Sunday, October 9, 2011

The robe of orthodox righteousness?

Today's Gospel, Matthew 22:1-14 is a bit irksome, is it not, for those among us who secretly or openly harbour hopes for salvation to be inclusively universal and universally inclusive?

The story as told by Jesus rides along straightforward inclusivist, universal tracks almost to the end. Those known to God reject God which only fires God to reach out wider into the world until the wedding feast is filled with people from the highways and the byways. Amazingly the story very specifically details that those gathered are 'the good and the bad.' That is everyone, isn't it?

But then the quirk in the tracks, the sting in the tail of the tale. God looks around the gathered throng and spies one guest unfit for the feast, devoid of his wedding robe. Out he goes, into the darkness, to wailing and teeth gnashing. No second change. No purgatory.

Wearing the robe matters. So the answer to the question, What is the robe, matters. Jesus, unnervingly, fails to give the answer. But the parable itself gives a clue: it is the robe which a wedding guest would have worn, a robe to cover or replace the dirty clothes of the journey to the wedding. In Matthew's gospel this means a robe of righteousness: only the righteous may enter the kingdom of heaven. The running argument through Matthew's Gospel concerns where righteousness comes from. Strict obedience to Mosaic Law, as interpreted by the rabbis? Or, through following Jesus and living under his rule?

But, in turn, this raises questions against the backdrop of the whole New Testament of the meaning of the gospel and what a saving response consists of: Matthew's understanding of righteousness versus Paul's understanding of righteousness? The answer to that question is Christian orthodoxy - an answer which may involve holding the two understandings together, not promoting one over the other.

The robe we need to wear to remain at God's wedding feast has, then, an interesting texture, and made from a very fine thread.

39 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

I heard a rather stunning exegesis of this Gospel passage today at St.Michael's - where the King is not God - rather a more worldly king, who is lacking in justice. He sees the 'unworthy' non-guest, and banishes him to outer darkness.

For dis-honoured Guest, read Jesus, in the role of outsider; and see how the parable then hits home! God uses the weak to confound the strong - Jesus to bear the ignominy (as on the Cross), on behalf of all the dispossessed. Wondrous!

Suem said...

I think it is inclusive. The good and the bad are welcome, but they must wear wedding clothes. At weddings at the time, I believe, guests would sometimes be offered clothes to put on over what they were wearing. We must all clothe ourselves with the gospel, and accept salvation. I agree that we must clothe ourselves with righteousness- but not think that we have made ourselves "righteous". Also, it is clear that Jesus's idea of those who are "right" in God's eyes was rather different from the accepted norms of the time. Not the righteous Pharisee, but the taxpayer and prostitute seemed to be clothed in a way that allowed them to enter the Kingdom.
There were many who thought they wore the clothes of righteousness (like Simon the Pharisee) who were not and many who would have been assumed not to be wearing them(such as the woman kissing Jesus's feet.) Maybe we should ask "what is righteousness" and what does it mean to clothe ourselves with righteousness?

Suem said...

That is an interesting interpretation, Fr Ron Smith, but I do think the parables of Jesus generally work simply (except the one about the shrewd manager, which I just don't get.) I do think the guest who is cast out is a warning. Obviously, he is not thrown out for a lack of clothes but for an attitude of heart or a lack of acceptance of grace perhaps?
I suspect Jesus was having a dig at the Pharisees or possibly that Matthew is making a point about attitudes toward/ rejection of Christ's message at the time of writing?

liturgy said...

I’m not at all convinced that Jesus’ parables generally work simply. This is why some churches still expect training, formation, and study in their clergy in theology, biblical languages, exegesis, etc. so that they understand the perspective of the Mediterranean peasant, and their understanding of the effect of the evil eye at weddings, honour and shame, etc. that lie behind any understanding of this parable. Sadly, so many turn the great news of Jesus into a message about an almighty tyrant.

Turning the parables of Jesus into an allegory is always fraught – but even doing so here leads to the shock of sharing the banquet with both good and bad, and the acknowledgment that only the king makes the choice who to eject – never us.

