Monday, February 21, 2011

Best way to read the Bible?

catholicity and covenant: The KJV and the Anglican settlement

h/t Jason Ballard's blog, "A Tribe Called Anglican" (in my Useful Links to the right) for linking to this article.

It touches on several subjects, one of which is Anglicanism's reliance on the ordered, public reading of the Bible - reflecting the community's gathering around the Scripture as reflected in the Jewish Tabernacle and Christian history prior to the printing press.

I was taken with this look at formative Anglican writer Richard Hooker,

"Hooker contrasts this with the Puritan view that "the profit of readinge [Scripture] is singular, in that is serveth for a preparative unto sermons" (Laws of Eccleisiastical Polity 22.7). This view he holds to be 'poore ... cold ... hungrie' alongside the Church's tradition of the ordered reading of Scripture:

'It hath bene a commendable order, a custome verie expedient, or an ordinance most profitable ... to reade the word of God at large in the Church' (22.18)."

Now, I don't discount the private reading of Scripture one bit. In fact, it is necessary in a world where we don't all live within walking distance of a village church or live on schedules that allow us to come together very easily, or in settings where public gatherings will be targeted by hostile forces. Even the Preface of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer assumes a special importance for clergy to read and meditate upon the Bible daily in order to better impart the Word to the people.

The Church Calendar, its Lectionaries (assigned readings for certain days), Bible study groups, daily liturgies or other communal engagements are so important if the Bible is to have a formative impact upon the church. Scripture needs to be heard more often than just the one or two Sundays per month that many members actually show up at the church today. This traditional or "Catholic" order serves as one way in which the church protects the people from factional or eccentric individual interpretations and misapplications of Scripture.

It needs also be said that the high place of Scripture in the public worship, thought and practice of the church is a Reformed (or "Protestant") priority, over against an unchallenged "clericalism" - be that of an actual clergy order or a Liberal Protestant assertion of "definitive scholarship" - any elite that imposes an un-Biblical agenda upon a Scripture deprived people.

No comments: