Sunday, July 21, 2013


From the Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen:

It gets harder for an Englishman to find a parish church where he can worship according to traditional usage. My needs are plain and few. I don’t require 'quires and places where they sing', and I can manage very cheerfully without an organ display. So this morning I entered a glorious country church, full of high hopes, sunlight and flowers.

It didn’t begin well. The priest faced the congregation across the altar for what was clearly going to be the cafeteria service. He was the thespian type, insisting on putting meaning into the words and usually the wrong ones: no OF or UNTO went unstressed and yet he contrived a wonderful jollity with BEWAIL. He had a macabre, echo-chamber voice, as if he were trying to frighten the children with a ghost story. Like tropical fruit gone bad.

The church declared that the rite would be from Your Grace’s Book of Common Prayer and indeed so it turned out, only with much ornament and a superfluity of intercession which sounded like the itinerary of a world tour. Your Grace’s prayer for the church militant is a masterpiece of inclusiveness while yet avoiding the scandal of particularity. But this was not regarded as sufficient to the task and so it was prefixed by extempore prayers for various exotic locations, apparently chosen at random. For instance, we supplicated on behalf of Pennsylvania whose citizens, I believe, are not presently discomfited; but we did not pray for New Zealand where they most definitely are by the dysteleological surd of an earthquake registering 6.9 on the Richter scale.

At least in the 'sermon', the preacher hesitated to find serious fault with the words of the Son of God and confined himself to the mild rebuke: “While not wishing to detract from Our Lord’s words in the Gospel…”

Why can’t they leave well alone? Why this obsessive tinkering with what is already, Your Grace, well-nigh perfect? I came away with those words from Your Grace’s book throbbing in my ears: 'Such men as are given to change, and have always discovered a greater regard to their own private fancies and interests, than to that duty they owe to the public.'

It is hard to kick against these pricks.


Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

I love the duality of the word "pricks".

Well done. Love it.

21 July 2013 at 10:37  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"He had a macabre, echo-chamber voice, as if he were trying to frighten the children with a ghost story. Like tropical fruit gone bad."


Is this JK Rowling in disguise again?

21 July 2013 at 10:42  
Blogger Albert said...

I have every sympathy for you Dr Mullen. The trouble is, if this is what happens at a BCP service, where can you go?

21 July 2013 at 11:46  
Blogger Nick said...

It's the kind of service that makes you dash home for a large sherry becore lunch. It is also a tradegy. I pray for a better church, and soon.

21 July 2013 at 12:29  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Nothing beats the Tridentine mass said in Latin. Absolutely nothing...

21 July 2013 at 12:34  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

On reflection, some churches should be bombed.

(I will now expect the automatic internet monitoring, religious police at GCHQ to pick up on the word 'bomb' and come knocking at my door).

21 July 2013 at 13:45  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

21 July 2013 at 13:49  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

I was not present so cannot dispute your critique.

One might need to know more of the Church before offering criticism.

If they use this service infrequently, there is indeed no justification for conducting it other than as drawn. If however this congregation uses it weekly ( which is admittedly less common) one can have a degree of sympathy with a priest who injects different emphasis or extends the intercessions.

Congregation members can turn on to "automatic pilot" when a given service is presented without variation. Familiarity can breed disengagement.

We are there to worship a living God rather than present and preserve any particular rite. Great liturgy is not to be taken lightly and/or rejected, but a congregation has a long term need to be spiritually nourished. Some may need the familiar but others to be lifted from complacency. Not every attempt at that succeeds !

The same service may catch the attention of some and utterly miss others.

It is always sad when a service fails to engage but no tradition succeeds with everyone all the time.

21 July 2013 at 13:51  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Brother Ivo was out teaching the children this morning missed intercession and so needed to check before making this additional point.

The Church of England publishes a cycle of prayer on a daily basis, partly to ensure that every part of the Church is prayed for on a regular basis.

Today was the turn of the Diocese of Pensylvania which explains its inclusion. Far from being chosen randomly, praying for them, the priest was following the established discipline of prayer to ensure no part of the communion was overlooked.

21 July 2013 at 14:08  
Blogger Albert said...

Brother Ivo,

If they use this service infrequently, there is indeed no justification for conducting it other than as drawn

But surely no one does 1662 as written? Am I wrong? Many parishes tend to use it as per the 1928 BCP which was quashed by Parliament on the grounds that it was popish (yes, in 1928!). And there are all sorts of was in which use differs from the text.

