7/04/2008

The Irish Primate on Hooker and Anglican Issues.

The Primate of the Church of Ireland, the Most Reverend Alan Harper, has given a lecture now posted on the Anglican Communion website as "Holy Scripture and the Law of God in Contemporary Anglicanism in the Light of Richard Hooker’s 'Lawes'." Do not be put off by the title or the length. It is a meaty and highly valuable reminder that much of what goes on in contemporary Anglican struggles stands in continuity with much older arguments and problems within the Church of England.

Richard Hooker was immediately engaged in the effort in the late 1500's to bind the Church of England into one body holding in tension Calvinist and Catholic parties. The Archbishop makes the case for our paying attention to Richard Hooker's understanding of the Bible. His argument takes the listener from the 1500's to the present, where Archbishop Harper contends Hooker has something to say about how we appropriate and understand Romans 1:18-27. Thus Richard Hooker, who spoke then speaks now in Archbishop Harper.

Ruth Gledhill is earning her pay these days even more than usual, and she has quoted extensively from the lecture on her blog. Read her remarks
HERE.

To give a taste from the end of the Archbishop's lecture, there is this: " Romans 1, therefore, provides no declaration of the Law of God in respect of homosexuality and homosexual acts. Reference to such acts is what Hooker might call “by-speeches” in the context of an historical narrative and, as such, not a declaration of God’s Law. Furthermore, Paul, in his treatment of the issues, employs reason based upon the knowledge and presuppositions accessible to him in his day. These may be challenged if the knowledge base changes definitively. It is therefore inappropriate on the basis of Romans 1.18-17 and ff to judge or anathematize persons on the basis of sexual orientation." It is important to read just how he got there and take seriously the need to read Hooker again.

The lecture was given to the USPG Conference - The United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel is still at it, and this lecture affirms once again USPG's willingness to struggle with important issues that effect the ability of the Church to proclaim the Gospel everywhere in the world.

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