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(c) Evan Connolly

The authors of the Windsor Report thought it was unnecessary and inexact to speak of the authority of Holy Scripture, to speak of the authority of God said everything that needed to be said. And there is an element of truth in this, in that the only authority these books can possibly command is the authority of their role in God’s self-announcement; apart from that, they are records of a past culture that may interest us or not, as we choose. Yet we cannot leave it at that. For God’s authority authorizes […] [It is not inexact] to speak of the authority of apostles and prophets, called out by God to write with clarity and sufficiency of the events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth, their context in the history of Israel, and their universal meaning for mankind […] In a thousand ways, the texts that lie between the covers of our Bibles show that they are the product of painstaking and creative human labor and reception. But we must be careful what we make of that word “human”. If we glide from speaking of their humanity into implying some kind of inadequacy in them, as though their being human were a shameful secret we have laid bare, a deficiency we are now in a position to patch up, then it is we, not they, that must stand charged with ignorance and superstition. The humanity of the Scriptures does not entitle us to patronize them. Just as we speak of the sinlessness of the human being Jesus of Nazareth […] so we may speak quite appropriately of a perfection in Holy Scripture. Its perfection is sui generis, a fitness for its own assigned task. The perfection of the Psalms does not consist in their being the most perfectly metrical verses or containing the most perfect poetic imagery. The perfection of the letters of Paul does not consist in their being the highest example of epistolary elegance. Neither does the perfection of the historical books consist in their being the most unambiguous records or the most discerning evaluation of sources. The only perfection that counts is this: that God truly attests himself and his deeds through this poetry, these letters, this history. The faith required of the reader of Holy Scripture is obedience to the testimony that God bears within them, and that is one and the same as the faith that leads to salvation.”

 Oliver O’Donovan, Church in Crisis: the gay controversy and the Anglican Communion, pp. 54-56