2008-06-30

ROWAN RESPONDS TO GAFCON

As usual, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has responded to GAFCON in a way that is more concise, more thoughtful, and more irenic than anything I could write. His statement brings up nearly every problem I noted in my blog about GAFCON, and then some (my meager article is posted below this one).

He is a brilliant, godly leader (but of course not without flaws, and huge eyebrows!). I hope all sides will listen to him, and work with him, before it is too late and this whole thing comes unhinged. You can read his entire statement below, or go to the communion website.
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GAFCON affirmations and rebuttals by ++Rowan Williams:

The Final Statement from the GAFCON meeting in Jordan and Jerusalem contains much that is positive and encouraging about the priorities of those who met for prayer and pilgrimage in the last week. The ‘tenets of orthodoxy’ spelled out in the document will be acceptable to and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans in every province, even if there may be differences of emphasis and perspective on some issues. I agree that the Communion needs to be united in its commitments on these matters, and I have no doubt that the Lambeth Conference will wish to affirm all these positive aspects of GAFCON’s deliberations. Despite the claims of some, the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism are not in dispute in the common life of the Communion

However, GAFCON’s proposals for the way ahead are problematic in all sorts of ways, and I urge those who have outlined these to think very carefully about the risks entailed.

A ‘Primates’ Council’ which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion. And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties, both theological and practical – theological because of our historic commitments to mutual recognition of ministries in the Communion, practical because of the obvious strain of responsibly exercising episcopal or primatial authority across enormous geographical and cultural divides.

Two questions arise at once about what has been proposed. By what authority are Primates deemed acceptable or unacceptable members of any new primatial council? And how is effective discipline to be maintained in a situation of overlapping and competing jurisdictions?

No-one should for a moment impute selfish or malicious motives to those who have offered pastoral oversight to congregations in other provinces; these actions, however we judge them, arise from pastoral and spiritual concern. But one question has repeatedly been raised which is now becoming very serious: how is a bishop or primate in another continent able to discriminate effectively between a genuine crisis of pastoral relationship and theological integrity, and a situation where there are underlying non-theological motivations at work? We have seen instances of intervention in dioceses whose leadership is unquestionably orthodox simply because of local difficulties of a personal and administrative nature. We have also seen instances of clergy disciplined for scandalous behaviour in one jurisdiction accepted in another, apparently without due process. Some other Christian churches have unhappy experience of this problem and it needs to be addressed honestly.

It is not enough to dismiss the existing structures of the Communion. If they are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise solutions that may seem to be effective for some in the short term but will continue to create more problems than they solve. This challenge is one of the most significant focuses for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference. One of its major stated aims is to restore and deepen confidence in our Anglican identity. And this task will require all who care as deeply as the authors of the statement say they do about the future of Anglicanism to play their part.

The language of ‘colonialism’ has been freely used of existing patterns. No-one is likely to look back with complacency to the colonial legacy. But emerging from the legacy of colonialism must mean a new co-operation of equals, not a simple reversal of power. If those who speak for GAFCON are willing to share in a genuine renewal of all our patterns of reflection and decision-making in the Communion, they are welcome, especially in the shaping of an effective Covenant for our future together.

I believe that it is wrong to assume we are now so far apart that all those outside the GAFCON network are simply proclaiming another gospel. This is not the case; it is not the experience of millions of faithful and biblically focused Anglicans in every province. What is true is that, on all sides of our controversies, slogans, misrepresentations and caricatures abound. And they need to be challenged in the name of the respect and patience we owe to each other in Jesus Christ.

I have in the past quoted to some in the Communion who would call themselves radical the words of the Apostle in I Cor.11.33: ‘wait for one another’. I would say the same to those in whose name this statement has been issued. An impatience at all costs to clear the Lord’s field of the weeds that may appear among the shoots of true life (Matt.13.29) will put at risk our clarity and effectiveness in communicating just those evangelical and catholic truths which the GAFCON statement presents.

© Rowan Williams

GAFCON: Saving the Church one Acronym at a time?


For those of you who may not know, or may not care, what GAFCON is: It is an acronym for "Global Anglican Futures CONference". It is another in a long line of acronym-agencies (such as the AMiA, the AAC, CANA, and others) which were put together to separate "orthodox" Anglicans from the "apostate" Episcopal Church of the USA.

It was a conference consisting of over 1000 Anglicans, with 250+ bishops, from around the Anglican Communion, which was held in Jerusalem. Its purpose was to put together a plan for the Re-formation of the Anglican Communion, centering around Anglican bishops from the Global South, and their unique Anglo-Protestant brand of Christian "orthodoxy".

I put "orthodoxy" in quotes, not because I doubt that GAFCON is Biblical or Christian, but because their version of "orthodox" differs in significant ways from older Christian communions which have a better claim to "orthodoxy" (notably the Roman Catholic and/or Eastern Orthodox churches). It would be an interesting theological project for the members of GAFCON to provide a theological justification for how they can significantly revise older versions of Christian Orthodoxy, while at the same time claiming to be more "orthodox" than those who would seek to revise the Anglo-Protestant "orthodoxy" represented by GAFCON.

2008-06-20

THE BIBLE I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED

For all the Scripture snobs and Greek geeks out there:

I know you know the feeling. You get a new Bible, and use it for a couple of months, and then you are aware of all its foibles and inconsistencies. So, you go and buy another study Bible. And the same thing happens. And the addictive cycle happens over and over and over.

It's even worse when you are competent with the original languages, because you do not feel like you have really "read" Scripture until you have translated at least part of your reading out of the original text. And to do that, you have to have a separate original language NT or OT (or both!). Or you have to have an interlinear (which, by the way, can be very useful, but it can also be incredibly easy to cheat and just read the English text below the Greek).

