Friday, 7 October 2005

General Synod elections

I’ve now collected most of the Synod election results. The missing results are

Armed Services
Bath and Wells (clergy)
Carlisle
Chester (Chester archdeaconry laity)
Exeter
Gloucester
Newcastle
Norwich
Ripon and Leeds (laity)
Salisbury (laity)
Sodor & Man
Truro
Winchester (laity)
Channel Islands
London University
Other Universities (Southern)
Other Universities (Northern)

If you have any of the missing results please email them to me here.

People will be trying to analyze the new Synod. Here is an attempt by Church Society to do this for the diocesan bishops and an analysis by their general secretary David Phillips.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 7 October 2005 at 3:05pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: General Synod
Comments

Interested to see on the church Soc site a "new" churchmanship---Revisionist. We`better let Ministry Division know, its not on the form they have to fill in at the end of training regarding churchmanship. perry Butler.London

Posted by: Perry Butler on Friday, 7 October 2005 at 4:09pm BST

A slightly more conservative Synod than the last one would be my assessment. The new Synod is smaller, but most of the conservatives remain, leaving them as a higher proportion of the whole.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Friday, 7 October 2005 at 5:09pm BST

OOooh, looks like I'm a liberal !!! Well, a liberal/open evangelical - if I compare my theological position with the good Bishops named.

The figures on the HoB's composition support the view that it is heavily squewed compared to the churchmanship and theological positions of the average church member! Some of those Affirming Catholics should step down to get a more representative balance in the House.

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 7 October 2005 at 5:53pm BST

Amazing Church Soc categories. Good evangelicals are 'put down'/marked down as liberal or liberal/evangelical.
I could readily categorize a couple of others but won't bother.

Posted by: Ken Sawyer on Saturday, 8 October 2005 at 11:00am BST

Site not worth a light. What it actually says is "everyone who doesn't agree with me on the ordination of women is a liberal"(George Cassidy? Graham Dow? Mike Hill? Michael Nazir Ali? Liberal?) Beggars belief!

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Monday, 10 October 2005 at 2:47pm BST

Pete,
David Phillips doesn't call anyone a 'liberal' but rather 'liberal evangelical' or 'liberal catholic' or 'traditional Anglo-Catholic' or 'revisionist'. I do not think this qualified description is unfair, given the absence of anyone like Wallace Benn, a traditional 'conservative evangelical' on women's ordination. I guess the preferred term of choice is 'Open Evangelical' but that may be a bit loaded, since 'open' is the opposite of 'closed' (as in 'Open' and 'Closed Brethren') and is a comparatively new term, while the terms 'conservative' and 'liberal evangelical' have been around for decades. (Of course, the term 'liberal evangelical' once denoted the kind of low church moderate liberalism of Bryan Rees and Holy Trinity Brompton in the 1950s, in contrast to Stott and All Souls.) Isn't it the case that the 'open evangelicals' of today are liberal in some areas of interpretation, e.g. on women's ordination? The argument would go something like this: 'The New Testament doesn't example women in church leadership and neither does church tradition, but we can trace a trajectory from other NT teachings that make this development legitimate.'
I don't think it would be unfair to call this interpretative approach 'liberal', although the word 'liberal' does carry a lot of baggage today which makes it unappealing to many. But these are the views Phillips calls 'revisionist', meaning taking a radically questioning approach to the Bible and the Christian tradition, like Spong and Holloway, who would accuse 'open evangelicals' and their catholic confreres of inconsistency and timidity.
The tough question for people who would call themselves 'evangelical' is 'Where do you draw the line?' Look at the pro-gay group called 'Accepting Evangelicals' led by Bernie Hazelwood. By any historical use of the word 'evangelical' with regard to Scripture, how could anyone call that 'evangelical'? And if you argue strongly for women's ordination, are you not required, by precisely the same logic, to conclude that some gay relations ('permanent, faithful') must also be accepted? May it not be only a matter of time before people argue:
'1. We thought divorce was unbiblical but we've had to be realistic.
2. Experience teaches us that the Holy Spirit is leading women to be priests (and now bishops).
3. Experience now teaches us that some gay relations are blessed by God.'
Actually, this is not an imaginary scenario; it is precisely what has happened in Western Anglicanism since about 1960. What is new is that people who claim the title 'evangelical' (because they grew up in that sub-culture, perhaps) are beginning to repeat the same arguments of older theological liberalism.
So I think there may be a bit more to Phillips' taxonomy than initially meets the eye. An American academic and a traditional high church Anglican, 'Professor I'd Rather Not Say' who runs a blog called 'RatherNotBlog' has an archive called 'Letters to Georgina' in which he examines this very troubling question.

