Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Solo Scriptura and Inhospitality to Conservative Theology

Has Sola Scriptura been bastardized to Solo Scriptura?

Michael Bird offers an intriguing paragraph from a book I have just ordered.

The book is

"Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation Paperback – January 20, 2015

by Michael Allen (Author), Scott R. Swain (Author), J. Todd Billings (Afterword)"

Of course Reformed Catholicity means 'Anglican' doesn't it?

Turning from the true character of Sola Scriptura as an internal debate among conservative theologians, this morning's news also gives pause for thought about hospitality being shown to theological conservatives in mainline denominations.

In this PennLive report on a dismissal in the Presbyterian Church of the USA the spectre looms of inhospitality (if not of hostility) to conservative theological views as a consequence of a denominational change in respect of same sex marriage.

This kind of story from overseas focuses attention on how the future of church life in ACANZP is going to play out.

From a 'hospitality' perspective we have at least two groups seeking hospitality from the whole church: those who oppose same sex marriage becoming a canonical norm in our church and those who wish to conduct same sex marriages (or, at least, blessings of same sex partnerships).

An obvious question is whether we can provide hospitality to both groups? (That, more or less, is the great question our current Way Forward Working Group is working on).

A less obvious question (I suggest) is whether each group can recognise the right of the other group to seek such hospitality. As a conservative myself I recognise that in various ways inhospitality (on a variety of matters in diverse contexts) has been shown to conservatives in our church over many decades. So fears of a US Presbyterian scenario unfolding here are not irrational. Yet I wonder whether we conservatives recognise that those wishing to be able to bless same sex partnerships may have similar fears of inhospitality should the status quo prevail.

Another way of thinking about these things is to ask ourselves how we give expression to forms of dissent which may not require division of the church.


Jean said...

That is very sad that a Presbyterian Minister or any Minister of any denomination is put in this position.

Father Ron Smith said...

" As minister of Faith Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg for the past three years, Lowe refused to compromise his religious views, even though his congregants voted to remain under the main umbrella of the church in spite of its recent ruling on gay marriage."

What really would seem to be the case is that Mr.Lowe's leadership of his congregation became no longer acceptable to them - and, seemingly, to the parent Church in which he was employed. This means that, if he were to be interviewed today as prospective pastor of that Church community, he would not be chosen to lead therm.

His theological stance against homosexuals would not be considered by either his prospective congregation - or his parent Church - to be consonant with the Gospel inclusivity they believe is their mission in and to the world.

In other words "Mr Lowe's religious views" are no longer acceptable to the majority of Presbyterians in the USA.

Kurt said...

I wouldn't worry about the Rev. Mr. Lowe. There are more than 30 Presbyterian denominations in the United States, several of which share Mr. Lowe's outlook. I'm sure he will eventually find a congregation that will accept him and his views.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Bryden Black said...

Leaving aside Mr Lowe for the moment:
As I've said before, the crux seems to me to ask about the integrity of the new institution that seeks to house and so be hospitable to such contradictory views, not least as the means whereby each seeks their own legitimacy and so integrity are themselves so completely contrary. THAT is literally a basic question.... Or in slang: not the elephant in the room but an entire herd of elephants.

Peter Carrell said...

An important question, Bryden, and one which, in some previous instances (at least) appears to have had a positive answer (e.g. when charismatic renewal was welcomed and rejected within the same denomination) and in some previous instances has had a negative answer (e.g. when the CofE could not embrace Methodism, Puritanism, and believers' baptism).

Father Ron Smith said...

".... Or in slang: not the elephant in the room but an entire herd of elephants"

Indeed! And.. so many rooms! (30?)

MichaelA said...

"Yet this is a far cry from the confession of Scripture’s clarity in the early Reformed movement or even in its expression by the post-Reformation dogmatics of the Reformed churches …"

Good point by the learned authors, although they could have gone further back. The term Sola Scriptura was not coined by the reformers. It is used by Thomas Aquinas and Robert Grosseteste in the 13th century, with essentially the same meaning as the protestant reformers (and many of their opponents) ascribed to it, i.e. that scripture alone has certain divine qualities which make it unique from all other authorities.

Bryden Black said...

Because Peter it is, as you say, such an "important question", it deserves to be addressed and answered. The tragic element is that so far it has been avoided, as if we were seemingly looking at merely divergent views as opposed to radically opposing ones.