Friday, September 09, 2011

It’s official: religion makes you contribute more to society


Not just any religion, of course; but Christianity. And not just any denomination of Christianity; but specifically the evangelical type, if, indeed, evangelicalism may be defined as a denomination, as it appears to embrace a number of Protestant movements. The symbiosis of this union with the impetus to social action has long been known, but the Evangelical Alliance has sought to quantify it. Yet since their survey was aimed only at evangelicals, one ought not to presume that Roman Catholics, Sikhs or Jedi Knights are any less fervent in their citizenship: it may indeed be that being generally ‘religious’ spurs one on to all manner socio-political action.

The Evangelical Alliance asks “What is a typical evangelical Christian? What contributions do they make to society? What do they believe? What opinions do they hold about the most pressing issues of the day?”

Unfortunately, the survey appears to pre-ordain these ‘most pressing issues’ (civil partnerships, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan). It distils matters of belief to the traditional evangelical fundamentals (cross, resurrection, sin, etc); and really offers little insight on what constitutes a ‘typical evangelical’. In His Grace’s experience, they are almost universally kind and hospitable; sing an awful lot of Shine, Jesus, Shine; believe the Canon of the Bible was handed down by God; praise the Lord when they find a lost saucepan; rejoice in Middle-East bloodshed and social breakdown, ‘for these things must be’; and their view of Church history begins with Acts and then jumps straight to Amazing Grace. Certainly, His Grace has never yet met an evangelical who grasps the Patristics, understands Chalcedon or appreciates the historical significance of any of the early Ecumenical Councils.

Some may, of course. But His Grace is speaking generally, as the survey manifestly does. And generally, the evangelical social focus is on issues such as poverty, abortion and homosexuality; while theologically it is upon penal substitutionary atonement, justification by faith, the authority of Scripture, and the priesthood of all believers.

Some 1,151 evangelicals were surveyed, and the findings are published in Does belief touch society?. Overwhelmingly (if unsurprisingly) they expressed their confidence in the central message of Christianity: that Jesus died for our sins, and rose again from the dead. But this is not mere belief in a doctrine: it is inspiration to active involvement in society. Interestingly, 25 per cent of respondents are also trustees of a registered charity (compared to 2.2 per cent nationally). Nine per cent serve as school governors (compared to 0.7 per cent nationally), and four per cent are members of a political party (compared to 1.3 per cent nationally).

These evangelical Christians also beat the national average for serving as councillors for their local authorities and as court magistrates. Astonishingly, a mammoth 91 per cent turned out to vote in the AV referendum (compared to 42 per cent nationally), with 38 per cent voting in favour. 81 per cent of evangelicals do some kind of voluntary work at least once a month, contributing a total of around half a million hours each week to their communities. But the EA is right to observe: “While the nature of our sample and the online method of carrying out this research may have over-represented people who are more likely to be active in public life, the results represent a huge investment of unpaid time and energy by evangelical Christians in the voluntary and community sector, in education and health services, in politics and in the trade union movement.”

And on trade union membership, evangelicals are, on average, more likely to be members of a trade union, specifically Unison, followed by the NUT, NASUWT and Unite. The EA observes: “These results suggest a strong representation among our respondents of those in the education, health and general public service sectors.” Social action projects were more popular among Charismatic, Anglican, Methodist and emerging church members than among those from the Church of Scotland, Free Evangelicals, and Pentecostals.

On ‘gay marriage’, 80 per cent were against proposals, with 10 per cent in favour. Presumably the other 10 per cent were indifferent. Interestingly, 15 per cent of Anglicans were in favour, while Pentecostals and Charismatics were 88 per cent opposed.

His Grace thinks this all worth reporting (and the full document worth reading), not least in the context of the observations of the Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe a few days ago. She suggested that the turfing out at the last general election of the fundamentalist atheist, aggressive secularist, pro-abortion, pro-Euthanasia, Dr ‘Death’ Evan Harris was down to the united efforts of Christians:
Catholics and Evangelical churches – led by a woman vicar - banded together in a major campaign. They delivered a leaflet giving Dr Harris’ voting record to every home in the constituency which was paid for by their parishioners (not from church funds). I have to say that the only Anglican I heard of supporting Dr Harris was the former Bishop of Oxford who is pro-abortion and pro embryo experimentation as his votes in the House of Lords testify.

