Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s presidential address to General Synod

‘Traditioned innovation’ reoccurs again and again and again in the Bible. There is not time to go through all the examples, but obvious ones would be the growth of the Empire under David and Solomon, the division of the Kingdom, the fall of the Northern Kingdom and quasi-colonial status under various great powers, the Exile and the Return. And that does not even take us into the inter-Testamental times, or through the ministry of John the Baptist, announcing the most dramatic change, which is then seen, the inbreaking of God through incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and the gift of the Spirit: God produced a cosmic tectonic shift which nevertheless linked perfectly into the history of the people of Israel.

In the Acts of the Apostles, the tectonic shift is worked out in practice. The people of God, the Church formed in the Acts under the apostles are challenged to adapt to Spirit driven realities that they could never have begun to imagine by themselves. The greatest challenge was the incorporation of the Gentiles which was hinted at, promised but never fully understood in the Old Testament prophetic traditions, and was now made real. The Samaritans, the Ethiopian Eunuch, and particularly Cornelius – all in what we now call the Holy Land – opened their lives and committed themselves in faith to Christ.

More than that, Paul is transformed on the road to Damascus and his ministry bears extraordinary fruit in areas of the Jewish diaspora well beyond the boundaries of the historic kingdom of Israel. Now it even includes the oppressive Romans, the Pagan, Greeks, numerous other idolaters and people beyond the law.

With much struggle, yet by the grace of God, the Church adapted without abandoning its tradition.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE)