From the Anglican Church of Canada …
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan WIlliams, has told an audience of theological students that both intensely liberal and ultra conservative readings of the Bible are ‘rootless’ and are limited in what they can contribute to the life of the church. In the Larkin Stuart lecture, delivered today at an event hosted jointly by Wycliffe and Trinity theological colleges in Toronto, Dr Williams said that Christians need to reconnect with scripture as something to be listened to and heard in the context of Jesus’s invitation to the Eucharist and to work for the Kingdom.
Emphasis mine. You can read the rest here
WARNING: It gets dense. To certain friends of mine who think my own writings are dense (and you know who you are <shakes corkscrew>), I would encourage you to read +Rowan’s lecture. The difference between mine and his are like the difference between angel food cake and a cement block.
Commentary on the lecture:
I think that one of the points +Rowan is making is that we must be careful of using the Bible as a way of “proof-texting” our arguments. Granted, this is something that we do all the time whether you’re a fundamentalist or an ultra-liberal. However, you can’t really say what a particular text is saying without considering how the author got to that point and where he goes from that point.
To illustrate, take the passage in Matthew where Jesus talks to the disciples about conflict among believers and how to deal with it. The three steps in the method he gives is basically 1) take it up privately 2) take it up with a two or three others and 3) “Treat the offending member as a gentile and a tax collector.”
Just before this passage, Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep, how the shepherd leaves his flock to find the one who is lost. Therefore we can say that regardless of what is going on with the individual sheep, the sheep are still part of the same flock and are under the care of the shepherd.
If you look at the bigger picture, we have the example of Jesus’ actions and how he treats people. Jesus says that as a last resort we treat the one’s causing the problem as a gentile and a tax collector. And how does Scripture say he treats these “unorthodox” members of society? By hanging out with them and having supper with them!
So, in essence, one of the many points +Gandalf, er, +Rowan is making is that we have to consider the Big Picture, otherwise you’ll miss the forest because you’re too busy studying the bark of a particular tree. Without considering what came before Jesus “conflict resolution class,” we would have assumed that we were to cast the offending gentiles and tax collectors out of the community, or at least shunned them, which is what 1st century Jewish people did in many cases.
Scripture is, among many other things, the story of God’s redeeming and saving work in Creation. It is within that light that it should be read, in my humble opinion.