Believing that Jesus is God incarnate leads us to declare that God is nothing like the vengeful king in this story (particularly NB in Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus).

Jesus, then, is the only one who dissents from the king's tyranny by declining to put on the robe. The slaves went into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad. The wedding hall was filled with frightened guests. When the violent tyrant came in to see the guests, he noticed a single man there who stood up to the tyrant and refused to wear a wedding robe, and he said to him, “How did you get in here without a wedding robe?” But he opened not his mouth (cf. Matthew 27: 11-14). Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called to the way of the Cross, but few are chosen.

Blessings

Bosco

Father Ron Smith said...

Suem, I liked your interpretation of the Mathean parable. Exegesis of biblical passages is not yet 'done and dusted' - that is why further hermeneutic exercise is always a good thing. I believe that true knowledge of the content of God's Kingdom is always progressive, requiring further prayer and study. This is surley why Jesus most often taught in parables - they needed to be teased out, on a Gospel basis

Regarding the unjust steward, it may be interpreted that the steward, realising that he would need friends after his master found out his dishonesty; made sure that he could not be accused of violence in pursuit of further wealth. He believed he had a better chance of a light sentence from this kindly and reputable Master if he behaved charitably to his fellow debtors.
So he made the choice of forgiving debts incurred by others - not against himself but against the Master.

In a way, we too are in debt to the Master, by virtue of our sins; but as disciples of Christ we are urged in the Gospel to become agents of the forgiveness of God. In this way, the steward, though unjust (a sinner himself), was doing the work of the Gospel. God's justice is often different from what we expect

A radical interpretation? Yes, but then the gospel is always radical.

Father Ron Smith said...

Oh, and Yes, Suem: I believe that The Garment of Righteousness belongs to God, and not to us. That is another point of the parable. That we can only get into the banquet by virtue of taking to ourselves the garment of God's Righteousness - we have none of our own. That garment is offered to all who come - even those unworthies dragged into the kingdom - because of the lack of humble response on the part of the self-righteous.

Suem said...

Well, exactly. Jesus was inclusive, but he had very hard words for those who thought themselves beyond the need for God, the Pharisees who thought their observance of the law allowed them to condemn others. Also being "liberal" does not mean that "anything goes" or that nothing is rebuked.
I don't have a major problem with a radical "reworking" the parables to "make meaning". I think we must acknowledge its limits though. For example, Jesus was telling the parable before his arrest and crucifixion, so although the image of the man "bound and cast into the outer darkness" may work for us, his original audience couldn't have made that connection, could they (it hadn't yet happened) so to them it would have had to have had a different meaning. I am not saying the parables are "simplistic" BTW. There is a huge difference between a parable being simple - in that it is accessible to those from a range of understandings and backgrounds -and it being "simplistic." His parables do have deeper layers of meaning, and like all stories, they allow us to make meaning, but he was above all accessible in his teaching yet at the same time challenging and radical.

liturgy said...

I think we can acknowledge that there may be elements of Matthew’s allegorising after the destruction of Jerusalem in a parable that appears quite differently in Luke and Thomas, but to say that the original audience in Matthew’s version couldn’t have made connections doesn’t follow from Matthew’s context.

Matthew is explicit that Jesus is addressing “the chief priests and the elders of the people” (21:23). He tells them the parable which includes the son whom they seize, throw out and kill (21:39). The chief priests and Pharisees realise Jesus is addressing them (21:45). They want to arrest Jesus (21:46). And then Jesus tells this story which results in one bound hand and foot and thrown out. After which the Pharisees go and plot to entrap him in what he said. (22:15).

Blessings

Bosco

Suem said...

I agree that some elements of the parables are a foretelling of Jesus's death or (more cynically) that these elements were added in by the gospel writers given their hindsight. I just don't think this parable is essentially about Christ's death. I think it is about the Kingdom of heaven and that the King is God. I suppose this shows us the problem (or the richness, depending on your view) of scripture, that it is open to radically different interpretations.

Anonymous said...

"Jesus, then, is the only one who dissents from the king's tyranny by declining to put on the robe."

Such eisegesis is a tour de force - or maybe a tour de farce, because it maintains that 'the kingdom of heaven is NOT like a king etc'. To read a narrative against its grain (because one doesn't like its assumptions or evident teaching?) shows "creative" ingenuity but not sound hermeneutics. Anyone who thinks God is not Judge doesn't share the beliefs of Jesus. Read Hagner's commentary. The whole parable is steeped in the language and thought of the Old Testament and God's relation to Israel. "My servants" are the prophets. Jesus is a not a wedding guest of a tyrant (what could that possibly mean?) but the son in verse 2.

(& methinks the Context Group has got the wrong context sometimes ...)

Martin

Bryan Owen said...

Jesus was inclusive. Except for the times when he wasn't.

Howard Pilgrim said...

Bosco's inclusiveness is displayed in this, that he continues to feature my weekly podcast on the Gospel reading, by embedding it in his blog even when he disagrees with my interpretation. You can listen to what I had to say by visiting www.waiapuacademy.org. For others with less time or inclination, here is a brief summary of my take on this parable ...

1. The most important interpretive framework for this parable is the social structure of patronage, which obliged clients to attend public feasts such as this. A refusal to attend brought shame to the host by indicating that the one invited no longer felt himself bound by gratitude to his benefactor, and was now open to competing loyalties.
2. Repudiation of such an obligation was not only socially disruptive, but could frequently be violent, especially if the invitation is experienced as coercive.
3. Jesus' primary audience is the coalition of power-holders in Jerusalem, all of whom are in a web of patron-client relationships, mostly as patrons. He has told this story to elicit their judgement for the patron/king and against the fractious clients. Their prediction about what the king would do next is in fact a declaration about what they would do to their own clients.
4. Jesus then turns that judgement against them by declaring that their resistance to God's rule, something they would never tolerate in their own clients, will bring about just as severe a judgement as they have pronounced upon the tenants in his story (a Nathan and David moment, for sure).
5. The three scriptural citations, from Isaiah 5, Psalm 118 and Daniel 2, indicate the grounds of God's case against the Jerusalem hierarchy, the central issue being faith in and loyalty to his rule over Israel in the face of foreign power: a standard prophetic theme. Patronage fits this prophetic context entirely.
6. The Christological element (killing the son in the story) is of secondary significance and not essential to the inner dynamic of the story as Jesus is telling it. Making Jesus the heroic victim in his own story is way too complicated, Ron, Bosco et al!

One exegete's reading, anyway...

Howard Pilgrim said...

Whoa! Correction on the wing ...Subtract the "Killing the son" bit (from the previous parable!) and add in the wedding garment which is, after all, your topic, Peter.
Forget about robes of righteousness, which is just mixing metaphors, even if they both are in Matthew. Everyone had some sort of best clothing. The problem about poor people arises mainly from confusing Matthew's version of the sotry with Luke's, which has the second invitation go out to the poor. In Matthew, the mixed gathering is of "good and bad", and we are not told which of these was offensive to the host. The offense, IMHO, was in turning up as a rubbernecker rather than to honour the unexpected benefactor.

hogster said...

Suem, You are right Jesus was having a dig at the Pharisees. And they got the point thus vs 15 "then they went out and plotted to entrap him in what he said". Of course the whole thing starts way back in ch 21 with Jesus rides into town and we have the showdown at the OK corral (Temple). The two parables that precede the wedding banquet are all part of the same message Jesus is giving.

liturgy said...

As a post-shoah Christian there is strong incentive for a more nuanced reading of this section of Matthew when the allegorising trajectory leads to supersessionism (21:43; 22:7) and within the context of this thread to justification for ejection from God’s banquet for not wearing the robe of orthodox righteousness. Fr Ron, I’m sure, would register that LGBTs were caught up in that same dynamic during the Holocaust.

