is a journey they wish to take.

Each of us will be faced with desires that lead us away from freedom found in Jesus and articulated in his word –the bible. Same sex attraction is a complex issue and there is no room for moralistic views on any side. Ultimately what I think is at stake in this issue is the question, do we trust Jesus and his word or do our own desires determine what freedom is and how we should behave?

I invite you to pray for all those who are involved-that they may know the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One approach to a difficult issue-Part 2

...The bible’s response to issues involving human behaviour starts in a very different place. At the heart of the bible’s understanding of the human predicament is that we are enslaved to our own desires and that these desires lead us away from God to worship anything but the one true God. So gripped are we by this slavery it is impossible to release ourselves from it. It is only by God’s gift of grace though faith that we can be released from the slavery of our desires.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:8-10

For the moralist this is shocking and frightening news:
• Since we are all slaves to our own corrupted desires the implication is that our determination of good or bad behaviour will be flawed. In fact so flawed that the bible tells us that God is the determiner of good and bad. There is no moral high ground to look down at others from and no invitation to self hatred merely an invitation, with good reason, to trust God’s judgment.
• Identity is not to be found in being better than others because we are not better than others. Once again there is no moral high ground from which to look down at others or invitation to self hatred just a recognition that we are all profoundly flawed.
• It means that God can ask anything he wants of us and still be in the right...(to be continued)

Monday, June 09, 2008

One approach to a difficult issue-Part 1

Christians are often seen to be moralistic in their response to issues involving human behaviour. Meaning that they often respond in a way that makes them sound as if somehow because of their own ability or power or good living they are better than those around them. This attitude, often real, is expressed by the demeaning of others’ opinions, treating others badly and in appealing to overstated and unsubstantiated claims. Rightly it has been pointed out that this is unchristian behaviour. Certainly Jesus Christ regularly challenged the religious leaders of his day regarding their moralistic responses.

Moralistic responses are not only limited to Christians and David Marr’s article in the Good Weekend “The Archbishop says No” , appears to set out to take the moral high ground. David Marr raises questions of Archbishop Peter Jensen and the Sydney Dioceses use of power, money and intellect, with the desire to advocate a more tolerant approach to those who are attracted to the same sex. With little tolerance shown for the Sydney Dioceses approach to the issues involved, I think we are meant to conclude that Archbishop Peter Jensen and the Sydney Diocese, unlike other Episcopalian Bishops in Canada and the USA, are repressive and less morally enlightened. The article could have just as easily been entitled “David Marr says Yes”

The difficulty with any kind of moralism is that it leads to self inflation or alternatively self hatred both of which destroy the soul and make it difficult to see clearly the issues involved...

Prayer for Church Leaders- last Sunday

Father I kneel before you from whom your whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. Father I pray that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen the leaders of your church through the power of your Spirit in their inner beings, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. And I pray that they, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. In the name of Jesus. Amen Ephesians 3:14-19