In the event most people were of the opinion that the good Bishop’s intervention (in the form of a letter of support) did Evan Harris more harm than good. He lost the election to a young Conservative, Nicola Blackwood, who obtained a slim majority of 176 votes. It meant that the Christian churches had shifted almost 8,000 votes.
His Grace thinks there may have been one or two other variables at play (Lembit Opik, for example, was not ejected by the churches), but Ms Widdecombe is certainly on to something. United, speaking with one voice, Christians are strong. Divided into uncompromising denominations and insular theologies, we are manifestly weakened. But when even the ‘pro-Life’ movement can’t bring its warring factions together on the single micro-political issue of abortion counselling, what hope is there for the pressing macro religio-political issues of the day?

52 Comments:

Blogger MrTinkles said...

"what hope is there for the pressing macro religio-political issues of the day?"
Spot on YG...

However..."His Grace has never yet met an evangelical who grasps the Patristics, understands Chalcedon or appreciates the historical significance of any of the early Ecumenical Councils"

You need to get out a bit more...

9 September 2011 at 10:02  
Blogger Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

This Protestant, Evangelical, Dissenter certainly does realise that an awfull lot of baptismal water flowed under the Church's bridge between the martyrdom of SS Paul and Peter, and the conversion of Newton. That's what a degree in Divinity does to you, I guess.

I really do hope that Christian belief can touch society today, as much as the Mohammedian faith is darkening it. We also covered the Reconquista in the BD. Does Your Grace think that such a thing could possibly happen in Britain (Europe, even) today?

9 September 2011 at 10:05  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

"Nicola Blackwood, who obtained a slim majority of 176 votes. It meant that the Christian churches had shifted almost 8,000 votes."

Of course she should have said all other things being equal - which they weren't. How does the swing to the Blackwood compare with the National swing to the Tories? Answer that question and you will have a more realistic assessment of the impact of the religous campaigning.

9 September 2011 at 11:12  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

It would be interesting for a similar survey to be conducted among memebers of political parties - my own experience in Labour Party branches would suggest that the involvement of Evangelical Christians in society as a whole is rather on the low side.

9 September 2011 at 11:17  
Blogger graham wood said...

"while theologically it is upon penal substitutionary atonement, justification by faith, the authority of Scripture, and the priesthood of all believers"

Agree Cranmer that these are distinctives of Evangelical, but with the exception of the 'priesthood of all believers'.

Why is this? Because in the institutional and non-conformist churches the artificial concepts of "clergy and laity" with its consequent divisons preclude a functional priesthood when believers are gathered together.
The "priesthood" element is exercised solely by an ordained "minister", in Catholic, Protestant and evangelical churches.
If by priesthood it is understood that believers have direct access to God, and to Christ and the Scriptures without any human mediator, then I think your criteria is correct.
However this overlooks entirely the corporate function of each and every believer, with freedom to actively contribute to the building up of the local body of Christians in a Church meeting.

It is this coroprate dimension which is given priority in all of Paul's discussion as to the nature and function of the church.
In a word the false "clergy" concept should be abolished, and then a true functioning priesthood will can emerge as Paul discusses in 1 Cor. 12-14.

9 September 2011 at 11:22  
Blogger Jonathan Hunt said...

***
Mr Tinkles wrote:

However..."His Grace has never yet met an evangelical who grasps the Patristics, understands Chalcedon or appreciates the historical significance of any of the early Ecumenical Councils"

You need to get out a bit more...

***

Precisely. I can think of a good number of prominent evangelicals in London (both within and outwith the established church) who would fit the bill.

9 September 2011 at 12:44  
Blogger UMACF24 said...

I'm surprised but pleased that Yr Grace chooses to highlight this research.
To my view it appears to validate the view that religious feeling is a beneficial psychological feature of humanity, and thus more plausibly created by natural selection rather than divine grace.

9 September 2011 at 13:32  
Blogger Roger Pearse said...

Your Grace,

You write:

"Certainly, His Grace has never yet met an evangelical who grasps the Patristics, understands Chalcedon or appreciates the historical significance of any of the early Ecumenical Councils."

Surely you must have sensed that such a statement was liable to produce comments such as this one?

