'Fragmentary Reading' of Bible 'Highly Risky': Williams Laments Loss of Public Bible Study

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has lamented what he called the lack of "rootedness" in the Anglican approach to Scripture and said "we've lost quite a bit of what was once a rather good Anglican practice of reading the Bible in the tradition of interpretation."

He added: "We read the Bible less in worship. We understand and know it less ... We don't have a very clear sense that we're reading the Bible in company with its readers from the centuries and indeed, at the present moment." Archbishop Williams made the observation in response to a comment about a seeming lack of theological tradition among Anglicans, following a lecture delivered April 16 before an audience of mostly theology students from Wycliffe and Trinity Colleges in Toronto.

Archbishop Williams also said that he wished the current debate on sexuality that has bitterly divided the Anglican Communion would be framed in terms of "biblical justice and biblical holiness" instead of the prevailing conservative view of "biblical fidelity" and the liberal view of justice.

"I share the unease about simply opposing biblical fidelity and secular justice," he said, adding that what was needed was a "proper theological discussion" of the issue.

In his lecture, Archbishop Williams examined the current practice of reading the Bible and said Christians need to be reminded that, "before Scripture is read in private, it is heard in public."

"Those who assume that the typical image of Scripture reading is a solitary individual poring over a bound volume should remember that for most Christians throughout the ages and in the world at present the norm is listening," said Archbishop Williams. …