The new Archbishop of Nigeria makes an interesting point about fear of women, as reported by Ruth Gledhill. I offer this link without endorsement or dispute. I simply think it worth reflecting on the possibility that a world favouring gay 'marriage' has potential to be a world in which, once again, the importance of women is downgraded.
Below I have posted some material relating to the recently published report (or "reports amalgamated") of TEC's House of Bishops on homosexuality. At that stage I did not have the "traditionalists" introduction to their report to the bishops.
I can now point you to the link, H/T Titus One Nine, here.
As an introduction to Grant LeMarquand's statement, some observations about the course of the presentation and responses is made. It includes this:
"Both Willis and Grant gave ten minute presentations summarizing the two positions, for and against same-sex marriage. The bishops then discussed among themselves in table groups following which there was an hour for the bishops to ask questions. Perhaps the most interesting thing which happened during that question period was a short speech by Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, who expressed dissatisfaction with both papers and stated that it was time to move beyond speaking simply of “GLBT” (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered) orientations: “there are so many other letters in the alphabet,” he said; “there are so many other sexualities to be explored.” He did not elaborate as to what those other sexualities and other letters of the alphabet might be."
Umm, one concern widely shared in the Communion is that the agenda of the progressives is a restless, ambitious one, which will not be satisfied with one concession (same sex partnerships blessed by the church). There is nothing here to allay that concern!
On the one hand I acknowledge a new dimension in the debate over same-sex partnerships - new at least to me - that proposes understanding marriage as expansionable to include same sex coupling. This is an argument worth considering rather than dismissing because it moves the debate away from "rights", earths itself in the analogy of expansionism of mission from Jews to Gentiles (Acts 15) and keeps in view one aspect of marriage which potentially all kinds of marriage can benefit from, namely discipline of sexuality (cf. Paul's "better to marry than burn"). Thus Willis Jenkins offers these thoughts in his introduction to the House of Bishops' session (reproduced on the blog On Not Being A Sausage):
"The basic argument for expanding marriage is laid out in the preface to our document: marriage is a discipline and a means of grace. Same-sex couples need that discipline and grace no less than other-sex couples. They, like other-sex couples, should not be discouraged from committing their lives to each other nor from giving their commitments to the church. The church is free to bless those couples who present themselves as fit for Christian marriage by their readiness to enter a covenant of self-offering and of witness to Christ’s love for the world.
That argument would be simple and the liturgical amendments minor – a matter of altering a few pronouns – were it not for the deep suspicion that it meets across the church, especially beyond our province. Listening to criticism that the Episcopal Church has not answered that suspicion with a coherent theology of marriage, we have elaborated how same-sex marriage fits within a faithful pattern of Christian life, how it harmonizes with orthodox theology, and how it makes sense within scripture.
Our way of illustrating that fit does not require theological defeat of traditionalists, does not impose cultural change, does not rely on American power. To answer worries that we would demean other-sex marriage, we make painstaking clear how our proposal reclaims and affirms the deepest meaning of marriage. We reaffirm procreation as a purpose of marriage, and the welcoming of children as a gift proper to it. We reaffirm the unitive purpose of marriage, and chastity as a gift proper to it."
In a very cursory glance at one aspect of the traditionalists contribution to the report I notice that again and again they nail the liberals loose, light, and lithesome exegesis (e.g. overlooking that the expansionism of Acts 15 was not the church merely responding to a prompting of the contemporary voice of the Spirit but fulfilling ancient prophecy). Then this passage particularly struck me because it touches on something I think is fundamental to marriage, procreation, and thus arguments diminishing its fundamental role undermine the strength of arguments that same sex partnerships should be deemed to be marriages:
"Procreation is identified as “what the human being shares with the animals,” as if this were a slight on us; for all the talk of bodiliness the argument here has a gnostic tinge. We do indeed share our bodiliness with the animals; here the biologist has something to say to the theologian. What is at stake here is the very nexus of creation and redemption, of which we spoke in our paper. Why should we assume that in matters such as ecology we do well to think and act “with the grain of creation,” but when it comes to the doctrine of the human person, and our sexuality, we ought not to think and act so? Something theologically basic is at stake here which would have major consequences if this anti-breeding drift were to affect our understanding of the human person and of society. To cite but one implication, denigration of procreation leads to the “devaluing [of]…the bearing and raising of [page 74] children.”9 This needs, for the sake of transparency and candor, to be made clear to the Episcopal faithful in the pews--one wonders what their reception of this dimension of the new teaching might be."
