Anglicans/Faith

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QUESTION: How do you find Faith whilst drowning in a sea of doubt and scepticism? How can one accept things that defy scientific principles and evidence, how can we become like a child and accept things as spiritual truths whilst not becoming gullable and unquestioning? Thank you

ANSWER: Dear Stephen,

Doubt and scepticism are always dangers to faith. However there need not be direct conflict between, for instance, scientific enquiry and religious faith, provided there are recognised limits to both. For instance, modern understanding of the world is at odds with early Jewish concepts, such as the nature of the heavens and space. However, provided one does not read the book of Genesis in a literal manner, there really isn't anything in the New Testament that cannot be explained in a manner that satisfies scientific logic and religious faith. For instance, the accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ accord very well with recent medical studies (in the details of the agony of Our Lord, the discharge of water and blood etc).

It is even possible to accept as religious truth that which defies scientific principles, though admittedly more challenging. Charles Darwin struggled with this, and although he eventually became an agnostic, groups such as The Society of Ordained Scientists uphold religious belief in the face of scientific conviction.

We should never be uncritical and blindly follow, but God gives us the facility of reason as well as faith, and he leads us to reconcile religion and science.  

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QUESTION: Thank you for your answer. I suppose if you apply reason you can explain some things but others purely rely on faith and some would say defy reason- for instance the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Miracles. You cannot really look for explanations in physical science or do you think that we can start to explain it in way that scientists would recognise? Or does the spiritual exist on a strata above materialist scientific principles?

Answer
The scientific method works on completely different paths to religious faith. It is possible to apply the scientific method to religious matters, such as the resurrection, but there would be limits beyond which the method would not help - it can't prove something supernatural has occurred or could occur. In that sense spiritual reality is on a different strata.

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The Reverend Professor Noel Cox

Expertise

I can answer questions on theology, Anglican ecclesiology, and ecclesiastical and canon law.

Experience

I am a Professor of Law, and a barrister (advocate). I am a priest in the Diocese of St Davids, Wales. Formerly based in New Zealand, from 2010 I have been a Professor of Law (and until 2013 head of the law school) at Aberystwyth University, Wales. I am a Distinguished Academic Associate of the Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University.

Organizations
Association of Lambeth Degree Holders; Australasian Law Teachers Association; Commonwealth Lawyers Association; Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans; Legal Research Foundation; The Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society; The Burgon Society (Fellow); Credo Cymru - Forward in Faith Wales; The Foundation of the College of St George; The Friends of Canterbury Cathedral; The Friends of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell; The Friends of St Davids Cathedral; The Royal Historical Society (Fellow); The Society of King Charles the Martyr; The Society of Legal Scholars; The Ecclesiastical Law Society; Honourable Society of the Inner Temple; Affirming Catholicism; The Mission Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda; International Commission and Association on Nobility; Irish Peers’ Association; Centre for Law and Religion.

Publications
The law of the church in the twenty-first century: Essays on law and religion (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013); Church and State in the Post-Colonial Era: The Anglican Church and the Constitution in New Zealand (Polygraphia (NZ) Ltd, 2008); “The Anglican Church and its decision-making structures” [2008] New Zealand Law Journal 121-124; “The Revenge of the Arcane Exclusion Clause: The Civil Registration of Marriage and the Royal Family” (2005) 5(2) Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal 179-204; “The nature of ministerial authority in the Anglican Church in New Zealand” (2005) 119(2) Churchman 105-136; “The Symbiosis of Secular and Spiritual Influences upon the Judiciary of the Anglican Church in New Zealand” (2004) 9(1) Deakin Law Review 145-182; “Dispensation, Privileges, and the Conferment of Graduate Status: With Special Reference to Lambeth Degrees” (2002-2003) 18(1) Journal of Law and Religion 249-274; “The Influence of the Common Law and the Decline of the Ecclesiastical Courts of the Church of England” (2001-2002) 3(1) Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion 1-45 ; “Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in the Church of the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia” (2001) 6(2) Deakin Law Review 266-284; “Authority for the use of the Royal Arms in Churches” (2000) 5 (27) Ecclesiastical Law Journal 408-416.

Education/Credentials
Apart from my legal training I have an MTheol from the University of Auckland (on the validity of Anglican Orders), an MA from the Archbishop of Canterbury's Examination in Theology (a "Lambeth degree", on the basis of the legal authority of the Anglican church in New Zealand), and an LTh from the University of Wales Lampeter.

Awards and Honors
Visiting Fellow, St Edmund's College, University of Cambridge 2009 Visiting Fellow, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge 2006 Fellow of The Royal Historical Society 2004- Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Law, The Australian National University 2003-2004 Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Award, Researcher, Auckland University of Technology 2002 Fowlds Memorial Prize in Law, as the most distinguished student in the Faculty of Law, The University of Auckland 1994 Grand Cordon, The Royal and Hashemite Order of the Pearl (Sultanate of Sulu) 2011

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