For my money, of course, the best book was Dr C's version of 1549.

21 July 2013 at 14:16  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


I laughed out loud at that one.

21 July 2013 at 14:26  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Now you know how we feel about the catastrophe of Protestantism.

21 July 2013 at 14:42  
Blogger Peter D said...

Br Ivo
"We are there to worship a living God rather than present and preserve any particular rite."

Surely the 'rite' is the worship and liturgy reflects our understanding of our a living God who doesn't change? It should be the best we can achieve.

"Great liturgy is not to be taken lightly and/or rejected, but a congregation has a long term need to be spiritually nourished."

Why the juxtaposition? If people understand the liturgy and appreciate it is directed at pleasing God, isn't that sufficient 'nourishment'?

"Some may need the familiar but others to be lifted from complacency. Not every attempt at that succeeds !"

But one doesn't tinker with liturgy designed to offer praise to God and obtain His grace, to entertain ... oh ... sorry, ... I lift people out of complacency. And it isn't a question of comfort with the familiar (a swipe at 'traditionalists?), its about preserving correct theology through correct liturgy.

As you know, I'm not an Anglican but your comments reflect a spirit that's abroad in my own Church and, I believe, causes more harm than good.

21 July 2013 at 15:56  
Blogger John Wrake said...

I believe that a serious loss for modern worshippers is the lack of provision of the BCP for use in a service. The modern practice of a printed sheet or a card, often embellished with illustrations, has led to a growing ignorance among the laity.

The best organised church service will provide some time before the service starts for all but hardened latecomers. Thin fare, if all you have to look at is an A4 sheet with the notices.

Who can remember the delights of trawling through Prayers for those at Sea, or a Table of Kindred and Affinity, of reading what the C of E believes in the 39 Articles or reading again Psalm 150 in Coverdale's incomparable words or explaining what something means to the littlies?

WE are all the poorer for it. Everything is so clear now there is no need for question, or for wonder and we learn very little as a result.

John Wrake

21 July 2013 at 16:38  
Blogger David Hussell said...

John Wrake,

I agree with you.

The beauty of BCP liturgy does live on though, used for less well attended, said services in the cathedrals and in those parishes which hold Evensong services, the liturgy for which , is usually either pure BCP or if not, draws heavily from it. I often use traditional Evensong as part of my daily office.

One of the key problems is that with younger generations Sunday has become either from choice or compulsion, like work, not available for worship. The culture of the wider society has, quite simply, changed that much. Hence the popularity of mid-week services or if on a Sunday, for the mornings only.

You are also right in that using, holding and searching within a resource packed book, The Prayer Book, invited further exploration, which is not possible with the consumer type, "oven ready", Service Sheet. When it was decided to update the language that was one thing, but not to produce a revised, but whole book, was a regrettable move. Each separate service sheet now hangs by its own thread, unrelated to the whole package of liturgy and resources. But a few new groups have started to use The Prayer Book, so all is not lost.

If the social history of the period 1960 until say, 2050, is ever written, fairly, without a deeply liberal spin, the conclusion will be reached that British culture changed faster than at any other period in history. So historic Churches are struggling to communicate effectively without losing their core doctrines, character and traditions. The generation gap is less of a gap, and more of a different culture I believe.

21 July 2013 at 17:20  
Blogger David Hussell said...


2050 should have been 2020.

21 July 2013 at 17:21  
Blogger The Explorer said...

David Hussell:

If you return to to the previous thread, I've tried to answer a point you made.

21 July 2013 at 17:56  
Blogger Jon Hobbs said...

We might wonder how God was honoured in the first century without the printing press or your Grace's contribution, and in the colloquial language of the day? And is there nothing we might glorify God for in the more contemporary services? With a biblically illiterate culture do we really think the Jesus who told stories in Aramaic would reassert the 1662 BCP?

21 July 2013 at 18:43  
Blogger Albert said...

Mr Hobbs,

Actually, services in Jesus' day - including those used by Jesus - were in Hebrew, which was pretty incomprehensible to Aramaic speaking Jews, I'm told.

21 July 2013 at 18:56  
Blogger David Hussell said...

The Explorer.

Just have. Thank you.