(Note also this footnote at the foot of page 73: "8 At this point, we must dissent from the claim of the liberal side that they and we have no disagreement over the “significance of marriage.” While we applaud their highlighting of a common commitment to charity in this debate, we believe that the liberal transformation of the traditional end of procreation into a personal choice, and the relegation of childbearing to the old eon, amount to a seismic shift in the significance of marriage. Their desire to blunt the sharpness of their argument is odd, given their willingness to follow its radical nature through much of our dialogue. Our disagreement can and should be charitable: in this vein, we welcome their rejection of litigation and happily and enthusiastically endorse rejection of all coercion and prejudice against gay people. At the same time we honor one another more if we take seriously the fact that we have before us a real disagreement on which a great deal rides. To claim that it amounts to a celebratory diversity following from the very persons of the Trinity resonates rhetorically, but hides the fact that discernment means deciding and deciding has consequences. (In fact the advocates of same-sex marriage know this, driving determinedly toward implementation of the revision. In this light, claims that the opposing sides are but complementary perspectives in the spirit of F.D. Maurice seems ironic.")
Go back to Willis Jenkins and notice this sentence:
"We reaffirm procreation as a purpose of marriage, and the welcoming of children as a gift proper to it."
In the citation above I have emboldened "a" in the first clause. It is the weakest link in the chain of the liberals argument. Not only is it weak theologically, it could mean that one day no one will be left to maintain the argument :)
"Well, in one sense, Cranmer’s answer is an appropriate one: scripture can say a council has erred, but this fails largely to deal with the issue that scripture needs interpreting. Councils generally (and whether rightly or wrongly) declare their teaching to be an interpretation of scripture, and to teach things “taken out of Holy Scripture”. Exactly how authoritative in standing against this collegial declaration is an individual theologian’s or bishop’s (never mind an individual Christian’s) statement that a council has erred? In one sense it is not authoritative at all: it can only be a persuasive statement of scriptural teaching or meaning, to argue that the council has failed to give an adequate account of scripture. Its authority is intrinsic and lies in its own reasoned integrity. It has to appeal to, renew, or even re-create, the sensus fidelium.
Where Cranmer is right is to insist that there should be consonance between council and scripture. Neither the interpretation of the collegium, nor that of the individual, should be arbitrary, imposed simply by external authority, but themselves subject to the authority exercised by God through the Church’s reading of the scriptures. Where he is wrong is in failing to develop an adequate account of the Church, a point noted in previous posts.
A coherent critique needs to reflect more on the Church’s being under authority, and not simply having authority. It needs to take on board finer nuances of the relationship of scripture and tradition, and not a simple opposition. It needs to reflect on conciliarity and collegiality in the way that post-Vatican II Catholicism has done in theory, but miserably failed to do in practice, and so needs to take councils more seriously than this bare statement does. It needs to reflect on the role of the papacy in relation to the broader institution of episcopacy in terms other than jurisdiction: that is, it needs to conceive the Petrine ministry in a more mutual and non-hierarchical relation to the whole apostolic ministry. It needs in short, to offer a self-definition that is defined more positively and less negatively."
Then Thinking Anglicans posts links and a small citation from reports from TEC's House of Bishops' Meeting which received on same sex relationships, and which has in turn published these as their report here.
I have not had a look at this report but I understand one of the reports making up the report (confused?) is 'traditionalist'. I am a little fearful that I am going to find it is not of a high standard ... but I hope I am wrong.
