Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Sermon which upset someone

So, I'm not a theological conservative.  That probably comes across in pretty much everything I write, but I thought I should say it.  I believe myself to be orthodox, however, and hold to those things which the Church expresses in the catholic creeds.  I also have a relatively 'high' theology regarding the inspiration of Scripture.

But I am not a Biblical literalist, nor do I hold to a doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture. I can't.  The Bible is too rich, too deep, too difficult, too flawed for that.  And by flawed I mean I understand it to be the record of human beings trying to make sense of God at work.  It has the breath of the Spirit blowing through it's words and on every page, but when we try and make sense of God there is a chance we will go awry.... 'Hey lets condemn (and or murder) pretty much everyone who isn't in our tribe, that's obviously what God wants' kind of awry.  And if we study this book carefully then we see that ideas develop, things change, people learn more, and grow, and experience God in new ways and so their understanding grows.  Of course we don't have our Bibles laid out in chronological order and divided up by editorial structure which would help us in understanding that, but that's a post for another day - like this one: A Big Bible Overview

This is all a preamble to last Sunday's sermon, which was on the readings the C of E commonly associates with Bible Sunday. In the Anglican Church of Canada it was simply Pentecost 22....

This is God's Story, Our Story, Everyone's Story, the recorded version of last Sunday's sermon should be below, if not, please click here:



And for the record, the reason for the title was a response to this sermon which came from someone I hold a deep affection for, but who cannot accept that each word of Scripture did not drop straight from the mind of God to the pen of the writer.  This man has an admirable desire to share the love and light of Christ,  and knows the Bible well. I stick with what I said in the sermon though - I sincerely believe there is only one Word of God and he is Jesus Christ.  Scripture contains the words we have been given to discover the Word.


10 comments:

Bob MacDonald said...

you do pick the tough battles. I likely agree on the issue of the canon, but there is something vital there that is hard to put into words.

On your second point of reading together, materials may have been expensive but how would I learn them so well if I were confined to hearing them in the assembly? (especially in translation). Also what kind of dedicated skill and knowledge was needed to write a psalm, or collect the stories of Torah or the words of the prophets together into scrolls?

Besides calling the people to holiness, some were called to learn in detail. And I must admit, I found it difficult to be obedient to the gifts received and I did know a lot of the words. Scripture was read to us every day twice a day - didn't have a very good impact from an immediate point of view on any of us, readers or hearers, - and some of the readers should have known better how to behave.

What, I wonder, was missing?

Alastair McCollum said...

Thanks for your reply, Bob, i would argue that the communal sharing of Scriptural reading is pretty uncontentious in early near eastern society... the Torah was not read at home, the letters of Paul were not read (or indeed written) for purely personal consumption. As literacy was a scarce commodity until the late 1800s it would be odd to think that households would spend incredible amounts of money to own something they would not understand. Even learning on a more personal level was done in groups by the guidance of a rabbi or teacher. I would hold my original point, scripture is not
about me and God but about us and God...

Alastair McCollum said...

And arguments re canon and inspiration fall subject to that shared openness to the life of the Spirit too, as councils of the Church wrestled with what was 'of God'. We have dangerously individualized the interpretation and understanding of Scripture.

Bob MacDonald said...

Yes - I agree we have failed in community (my point in the first comment). Yes - we have fragmented our unity, even more than dangerously. But I do not read alone today even if I read online. I am dependent on the historical community (saints, scholars, etc) that is present to me and in me in the background of my being and my words.

I am in the vine and the vine is in me. It is not l'état c'est moi, but it is the corporate reality of Christ and it is not absent.

Now - to the second of many questions raised in your important sermon - what is the word of God to Isaiah (ch 55, my word) or to the Psalmist (Ps 33, the word of יהוה)? In neither case is it 'Jesus'. The church, the state, the great assembly needs a Christ (an Anointing Spirit) who yes is Incarnate in Jesus, in all points like us, but who also does not allow narrowness to intrude on its governance. Governance must do more than enforce conformity.

Alastair McCollum said...

The word of those Hebrew scribes probably would be,in their understanding, Torah. But then the fulfillment of Torah, in my understanding, comes in the Word made flesh.

I will have to ponder further, thank you Bob.

Bob MacDonald said...

Thanks for the stimulus Alastair. I will be off to St Luke's Winnipeg this morning. No Eucharist at St George's. We are not moving here, but I am going to get to know the community a little.

Bob MacDonald said...

Here is what I found this morning in my reading sequence in the psalms - psalm 119,89 (LORD) forever your word
stands firm in heaven.

blessings for the morning

Anonymous said...

Al share your belief that the word is more than the written word but surely it also has to even more than word in Christ as folk of other faiths have a potentially full encounter with god surely to day Christ is the word only makes sense for Christians - for a Muslim it might be the prophet for a Hindu Shiva or Krishna etc for someone following am indigenous religion it might be whatever there representation of the communicated grace of god is who ever the gateway is for them

Anonymous said...

Hi again meant to leave my name on above comment cheers phil Searle

Alastair McCollum said...

Thanks Phil... I would hold to the idea that Christ is the fullest expression of the Word of God. that's kind of me being Orthodox... :-)