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writing things down…

A Listening Church

The Most. Rev. and Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams recently delivered a Special Larkin-Stuart Lecture at Trinity College, University of Toronto (see full text here as well). I’ve always appreciated Williams’ style and much of his content. This lecture is no different. I believe his reflections echo the notions of theological interpretation put forward on this site. Williams recaps the lecture as follows:

So in sum: what I believe we need for a renewed theological grasp of Scripture is (i) the recognition that Scripture is something heard in the event where the community affirms its identity and seeks its renewal; (ii) the development of the skills needed to explore the analogy and continuity between the world ‘in front of’ the text and the current context, so as at least to avoid the misuse of texts by abstracting them from the questions they actually put ;(iii) thus also, the discernment of where any given section of Scripture is moving – what are the changes it sets out and proposes for the reader/hearer; (iv) an understanding that this last is decisively and authoritatively illuminated by the Eucharistic setting of biblical reading; (v) the consequent holding together of Eucharist and Scripture through a strong doctrine of the Spirit’s work in constructing the community of Christ’s Body; and (vi) the recognition that neither Scripture nor Eucharist makes sense without commitment to the resurrection of Jesus as the fundamental condition of a Church whose identity is realised in listening and responding.

The language is no doubt very Anglican. I might want to re-shape some of it to reflect my own more anabaptist leanings. But, I cannot recall a better definition of theological interpretation with which to go forward.

[NB: Simon Barrow’s reflections on the unavoidability of disagreement is a good follow-up read. In fact, I would recommend that you get yourself over to Ekklesia right away and at the very least put its News Briefing and Comment in your RSS feeder of choice.]

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