Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rightly handling the Word of God

Today our Parliament gets to debate the first reading of proposed changes to our law on marriage. Around the world, and our country, debate over the theology of marriage rumbles on. One challenge for Christians on such a matter (as on any matter) is how we read Scripture as we do theology. Paul challenges Timothy to rightly handle the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).

One thing quite noticeable in the i-world of Anglican discussion is an approach which cuts, slices and dices Scripture on marriage. In some ways I am not quite sure to what purpose. At a minimum this approach highlights the challenge of elucidating a biblical theology of marriage. But, at risk of making a hasty judgement, this approach does raise the question of whether it is pressing at a maximum for the impossibility of saying anything sensible, let alone authoritative about the use of Scripture in expressing a theology of marriage.

A recent example of such an approach (at least regarding the challenge of developing a biblical theology) is near here Down Under on Bosco Peters' Liturgy site (which should be read in conjunction with an earlier post on the Bible here). Interestingly my figuring in the comments following has led to the charge that I am "cherrypicking." I am contemplating exploring that charge in a future post here. But, in the meantime, I want to commend John Richardson at The Ugley Vicar for offering a different approach to Scripture than cut, slice and dice. In three posts Richardson offers a classical evangelical exposition of Scripture in respect of Genesis 1-3. Whether we agree with his conclusions or not, we might consider whether his approach has merit. Post One, Two and Three.

Or, is he just a sophisticated cherrypicker?

If so, I am glad to keep company with him!

ADDENDUM: I'm with Ms Domingues. In a church of many biblical theologies of marriage (and don't you dare cherry pick which is the plum), and in a society cheerfully making up what it means by 'family' as life goes along, I cannot see any objection at all to a three person marriage. Can you?


Father Ron Smith said...

"Or, is he just a sophisticated cherrypicker? If so, I am glad to keep company with him!" - Peter -

Yes, Peter, I believe the Ugley Vicar is a 'cherry-picker', but one gets used to them on religious sites.

I notice on his site (unlike yours) most of his incoming comments are from the like-minded. He must feel quite satisfied about that. After all, he spends a lot of time and words on his protestations.

You might say that I do, too, but at least I'm retired - not having a full-time parish position.

Revd John P Richardson said...

Just by way of explanation, which might help Ron, my "full-time parish position" is actually not quite that. I work full-time, but my job description (under the new common tenure legislation), specifies that writing is officially part of my work for which I get paid by those who support it.

Shawn said...

Read the posts and saw no evidence of cherry picking. On the other hand I have seen plenty of cherry picking from Ron lately.

Tim Chesterton said...

Ron needs to spend a bit more time on John's site before making sweeping generalisations. He has his resident naysayers too.

liturgy said...

Cherry-picking marriage breaking update: It now appears that the Sydney wife-submitting "marriage" you have written about more than once is not legal. The Marriage Act requires clergy to use a rite authorised by the religion's governing body. There are now several Sydney Anglicans openly "living in sin", including at least one ordinand.



Shawn said...


I noticed a pretty sharp debate myself in the comments. Ron is sadly once again playing the man not the ball.

Father Ron Smith said...

From his last remark it would appear that Shawn, having been born in the US, has never played rugby football. If he had, he would recognise his 'non sequiteur' here. The ball never moves of its own accord - it usually has a person guiding its traverse.

Father Ron Smith said...

"There are now several Sydney Anglicans openly "living in sin", including at least one ordinand."
- Bosco -

Dear Bosco; we are all 'living in sin' - par for the human condition. Don't be too hard on the Sydney-siders. It might be cruel to disturb their fantasy that they are the only 'righteous'. Kyrie eleison!

Shawn said...

On the other hand it is a mercy to disabuse Liberals of the fantasy that they alone are the righteous.

liturgy said...

Agreed, Fr Ron; which is exactly why I put "living in sin" in quotation marks.

Bosco the sinner

Father Ron Smith said...

Can anyone identify the Bird of Prey on a certain site indicator? And what it might signify? I'n sure it must be biblical in some way

Peter Carrell said...

It's Johnny's eagle isn't it? Signifying the profound insight possible from a high vantage point, exemplified in the brilliant theology of the Fourth Gospel.

Father Ron Smith said...

To presume to represent such a high calling as that of Blessed John might seem a little presumptuous.

Shawn said...

Actually it is just a symbol of my motherland.

American by birth, Kiwi by accident, Southern by the grace of God :)

That said I thought Anglo-Catholics were into imitation of the "saints". Like St. Francis for example.