A Resounding Slap For Liberal Anglicanism image

A Resounding Slap For Liberal Anglicanism

Australians are not known for pulling their punches at the best of times. But when Australians are evangelical New Testament scholars, and they encounter books which express a soggy liberalism (I was going to call it “neo-liberalism”, but there’s nothing neo- about it) from within Anglicanism, they can really put on a show. Here are the concluding paragraphs of Mike Bird’s excellent review of The Once and Future Scriptures. Both the Les Miserables analogy, and the rousing last few lines, are brilliant:

“The absurdity of the book can be easily demonstrated. Imagine the ‘Victor Hugo Society’ where its president gets up and denies that Victor Hugo really wrote Les Miserables in any direct sense (though the guy who wrote it might have had an experience of him in some French cafe), the President then deplores Valjean’s shameless accumulation of wealth and his participation in the student uprising, accuses Valjean of keeping Cossette as his sex-slave, insists that the voices of Javert and Thenardier were suppressed and need to be heard afresh, suggests that we abandon the grand narrative within Les Miserables because it oppresses alternative readings of the French Republic, and asks the society if there is any reason why anyone would continue to reading a book that promotes morally debased and economically unfair beliefs. This sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, but when Anglican scholars try to convince us that Scripture is aesthetic but not authoritative, and it cannot be taken to heart except with a list of qualifications as long as the Via Dolorosa, it is hard to take them seriously.

“Finally, I remain impressed how open minded progressives are so close minded towards views other than their own. These essays are not ground breaking feats of research, they are deliberately narrow in the scholarship they interact with, and the book looks little more than preaching to a very shrinking choir.

“I pray that the Brisbane Diocese has a “Barthian Moment,” where some eccentric priest in the place – much like Karl Barth in 1918 – stands up and starts preaching Scripture with the ferocity of a man or a woman who really believes that God is making his arresting voice heard afresh. A preacher who has the chutzpah and conviction to say that Scripture is not a warm up act for ethics or economics, but it is about God confronting us with his all-embracing grace and his all-satisfying majesty. A vicar who might show scandalous contempt for assuaging secular unbelief and talks with outrageous disregard for cultural acceptance. A preacher who drops a bombshell in a postmodern paradise and says that Scripture is not a mirror, not a maze, but the divine “memra,” a word from another world. A preacher who acts if he really believes what he/she is preaching so that audiences will discover that the Word of God is not an symphony of religious aesthetics, not a relic of a once religious past, but Scripture is the Holy Spirit speaking to us, and his Word is Christ, and Christ is Saviour – and Christ’s love is infinitely fulfilling, his goodness is immeasurably bountiful, his compassion is eternally enduring, his death breaks the bonds of death, his resurrection makes all things new, and his promise to be with us till the end can never be broken. Perhaps then, as St. Paul says, “through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement that they provide we might have hope” (Rom 15:4).”

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