Thinking Anglicans

this week's columns

Christopher Howse in the Daily Telegraph has Rowan Williams on the side of the angels.

Shelina Zahra Janmohamed writes the Face to Faith column in the Guardian and blogs at Spirit21.

The Times Credo column is written by Roderick Strange.

From the Church Times Giles Fraser writes about film-making in Quarter of a million well spent.

From the Tablet Austen Ivereigh writes about irregular migrants in Plight of the shadow people.

From the Spectator The new religious right by James Forsyth.

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Erika BakerNPGöran Koch-SwahneFord ElmsMynsterpreost (=David Rowett) Recent comment authors
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Cheryl Clough
Guest

Howse’s article interested me. One of the things that piqued my interest when researching the lost Apocrypha was what had been removed. Most people know of my contempt for the removal of Susanna as it gave vulnerables the precedent to protect themselves from collusive predators that would molest them. It is also interesting to see texts removed that acknowledged angels taking on human form to assist souls e.g. the book of Enoch. Yet acknowledgements of angels and higher beings are made in the bible, the prayer book, and Jewish texts. Sometimes I think souls like to gloss over the permeability… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

This quote in Forsyth’s article amused me, where Huckabee apparently has declared that, “Until Moses comes down with two stone tablets from Brokeback Mountain saying he’s changed the rules, let’s keep it like it is.” My retort would be that even if Moses did come down with the two stone tablets, they would deny it was Moses or dispute that they were THE two stone tablets. No soul is more blind that the one who refuses not to see.

Pluralist
Guest

As regards Roderick Strange’s comment in the Credo comment of the times for every “intelligent” person – er… Yes I have, yes I do, and it gets more tangled the more it goes on.

Pluralist
Guest

The Church Times includes a report which highlights how the evangelical world is starting to eat itself as a result of all this penal substitution “stuff” (to use an episcopal word). We have, in the extremist corner, Wallace Benn allied with The Word Alive and Christian Unions splitting from, in the extremist corner, Peter Broadbent of Spring Harvest, because Spring Harvest invites an evangelical Baptist minister and media man Steve Chalke to speak. Then we have the diatribe of “I could write even more on this” Tom Wright saying how unbiblical is the Principal to be of Oak Hill theological… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Pluralist – you seem pleased to see what you think is great disunity?

Anyway, see the Church Times for +Wright’s easy defence of PSA from the weak attack it came under recently.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

This is sad. I was looking forward to a good discussion about the book of Enoch. http://reluctant-messenger.com/enoch.htm It is clear that the apostle Paul considered Enoch was judged with respect “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5) The other thing that interests me about this book is that Enoch put forward a petition on behalf of the fallen angels, which might have failed, but Enoch is… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Dear Cheryl,

Hebrews is not a letter nor by Paul. It is an Alexandrian 2nd century treatise. No one in the Early Church thought it was by Paul, except possibly Clement of Alexandria (!) who added a pauline letter ending to “prove” his case…

;=)

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Hi Göran,
I’m still very confused about your fascinating posts. If Hebrews is not a Pauline letter it should not be used to determine Pauline theology.

But apart from that – does the fact that it was a 2nd century treatise, possibly partly written with the intention of making it sound Pauline, any real implication for how we should understand it?

Sorry if I sound dense!

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I think so. There is the small trifle of truth, you know…

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Hebrews should be read as the great and isolated Alexandrian letter that it is. Remember that the various collections of scriptures that were brought together over 1000 years to form the different post Renaissance NTs, came from different parts of the Church, expressing the varying and sometimes competing theologies of competing Patriarchates/Nations. The 4 gospels of the one Gospel are n o t synoptic; they tell much the same events in much the same order (with illuminating exceptions) but have d i f f e r e n t views. To Paul Christ is the Hilasterion in the Holiest of… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Göran, thank you for that. So if we agreed with the Early Church that Scripture if wide, we could still read the existing canon, believing it to have been put together over centuries by prayerful people with divine inspiration (leaving the odd political manouvering and posturing aside and trusting the Divine that it can find a way through our human schemings). Your comments then explain why there are contradictions and where they originate. But unless I assume that contradictions and human error immediately invalidate the deeper meaning of the writings, and that they smother the divine rather than allow it… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Leaving the Pastorals apart (which as early as the mid 2nd century present the absolute opposite to Paul’s teachings on Society, Church and State, women, slaves, Olympics, military service & c, as his own) the “problem” you refer to divides into two: 1. Integrism, or simply put the lumping together of various scriptural utterances to form new hitherto un-heard of “teachings”, “legitimizing” ancient heathen philosophy and gnosticism and/or latter day social and ecclesiastical politics, 2. Forged translations, from the late 12th century Parisian Versio vulgata onwards, putting these latter day State and Academy novelties into the sacred texts themselves (in… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

