Aelred's July Letter

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Freedom in Truth

This month the two pictures are of the garden at 44 Amwell Road in full spate after the long cold Spring and somewhat jerky early Summer weather from Saharan heat to UK regular coolness.

Apart from what the media call the crisis in the Anglican Communion there is little at the moment to comment on. It does seem, however, from the vantage point of this Cambridge eyrie, that some of our 19th century colonial endeavours in transplanting the theological attitudes of that time, including the main stream literal understanding of Scripture, have had the effect of a conservative hardening of the arteries in some of those new countries. The human response to God has changed since that time. God 'himself' is understood in more human terms. Scholars of the Old and New Testaments have brought a sea-change in understanding of the ancient texts beyond what ever could have been imagined even 50 years ago. This seems to be the real 'crisis' rather than the so-called liberal attitudes of today in ethics and sexual issues. In fact the whole problem can be seen in miniature in the Church of England, so, as one commentator has said, it is not a foregone conclusion that Anglicans in England would feel able to sign up to a pledge to abide by 'biblical teaching and historical doctrines'. Is it the truth that we are seeking in our commitment to the risen Lord?

But then it is simply a human reaction to be wary of new ideas that appear to bring in question traditional understandings of God, the church, the ministry and the sacraments. However, Christians, one might say, have less to fear from such changes if only because they are committed to a 'person' rather than to a 'book' or a 'law'. Christian life is about life in the real world and about human relationships as well as a relationship in worship with the divine, however that is conceived.

It was pointed out by the great New Testament scholar, F.J.A. Hort, that 'the pursuit of truth is .. a moral and spiritual discipline' and that we cannot do that 'without walking in the way which is Christ, and living in the life which is Christ.' (from The Way, the Truth, the Life, Hulsean lectures for 1871). Hort noted that freedom was not the beginning of the following of Christ, but the end of a process which Jesus promised the disciples.

If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

© Aelred Arnesen

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