Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 The year of Hermeneutical Hui 3

This blog began after Hui 2 with the idea that some posts and (hopefully) some discussion might be a fruitful contribution to Hui 3 - the 'big one' where we get to discuss Scripture and Sexuality.

I understand that Hui 3 will go ahead next year (I am on the organising committee :) ) and that it could be mid-year that it is held - dates should be confirmed in February.

So, roughly six months to go, which means this blog should get a bit more focused on the question of Scripture and sexuality!

Incidentally, some questions exist, in my mind and in others, about the readiness of this church to engage in the task at hand - the interpretation of Scripture. Our second hui involved quite a lot of interpretation of our personal experiences!!


  1. HiPeter, and a happy new year to you ...

    I agree with your misgiving. Are we anywhere near a national consensus about interpreting scripture that would enable a fruitful discussion on sexuality and scripture?

    If we rush this, the hui will degenerate into another sharing of diverse experiences used as a pretext for not wrestling with diverse readings of scripture ... or worse still, a passive waiting for some designated experts to tell us for sure what scripture has to say on the subject.

    What's the rush?

  2. What's the point of "diverse readings of scripture" if you don't come up with a unified doctrine and ethics? It isn't difficult to come up with "diverse", even contradictory or incoherent readings of scripture; academic biblical studies has been doing this since the time of de Wette! (And Reimarus and Lessing before him. To say nothing of the English deists.)
    If the Bible is essentially a set of human documents detailing the religious experiences of (some) Jews and Christians, then we should expect not only considerable diversity but also contradiction and incoherence. But if it is God's Word Written, as the 39 Articles claim, then ultimately it has a unified message, just as a human face can have different ('diverse') parts but still be one face.
    Anglicans need to learn from the disaster of Tec and the US Lutherans.

  3. "What's the point of "diverse readings of scripture" if you don't come up with a unified doctrine and ethics?"

    I am not recommending diversity, but naming it as a fact. Anglicans in this province have engaged in a process that we hope will forge greater unity in doctrine and ethics. We cannot do so without first establishing a deeper sense of fellowship around our fundamental experiences and convictions. That in turn might enable us to integrate what the Spirit seems to be saying to us all through our diversely focused eyes as we read scripture together. The point Peter and I have raised above is about the pace of this process, and whether we are getting ahead of ourselves.

    Do you have a better process for forging unity, anonymous critic? You seem very clear about what Anglicans need without declaring whether you are actually one of us, and if so in which province. What shining ecclesiastical candle is hidden under your bushel of anonymity?

  4. I think I was really agreeing with Peter about the trap of talking about our 'personal experiences' rather than the meaning of Scripture. 'Personal experience' is an amazingly diverse and contradictory thing, as diverse and contradictory as human beings. Heck, some people probably have a tolerably decent time in a polygamous marriage or an affair. Others cope with life through alcohol or drugs. But what does that have to do with the truth in Jesus Christ? Our focus is eschatological and transcendent, not the here and now.
    'diversely focused eyes' have to come together to perceive one object. Analysis must subserve synthesis.

  5. The anonymous voice spoke and said,"Our focus is eschatological and transcendent, not the here and now." What Olympian detachment from sordid humanity! What a comfortable delusion!

    1. This is a blog on Hermeneutics. A basic presupposition of those familiar with Hermeneutics 101 is that we all bring four human experience to our reading of any text, with no exceptions. A process of declaring who we are and how we have come to be that way is therefore essential to forging common understanding of texts we all revere. What is so difficult about this idea that you have to lampoon it with extreme examples of "human experience"? The diverse experience we need to listen to within the Christian community is revelational, our diverse experience of God and of koinonia, and the language mode operating is that of testimony rather than debate.

    2. "Our focus ..." Whose focus is that then? You and whose perfect church? The process I have been describing above is a real one, actually happening within a particular Anglican province. For all our faults, we are giving it our best shot in the ACANZP, trusting the Lord of the Church to bring good out of our honest endeavours. Last time I checked this attitude was called faith. And it is exercised entirely in the here and now, which is where the real Church lives and has its being. Do you live on another planet, engaged in some other mission than the one Christ has left us to get on with? This is where some self-disclosure is needed, if your contribution to this discussion is to have any validity.

    3. "The truth in Jesus Christ" is embodied in people. We are his Body, discovering the meaning of scripture as we read it together, not just individual Christians able to discover all truth without listening to what God is telling anyone else. "We have the mind of Christ" - plural not singular, a corporate possession of revealed truth. And right now we have to work harder on the "We" part, so that the truth will become less hindered.

  6. Peace, bro. I'm looking to Mount Zion (sub specie aeternitatis), not Mount Olympus (*those gods were not a particularly good role model!). You don't seem to like my use of 'eschatological and transcendent' but I was simply alluding to Oliver O'Donovan's book 'Resurrection and Moral Order'.
    My examples were not *that extreme - after all HE President Jacob Zuma has just taken his 4th or 5th wife and you'd be surprised how polygamy is slowly spreading in western Europe and in the US - and not just in Utah... As for drug taking, it's pretty much a given now in wide swathes of western society. All very postmodern when the individual is the arbiter of the truth.
    The 'real church' includes the Church Triumphant, not just the 'here and now'. I am much more disposed to learn from the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary than sentimental phonies like Gene Robinson and Otis Charles.
    Anglicanism - not even in beautiful NZ - is not "the" Church of Jesus Christ, anymore than my little finger is me.
    A Bleesed Epiphany to you.