Has God's revelation through Scripture been overtaken - on some aspects - through the passage of time and its associated changes to social circumstances? If we thought that God said something about X that was relevant and applicable in (say) 150 AD, could it be possible that that same thing is now no longer relevant and applicable in (say) 2010?
I appreciate very much that behind such questions lies a concern for honouring God and God's Word revealed to us. For myself I would not want to be propagating lines of hermeneutical enquiry which led to conclusions in which the church was effectively saying "God was right once. Now we know God is wrong." God is always right; we, many times, are wrong!
At all times we need to take care in how we handle the Bible. Just as we can dishonour God by mishandling in one way, so we can cause pastoral mayhem by mishandling in another way. Currently in NZ, for example, we are now receiving fairly regular news reports of the destructive effects on poor Christians belonging to the Destiny Church due to Bishop Brian Tamaki's understanding of what tithing means in relation to his income (they give, he receives) and what income he deserves because he has been faithful to God (a lot lot more than the least of his brethren).
In my understanding at least three possibilities for "change" to our understanding of Scripture need not incur the charge that we think God was right once but is now wrong. (I acknowledge that the three possibilities are probably variations of each other!)
(1) We think Scripture points us in one direction but events press us to reconsider our understanding of Scripture. The conclusion we reach is not that God is wrong but that our understanding has been wrong. The classic example (in my view) would be slavery. Many fine Christians (including George Whitefield, I learned recently) have been comfortable owning slaves. Now that is not so. Our understanding of slavery and its rightness or wrongness has changed, not least because we have changed our understanding of what it means to be a human being: an African, for example, is not a lesser being than a European.
(2) Over time we review not only what Scripture says, but our attitudes to something. A good example in my view would be alcohol. Many a zealous Christian has been dead against alcohol and found texts to support that view. But over time attitudes have changed and Scripture has been read more carefully: it warns against drunkenness, it does not prohibit consumption of alcohol. A number of my Christian friends used not to drink, but now they enjoy their chardonnay and shiraz!!
(3) We change our minds about applying a principle in Scripture. The principle stands, but for various reasons our commitment to applying it is revised. An example would be capital punishment. The principle that a person taking the life of another person forfeits their right to live still holds. But for various reasons - from a new appreciation of mercy to a necessary recognition of the irreversibility of a wrongful judgment by a court - many Christians no longer support capital punishment as an option on their nation's law books. God is not thereby proved wrong, but we show that we have freedom both as humans and as Christians to vary the way we govern ourselves.
There is one further issue which has been mentioned in comments. (In my words) the issue is that God is made deficient in his provision for us if we allege that the written Word of God does not provide for a situation which arises - the deficiency could be that God is imperfect in his power because God is unable to see sufficiently far ahead in respect of what changes in life will arise.
I do not think the Bible is intended to provide for every situation that conceivably could arise in the permutations of human life. If it was, would there not be a smidgeon of material which applied to the various issues arising around genetic engineering, IVF, stem cell research, and the like? Or, what about a clear, ever relevant ethical theory about going to war? Wisely the Anglican reformers said both that Scripture was sufficient for salvation and agreed that the church may make decisions on matters not expressly touched on by Scripture.
Given that hermeneuticists are likely to pay more attention to a matter on which there is a perception of lack of clarity, rather than on matters that are perceived to be clear, it is easy to wonder whether hermeneuticists ever deal in clarity!
Briefly, I want to suggest that there are many matters hermeneuticists are clear about. Rather than speak for all of them, let me speak for myself.
I am very clear that God through his written Word has revealed that his intention in creating humanity as male and female was that men and women would marry in an exclusive lifelong and fruitful relationship. I am also very clear that the theology of marriage revealed in Scripture means that a married couple should do all in their power to remain married. But. Yes, there is a 'but'! I am less clear about what people should do when a marriage has not been successful and divorce takes place, when a couple discover that they are infertile but may be fertile with the assistance of various 'in vitro' or surrogate or whatever possibilities for fertility, or when adultery takes place whether the onus falls on the hurt partner to the marriage to not only forgive but to take their sinning partner back into the full intimacy of marriage. Matters such as these are the 'stuff' of hermeneutics; and often they represent the real and present questions of Christians, both those new to the faith and those mature in the faith. It is pastorally necessary in many instances for the church to encourage good hermeneutical work in relation to such matters rather than to discourage it.
