Scripture as "God's Word written" in Article XX?

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by anglican74, Feb 1, 2021.

  1. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,438
    Likes Received:
    1,074
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    In following the Gafcon communications I felt reminded of the debates on scripture found on this site...
    In a recent Gafcon email, they used the definition of Scripture as "God's Word written" citing verbatim the words from Article XX

    https://www.gafcon.org/news/bishops-gear-up-for-long-lambeth-walk

    Is this a good answer to the challenge of defining the sacred scriptures adequately and fulsomly?
     
  2. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

    Posts:
    151
    Likes Received:
    169
    :hmm:

    This can be a point to consider for a second future update to our Terms, and a useful addition to our conversations on the doctrine of Scripture:

    https://forums.anglican.net/threads/terms-and-rules-proposed-amendment-to-ii-3-scripture.3898/

    https://forums.anglican.net/threads/inerrancy-and-infallibility-of-scripture.3948/
     
  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    1,861
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
    The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.​

    Whilst I realise I may be out of step, in that I am an Anglican, and part of a Church which is still in communion, I am extremely hesitant about what you do with this. I am ready to affirm Article XX, it is not one of the ones that I have trouble with, however if you seek to expound the phrase 'God's Word written' in a theological sense to force an Islamic Style understanding of the words of scripture, then I will be against this absolutely. My case has already been expressed in the threads linked to by @Phoenix and I wont rehearse those again at the moment.
     
    Tiffy and Shane R like this.
  4. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

    Posts:
    151
    Likes Received:
    169
    Let's keep away the labels of false religions from the fellow brethren. What substantively is your objection to article XX, or rather, what would be a pathway toward adopting the Article without interpreting "God's Word Written" to mean that Scripture is God's Word, written. Let's be constructive here, in order to move forward.
     
  5. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    1,861
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Firstly I have been clear here and before that I have no objection to Article XX and it is an article that I affirm.

    Article XX refers to the Bible, and does so in an article about the Authority of the Church. In this article three different terms are used:
    • God's Word written
    • Scripture
    • Holy Writ
    The word Bible is not used in the Thirty Nine Articles, and the Articles that deal with the Bible are earlier:

    VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
    Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.

    Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books.
    Genesis, The First Book of Samuel, The Book of Esther,
    Exodus, The Second Book of Samuel, The Book of Job,
    Leviticus, The First Book of Kings, The Psalms,
    Numbers, The Second Book of Kings, The Proverbs,
    Deuteronomy, The First Book of Chronicles, Ecclesiastes or Preacher,
    Joshua, The Second Book of Chronicles, Cantica, or Songs of Solomon,
    Judges, The First Book of Esdras, Four Prophets the greater,
    Ruth, The Second Book of Esdras, Twelve Prophets the less.

    And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:

    The Third Book of Esdras, The rest of the Book of Esther,
    The Fourth Book of Esdras, The Book of Wisdom,
    The Book of Tobias, Jesus the Son of Sirach,
    The Book of Judith, Baruch the Prophet,
    The Song of the Three Children, The Prayer of Manasses,
    The Story of Susanna, The First Book of Maccabees,
    Of Bel and the Dragon, The Second Book of Maccabees.

    All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.

    VII. Of the Old Testament.
    The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.

    I have been clear here and before that I have no objection to Articles VI and VII and are an articles that I affirm.

    In discussing Scripture, and the nature of Scripture we are told that Scripture contains all things necessary for Salvation.

    It seems to me that the use of three different words to describe the Bible in terms of it being a clear limitation to the authority of the Church - very much a reformation agenda item - and the role of the Church as the 'witness and keeper', yet the Church is to require nothing else to be believed as required for Salvation.

    To my mind to force an exegesis, or and eisegesis on the term 'God's word written' is to require something to be believed as necessary for salvation beyond what might be properly read from scripture. I believe that the plain meaning of the phrase in the context of Article XX is to refer to a Bible without resorting to boring repetition, and as such represents a literary device rather than a theological definition within itself.

    I am sorry to be tedious myself, but I have long suffered at the hands of the propositional revolutionists and have no desire to see that cause furthered to the harm of believing Anglican Christians.
     
    Shane R, Tiffy and Rexlion like this.
  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,373
    Likes Received:
    1,163
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    I think I understand Botolph's objection here, and I agree with it in principle. Defining the Bible as "God's word written" is not appropriate, for that would be an incomplete and lacking definition. "God's word written" is a good descriptor and an alternate term to "the Bible" and to "Holy Scripture," but it would not be a good definition.

