“”But what becomes of the non-elect?” You have nothing to do with this question, if you find yourself embarrassed or distressed by the consideration of it. Bless God for his electing love, and leave him to act as he pleases by them that are without. Simply acquiesce in the plain scripture account, and wish to see no farther than revelation holds the lamp. It is enough for you to know that the Judge of the whole earth will do right” (A. M. Toplady, The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination, pgs 18,19).
“The Lord has afflicted me with painful constipation. The elimination is so hard that I am forced to press with all my strength, even to the point of perspiration, and the longer I delay the worse it gets. …..My constipation has become bad….I tried the pills according to the prescription. Soon I had some relief and elimination without blood or force, but the wound of the previous rupture isn’t healed yet, and I even had to suffer a good deal because some flesh extruded, either due to the power of the pills, or I don’t know what……
“….. At last my behind in my bowels have reconciled themselves to me.”
SCM Theological Commentary on the Bible
by R. R. Reno
Near the beginning of his treatise against Gnostic interpretations of the Bible, Against the Heresies, Irenaeus observes that Scripture is like a great mosaic depicting a handsome king. It is as if we were owners of a villa in Gaul who had ordered a mosaic from Rome. It arrives, and the beautifully colored tiles need to be taken out of their packaging and put into proper order according to the plan of the artist. The difficulty, of course, is that Scripture provides us with the individual pieces, but the order and sequence of various elements are not obvious. The Bible does not come with instructions that would allow interpreters to simply place verses, episodes, images, and parable in order as a worker might follow a schematic drawing in assembling the pieces to depict the handsome king. the mosaic must be puzzled out. This is precisely the work of scriptural interpretation.
Origen has his own image to express the difficulty of working out the proper approach to reading the Bible. When preparing to offer a commentary on the Psalms he tells of a tradition handed down to him by his Hebrew teacher:
The Hebrews said that the whole divinely inspired Scripture may be likened, because of its obscurity, to many locked rooms in our house. By each room is placed a key, but not the one that corresponds to it, so that the keys are scattered about beside the rooms, none of them matching the room by which it is placed. it is a difficult task to find the keys and match them to the rooms that they can open. We therefore know the Scriptures that are obscure only by taking the points of departure for understanding them from another place because they have their interpretive principle scattered among them.
As is the case for Irenaeus, scriptural interpretation is not purely local. The key in Genesis may best fit the door of Isaiah, which in turn opens up the meaning of Matthew. The mosaic must be put together with an eye toward the overall plan.
Irenaeus, Origen, and the great cloud of premodern biblical interpreters assumed that puzzling out the mosaic of Scripture must be a communal project. The Bible is vast, heterogeneous, full of confusing passages and obscure words, and difficult to understand. Only a fool would imagine that he or she could work out solutions alone. The way forward must rely upon a tradition of reading that Irenaeus reports has been passed on as the rule or canon of truth that functions as a confession of faith. “Anyone,” he says, “who keeps unchangeable in himself the rule of truth received through baptism will recognize the names and says and parables of the scriptures.” Modern scholars debate the content of the rule on which Irenaeus relies and commends, not the least because the terms and formulations Irenaeus himself uses shift and slide. Nonetheless, Irenaeus assumes that there is a body of apostolic doctrine sustained by a tradition of teaching in the church. This doctrine provides the clarifying principles that guide exegetical judgment toward a coherent overall reading of Scripture as a unified witness. Doctrine, then, is the schematic drawing that will allow the reader to organize the vast heterogeneity of words, images, and stories of the Bible into a readable, coherent whole. It is the rule that guides us toward the proper matching of keys to doors.
“Martin Luther (1483-1546) broke from the Church of Rome and started the German part of the Protestant Reformation. He had what he thought was a sudden revelation which convinced him that faith alone justifies without works (“By faith alone!”). He went on to deny the mediating role of the Church (excluding any sacraments besides Baptism and Eucharist) and of the priesthood (“By grace alone!” “Priesthood of all believers”). He also contended that individual believers could find out by themselves the message of salvation in the revealed Word of God without need of official teachers or Church traditions. He also taught that “Sacred Scripture is its own interpreter,” meaning that if you could not understand any passage of the Bible, the best way to uncover its meaning is to look in other parts to clarify its meaning: Scripture as a whole illumines all its parts (“By Scripture alone!”),” (Frederick Lawrence, Philosophers and Theologians, Boston College).
There are some people in my parish who are wanting to put on this play by Charles Williams. They’re a talented lot, and it would be interesting to see. I think it would require an accompanying commentary though. I put it on here because this mildly adapted script may be of value to Charles Williams fans… It used to be out of print, but appears now (2016) to be back in print. There are some minor errors that occurred during the scanning process. If any one wants a micro$haft word copy send me an email and I’ll send you one…
First produced in the Chapter House, Canterbury, as part of the Festival of the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral, 20 June 1936
THOMAS CRANMER Robert Speaight
HENRY VIII Philip Hollingworth
MARY Vera Coburn Findlay
FIRST LORD Jeffrey Leighton
SECOND LORD Frank napier
A PRIEST Sidney Haynes
A PREACHER William Fordyce
A BISHOP William Gorman
FIGURA RERUM, A SKELETON E. Martin Browne
The Commons; Singers; Executioners
The character of ANNE BOLEYN was not included in the somewhat shorter version of the play given at Canterbury
Directed by E. Martin Browne