Another example: I am very clear that the Bible encourages good, wise, faithful, and bold leadership in the ministry and mission of Christ. Equally clearly, this leadership should be taken up by gifted, called, empowered and enthusiastic men and women. As far as I can tell 99% Christians are agreed with me on this; so my clarity is our clarity. But there is a specific issue within this understanding of Christian leadership on which Christians disagree about: that is, whether women may lead and teach mixed gender congregations; and this disagreement for some stems from a more 'traditional' reason (presbyters and bishops, like the Twelve, have always been male) and for others from a more 'Scriptural' reason (either women are specifically prohibited from doing so or men and women are ordered in such a manner that it is not a woman's role to do so or both). Some Christians are very clear that this is so. Some Christians are not clear that this is so. How might agreement be reached between us? One way, of course, is to keep examining Scripture, working through all relevant issues and questions, seeking a joint clarity. Again, this is the 'stuff' of hermeneutics.
A third example: I am very clear, as stated above, that "God through his written Word has revealed that his intention in creating humanity as male and female was that men and women would marry in an exclusive lifelong and fruitful relationship". But I am also clear that some men and some women are not made up - genetically, psychologically, etc - in such a manner as to have the requisite attraction for the opposite sex in order to be fruitfully bound together as 'one flesh' - body, heart, soul, and mind intwined as intended in marriage. Perhaps some may be transformed from this shortfall; but it is increasingly clear, as more and more testimonies of people are being revealed in a day when greater honesty seems possible, that some people are resolutely and unchangeably attracted to the same sex and not to the opposite sex.
What advice is the church to give to those among our brothers and sisters who are made this way? What response are we to make as God-appointed governments around the world move to legitimize formal commitments of couples of the same gender? I am less clear on these matters - the more so as increasingly I recognise that the way the church responds and has responded may be a significant cause of teenage suicide, of people leaving the church, and of depression and despair among homosexual Christians who long to be able to freely love and enjoy being loved by another person. It may be confusing to a new Christian to find their way to a website such as this and be drawn into reading material which does not immediately give a black/white answer or set of answers. I suggest we need to sit with that possibility and recognise another: that to give a black/white answer or set of answers may be devastating to a Christian who is beginning to wrestle with the reality, and the implications of their sexuality.
Must stop. More soon on whether God is somehow deficient if we argue that Scripture is not clear on this and on that.
In a comment to the post below Rosemary, a regular commenter on this site, raises questions about whether we who engage in hermeneutics, via blogs such as this, are helpful or unhelpful in the cause of building up God's people. Rosemary is especially concerned that hermeneuticists may be (a) confusing that which is clear (b) denigrating God's ability to communicate and clearly to his people for all ages through his revealed word, and (c) even going so far as to claim that God is wrong on some matters.
These are grave charges, as Rosemary points out, for Scripture has some serious warnings for false teachers.
In response I would say, first, that certainly it is possible that I am wrong.
Secondly, hermeneuticists need always to be alert to the possibility that we are playing a devilish role in the sense that, like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, we are mischievously asking the question, "Did God really say that?" Worse, we can go on to presume that our knowledge of a matter is greater than God's knowledge, so that, in the end we aspire to play the role of God, or at least the role of Jesus, "You have heard it said, but I say unto you ..."
Thirdly, hermeneuticists could become so ensnared in the detail of their work that they unconsciously become purveyers of confusion instead of carefully dedicated to the goal of clarity.
But what if a hermeneuticist avoids these dangers, and carefully works away at issues of interpretation? Is this a wrongful activity, full-stop?
