To assess the implications of the Primates’ gathering in January and what we have seen subsequently, I am suggesting that we go back to basics. The first point was the authority of the Bible over our consciences and over the churches. It is God’s word written.
But there is a hot contest over the interpretation of the Bible, especially when it comes to God’s expectations about sexual behaviour. What can we say about how we read the Bible?
Good Reading of the Good Book
One of the most wonderful features of our Anglican church is its clear belief that the word of God, the sacred Scriptures belong to us all. They are not the preserve of academics or clergy. Listening to the Bible, reading the Bible and knowing the Bible is a privilege which all share. God trusts us with his word.
Now I always think that there are two basic rules in all reading.
First, read with love. That is, our love for an author should mean that we take them at their word. We should presume that they are trying to communicate. Thus, our aim is not read what we want to into the work, but, as far as we can, what the work actually says. We need to observe such things as genre and language ”“ as we do all the time when we are reading. What we read may fill us with disgust or dismay, but it has to be read for what it says, not for what we want to see in it.
The reader is not the author..