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By Canon Michael Green
Special to VirtueOnline

The following speech was delivered by Canon Michael Green to conferees at the Mere Anglicanism conference in Charleston, SC recently.

The theme of this Conference came home to me forcefully two days after Christmas. We had been staying with our daughter and family in Ireland for Christmas, and had just returned home, cold and wet, as usual in UK. I went straight to my emails, and there I found the news of the Global gathering in June this year to be held not at Lambeth but in the Holy Land.

After nearly a decade of trying to find common ground with TEC, the Global South archbishops and some others had given up hope of achieving anything by that route, and had determined to set up a Conference which would be positive, visionary and encouraging, going back to the earliest roots of Christianity, not shackled by half belief, playing at church and skepticism.

Whether or not it was a challenge to a depleted Lambeth and an ABC who had lost credibility in many quarters, is not particularly relevant here. What is decisive is its determination to recover the biblically based Christianity of the early church and of the burgeoning church in the developing world. At issue was nothing less than the foundation of the Christian faith. Is it a faith where we can pick and choose what we believe in the light of contemporary political correctness? Or is it, as Jude calls it, 'the faith once for all entrusted to the saints'?

Our forefathers would have no difficulty in answering that question. Typical of the attitude of the early church is this statement from Origen in the third century ' The sacred books were not the work of men; they were written but the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, at the will of the Father of all, through Jesus Christ' The official teaching of the Church of Rome runs as follows - and these words were written amid the torrid debates of the Reformation ' The synod ( of Trent) following the example of the orthodox fathers, receives and venerates all the books of the Old and New Testament, seeing that one God is the author of both'. The Lutheran Formula of Concord states' The Holy Scriptures alone remain the only judge, rule and standard according to which all dogmas shall be discerned and judged.' The Westminster Confession, the official statement of Presbyterian belief, states 'All the books of the Old and New Testament are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.'

Examples could be multiplied, and of course the Anglican position is identical, both in the Prayer Book and the Ordinal. Practically every word of the Prayer Book is drawn from Scripture. Large amounts of Scripture are included as lessons, psalms and canticles in Morning and Evening Prayer and the Eucharist. And the sixth Article of Religion expressly states; 'Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith.'

So strongly does the Anglican church feel about this that she emphasizes it again and again in the ordination of her priests.

In the first place they are to study the scriptures. 'And seeing that you cannot by any other means compass the doing of so weighty a work, pertaining to the salvation of man, but with the doctrine and exhortation taken out of the holy scriptures, and with a life agreeable to the same; consider how studious you ought to be in reading and learning the scriptures...that by daily reading and weighing of the scriptures you may wax riper and stronger in your ministry.'

In the second place they are to believe and teach the scriptures. 'Are you persuaded' asks the bishop of the candidate, 'that the holy Scriptures contain sufficiently all doctrine required of necessity for eternal salvation through faith in Christ? And are you determined out of the same scriptures to instruct the people committed to your charge, and to teach nothing (as required of necessity to eternal salvation) but that which you shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the scripture?'

In the third place, they are to tolerate no unscriptural teaching. 'Will you be ready with all faithful diligence to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's word?' asks the bishop. 'I will, the Lord being my helper' replies the candidate for the priesthood.

And as a final reminder of the source of all the church's teaching, the Bishop gives the ordinand a Bible with the words 'Take thou authority to preach the word of God.' This emblem of the work of the ministry is all the more striking when we recall that before the Reformation each priest s given not a Bible but a chalice.

It should be plain from all this that recourse to the Bible as the supreme authority in the Christian religion is no mere idiosyncrasy of obscurantists and fundamentalists. It is the avowed intention of the universal church, and not least of the Anglican Church. To be sure, the Book of Common Prayer has been revised in many of the provinces of the Communion, but the emphasis on the supremacy of scripture remains.

It was reinforced, after a season of sustained attack, at the Lambeth Conference of 1958. The bishops of our worldwide Communion affirmed 'The church is not over the holy scriptures, but under them, in the sense that the process of canonization was not one whereby the church conferred authority on the books, but one whereby the church acknowledged them to possess authority. And why? The books were recognized as giving the witness of the apostles to the life, teaching, death and resurrection of the Lord, and the interpretation by the apostles of these events. To that apostolic authority the church must ever bow'.

Inevitably the question arises 'What gives the Bible this remarkable position? Why should we regard the Bible as decisive for our belief and behavior? How can we substantiate such an odd conviction about so ancient a book?'