So I am warning against reading the Holy Scriptures in the plural un-wittingly as the Holy Scripture in the singular of Hellenism. My point is not what the NPs of this world say, that the Bible, or the Church , or Creation, or Christ or God should be painted in the light of a late modern socio-political agenda, but that this forging is in the past; 9th century, 12th century, 16th century, second half of the 20th century (“Dynamic Equivalence”), and that it is our duty to fight it and bring the Holy Scriptures of the Church back to Christ’s… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Göran, So we need to take all the added layers off and concentrate on the authentic “Christian Gospel”? And would you advocate removing all dynamic equivalence in favour of formal equivalence? That would certainly preserve your original texts better, but it would also keep them rooted in their culture and would make it difficult for us to find much contemporary meaning in them. Don’t you need a careful mixed approach? “Servitude to the Powers that be” sounds quite dramatic, and I’m sure the texts have often been abused and altered, by well meaning people as much as by political schemers.… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I don’t really think changing Idolatry to “sex”, or Disloyalty to “marriage breaking”, or Greed to “unchastity” is merely adding layers. It’s a different gospel. “Dynamic equivalence” is a Lie. Not even “and” is unambiguous, it may mean a host of things. As basically a historian I have is no use of a text if I don’t know both what the words may mean and what they cannot mean. Both are equally important. Distorting it in our image, or giving it the meaning of a 3rd or 4th language, only proves that we actually do not care what the Bible… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Göran, I still feel very helpless about this. I am not a historian, I don’t know any of the langugages of the old texts, and I certainly am not a biblical scholar. Your last sentence, “test everything against the Gospel”, implies that those texts have not been changed, that the alterations apply only to the rest of the NT. That would make it comparatively easy for someone like me. But if the Gospels too have been subject to manipulation – how is anyone supposed to read the Bible in a meaningful way? Do genuine, unchangend old texts still exist including… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

To start from the end… The elder the translation, the more reliable, in my experience. The Swed-ish 1526/1541 is infinitely better than any of the 20th century ones (and much closer to Greek language-wise). Modern translations are often worthless, especially when into “Dynamic Equivalence” (a sober-ing is on the way, as in the 2001 English Standard Version turning back to the traditional post scholastic errors/sexualizations – which, contrary to DE ones, are systematic and thus easy to spot ;=) Generally speaking, only ideologically un-interesting passages are still correctly translated, often carried on from the 2nd century North African, very reliable,… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

The 4 gospels were all added to early on. In reading they must be kept apart from one another. At Lund we were told, both at the Theological Institution and at Seminary, never to mix Marcan with Johannine theology, and so on. Mark, written for Rome, is the more original story gospel (the first stage being collections of words gospels such as the lat 2nd century Gnosticist Gospel of Thomas), arguing against earlier merely wonder-maker versions. I would date this to the 40ies, even. Follows Antiochene Dr Luke much into Herstory (might have been a lady ;=) John of Efesos… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Thatks, Göran!

“I still confidently say that the Holy Scriptures (always in the plural) of the Church, laboriously collected over centuries, contain all things necessary for Salvation but also things that may be detrimental, if mistaken for the real thing.”

To sumarise then – by their fruits shall you tell them! plus ça change…

Thanks for the fascinating explanations!

