'Good News for Gay Christians', the seventh and last in the Fulcrum series of web sermons by The Revd Professor Oliver O'Donovan FBA, Professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh
The notes in the text are hyperlinked into the end notes; to return to the text, click on the end note number
"He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young" (Isaiah 40:11)
In a thoughtful response to the St Andrew's Day Statement of 1996 Rowan Williams asked how the authors might address "the good news" to a certain type of homosexual Christian for whom he had a special concern. Speaking in the first person, this Christian (to whom we shall assign the masculine pronoun) declares: (i) that he desires to live in obedience to Christ; (ii) he is unable to see himself reflected in the description of homosexuals in Romans 1, since he is not "rejecting something I know in the depths of my being"; (iii) that he conducts a life of moral struggle like other Christians; and (iv) that it is "hard to hear good news" from a church which insists his condition is spiritually compromised. This question frames very neatly the challenge the church faces. We may wonder whether the Archbishop's ideal homosexual Christian is too idealised. We may wonder whether he is typical. But doubts of this kind are no reason to refuse the challenge. If there are homosexual Christians who see themselves in this way, then, precisely because they intend to take the disciplines of the Christian life with perfect seriousness, we may and must listen and speak to them with perfect seriousness about the good news in Jesus Christ. However, there is another question that ought to be raised alongside the first, and addressed to anyone who sees him- or herself, in this portrait of the homosexual Christian. To raise this second question is not to evade the first; rather, it is to search out the shape that an answer to the first must take. This second question, too, is put by Rowan Williams: "How does the homosexually inclined person show Christ to the world?" For if the gay Christian is to be addressed as a believer and a disciple, a recipient of the good news, he has to be addressed as a potential evangelist, too. But we must take this second question a little further. The good news meant for the human race is meant for the church, too. What good news does the gay Christian have to bring to the church?
There is an elementary point about Christian ethics that I have sought to emphasise ever since the opening pages of my Resurrection and Moral Order published twenty years ago: there is no Christian ethics that is not "evangelical", ie good news. There can be no change of voice, no shift of mood, between God's word of forgiveness and his word of demand, no obedience-without-gift, no gift-without-obedience. The gift and the obedience are in fact one and the same. They are the righteousness of Jesus Christ, encompassing and transforming our own lives, past, present and future. To preach the good news, then, is precisely what we do in expounding Christian ethics, if we expound Christian ethics faithfully. Preaching the good news is the only form of address of which the Christian church as such is capable, whether speaking to Christians or to non-Christians. When we use any other form of argument - quoting opinion-poll statistics, for example, or reporting the result of scientific experiments, or suggesting some practical compromise - the relevance of what we say depends on how well it is formed to serve the evangelical message. If the church speaks not as witness to God's saving work but as a pundit or a broker of some deal, it speaks out of character.
Yet to preach the Gospel, whether to Christians or non-Christians, is not a simple matter of offering reassurance and comfort. The Gospel, too, has its "hard words". The righteousness of Jesus Christ is not comfort without demand, any more than it is demand without comfort. It is never less than that demanding comfort by which God makes more of us than we thought it possible to become. And from this there seems to follow an important implication: the Gospel must be preached to the gay Christian on precisely the same terms that it is preached to any other person. "The 'hard words' theology is given to speak," as Jean-Yves Lacoste has written, "are still words of salvation, meant for mankind as mankind, not as Jew or Greek." This should not be unwelcome to a gay Christian. What, after all, would it mean if we set gays aside from the bulk of humankind, offering them some special reassurance not meant for the children of Adam and Eve?
This was the point which the authors of the St Andrews Day Statement made when they wrote: "We must be on guard...against constructing any other ground for our identities than the redeemed humanity given us in (Christ)." These words met with a somewhat unsympathetic response. Either they seemed too obvious to be necessary, or they seemed too arbitrarily restrictive. From either point of view it could be thought that the authors had some obscure polemical intent in writing them. What they had in view in fact was simply to assert the theological ground of human solidarity in creation, fall and redemption, embracing gay and non-gay alike. If anyone thinks that point too obvious to mention, notice the range of inhuman views freely attributed by liberal polemicists to their opponents, as well as the range of "posthuman" views freely advocated by post-liberals! Homosexuality is not the determining factor in any human being's existence; therefore it cannot be the determining factor in the way we treat a human being, and should not be the determining factor in the way a human being treats him- or herself. Gays are children of Adam and Eve, brothers and sisters of Christ. There is no other foundation laid than that. "He will feed his flock like a shepherd"; from which it follows, simpliciter and without adjustment, that he will feed gays like a shepherd, too.
