Monday, December 18, 2006

Wright blasts new Anglican movement [updated 29/01/07]



N.T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham and renowned theologian, has severely criticised 'A Covenant for the Church of England', a new document which ostensibly sets out to affirm a conservative, evangelical/charismatic free-church inspired movement within the Anglican tradition. Here's an excerpt:


Not least, it should be said, in that the document is a slipshod piece of work simply at the drafting level; I have been assured that it took a year to write, but it reads as though someone put it together hastily on the back of a few envelopes, and didn't trouble to stand back and reflect on it.


Fans of Wright know that he is hardly one to fight against church planting or renewal of any kind. However it appears that those behind this 'covenant' are not in step with much of the theological renewal which has been going on with and without the Anglican communion. This whole affair to me seems very much relating to ongoing disputes within the body of Christ at large. There seems to be an increasing amount of in-fighting, rebuking and general disturbance throughout the Western church. Over the past few weeks we have had names like Wright, Driscoll, Piper, Grudem, McLaren and MacArthur popping up over the blogosphere as each one either receives or hands out rebuke. What on earth is happening to the Church? Personally I think we are in a time of great transition...and not everyone is liking it.

So what are the areas of contention? The hot issues seem to be:


  • homosexuality. In Anglican circles the question is whether a gay man or lesbian women can serve as a minister or bishop. In other circles the question is to how homosexuality is approached by the church, both theological and practically. And in some Emergent circles, the topic is avoided altogether, due to concern over offending gays and lesbians.

    (For those that don't have the luxury of holding out on a theological position on homsexuality, this emergent blogger gives his own personal reflection, which according to Andrew Jones, is probably what many in the emerging church believe.)


  • egalitarianism vs complementarism. Wayne Grudem has recently come under heavy fire on the blogosphere for alleged theological flaws in his defense of the traditional view. This is just one mini-debate out of thousands which are currently playing out in this arena. (From an outsider's POV, it looks like Grudem is losing this particular skirmish at Better Bibles)


  • emerging/Emergent church. John MacAruthur has recently blasted both Driscoll and the entire emerging church. Driscoll is blasted because he speaks in the vernacular, rather than in the language of 'polite society'. Whatever.


I'm not sure if Wright's rebuke fits neatly into any of the above categories, but a quick reading through his posting shows all of the above issues lurking under the surface.

Goto Tall Skinny Kiwi's blog for more.

7 comments:

Adam said...

I read Brian McLaren's comments on homosexuality with interest. I find myself, broadly, in agreement with him, both in terms of the need for further reflection on these issues before coming to absolute conclusions, and also for the need to understand the "question behind the question", when it is asked. In directly answering the former, one can completely fail to answer the latter.

paul said...

interesting, i have starting exploring all these issues that you mention in this post...

I think we need to welcome critique from people like John, be more charitable to those we might disagree with over issues like the role of women and be more consistent with addressing sexuality full stop rather than focussing on one aspect of it or the other.

thank you for adding your voice to the conversation, i think we need to grow in our appreciation of deep church rather than uniform one...

Alastair said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alastair said...

Personally I don't find MacArthur's critique helpful at all, especially if all he can complain about is that a missional preacher who is reaching tens of thousands by his preaching is not using the language of polite society. As had been said before, the New Testament was written in "street Greek" (Koine), and if anything the language of polite society should be avoided in order to be "biblical" :-) Of course we know that we should be all things to all people.

Apart from this, I agree with you, we need to welcome dialogue in all issues, especially ones such as the role of women, and gender issues, as these are particularly relevant to contemporary society.

One of the reasons this blog exists is to encourage more dialogue and theology on sex, as you rightly point out, the church has, in the past, taken a decidedly lopsided approach to this.

Anonymous said...

For the record, the debate at Better Bibles Blog is not about complementarianism itself (at least it's not supposed to be; sometimes it does range more broadly than the purpose of the blog). The issue has primarily been about Grudem's particular translation philosophy about gender language. His arguments are very recent developments in the history of debates over translation, and complementarianism doesn't stand or fall on those issues. Many complementarians would be happy to say good riddance to his arguments, in fact.

Jeremy Pierce said...

For the record, the debate at Better Bibles Blog is not about complementarianism itself (at least it's not supposed to be; sometimes it does range more broadly than the purpose of the blog). The issue has primarily been about Grudem's particular translation philosophy about gender language. His arguments are very recent developments in the history of debates over translation, and complementarianism doesn't stand or fall on those issues. Many complementarians would be happy to say good riddance to his arguments, in fact.

Alastair said...

Thanks for your correction, Jeremey. I did realise that the debate was technically about translation issues, but it seemed to me that the wider issue in the background was one of the role of women generally...or, to put it another way, the reason surely that Grudem is arguing for a certain translation philosophy is because of his complementarian view. Am I allowed to say that? :-)