Admiral of Morality: Reading the Bible

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Reading the Bible

Jim Naughton at The Episcopal Cafe has put up a fine post up about reading the Bible. Here's a snippet:
"William Stringfellow was a gay, chain-smoking, Harvard-trained New York City lawyer, who lived and worked among the poor of East Harlem in the last half of the 20th century.

In the late 60s, he was a radical supporter of the anti-war movement, an extreme critic of the Nixon administration, and a hands-on advocate for the poor and hated. He defended Bishop Pike in 1966 against charges of heresy. He supported and defended the first women to be irregularly ordained. He befriended the Barrigans in their anti-war protests.

To many, one might suppose Stringfellow was the classic 'liberal Episcopalian.' Yet, in much the way that Stanley Hauerwas rejects 'theological liberalism,' Stringfellow was not a theological liberal. Indeed, he was a misfit among liberals who shared much of his social justice vision. Walter Wink has said that Stringfellow, "seems to have come, theologically, out of nowhere." But he didn't come from nowhere. He came from the land of the Bible. It is quite evident that William Stringfellow lived, advocated and worked as he did based on his deep commitment to living under the Word of God in the Bible."
Read the whole thing. It's worth it.

It's probably safe to say, that most of us Episcopalians/Anglicans, do not engage the living Word enough. Maybe this is because there are some passages that so-and-so says are the linchpin of the whole thing and you don't agree with those one bit and so, chuck the whole thing. Or maybe it's because you think of it as a static text that can be placed neatly alongside other books and even read or analyzed the same way. Not so.

If too many of us are not comfortable reading, engaging, and discussing the Bible, or have little more than a passing familiarity with it, then this is a shortcoming in the Christian education models of our Church. 

The Bible is the written root and source of our faith and tradition. It is the only definitive record of the Gospel of the Lord. To equip Episcopalians to live out the Gospel, Episcopalians should also be equipped in Biblical literacy. Our Church has a rich and venerable heritage of bringing the living Word to people in the spoken and widely used language of the day. We need to reclaim this history.

One step towards this would be putting a Bible in every pew. Not every parish does this and in fact, it may be that the percentage that do, is low.

Getting that percentage up would be a step in the right direction.

NB: The post at The Episcopal Cafe is by The Rev. Samuel Gregory Jones, rector of St. Michael's, Raleigh. Fr. Jones is one of the fine stable of essayists and regular contributors Jim has assembled over at The Episcopal Cafe; Fr. Jones also hosts the blog The Anglican Centrist. Thanks to JB Chilton for pointing this out.


Blogger PseudoPiskie said...

I learned early on to stay away from discussions of the Bible. It seemed that most of the people who joined those were either not willing or not able to see past the words on the page. I was always the resident heretic and not welcome to teach Sunday School which was actually a blessing for me. The result is I rarely open one of the half dozen or so Bibles I own. And I appreciate Bork and Spong and even Hitchens and the other antis as they keep me thinking.

9/06/2007 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger The AoM said...

What you state is an unfortunate symptom of a situation many go through. Faced with differing or conflicting interpretations or responses to Scripture, we turn away from a shared experience and from an individual one.

Our church has done a fine job of welcoming seekers to our parishes. We can, and should, do a better job of welcoming seekers to our Bible.

9/06/2007 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...


Note that the author of the essay Jim posted is The Rev. Samuel Gregory Jones ("Greg"). Greg is one of a number of essayists Jim has collected to write for its Daily Episcopalian blog.

9/07/2007 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger The AoM said...

So noted. Thank you.

9/07/2007 10:43:00 AM  

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