The Bible in the Life of the Church project was commissioned by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) at its meeting in Jamaica in May 2009. Its aims are:
- to explore how we, as Anglicans, actually use the Bible by sharing experiences of using the Bible to explore two major contemporary issues;
- to distil from and develop these explorations the principles of Anglican hermeneutics;
- to produce resource materials for use at all levels of Christian education;
- to provide a guide to significant literature on this topic; and
- to offer a report and make recommendations to ACC 15.
The two contemporary issues that the project will explore are those expressed in two of the Marks of Mission – marks that the Anglican Communion believes are part of our involvement in God’s Mission. They are:
‘to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth» and
‘to seek to transform unjust structures of society ’
As part of the project there is a Communion-wide survey. The results from the survey will be included in the final reports that come from the project to ACC. From 27 October – 7 November 2012 the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia will host the 15th gathering of the Anglican Consultative Council at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland.
I was enthusiastic about the concept of the survey. Then I took the survey and kept finding myself frustrated by questions. Frustrations led to disappointment. It has a very un-Anglican attitude splitting questions into either/or when they are most both/and. Is this appropriate for a serious Anglican survey? We can be strongly catholic AND evangelical – we can be conservative in some areas and liberal in others.
An example: The survey begins with the story Mark 9:14-29 (NRSV translation) about the boy who has a spirit that seizes him, dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. The question we are asked to respond to is: “I cannot imagine this happening today”. We must answer on a five point scale – agree strongly to disagree strongly. I end up asking myself: what cannot I imagine happening today? A boy with epilepsy? Epilepsy being caused by a spirit? A boy with a spirit? Not being able to cure epilepsy with prayer? Jesus being able to cure epilepsy? Jesus being able to cast out a spirit? I just do not know what my answer means to anyone else reading it. And I do not know what your answer means.
I wonder what other languages the survey is available in. There is no indication how this information will be used. I will be interested to hear about the results, and will be interested to see what people think those results demonstrate.
Try the survey and let us know what you think.