Terms and Rules proposed amendment to II.3 (scripture)

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Phoenix, Jan 30, 2020.

  1. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    @Rexlion,
    Okay so if a point of doctrine is supported by the Scriptures, then what further information does inspiration provide? Why shouldn't we just be guided by the Scriptures? If this 'inspiration' provides some extra information that isn't gleaned from the Scriptures themselves, then that -- by definition -- is unsupported by the Scriptures.


    @Tiffy,
    Of course the Holy Spirit was involved in that process. It is involved in this discussion right now, helping guide Christians through life, and through their interactions with each other. That doesn't mean that it provides any extra knowledge from the mind of God, about what's true. How did the Church decide what was or wasn't inspired Scripture? By study and scholarship, assisted with prayer. They didn't get 'revealed' unto them anything piece of knowledge which would've been missing to a non-Christian, just like you and I are right now being mediated by the Holy Ghost, but we don't receive any extra revelation.

    Emphatically, revelation does not equate to inspiration. Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle. We cannot know any revealed truth of doctrine, apart from the pages of Scripture. There's not a single thing you Tiffy can know, which would be inaccessible to me; you've seen no vision, no burning bush; and if you did, you still couldn't cause me to accept it as legitimate. The only source of doctrine you and I could agree on would be something physical, something tangible.
     
  2. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    @Stalwart
    I have a revealed truth concerning my need for salvation and the reasons, before God, that I needed it. You don't know that, and unless I choose to give you that information you cannot ever know it. That is my testimony. God revealed himself to me in three sets of life threatening circumstances to which my eventual response was to surrender myself entirely into God's care through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. You are unable to enter into my experience of God. You have to experience your own encounter with Him. My experience is of no interest or concern to you, quite rightly. You may be able to reach an intellectual understanding of God through scholarship and study but you can never emulate my personal experience, nor would I or God require it of you. The Holy Scriptures are but signposts to the living God. Unless God has revealed himself to you salvifically, you don't know God. Prov.8:17, Jer.29:13, Amos 5:4, Matt.6:33, Luke 12:31, John 5:44.
    .
     
  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I'll give you an example. The church veered badly off course between 500 AD and 1500 AD. Despite the existence of clear doctrines supported by Scripture, the church went into error. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, true Christians called out these errors and made a very large course correction. Without the Holy Spirit's inspiration, would truth have been recovered and would the Anglican Church have come into existence?

    Regarding revelation, I'll relate a story. At one point in my life it seemed like a cascade of problems descended on me, and I was so depressed, frustrated and burdened I said out loud to God, "You don't love me any more." That's how I felt right then because things seemed so bad, and I guess I became petulant. Well, the next thing I knew, I heard God speak to me. It wasn't audible, but it was LOUD in my head and unmistakable. The Holy Spirit said to me with sweet, tender love I could actually feel, "But I do love you!" I was so moved, I cried.

    I think that was a revelation.
     
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  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Fundamental to our belief about God is that we only know God through revelation. If God did not reveal himself then God would be hidden and mystery.

    The purpose of the canon of scripture (and the word canon here means rule or measure) is that we can assess our understanding of what we believe has been revealed to us by how it measures up to the canon of scripture.

    So if you believed that God had revealed to you that you should kill XYZ, you know that you could measure that against scripture and conclude that you were wrong. God's revelation is not limited to Holy Scripture, but we need to measure what we understand against the canon of scripture - and not simply one verse.
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    We may be all equivocating on the word 'revelation'. I use it to mean objective knowledge of God's word, like a sensory input from lightbulb that objectively informs us that it's been turned on; similarly God's mind, will, nature, and intent are objectively revealed to us, and may be objectively determined (by anyone who wishes) from his revelation. On the other hand, you seem to be using 'revelation' to mean a personal feeling or experience which strongly aligns with God's will.

    Historically, 'revelation' was used and defined in the sense I gave above; which is why theologians say there are only two kinds of revelation: General Revelation (in nature and the world around us), and Special Revelation (the Scripture). I think the best word used for your case is not revelation but inspiration. Your story relates how you have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, and you wouldn't want to say that you've been revealed, like a bolt of lightning, some new doctrine from God's mind, in addition to what's contained in 1. Scripture, or, 2. Nature.

