Monday, July 6, 2009

Richard Turnbull on First Order Issues for Anglicans

The Rev. Dr. Richard Turnbull, the Principal (think Dean) of Oxford University's Wycliffe Hall seminary spoke encouraging words to Northern California Anglicans at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco this last Sunday evening, July 5th.

Dr. Trubull+ says that we must understand the difference between first order issues and second order issues. He says there are really only two first order issues, issues worth "dying in the ditch for":
1) authority of scripture, and
2) salvation/ uniqueness of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Trubull+ explained that what seemed to be a second order issue, sexuality, was really a first order issue masquerading as a second order issue because God's plan for human sexuality is clearly presented in the Bible. To challenge God's plan for human sexuality as presented in the Bible is to challenge the authority of scripture.

Dr. Trubull+ is an Evangelical and author of Anglican and Evangelical? Audience members not familiar with him were not sure how bold and simple these two first order issues were for him. In the question and answer, he was provided opportunities to expand on and nuance his understanding of these two primary issues.

During his talk, Dr. Trubull+ had stated that "God wrote the Bible". In the question and answer, he clarified that he believed that God inspired humans to write the Bible, humans embedded in their social contexts.

Also in the question and answer after the talk, he was asked how his understanding of salvation fit with those of the famous Anglican C. S. Lewis. Lewis believed in salvation through Christ alone, but in a way that is beyond our understanding and may include those who did not embrace Christ in this life. In The Last Battle, Lewis presented a pagan Calormene soldier who was credited with worshiping Aslan all along, even though he didn’t know what he was doing. It was not clear from his response whether Dr. Trubull+ subscribes to Lewis' generous view on salvation.

The audience was eager to learn more about the thinking of Dr. Trubull+. The fifteen copies of Anglican and Evangelical? were snapped up. Additional copies would have been sold had they been available.

A generous parishioner of St James' San Jose hosted the event. A recording will be available at the New Anglican Church website.

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