The social structure of patronage is indeed important in the understanding of this text in its context. Jesus indeed is telling this story to the coalition of power-holders in Jerusalem who acted as patrons, and what Jesus describes indeed is a declaration about what they would do to their own clients. To continue, then, to say that this treatment is the way God treats us is, to borrow Martin’s words, to read the narrative not only against the grain of Matthew’s gospel, but against the grain of how I understand God in the light of his revelation of himself in the bound one who remains silent. I will continue to prefer an understanding of this text that points to a God who is not like the coalition of power-holders in Jerusalem rather than like them.

Making Jesus the heroic victim in this story is just as complicated as identifying Jesus with the stone that the builders rejected and which has become the cornerstone 3-5 verses earlier.

Martin, your Greek must be better than mine in your insistence that ὡμοιώθη refers solely to ἀνθρώπῳ βασιλεῖ and cannot be applied to the whole story.

Blessings

Bosco

Bryan Owen said...

Even granting that it is not as heated as it is on other topics affecting Anglicanism these days (whatever "Anglicanism" means), keeping up with the comments on this posting reminds me of something R. R. Reno writes in his book In the Ruins of the Church: Sustaining Faith in An Age of Diminished Christianity.

"The Scriptures have become the site of contest and conflict rather than the instrument of adjudication."

The same holds true for Tradition and Reason. Little wonder that the so-called "Three-Legged Stool" of Anglican Authority is not so much dispersed as dysfunctional. The "stool" is no longer sufficient (was it ever?) to hold us together.

For an analysis of how we've landed in this mess, Reno's essay "The American Satyricon" is not a bad place to start (bearing in mind, of course, that appealing to the "authority" of this essay and to Reno's book is not dissimilar to appealing to the "authority" of scripture: the texts in question are potential if not actual sites of contest and conflict with no foreseeable adjudication).

Anonymous said...

"Martin, your Greek must be better than mine in your insistence that ὡμοιώθη refers solely to ἀνθρώπῳ βασιλεῖ and cannot be applied to the whole story."

I don't know how good your Greek is. I've taught it to senior high school (classical) and introductory seminarian level (koine), but I'm an autodidact here. I thought it was clear my elliptical reference "...etc" was to the whole parable, but maybe not. As a strong supporter of Israel whose family fought (and some of them died) against the Nazis, I am not especially bothered by "post-shoah interpretations"; the parable obviously meant something in the first century and that's all that interests me. The rest is Kulturgeschichte.
The king in the parable is NOT a tyrant. 'My servants' are the prophets ('abdai v. freq. in OT). The wedding of the son is an obvious theme in the NT, just as the marriage realtionship betwen Yahweh and Israel pervades the OT. 'Weeping and gnashing of teeth' is a repeated trope of divine punishment in the NT - not of Israel's rejection of the Son.

Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

Hooray. Hermeneutic is already enjoying a revival in the Anglican Church in God-zone. This is better than just taking one interpretation: e.g. from R.R.Reno, or Dr.Packer.
Refreshing, to say the least!

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks everyone for great comments/stimulating exegetical and hermeneutical debate.

Notwithstanding interesting possibilities of turning some aspect of the parable on its traditional interpretational head, I remain convinced that the king stands for God (so various comments above), the initial rejectionists of the wedding invitation are those among Israel who reject Jesus and the gospel, the swept up second-line of respondents are the whole world (cf. the Gentiles responding to the gospel as a theme through the whole of Matthew, from the wise men through to the Great Commission, 28:20), but the gospel requires righteousness (exemplified in discipleship, the making of disciples being a specific demand of the Great Commission), so the parable makes that point in the singling out of one guest from the whole world who does not wear the appropriate robe.

liturgy said...

Greetings Peter

As Howard has already pointed out, I am comfortable with more than one interpretation of the text. Unlike some who, if you are not following exactly their interpretation, see you as not sharing the beliefs of Jesus. As I highlighted – it is the king and only the king who excludes in the story. Many Christians usurp the place of the king. Something this king, I suspect, would not stand for.

If we teach that the king in this parable is God we need to acknowledge those who saw the destruction of Jerusalem as God’s act, all the way to the consequences of supersessionism in the Shoah. We need to acknowledge those who declared the Christchurch earthquakes God’s punishment for our wicked ways. We may not agree with those conclusions – but they do follow from your reading of the text. We cannot pretend that we can hear the text in some sort of unmediated first century way. Remember, you started by calling this “Today’s Gospel”.