    Similarly at the Reformation, we'd want to say that the Reformers were inspired, to uncover the same old unchanging Doctrine. We don't want to be saying that the Reformers have discovered some new doctrine. That would play into the apologetic of Roman Catholics, historically go against what the Reformers themselves claimed, and (if nothing else) simply would be heresy. It is not allowed for us to have some new doctrine, in addition to what's been given before. Here is what St. Paul teaches:

    "If any one preach to you a gospel besides that which you have received, let him be anathema (accursed)" (Galatians 1:9)
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2020
  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    @Stalwart

    I get your point, particularly the historical definitions of General and Special 'Revelation'. Doctrine is admittedly though not something we discover, it is something revealed to us concerning the truth. It is in that context that I refer to 'revelation' in a personal sense, in that the Holy Spirit reveals ALL truth to us. John 16:13. There is something direct and immediate about this statement, and it seems to carry forward for all disciples, not just those addressed at the time of Christ's pronouncement.

    It is not about discovering new doctrines, it is about understanding the ones that already exist in the mind of God. Doctrine is eternal and is 'revealed' to us in due time. (Mostly this doctrine was 'revealed' through Jesus Christ, his teaching and his deeds). The understanding of scripture and the formulation of doctrine are both profoundly influenced by The Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ.

    The question then becomes one of "Do we yet have a comprehensive understanding of all docrine and the whole of scripture"? I would say we don't and there is much we don't know yet. It is just that what we have in scripture and the teaching of the church is sufficient unto the knowledge of salvation. That is not to say though that we all know enough to effectively act as vessels of God's Grace in a world full of sin. That requires personal revelation and the ongoing ministration of The Holy Spirit

    Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Phil.3:15.

    If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.
    James 1:5-6.

    It is about how to effectively use the Spiritual Gifts God has given us, in God's service.
    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2020
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  7. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    One of the great challenges and changes since the time of the Reformers, and indeed probably even post Oxford Movement is the rise of existentialism. It is the predominant philosophical approach of our age, and you would be hard pressed to find a Western Theologian in the last 100 years who was not significantly impacted by if not flat out existentialist.

    Tillich's question about the priority of Epistemology or Ontology needs to be understood in this context. The existentialist has difficulty receiving truth as a given without the experience of that truth. In this context the ongoing principal of God as always revealing is essential, for God has not stopped his involvement in the world and in the affairs of humankind.

    So we need to be sure, do we understand our experience of God in light of what has been revealed in Holy Writ, or is the Bible true only in so far as we can validate it from our experience. This of course may be a false dichotomy, for it is possible that both are true. That which has been handed down was for Paul and for many others, all that was required, save of course for the experience on the Damascus Road.

    The tragedy of unfettered existentialism is that has trouble learning from the past, and that like all who ignore history, dooms them to repeat it, to be making progress treading water. The difficulty with excluding existentialism is the risk of becoming a museum of religious artifacts, and not heeding the call of people like Sydner Carter who penned the words 'so shut the Bible up and show me how the Christ you talk about is living now.'

    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John
    Now we see in a mirror dimly, then face to face. Paul

    We meet Christ in Scripture and in Sacrament in order that we might recognise him in the street. In scripture we learn about who God is, and about who we are becoming, yet we also need the reality of living that out. Each of us is in that sense called to be a meeting point of epistemology and ontology. Scripture is not to be a prison for us, but rather a prism through which we see and embrace our liberty.
     
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  8. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

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    Hi all, we appreciate the vigorous conversation that has sprung up around this topic, but we would ask you all to bring it towards concrete and actionable recommendations, and specifically reflections on the Terms Amendment discussed on the first page. We could probably spin up a separate thread where the various approaches to theology mentioned here would be better placed.
     
  9. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I concur.

    If it come to a vote, I would probably vote against the change, on the grounds that:
    • The proposed change adds little to what is already there
    • the proposed change is open to misinterpretation to unnecessarily exclude some
    That was the view I essentially held on page one, and I have seen or rerad nothing to convince me otherwise.
     
