Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Disappointing

I've had a bit of a book bonanza of late (thanks to a birthday and generous friends). Really enjoying Peter Adam's work on Scripture Written For Us, as well as sinking my teeth the first volume of Kelly's Systematic Theology - it's like the good parts of Barth and TF Torrance together with the some patristics all built on careful exegesis interacting with contemporary issues (I can already hear you Barthians saying 'but the good parts of Barth are the bits where he deals with the patristics and does exegesis'). I've also got Beale's defence of inerrancy lined up for a rainy day (and given that we're going into winter there are going to be a few of those).

I've also just started Driscoll's book Vintage Church. I'm really enjoying it as we come from a similar theological foundation of what church is. But I was really disappointed as I read of his summary of other denominations. I should have expected trouble when I read the subheading: 'Catholics: Roman, Eastern, and Anglican' (pg 41). Driscoll takes a reasonably fair crack at the Roman Catholics in terms of their papal authority, and while it isn't as theological nuanced as say Volf's work on the church, After our Likeness, it isn't wrong. But then he comes to the Anglicans p42).

Our ecclesiology is described in 57 words, 51 of which are a quote from Kevin Giles. This quote is introduced by 5 words ('Anglican theologian Kevin Giles says...'), and the quote itself states that, apart from the claims of the pope, Anglo-Catholics 'conceive of the church in exactly these terms' - these terms being how the Roman Catholic church has been described. The quote then goes on to say how Anglo-Catholics actually ground their ecclesiology in the three-fold order even more so than the Roman Catholics do.

All fine and well - I've no problems with this. What I have a problem with, and am really quite disappointed about given Driscolls' propensity for research, is that after the noun 'Anglo-Catholic' in Giles' quote, Driscoll adds ' [Anglican] '. He is saying that Anglo-Catholic = Anglican, and, therefore, that Anglican ecclesiology = Anglo-Catholic, and therefore Roman Catholic ecclesiology. Kevin Giles, the only 'Anglican Theologian' quoted, makes a comment about Anglo-Catholic Anglicans (which is pretty much true), but which is then applied to all Anglicans. It's a sloppy piece of work, which doesn't do historical Anglicanism any favours (Driscoll could have at least gone to Article 19!), nor does justice to the fine ecclesiological thinking done by evangelical Anglicans such as Stott, Packer, or, more recently, Mark Thompson, which, incidentally, ends up much closer to Driscoll than his readership would be led to believe.

So while I go on to agree with much of what Driscoll writes about church, including his historical work, it's like finishing a good meal after your second mouthful included something rotten. You can still enjoy what follows, but you've got a bad taste in your mouth.

1 comment:

Roger Gallagher said...

What are patristics?