Saturday, June 28, 2014

Why I think the early church was proto-Anglican

I am in the midst of an unusual period of 'apostolic' activity. No, I am not planting churches (the essence, in my view, of apostolicity) but I am engaging with the apostles and their associates.

Today I lead a seminar in Rangiora on the theology of Paul. By Wednesday I need to have completed a paper on Luke for a one day conference on Luke at Carey Baptist College - I may say more about Luke after that - the gist of my paper is that he has no reliability as an independent historian! Meantime work has begun on the next Lenten Studies book to be published by Theology House in time for 2015, based on John's Gospel. In early July I begin teaching a paper on the Book of Revelation (written by John the apostle? Another John?) for the University of Otago.

Such engagement is very fulfilling but it raises many questions. One question is the extent to which the New Testament is a collection of diverse theologies which have a degree of unity drawing them together but which, when all is said and done, do not quite fit with each other. (Prompted by a remark or two I have read in the past week) do John and Paul, for example, share the same approach to communicating the gospel to the Hellenistic world? Does John connect the gospel comfortably with that world while Paul offers a radical critique of it?

Of course such diversity in the early church brings the thought to mind that it was a prototype of the Anglican church we experience today: diversity with strained unity.

I must be off to Rangiora ...!


Father Ron Smith said...

Go well with your apostolic endeavours, Peter. Rangiora needs you. I' m sure that what you will be able to divulge on the convergence (or not) on the theological outlook of St. Paul with that of the local populace shouldn't prove too difficult. His stricter statements on gener and sexuality may well find ready convergence in the more bucolic countryside of Aotearoa /New Zealand.

Not mention the welcome they will receive at your next venue - Carey Baptist College - but, hardly 'Proto-Anglican areas of101 mission, I would have thought.

However, with the Southern Baptist Convention in the USA now exploring the theology of homosexuality, who knows how Paul's teaching might be brought under a more contemporary scrutiny?

Andrew Allan-Johns said...

Hi Ron,
Thanks to the "Faithfulness of God" the good Anglicans of Rangiora have been now been saved ;) Nice to have you thinking about us.

Anonymous said...

I am grateful this weekend for Paul's understanding of the mercy and grace of God, by which we are saved, and for Peter's teaching about how we have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus, and his call for us to live a life of imitation of Jesus. I thank God for their complimentary 'theological outlooks'!

Jean said...

Ron, that was a little cruel, what is bucollic countryside? I have to check because I now live in the countryside I don't want to fall pray to any plague.

Andrew I have heard many good things about your community there through friends who moved to Rangiora a year ago.

Peter, lots of work ahead! Perhaps it's more a case of all the books forming a whole to meet the needs of heart and spirit of the diverse personalities God has created.. I mentored a young person for a short while and she made me laugh as she said try as she might she just got nothing out of the psalms (and she was the most amazing singer). Personally my favourites have been Romans and Isaiah, admittedly some people look at me strange when I say that.

Blessings Jean