    So, to answer anglican74's question about about the Gafcon statement, my answer is "no, it wouldn't be a good definition." Not that I think Gafcon was trying to offer "God's word written" as a definition, strictly speaking, but their message was IMO quite poorly phrased in that regard.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
  7. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,438
    Likes Received:
    1,074
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    oops, didnt mean to stir the pot, but a thought -provoking discussion nonetheless thank you
     
  8. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    1,861
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    If you look at the 1661/2 at the Offices the rubrics said that the end of the reading the reader should say "Here endeth the First, or the Second Lesson"
    and at Communion the rubrics provide that the reader should say " Here endeth the Epistle."

    A number of our contemporary liturgies provide a range of alternatives including:
    1. This is the word of the Lord - Thanks be to God
    2. Hear the word of the Lord - Thanks be to God
    3. May your word live in us - and bear much fruit to your glory
    4. The word of the Lord - Thanks be to God
    There are no doubt many more. My preference is for 2 or 3 though in the Australian Church 1 is probably the most used option. 4 of course comes from 2019 BCP, which I have no familiarity with, but sort of seems like an incomplete sentence. Perhaps if it was the word of the Lord come to us it may resonate more for me, for I take it that is the import for the vesicle. This of course is Liturgy, not systematic theology, but certainly points to the idea that in the contemporary setting people are want to say more than Here ends the reading, which I note is not properly responded to with Thanks be to God.
     
  9. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    216
    Likes Received:
    300
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    That's also the phrase used in the 1979 American BCP, and is a direct translation of Roman Rite: "verbum Domini / Deo gratias".

    Some of the Homilies also refer to the Bible (including Ecclesiasticus) as "the Word of God", so it's certainly a descriptor that's been kicking around for a good long time at this point.

    And, to the original question, it looks to me that the statement in question used "God's Word written" as a description, not a definition.
     
    Rexlion and Botolph like this.
  10. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

    Posts:
    151
    Likes Received:
    169
    I agree that “God’s Word, written” is a descriptor, not a definition. That being said, as far as descriptors go and considering the weight of theological tradition on this matter, it is probably the single best descriptor of what now call the Bible.

    Thus the Bible and God’s Word can be seen as two equivalent terms. Have you read God’s Word today? What does God’s Word say on such and such topic? “God’s word is the Bible” — it works. It is also a strong contrast to the modern liberal tradition captured best in Karl Barth, who coined the phrase that “God’s word is contained in the Bible.” The implications of that modifier should be clear to everyone, as the history of the last 100 years attests to. As long as we reverse that damage and roll back to the orthodox formulation, then my job here is done.

    That being said, and considering that we’re all agreed on the orthodoxy of “God’s Word, written,” I am not sure about Botolph’s point. Granted that he’s not a subscriber to the Anglican marks of orthodoxy, but as a long-time member of the forums I personally appreciate his input. So Botolph, please explain your position toward the descriptor of the Bible as God’s Word, written, to help move the conversation forward.
     
  11. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    1,861
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I am quite happy with the term "God's Word written" which I not lacks the emphasis you instil when you insert a comma. I happily use a number of terms which are reasonably interchangeable such as canon, proto-canon, scripture, bible, Old and New Testaments, Holy writ, and I am sure there are others.

    The Islamic position with regard to the Noble Koran is that the very words in Arabic were spoken to Mohammed and he recorded them verbatim, so the Koran is not open to the kind of critical scholarship that the Old and New Testament are, including textual scholarship, and the notion of understanding scripture 'sitz-im-laben' (with due regard to the situation) that gave rise to the text.

    The writers of scripture are many and various, and have been inspired by God to record something of their experience and their understanding of God and the ways of God. The idea that God held them pen and forced the writing as if the authors were simply robotic pen holders, flies in the face of what we understand of God and how God relates to his creation.

    I would say, in scripture we encounter the Word (logos) of God, that echoed for across the cosmos ere creation was begun, and for us became a helpless babe in a manger, who stretched out his arms for us to embrace all creation in his redemptive love.

    TC Hammond argued, and those who have followed him argue more loudly for a Doctrine of Propositional Revelation. The argument for this runs essentially, a) God Reveals Himself In Propositions, b) These propositions are contained in Holy Scripture, c) There the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I have often been shocked by the legalism and pharisaic approach that seems to accompany this, and I have seen many who have been hurt and damaged by this. The basic issue is of course that God reveals himself not in propositions, but in the person of Jesus.

    I think I prefer Barth to Hammond, but I prefer Jesus over all.

    If you want to know what the 39 Articles I commend Articles 6 and 7 for your consideration. Lets not make this harder than it needs to be.

    That I have not subscribed to the 39 articles is not in dispute. I reality I have defended most of them more clearly than a great many of those who have subscribed. I do have some reticence about Articles 5 and 19, not that I wish to undo them or disagree with them, however I am note sure they are clear enough to enable my subscription.