Archive for November, 2007

John Rodgers, in the AMiA’s Women Ordination study, ends with this appendix. Simply superb.

1. Scripture as the Church’s Book: The Rule of Faith (Art. 8.)
It is foreign to the nature of the Scripture and a right understanding of it to interpret it as if it were not first addressed to, kept by, treasured and interpreted by the Church. In one sense it is the Church’s book. Interpretation of Scripture is not essentially an individualistic act but a communal act done in, by and for the Church. That being the case, we understand the Rule of aith held and confessed by the Church initially guides biblical interpretation.

Keeping this ecclesiastical character of interpretation in mind, we note that there are certain assumptions one brings to the act of interpretation:

a. We assume that the Christian faith is unique for it rests on God’s redemptive, revealing work in Christ, given to a particular chosen people in and through historical events, including events that are sometimes miraculous.

b. We assume that the Scriptures are “the Word of God written, that is, the inspired, faithful, authoritative canonical writings given by God to the Church.

c. We assume that the Church’s Rule of Faith, found in its formularies, is a faithful interpretation of Scripture and our interpretation is guided by the Rule of Faith.

d. These assumptions will be tested in the very act of reflecting upon, and interpreting the texts.

2. Scripture as God’s Word written: The authority of Scripture (Art. 20)
Since Holy Scripture is God’s Word written, it bears His authority; and we read it to hear Him in order to know, trust and obey Him. Proper interpretation of Holy Scripture is a sacred responsibility. Scripture’s authority (or God speaking through Scripture) in the Church is supreme and it norms all lesser norms or formularies that have subordinate authority in the Church. This is the Anglican meaning of “Sola Scriptura.” Scripture is alone on its level, but it is not isolated from lesser authorities. This relatedness to lesser explanatory norms is the meaning of “Scriptura Suprema” with reference to Holy Scripture.

3. All Scripture is God-breathed: Canonical interpretation (Arts. 2, 7, 20)
“All of Scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching…” (2 Tim.3: 16-17) There is a central message in Scripture concerning God’s salvation of sinful man. Seen in that context, all of Scripture has its part to play. Canonical interpretation consists in letting all of the pertinent passages in the Canon speak to any given issue. While there is variety in terminology and development in Scripture, there is no contradiction; instead there is an underlying harmony.

This is due to the fact that Scripture, unlike any other writing, has dual authorship. While being written by and in the words of men who have been chosen and inspired by God, it is at the same time the very Word of the One God. His mind, speaking through the many human authors, forms and assures us of its unity and coherence. It is, therefore, “not lawful to so expound one part of Scripture as to be repugnant to another.”


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Reformed Catholicism has an interesting comment on the Laying on of Hands and Ordination, contrasting Calvin and Berkhoff. Along with Jonathan Bonomo, I gotta side with Calvin on this one:

But though there is no fixed precept concerning the laying on of hands, yet as we see that it was uniformly observed by the apostles, this careful observance ought to be regarded by us in the light of a precept (see chap. 14, sec. 20; chap. 19, sec. 31). And it is certainly useful, that by such a symbol the dignity of the ministry should be commended to the people, and he who is ordained, reminded that he is no longer his own, but is bound in service to God and the Church. Besides, it will not prove an empty sign, if it be restored to its genuine origin. For if the Spirit of God has not instituted anything in the Church in vain, this ceremony of his appointment we shall feel not to be useless, provided it be not superstitiously abused.

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Gregory Venables is Archbishop of the Diocese of Argentina, and Primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Greetings once again from the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America where we are thanking God that Bishop Don Harvey is now a part of this Province. As such he remains in active Episcopal ministry within the Anglican Communion.

He is of course already a well known and much loved colleague and we are thrilled to have this opportunity of walking even more closely together and to continue to learn from one another. We are glad to welcome him as a member of our Episcopal team and to assign him to work among you as your father in God. We are equally delighted to receive Bishop Malcolm Harding as our co-worker. He too is a man whose very being iscentred around the gospel and whom the Lord has used for the salvation of many.