I would be honoured if your Grace should care to visit any of my websites some time, in order to dispel your concern:

http://www.tertullian.org

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers

http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog

But your real point is that, on the whole Christians don't spend much time on the church history of the period between 300-500 AD. This is certainly so, and it is not that easy to understand why you think that they should. Why that period?

Catholics and Orthodox perhaps believe that the Fathers were inspired (although anyone who wishes to assert that they were is at liberty to produce proof). But few of the rest of us do. It seems odd, then, to object that people truly devoted to Christ are not spending their time in antiquarianism, rather than in living the Christian life.

Those we call the Fathers were the Christians of the period that they lived in. Some of what they have to say is interesting. Some of it may inspire some people, although the ascetic ideal is probably a mistake. But it seems silly not to accept that, in some cases, they said and did foolish things, which had evil consequences. It would be terribly easy, if morose, to produce a list. And the same applies to Christians of every period, including this one.

Likewise there are various terms one might use to discuss the Council of Ephesus, but I'm not sure that "appreciation" is the one that comes to mind! Ask Nestorius, or John of Antioch.

Yes, let those of us with an antiquarian turn of mind -- for who else truly needs to know? -- by all means know something about the Fathers. But I do not understand why you condemn a modern Christian, believing the bible and following Christ, helping the poor and worshipping the Lord, on the grounds that he has not troubled to read the Acta of Chalcedon. I don't see why he should. Indeed surely to do so would, in the majority of cases, be a sheer waste of time.

Sincerely,

Roger Pearse

9 September 2011 at 14:36  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Roger Pearse,

Perhaps you need to breathe deeply and re-read His Grace's article. He condemns no-one. He talked of his own experience. Who are you to condemn him for that? Further, he specifically says 'Some (evangelicals) may' take note of such things, and then spells it out very plainly indeed: 'But His Grace is speaking generally'.

You may very well be acquainted with such things. Others doubtless are also. But 'generally' evangelicals are not, as you yourself appear to go on to acknowledge. Please, do not impute 'condemnation' where there is none. Some of His Grace's best friends are evangelicals...

9 September 2011 at 15:08  
Blogger PJ said...

Your Grace, on the pro-life movement it seems like Damian was rather ill informed, and I wouldn't take his word it to lead to the conclusion that the movement has "warring factions"

9 September 2011 at 15:36  
Blogger Oswin said...

Your Grace, perhaps I'm a tad wicked at heart, but I did SO enjoy your third paragraph: ''In His Grace's experience ....'' etc.

9 September 2011 at 15:52  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Mr Pearse.

"Some of His Grace's best friends are evangelicals..."

You obviously do not take note of myself and others who comment on here or you would know this.

Evangelical Ernst.

9 September 2011 at 15:54  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Cranny, you wrote:
'... the evangelical social focus is on issues such as poverty, abortion and homosexuality; while theologically it is upon penal substitutionary atonement, justification by faith, the authority of Scripture, and the priesthood of all believers.'

Your words, or those of the Evangelical Alliance? If the latter, the mention of penal substitutionary atonment (PSA) is curious. Several years ago the EA put on a symposium hosted by the London Theological College to discuss the question of PSA. This followed a statement by Steve Chalke in which he had likened PSA to 'cosmic child abuse'. Whilst the majority of those gathered (I was there) supported PSA, a sizeable minority did not. It was generally agreed, I recall, that belief in PSA was not necessary for being considered as an Evangelical, and that the EA's statement of faith could be rather more broadly interpreted so as to comprehend people who believe in PSA and those who do not.

Along with the other Anabaptists present, I am not a supporter of the PSA doctrine, but then I don't consider myself an Evangelical -- for some additional reasons.

9 September 2011 at 16:03  
Blogger Roger Pearse said...

Your Grace,

I was rather sorry to read your response. We agree on the majority of matters on which you post, and I see no advantage in getting cross at each other, except to those who love neither of us.

I would refer you to my original comment for the other points you make.

Surely there is nothing to be gained in making the fathers the occasion of a denominational squabble, as some rather foolish RC and Orthodox polemicists seem to wish to do (from whom, I suspect, the views in the lines to which I objected ultimately derive). The suggestion that the Fathers are the exclusive property of the Catholics or the Orthodox is one that I believe needs to be strenuously resisted. There is, indeed, a need for a fresh statement of the protestant view of church history.