So, you wind up carrying 2-3 Bibles with you in your knapsack (which can harm your spine over time, and make you look like the obsessive-compulsive Bibliophile you really are to everyone who sees inside your pack). Or you do something even more OCD: You bind together several Bibles into one volume, thus creating the dreaded "FrankenBible". OK, so maybe YOU wouldn't do it, but I did. I actually bound together a Greek English NT with a NRSV OT and Apocrypha, and then created 125 page introduction with topical resources and Book introductions. It is huge! So huge, in fact, it is quite hard to pull in and out of my pack, or fit other books around. And it isn't even my favorite English translation. The English Standard Version is.

So, dissatisfied with all of the options thus far, I decided to do something FAR more obsessive-compulsive. I decided to edit together and print my own Study Bible. Here are the parameters:

1. Since my daytimer and journal are in a standard 8.5" x 11" binder, and I take that binder with me on most occasions, the Bible had to measure 8.5" x 11" to snug up alongside the daytimer in my pack (not hard to do since paper is that size anyway).

2. It had to be less than 1.5 inches thick. Bigger than that, and it would weigh too much for carrying around on a regular basis. In terms of pages, that means that it had to be less than 300 pieces of paper or so (at the paper weight of 20-22 lb paper). That means that the total pages for the Bible would have to be 600 or less (since 2 pages are printed, front-and-back, on each piece of paper).

3. It had to have Greek-English parallel text for the New Testament. Having side-by-side text gives you just enough help to remind you what a Greek word is when you are rusty, but not so much help that you can completely cheat while reading Greek (like an Interlinear Bible).

4. At least part of the OT must have Hebrew-English parallel text, especially the Psalms. I read at least a Psalm a day, so it would be a good thing to have the Hebrew side-by-side to read a couple of verses in Hebrew on a daily basis.

On the other hand, a full-on parallel Hebrew-English OT would make the entire Bible too long (about 700-750 pages total). So, what I did was make the entire Psalter parallel, and then a scattering of my other favorite passages parallel.

5. It had to use the ESV text as the principal English text (although I did modify some passages where the translation is squirrely dealing with gender issues).

6. It had to have "the rest of the Bible that the Protestants threw out". So, I included the Catholic Deuterocanonicals in the NRSV version, ordered according to the Roman Catholic canonical ordering.

I know this could turn into a huge discussion, but basically I believe the Deuterocanonicals are fully as canonical as the rest of the OT, and were used up to the Reformation uniformly. Anglican and Episcopal lectionaries have always included Deuterocanonical readings (especially from the book of Wisdom!). Practically, I do not think any of the Deuterocanonicals present difficulties greater than the ideological problems we already find in the Hebrew OT (cf. the Jihad of Joshua, the pessimism of Ecclesiastes, the polygamy of Song of Songs, and the political "spin" of the Samuels, Kings, and Chronicles). And theologically, I think the Protestant willingness to revise the Canon of Scripture in the 1500's has led to a theological trajectory where Protestant revisionists of the 1800-2000's have been willing to revise EVERYTHING canonical about the Christian faith. Thus, as a small step at reversing the trajectory: I include the books in my canon.

7. It had to include my favorite maps and charts from the NIV Study Bible, the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (5 vol.), the New International Dictionary of the Bible, and the New Bible Atlas. All of the texts, charts, and maps were imported from Bibleworks ™, Zondervan Pradis ™, and Libronix ™ Bible software packages.

8. It had to have Bible book introductions that were short enough to jog the memory on dates, authorship, historical context, and major themes, WHILE at the same time taking seriously critical study of the Bible, WHILE at the same time taking seriously Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures, WHILE at the same time dealing with the Deuterocanonicals as well.

Thus, I used the Book introductions from the New American Bible. They fit all the criteria above AND they are available online: http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/

9. It had to include a number of charts I have developed myself, including my summary chart of the Seven Ecumenical Councils as a guide to Biblical interpretation.

Thus, at the end of the NT I have included a "Canonical Outline of the Faith" which includes a summary of the issues and solutions offered by the 7 ecumenical councils, a swell as the Nicene, Chalcedonian, and Apostle's Creeds in three languages (Greek, Latin, English). Finally, I have included my own "mini-systematic" theological-Scriptural outline based on the Creed.

10. So, I edited it all together. First, I exported the Bible texts from Bibleworks software into an excel spreadsheet, where I combined the text with the outline of Scripture found in Bibleworks software. Then I mail-merged the text into a series of Word documents, so the Bible text was formatted the way I wanted them. Then I created a series of publisher files for the final formatting and parallel-texting. After that, I exported it all into adobe pdf's. Then I printed them at Kinko's, bound them into a book, and put a cover on it!

I have posted it online. Since I own everything in them through buying the software, or have used free sources, they are legal copies of what is legally mine: And I am NOT selling this Bible [I say all of that for copyright reasons]. I am assuming, however, that downloading these files and printing them would be a violation of copyright. So I ask you please to not do this.

But, I do offer them as "fodder for the imagination" for people who might want to construct a Bible like this (or for Bible companies who might want to produce a product like this with a FULL Hebrew-English OT!).

You can find the pdf files here (the OT is 17 mb, and the NT is 14 mb):

Old Testament:
http://canter.s437.sureserver.com/teaching/NSB-1_OT.pdf

New Testament:
http://canter.s437.sureserver.com/teaching/NSB-2_NT.pdf

And just "The Canonical Faith" outline:
http://canter.s437.sureserver.com/teaching/The_Canonical_Faith.pdf

It is finally the Bible I have always wanted. Have fun!

NT Wright on The Colbert Report

WOW!

My favorite bishop, NT Wright, was on my favorite comedian's show, The Colbert Report.

This is no coincidence. This must be a sign of the end of the Ages.

This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.