Please honour and look after these two precious brothers nd their families. It is also good to be able to say that these steps we have taken are fully supported by a significant number of other orthodox Anglican provinces. There is no need for any to walk alone or step outside the Anglican family.

And let us remember that one of our main motives behind the unusual decisions we have had to take is the responsibility we have to ensure that the church is unhindered with regard to the mission that Jesus Himself has commanded us to accomplish.

This must continue to be your priority in the far north of the Americas. We do indeed cover the very ends of the earth. Let me also be clear regarding the nature of the division which has led to these out of the ordinary moves. It is a severance resulting from a determined abandoning of the one true historic faith delivered to the saints. This reality alone makes it clear that it is not schism.

Schism is a sinful parting over secondary issues. This separation is basic and fundamental and means that we are divided at the most essential point of the Christian faith. The sin here is not one of schism but of false teaching which is not at its root about human sexuality but about the very nature of truth itself.

When we talk about the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ we are not referring to something liquid or amorphous. Christianity is specific, definable and unchanging. We are not at liberty to deconstruct or rewrite it. If Jesus was the Son of God yesterday then so He is today and will be forever. This is about the foundational certainty of our very existence and is not something we can amend to suit our circumstances or personal opinions and preferences.

Holy Scripture which is the source of our creeds is revealed and ageless truth. It was not written out of human knowledge or wisdom but inspired by the Spirit of God. Jesus died not to establish and preserve institutional franchises but for our sins so we could come into a right relationship with God our Father and Creator.

Structural norms cannot be equated to the eternal gospel which determines our eternal destiny. These are sad but significant days. It has been heartbreaking to recognize that we have reached such a crucial and critical point in
the life of the Anglican Communion.

What has been perpetrated has indeed torn the fabric of our communion at its deepest level. We recognize this tragedy with profound grief and love for all those involved and affected. We judge no one but cannot and will not deny the eternal truth which has purchased our redemption.

As we prepare once again to celebrate Advent let us look back with gratitude to God for the coming of His Son into this beautiful but troubled world. And let us look forward with awe and joy to the day of His return and all that that

And may God grant us grace that we might be found faithful both now and at that time.

Your brother in Christ,

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Dumbrell again, taking note on justification and imputation in Romans 4:1-8. (Emphasis mine). To see previous posts on Dumbrel, see part I, part II, part III and part IV.

“Imputation”, i.e. the ascribing to the believer of what is really God’s righteousness as the understanding of our covenant acceptance, has been a customary approach to Paul’s notion of righteousness.

However, this is a misunderstanding of what Paul means. “Imputation” is based upon the concept of “righteousness” as a property, something given by God as belonging to Himself. However, the correct biblical understanding of “righteousness” is relational. We do not merely have an “imputed” righteousness, but we are by God’s verdict, right with God. If the meaning of justification is forensic, then the understanding of justification is basically “acquittal”. To be justified is thus to be the recipient of God’s favorable verdict in regard to our final state. Justification, whose basis is forgiveness, is not itself forgiveness (with which it is popularly identified), but the declaration that forgiveness, which confirms our new relationship with God, has been granted. The judge has pronounced in our favor! True, by our acquittal we have been forgiven, but justification is the recognition that forgiveness has occurred, not forgiveness in itself. Forgiveness is the gift, justification its recognition. Justification says that, as a result of forgiveness, we are now in right relationship with God.

Justification by grace through faith announces that we have moved from under the wrath of God to new life in Christ. This basic movement has occurred through the work of the Spirit in regeneration and it is this movement which justification recognizes. That is to say, God brings into a new relationship those who previously have had no relationship with Him. In other words, He admits the, in biblical terms, into covenant with Him. Justification is the declaration of our change of status from sinner to membership of the New People of God.

Dumbrell, William J. Romans: A New Covenant Commentary (Wipf & Stock, 2005) p.53

Footnote: I’m curious as to how Dumbrell is going to handle Romans 5, and the issue of Union with Christ. Imputation surely is a what flows from a correct understanding of this: We are united to Christ, and therefore are participate in what He has accomplished through His active obedience that reverses the consecuences of sin, the result of our/Adam’s active disobedience (Rom 5:15-21).