Yours sincerely,

Roger Pearse

9 September 2011 at 16:13  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Well said, Mr Graham Wood.

9 September 2011 at 17:07  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Mr Cranmer said ...
"Some of His Grace's best friends are evangelicals..."

Including Roman Catholic evangelicals too, I hope - although we're a different variant to prostestant ones.

Interesting findings that apply across faith groups and denominations. Having a faith is also associated with improved general wellbeing and a reduction in mental health problems.

Proof perhaps that God has planted within all of us the need to seek Him out and worship Him.

9 September 2011 at 18:23  
Blogger len said...

What is an Evangelical Christian?.


Rich Cizik, a vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, offered a definition.

“I use this three-fold definition: (1) the Bible is authoritative (i.e., infallible and inerrant in original autographs) in faith and practice; (2) born-again experience (i.e., a conversion to believe in and follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord through rebirth by the Holy Spirit); (3) shares this message of faith with others through evangelism and social witness (i.e., witnessing, aiding the poor and hurting, voting, influencing public life, etc.).
......
So an Evangelical is an 'ordinary Christian', is there any other type?.

9 September 2011 at 19:47  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

len

Ummmm .... now you know this isn't a definition accepted by all Christians - who nevertherless are 'ordinary Christians'.

The 'Association of Evangelicals' has fairly limited membership and I believe the Anglican Church is no longer a member.

9 September 2011 at 20:00  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I confess I was quite surprised to read that Ms Dorries is a self-identifying member of my pro-death, pro-baby-murdering camp. In her own words from Hansard:

"I am pro-choice, although I am presented as pro-life in every newspaper. The pro-life organisations are in fact e-mailing pro-life MPs to tell them not to vote for the amendment. I am pro-choice. Abortion is here to stay."

and goes on to say:

"They [BPAS and Marie Stopes] have a job to do, and they do it well. Their job is the provision of clinical abortions, and I want that to continue."

and (surprisingly to me):

"I have no idea who funds Right to Know, as I am sure Labour Members have no idea who funds a number of campaigns that support them."

All in all, it was a curious presentation I thought, not least Frank Field's response after Anne Milton pulled the rug out from under it.

9 September 2011 at 20:20  
Blogger non mouse said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9 September 2011 at 22:06  
Blogger Guy Davies said...

I've posted a response to His Grace's unwarranted slur on Evangelical theology:

http://exiledpreacher.blogspot.com/2011/09/archbishop-cranmer-on-those-pesky.html

9 September 2011 at 22:47  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

What is interesting is that no one has picked up on the suggestion of 'evengelicals' (whatever this designation means) rejoicing at Middle East bloodshed and social breakdown 'for these things must be'.

Is this true? Is war in the Middle East welcomed as inevitable? Is it alongwith social breakdown, embraced as a sign of Christ's return? And, if this be true, what duty has a Christian in such a situation?

No, instead there is a response from Roger Pearse focusing on some imaginary views it is claimed Catholicism and Orthodoxy hold on the early Church Fathers! Nothing about the early Ecumenical Councils that actually defined the Scriptural Canon and, in the face of much contention and disagreement, established the fundamental Christian doxologies that all Christian accept! Would they be singing "Amazing Grace" without these first great Councils?

For the record, Roman Catholics do not regard the early Church Fathers as having been 'inspired' in the sense that their writings carry a similar authority to Scripture. Their writings are complex, contradictory, exploratory, intellectual as well as profoundly seeking truth.

The Roman and Orthodox Churches (and the Anglican Communion, I think I'm correct in saying)believe the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils were 'inspired' in the sense that the Holy Spirit guided the formation and enunciation of doctrine from the Scriptural texts and from the traditions and practices of the very first Christians. As such, they are considerwd infallible doctrines and therefore binding on all Christians.

10 September 2011 at 00:09  
Blogger Oswin said...

Anyone who enoys singing ''Amazing Grace'' deserves poking with a pointy stick. :o}

Add to that, the ''Lord of the Dance'' and such like.

10 September 2011 at 01:10  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

I enjoy a good old sing song to God. There's nothing wrong in expressing joy through music and art. This is not the sole preserve of the evangelicals.