Posted by: Mark Beaton on Tuesday, 11 October 2005 at 7:20pm BST

I suppose compared to the Church Society, just about everyone else is liberal.

Personally, I'm proud to be a revisionist - of course revision is needed!

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 12 October 2005 at 12:45am BST

Merseymike, it depends on whose 'vision' is used. How do you know that your spiritual eyesight is better than those you disagree with? Your assertions can sound quite pontifical. Jesus warned against the blind leaders of the blind, meaning there is self-deception (the worship of the ego) as well as a truer perception (being in the light). Isn't it more faithful to Christ to be humbler about our own grasp of things and to be ready to admit that we might be wrong?

Posted by: Mark Beaton on Wednesday, 12 October 2005 at 10:15am BST

Just like those conservatives with regard to sexuality and the interpretation of the Bible, Mark??!

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 12 October 2005 at 6:29pm BST

Merseymike, the labels 'conservative' and 'liberal' don't particularly bother me, because I like to think I am 'conservative' on some things and 'liberal' on others; but if I hold to a certain position, it should be because I think it is objectively true, not because I like it. My 'conservative' faith tells me lots of things about myself which I certainly don't like. If I could be shown that my understanding of the Bible was mistaken, I hope I would be honest enough to change my thinking. But that is different from saying the Bible itself is mistaken in many respects - not just about history and science but also about God and morality. That's what I understand 'revisionists' (in Phillip's terminology) and stronger kinds of 'liberals' to be saying. My belief in the authority of the Bible really boils down to this: because I believe that is the view that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself had about the Bible. If Jesus said the Bible is the Word of God and quoted it as such (Matthew 4:1-11) and 'the Scripture cannot be broken' (John 10:35), then as His disciple I have to obey Him. On the other hand, if the Bible isn't the Word of God, then Jesus was wrong to say so. And if Jesus was just a man and not God, then I see no necessary reason to believe He was correct in this.
So, my approach to the question you raise is as follows:
1. Jesus, who is God's Son, taught that the Bible is the Word of God (i.e., revealed and true).
2. As His disciple I accept this teaching and must be prepared (as far as I am able) to wrestle with any intellectual problems posed by this. Incidentally, this includes far more interesting questions than 'sexuality'.
3. Commitment to the truth of the Bible doesn't mean prior commitment to the truth of a *particular interpretation*. I could be wrong about that, so I need to develop my skills as an interpreter and learn from other teachers. But if a passage or group of passages seem clear enough and there is general agreement about this, then I do feel obligated to accept this.

Obviously, this is very different from the approach that says, 'The Bible does say X - but X is wrong.' So I don't think the issue is primarily about the interpretation of Scripture but its truthfulness (truth being the only authority in the end).

Posted by: Mark Beaton on Wednesday, 12 October 2005 at 7:55pm BST

Mark Beaton wrote: "If Jesus said the Bible is the Word of God and quoted it as such (Matthew 4:1-11) and "the Scripture cannot be broken' (John 10:35b)"

You must be referring to another passage because there is no such thing in Matt 4:1-11. Moreover, John 10:35b says: ou dunatai luthenai h grafe; the scripture cannot be dissolved.

