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'.
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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!