21 July 2013 at 19:08  
Blogger David Hussell said...


Languages for services. Temple Hebrew ? I wonder when the early Church drifted away from Hebrew, as Gentiles piled in ? With the widely scattered Christian communities around the Med. Roman trade routes, used by Paul and others, I suspect that something more universal, vernacular soon crept in, Greek in the east and Latin in the west ?

Jon Hobbs.
Jesus, was amongst many things a communicator and unafraid to stand apart from tradition, so I guess that he used his native Aramaic to very good advantage, although I'm not claiming expertise on this linguistic point.
Those with great strength of faith would just get on with it, communicating, using whatever works, but some of us, me included , need a bit of familiarity as a comfort zone.

21 July 2013 at 19:18  
Blogger Jon Hobbs said...

David Hussell

Agreed and understood. I am a lover of the BCP and regularly use it privately. But...the church gathered for worship is surely to express the great unity achieved by the gospel - a body of many parts comprising those of numerous ages, intellectual capabilities, maturity of faith and even cultures in the local context. It is a community of those called to bear with and put the other first. It is therefore a place where God is pleased not only by the content of the liturgy but the loving accommodation within it to the needs of others - within the boundaries suggested by scripture.

Jesus was hardly impressed by the religion of his day, and where synagogue worship may have been conducted in Hebrew it was striking that he chose to teach in Aramaic and had to challenge prevailing assumptions that excluded children. It is striking too that although elements of synagogue worship were adopted in the early churches, the apostle Paul was tolerant of (if not affirming of) spontaneity, the involvement of "laity" in contributing, and stressed intelligibility for those present above all else (1 Corinthians 12-14).

There are bad examples of "contemporary worship," but I for one feel we are in danger of not honouring God for the good he is providentially working in the gathered worship of many churches today - and not admitting aspects affirmed within the NT that are actually lacking from many BCP services.

21 July 2013 at 19:42  
Blogger Nick said...

During my years as an Anglican I saw many debates, arguments, and schisms concerning the best form of service and worship. Everybody had their own opinion on the matter. My conclusion was that we were arguing about the wrong thing. What really mattered was the strength of faith shown by all, but especially the leadership. Recent events have shown how weak that faith is in many cases. Who is going to be inspired by someone of weak faith.

One good speaker who can expand on the scriptures in way that has meaning for the congregation, and can inspire and encourage them ,can
do the work of 20 sermons.

21 July 2013 at 20:05  
Blogger Flossie said...

I sympathise with Dr Mullen. As an infrequent visitor to St Michael's Cornhill during his incumbency, I can attest to the beauty of the BCP worship and the wonderful choir. There was even the occasional Tridentine Mass. Follow that, as they say. There is pretty lean fare in some churches.

Personally I will only go to BCP churches now that my family has grown up and I only have myself to please. Nothing else does it for me. I became too irritated with the constant tinkering with the liturgy and in some cases outright dross (think ASB). I suppose the Liturgical Commission has to have something to do.

21 July 2013 at 20:20  
Blogger Albert said...

David & Jon,

I wonder when the early Church drifted away from Hebrew, as Gentiles piled in ?

Exactly, it was then, as the Gentiles piled in that things moved over to Greek. I.e. after Jesus.

Jesus was hardly impressed by the religion of his day,

I suspect Jesus would be unlikely to be impressed by the religion of any day. So I suspect, there is little to be drawn from that.

and where synagogue worship may have been conducted in Hebrew it was striking that he chose to teach in Aramaic

I don't expect so, I expect that's how all teachers worked - John the Baptist appears not to be speaking in Hebrew. More significantly, we read in Matthew 26.30 "And when they had sung a hymn." This suggests Jesus was following the prescribed Psalms and they were thus singing in Hebrew.

21 July 2013 at 20:33  
Blogger David Hussell said...

John Hobbs,

Quite. Well put. I feel that I have to make sacrifices myself to communicate to others. So I use BCP privately, often daily, traditional Compline and Evensong strengthen me, But "to communicate" with the younger ones I am happy to use Common Worship or even, Fresh Expressions. Whatever works, without sacrificing truth, is acceptable.