There are several ways in which to approach this question. Perhaps we should begin with the Bible's own claims about itself. 2 Tim.3.16 and 2 Peter 3.15ff are good examples. It is a book breathed out by God, and holy men in touch with God wrote as they were guided by the Spirit of God. That is the claim. The Old Testament reverberates with claims such as 'The word of the Lord came to so and so, saying' This book claims a dual authorship, by men and by God. Because if has this divine as well as human origin it is both inspired and authoritative in a way no other book is. That is the claim. Can we believe it?

1. Look at the unity of the book. The Bible, as we know, is not so much a book as a library, written over a period of 1500 years in three languages by an assortment of shepherds and kings, poets and warriors, academics and prophets, Jews and Gentiles.

If you assembled such a group of people in a room and asked them their ideas of God and man, ethics and destiny, you would get as many answers as there were people in the room. But what justifies calling the Bible a single book is that you find unified teaching running right through it on these great themes. There is one view of God the sole creator and sustainer of the universe, holy and loving. There is one view of man - noble and valuable because made in God's image but fatally flawed. There is one view of salvation - restoration to fellowship with God, and that not by our own achievements but by God's sheer generosity in what he has done for us through Christ. Jesus, that is to say 'God to the rescue' is the theme of the whole Bible.

There is one way of response throughout the Bible - repentance and faith which grasps the grace of God and leads on to a new quality of life and morals as a result. Moreover the writers are untied in their view of the future awaiting the people of God. He cares for us so much that he will not scrap us at death, but have us to his home. Our destiny is not to go out like a light or be condemned to a ceaseless round or reincarnations as some faith teach, but to know God and enjoy him together in company with his people. The unity of the Bible strongly points to a divine source behind the human writers. It is very different in the Qu'ran where they have to employ the principle of abrogation, requiring contradictions to be settled by accepting the most recent and rejecting the earlier suras.

2. Look at the attitude of Jesus to the scriptures. On any showing Jesus is the greatest person who ever lived, and his view about the Bible should be significant. Well, he regarded it as inspired by God (Mark 12.36, Matt. 22.31 John 5.36-47, Matt 19.4, 5) For him a word of scripture was a word from God. Moreover he regarded it as absolutely authoritative. 'The scripture must be fulfilled' (Matt. 26.53, Lk. 18.31, 22.37 etc). Matt 5.17 shows him as the one who fulfills but does not abrogate the Old Testament.

We constantly finding him basing his arguments on the authority of scripture when disputing with the theologians of his day (Mark. 12.24 Matt. 12.3,5, John 10.34). In short he maintained that 'the scripture cannot be broken'. This is all the more remarkable because of the emphasis he placed on his own authority, yet never do we find him opposing it to the OT scriptures. This attitude of Jesus is found in every strand of the NT record, and after the resurrection as well as before it. If he was wrong on this he could have been wrong one very thing.

As for the NT, Jesus authorized his apostles to record and interpret the events of his life and teaching, under the leading of the Holy Spirit who would come to them (John 14.26, 1.26, 16.13)) The Christian church has from the outset revered the Bible, accepted its authority and sought to understand its depths, because such was clearly the attitude of their master Jesus Christ. It is very difficult to understand how a serious Christian can take any other attitude to it, unless he takes refuge in the broken refuge of the accommodation or kenosis theories.

The kenosis theory maintains that the process of the incarnation made it inevitable that the Son laid aside his divine attributes and partook of the prejudices and errors of his time, among them the current view of scriptural authority. The passage which gave rise to this theory, Phil.2.7, says that Jesus ekenosen heauton. In the context, the reference would seem to be not to the incarnation at all, but to the atonement; not to a supposed laying aside of his divine attributes but to the pouring out of his soul to death' as in the best texts of Isa....53.12.

However, this apart, there are serious objections to be brought against this nineteenth century theory of kenosis. Of course, the Lord's knowledge was limited to some extent but the incarnation; so was his omnipresence and omnipotence or his would not have been a genuinely human life. D.M.Baillie, in his book God was in Christ, shows how such a theory implies ' if language means anything that in becoming human he ceased to be divine',... and that 'he is not God and man not simultaneously in a hypostatic union, but successively, first divine, then human , then God again.'