Yet, it can be replied, there are other, less fundamental senses to the concept of "identity". Can we not speak of a "homosexual identity" in this less fundamental way, as we might speak, without denying anything in human solidarity, of a racial identity or of a class identity? And may we not ask how the good news may be addressed specifically to it? Since Gregory the Great's Pastoral Rule bishops and other preachers have been preoccupied with how to address the Gospel to sections of the flock with special needs: a Gospel for the rich, a Gospel for the poor, a Gospel for the powerful, a Gospel for the powerless etc. etc., which, as Gregory claims, "sollicitously oppose suitable medicines to the various diseases of the several hearers." I have to confess a reservation about this conception from the start. I am not sure that it can be disentangled from Gregory's idea of the preacher as a rector, or "ruler", who safeguards and services a certain kind of Christianised social order built on role-differences. Gregory's preacher strives to make role-differences comfortable for everyone, chiefly by preventing them being over-stated - excellent managerial sense, no doubt, but not the primary business of a Christian evangelist. The Gospel is addressed to human beings irrespective of their condition, and there is no prima facie place to dismember it into a series of gospels for discrete social sectors. Why would there be a Gospel for the homosexual any more than a Gospel for the teacher of literature, for the civil magistrate, or for the successful merchant (to name just three categories that the early church viewed with the same narrowing of the eyes that a homosexual may encounter today.) It is for the church to address the good news, we may say; it is for the recipient - homosexual, pedagogue, politician or captain of industry - to hear it and to say how he or she hears it in and from this or that social position.
Yet there is more to be said than that. The Gospel does have implications for the way we conduct ourselves in the world, and the way we conduct ourselves in the world is differentiated as the forms and circumstances that constitute the world are differentiated. There are special needs because there are special contexts within which the Christian life has to be lived out. Traditionally, these have been discussed in Christian theology under the heading of "vocation". The preaching of the Gospel can and must address distinct vocations, even though it must address them only in the second place, after it has spoken to us all as human beings, not in the first place. "He will gather the lambs in his arms, and gently lead those that are with young." Let us imagine a gay person who has "heard" the message of the Gospel but is yet unaware of any bearing it may have for his homosexual sensibility. Must there not be some following up of the good news, something to relate what has been heard to this aspect of his self-understanding? It is helpful to keep the analogy with teachers, magistrates and financiers in our mind. Suppose a Christian teacher who has found in the Gospel no implications for how literature is to be read and taught; or a Christian politician who has found no special questions raised by the Gospel about policies for military defence; or a financier to whom it has not yet occurred that large sums of money should not be handled in the way a butcher handles carcases. A pastoral question arises. In the light of the Gospel neither literature nor government nor money are mere neutral technicalities. They are dangerous powers in human life, foci upon which idolatry, envy and hatred easily concentrate. Those who deal with them need to know what it is they handle. The teacher, politician and banker who have not yet woken up to the battle raging in heavenly places around the stuff of their daily lives, have still to face the challenge of the Gospel. Is it any different with the powers of sexual sensibility?
Of course, this pastoral train of thought does not entitle us to demand that the gay Christian (or the teacher, politician and banker) should repent without further ado. Theirs is a position of moral peril, but also a position of moral opportunity. In preaching the Gospel to a specific vocation we must aim to assist in discernment. Discernment means tracing the lines of the spiritual battle to be fought; it means awareness of the peculiar temptations of the situation; but it also means identifying the possibilities of service in a specific vocation. The Christian facing the perils and possibilities of a special position must be equipped, as a first step, with the moral wisdom of those who have taken that path before, the rules as have been distilled from their experience. A soldier needs to learn about "just war", a financier about "just price", and so on. Again, can it be any different in the realm of sexual sensibility? Discernment is not acquired in a vacuum; it is learned by listening to the tradition of the Christian community reflecting upon Scripture. In this exercise, of course, we cannot rule out the possibility that we may reach a "revisionist" conclusion. No element formed by tradition can claim absolute allegiance. But the right to revise traditions is not everybody's right; it has to be won by learning their moral truths as deeply as they can be learned. Those who have difficult vocations to explore need the tradition to help the exploration. The tradition may not have the final word; but it is certain they will never find the final word if they have failed to profit from the words the tradition offers. And if it should really be the case that they are summoned to witness on some terra incognita of "new" experience, it will be all the more important that their new discernments should have been reached on the basis of a deep appropriation of old ones, searching for and exploiting the analogies they offer. No one who has not learned to be traditional can dare to innovate.