Finally, there is the issue of the wedding robe. I have yet to find a reliable primary source that such robes would have been provided by the host as so much, one commenter here would call it, tour de farce eisegesis would have it. If the robe is not provided by the king, and if the king throws out the invited guest into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, solely because he is not wearing one. And if the king is God. And if the guest is to provide his own robe after the invitation. Then there’s another issue for those who wear protestant lenses as they read this text.

Blessings

Bosco

Anonymous said...

Also against the new politicized revisionist interpretation is the way the original invitees treat the king's servants: "seizing them they treated them shamefully (hubrisan) and killed them" (v. 6), thus earning the description of "murderers" (phoneis, v. 7). They are clearly condemned in the parable, rather than mere opponents of a "tyrant". Making this generous king (v. 4, "my dinner, my oxen, my fat calves") into a "tyrant" is the kind of misreading of a text we might expect from the People's Front of Judea.
Pace Ron Smith, a teacher of literature presented with an interpretation that was just plain wrong wouldn't find it "refreshing" but bewildering.
Martin

liturgy said...

Wow! The ad hominems are certainly flowing thick and fast! Let’s just take a step back from discussing the text and look at the invectives that are flowing – and all in one direction only: new politicized revisionist interpretation… the kind of misreading of a text we might expect from the People's Front of Judea… eisegesis… a tour de farce… "creative" ingenuity but not sound hermeneutics… doesn't share the beliefs of Jesus… Kulturgeschichte…

I can see no one in this thread suggesting that those who “seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them” are “mere opponents of a "tyrant"”. Their response is little different to that of the “generous (sic) king”.

My concern as a pastor and a preacher, when this is presented as “Today’s Gospel”, is to take care in presenting God as being like this particular king, and those actions in our lives as living out the divine character – or yes, as evidenced in this thread and worse in our human history, we do end up treating each other in this manner, and feel justified when we do so.

Blessings

Bosco

Father Ron Smith said...

Martin, I'm sorry if I do not bow before your derisory description of what seems to me to be a perfectl;y permissable interpretation of the scripture. I guess that's a problem we all have to face from the 'sola Scriptura; school of interpreation - a gift solely greanted to them.

However, I;m glad to see that the ACO is promoting a whole new way of engaging with the scriptures - that takes into account the true context and the relationship between the words in The Book to the Incarnate Word at work in the world of today.

Anonymous said...

"If we teach that the king in this parable is God we need to acknowledge those who saw the destruction of Jerusalem as God’s act, all the way to the consequences of supersessionism in the Shoah..."

Quatsch und Unsinn. If you believe in divine providence, all historical acts are concursive and bilateral: "Assyria, the rod of my anger..." But notice how quickly the 'reductio ad Hitlerum' has been invoked!
Matthew 22 meant *something in the 1st century. It isn't a wax nose to be played with by the tender conscience of the 21st.
Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

Oh dear, dear Martin, you are so sure - about everything. Are you a school teacher, by any chance? Thought so.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Your comment at 11.01 pm is very nearly of rejectionable quality.

(1) Martin has made a fine point, which many biblical scholars have and do and will continue to hold to.

(2) It is no objection in a rational argument to make a remark about the certainty of the other party's convictions.

(3) You remarks contain an implicit deprecation of the teaching profession.

In the words of many a teacher's report: "I look forward to Ron doing better with his next comment."

Anonymous said...

Peter, please don't censor Ron - it's your blog, I know, but I have a Voltairean love for free speech combined with thick hides, and I enjoy Ron's remarks, because while I may question his logic sometimes, he more than compensates for this with "passionate intensity" (to cite my favorite Irish poet).
Yes, like the esteemed Bosco, for my sins I too have worked as a teacher, among other things in the Church of Christ. Teaching ancient languages and translating the Scriptures does instil in one the intolerant view that some translations (and interpretations) are better than others. I have no problem with creative writing, but have usually thought that was the province of English teachers, not biblical interpreters.
I am sorry if my style is overly robust for some, but I much prefer rugby to croquet. So, in the spirit of my irenic namesake Bucer, let us leave such adiaphora as hermeneutics aside and agree on essentials: a smashing victory over Australia.
Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

Martin. Bless you for your inclusive & kindly remarks. I, too, cherish opportunities for robust debate on this and other web-sites. May they continue to evoke feisty argument.