So it's not "broken".

So unless there is precisely a "prior commitment to the truth of a *particular interpretation*" with accompanying changes in the translation - such as "broken" instead of "dissolved" - your statement that "Jesus ... taught that the Bible is the Word of God (i.e., revealed and true)" doesn't stand.

Also the oft-quoted alias 2 Tim 3:16-17 says:

All God-inspired scripture (is) also useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, for díscipline in righteousness, so that the man "who belongs to" God may be equipped for all good works and ready.

Which does not say that a l l scripture is God-inspired, even less "revealed" and "true", only that a l l God-inspired scripture is useful for teaching.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 13 October 2005 at 6:41pm BST

It is hard to imagine that the author of 2 Timothy was referring to his own letter as Scripture! It is also obvious that the various writings that Christians have regarded as Scripture are frequently self contradictory on the most obvious reading -- clearly some interpretation has always been required. Also, I think many reputable Scripture scholars (not just members of the Jesus Seminar) would question whether we have the "ipsima verba" of Jesus in the Gospels (especially John & especially if our Lord spoke Aramaic rather than Greek). Proof-texting can seem to make things simpler but actually makes them more complicated.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 14 October 2005 at 1:57am BST

David Phillips is quoted in the Church Times today as saying:

"I don’t feel overall that the conservative Evangelical presence is diminished. Some have lost and others gained places — from that point of view, there doesn’t seem to have been a lot of change," ...

Given his definitions, this is slightly surprising, since he himself was not re-elected.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 14 October 2005 at 8:48am BST

Goran, my words were a bit concise and possibly elliptical, so let me explain.
1. In His confrontation with the devil in Matt 4.1-11, Jesus repeatedly said 'It is written ..' ('gegraptai'), quoting Deuteronomy as authoritative and binding on Himself (Jesus applied the words of Scripture to Himself, not to the devil). Every commentator agrees that He did so because He treated these words as God's words, and not merely a human composition.
2. In His confrontations with the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus often argued about the true meaning of Scripture, but never about its authority. See, for example, Matt 11:10; 12:3-12; 13:14; 15:8-9; 19:4; 21:16; 21:42; 22:42; 26:13. If I had the space and time, I would cite 200 passages from the Gospels of how Jesus used the Scriptures; however, these are all collected in a little book called 'Christ and the Bible' (1972) by John Wenham. From this, two conclusions emerge:
a. without exception, Jesus treated the Scriptures as true, authoritative and of divine origin, given through human agents.
b. Jesus claimed to give the true or final meaning of the Scriptures (seeing them as pointing to Himself and the reception given to His words and mission).
Anyway, I encourage you to get and read Wenham's book. John Goldingay says something similar in his 1994 book 'Models of Scripture' but doesn't follow through the implications of this.
Of course, it might be held that Jesus was mistaken in believing the Scriptures were the Word of God, and this averred by those who hold to a kenotic or adoptionist ('only human')Christology (which I don't).
3. The translation given of John 10:35b is a common one in English versions (RSV, NRSV, NIV, ESV). I don't know any Swedish, so don't know how it is rendered in your native tongue, but 'cannot be broken' is an acceptable rendering of 'ou dunatai luthenai' in contemporary English. At the same time, your suggestion 'cannot be dissolved' seems fine to me as well, as it means pretty much the same ('luo' = 'to loose or break up').
4. I didn't say anything about 2 Tim 3:16-17, but it's worth pointing out that 'theopneustos' doesn't mean 'God-inspired' but 'breathed out by God', i.e. having its origin in God.

Prior Aelred: if we follow your preference for certain trends in Gospel criticism in the 20th century, then we might as well admit there is very little we can say with confidence about Jesus at all. If the Gospels are not 'what Jesus said and did' but what 'Matthew' etc 'said he said' etc, then we will be constantly revising our opinions of what to believe, or maybe never coming to any conclusion. Think of Bultmann, followed by Kasemann, followed by Theissen, followed by Funk, followed by ...
Tom Wright (among others) has some good answers to this fruitless game of chasing one's own tail.