If this gay Christian, then, directed to traditional rules of sexual conduct as bearers of help, complains that the good news is difficult to hear because his position is treated as compromised from the outset, he has misunderstood something. There is only one position compromised from the outset, and that is the position that is "revisionist" from the outset, determined by the assumption that the church's past reflections on the Gospel have nothing helpful to offer. Certainly, no one who sets out from that starting-point will end up in catholic communion, for catholic communion presupposes a catholic mind. But the believer whom Rowan Williams introduces does not set out from there. He pleads that his purpose in life is "not just fulfilment..." but to become "transparent to Jesus, a sign of the kingdom". He accepts, in other words, the St Andrew's Day Statement's point that discipleship cannot be without a price in self-denial, but asks whether that price may not be paid, pari passu with the married, in the "daily discipline of a shared life". And then he asks how that daily discipline can fit in with its two exclusive categories of "marriage" and "singleness".
Two points about the Statement's appeal to these categories bear repeating. First, the claim that these categories are mutually exclusive and comprehensive, covering the whole field of possibilities between them, is advanced on the authority of tradition, not of Scripture. Secondly, the Statement does not itself assert that "all who understand themselves as homosexual are called to do without such a relationship" (ie "exclusive, intimate and permanent", such as characterises marriage), but says, "Some readers will draw this inference, others may not." A development of the tradition is therefore not ruled out, though serious conditions for recognising such a development are stipulated. Further than that the St Andrew's Day Statement did not intend to go. Of course, no secret was made of the fact that the authors of the Statement approached the discussion with the assumption that the right category for the relationships of gay people was singleness, not marriage, and that this implied doing without an exclusive, intimate and permanent relationship. But it was never the intention of the Statement merely to declare what its authors supposed to be the case. Its intention was to pose open questions to gay Christians which might elicit what they supposed to be the case. It was an invitation to dialogue within the basic terms set by Christian faith. The authors knew full well that other answers might be given to these questions than the answers they themselves would give, and they wanted to discuss those other answers, too. They spoke to gay Christians as those who wanted to know, not as those who already knew. It had better be admitted straight away that the question-posing approach of the St Andrew's Day Statement proved a communicative failure. It did not elicit the reflective answers to its questions to gay Christians that it hoped to elicit. Commentators, friendly as well as hostile, refused to take its questioning at face value, filled in the assertions they thought the authors intended to be read between the lines, and cheered or jeered accordingly. The strategy for opening dialogue fell victim, in fact, to the prevailing hermeneutic of suspicion. Yet I still find it difficult to conceive any other strategy that could ever lead to a process of mutual exploration.
Liberal Christianity has no need to ask such questions, because it reckons it knows what gay Christians need, which is "stable relationships". Stable conjugality is the point at which liberalism has made its own peace with the tradition. Or, to put it more unkindly, it is its characteristic form of prudishness. There is, of course, a lot to be said in favour of stable relationships; but before settling on this as the decisive point, I would like to hear the question discussed by gays, rather than by liberals. Is this in fact the key to their experience? Or is there something important in the roaming character of some gay relations? There is room here for a seriously interesting discussion among gay people which will be instructive to us all. What the gay experience really is, is a question of huge importance both to gays and non-gays. By no means everyone who speaks from that experience believes that marriage is the right model for conceiving their relationships. Some have seen it as the "bourgeoisisation" of gay experience; and there are major advocates for the pattern of friendship. Such a debate among gays, if conducted frankly and in public, will provide the essential core-reflection, helping the rest of us feel our way towards an understanding of the dynamic of the experience and a sense of how the good news may bear most importantly on it. If gays are to pursue this debate well, they will need to engage in analogical thinking, which is central to moral reasoning. They will need to ask themselves about likenesses of experience and about unlikenesses, about ways in which known patterns illuminate unknown, about the extending of paradigms to encompass new types.