Not at all. Every Christian is involved in the work of hermeneutics. Every preacher is a hermeneuticist. Here is a very simple test case. Has any reader of this blog sold all they have and given the proceeds to the poor? I suspect none have. Why not? I suspect each reader who has not done this has determined, through an act of interpretation of Scripture that Jesus' words to this end do not apply to them. The reasoning they would give would involve classic 'hermeneutical moves': reading the text in context, asking questions about applicability to every time and place, comparing this text with other texts (which, in respect of this case, make presumptions about Christian disciples owning possessions and using them wisely etc).
There is more to say, but I need to stop for tonight!
Here's the thing. Supporters and proponents of Fulcrum, the evangelical Anglican website-cum-think tank, are often (in my reading) charged by conservatives as being 'open evangelicals', which in the codified world of evangelicalism means 'actually, liberal'. So one would be forgiven for predicting that Bishop James Jones' presidential address announcing a brave new world of ethical diversity in the Diocese of Liverpool would be cheerfully embraced by Fulcrum.
"The Presidential Address of the Bishop of Liverpool is a significant development in the evangelical and wider Anglican debates about sexuality. It draws attention to key questions and is driven by a passionate concern for unity and more Christ-like patterns of discussion. It is, however, seriously flawed in its response to these concerns, unconvincing in its arguments and offers a way forward that in reality threatens to create greater incoherence and division.
This response sketches Bishop James Jones’ journey over the last decade before demonstrating the flaws in his central argument that Anglicans should “accept a diversity of ethical convictions about human sexuality”. Both in what it says and in what it fails to say the address apparently marks a significant step away from the traditional biblical, evangelical and catholic understanding of sexuality and the church’s teaching and discipline in this area. The heart of his case is an appeal to differences between Christians over just war and pacifism. This argument is shown to be inadequate in various ways but most basically because an appeal to diversity on one ethical issue cannot justify diversity on a quite different ethical issue. Given its focus and central argument, it is particularly alarming that the address offers no engagement with Scripture or Christian tradition or Anglican teaching either in relation to sexuality or in its attempt to argue that ethical diversity in this area is legitimate. Although many of the practical implications of his argument for diversity remain rather vague it is clear that he is seeking to move the Church of England and the Communion away from its current position. In so doing he also makes a number of claims in passing that raise deeper theological questions about the nature of sin and grace and the relation of church and society.
In summary, the general position advocated is one which would move the Church of England away not only from its current teaching but also from its methodology of careful, rigorous engagement with the complexities of this subject rooted in Scripture, tradition and wider ecumenical reflections. What is being advocated instead is the sort of approach taken by the North American provinces which has moved from the seemingly uncritical (and theologically undefended) acceptance of a diversity of views on sexuality within a small part of Christ’s church to the inevitable abandonment of traditional teaching and discipline within the Anglican province and then to the marginalisation and exclusion of those who seek to uphold the biblical and traditional Christian sexual ethic. It is, sadly, for that reason, that the address is of such significance and concern and merits careful analysis, critique and engagement from the wider church, including others in episcopal leadership."
That's the summary of an erudite article by Andrew Goddard. Read it all here.
Some further reflection on +James Jones' presidential address to his synod, see links in post below:
On the whole I do not think an analogy between Christians holding different views on killing in war and Christians holding different views on homosexuality stacks up very well.
It works at this level: you and I are on a panel at a conference where we have opportunity to give our views on a range of ethical matters. It turns out, say, that I am pacifist and agin same sex partnerships being blessed in church, and you are militarist (i.e. agree that in certain circumstances Christians may engage in warfare) and pro such blessings. The next event in the conference is a communion service and we happily partake thereof, two Christians with diverse views united around one table.
It does not work at this level: you are my platoon commander in the middle of a war, just before launching a dawn raid I tell you that overnight I have come to the conviction that it is wrong to kill people in any circumstances, and could I please carry my rifle with the safety catch on? Rightly you tell me off, threaten court martial, and whatever else the military manual prescribes for such situations! On the front-line differing convictions re killing the enemy are not an option.
