The Genesis Foundation is a registered Charitable Trust with the New Zealand Government (Reg number 190034).
The Trustees are
The Reverend David Guthrie Find out about Fr David
The Foundation's full name is the Genesis Foundation for the Advancement of Spirituality through Prayer - which is a bit of a mouthful so we always refer to it simply as the Genesis Foundation. The full name, however, spells out what we are about.
Our commitment is to the spiritual renewal of the church through prayer, prayer that engages us in scripture and theology. So it is that the three key elements for renewal that we advance are prayer, scripture and theology and these are all closely linked. The strength of any one of those three is dependent upon the strength of their companion elements. If one is weak, all are weak: if one is missing the other two are non-existent or, at best, ineffective.
The full story of the Genesis Foundation is inextricably linked to the spiritual journey of Father David Guthrie. In brief, however, the Foundation was formed in early 2007 primarily to advance the online ministry of the daily prayer offices. During 2008, that ministry generated a natural extension into providing the scriptures in full as recorded on CD (and available as digital download files). In turn, the engagement with the vast project of recording the New and Old Testaments, along with the challenge to new models of thought arising from the engagement with prayer, lead to significant theological developments and, from late 2008, the extension of the online ministry to this engagement with theology.
While deeply rooted in the tradition of the church (Anglican/Episcopalian in concrete terms), the vision of the Foundation is for a radical renewal arising out of new models of understanding of prayer, scripture and theology.
Our vision for prayer
The heart of the vision of prayer lies in the tradition of the divine offices generated through the Benedictines originally and incorporated in a radical way by Archbishop Cranmer into the Book of Common Prayer. His vision, never till now practical, was that the whole parish gathered twice daily in the church for morning and evening prayer, centred on songs of praise, psalms and the systematic reading of the bible. The core of the vision was, and is, that prayer is a community activity, not private devotion. Now, through the internet and podcasting, Cranmer's vision is coming to a practical fulfilment, except that it is not the local community engaging together in common prayer, but the world-wide global community. When you as an individual log into the daily prayer office, you become part of a community of thousands (and growing exponentially) who are part daily of this prayer office.
For our prayer offices click here
Our vision for scripture
In providing the recorded scripture, we aim to bring the whole of the scriptures, Old and New Testaments (and the Apocrypha) back into the hearts and minds of the whole people of God. The stark reality is that for most people, even active Christians, the scriptures have become a closed book except for the short excerpts they hear in the Sunday liturgy. Even for those who listen daily to the online or podcast offices, the scripture readings can be disjointed.
Our strategy for renewing scripture to the heart and mind is to provide them as CD and digital download. To this strategy it may well be said that there are plenty of "audio bible" options on the market and that is so - but nothing available is comparable to what the Genesis Foundation offers.
Here is why.
First, the translation we use is the New Jerusalem Bible. While it is true that there are dozens of modern translations available today, the NJB stands head and shoulders above them all when it comes to being read out loud - for it was translated with the "sound" of the spoken word at the forefront of its criteria. The NJB has a vividness of sound that makes it ideal for these recordings. Its special feature is that it treats the poetic passages as poetry.
Second, and building on the special properties of the NJB text, in making these recordings, Father David speaks the text as if it was "Paul" or "Mark" or one of the other writers speaking directly to you as the listener to them in person. The approach is not one of reading 'holy writ' but of direct address, with the passions of direct address.
Third, The Spoken Word series of CDs (currently of the New Testament, the Old Testament to follow in 2009) adopts a radically new approach to the arrangement of the books of the bible. These are presented in the general order in which they were written. Now this is not just some scholarly conceit but one which opens the door on a new encounter with the scriptures. The New Testament begins, then, not with Matthew but with I Thessalonians, inviting us to hear "Paul speaking" as to a community that has no Christian scripture. All of Paul's letters are written before Mark, the first of the gospels, appears. Mark, read after Paul, is clearly "the gospel according to Paul", proclaiming salvation through faith alone, the law being done away with by Jesus. Matthew, written a decade later, is contradicting Mark / Paul's vision of Jesus, presenting Jesus as the one who fulfuls the Law and calls the community to even deeper commitment to the Law. So we begin to see the tensions and struggles that underlie the New Testament and echo so much of what we still experience in our own day.
Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were originally one continuous account and this connection is restored in the order in which the writings are presented in The Spoken Word. Luke has yet another agenda, independent of Mark and Matthew He seeks to present the Christian community to the Roman authorities as a community of responsible citizens which the empire can trust.
The Revelation to John does not come at the end, as it does in the canonical order because it is not about "end things" but, in contrast to Luke, it is a call to the Christian community to stand firm against the brutal repression from the Roman authorities. The last writings in The Spoken Word arrangement of the New Testament are the John's gospel and first letter, written at the end of the first century and a reflection back on the whole tradition, a fitting climax to the whole collection.
When we allow the New Testament to unfold to us in this manner, its powerful word to the present age becomes clearly apparent not as a series of proof-texts for dogmas or even as inspirational passages but as the witness of a community to the struggle and triumph of faith in the real world: a vital model for our struggle of faith towards a triumph in our real world, global meltdown and all.
For our scripture recordings, click here
Our vision for theology
Implementation of the third vision, that theology is the third key to a vital faith, is a work-in-progress.
Theology is not and never can be an 'academic' discipline and, despite modern developments, ca never be done in a university environment. All a university academic can do is pick over the bones of past theological work. Theology is done and can only be done in and by the Christian community, the whole Christian community. Theology is about developing our understanding about God and the world, an understanding that means nothing and signifies nothing except that it arises from prayer and engagement with the scriptures as the church being spoken to by the Spirit.
So our core vision for theology is of the praying, scripturally centred community engaged in deep thought together.
This is how we intend to put that vision into practice.
David Guthrie is in process of writing a series of 'books' that will explore the range of the community tradition in the form of a matrix. As each book shapes, the draft text will be published on the website, together with a series of forums for discussion and feedback, out of which revised texts and notes will be posted so that the theology process is done together (and everyone who contributes will be acknowledged in any final publication).
For our theology process, click here
The first set of readings of the New Testament by David Guthrie is now available
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