No harm either in giving physical expression to love of God through beauty and harmony in ceremony. The spoken word of a 'preacher' whilst instuctive is insufficient.

The problem is evangelicals seem to have little of real substance to offer Christians beyond speculative theories about history and the 'end times'. Beyond the statements of atonement and salvation through faith, what else is there? But then they believe you're either 'get it' or your don't; you're either 'born again' and 'saved' or your not. And that's up to God.

Simple!

10 September 2011 at 03:37  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Add to that, the ''Lord of the Dance'' and such like."

I used to love that when I was a kid!

10 September 2011 at 04:42  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

I'm with Oswin as regards Lord of the Dance and the American version of Amazing Grace so let's go with the Scottish version.

10 September 2011 at 08:20  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Roger Pearse said “Surely there is nothing to be gained in making the fathers the occasion of a denominational squabble, as some rather foolish RC and Orthodox polemicists seem to wish to do”.

I have always had the impression that it is rather the other way around i.e. that some Protestants saw a need to rubbish church history from the early centuries until the Reformation when the Reformers managed to overcome the incompetence of Jesus in instituting a corrupt church which went off the rails almost immediately after it was formed. It is very nice to hear that there are evangelicals who are very interested in Church history but let’s us remember the words of Chesterton who puts it in a different context:

It is wildly unfair for instance, to quote the letters of bishops and such authorities denouncing the sins of monastic life, violent as they often are. They cannot possibly be more violent than the letters of St Paul to the purest and most primitive churches … Christianity is not a creed for good men but for men. Such letters … do not prove so much that there were bad abbots as that there were good bishops. Moreover, even those who profess that the monks were profligates dare not profess that they were oppressors; there is truth in Cobbett’s point that where monks were landlords, they did not become rack-renting landlords and could not become absentee landlords.
The Bodley Head, G. K. Chesterton

10 September 2011 at 08:33  
Blogger len said...

The only 'Christians' who oppose Israel and God`s purposes for HIS people Israel are those who have 'bought into' and have been indoctrinated into 'replacement theology'.
Now I believe some churches have taught the Satanic lie that the 'church has replaced Israel in Gods plans and purposes.
I think that those who prefer 'traditions and dogmas' to the Word of God should obtain a Bible and actually read the Word of God.
God`s Word and the Covenants He has with Israel would (then?)become apparent to them?.

Those who oppose Gods end time plan for Israel will be counted as the enemies of God Himself and treated by Him as such.

The' Harlot Church' will come out in all her hate against God but will pretend to be doing His will as 'she' has always done.

10 September 2011 at 09:54  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Len, It’s all very vague. I’m not sure whether the Harlot Church you mention is just the Roman Catholic Church but your references in earlier blogs seem to indicate that you view all mainstream Christian denominations as heretical. If so you argue for an even greater incompetence by Jesus in that only the very, very, very few who hold to your type of Christianity can be saved.

With regard to replacement theology, I assume you mean the view that Christianity represented the new Israel and that spiritual authority had passed from Judaism to Christianity. If this is not true, how do you explain the fact that Jesus told the Jews they had got it wrong with regard to “An eye for an eye” or that eating certain foods makes you unclean or that the people on whom the tower of Siloam fell were worse sinners than other people or that when a man is born blind from birth it was proof that either he or his parents must have sinned. According to the New Testament it appears to have been Jewish belief at the time that disease and poverty were evidence that God was punishing you for sin whereas the rich and healthy were by definition the righteous. Malachi 2 says “But you yourselves have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to lapse by your teaching. Since you have destroyed the covenant of Levi, says Yahweh Sabaoth, 9 so I in my turn have made you contemptible and vile to the whole people, for not having kept my ways and for being partial in applying the law.” Malachi 1 says “For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering”. Surely the new offering superseded the old Jewish sacrifice and if an attempt was made to reinstate the old sacrifice would it not be blasphemous?

10 September 2011 at 12:59  
Blogger Oswin said...

DanJo @ 04:42 :

Sorry about that! :o)

For myself, I prefer ''Hymns Ancient and Modern'' the 1950's (or earlier) edition.