The Gospel records tell us specifically of one thing Jesus did not know - the date of his return in glory (Mark.13.32). But limited knowledge is not the same as error; and to say that Jesus was in error at any point is a serious thing for anyone who believes that the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God were vindicated by the resurrection (Rom.1.4) He himself claimed that his teaching came from God (Mark 13.31, John 12.48) and if he was mistaken on this point why do we still call him Lord? If he was wrong about the inspired nature of the OT, on which he based his whole conception of his mission then he could very well have been wrong about everything else. It is impossible to reject Christ's teaching about the authority of the Old Testament without abandoning belief in his own authority and the uniqueness of his person and work.

Moreover it is significant that he taught the same high doctrine of scripture after his resurrection, when presumably the alleged 'kenotic' limitations on his knowledge imposed by the incarnation had been removed. He still believed in the prophetic inspiration of the scriptures. He still believed in their relevance to his person and mission. He still recognized their binding authority (Lk. 24.25-27, 44-46).

No, the kenosis theory will not do. If it proves anything, it proves too much. The inspired character of the OT is integral to the life, work and authority of Jesus Christ.

What, then, about the accommodation theory which assumes that Jesus, while knowing full well the untrustworthy nature of the OT, nevertheless accommodated himself to the prejudices and ignorance of his contemporaries who uniformly recognized its authority and inspiration.? There are many arguments that could be brought against this idea. One of them is moral. It raises serious questions about Jesus' intellectual integrity. Another is that it quite fails to explain why Jesus adopted precisely the same attitude when teaching his inner circle of disciples as when preaching to the crowds.

Surely that would be an odd thing to do if he was consciously accommodating himself to the ignorance of the ordinary people? But the fact is that Jesus was not at all averse to upsetting dearly cherished errors. It was Jesus who transformed the characteristic contemporary low esteem of women and children. It was Jesus who so exposed the traditionalism and corruption of the religious leaders that they hounded him to death. Why then should he have been willing to compromise with truth by accommodating himself to prevailing views of scripture if he thought them erroneous? What is more, this view fails to take note of the tremendous moral earnestness of passages like Luke 16.29-31 and Mark 7.6,13 where his complete acceptance of the OT and its authority is most clearly marked. Neither the accommodation nor the kenosis theory can withstand serious investigation. Neither can shake the strong affirmation of scripture to be found everywhere in the teaching of Jesus. And this is the main reason why Christians adopt the same view. But there are others. In addition to the unity of the book and the attitude of Jesus,

3. Look at the fulfillment of prophecy Think of the prophecy of the blessing on Abraham's seed, the destruction of Babylon, the return from exile, the destruction of Jerusalem, the coming of the Holy Spirit... they all came true. The prophecies about Jesus, uttered centuries before, are perhaps the most fascinating. The OT looked for a coming deliverer who would free God's people not only from external enemies but also from inner guilt and bondage. He is variously described as the Son of Man. The Son of God, the Son of David, the one filled with the Spirit, and so forth. This coming savior would be born of a virgin, in Bethlehem. He would forge a new covenant between God and man, would act as shepherd to God's scattered people, would heal, teach in parables, and be anointed by God to 'preach good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberation to the captives, and the opening of eyes to the blind'. He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, and incur rejection by those he came to save. He would suffer and die in shame and agony amongst criminals. His death would be the supreme atonement for sins, replacing the sacrificial system of the OT. His grave would belong to a rich man. He would be raised from death and ascend to the throne of God. Not some of this but all of it came good. There has never been an instance in hall of history of such predictions, uttered centuries beforehand, to be so precisely fulfilled. It suggests strongly that God was behind the writing of this book and we would therefore do well to pay careful heed to it.

4. Look at the Bible's power to survive attack. The Bible is not only the most loved but the most hated book in the world. It calls for renunciation of sin, the humbling of human pride, the dependence on God alone - and so people hate it. This hatred has been persistent, determined and ruthless. Celsus tried the weapon of ridicule, back in the second century. He failed. Porphyry brought philosophical argument and bitter attacks against the Bible, and he failed too.

Diocletian, the mightiest ruler of the mightiest empire in the world demanded that all Bibles be burnt and that anyone found with a Bible should be put to death. Many perished, but that persecution, too, failed. In the Dark Ages the Bible was copied and loved and obeyed in many a monastery, despite the vicious assaults of the barbarians. Towards the end of the Middle Ages Tyndale translated the Bible into English so that the poorest of the poor could understand its message and respond.

