Friday, July 14, 2006

Isn't this why Cramner was a protestant?

So in all of the hooplah about gay bishops and what-not, people have overlooked one of the resolutions that the Episcopal Church's convention passed (well, not everyone -- Kendall Harmon has been all over it).

The resolution asks a church committee to "collect and develop materials ... to address anti-Jewish prejudice expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian Scriptures and liturgical texts."

What?! We're going to edit the Bible, now?

An Episcopalian who supports the resolution says, "Nobody's talking about changing the Bible, but we are a liturgical church, and like all liturgical churches we pick and choose the parts of Scripture we use in our services. That's different from thinking Scripture itself should be revised."

In other words, as Christianity Today's Weblog puts it, "the Episcopal 'church' isn't saying parts of the Bible should be removed; just that some parts shouldn't be read aloud. As it turns out, only some Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."

Apparently, some in the Episcopal Church have forgotten that one of Thomas Cramner's big deals was having the Bible put in every church for the inspection of everyone -- he trusted the Scriptures in the hands of the people. Guess these folks don't.

Here's the article from which I got the quote and the resolution-text.

FEELING: Incredulous
LISTENING TO: Nothing, 'cause I'm sitting here dumbfounded


At 11:56 AM, Blogger Brother Quotidian said...

Ummm ... I'm certainly not wanting to support those happy to edit the Bible. But, there is an ancient disposition concerning Scripture in public worship that may be verified by consulting any lectionary, including those that go back centuries.

To put it bluntly, even though all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, not all Scripture is equally meet for the purposes of public worship.

Large portions of the geneological sections of Genesis, or Chronicles, for example ... useful, even critical for various theological purposes, but for a liturgy?

Or how about the Levitical passages treating nocturnal emmissions? Now that would really set the mind of the congregation on ... what? And, yet, the same and similar passages are critical for identifying and explicating the Bible's overall theology of sex.

This "sensibility" to public taste can go too far in the other direction, of course. Modern lectionaries, for example, routinely omit Ephesians 5:22ff because it's just too, too retro and anti-feminist. Same same with Romans 1:18ff, because it might offend gay sensibilities.

But, just because some are throwing themselves off the left side of the horse, we are not obligated to throw ourselves off the right side of the horse.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Dillon Barker said...

I agree that we shouldn't discourage anyone -- feminists, persons who practice homosexual conduct, or (most certainly) Jewish people -- from approaching Christ through his Church. And, in that Spirit, we should be sure to explain the portions of Scripture that cause them to be offended.

But we must also guard against the urge to make the Scriptures less offensive. God's Word is offensive to our human understandings and sensibilities. It is not the church's job to save people's sensibilities from the "double-edged sword" of the Word; instead, it is our calling to "speak the Truth in love."

Yes, we should probably skip the geneaologies and some of the ritual recitations. But should we avoid anti-this, anti-that, and anti-everything? No: to do so would be an attempt to be "of the world" and not just in it.

At 7:23 PM, Blogger Brother Quotidian said...

But should we avoid anti-this, anti-that, and anti-everything? No: to do so would be an attempt to be "of the world" and not just in it.

Agreed. I wonder that the notion even comes up, except for that business you discussed earlier on "Baptist liturgy." It's not the liturgical elements (in this case, Scripture reading) that's the point, but rather the underlying purpose of the gathering.

As you know and I recall from my Baptist days, the gathering on Sunday has as one inviolable purpose the winning of the unbelieving soul to faith in Christ. They are unapologetically evangelistic. If we grant this purpose as credible, then the content of Scripture readings becomes a significant factor.

On the other hand, if the gathering on Sunday morning has some purpose other than evangelism, then the sensibilities of unbelieving attendees is not so great, maybe even it is irrelevant.

There is another factor working here -- the Anglican worship's penchant for reading great quivering hunks of Scripture during the worship service -- a Psalm, an Old Testament lesson, a New Testament lesson from the Epistles, and then a passage from the gospels. A commitment to reading this much Scripture each worship service will generate the kinds of concerns that prompted your blog entry.

Again, in Christian communities where Scripture reading in the service is comparatively small -- say a few verses, if that much -- one is not apt to run into the problem Harmon was engaging. Moreover, in these kinds of churches, the pastor is invariably the one choosing whatever Scrpture is read, so he is far less likely to run into this kind of problem than the pastor whose worship services are following a lectionary.



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