Rowan Williams's hypothetical gay Christian, then, framed and posed precisely the question which we need his help to answer. And at this point in his article the author intervened in his own person, apparently to sharpen the question: Can "sexual expression of homosexual desire," he asked, "if desire itself may be innocent of disorder, be confidently ruled out?" This way of putting the question actually turns it on its head: instead of starting from given social forms, marriage and singleness, and using these as a baseline from which to reach out analogically to interpret an elusive and mysterious experience, it starts from an experience, apparently entirely clear and beyond discussion, and reaches out to posit a corresponding social form. Wrapped up in this is a certain psychological positivism, an unbiddability characteristic of romantic, pre-Wittgensteinian psychology. Within, we have a self-interpreting mental state, "desire"; outside, we devise an action to "express" it, ie lead the mental state uncompromised from the inner expanses of the mind to the public world. Inner certainties demand untrammelled expression. But that approach can only invite a sceptical reply. What is this inner certainty certain of? How can we know what the desire is for? The language of "expression" is treacherous. It lets us suppose that our desires are perspicuous, when they are not. Sexual desire in particular is notoriously difficult to interpret; the biblical story of Ammon and Tamar is just one of many ancient warnings of how obscure its tendency may be. It is characteristically surrounded by fantasy, and fantasies are never literal indicators of what the desire is really all about, but are symbolic revealer-concealers of an otherwise inarticulate sense of need. But the point holds also for many other kinds of desire - let us say, the desire for a quiet retirement to a cottage in the countryside, or the desire to own a fast racing-car. We cannot take any of them at their face value. "It wasn't what I really wanted!" is the familiar complaint of a disappointed literalism. To all desire its appropriate self-questioning: what wider, broader good does this desire serve? how does it spring out of our strengths, and how does it spring out of our weaknesses? where in relation to this desire does real fulfilment lie? It is in interpreting our desires that we need the wisdom of tradition, which teaches us to beware of the illusory character of immediate emotional data, helping us to sort through our desires and clarify them. The true term of any desire, whether heavily laden or merely banal, is teasingly different from the mental imagination that first aroused it. And gays have no infallible introspective certainties in relation to their desires that would put them outside the common human lot of self-questioning. "I became a great question to myself!" said Augustine. And it was the question of himself that the Gospel helped him address fruitfully.
None of which is to accept, what textbooks and pundits wearisomely repeat, that a homosexual is someone essentially characterised by an inevitable homoerotic desire. That would be to close down the exploration of the gay experience with a vengeance! Nor is it to accept the equation, too attractive to some liberals as to some conservatives, of desire (or sexual desire) and sin. It is perfectly possible to think of desires as no matter for blame, and yet be persuaded that their literal enactment can never be their true fulfilment. Think of the desires we conceive in relation to our enemies when we are angry, or of the desires we conceive in relation to money and possessions! Desire is, however, one aspect of what Christian doctrine used to speak of as "concupiscence", a brokenness of the world reflected in a confusion of desire that our human society itself instils in us. A recovery of the length, breadth and depth of the doctrine of original sin would rid us of a lot of misunderstanding at this point. The gay Christian who complains that the good news is difficult to hear because his position is treated as compromised from the outset could learn that it is not his position, but the position of the human race, that is compromised from the outset. The emotional resources with which anyone faces the world are a measure of the solidarity of human experience from which we have learned what it is to love other human beings in different relations; and in learning we are all, though in different ways, hindered. If the distinctiveness of gay experience reflects original sin in some way, it is because it also reflects the fractured quality of society and its loveless disorder, a disorder for which we all share common responsibility and all pay the common price, the fruit of our uneven social formation.
This train of thought offers us an insight into one aspect of the challenge presented by the gay experience, its novelty. The world has never seen a phenomenon like the contemporary gay consciousness. There have been various patterns of homosexuality in various cultures, but none with the constellation of features and the persistent self-assertion that this one presents. And we need hardly be surprised at this turn in history if we reflect on the extraordinary discontinuities that exist between late-modern society, taken as a whole, and traditional societies. To understand contemporary homosexuality without achieving some understanding of late-modernity as a civilisational phenomenon is out of the question. But then, how can we understand late-modernity without understanding contemporary homosexuality? Can we pretend to take a reading of the spiritual condition of our ultra-technological age without reading deeply the distinctive and novel forms of emotional experience that it has generated? It does not matter whether we suppose this society and its emotional forms will be short-lived or long-lived. The point is, they are of our day; they constitute a horizon of our mission. To live in our time, as in any other, is to have a unique set of practical questions to address.