Posted by: Mark Beaton on Friday, 14 October 2005 at 9:52am BST

Mark Beaton wrote: In His confrontation with the devil in Matt 4.1-11, Jesus repeatedly said 'It is written...' ('gegraptai'), quoting Deuteronomy as authoritative and binding on Himself (Jesus applied the words of Scripture to Himself, not to the devil).

Im sorry, but the second does not follow from the first.

Mark Beaton wrote: Every commentator agrees that He did so because He treated these words as God's words, and not merely a human composition.

Funny that I’ve never heard anybody say this…

Mark Beaton wrote: From this, two conclusions emerge:
a. without exception, Jesus treated the Scriptures as true, authoritative and of divine origin, given through human agents.
b. Jesus claimed to give the true or final meaning of the Scriptures (seeing them as pointing to Himself and the reception given to His words and mission).

I repeat: unless there is precisely a "prior commitment to the truth of a *particular interpretation*" with accompanying changes in the translation – such as "broken" instead of "dissolved" – your statement that "Jesus ... taught that the Bible is the Word of God (i.e., revealed and true)" doesn't stand.

Your “conclusions” are precisely that kind of "prior commitment to the truth of a *particular interpretation*".

Mark Beaton wrote: Of course, it might be held that Jesus was mistaken in believing the Scriptures were the Word of God…

The mistake here is to ascribe to Jesus a late 2nd Millennium (post 1560) concept.

Jesus “claimed to give the true or final meaning of the Scriptures” (= OT), but it is we (the Church) who see them as pointing to him (Gospels of John, Matt, recapitulatio).

Mark Beaton wrote: 'cannot be broken' is an acceptable rendering of 'ou dunatai luthenai' in contemporary English. At the same time, your suggestion 'cannot be dissolved' seems fine to me as well, as it means pretty much the same ('luo' = 'to loose or break up').

Luo means dissolve, not break. The one is wet, the other dry. Unless one talks of a pontoon-bridge it is not the same language.

Mark Beaton wrote: I didn't say anything about 2 Tim 3:16-17, but it's worth pointing out that 'theopneustos' doesn't mean 'God-inspired' but 'breathed out by God', i.e. having its origin in God.

There is not “out” here. Pneustos literally means in-spired. Theopneustos means God-inspired.

“Having its origin in God” is an interpretation. A particular interpretation to make room for a contemporary Calvinist view of scripture.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 14 October 2005 at 1:51pm BST

Goran, you make a number of statements I don't understand, and several which I do, which are mistaken.
1. Read this essay by John Wenham, which explains 'Christ's View of the Old Testament' in huge detail: http://www.the-highway.com/Scripture_Wenham.html

You will find scores and scores of examples there of how Jesus considered the OT to be 'the Word of God'. One section deals specifically with the use of gegraptai in Matt 4.1-11 and pars.
2. We are not talking about a post-1560 concept; this view is very ancient, and is frequently exampled in John Chrysostom and Augustine ('What Scripture says, God says'), to name only two.
3. I refer you again to the common English translations (including NRSV) of John 10:35b. It isn't my translation but that of many scholars in the English-speaking world. 'luo' means (in the most basic sense) 'to loose' or 'undo', not 'to dissolve', which is an intensified form; and this native English speaker must tell you in any case that 'to dissolve' does NOT have to be wet. When we say in English a marriage 'has been dissolved' we do not (usually) mean in an acid bath! To dissolve means to 'break something up into its parts'.
But I don't have a clue what your point is here. What do YOU think John 10.35b means?
4. Sorry, you are mistaken about the meaning of 'theopneustos'. 'pneio' means 'to breathe' (Liddell & Scott) and pneustos is aor. ptcp. form. 'theopneustos' means literally 'God-breathed' and so refers to the origin of Scripture.

