Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The theological heart of an Anglican hermeneutics project

The following is an excerpt from one of the best posts I have read on Anglican theology, ever ... it's by John Richardson, an English theologian:

"Since the unity of the gospel is ‘unity in the truth’, and since the truth of the gospel is, by Christ’s own devising, entrusted to and imparted by the teaching ministry of the Church, the Church which wishes to prevent internal disunity must look first to the quality of its teaching ministers. In the case of the Church of England, this should mean looking to the bishops, above all, as the ‘gate keepers’ of the ordained ministry.

Unfortunately, the bishops have largely bought into the idea that their role is not to define and defend doctrine, but to ‘referee’ the various doctrinal positions within their dioceses. In others words, they are actually upholding Protestantism’s divisiveness. Far from making things better, they are, in most cases, actively making them worse.

This is not, I must emphasise, because they are bad people. For the most part, they are good people and well-intentioned. But the well-intentioned maintenance of structures which are antithetical to the unity of the gospel is not a Christian action. Nor can it be depicted as the fulfilment of episcopal ministry.

Now this is not to introduce some alien notion into Anglicanism. Rather it is to recall the Church to its founding principles. It is well known that in the Ordinal which forms part of the Church’s formularies, both bishops and priests are required to teach sound doctrine and contradict error. The bishop or the priest who therefore takes a laissez faire attitude at this point is the true ‘alien’ to the Church of England.

Moreover, the parameters of true doctrine are also clearly established within the formularies. The Thirty-nine Articles and the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer include some doctrines and exclude others. And whilst it is undoubtedly true that this is widely disregarded in the Church, that does not make such disregard ‘Anglican’ —rather, it is itself a disregard of Anglicanism."

Please read the whole post!

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