10 September 2011 at 15:10  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

len said ...
"Now I believe some churches have taught the Satanic lie that the 'church has replaced Israel in Gods plans and purposes."

You need to be more specific. What Chuch teaches exactly what? And replaced Israel in what sense and pertaining to what particular part of God's plan and purpose?

You will not deny that Christ instituted a New Covenant?

" ... on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, This cup is the NEW COVENANT in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."
(1 Corinthians 11:23-25)

"Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup is the NEW COVNENANT in my blood, which will be shed for you."
(Lk 22:15-20)

The Roman Catholic Church officially teaches that the Mosaic covenant was fulfilled and replaced by the New Covenant in Christ. There is plenty of scriptural support for this. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church does not teach that the Jewish people themselves are effectively irrelevant in terms of eschatology and Biblical prophecy and remains silent on the theological aspects of the State of Israel.

Pope Bendedict as Pontiff and as Cardinal Ratzinger, has spoken and written at length on this and you might want to research this before simplifying the theology.

10 September 2011 at 15:22  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

DanJ0

If you enjoy uplifting songs try listening to Hillsong Music. Very rock and roll and energetic.

10 September 2011 at 15:25  
Blogger English Viking said...

DanJ0,

Don't bother with Hillsong - absolutely dreadful and a very poor representation of what worship is. Usually led by a woman, too, which is prohibited in scripture.

10 September 2011 at 16:11  
Blogger Oswin said...

Hm, is this heading towards a debate of Timothy and Paul; or is E.V playing to supposed mutual antipathies? :o)

10 September 2011 at 17:03  
Blogger non mouse said...

What is an Evangelical Christian?
The first one, the Cross, brought the news to this poet:

Hwæt! Ic swefna cyst secgan wylle,
hwæt me gemætte to midre nihte, reordberend reste wunedon!
Þuhte me þæt ic gesawe syllicre treow
on lyft lædan, leohte bewunden,
beama beorhtost. Eall þæt beacen wæs
begoten mid golde. Gimmas stodon
fægere æt foldan sceatum; swylce þær fife wæron
uppe on þam eaxlegespanne. Beheoldon þær engel Dryhtnes ealle,
fægere þurh forðgesceaft. Ne wæs ðær huru fracodes gealga.
Ac hine þær beheoldon halige gastas,
men ofer moldan, ond eall þeos mære gesceaft.
Syllic wæs se sigebeam, ond ic synnum fah,
forwunded mid wommum. Geseah ic wuldres treow,
wædum geweorðode, wynnum scinan,
gegyred mid golde; gimmas hæfdon
bewrigene weorðlice wealdes treow.
Hwæðre ic þurh þæt gold ongytan meahte
earmra ærgewin, þæt hit ærest ongan
swætan on þa swiðran healfe. Eall ic wæs mid sorghum gedrefed.
Forht ic wæs for þære fægran gesyhðe. Geseah ic þæt fuse beacen
wendan wædum ond bleom; hwilum hit wæs mid wætan bestemed,
beswyled mid swates gange, Hwilum mid since gegyrwed.

10 September 2011 at 17:40  
Blogger non mouse said...

In later English, we might render the first lines of The Dream of the Rood:

Listen! I will relate the best of dreams,
and what I dreamt at midnight when speech-bearers remained asleep.
It seemed to me that I saw the most wonderful Tree extend into the air, wound about with light,
the brightest of Beams. All that Beacon was suffused with gold. Beautiful gems flashed out
at the surfaces of the earth, there were five also on the shoulder-beam. All who are fair throughout eternity beheld the Messenger of the Lord, there. Indeed, it was not the gallows of a criminal.
Moreover, holy spirits gazed on it there, men throughout the earth, and all this glorious creation.
The Victory-Light was wondrous; and I was stained with sins deeply wounded with sins.
I saw the Tree of Glory, exalted with robes, shining brilliantly, adorned with gold. Gems had worthily covered the Tree of the Ruler; yet, through that gold I could perceive the former hostility of wretched men–when it first began to bleed on the right hand side.
I was thoroughly afflicted with sorrows.
I was fearful before that beauteous sight.
I saw that Beacon, ready to die, change its apparel and its color: at times it was wet through with moisture, drenched with the flow of blood; at times adorned with treasure.