Posted by: Mark Beaton on Friday, 14 October 2005 at 5:14pm BST

Dear Mark Beaton,

1. There is no way that we, mere human beings, may say or assume anything about "the mind" of God.

I know that this is done a lot in some circles, but it's Blasphemy to others.

We do not k n o w the views of Christ. We may infere from what he is recorded to have said, but we do not know his mind.

2. Your claims to know what "Jesus considered" the OT to be, is precisely a post 1560 idea. Calvinism. Defending Indo-European Integrism.

Not how the Church reads the Bible.

Augustine and Chrysostomos use the Quadriga and especially Allegory. So 'What Scripture says, God says', means something totally different to them than it does to your tradition.

Not at all the same thing.

3. I did notice that you were refering to the RSV, the NIV, and to Liddell & Scott. But it does not help at all. They are not infallible and must be used with caution. The French Père Chantraine is much better, for instance.

"Luo" is "loose" in the meaning of dissolve, not "undo" in the meaning break.

I can recognise a "d" when I see it - and there is no "d" in "luo", there's an "l"

This kind of word-play precisely - discreetly sliding from one word to another - is what makes translations corrupt. Is what makes room for latter day dogmatic concepts in the Biblical texts.

4. Pneustos is inspired and Theopneustos is God-inspired.

The very concept of inspiration comes from this passage.

You cannot base the interpretation of a passage in the Bible written in Greek, on an interpretation of a word in an other language, based on a 16th century theological concept.

There is no "out" in the sentence, so your post 1560 interpretation does not fit into it.

It's in-spired, not out-spired.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 15 October 2005 at 8:23am BST

Goran, this will be my last contribution to this thread. Please email me if you wish to continue this discussion.
1. I said nothing about 'the mind of God', so I don't know what you are referring to. But as for what Christ believed, if the Gospels accurately report what He said (which I believe they do), we can use our brains and powers of reason to make sense of what He said. What He said was what He thought, otherwise He was deceiving us, and I can't believe that. What is you point here?
2. I haven't a clue what 'Indo-European integrism' is. I wasn't endorsing ALL that Augustine said about biblical interpretation. I agree with him in some respects, not in others (e.g. his anagogic use of Scripture). (I side much more with Luther's hermeneutic, basically, that the sensus literalis is also the sensus spiritualis.) I was simply saying that the idea that Scripture is 'the Word of God' is not a 16th century one; in fact, it is there in the first century already. Please read Wenham's article first.
3. 'luo' means 'to loose', i.e. to break up (into parts)'. English is my native tongue and I know how we use 'break (up)', which is presumably different from your usage in Swedish. It is not quite the same as Ger. 'brechen'. Anyway, it doesn't matter - you are straining at a gnat. You never told me what you think John 10:35b means. Please do say.
4. I repeat that you are wrong about 'pneo'. It basically means 'to breathe'. Strictly speaking there is no word for 'inspired' in classical or koine Greek. The Latin 'inspiro' literally means 'to breathe INTO', but this root has produced a calque in English. 'to breathe in (or upon)' in classical Greek is 'eispneo' (Arist. Probl. 8.2; Ar. Ran. 314; Lacon, Theocr. 12.13 etc). 'theopneustos' means 'God-breathed'. 'Inspired' is an interpretation much more than a translation.
Please email me if you would like to continue this discussion. But please first read Wenham's essay, which will answer many of your questions.
Best wishes,
Mark

Posted by: Mark Beaton on Saturday, 15 October 2005 at 9:40pm BST

I agree with Mark that this discussion has gone far from the issue of the general synod elections. Please no more comments except on that matter.

I am sure Mark realises that other viewpoints than that of Wenham (and Mark) exist on issues of biblical interpretation. Wenham is not infallible.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 15 October 2005 at 9:54pm BST
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