Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Archbishop Venables and works righteousness

I was sent this article from Episcopal Life this morning:

SOUTHERN CONE: Archbishop Venables responds to House of Bishops resolutions

For those of you who don't know Archbishop Venables, it will be quite clear from reading his response to the HOB resolutions that he is very conservative and has a literalist hermeneutic of Biblical interpretation. He has also been involved with the group of African bishops, led by Archbishop Peter Akinola, who have continued to violate diocesan boundaries under the guise of providing "pastoral oversight" to Episcopal congregations who disagree with our national church (which, I might add, is also a violation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report).

What caught my eye in his response was the following quote:
"We are concerned because the Church has always taught and understood that the content of belief and behaviour impacts salvation."
So the "content of belief and behaviour [emphasis added]" impacts salvation? Perhaps I've been studying at a Lutheran seminary too long or perhaps because I have always understood the Anglican Church as being of a reformed tradition, but doesn't this talk of our behaviour impacting our salvation smack of works righteousness theology? What happened to Jesus dying "once for all" as a "full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world?" (BCP, p. 334)

We are called as Christians to repentance and amendment of life, but not as a precondition to our salvation! "For all sinned and lack the glory of God" (Rom. 3.23) - including Archbishop Venables. If he can show me exactly where the Holy Scriptures list a hierarchy of which sins are worse than others in the eyes of God and which are going to impede my salvation, I'd love to see it.

Last time I read our Holy Eucharist Rite I service, it said:
"by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we, and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins ..." (BCP, p. 335)
Hmmm, no mention of our "behaviour" there.

1 comment:

Pak said...

I think it is unfair to assume that the Archbishop was talking about an individual's salvation as being impacted by his/her behaviour, as opposed to the behaviour of the church impacting the salvation of others (ie, making it less likely).

Jesus clearly states that false teachers will be known by their 'fruits', and therefore, the conduct of those entrusted with the teaching of the Word of God should be consistent with what they profess.