The question of how Anglicans (Episcopalians) use the bible has come up a couple of times this week in various conversations. And as luck would have it, I’m working my way through a book by Paul Avis on what we mean when we speak about an Anglican Church, and in my reading this morning, I came across this quote:
This faith is said to be ‘uniquely revealed’ in the Holy Scriptures. Here the Scriptures are accorded the status of the vehicle of revelation. But neither here nor in the Articles is there any theory of revelation or of biblical inspiration. The Articles state that ‘Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation’ and this is echoed in the Chicago—Lambeth Quadrilateral (1886–88) which upholds the Scriptures as ‘the rule and ultimate standard of faith’. Anglican formularies do not recognize the Scriptures as a source of binding precepts and precedents which should determine the worship or polity of the Church. Reason and tradition also have their part to play.
Avis, P. (2008). The Identity of Anglicanism: Essentials of Anglican Ecclesiology (p. 11). London; New Delhi; New York; Sydney: Bloomsbury.
I’m grateful for the way Avis puts this. We use Scripture as the rule and ultimate standard, but it, in of itself, is not the source of “binding precepts”. It’s in Scripture’s conversation with Reason and the Tradition of the Church that we comprehend the Truth.
(This allows space for the Creeds and the Liturgy as well as our own engagement with both and Holy Scripture as the vehicles the Holy Spirit uses to reveal God’s truth to us.)
It’s the conversation that matters. Which further implies that Truth and God’s will is discerned in relationship to others rather than as a solitary endeavor. And that, to my mind, is the key to understanding Anglican hermeneutics.
Just an early morning thought today.
Understanding why we do what we’ve always done gives it new meaning and value.
To the three-legged stool of Anglican thought, Scripture, tradition and reason, I would add a fourth leg of experience. It is our relationship to the God of love and love of neighbor that is the foundation of faith. David+
Thank you, dear bishop.
Thank you. This confirms in plain language what I’ve taken ages to comprehend since becoming interested in TEC. Very helpful.