Copies were burnt by the Catholic Church of the day and he had to live the rest of his life in exile before being strangled and burnt at the stake. At the Reformation the Roman Catholic Church brought all its power to bear against the rediscovery of the Bible's teaching on particular issues, and it failed. The skepticism of Higher Criticism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was another major assault on the Bible, but its credibility remains strong today. All attempts to abolish the Bible and Christianity in Russia during and after the revolution failed, and have been followed by a strong Christian renewal in that country. The same is true of China and Cuba where despite fierce persecution strong and growing Christian communities have emerged - in China apparently growing at some 20,000 a day. If the Bible had been merely a human production it would have gone down and been forgotten centuries ago. But as Jesus predicted, 'Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away' They haven't!

5. The power of the Biblical churches to multiply. I recall reading an article in Newsweek when crossing the Atlantic on one occasion. It pointed out the decline in five mainline denominations in N. America, including of course TEC. These churches were all weak on attention and obedience to the teaching of scripture, and all of them were in trouble in three areas. They were short of income. They were short of people. And they were short of competent ministers. By contrast, the article pointed out, the Bible-based churches were growing everywhere. You could find exceptions to this trend, but they would be few.

In the Anglican Communion at the present time the contrast could not be more obvious. Compare the growth in joy and enthusiasm , in numbers and vigor of churches that have taken the courageous step of leaving TEC despite the loss of income and property, with the ignorance, lack of energy and absence of conversions and inability to transform lives that you so often find in the churches which have remained within it. Compare the loss of more than 1100 people a week from TEC while the new Anglican churches, based on Scripture, are growing. Compare the age of ordinands among TEC - in the 50s- with those of the emerging churches - in their 30s, and it is perfectly obvious that the churches where the Bible is honored and obeyed are in the ascendant. And of course when you look at the rest of the world the contrast is even more obvious.

Britain is supposed to have 27 million C of E members, but only 5% are to be found in church on a Sunday. What a contrast to the vigorous, joyful worship of the hordes who flood into African churches. The latter build the whole of their lives on the Bible and its teaching. The Western ones do not. It is not the liberal, revisionist brand of Christianity which reproduces itself in Russia and China. It is not the liberals who are growing in Africa and Latin America. They offer an inclusiveness without transformation, an inclusiveness that does not even try to change lives, and are utterly opposed to the doctrines of sin and redemption, conversion and a new lifestyle which permeate the NT.

Look at the growing churches all over the world, and almost without exception you will find that they are composed of people who love the Bible, live the Bible, shape their lives by the Bible, and use it for the conversion of their friends and acquaintance. The Bible has the power to enable churches to multiply and grow strong which no other brand of Christianity can aspire to. That tells me that the good Lord himself is likely to be behind it!

6. Look at the character of those who accept it and those who reject it. It is perilous to generalize, but when someone says 'I believe the Bible to be the word of God. I love it and I read it daily' I very often find that he or she is a person who is clearly living close to God and displays it in a holy and attractive life. And when someone says 'I do not believe the Bible is the word of God' and curses and is violent or selfish, well, his attitude actually confirms my faith. Find a professing Christian who is entirely surrendered to the will of God, and is a leading a life of self-renunciation and devotion to God and fellow men, and you will generally find that such a person is convinced that the Bible is God's book. On the whole, the contrary is generally true.

Those professing Christians who have no time or respect for the Bible are often living a life of lust, greed for money, self will or pride. Those who live closest to God tend to revere and value the scriptures, while those who do not, rubbish it. An orthodox bishop's wife told me recently of an occasion in the TEC's bishops' meeting in New Orleans, which also had a gathering for the spouses of bishops. One man got up and informed everyone that he was the male partner of a thrice divorced bishop. She walked out. Needless to say, this bishop was a revisionist and had no time for the Bible. I do not think that any orthodox bishop in TEC or outside it would boast such a record. Suppose a manuscript was discovered purporting to come from JFK. When critics examined it they found that those who knew JFK best and were in sympathy with his life and thought all regarded it as genuine, while those who doubted it most were those who had lived furthest from him and knew him least. Which would you believe? It is like that with the Bible.