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  10. Magistos

    Magistos Active Member Anglican

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    While not participating in the discussion, I have been reading and weighing the arguments. As my thoughts were in most part similar to Boltoph's, I shall adopt his as my own.
     
  11. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

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    Thank you for your feedback. We are trying to juggle two opposite tensions: allow for the multiplicity of genres in the Bible, but do so without compromising its reliability for doctrine. Hence the change from erroneous to unreliable.

    Additionally there is a question of Divine Authorship; even on these Forums we've already encountered conversations which questioned the divine authorship of the Bible. In the 20th century this view can be associated with Karl Barth who claimed that the word of God was in the Bible, but not identical to the Bible. Needless to say that this goes directly against a long-standing Christian understanding, and especially (for us here) the Anglican tradition, which has sought to identify God's word with the Bible, as seen in John Jewel's Treatise on the Scriptures and other works. We have not re-published them yet.

    The current text of the Terms does not precisely encompass all of these priorities. We need to establish that the Scriptures are equivalent to the word of God, all of them are ultimately of divine authorship, and despite various genres the whole work is ultimately reliable.
     
  12. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    "Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden?" Gen.2:1c.
    Are these God's words? If not can we claim them to be The word of God or of divine authorship? They are clearly 'inspired' because the writer of them is reporting accurately what their author must have said.

    "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Matt.4:3b.
    Same here. Are these the words of God or not.

    The next one is even more complicated because some of what God is not saying is what God has previously said in scripture.

    "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." Matt.4:6.

    It is also a case of Satan for once telling the truth, if Ps.91:11-12 does actually say that, and it does.

    For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
    On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.


    "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Matt.4:9.
    This is even more difficult to shoehorn into either being or not being literally 'The word of God', because God HAS given everything unto Jesus, but Satan was not the one who delivered it to him.

    And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matt.28:18. Clearly The Word of God speaking words of God and written down by an inspired author for us to read.

    The nearest we can come to accurately defining 'The Bible' in terms of authenticity, authority and relevance to the salvation of man is that it is "Inspired". That is how scripture refers to itself and the further beyond that we go the further we progressively begin to impose our own pious opinions and beliefs on the matter.

    I have seen preachers, (and thankfully they are few), who will hold a floppy black leather bound Bible up and declare "This is the Word of God, and you'd better believe it", meaning in fact, "What I tell you the words in this book mean, is God speaking to you, so do as I say".

    That is the danger that piously using the term can get us into if we are not careful to "rightly divide the word of truth". 2 Tim.2:15.
    .
     
  13. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    The Islamic understanding of the Quran is that the words were spoken to Muhammad in Arabic and written down verbatim between 609 and 632 AD. This has for Muslims provided that which they understand to have direct absolute authority, and has restricted their capacity to deal with the text in any meaningful way except as distilled by Imans and Mufti.

    I would resist any argument that suggested that we as Anglicans should try to apply such an understanding to the Canon of Scripture. The documents we have today in the Bible (a word meaning the Books or perhaps Library) come from a variety of sources, some penned in Hebrew, some in Koine Greek, some coming from oral traditions, some quite possibly from Aramaic sayings. As documents they track back perhaps to around 1000 BC to somewhere around 100 AD. The documents in scripture represent much of the experience of the people of God, and their encounter with and understanding of God. Some parts of scripture we find references to the speaking of God, such as in the Decalogue. Other parts of scripture have songs and prayers made to God, and we have all manner of genres and stories. Many of the accounts of scripture are complex, Balaam's ass, Jonah in the belly of the whale, and complicated hero's like David, Cain and Abel, Abraham, Jacob and Esau. Together with the rest of Holy Scripture they a rich and broad tapestry, authored by human beings, of their own free will, inspired by the divine light they apprehended, and together by divine providence to inspire and guide us.

    The people who wrote the books we receive as Holy Scripture were not robots who held a pen while God traced the words. Such a view is indeed entirely counter our understanding of humanity created in the image and after the likeness of God.