If the first good news for the gay Christian, then, is that the "great question" - the question of the self, with all its pain and its hope, can be opened illuminatingly in the light of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, there is also a second good news. There is a neighbour with whom to explore the meaning of the contemporary homosexual situation, a neighbour who also needs, for the sake of his or her own integrity, to reach answers to questions which the gay Christian is especially placed to help search out. There is a neighbour for whom strict equality of regard and open candour - "irresponsibility", in the very best sense of that ambiguous word - makes it a primary obligation to put these questions and search for the answers with a persistent patience not to be cut short by the concerns of purely managerial efficiency. The negotiation of soft and evasive compromises will not appeal to that neighbour, because the gay Christian's true self-understanding and well-founded self-acceptance in the grace of God is a matter to be safeguarded in their relationship as securely as the integrity of the questioning itself. One name for this open and candid neighbourly relation is "friendship".
But always to rigorous
judgment and censure
freely assenting, man seeks in his manhood
not orders, not laws and peremptory dogmas,
but counsel from one who is earnest in goodness
and faithful in friendship, making man free.
It is this open and candid relation that a liberal Christianity has refused by its managerial juridicalisation of the gay Christian's claim, by its "laws and peremptory dogmas", designed to settle questions without exploring them, to adjust relations without justifying them, to reassure the uncomforted without comforting them, in short, to manage the situation. Liberal Christianity has interpreted the missionary challenge of the gay experience as a summons to emancipate it. Whether gays would have presented themselves as a suppressed social class in need of emancipation if the prevailing narrative fashions had not invited them to do so, is not a fruitful question to ask or a possible one to answer. What is remarkable, however, is the persistent lack of fit between what gays tend to find especially important about themselves and the role they are given to play in the liberal emancipation narrative. The peculiar quality of the gay vision is sectional rather than universal; the specialness of the gay experience is important to them. Liberals are unable to take that specialness seriously, since their starting point is that gays are no different from anyone else save as they have been arbitrarily imposed upon. When the gay experience becomes self-reflective about its own specialness, and invites interrogation in its own right, not merely as another instance of a hard-done-by under-class, its usefulness to the liberal project will be at an end, since that will open up questions that were supposed to have been settled before the campaign began. It will force us to pay attention to the fragmentation of the modern moral world, and to its insufficiency as a measure to judge the performance of the church by.
The juridical language of justice and rights offers the gay Christian a certain kind of recognition; the language of questioning friendship offers another quite different one. At the level of existential reality the two are incompatible. The gay Christian today is therefore faced with a straightforward choice, a choice about the foundation on which he or she is to live. As always, the good news has a hard word in it: we can't have it both ways. The role of attorney's client, the perpetual petitioner before the court of pleas, is open and inviting, and there are plenty to welcome the gay into it - for the time being. But the catalogue of candidates for emancipation will be extended further, and the gay cause will lose the interest it once had - irrespective of whether it has won the concessions it fought for. The role of friend among friends, on the other hand, questioned and self-questioning, joined with those in pilgrim search for the new name that no man knows except the one to whom it is given, is an altogether different role, and perpetually available to those who seek it. The gay Christian thus faces in a particular way the choice that constitutes the human situation universally: whether to follow the route of self-justification, or to cast oneself hopefully on the creative justification that God himself will work within a community of shared belief.
In this second choice nothing less is offered the gay believer than is offered to any and every believer: a role in attesting the work of God, in speaking to others of the redemption he has wrought. "How does the homosexually inclined person show Christ to the world?" Williams asks. Again, it is an obvious first step to ask why there would be a different answer for a homosexually-inclined person than for any other person. At the deepest level there can be no difference. It is one and the same Gospel witnessed to by gay and non-gay, a gospel of redemption from the enslavement of sin and of the purification of desire. Yet gifts are given differentially to members of the body of Christ; vocations are distributed variously to serve the common mission. Some are given in the form of special skills and abilities, some in the form of special opportunities, especially opportunities of special experience and suffering. From the place of special sensibility in which the homosexual Christian may find him- or herself we may hear a testimony to the way the world confronts our mission in our time, to its fragmented identities, its disjunctions of feeling, its cruelties, its dislocations and the peculiar possibilities of redemption that God has put at its heart. The rest of us cannot do without this torchlight shone through the fog of the late modern world in which we, too, must grope our way.