7. Look at the power of the Bible to change lives. I have seen in the prisons of England prisoners who previously were among the most violent and depraved of men. But they have been exposed to the Bible, and it has transformed their lives. They are now passionately commending it to their fellow prisoners. The same story could be repeated time and again by any who have been working with Prison Fellowship in the US. You can see the same transformation among serial sex offenders and drug addicts. Could any other book in the world do this? A bandit gang in Latin America captured a colporteur, and the leader glanced at his Bibles and ordered him to burn them. 'May I read you a bit before they are burnt?' asked the colporteur. Reluctantly the bandit agreed. The man read him 1 Corinthians 13. 'Don't burn that book. Give it to me!' shouted the bandit. Later he read him Psalm 23 and the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

As a result the Bible were not burnt and in due course the bandit was converted and later became a Christian minister. D. L. Moody was right. Either sin will keep you from this book, or this book will keep you from sin. When Charles Darwin first went to the Galapagos Islands on the Beagle, he found the inhabitants there to be utterly corrupt and dejected. He was very depressed by their abject condition. When he returned many years later after the first missionaries had brought the scriptures there, he was so fascinated by the transformation of the people that he became a lifelong supporter of the Bible Society. This book changes lives!

Years ago there was a young French scholar called Emille Caillet who was determined to discover truth. So he turned to philosophy and spent some ten years studying all the main philosophical systems that had ever been devised. He was disappointed with what he found. So he said "I will write my own philosophy' and he did. However when he looked back over it some time later, he was very disappointed with what he had written. He despaired of ever finding truth. One day he came home and found his wife reading the Bible 'Get that book of superstition out of my house' he roared. She refused. Instead she pleaded with him to at least read some of is contents, With a bad grace he did. And he was entirely captivated by what he read. Here was the teaching which had so long eluded him, and which immediately convinced him of its truth. He became a Christian. In due course his biblical studies led him into becoming a theologian. Indeed, he spent many fruitful years as a professor at Princeton. Looking back on the whole experience he said 'At last I have found a book that understands me.'

The Bible has always had this life-changing power. Early in the second century Justin, a very able intellectual, trod much the same path as Caillet. He had studied Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic and Cynic philosophical views, and like Caillet he was disappointed because none of them had that ring of truth about them which he was searching for. One day he met an old man in the fields who, seeing his philosopher's cloak, asked him what the true philosophy was. Justin was, of course, unable to give a satisfactory reply because he had not found it himself. So the old man asked him to read and reflect on a copy of the scriptures. Justin was reluctant to examine these 'barbaric writings'.

But he did, and he was never the same again. For he found that the scriptures 'possess a terrible power in themselves' and also 'a wonderful sweetness' which made an indelible impression on him. He became a follower of Jesus and refused to lay aside his philosopher's cloak but publicly and fearlessly proclaimed the 'true philosophy' throughout his life until he was dragged off to a martyr's death. He saw those same scriptures lead his pupil Athenagoras to Christ. Both of them figure among the major Christian thinkers of the second century. Both of them were won by the powerful truth they found in the scriptures. The Bible is a life changing book.

We have seen in our lifetime a profound tragedy unfolding. For a generation now the scriptures have been increasingly neglected in TEC. Clergy who have sworn allegiance to them have failed to keep that promise. Strange doctrines repugnant to God's word have come in.

Many parishioners never open the Bible and are totally ignorant of its contents. Even the basic scriptural teaching of how to become a true follower of Jesus Christ is a mystery to them. Many of the clergy are blind guides. Many, I fear, are themselves unconverted. No wonder there is a great drift away from scripture in the Episcopal Church. The hungry sheep in the pew look up but are not fed. The leaders give scant heed to scriptural teaching and have no hesitation in preaching the opposite and commending lifestyles forbidden in the Bible.

And so a great church has fallen into what Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison aptly calls the cruelty of heresy, and much of the rest of the Anglican world will have not even communion with it. But I am persuaded better things of you! You would not even be at this Conference unless you believed that scripture is not mere human speculation but divine revelation. Very well then, what are some of the implications of that belief? Here are several.

First, we must feed on the book ourselves. The Bible describes itself as milk for young believers and again as meat for the mature. You would not just be satisfied with one glass of milk or one dinner a week, would you? Yet many Christians who claim to be Bible-believing do not open the Bible from one week's end to another. How can they grow? It cannot be done. We need to have a regular time with God, in front of his word, every day.

The Scripture Union or the Bible Reading Fellowship produce helpful daily notes which take you through the Bible bit by bit. My wife and I have separate morning quiet times, and then we come together for breakfast and conclude with reading Daily Light as a devotional and praying about the many things and people that concern us. It is impossible to exaggerate the impact on our spiritual growth of a regular daily time with an open Bible and an open heart.