Nick. I agree in some ways. Whilst Anglicanism, which is worldwide not just the C of E , has I grant you, weaknesses, I still feel, despite my real concerns, drawn to teach and preach to those amongst whom God has placed me, in my local benefice community. If these churches closed the congregations would not go anywhere else, and would , in all probability, effectively, cease to be worshipping Christians. I am not liberal at all, and preach accordingly. If that becomes a problem for the many liberal priests I encounter then that is their problem, not mine. Like others I await The Spirit to send us more of the stronger, more convinced, orthodox leaders. But until that happens, then I will do my inadequate, tiny best to preach The Gospel to those who will listen. In many ways I feel closer to the traditional Anglicanism of Gafcon, and the global south, and would be happy to help facilitate reverse missionaries re-evangelizing England, as we are, in reality, all in a missionary situation in post-Christian Britain. I trust in God , and do not despair, which is a sin.

21 July 2013 at 20:35  
Blogger Martin said...

I imagine the BCP was introduced to provide some guidance to the ministers of variable quality of those days. Not, of course that the ministers today are of any less variable quality.

Whilst, having been educated in a couple of schools where the BCP was used, I can appreciate not only it's beauty but its Evangelical basis I do think it somewhat inadequate.

It can certainly be improved by the addition of a 30-40 minute expository sermon, which I think is allowed for. But do we really want to go through the same rote texts when worshipping the God of the Universe?

Sadly I miss the ministry of one pastor who took us into the throne room of the almighty, where one can but cry Holy, Holy, Holy.

21 July 2013 at 21:22  
Blogger kirkegaard7 said...

David Hussell,

I am a music director of an ACNA church in Pennsylvania (and appreciate your prayers, bedgrudged or not, Dr. Mullen). The re-evangelization has been an invigorating experience. Having left the Episcopal Church, we are younger, poorer, more diverse, more catholic, more evangelical, and certainly part of an enervating growing edge of Reformation Christianity. We've lost many of our buildings, and its been a good thing (in strange and unexpected ways).

There is a significant New Reformation in American seminaries. In some places it has a more Reformed accent, in other places more Lutheran. It could be be characterized as: liturgical, sacramental, and monergistic. The last is probably the most important. Pace Michael Horton, there is a young revolt against Christ-less Christianity, all things "missional", "living the gospel" and other such pablum that has plagued evangelicalism.

Regarding BCP. In my circles (mostly evangelical Anglicans and Presbyterians), the 1979 BCP has been mostly rejected as a watering down. I'm told Anglo-Catholics still like it; Lord knows why. Most ACNA parished use 1929, often with "thee's and thou's" updated. They're lovely, but if you're going to die on that hill you're an idiot incapable of seeing the forest for the trees. I actually play for a church plant Sunday evenings that uses 1662 with updated pronouns. College kids love it.

So, the BCP is once of our great assets, and should be used in all services. But if we grumble and fuss over updated pronouns, moments of brief in-service cathechesis, and such, we appear more interested in necrophilia enjoying and utilizing our lovely BCP heritage.

21 July 2013 at 21:27  
Blogger kirkegaard7 said...

Proofreading is always key. ;/

The last sentence, should contain a very, very important "than". It should read, "But if we grumble and fuss over updated pronouns, moments of brief in-service cathechesis, and such, we appear more interested in necrophilia THAN enjoying and utilizing our lovely BCP heritage."

21 July 2013 at 21:31  
Blogger David Hussell said...


Interesting. Fascinating in fact. And Thank you.

I have been following some, at least, of the travails of Episcopalianism, as it degenerates into something far removed from the Reformed faith, and begins to resemble some weird post Christian ultra-liberal, feminist mess. But praise be to God, the traditional type of Anglicanism seems, at least from this distance, seems to have emerged from it, financially poorer, bereft of some of its historic buildings, but who cares for such things, when led by the Holy Spirit, you are traveling back to the authentic faith, strengthening and growing whilst your estranged colleagues wither and die in a sea of bitter litigation and New Age nonsense. Well done I say. God bless. It may be that we, in England will have to go through such fires of renewal, and if so we will be inspired by your achievements.
Stay in touch. Few here, even in the clergy, are aware of what is happening in the US. Personally I am very interested, as it may be our future, which you are in, now.

David Hussell.

21 July 2013 at 21:48  
Blogger David Hussell said...


I find the posts from Bishop David Anderson, of Carolina (?) an informative and interesting window into a portion of US Anglicanism. He seems a strong, orthodox sort to me, at least from my national, cultural, window. Am I on target ?