10 September 2011 at 17:43  
Blogger non mouse said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10 September 2011 at 17:48  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

English Viking
Hillsong is not led by a woman but a male. The singing of praise to God by women is not prohibited. The music rocks.

What would you suggest?

10 September 2011 at 18:28  
Blogger non mouse said...

I've posted the above in honor of Trees and English-speaking "Evangelical" Christians. One might read it as suggesting that the dreamer, although his own spiritual vision is flawed, can see the cross because he is not as spiritually dead as those who sleep on regardless.

The speaking tree is, of course the Cross. His story, from the viewpoint of a Tree, tells how he was cut down by speechbearers who bore Him, this Wood/Word, to His destiny at Calvary.

And if we read the full poem in light of the beginning of John's Gospel, we see that the Tree enjoins the dreamer to go forth similarly and preach the Word -- to be a light in the world, as the Word-bearing Tree is to him. [Mr. Blofeld has posted the very passage, in the next blog strand].

Arguably, then, our Tree is one of the earliest English-speaking Evangelical Christians. To say nothing of the poet, of course--whose scholarship in English has contributed to the growth of libraries throughout our civilization. It is worth noting that the Latin liber -book- refers also to the "bark of a tree" --like that from which the earliest books in England were made -- in borderland places like Vindolanda.*]

I would suggest, therefore, that Evangelism in English is an ancient tradition, and a precursor to Your Grace's own glorious contribution. The age of the original poem is uncertain, but words from it do appear on the Ruthwell Cross (circa 8th century).

*For support of this point see Cassell's Latin Dictionary, and description of the books on Oxford's Vindolanda website.

10 September 2011 17:48

10 September 2011 at 18:30  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

non mouse said ...
"I would suggest, therefore, that Evangelism in English is an ancient tradition."

Evangelism is the most ancient Christian tradition anywhere! Christ sent His disciples to evangelise i.e to preach the Gospel and convert people to follow Christ.

The Evangelical Church is not quite the same thing.

10 September 2011 at 18:59  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo:

One and the same.

11 September 2011 at 00:58  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

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11 September 2011 at 11:14  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Oswin

True they are spreading the Good News of Christ.

I was drawing a distinction between all evangelising that, as Christians, we are called to do and a particular movement - 'The Evangelical Church' - and taking issue with he suggestion by non mouse that evangelism is a distinct tradition.

11 September 2011 at 11:42  
Blogger Oswin said...

Dodo:

I'm at fault here, Dodo, as my point was not at all clear.

I meant that non-mouse's assertion, and your own, wider appraisal, were of one and the same... in the 'Blakian' sense, of the Church, in Britain, being the first Church of Christ, and thus the seat, and source, of the evangelical tradition.

I agree that the ''Evangelical Church is not quite the same thing.''

11 September 2011 at 16:40  
Blogger non mouse said...

Oswin -thank you for reading me aright. My point remains indeed that Christianity is, by nature, evangelical. The continuous process has depended upon spreading the good news, whatever the etymology of the expression: from John the Baptist to Christ and His Godspel and, by example, through Incipit Evangelium Secundum Johannis.

My interpretation of the (superb) "Dream of the Rood" includes a suggestion that the tradition continued in this part of Britain where, after the Romans left, evangelism 'took flight' in English through the English church. How our extant text (Vercelli, Cathedral Library, MS CXVII, f. 104v-106r) found its way to Vercelli remains unknown; but (university nothwithstanding) they didn't even know it was English, for a long time.

Fuller consideration of the English context indicates that our air traffic controllers included Theodore, Hadrian, Bede, and King Alfred. The whole thing evolved, in fact, into a strong branch on the evangelical high way.

If the insular tradition later re-formed itself into Anglican, CoE, and Methodist-Wesleyan, etc., so be it. I am especially appreciative of the latter's contribution to the hymnal. I also have fond memories of the Methodist hall where we held our school speechdays.

And if the big island across the Atlantic comes up with its own evangelical developments for its own people: then I stand in support of the overarching
tradition, without being a member of the phenomenon.

My preference is for individual participation in reform of the earthbound. At the same time, I'm mindful that all individuals blog here by His Grace's 'aethereal' grace. So I take this opportunity once more to reject RC leadership, thereby asserting my right to ignore all cockeyed "ridodoculosity"* hereabouts.

