Monday, September 26, 2005

Comprehensive and Reformed

Why Anglicanism? Part V
Regarding the Reformation

It was the radical liberal wing of the Protestant Reformation that drifted away from the Church Fathers, insisting on sola scriptura. The vision of a Reformed Catholic faith is that the Scripture and the ancient creeds are essential, but that many other things are not. If one draws the lines of "orthodoxy" too tightly, one quickly finds oneself placed outside that box.

The scriptures themselves are essentials, and other things seen as non-essentials. As I heard Jim Packer say once, If scripture prescribes something, it is required, if it proscribes something, it is never permissible, but anything else that is an aid to mission and devotion to Jesus and does not violate the teaching of scripture is acceptable. The Bible stands over the Church, but the entire catholic church, the body of believers in all times and all places, is the interpretive community. One may not “interpret” the demands of the apostolic faith all on one’s own.

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9 comments:

+ simonas said...

i agree with this inclination and am all for the dialog and common interpretation. the question remains, however - how do we decide whom to listen to? the pope? hm... do all of the church fathers agree on everything?

like i said, i get excited when i read something in church fathers that seems to align itself with the scriptures, but that does not always happen.

i do not claim to be an expert in this field and would like to learn, though.

peace, brother.

dan spors said...

your thoughts are very well stated. i don't think that i've heard anything so well stated that gives value to both the uniqueness of scripture as well as the work put in by the ancient Church and handed down to us today.

Kyle said...

Thanks for the kind words, Dan.

Thanks, Simonas. I think you realize that a critique of some aspect of protestant practice is not necessarily a call to return to papal authority.

As I've insisted before, one cannot talk about "the early church" and be sensible for very long: one can talk about "the early churches," however, and hope to get somewhere with it.

For me, in terms of day-to-day practice, decisions on faith and life are made in the context of the local community (B16 probably wouldn't return my calls, anyway), but the local community interprets in the context of the larger Church. We read the Fathers, and keep an awareness of Church history, and dialogue with our contemporaries.

Perhaps it's a kind of baptist way of being Catholic? Determined to listen, but maintaining one's own interpretive competency before God? But I don't go so far as to claim that for the individual, but rather the individual local community.

the funky monkey-duck said...

I haven't a clue what you just said, but it sounded wonderful. ;)

+ simonas said...

OK, that sounds good. i guess i'd be with you on that one. awareness of church history (and critiquing it) - catholic, orthodox, protestant, and radical reformation, whatever. so, good on being determined to listen and to dialog. good on ecclesiology and the local community being involved in doing theology. i'm with you, if i understand you corectly.

Robbie said...

Dude, I love your blog. It's great. I just wanted to say that I agree with what you said about interpreting scripture independently. I thinks it's actually dangerous to interpret scripture on one's own. By the way, have you read Rob Bell's new book? He makes some really good points when it comes to interpreting.

Kyle said...

I've not, Robbie, but I'll take a look at it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Charlie said...

Perhaps you should take note that the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion forbids those things which are "repugnant" to Scripture and mentions the "invoking of the saints," purgatory, and transubstantiation specifically as "repugnant" to Scripture. It is conveniently overlooked by Anglo-Catholics that the English Reformation was not "via media" but Reformed, Anglican and solidly Protestant. While that form of Protestant faith was more moderate than the Puritan or the Anabaptist, it was nevertheless Protestant with a capital "P." This is the same faith that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was martyred for. It is the same faith that Ridley and Latimer were martyred for. Let us never forget that the faith once delivered to the saints is infallibly recorded for us in Holy Scripture, which is "sufficient," according the Articles of Religion. Church fathers may err. Scripture never errs.

Kyle said...

Duly noted. The via media was of course a political settlement, historically speaking, and I'm not sure if it ever really was or could be some kind of theological stance, contra what I said in this original post. I do see also that the 39 Articles represent an awfully Reformed view of things, for better or worse.

Cheers, man.