Thursday, January 29, 2015

A.S. Haley: Report on 2015 Mere Anglicanism Conference

posted January 29, 2015

The 2015 Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston, South Carolina—a sold-out event—centered on the theme “Salt and Light: the Christian Response to Secularism.” The speakers were left to choose their own individual topics; the organizers merely designated the theme. For that reason, it was truly remarkable to observe how the presentations complemented and sustained each other.

The Rt. Rev. Prof. N. T. Wright, the former Bishop of Durham and now the chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews School of Divinity, gave the opening night talk on January 22. Entitled “How Scripture Outflanks Secularism: the Biblical Challenge to the World and to the Church”, it served as a terrific inspiration for the Conference as a whole, which aims to equip Anglicans of all walks for the challenges of leadership, and “to take theology home with them.” Delivered with an enthusiasm and conviction that was infectious, his talk was nonetheless so densely packed with ideas and new ways of looking at old things that it is well-nigh impossible to summarize in a few paragraphs. Still, I must try.

In a nutshell, Dr. Wright tackled head-on how the Church best handles the secular age: not by confronting it head-on, but rather, by being true to the full arc of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it outflanks it.

He singled out two major characteristics of secularism that open it to this strategy:
First, it has revived the ancient philosophy of Epicureanism by treating God, or the gods, as very distant and indifferent to man or what happens on Earth, thus conveniently leaving man to run things on his own. The result (in secularism, as in Epicureanism before it) is to shunt God upstairs: and thereby to divide heaven from earth, religion from man—and Jesus from His Church.

(The latter happens when the Church all too often allows it, for example, by thinking and preaching that treats heaven as a place to which we go when we die, to live the afterlife apart from this Earth. To the contrary: Revelation teaches that heaven—the new Jerusalem—will come down to Earth, and the faithful will partake in Jesus’ rule here on Earth. Thus, properly read and understood, the arc of Scripture begins and ends with heaven here on Earth, with God at one with His creation, and Jesus at one with His Church.)... the rest of Part I here

Part II


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