Monday, April 17, 2006

The Anglican Triad

In an article in last month’s Nevertheless, I referred to Anglican theologian Richard Hooker’s order of priority that he assigned to Scripture, Reason, and Tradition. I didn’t include it in the article, but to be absolutely specific, I was drawing upon a quote from the Fifth Book of Hooker’s Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Chapter 8 "The Third Proposition," section 2. I think it has something still to teach us. (All the following quotations are from the 1977 edition from the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.)

In this section, Hooker refers to two kinds of laws that he believes the Church may properly establish: one for the sake of order, the other pertaining to doctrine. He does contend that “that which in doctrine the Church doth now deliver rightlie as a truth, no man will saie that it may hereafter recall and as rightlie avoutch the contrarie. Lawes touchinge matter of order are changeable, by the power of the Church; articles concerninge doctrine not so." Yet, he then says, in the specific quote to which I referred earlier, "Be it in matter of the one kinde or of the other, what scripture doth plainelie deliver, to that the first place both of creditt and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever anie man can neccessarelie conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. That which the Church by her ecclesiasticall authoritie shall probablie thinke and define to be true or good, must in congruitie of reason overrule all other inferior judgmentes whatsoever." Here the casual reader will want to note that ‘succeedeth’ refers to ‘follows in order of succession’ rather than to ‘wins’ or ‘prevails.’

Saturday, April 8, 2006

The Lingering Issue

Returning from a vacation spent drinking in the natural beauty of our great state, I’m refreshed and reminded of the wonder and goodness of God. In touch with the vastness of God’s creation, the urgent concerns of humanity tend to shrink in comparison. To be surrounded by the awe-inspiring rugged grandeur of the mountains, to sit quietly and hear the whisper of God in the silence of the desert, has been, for me, to gain a renewed appreciation of the timeless and divine blessings that God, I think, would have shape the lives of His people. In our supposedly more civilized settings of city and suburb there reside concerns or ‘issues’ that can drive us quite forcefully. And unless they are integrated with the eternal and divine, these are the issues that can most easily divide, and whose resolutions, if similarly divorced from the transcending goodness of God, can bring far more harm than healing. My experience in the past and of late has been that these ‘issues’ can be humbled, issue-driven-ness quickly can be tamed, in the context of less-mediated and less-distracted contact with God.