The former Bishop of Singapore and Archbishop of South East Asia, Moses Tay has had a go at quite a few bishops, including, by implication, his successor, John Chew. The latter, we might recall from just a day or so ago, has been at the forefront of the Global South indicating they will deliver up some 20 signatures to the Anglican Covenant. But in an interview reported in the Christian Post Moses Tay has this to say,
"“The Anglican Covenant cannot be of God because if you try to keep the light and darkness together, righteous and immoral together, to say we are a church, it’s disparaging the meaning of covenant… the covenant is a very sacred thing… [It is] God saying, ‘You will be Mine.’ … If you are using the sacred word to include dirt; that use of the word is an abomination. ... “I cannot see how Bible-believing people can agree to the covenant,”"
Underlying what Archbishop Moses Tay says is an unerring conviction that God has spoken definitively, once and for all, upon the matter of homosexuality. Allied with a conviction that Bible-believing people recognise this voice, the conclusion is QED: either no badly behaving homosexuals in a Covenanted Anglican church, or, a Covenanted Anglican church with badly behaving homosexuals 'cannot be of God'.
I do not here wish to engage in discussion about what the Bible says about homosexuality (that will be an emerging theme on Hermeneutics and Human Dignity through 2010), but I want to reflect a little on Scripture - this book which can lead a fine man such as Moses Tay to one set of convictions, Gene Robinson to another, and John Chew to other conclusions (though I assume there is a greater overlap between Tay and Chew's sets than Robinson's and Chew's).
On my laptop I have the draft of a book about Scripture, but it is kind of sitting there because I am not satisfied with my ideas and arguments. In the usual way I want to say something about the authority of Scripture, and about how we interpret Scripture. In doing this I want to engage with the relationship between Scripture and the Word of God, and Scripture and the church (Does Scripture make the church? The church make Scripture? Or both?).
Of course, being evangelical I have a slant on these topics, yet I am alert to the complexities of varied approaches to Scripture: for instance, Catholics are Bible-believers too (they take 'This is my body' more seriously than most Protestants, as literally true, but I don't think Moses Tay was thinking of Catholics when he mentioned Bible-believers); so are the Orthodox, by the way, at least if my Orthodox Study Bible is anything to go by!
Even a half-decent book on Scripture needs to reckon with the hard words of Scripture - the exterminations of peoples at the command of God, for example, or, apposite at this time of the year, the slaughter of the Innocents as a consequence of the coming of Jesus. Then there is the vexed question which keeps rumbling through theological interpretation of Scripture, the relationship between law and grace - also a very pertinent matter for the Anglican Communion at this time.
One idea I have is that Scripture makes sense in terms of one key idea when we think of Scripture as God's Gracious Truth. Another idea is that we will have made progress in our understanding of Scripture when we recapture the Psalmist's love for the law and dispense with our modern and post-modern tendency to question, doubt, and even mock Scripture.
I sometimes think that, at least in Western Anglicanism, there is a schizoid approach to reading Scripture: a slavish adherence to reading it according to the Lectionary and a sovereign freedom to ignore it when we do not like the lesson it teaches. How might we arrive at a more coherent approach? This is where thinking about Scripture as the revelation of God is important: has God spoken through Scripture to us? Does God speak to us today through the words of Scripture, as the living Word embedded in Scripture?
Finally, picking up the idea of a 'theology of unity' from my Living Church post on the Covenant (see below), something should be said about a 'hermeneutic of unity'. Diverse readings of Scripture are great ... but is the resultant divided church great?