Anonymous said...

Your call as moderator, Peter, whether you take to task people who disagree with you sooner than those who agree with you.

Certainly Matthew 22 meant *something in the 1st century, but Martin is unable get beyond it meaning only *one thing. He is unable to appreciate that there may have been more than one use and understanding of a story (including this story) in the 1st century. That this story continues to address people as God’s Word in different situations and may do so in ways that the original hearers, Matthew or Matthew’s original community had not thought of is also not cause for invoking comparisons to Nazis complete with German insults – but rather cause for rejoicing. Fr Smith is much closer to the current way of teaching literature than Martin’s insulting of him declares. Pace Martin, literature is no longer approached as being solely objective without any relationship with its reader, and for a reader to find meanings in a text that had not been seen before is certainly refreshing and not bewildering at all.

Alison

Anonymous said...

Alsion claims to know my mind better than I do. Well, maybe - but let me add some brief remarks here.
1. I believe Jesus told this story.
2. I believe he had some particular meaning in mind - and not the one suggested by Bosco, which I find highly unlikely for a whole range of historical and literary (OT) reasons.
3. What Jesus meant is authoritative for me.
4. How a story may be used later is Kulturgeschichte or Wirkungsgeschichte - there is nothing "insulting" about these words, but I apologize if they sound pretentious, they're just terms from historical literary study. But my interest here is not literary studies (which I have been engaged in for years) but biblical hermeneutics.
5. The 'reductio ad Hitlerum' was a reference to the claim by Bosco that those who stand by the traditional interpretation have soem share in the Shoah. I repeat: Quatsch.
6. I have read lots on postmodernism and reader response crit etc. Points 1 & 2 reamin dispositve for me.

Martin

liturgy said...

“5. The 'reductio ad Hitlerum' was a reference to the claim by Bosco that those who stand by the traditional interpretation have soem share in the Shoah. I repeat: Quatsch.” Martin

My sincerest apologies, Martin, if anything I have written suggests that you personally have any responsibility for the Shoah. Certainly that was never my intention and I cannot see where I state that.

I am not as convinced as you that in Matthew’s text we have the ipsissima verba Jesu; and how the early church and Matthew used this story is “Kulturgeschichte or Wirkungsgeschichte”.

I retain the right to preach and teach your interpretation on another occasion, whilst in this thread am defending Fr Ron’s interpretation as appropriate in a sermon at St Michael’s which is literally a church standing next to a fenced-off and guarded destroyed city. The city’s destruction has been attributed to the direct action of God. “If you believe in divine providence, all historical acts are concursive and bilateral” may be very nice in theological debates removed from our context, but I stand unapologetically with those who assert unambiguously and straightforwardly that the deaths and destruction literally on the doorstep of St Michael’s (one of only two worshipping communities left in the city centre) is not the direct action of God and is not expressed by the action of the king in Matthew’s parable.

Blessings

Bosco

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bosco - of course, since I was born long after the holocaust I've never felt any personal guilt about it, and as an ardent supporter of Israel I defend the state against its many anti-Jewish detractors today. You are right that many Catholics, Orthodox and Lutherans have taught supersessionism; Reformed Christians with a deeper understanding of covenant theology and closer attention to Romans 9-11 have steered clear of this (consider why Jews were tolerated in Amsterdam) - a useful book to read is Graham Keith, 'Hated without a cause?'
It isn't "my interpretation" - it's what just about every commentator from Augustine or before has written. (Extant pre-Augustine commentaries are pretty rare.)
I follow F F Bruce in finding the ipsissima vox if not the ipsissima verba, but the distinction is not that important.'Credo in Spiritum Sanctum...' Birger Gerhardsson, Rainer Riesner and now Richard Bauckham have revolutionized the way we think about how Jesus' teaching was transmitted.
Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

Martin, reading back over this thread, I note that your former arena or biblical exposition was as a teacher in 'The Church of Christ' - as different from the Anglican Church. This does explain your didactic thrust in the arguments here. However, I suppose that the conservative wing of the Anglican Church in N.Z. may not have too different a biblical view from your own. It is in this realm of stark 'biblical inerrancy' that brings some of us into conflict with you.