The question the Anglican Communion is engaged in is partly at the first level (abstract ethical discussions have their place) but mostly at the second level: can we engage in the same mission, the same spiritual warfare, the same front-line or coalface ministry with differing convictions about homosexuality?
The answer is not necessarily 'yes' or 'no'. To return to the military situation: in some contexts of war it has worked to have the militarists as soldiers and the pacifists manning the ambulances. But what that might mean analogously to the church today re homosexuality is not immediately clear to me.
In short: +Jones may be admired for his honesty, but not applauded for the flawlessness of his argument.
As Ruth Gledhill reports, Colin Coward of Changing Attitude thinks this is wonderful. But quickly out of the starting blocks are a number of evangelical Anglicans in England who do not think this is wonderful: Peter Ould (yes, he is brother to David Ould who has been commenting here), Stephen Trott, Charles Raven and John Richardson.
John Richardson, I suggest, points towards the most substantive challenge to the analogy +Jones seeks to draw.
One shared theme in opposition to +Jones is his neat skirting of the particular challenge of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: the issue is not simply whether we can get along with each other, but includes the question of whether same sex sexual activity excludes participants from the kingdom of God.
But weaknesses are present in evangelical responses. I put them as questions to consider:
(a) is it clear cut that the teaching of the Bible is against people of the same gender loving each other in a faithful, stable, permanent partnership?
(b) is it essential to orthodoxy that no variations in interpretation of biblical teaching on homosexuality are permitted within the framework of orthodoxy?
(c) is it necessarily the case that a church which includes variations in understanding of biblical teaching on homosexuality will end up persecuting those who believe that the only right context for sexual fulfilment between two people is marriage between a man and a woman?
For a long time the church has held the belief that physical discipline of children is right, proper, and supported by Scripture ('spare the rod and spoil the child'). Fearful beatings have been handed out by parents to their children through the centuries. Of course a lot of this would have been 'cultural' in the sense that every parent did this, irrespective of religious commitment or understanding of the text of Scripture. A general hesitancy to use physical discipline today, or to at least use it sparingly, or to use it lightly (just a smack, no birching or caning) is also 'cultural' in a number of ways: social attitudes, if not laws of the land inhibit, if not prohibit physical discipline of children. But it also represents among Christians a shift in thinking: the key verse with regard to discipline is no longer 'spare the rod and spoil the child'. We have sidelined it, even though nearly two thousand years of 'the church's understanding' lies against this sidelining.
Except some Christians have not sidelined it. This verse lies at the heart of a vicious, even murderous system of child rearing in the name of God. Read here and follow the links, or go directly to here for a chilling, mind numbing account of the danger of reading the Bible without regard for factors such as reasonableness of human behaviour.
My point here with respect to the general line of this blog on human dignity is that appeals to 'the church's longheld understanding' have value in hermeneutical arguments, but limited value. Of itself the tradition of the church does not trump Scripture or reason. Each traditional understanding of the church needs careful weighing as to its merits.
This argument against the ordination of women to positions presbyteral and episcopal (my italics):
" First of all, it was perhaps providential that she resigned from her offices on the day of St. Matthias, the man who was chosen to replace Judas. Important are these words in Acts 1: "For it is written in the Book of Psalms, May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it; and Let another take his office [episkopee, same word use for bishopric]. So one of the men [andres, males] who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us - one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection." All apostles, thus, ought to be males; accordingly, all pastors ought to be males as well. This is what God's Word here and elsewhere teaches. Therefore, even though Dr. Käßmann had occupied her episcopal office for over ten years and women's ordination is seen by many in the Protestant church as normal, it bears repeating that she should not have held this office in the first place. What is more, not only did she hold this office illegitimately, she also, during her tenure as bishop, ensured that those objecting to women's ordination would not be allowed to enter into the ministry in the first place. The fact that this totally unscriptural practice did not cause an outcry in Germany and around the world speaks volumes about the level of indifference and ignorance regarding the deformation of an institution of the Lord of the church."