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Goran,
I suspect this is what got you labelled “not Christian” on T19. I mean, to suggest that the Divine Dictation might actually have been corrputed along the way is a huge challenge. The whole basis of sola scriptura is that the “traditions of men” can be, and were, corrupted. To even hint the same for the written word is to take away their only other source of authority, and this means there is no-one to tell them how to get to play in the Heavenly Playground after they die. Ah, well, what are you going to do?

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

What tickles me (and did Barr 30 years ago) is the insistence of some on the incorruptibility of Scripture despite the textual apparatus beneath any critical edition….

The usual get out, of course, is ‘as originally given’. It takes only a picosecond to realise that once a ConsEv trots out that argument they’ve given in to everything they accuse non-ConsEvs of falling prey to.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I think What’shisname meant Merseymike, really.

(not that it makes the thing less stupid ;=)

“Ah, well, what are you going to do?”

Just now; 2 more glasses of whine and a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow I’ll add a few things.

’til then!

NP
Guest
NP

Ford, you can carry on mocking those who want to stick to the authority of scripture…..but what convincing alternative do you propose?

pseudo-intellectual nordic musings?

please do not lean on VGR’s ideas for your authority

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“what convincing alternative do you propose?” The tradition of the first 1500 years of Christianity. Sola Scriptura was not how the Apostles nor the Church that followed them saw their Scriptures. Just because traditional Scriptural interpretation gets things wrong sometimes doesn’t mean we have to jettison it. God will correct our errors in his own time. Sola scriptura gets it wrong too: God hates parts of His Creation and we can too, the Son is subordinate to the Father in the Trinity, salvery was justified, slavery was not justified, the world is flat, prosperity Gospel, all these points have been… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Ford – you talk as if the Reformers made up the idea…..but I know you are aware of why they asserted the authority of scripture (based on, among other things, the writing of St Paul and the words of JC) …….. it is not “innovation” to say to a corrupt church that its tradition is not right and that scripture has higher authority (not now and not when the Reformers had to do it – the whole point was that they were not making up a religion but reforming a corrupt church and taking it back to the truth)

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“reforming a corrupt church and taking it back to the truth” Taking it back to the Truth as they defined it as being based solely on Scripture. I’m interested in how you understand us to have gotten Scripture. I recently read How We Got the Bible, by Neil Lightfoot. It seems written for a higih school readership, but made some interesting points. I was fascinated by the way he acknowledged that it was the Church that was able to sort out which of the available writings were Scripture and which weren’t using exactly the same argument I would use, but… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Sorry for the double post, but NP, how do you deal with the issue that many seemingly contradictory things, and many things inconsistent with the Gospel can be “proven” from Scripture? I gave you a short list, you didn’t seem to notice it.

NP
Guest
NP

Hi Ford – sorry if I have missed points you made – very busy this week (off to India this weekend) Apostles had authority – given to them so I can accept an apostle saying I can have a bacon sandwich and I can accept St Paul saying to Timothy that he must stick to scripture even when false teaching is in the church. “Innovation” is fine if strongly based – my problem with TEC is that it wants the AC to accept innovation which is directly contradicting scripture…..I am afraid I will only be happy with TEC’s innovation if… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

The answer to the accusation that the traditions of men are un-reliable is, of course, that there has been, since very early on, a death penalty for forgery, but no corresponding one for a week memory… In fact, traditions are reliable. Documents are not. Collections many times the biblical format have survived more or less unscathed for quite as long. On the other hand, for whoever wants to, documents are easy to change; which is why the Mazorets didn’t want to “correct” even “obvious” errors and omissions. It’s only the Way of the World… Indeed what is fascinating about these… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Goran – well done on getting a degree. Quite funny reading Andrew Brown’s article. The Guardian’s correspondents get things wrong so frequently…..eg painting the choice in the AC as one between Akionla or the ABC. It is the ABC and the other AC Primates (including the double-minded KJS) who have given TEC a deadline of Sept 30 to get in line or walk apart….the choice is for TEC and not for the AC(first error of Brown) and the choice is either to follow TEC’s innovations or follow the AC’s agreed line……but I am sure the lefty readership of the Guardian… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Göran,
there must have been a software problem and my comment never got through, but I had particularly wanted to thank you for your wonderful last post.