Sunday, October 23, 2005

Oliver O'Donovan quote:

from "On the 39 Articles"--

(p. 65) "And now we reach a point where we can hardly help being uneasy. Having said all they wish to say about the Scriptures, the Articles will turn to the doctrines of salvation; but before they do so they must pause to establish the doctrine which salvation presupposes, that of mankind's fall. This they describe, perfectly correctly, as 'the fault and corruption of the nature of every man'. But about the nature of man itself, that in which the fault and corruption resides, they have nothing to say. That mankind is the creature of God, made in God's image, set at the head of God's creation, a physical being with rational powers to understand and to rule the rest of creation and to worship God appropriately: these things are nowhere acknowledged in the Articles. But that is only an aspect of a larger omission, the doctrine of creation itself (!)."

--How blessed we are that our denomination traditionally does not travel down the contemporary road of placing great emphasis upon creation, but rather the extent to which creation is fallen. "You don't miss your water 'til your well runs dry" (Peter Tosh), and the well has been dry for a long time thanks to Adam! JAZ


Anonymous said...


I have not read O'Donovan on the 39 articles, except very briefly, and that a long time ago. So, I could not hazard a guess as to where he was going with what you have quoted. I think you must realize, however, that without a well articulated doctrine of creation, i.e. without saying what it means for God's creation to be good, one's hamartiology remains vacuous and ill-defined. Soteriology and the doctrine of creation "go together like a horse and carriage" - you can't have one without the other. And lest you think us overly blessed, it is precisely this ambiguity, this failure to explore creation in all of its goodness and falleness, that fuels the fires that divide the Communion today. So, perhaps you don't miss the water till the well is dry, but - to switch the content of the metaphor - the empty 'well' of theological precision on this topic is leaving the church parched. Do you disagree?


cjdm said...


i think that you're theologically suspect in your use of peter tosh as a source on this point. clearly he's an advocate of the third use of the law as proven by the song "legalize it." all of the fundamental principles of the legitimacy of his activity are derived, apparently, from adherence to some arbitrary code. not only does he want to flee from the convicting word of the law (which would be removed if it was indeed "legalized") but in fact, he seeks to shape the law in his own image...he will "advertise it" himself...apparently a walking poster boy for God's own perfection. he locates himself, and his antinomian ways beyond the reach of ecclesial critique..."don't criticize it." this is unacceptable.

peter tosh is a heretic. H-E-R-E-S-Y! (let's go!)

by the way, frank is right about creation.

lively up yourself...-c.

John Zahl said...

Suffice it to say, I think that the only doctrine of creation to be had is a doctrine of fallen creation, which is what Cranmer espouses in the articles. It is a point that reflects pastoral insight over and above a more abstract theological insight, and, thus, explains my attraction both to the articles on this point, and to the pastoral. My "hamartiology" has yet to prove vacuous or ill-defined in my own personal experience. From what I understand, O'Donovan does not line up with me at all on this one, but does indeed note the "abhorrent" absence of any doctrine of creation from the Articles. The quote is taken from his chapter entitled: "The Concealment of Creation", which describes the lay of the land found in Articles 9-10 nicely.