Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles’ Creed
Onward, Multi-Faith soldiers, marching as to war,
With the Qur’an of Mohammed, going on before.
Nanak, Buddha and Krishna, lead against the foe;
Forward into battle see the Jedi go!
Cranmer apologises for beginning with such trite levity, but he has had to contrive a means of deflecting from his fermenting anger and sheer incredulity at the news that the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst has excised the reciting of the Apostles’ Creed from its church services, ‘over fears that it may offend religious minorities’.
This astonishing decision has been made by Sandhurst’s senior chaplain, the Reverend Jonathan Gough. And the man’s surname encapsulates precisely what Cranmer thinks of the decision. While worshippers are said to be ‘furious’ and ‘outraged’ that ‘centuries of religious tradition have been sacrificed for the sake of political correctness’, it is evident that this chaplain has little respect for Church tradition, even less appreciation of the Book of Common Prayer, and no understanding at all of the purpose of creeds.
How can a minister of the Church, a Christian leader, a shepherd of the sheep, eradicate from church services the Christian declaration of faith in God the Father Almighty, the Son and the Holy Spirit? The sense of incredulity is exacerbated when one considers that these services are not even compulsory for cadets, so any Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Jedi Knights are perfectly free not to attend; they are at liberty to avoid being offended.
If, indeed, any were.
For Cranmer is just ever so slightly curious to know if, in fact, the Reverend Jonathan Gough had received any complaints at all. And if he had, to which faith group did the offended cadet(s) belong? And did he ask this/these offended cadet(s) if they might be prepared to forego their own declaration of faith, lest their colleagues be offended?
Sandhurst’s senior chaplain has withdrawn the Creed simply for fear of offending non-believers and ‘to stop upsetting cadets who do not believe in God’. And Cranmer would bet his withered right arm that no offence had ever been reported and no cadets had ever been upset. The Reverend Jonathan simply wants services in the Royal Memorial Chapel to be ‘more inclusive’.
Cranmer is pleased this was not the overriding priority at Nicea or Chalcedon. The creeds included in the Book of Common Prayer – the Apostles’, the Nicene and that Athanasian – were developed to unite Christians and to refute heresy. One ought to be grateful that that the early ecumenical councils were more concerned with defining orthodoxy than with not offending Arius or making the Marcions feel more included. To eradicate the Creed is to abolish orthodoxy, which can only have the effect of welcoming the Arians and Marcions back into the fold.
But that, of course, is the Chaplain’s agenda. He is a former secretary for ecumenism to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he is apparently so ecumenical that his services not only embrace the Arians and Marcians, but those of all faiths and none. If you wish to worship the tooth fairy or believe the moon is made of blue cheese, you are welcome to hear the Reverend Jonathan Gough preach at the Royal Memorial Chapel every week, and you are assured of warm and fluffy feelings. The cross he preaches is not made of harsh wood, and there are no sharp nails. Instead, he talks of a cross which is as comfortable as a duvet and as warm as toast. His Christianity has no time for fasting, inner conflict, spiritual warfare or hell, but endless feasting, chatting about heaven, being tolerant of everything and nice to everyone.
How does one preach to the heathen without causing some discomfort? How does one talk of the cross of Jesus Christ without causing offence?
Cranmer thinks the head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt , will not be too pleased to hear of the diminution of the Christian ethos of Her Majesty's Armed Forces. He has previously spoken of the ‘moral and spiritual vacuum’ which now permeates British society, and has warned of the religious forces which seek to undermine ‘our accepted way of life’. Sandhurst's senior chaplain ought to reflect on the words of his commanding officer just a few years ago. The General observed: 'Our society has always been embedded in Christian values; once you have pulled the anchor up there is a danger that our society moves with the prevailing wind.'
An Army spokesman has said that those who are angered by the decision to pull up the anchor of the Apostles' Creed 'should sit down with Reverend Gough for a cup of tea.’
The Reverend Gough?
Cranmer notes that Sandhurst is a Royal Military Academy, and so enjoys the patronage of the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, who swore at her Coronation to ‘uphold the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law’.
While Cranmer awaits his invitation to tea with the ‘Reverend Gough’, he shall be writing to Her Majesty to express his concern.
UPDATE: The Daily Mail link for this story has ominously disappeared. One can do a search, and the story heading is still prominently linked. The content has been expunged. One wonders why. Surely they did not fabricate or exaggerate this story? Not The Daily Mail, surely.