What if the challenge the gays present the church with is not emancipatory but hermeneutic? Suppose that at the heart of the problem there is the magna quaestio, the question about the gay experience, its sources and its character, that gays must answer for themselves: how this form of sensibility and feeling is shaped by its social context, how it can be clothed in an appropriate pattern of life for the service of God and discipleship of Christ? But suppose, too, that there is another question corresponding to it, which non-gay Christians need to answer: how and to what extent this form of sensibility and feeling has emerged in specific historical conditions, and how the conditions may require, as an aspect of the pastoral accommodation that changing historical conditions require, a form of public presence and acknowledgment not hitherto known? These two questions come together as a single question: how are we to understand together the particularity of the age in which we are given to attest God's works? And then the Gospel has good news for us all: there is a friendship in which the most difficult questions about the self and the world in the era of time that is given to us can be explored and enquired into, a community in mission that can engage in the most difficult hermeneutic tasks. The good news preached by the church to the gay Christian coincides here with the good news preached by the gay Christian to the church. The content of that good news, perhaps, can be summed up simply by saying that the word "church" can achieve its proper content. The church is our neighbourhood in the confession of Christ and obedience to his law, a neighbourhood suffused with his love, a communion of mutual service and recognition.
The old-style liberalism that used to preside over the church's dilemmas in a confident spirit of practical compromise began from the assumption that everyone was divided from everyone else by recalcitrant disagreements. The Lord, the liberals prophets announced, had sent a perpetual famine of his word. We should stop asking questions of one another and hoping for answers, and eat the dry bread of commonsense compromises. Those who remember Pentecost may reasonably doubt that this was ever the wisest counsel for the church. But at the very least we cannot know whether and how much of a famine of the word there is in any disagreement until we submit it to the disciplines of patient common enquiry. No disagreement refuses to be analysed, and its constituent elements sorted out according to size and shape. No disagreement does not lure us on with the hope, however distant, of a genuine resolution. Can we promise ourselves, then, that if the churches would only discuss homosexuality long and fully and widely enough, they would end up agreeing? Well, we are not entitled to rule out that possibility. But suppose it were not true; suppose that after careful exploration and a search for common ground, there was an agreement-resistant core at the centre of the issue - a problem about how modernity is viewed, for example, or about the ontological status of self-consciousness - it might still be possible to set the residual disagreement in what the ecumenists like to call "a new context", and (who knows?) learn how to live with it. We have a parallel in the difference between indissolubilist and non-indissolubilist views of marriage, a traditional point of tension between Catholic and Protestant. That disagreement has not gone away; but if today it bulks less threateningly than it once did, that is because we are so much more clear about the extent of the agreed ground all around it - God's intentions for marriage, the pastoral desiderata in dealing with broken marriage etc etc. It no longer evokes threatening resonances. It is a problem reduced to its true shape and size.
There are no guarantees. There never are in the Christian life. But that is not a reason not to try. And seriously trying means being seriously patient. Anyone who thinks that resolutions can be reached in one leap without long mutual exploration, probing, challenge and clarification, has not yet understood the nature of the riddle that the ironic fairy of history has posed for us in our time.
Professor Oliver O'Donovan FBA is Professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh. He took up this post on 1 August 2006 and formerly was Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford and a Canon of Christ Church.
The notes in the text are hyperlinked into the end notes; to return to the text, click on the end note number
 For the text of the St Andrew's Day Statement and of Rowan Williams' response, see The Way Forward? ed Timothy Bradshaw. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1997, 2003
 Resurrection and Moral Order, Leicester, Apollos & Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1986, 1992
 J-Y Lacoste, Le monde et l'absence d'oeuvre, Paris, PUF, 2000, p147
 Cf Brent Waters, From Human to Posthuman, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2006
 Gregory, Regula Pastoralis 3.36
 Confessions 4.4.9
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "The Friend", Letters and Papers from Prison
The Rev. Canon Oliver O’Donovan is former Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford and Professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh.