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The Bible in the Life of the Church

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.

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5 thoughts on “The Bible in the Life of the Church”

  1. I don’t want to take the survey. Your example above demonstrates to me that I would be frustrated and angry by it after asking myself the same questions you asked yourself and therefore doubting if there is any value in it at all.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Dorothy. I do wonder whether others experience the survey in the way that I have; and if not why not. Or if they find it as I do. I tend to find myself regularly in a both/and place, more than an either/or place. Blessings.

  2. You posted an item on 2011 on the work of the “Bible in the Life of the Church” project – a Communion wide project seeking to encourage a deeper engagement with Scripture. Since then the project has published its Phase 1 report and continues its work in Phase 2. Both have generated significant educational resources or point to them and those reading the original posting might be interested. If so follow: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/theological/bible/resources.cfm

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