    I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
    horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.
    The Lord is my strength and my might,
    and he has become my salvation;
    this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
    The Lord is a warrior;
    the Lord is his name.
    Exodus 15:1-3

    Miriam's song is regarded by number of scholars as one of the earliest records, perhaps stemming back 4-500 years before making it to the page. Songs and poems transmit well in oral traditions because they are memorable. Yet God here is rather more warlike than we would generally as Anglican Christians portray God, yet in the context of the celebration of the liberation from slavery in Egypt, it resonates with authenticity.

    I know I will at odds with some here, but the point I am trying to make is that ascribing divine inspiration to Holy Scripture makes perfect sense, and sit well within the ancient understanding of the ancient schools of Alexandria and Antioch. Pushing this one step further to divine authorship I find less helpful, and leaves the text open to abuse. I get that not all people will get what I am saying. So let me be clear, I am in no way being derogatory about scripture, not for one moment.

    We are in the end the people of the Lord far more than we are as Muhammad described us the people of the book.
     
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  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I related to my wife some of this discussion revolving around the proposed word change. Her comment was that reading the Bible is like sitting down and enjoying a meal, but discussions like this are like sitting to table and picking the food apart, trying to figure out what's in it. It gave me a chuckle.

    I guess I can see where the word "unreliable" serves the purpose. If I were handing someone a Bible and encouraging them to read it, I would want them to know that they can rely on what it says (the message contained therein). I would not need to tell them it's perfect, without error or defect, or anything more stringent than, "it's reliable."

    We can find examples in the Bible of people saying (and doing!) erroneous things. We can find cultural matters that don't strictly apply to our culture. And we can find places where we're not entirely sure what it's saying due to language barrier and translation issues. But the Bible is trustworthy. Its pages contain a cohesive message from God upon which we can rely.
     
  15. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Surely there is an easily identified difference between questioning the standard interpretation of a Bible passage on the one hand, and making a judgmental statement concerning that Bible passage's veracity and declaring it devoid of value and meaning.

    As Anglicans we have the status of Biblical scripture clearly defined for us in the 39 articles. This website is at pains to ensure that derogatory remarks are not posted by participants which are offensively critical of the text that we as Anglicans hold sacred.

    Any wording of the regulations binding upon posters needs therefore to be aimed accurately at that particular objective, not at merely bolstering a particular 'inerrantists' theological opinions concerning the sacred text.

    My previous experiences, I admit, have some bearing here on my concern that such 'rulings' might be used as 'sledge hammers to crack nuts'.
    .
     
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  16. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    You could of course say it is inspired.
     
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  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Are you admitting to being a cracked nut? :laugh:

    :)
     
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  18. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    There may be a kernel of truth in that 'nutcase'. :laugh:
    .
     
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  19. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Hi all,
    We should be all encouraged to see the Bible as Anglicans throughout history have seen it. It seems to me a priority that we avoid understanding (much less prescribing) its usage only through a modern lens. Let it be remembered that this website seeks to set a standard for a recovered Anglican tradition, which can only be done with due respect to the full depth and breadth of the wisdom of our fathers and predecessors.

    Since Jewel's Treatise on the Scripture has already been mentioned, that might be a good source to go to. Unfortunately @JonahAF has not (yet!) republished it on https://anglican.net, but other than cracking the whip there's nothing more we can do. Please do consult this and other similar traditional books in order for us all to be on the same page when discussing this matter. One good resource is Google Books:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=Qf5iAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false
     
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  20. JonahAF

    JonahAF Moderator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Here is what I have from my notes. Apologies for not yet publishing it all :blush:
    Please add any other authors whom I may have missed!

    St. Augustine, De Consensu Evangelistarum, libri quattuor (On the consent of the Gospels)

    John Jewel, On the Holy Scriptures (1571)

    Hugh Broughton, A Consent of Scripture (Concentus Scripturae) (1588)

    John Cosin, A Scholastical History of the Canon of Holy Scripture (1657)

    Edward Wettenhall, A plain discourse, proving the divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, wherein the late bold attempts and aspersions of the Jesuits and other missionaries of the Church of Rome are confuted (1688)

    Samuel Clark, The divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, asserted in two discourses, shewing the nature and extent of the inspiration vouchsaf't by the Holy Ghost to the penmen of the Scriptures (1699)

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