COLUMBUS, OH: Episcopal Convention Condemns Bible as 'Anti-Jewish'
By Hans Zeiger
COLUMBUS, OHIO (6/15/06)-The 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church today passed a resolution essentially condemning the Bible as an "anti-Jewish" document. Not only does the resolution aim to address perceptions of anti-Jewish prejudice in the Bible and Episcopal liturgy, but it suggests that such prejudice is actually "expressed in...Christian Scriptures and liturgical texts."
Originated in the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music, Resolution C001 directs the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to "collect and develop materials to assist members of the Church to address anti-Jewish prejudice expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian scriptures and liturgical texts, with suggestions for preaching, congregational education, and lectionary use, and to report to the 76th General Convention."
Both houses of the Episcopal Church Convention passed the resolution, including a 68 percent approval in the House of Deputies on Thursday.
The Rev. Ruth A Meyers of the Diocese of Chicago, Secretary of the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music, explained to the House of Deputies why her committee had expanded the wording in the language to include not only prejudice in "liturgical texts," but also in "Christian scriptures."
"We did have a question about whether Scripture itself uses anti-Jewish prejudice," Meyers said. Referring specifically to the Gospel account of the crucifixion, she added, "That scriptural text...has in fact stirred anti-Jewish prejudice and resulted in significant violence toward Jewish people."
Canon Kendall Harmon, Diocese of South Carolina, Deputy on the Education Committee, proposed an amendment on the floor of the House of Deputies to restore the original language of Resolution C001 without condemning "Christian scriptures."
A deputy from Massachusetts argued in favor of Harmon's amendment, "I believe it is so important to deal with the question of the liturgical text and those that may promote or maintain anti-Jewish prejudice, and I am not prepared to deal with the larger question of Scripture."
The Rev. Adam Trambley, rector of Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church and a deputy from Northwestern Pennsylvania, declared, "There is an issue with perceived anti-Semitism in the New Testament...The amendment seems to be more interested in separating the liturgical texts we use from the Scriptural texts."
The amendment failed by a vote of 424-387.
Virtue Online interviewed the Very Rev. Dr. Peter Cook of the Diocese of Western Louisiana, a member of the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music, following the final vote of the House of Deputies to concur with the House of Bishops. Cook attempted to dissuade his committee from amending Resolution C001, but his vote was far outweighed.
Resolution C001 "in effect smuggled in a critique of the Scriptural text instead of the liturgical text," said Cook.
Underlying it all was a terribly flawed understanding of God's Word, Cook suggested.
"I think it reaffirms the belief amongst many that our culture is entitled to critique the Scriptures." Cook said that the liberal view of Scripture had triumphed in the passage of the resolution, based on the belief that the Bible is "a document produced in a certain time with limitations, and because of that it may not be relevant for all cultures at all times."
The orthodox view, according to Cook, is that "the Scriptures were written at a particular place in a particular culture, and that they are relevant to all cultures."
But "if Scriptures were only communicated by men, which means that they were man's best efforts to interpret what God is saying," they will inevitably miss the mark, Cook concluded.
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