Discussions between Stephen Noll and Philip Turner

There is an exchange of views between Stephen Noll (Uganda Christian University) and Philip Turner (Anglican Communion Institute)

From Stephen Noll - An Open Letter to Network Bishops and Common Cause Partners Regarding the Future of Anglicanism in North America

From Philip Turner - An Open Letter to Rev. Prof. Stephen Noll

Response from Stephen Noll to Philip - Reply to Philip Turner



5 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    Dr. Noll, as always, is clear thinking and gracious.

  2. Steve Griffin Says:

    I’m glad that Noll blows the whistle, if graciously, on Turner’s apparent tendency to place the actions of Schori and Duncan on the same moral plane (although I’m sure that if pushed on that point Turner would insist that he is not implying moral equivalence – at any rate that’s what I hope!).  Ultimately, however, Noll sees their main difference as a strategic one at this point.  I wonder, though, if there’s a significant ecclesiological one.  In his essay, ‘When God brings things to a Point’, Turner claims that ‘fidelity to Apostolic teaching is carried forward . . . not by confessional agreement . . . [but] by participation in a practice, namely, the regular reading of the Holy Scriptures (entire) through the year in the context of the prayers and worship of the church’ (p. 9).  While fully affirming the central place Turner gives to Scripture, I ask: since when is worship logically prior to doctrine?  I know we’ve been encouraged in that direction by certain intepretations of Prosper of Aquetane’s lex orandi, lex credendi, but I think that it’s precisely a particular understanding of Scripture (a doctrine, ordinarily expressed in a confession of faith!) that gets us in the business of giving Scripture a central place in Christian worship in the first place.  Unity isn’t simply a given; we don’t just pray and worship and then hammer out our beliefs.  Sometimes they are hammered out because of the threat of disunity – because this or that group is proposing to sing from a different hymn book altogether.  So fundamentally confessions of faith are necessary instruments of unity, even if their authority is only a derived one.

  3. Father Ron. Smith Says:

    Once again, Steve Griffin (amongst others of the Global South Conglomerate) is subordinating the worship of the One True God to the uncertainties of humanly-coceived doctrinal statements. Here again, as with the Scriptures, there is the tendency to idolatry that seeks to edge out the ‘First and Great Commandment’ which Jesus himself had to spell out to his own followers:
    “Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength”

    This, then, was our Lord’s command to all his followers, and to all who would seek to do God’s will upon the earth. This was true WORSHIP, which was to be the first duty of the Church, the Body of Christ. This worship of God was to pre-empt only the Second Great Commandment, which was to love one’s neighbour as one’s self.

    Doctrine - no matter how finely contrived by human beings, can never pre-empt this first of our duties to God - to Worship God with ALL our our hearts, souls, MINDS, and with all our strength. True theology must always be based on the worship of God before any other consideration. To think otherwise is counter to the mind of Jesus and the will of God.

  4. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    There is a problem with Turner’s proposition that the apostolic tradition is carried forward by regular reading of Scripture since the scriptures used in ECUSA/TEC are not the authentic word of God, but a politically correct and sanitized lectionary.

    As Dr. Peter Toon pointed out in 1990 with regard to the mistranslated Psalms, “There can be no revival; because this is not the word of the Lord.” He pointed out that the first error was in Psalm 1, where “the Man” was now “they who.” The Man, as the Fathers of the Church taught, was Jesus Christ. But, “the Man” was thrown out in favor of gender inclusive language, and replaced with “they” for an individual of either sex.

  5. Steve Griffin Says:

    Fr. Ron, I think it’s possible to affirm with you that the worship of the One true God is our first duty, while recognizing that there is no worship of God which is not bound up with, in fact guided by, particular beliefs.  It’s in that sense that I think there’s a logical, but not absolute, priority to doctrine.  In any case, since I’ve made it clear that the authority of doctrinal standards is derived, it’s a bit harsh to assume that this perspective leans towards idolatry.  Left to our own devices we can turn any sign—the outward form of worship itself—into an idol.