Second, we must get to know our way round the Bible. So many Episcopalians despite being subject to constant biblical exposure Sunday by Sunday do not have the slightest idea of its main themes. As one High Court Judge said to me, after being in my Foundations Course, 'I have been a lifelong Episcopalian but until I joined your course I have never opened this book!' He is one of many. The NIV or RSV Study Bible is a real help, as is a book like Gordon Fee's How to read the Bible for all it's worth. It is also important to do some topical study, and see what the teaching of the Bible is on major issues like forgiveness, money, family life, work, and so forth.

Third, we might have the initiative to start a Bible reading circle in our vicinity. I have a couple of friends who once lived on a new estate. They went round each house and invited people to come and read the earliest Christian gospel with them on Sunday evenings and see what they made of it. Out of that experiment a church emerged! I think of Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, who many years ago introduced the Bible Study Fellowship into N. Carolina. Now it is simply massive. Thousands have been brought to faith through it, thousands more to some level of Christian maturity and understanding. Is that something you might contemplate doing?

Fourth, we really need to learn how to defend the Bible. In England this past Christmas there was a lot of fuss because the ABC seemed to have dismissed the story of the three wise men as a mere legend during a show on public TV. The press got hold of this and went to town. However we need not be embarrassed at the story at all. Cuneiform tablets recovered from Sippar in Babylonia show that a remarkable conjunction of the planets Saturn and Jupiter (which would have looked like a very bright single star) occurred in the area of sky known as Pisces three times in 6 BC, the probable year of Jesus' birth. The dates, May 29, Oct.3, and Dec.4, were noted by astrologers on these tablets. Astrology was everywhere in the ancient world.

Many thought human life was determined by the stars. The meaning was not too difficult. Jupiter was the royal planet, Saturn stood for Judaism, and Pisces marked the end of the old course of the sun and the start of the new. What is more likely than that watching astrologers, magi, sensed a prediction of the start of a new era with a new ruler emerging from Judaea, and determined to find out? We happen to know that a rumor of that sort was circulating in the first century. Tacitus, Suetonius and Josephus all mention this belief that a world ruler would emerge from Judaea. The story of the wise men is not so improbable after all!

Time and again the biblical account has been vindicated by archaeological or other discoveries. For example, the story of Jesus healing the man at the Pool of Bethesda with its five porches was dismissed as legendary by many NT scholars, since not only had no trace of it been found but the very name occurred only in St. John's Gospel. But now, not only have the porticoes of Bethesda been dug up, but the name has appeared in one of the scrolls at Qumran!

To take another example, not long ago the Acts of the Apostles was regarded as wildly unhistorical - for example in making Gallio proconsul of Achaea (Acts 18). We happen to know a good deal about Gallio since he was the brother of the famous Seneca, and his career could be so well reconstructed that there scarcely seemed any possibility of his having being proconsul of Achaea. The outlook for Luke's reliability seemed bleak - until an inscription turned up in Delphi which not only showed that Gallio was proconsul of Achaea for a year, but actually gives us the date. So now what was thought to be a mark of Luke's unreliability has turned out to be the lynchpin of New Testament chronology! Some, though not all of us need to be competent to answer the objections such as these that are commonly launched against the scriptures. Atheism is resurgent in both America and Britain, and we need competent apologetics for the truth of the Bible. Apologetics does not bring anyone to Christ, but it clears the rubble out of the way so that he can make an informed response.

Finally, the preachers among us do need to learn to expound the scriptures. I have found almost nobody in Episcopal circles doing this during my two and a half years in the country. Our job is not to use a text of scripture as a springboard for our own ideas, but to allow the text to impact the hearers with the greatest clarity and force. We are to be servants of the Word, breaking it up into bite-sized portions so that people can understand its meaning and context and can apply it to their own lives. Some of the Baptists are good at this, but few Episcopalians. It is an area we need to work at if we really believe that scripture is God's revelation, not mere human speculation.

Perhaps I could fittingly close with some words of John Wesley, one of the greatest preachers who has ever lived.

'I want to know one thing, the way to heaven. God himself condescended to teach that way. For this very end he came from heaven. He has written it down in a book. O give me that book, at any price, give me that book. If I have it, there is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.'

---The Rev. Canon Michael Green is the author of 50 books on the Christian Faith, church growth, evangelism and Biblical exegesis. He is a teacher, church planter, professor and is presently the organizer and founder of the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. He can be reached at embgreen@gmail.com

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