21 July 2013 at 21:53  
Blogger Flossie said...

kirkegard7, in the UK the most commonly used is 1662, although you will occasionaly find 1549 used. There were further attempts at revision in 1928 but Parliament did not pass this.

The pattern of worship not all that many years ago was Mattins and Evensong with less frequent Holy Communion, which covered the Old and New Testament readings and the Psalms. That has largely disappeared, sadly, although Evensong is still sung in a few churches. Mattins is such a huge loss, with my favourite, the Te Deum, largely out of use in many churches.

The UK Prayer Book Society does keep a list of churches which use the BCP at some or all services, although this is not always up to date.

If we are to talk of historic formularies, I wonder how many clergy today (or bishops, for that matter!) know the contents of Canon C7, of examination for holy orders:

No bishop shall admit any person into holy orders, except such person on careful and diligent examination, wherein the bishop shall have called to his assistance the archdeacons and other ministers appointed for this purpose, be found to possess a sufficient knowledge of Holy Scripture and of the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Church of England as set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal: and to fulfil the requirements as to learning and other qualities which, subject to any directions given by the General Synod, the bishop deems necessary for the office of deacon.

21 July 2013 at 22:53  
Blogger Peter D said...

kirkgaard said ...

"There is a significant New Reformation in American seminaries. In some places it has a more Reformed accent, in other places more Lutheran. It could be be characterized as: liturgical, sacramental, and monergistic. The last is probably the most important."

Ummm .... if you are a monergist, then what does it matter what the church does or how it conducts itself? How can liturgy and sacraments be necessary if cooperation from the individual is unnecessary?

This isn't a 'new reformation' at all. You may proclaim the gospel but believe whether people obey the command makes no difference since their salvation is predetermined.

Or am I mistaken?

22 July 2013 at 00:30  
Blogger David Hussell said...


Yes, the services now on offer are less varied and interesting than only a few years ago. Mattins and Evensong predominating with occasional Communion was far preferable. Mention the 39 Articles and the historic formularies and many look askance at you. But let us few, with the Prayer Book Society, keep the basic faith alive until such time as it is appreciated again, which may not be in my lifetime.

22 July 2013 at 07:54  
Blogger Alison Judith Bailey said...

Paul probably spoken Hebrew at home in Asia Minor or with other erudite, theological Jews, but "street", colloquial or koine Greek - in which he wrote the Epistles -in the Hellenistic world (which was very like our world today), possibly even with people like Barnabas, a Jew from Cyprus. With the other Apostles, unless he learnt Aramaic when a student in Jerusalem, he spoke koine Greek and Jesus surely spoke Greek at times too. Interestingly, Jesus spoke to Paul in Hebrew on the road to Damascus, so it is possible that Aramaic was very much Paul's third or fourth language. The Gospel was first preached formally to Gentile Greek speakers who had joined the Antioch synagogue services, which is why Paul was called to be the fifth elder in Antioch, to minister to them in their own first language. This makes me think the Jewish Diaspora synagogue services were, at least, partly is koine Greek, so that Greek speakers and Jews who only knew Greek would not be left completely in the dark.

22 July 2013 at 08:16  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Peter D @ 00:30

Headache, or what? As we were discussing on the earlier thread.

22 July 2013 at 08:44  
Blogger Albert said...

Monergism doesn't look like a form of salvation to me. More like a form of annihilation.

22 July 2013 at 09:47  
Blogger David Hussell said...

One wonders in what sense he is using the term Monergism. Is this the belief that The Holy Spirit acts alone, even without the cooperation of the person ? If so, surely free will requires that the individual cooperates fully with the work of The Holy Spirit ? This is not clear I feel.

22 July 2013 at 10:31  
Blogger The Explorer said...


Your use is the one I understand by the term: another word for Calvinism. And Synergism is Arminianism.

We seem to be in the same situation we were with 'Secularism' on an earlier thread: the definition of words.

22 July 2013 at 11:19  
Blogger Albert said...

David and Explorer,

Yes it is about words, but it is also about the doctrine taught. I would have thought that for us to be saved requires some kind of free response from us (by grace of course). Deny this (and Luther and Calvin did I think) and you deny salvation. We are not set free! But Jesus said "Know the truth and the truth will set you free." Therefore, the view that we have no free-will in our response to grace, does not seem to be the truth.

