Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury has delivered a lecture today in Toronto. The audience was made up primarily of faculty and students from two theological colleges in the Anglican Church of Canada.
In the lecture the Archbishop speaks concretely about ways that he thinks Anglicans need to read and understand the words of Holy Scripture. It’s a long and helpful lecture with much to digest.
The Archbishop’s own final paragraph is perhaps the best short summary of this thought:
“So in sum: what I believe we need for a renewed theological grasp of Scripture is
- the recognition that Scripture is something heard in the event where the community affirms its identity and seeks its renewal;
- the development of the skills needed to explore the analogy and continuity between the world ‘in front of’ the text and the current context, so as at least to avoid the misuse of texts by abstracting them from the questions they actually put; thus also,
- the discernment of where any given section of Scripture is moving — what are the changes it sets out and proposes for the reader/hearer;
- an understanding that this last is decisively and authoritatively illuminated by the Eucharistic setting of biblical reading;
- the consequent holding together of Eucharist and Scripture through a strong doctrine of the Spirit’s work in constructing the community of Christ’s Body; and
- the recognition that neither Scripture nor Eucharist makes sense without commitment to the resurrection of Jesus as the fundamental condition of a Church whose identity is realised in listening and responding.
Reading Scripture theologically and understanding theologically the process of reading — all this is essentially about seeing Scripture as the vehicle of God’s act to bring about conversion. Ultimately, Scripture brings us back to the uniquely creative moment of God’s freedom — to the grace of a free self-bestowal that can create what is other and then, by love and welcome, transform that other into a sharer and communicator of the same joyful, generative act. ‘The word of life…[that] we have seen and heard we declare to you, so that you and we together may share in a common life, that life which we share with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ’ (I Jn.1.1-3).”
Read the rest here: Archbishop of Canterbury – church needs to listen properly to the bible