I must say, I do appreciate the openness of Alison and Bosco in their eirenic empathy with the new moves in the Church towards a fresh look at hermeneutics - under the leadership here of Archbishop David Moxon. This will provide a much-needed corrective to some of the more negative aspects of old-time religious biblical interpretation.

Anonymous said...

Ron, by 'the Church of Christ' I meant the church at large; I am an orthodox Anglican. Inerrancy is taught by the 39 Articles.

Bosco writes: "but I stand unapologetically with those who assert unambiguously and straightforwardly that the deaths and destruction literally on the doorstep of St Michael’s (one of only two worshipping communities left in the city centre) is not the direct action of God"
I could never be as dogmatic, because unlike the author of 1 Kings 19, I have no prophetic insight into the meaning of storms, earthquakes etc. Divine action in the world is not a theoretical issue for me (I have relatives in Christchurch, affected but mercifully not hurt), but to exclude his involvement in principle invites the charge of deism or a God who is not omnipotent. It is better to follow the words and warning of Christ in Luke 13.2-5.
Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

Martin, I'm curious about your need to assert that you are a member of 'The Church if Christ'. In New Zealand, that is a sect, quite theologically removed from the Anglican Church here. However, since you have declared yourself a devotee of the 39 Articles (which we in N.Z. do not have to affirm specifically when we are ordained) I can see your point of view on the inerrancy of both the 39 Articles and of Scripture. That does rather explain your position.

Anonymous said...

I never said the 39 Articles are inerrant. However, I think they are a good summary of historic Anglican doctrine and I am glad to affirm them as a faithful account of what the Scriptures teach. It is difficult to recognize much liberalism as even Christian today - certainly that's how Spong strikes me. I have been an orthodox Anglican in the historic succession for most of my life (Trinity, Incarnation, Atoning death and bodily resurrection of the Son) and I have much more in common, belief-wise, with the Pope than Spong, Schori, Ingham, Holloway etc I know about the Campbellites etc, but I have always used the expression "church of Christ" in a trans-denominational sense to embrace all believers in our Lord. I try to avoid using the term "sect" (which just means "following") because it carries outdated institutional freight connotations of disapproval and, let's face it, all believers belong to one sect or another. Liberal unitarian, non-incarnationist (post)Anglicanism is a sect in the eyes of non-believers.
Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

I strongly suspect, Martin, on re-reading your last comment on this thread, that you may, yourself, be an unconscious member of the sect which we in N.Z., know as 'Church of Christ'. Considering your avowed dislike of Spong, et al, whom you declare to be heretics (according to your standard of belief), your own seeming isolationism might set you apart from other Anglicans - simply because you still insist on calling yourself by another name:
C.of C. Or are you special?

Me? I'm a catholic Anglican, but certainly, an Anglican!

Bryan Owen said...

I think it's safe to declare Spong a heretic, not on the grounds of any particular individual's standard of belief, but on the grounds that Spong has consistently and publicly repudiated (even ridiculed) the doctrinal content of the Nicene Creed ("the sufficient statement of the Christian faith," according to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral).

'Nuff said!

Anonymous said...

Ron, please give up the digital psychoanalysis. I'm an orthodox evangelical Anglican, no different really in my views than the late John Stott or the not yet late Michael Green, or Canon Orange or Wally Behan or a hoast of others.
I know you're a postmodern liberal catholic who sits loose to (or rather, repudiates) traditional catholic Anglicanism on sexuality and the Bible. 'Nuff said!
Martin