Can we really listen both to the Bible and to our fellow Christians – on contested issues of sexual behaviour and relationships?

 905342Can we really listen both to the Bible and to our fellow Christians – on contested issues of sexual behaviour and relationships?
Presented by Mr Geoffrey Nutting at the ISCAST Vic Intensive 2010


Geoff Nutting was trained in musicology at Durham, and at Oxford in theology. For five years, as lecturer at a new Nigerian university that was glad to find place for his skills in both disciplines, he flourished. Geoff emerged in 1988 to be re-skilled for professional Christian ministry. This was in the area that has ever since been his focus: chaplaincy and pastoral care of persons with a psychiatric diagnosis. Alongside practical work he sustained a research interest in the philosophy of mental illness; and his experience, both of being ministered to and of ministering to others, has now been incorporated in a thesis, `On becoming more open to others in God’, by which he has qualified for the MCD doctorate in Ministry Studies. Geoff’s paper for this conference relates especially to his experience, in 2006, as Visiting Fellow at an `Open Evangelical’ institution with a long proud history of integrating the sexes: St John’s College, Durham. 


A real-life test case which made national headlines will first be outlined: of a young man refused Ordination in the Church of England in 2006. In a seminary of `open evangelical’ persuasion he had completed, with good honours, a master’s degree in theology and ministry; but the staff, after careful consideration, had felt unable to recommend him as a pastor. Consistently he had shown himself unwilling, it was said, really to listen to views he did not share – in particular regarding homosexuality and inter-faith dialogue. 

Developments over the past century in secular law, and in all of the sciences or technologies listed below, put sexual behaviours and relationships into a radically new social context: 

  • Social anthropology
  • Technologies of contraception and early abortion
  • Ecological science
  • The `applied science’ of psychiatry – which  had, by 1994, deleted `homosexuality’ from DSM – its own `Bible’ of pathologies.

I would argue that any presumption to `settle’ disputed sexual issues by citing Scripture needs to come to terms with new hermeneutic horizons, allowing for a new creation, and methodological presumption of `innocent until proved guilty’ should apply to views we might at first find strange.  Special attention will be given to writings of three staff or former staff members of the above-mentioned seminary: Thiselton, Vasey and Bartlett. 

 Download pdf - Presentation Notes



Click here to join ISCAST




Look us up on Facebook, Twitter, and tune in to our Podcast.


ISCAST Fellows

Click here to view a list of ISCAST Fellows and their profiles.