22 July 2013 at 12:02  
Blogger Albert said...


I think we resolved the definition of the word "secularism". It seems pretty clear that what the NSS says the word means is not what the dictionary says the word means. However, what the dictionary says the word means seems to coincide with how most secularists actually use the term.

22 July 2013 at 12:03  
Blogger John Wrake said...

To return to the point I made earlier, it was not a plea about language, but a plea about teaching.

Having the BCP in a worshipper's hands, makes available to him/her a wealth of subject matter not often touched on in a modern setting, but which can be explored by the individual in those unfilled minutes before formal worship begins.

One of the greatest sources of knowledge about God and about oneself is the Book of Psalms. Quotations from it feature often in the words of Jesus and in the N.T. writings. Psalms are a rarity in modern Services, and I, for one, account that a loss to the worshipper.

Perhaps you have read "The Bible in Basic English". Understandable, yes, but uplifting it is not, when thinking in the context of worship.

I hold no brief for an inexplicable Gospel but losing outdated words to make things easier for a dumb-downed society has sometimes led to the loss of the truths those words conveyed.

The BCP was produced to reveal the whole Gospel in all its richness to contemporary society. Until modern liturgy fulfils that purpose, let's keep the older version on standby.

John Wrake

22 July 2013 at 12:18  
Blogger The Explorer said...


We did, and I'm not trying to re-open the debate. I was simply using it to illustrate that what Kirkegaard 7 means by 'monergistic' may not be what David H and I mean.

Am I wrong, or is the Avatar used by K7 the one that used to be used by David K?

22 July 2013 at 12:20  
Blogger David Hussell said...

John Wrake,

Agree with every word of that, totally ! Excellent.

I'd summarize by saying that modern forms of worship, service sheets, cut the laity off from the rich Biblical and liturgical resources available, dumbing it down and discouraging the exploration of their faith and its heritage.


From my understanding Calvin took Luther's positions, which was firstly, Solo Scriptura, an over reaction to the Latin only Bibles, an untenable position if held in a pure form, and secondly, salvation by faith trusting in Christ's atoning sacrifice, through grace. Then he went to even further extremes. So in came pre-destination, for the chosen few, invalidating free will. Monergism is a little used term by the theologians and historians that I have read, though.
Towards the end of their lives Luther and Calvin remained friends, but disagreed considerably on theology, I understand.
Calvinism is a very depressing variant on Christianity since it removes both hope and much of the love of God, with the generous offer of salvation, through being saved, born again, if you like that metaphor.

I'm a classical Richard Hooker type Anglican, recognizing authority as being informed through Scripture, Tradition and Reason, with the first being the tie breaker, where necessary. Experience, which is added by Methodists, is part of evidential Reason I feel.

22 July 2013 at 12:50  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...


It seems pretty clear that what the NSS says the word means is not what the dictionary says the word means.

I have no desire to re-open the argument either, but since you have specifically referred to the NSS I looked at their site and found this;

Secularism is a principle that involves two basic propositions. The first is the strict separation of the state from religious institutions. The second is that people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law...

Separation of religion from state
The separation of religion and state is the foundation of secularism. It ensures that religious groups don't interfere in affairs of state, and makes sure the state doesn't interfere in religious affairs...

Seem pretty dictionary compliant to me, as I said, I have no wish to carry on the argument.

22 July 2013 at 12:53  
Blogger Albert said...


Well it's a matter of interpretation and we went through that definition in some detail.

Either (i) It means religious discourse is to be excluded from public debate and law making (in which case, religious people are not equal in such a secularist society, and must have materialistic or non-religious views imposed upon them) or (ii) It is contrary to what the dictionary says the word means.

You cannot have it both ways.

22 July 2013 at 13:07  
Blogger Albert said...

David H,

I'm a classical Richard Hooker type Anglican, recognizing authority as being informed through Scripture, Tradition and Reason, with the first being the tie breaker, where necessary.

Yes, Hooker is certainly the grand man of Anglican theology. But isn't it the other way around? Scripture being the first point and tradition and reason coming in to play when scripture isn't clear.

When I was an Anglican, I was more or less taught that including reason in the method was particularly Anglican thing. Then I read Aquinas!

22 July 2013 at 13:11  
Blogger The Explorer said...


The State not interfering in religious affairs.