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Trevin Wax, a student of Asbury Theological Seminary Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, interviews NT Wright. The audio can be heard here. The Bishop does a good job of briefly presenting his various positions and defending himself of the different charges that have been leveled at him by some Reformed christians. Very fun to listen to, and worth your time.

A few gems include:

The New Perspective starts with Ephesians. I actually think Ephesians was written between Romans and Galatians, but whenever you think it’s written, it’s in Ephesians that you get this close correlation between “by grace you are saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works” and therefore, “you Gentiles are part of the same family with the Jews.” That’s Ephesians chapter 2. I didn’t invent that. I merely sort of observed. […] Because Ephesians and Colossians have a very high view of the Church, which many evangelicals have been suspicious of, and it’s actually often ecclesiology which is driving evangelicals to be suspicious of the New Perspective. That’s why there are questions about Roman Catholicism that sort of bubble up on the edge of all this. If we go this New Perspective way, either we become liberals or we become Catholics, and either way – that’s dire, so we don’t want to do it. And I say, lighten up, guys! This stuff is actually in Scripture! If you believe in the Bible, you’ve got to do business with it and not just screen it out.

I’ve been speaking from and to a tradition which has traditionally ignored social justice, ecological issues and the plight of the poor, etc. So I’ve banged on about them, but there they are in the Bible! Again, I didn’t invent this stuff! I’ve taken evangelism sometimes for granted, although on other occasions, I’ve been the first up there to say “Come on! We’ve got to do this!”


The new book of mine which is about to appear which is the sequel to Simply Christian called Surprised by Hope– the first main chunk of it is about eschatology: new heavens, new earth, resurrection, etc. But then the last section is about mission. And it’s the missiology which flows from this eschatology.

And I have a chapter there where I’ve done my best to show the full integration of evangelism and what we’ve pleased to call “social action” (that’s a rather clunky term; it’s not a rather good way of saying it). And it goes like this…

As I’ve said before, God is going to fix the whole world. He’s going to put the whole world to rights. But actually, the advance plan for that is to put human beings to rights in advance. And when that happens, which is what happens through the gospel, it isn’t just, Phew! I’m okay now so I’m going to heaven! It’s I am actually being put right, in order that I can be part of that ongoing purpose.In other words, it’s both conversion and call, which as it was for Paul… converted to see that Jesus is the Messiah, which he’d never dreamt of before, called simultaneously ipso facto to be the apostle to the Gentiles. And in the same way, when the gospel reaches an individual, it is so that they can take part in God’s larger kingdom project.

Again, if we’d had the Gospels as our basis rather than simply Paul (and I hope no one will accuse me of downgrading Paul by putting it like that, me of all people), then I think we would not have had this difficulty. But it’s because we’ve shrunk the New Testament to fit these particular, much, much later models that we’ve then allowed ourselves to collapse into the Enlightenment “either-or” of either spirituality or social justice, but not both… and I know the damage that has happened by that division. That’s how I would put it together.

When you announce that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the world, crucified and risen, you are simultaneously saying, “And you need to believe in him for your own present and eternal justification and salvation,” but also “this means that he is claiming the whole creation as his own and wants to renew and restore it and flood it with his justice and his love, and if you’re signing on to believe in him, you’ve got to be part of that project.” If he is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.

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I am going to go through a Bible study I’m preparing for the San Andrés Youth Group. The topic: the Fullness of the Holy Spirit.

The text I’m (we’re) going to work with is Ephesians 5:18-24; 6:1-9. Here, Paul uses the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit”, and then procedes to describe what that “filling” looks like. Here are some of my thoughts so far:

1.- Note the vertical and horizontal aspects or expression of Holy Spirit-filling: “one another” are to be adressed when singing and making melody to the Lord (5:19). How is this going to shape our congregational worship? What are we to make of those christian clichés such as “close your eyes, this is an intimate moment just between you and God” (and others like this)? What is the purpose and function of congregational worship and singing in church?


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Back from the…hiatus

Matthew Mason, the Reformed Catholic, has started blogging again, after a brief hiatus. Check it out.

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