Thursday, 17 June 2010

Being Biblical

Enjoyed an interesting morning listening to Richard Burridge at the Bradwell area clergy study day. Professor Burridge, Deaburridgen of King’s College London, was speaking on the theme What does it mean to be Biblical? The first part of the presentation was a summary of Richard’s doctoral work on What are the Gospels? and his book Four Gospels, One Jesus. I’m very familiar with this material as we use Four Gospels on our Course in Christian Studies but it was helpful to have it summarised as a basis for what Richard went on to say.

The second part of the morning focused on Richard’s book Imitating Jesus and looked at the issue of being Biblical in exploring ethical dilemas. Much of this material was used extensively at the Lambeth Conference in 2008 and it was good to hear some of his insights and reflections on that experience.

Richard began by looking at two websites Anglican Mainstream and InclusiveChurch.Net to show how both, taking very different positions on ethical issues, nevertheless claimed to be Biblical in their approach. He then went on to consider two historical examples, slavery and apartheid, to show how opposing sides claimed positions grounded in the scriptures. The apartheid example was particularly interesting as both the Dutch Reform Church and those opposing apartheid used the same scriptures, the Exodus narrative, as a basis for their theological positions.

Unfortunately our speaker began to run out of time so the final part of the study was rather rushed. In this section Richard shared the basic thesis of Imitating Jesus. I’ll blog on the book at another time, but the key point is that though Jesus’ ethical teaching was rigorous his practice was an open acceptance  and inclusiveness of those considered morally questionable by society.
Some key thoughts from the session:
  • Being Biblical is to hold words and deeds together.
  • Opposing views can be genuinely seeking to be Biblical.
  • We are called to be imitators of Jesus’ words and deeds.
  • We need an open and inclusive community of interpretation.
  • We must give attention to those who are most affected by our interpretation.
My one gripe about the morning, which finished with an excellent lunch, was the lack of time for discussion and Q & A. This was one time when I felt I would have been happy to go on into an afternoon session.

I’ve still to read Tom Wright’s Virtue Reborn and I understand he takes quite a different position to Richard Burridge; I look forward to comparing the two.

Update: a version of Richard's second presentation can be downloaded and is titled: Being Biblical: slavery, sexuality and the inclusive community.

1 comment:

Alice Smith said...

Well done Philip - first and only blog on this so far!! There should be a prize. I too felt that questions were not just impossible due to lack of time, but avoided but haing some brief questions at the beginning of the session...which is a shame. I wonder whether questions were avoided because of the nature of the topic - sexuality and women in the Church. For external processors like me, it was a nightmare to be left with all those thoughts and nowhere to go with them! Nice to have a brief and tasty lunch with you tho! and thanks for your comments on the Holy Spirit conference too.