Surveying the Anglican scene in the West as it has developed in recent decades, various questions constantly arise in my mind. Here are three:
Why is it that the theory of dynamic equivalence or functional equivalence has come to dominate the translation of the Bible and to do so as much for Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics as for Liberals/Radicals?
And, in relation to this, Why has the older theory of essentially literal translation been abandoned by the same people? And, Why are so few, who are using version of the Bible based on this new theory, so little interested in hearing arguments for the older theory of translation and thus for the older versions?
Why is it that the theory of dynamic equivalence or functional equivalence has come to dominate the translation of liturgical texts for use in the Daily Offices, the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion and so on in all the Anglican Prayer Books since the 1970s?
And in relation to this, Why has the older theory of essentially literal translation been abandoned by the various Commissions on Liturgy? And, Why are so few, within the influence of the new theory, so little interested in hearing arguments for the use of the older theory of translation?
Then also there is the question:
Why it is that, after a long series of doctrinal, liturgical and ethical innovations by the Anglican Provinces of the West/North, the innovation of blessing “gay” partnership should become for many in the Anglican Communion a matter so serious as to become the basis for a probable breaking-up of the 38-member Communion of Churches?
And in relation to this, Why is it that Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and Presbyters, of undoubted zeal for the Lord and from all over the world, do not see the innovatory blessing, though a serious error, as a major presenting problem, pointing to the apostasy of much of the Anglican constituency in the West/North?
For me to share what thoughts I have on these topics would take a full-length book, since many considerations come to mind.
However, I would make two observations in relation to the first and second questions: (a) that there is very widespread ignorance amongst many churchgoers, including their pastors and teachers, of the nature of this new theory of translating ancient texts and what are its results. (For a starter into this topic see the chapter “Ancient Texts, Translation and Doctrine” in the book, Neither Orthodoxy Nor a Formulary, 2004 from 1-800-727-1928 and by Tarsitano & Toon). To remind people of what is the difference between the two theories see, for example, the results in Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man” (traditional versions) and “Happy are they…” (dynamic equivalent versions). And (b) that conservatives and liberals are both zealously committed to versions of the Bible and forms of liturgy based on this theory – this is worrying indeed!
And here is one observation with regard to the high profile given to homosexuality in current Anglican thought and discourse. Most of the African bishops who are so solidly against the practice of blessing homosexual partnerships come out of a context where the whole society (traditional, tribal and Muslim culture) sees any form of homosexuality as a serious and heinous distortion of human sexuality and offence against social cohesion. Thus they condemn it in the Western Churches with zeal; but, in so doing they do not have the time to see that it has arisen in the Anglican Churches as part of a continuing stream of innovations in doctrine and morality. Meanwhile, this pleases many “would be-orthodox” in the erring Western Churches for they can join in the condemnation and thereby conveniently do not have to face the real problems of apostasy of which the homosexual innovations are a most serious, but yet only, a presenting problem.
The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon September 14 2004
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Questions that bother me and for which I do not have full answers
Posted by John at 6:58 AM