Overheard in my Head During my Intro to Anglican Class

Some updates from my intro to Anglican class:

I'm digging the open-minded, rational approach to faith. And I've had some nagging questions answered, though of course the answers are just opinions. Episcopals don't believe baptism alone can save the soul; they also don't believe you have to be baptized to be saved. Baptism is the initiatory rite into the church, yes, but apparently it's not identical to personal faith. My priest's opinion is that sometimes the holy spirit begins working in the person, before, during, or after the sacrament of baptism itself.

Yes, Christ is in the elements, but they don't presume to know how or in what sense.

And while I still have questions regarding scripture, many really, I feel this church lets me question. My priest, at least, believes the biblical authors didn't have absolute knowledge about the world and made assertions which are inaccurate according to modern perspective; he's open to redactive criticism, where the gospel sayings and stories are examined as products of literary process. Though he does say that you can test your ideas to see if they jive with God by using scripture. How one does that I don't exactly know since scripture offers multiple perspectives regarding some things.

My low view of scripture aside, as I've said before, I believe the central message of the gospels, the primacy of Christ, cannot be missed. So I've learned, perhaps again, that some Episcopals (though not all) don't read the bible the way fundamentalists often do, the only way I was taught for years it could be read: fundamentalists generally believe every word is out of God's mouth without any human interference or error of any kind. This is one of Torrey's original seven fundamentals I believe; it was a turn of the 20th century response to higher criticism, though a drastic and non-rational one in my opinioni (even if it did reflect how the church had used the bible for most of its history). How refreshing for me to let the cult of the book go. To find a church where it can be let go and the gospel still breathes on.

I believe while God certainly inspired scripture and continues to use it to direct sinners like myself towards Jesus, that doesn't mean it's a legal code. It certainly doesn't mean one verse or passage, the proof text, can be used to build a philosophy or direct a world view. The texts within the bible must be read using reason, in my opinion, and apparently Episcopals agree. Certainly some very brilliant Christian scholars, like Raymond Brown, go too far in their skepticism at points (though he still retains Christian faith). It's fashionable for scholars to do this; how else can one be original perhaps? But as Brown himself notes, there are many things we just can't know with certainty. Mark was probably the first gospel, at least the first synoptic; all four gospels were written before the end of the first century (though I still hold out in my amateur opinion that two, maybe three, could readily have been written before the fall of Jerusalem in 70); the gospels certainly reflect a historical person. They are genuine attempts at history written by men who believed their contents. But beyond that...who really wrote them, where and when exactly...questions the documents themselves don't answer. Was there only oral tradition before the written gospels we have, no prior written sources? We don't know. Is Q real? Probably yes, but was it written, oral, or is its existance certain? Don't know.

Did Paul write about the gospel like no one else besides John's author? Yep. Did he include some opinions which were incorrect. For me, yes. It is fallacious, though, to assume that all points are incorrect because some are, or one is.

But I'm repeating myself....again.

One great thing is that I'm going to be confirmed by the bishop in April. Does this mean God will love me more or that I have increased my eternal inheritance? No, but it's significant for me. And even more significant to me is that my wife also said she'd like to be confirmed. (Deep, deep movement on the waters; the spirit on the face of the deep). Pray for us both. We both have much anger still.

Gotta run. My twenty minutes of free time is up! I'll keep you posted.

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