*pace Ms. Baker.

11 September 2011 at 22:58  
Blogger Oswin said...

non mouse:

Thank you for ''The Dream of the Rood'' I never tire of it.

I still favour Cynewulf, of Lindisfarne, as author; if only because the dream has, in parts, a sea-wash, shingle-roll metre, that fits both scene and, has a discernable, Northern/Angli sparseness.

Apart from my more romantic notions, the poem echoes an after-shadow of the more pagan North: Woden, hanging from Yggdrasill, seeking wisdom, merges with Christ, offering salvation; not as a sleight-of-hand substitution, but as manly encouragement to a warrior race.

From pagan profundity, to perhaps the greatest Christian poetry of all time, that evangelical tree helped reset deep roots in both the soil, and soul, of Britain.

It speaks to Celt, Angle, Jutlander and Saxon alike; and still does. It is, in every sense of the word, wonderful.

12 September 2011 at 05:45  
Blogger non mouse said...

Oh yes, Oswin-I couldn't agree more. Indeed, I think the whole so-called "Cult of the Cross," as it developed in our multi-cultural borderlands, worked exactly as you say.

Much as I love both the Ruthwell and Bewcastle crosses, the later one at Gosforth illustrates your point even more strongly-about the combined Viking/Germanic appeal of Ygdrasil. I like especially that Gosforth makes the combined concession/assertion... in view of Alfred's 9th century treaty requiring Guthrum and his Vikings to accept Christianity.

Of course, dear Lindisfarne (and its Liber) is an essential part of the complex. And you know more about Cynewulf than I do. I'd like to study him further, but may not get the chance.

Love your soil/soul, btw. That is how it is. That's what the foreigners will never know :)

12 September 2011 at 09:10  
Blogger Oswin said...

non mouse:

The whole Caedmon/Cynewulf/other debate is interesting, but largely inconclusive.

Your mention of the Gosforth Cross exemplifies the continuation of a process (for want of a better term); and an already ancient one at that, that may even heark back further than the Glastonbury tradiditions, to the pre-bastardisation of Druidism. Beyond even, to their twin-branched 'sacred tree' carved with the name of their God 'Thau' and the names of his three manifestations: 'Taranis, Belenis and Hesus. The latter, the final manifestation, being Hesus (Jesus) carved on the right-hand branch.

The coming of Christ was a Druidic prophesy too!

According to Caesar, writing in 54 BC: ''The Druids make the immortality of the soul the basis of all their teaching, holding it to be the principle incentive and reason for a virtuous life.''

The Glastonbury tradition is much more than than a tale of offered, and accepted, sanctuary; it was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy.

Perhaps Britain was the prepared seed-bed for Christianity?

It makes one think, eh? :o)

12 September 2011 at 17:12  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Oswin
It makes one think you are a complete loon, actually!

12 September 2011 at 18:45  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

non mouse said ...
"So I take this opportunity once more to reject RC leadership, thereby asserting my right to ignore all cockeyed "ridodoculosity"* hereabouts."

That is your right - no need to be offensive, dear sir.

I find your own views rather off-centre, at least those I can fathom, but, hey, on you go if you so choose.

12 September 2011 at 19:36  
Blogger Oswin said...

G.Tingey:

Thank you; coming from you, sweet-cheeks, that reassures me greatly.

And you would know what; exactly?

12 September 2011 at 22:11  
Blogger The Judicious Hooker said...

Your Grace

You know among many, you are considered Evangelical par excellence!

It's because of that 1552 Eucharistic rite you constructed (Yes I know: I do prefer the 1549 as most obscurantists do).

You locate the worshipping congregation at the Lord's Supper re-enactment/anamnesis by sandwiching (excuse the pun) the receiving of the Sacrament between the consecration and the oblation or thanksgiving. You are a liturgical Evangelical!

You display your Evangelicalism in your order for Mattins and Evensong. Talk about sola scriptura and lectio divina: Psalter in one month and the Bible in one year!

Your offices of Morning and Evening Prayer are almost entirely the pure Word of God which is sung, chanted, read and reflected upon until the living Word enters our minds and imaginations and becomes the spiritual narrative of our lives. You are a Benedictine Evangelical!

14 September 2011 at 14:41  

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