As an Anglican church, the Church of Ireland is committed to theological discourse using scripture, tradition, and reason. However, scripture offers special challenges for the modern context, and many of the current tensions within our Communion can be traced to differences over the interpretation and application of scripture. The current Anglican Consultative Council’s project “The Bible in the Life of the Church” highlights the need for the Anglican churches to reflect seriously on the role which scripture plays in parish and theological life. Scriptural reading should be done both in reference to its original settings as well as the needs of believing communities. Reason insists we engage with the scientific and historical study of the Bible; tradition demands we do so as a faithful community. All too often such work is relegated merely to formal degree programmes, where it can fail to enrich parish worship and community. A forum which facilitates the feeding of continuing biblical education into the life of the church is therefore to be welcomed.
To these ends, we invite suggestions for and participation in the formation of a Biblical Association of the Church of Ireland. This organization will welcome the active participation of both clergy and laity, including biblical scholars, Religious Education teachers, and other interested believers. Said organization would aim to enrich and deepen the use of the Bible in the Church of Ireland by encouraging rigorous and faith-based biblical study. Through the encouragement of diocesan biblical education, periodic events, study material suggestions, and church-wide study themes, the efforts of this group will facilitate the Church of Ireland’s development of a communal approach to scripture. To offer suggestions, get involved, or to join a mailing list, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Expressions of interest for an interim committee are encouraged. The first AGM is planned for early in 2011.
Although focused on reading and studying the Bible as an Anglican community, we recognize that we share the scriptures with other Christian traditions and with Jewish traditions. It is hoped that our work on collectively reading scripture in a rigorous and reflective way will open new avenues for ecumenical dialogue both within and without the Anglican Communion.
The inaugural effort is to encourage collective reflection on the theme of Creation during Lent 2011, in tandem with The Bible in the Life of the Church’s Task 1. Alternatively we might proceed to the recently announced theme of Social Justice if material is available from the ACC in time. Suggested passages, questions, reflections, and methods of feedback will be provided for the use of parishes and diocese. The results of this work will then be presented to the general synod in conjunction with a proposal for continuation. For more information on this initiative or to offer suggestions, please contact email@example.com.
It is hoped that this Biblical Association of the Church of Ireland will better encourage biblical scholars within Ireland to engage with their parishes’ needs and will help build the Church of Ireland as a biblically grounded community.