Wednesday, 16 February 2011


"I don't think anybody takes everything [in the Bible] completely literally," she said. "The tension is more around which parts are more important. I think Anglicanism -- the Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican tradition -- Anglicanism at its best has said that the wisdom of community is important in interpreting Scripture. One's rational capacity, reason, is important in interpreting Scripture. We can't just read it and understand what it means. For one thing, most of us don't read in the original languages. And meanings of words have changed over the centuries," she said.

As an example, she said, in Shakespeare's time, the word "nice" meant "stupid," from the root for "to not know," unlike today's definition of "agreeable" or "pleasant."
"We have to use the best scholarship in reading the Bible," she said. "The questions are different in different ages. Christians in the western context today are asking questions about human sexuality that people weren't asking 300 years ago. They were asking questions about what it means to be in right relationship with their kings or the government, and we're focused on a different set of questions today."
TEC Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts-Schori

"..The Anglican tradition  has continued to be a kind of triangle, a kind of balance between the appeals to Scripture, tradition and reason. And it is possible for the three sides of that triangle to pull apart. Inevitably  there have been within the Anglican churches those who have specially emphasised the appeal to Scripture, and have not bothered very much about the ancient Fathers . There have been those who have appealed strongly to ancient tradition, but might have paid a little more attention to Holy Scripture, and perhaps a little more attention to reason as well. There have been those who, concentrating upon the activity of God in reason, have not been quite as sensitive as they might be to what is revealed in Holy Scripture and contemptuous of traditions as something that old men used to think many, many centuries ago...." 
Archbishop Michael Ramsey

And this, from Canon Arthur Middleton,  is as good a summing-up as anything I've read of the classical Anglican position:

"Scripture became the self-evident basis but because the Bible without the Church becomes a mere collection of ancient documents, Scriptural interpretation depends on the appeal to antiquity as mutually inclusive. Anglicanism maintained the Catholic notion of a perfect union between the Church and Scripture in that the Church’s authority is not distinct from that of Scripture but rather that they are one. Anglican divinity has an ecclesial context in which the Church bears witness to the truth not by reminiscence or from the words of others, but from its own living, unceasing experience, from its Catholic fullness that has its roots in the Primitive Church. This appeal is not merely to history but to a charismatic principle, tradition, which together with Scripture contains the truth of divine revelation, a truth that lives in the Church. In this spirit Anglican divines looked to the Fathers as interpreters of Scripture. The 1571 Canons authorize preachers to preach nothing but what is found in Holy Scripture and what the ancient Fathers have collected from the same, ensuring that the interpretation of Scripture is consistent with what Christians have believed always, everywhere and by all."
So, just to make it clear to those who have accused this blog of being "anti-anglican," my problem remains with those who have no real understanding of the often uneasy coexistence of the traditions within Anglicanism, and who therefore, regardless of the probable consequences, by forcing by less than scrupulous means their own partial and partisan interpretations on their own ecclesial body, have - not always unwittingly - contributed both to its disintegration and destruction, and its complete inability to plot a serious and consistent course in the search for Christian unity.
Of course, the issues now confronting Anglicans always had the capacity to blow apart a less than theologically coherent and cohesive body of believers. It's more the way it has happened.........

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