I am intrigued first by the leaps in logic: replacement apostle = male, therefore all apostles ought to be males; therefore all pastors ought to be males. It words smoothly, this argument, but jars logically. The revised Twelve ought to be male does not mean all apostles should be male (remember Junia?). Apostles have successors, true (Paul, for example, invested a lot in Timothy); but arguments abound about who their successors are (catholic/Catholic/Orthodox/Anglican tradition posits bishops as their successors; but other denominations propose different offices); so it is stretching things to conclude therefore all pastors ought to be male.
Right, in this instance, I won't take any comments re the general arguments for and against the ordination of women (we have had a good go at that over at Anglican Down Under) but I will take comments on 'leaps of logic' in the interpretation of Scripture, especially comments that can cite other examples ... on any topic of interest in the Bible.
Part of 'due diligence' is attention to the logic of any argument ...
Recently I posted on women-and-ordination on Anglican Down Under. Some very long threads ensued. Perhaps I should have posted here. But here I do want to offer the observation that there is much to be gained from doing due diligence on what Scripture says and how we understand what we think it is saying. By 'due diligence' I mean painstaking, careful reading and reflection informed as far as possible by excellent and detailed scholarship. It is easy to slide from initial reading to proclaimed conclusion without examining steps in the reasoning process along the way. It worries me, however, that across the whole of our church at this time that we are neither ready for, nor aware of how much due diligence is required on the matter of Scripture and human sexuality.
The Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) is on a journey of understanding in respect of Scripture and human sexuality. In August 2007 it held the first of three Hermeneutical Hui. It was an introduction to hermeneutics. The second was held in May 2009. It's topic was Scripture and Church. The third is likely to be held in 2010. It's topic will be Scripture and Human Sexuality.
During the second hui a point was made in a discussion between some evangelical Anglicans: we have not done work ourselves on how we understand the Bible in relation to homosexuality ... or marriage and divorce ... or, for that matter, the ordination of women.
We may organise some hui ourselves. In the meantime this blog may be of service in developing an evangelical hermeneutic 'Down Under' (Australians welcome too!).
Why a specifically 'evangelical' blog? Well, it's possible another site may be developed which will be a kind of 'whole of ACANZP' site. On such a site presumably everything will be up for discussion, and all perspectives will contribute. On this site I hope we will not have to debate matters on which evangelicals generally have a common understanding. Comments from other perspectives are very welcome - but posts from other perspectives will be directed towards this other proposed site. Out of the deliberations here I hope some good ideas will feed on to the larger site.
There will be no posts/comments accepted which are not in accordance with respecting 'the other person', whoever that may be, as one made in the image of God; similarly for posts/comments which make presumptions about the sins and failings of 'the other side'.
I will keep under review Anonymous comments. My preference is for commenters here to name themselves when simply discussing issues. Those wishing to talk about their experiences may have understandable reasons for remaining Anonymous.
If you wish to submit something to be posted, please let me know in a comment or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, a last word from our sponsor, Soren Kierkegaard,
"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."
We are guided by traditional interpretation: quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est (what is believed everywhere, always, by all) - Vincent of Lerins, d. 450.
We are wary of 'private judgement': it is more likely that the judgement of many scholars is correct than our own judgement as individuals.
We seek what the text meant when written and when incorporated into the canon of Scripture, and seek its meaning for today -both how we understand the text and how we might apply it.
We explore the world behind the text (the historical context in which the text was composed), the world within the text (the narrative world created by the text itself), and the world before the text (the world in which we as readers belong) in order to understand the text from multiple perspectives.
We read any text against the background of the whole of Scripture, seeking an understanding which is not contradictory of the remainder of Scripture; and seeking the light of Scripture as a whole to illuminate the understanding of its parts.
We acknowledge the role of our own cultural context affecting the way we read Scripture: like fish in water we may not be aware that other contexts for life exist in which there may be more light!