This is, I concede, an extreme example, but suppose a Thug (in the religious sense) wanted to sacrifice fellow travellers in a hotel to Kali: and did so. If the State said this was murder, wouldn't it be interfering in religious affairs? It would be forbidding the Thug to practise a key aspect of his religion.

The Roman Empire (a sort of equivalent to the envisaged secular state) let religionists do their own thing, provided they agreed in the little matter of worshipping Caesar when Caesar felt so inclined. And the Christians refused. And the State then found itself compelled to interfere in religious affairs: with the results we know.

22 July 2013 at 13:31  
Blogger Albert said...

Exaclty. No one (including religious believers) actually believes what the NSS proclaims when it says makes sure the state doesn't interfere in religious affairs.

That much also had been agreed.

22 July 2013 at 13:33  
Blogger The Explorer said...


I don't want to labour the point, but rather than my hypothetical example,what about an actual one?

A while ago, the headless torso of a little boy was found in the Thames. I forget the details, but it was some sort of harvest sacrifice.

What will the secular state do in an instance like that: grant exemption from murder if it can be proved that the motive for the killing is to bring next year's rains?

22 July 2013 at 13:53  
Blogger Albert said...


What will the secular state do in an instance like that: grant exemption from murder if it can be proved that the motive for the killing is to bring next year's rains?

Good example. And what happens if the killing is done for secular reasons. E.g. someone is murdered because they oppose Marxist revolution, or because they are carrying a defective gene which could have back consequences for the gene pool and therefore human progress.

Where do our standards come from for determining how the state should limit our freedom. Do those who do not believe in God get to impose their views? Or does democracy require a different way?

22 July 2013 at 13:56  
Blogger David Hussell said...


I think you and I are saying the same thing, but in different ways, or was I unclear?
Yes, we turn to Scripture first and then, to help us understand it, we see what earlier Christians have taken it to mean, Tradition, and we don't exclude Reason, either, as that gives us science and much else besides.

22 July 2013 at 14:27  
Blogger The Judicious Hooker said...

I've been worshipping with my Roman brethren of late on weekdays and noticed how most RC clergy let the liturgy speak for itself. Mercifully, they even spare us the 'handclasp of peace' which in winter becomes the 'handclasp of an increased bacterial load'.

Anglican clergy love to embellish whatever liturgy they employ, be it BCP, CW or some other use of their own contriving. I wish they would let the liturgy speak and follow the rubrics and let their own personalities grow less so that Christ our eucharistic King may grow more.

Even without receiving Holy Communion, the Roman low Mass is a prayerful gathering. Although I have noticed congregations have become less participating since the new Mass translation was launched. Prior to 2011, responses were loud and hearty. Now no one seems to know the Confiteor and the Eucharistic acclamation is usually said by the priest alone.

22 July 2013 at 15:21  
Blogger Albert said...

Judicious Hooker,

Although I have noticed congregations have become less participating since the new Mass translation was launched. Prior to 2011, responses were loud and hearty. Now no one seems to know the Confiteor and the Eucharistic acclamation is usually said by the priest alone.

I'm sorry to hear that. That isn't my experience but I notice that in The Tablet they complain about that sort of thing.

I guess that means that where the priest has been less favourable to the new translation of the Mass, he has given less of lead to the congregation.

The crucial thing ought to be that the Mass isn't about the priest.

22 July 2013 at 16:08  
Blogger Kennedy said...

Your Grace,

I am looking forward to dropping "dysteleological surd" into a conversation, if I ever find out what it means. I understand all the elements of the phrase, but can't make any sense of it.

Try joining us here in Kenya one of these days and you will find loads of seemingly happy clapping services that are deeply orthodox and respectful, although not in a language you might know.

22 July 2013 at 18:14  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

But do we really want to go through the same rote texts when worshipping the God of the Universe?

23 July 2013 at 11:34  
Blogger Martin said...


I'm afraid I do not want to go through a rote text when I come before God. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for His mercy with my own words, not the words of another man repeated ad nauseam.

The best I can do in public worship is join in with one who is speaking from his heart, not repeating words said again and again, however good those words.

23 July 2013 at 19:38  
Blogger The Judicious Hooker said...


Yes, I agree. And I think most RC clergy realise that and I just wish Anglican clergy would tone down their personalities and turn up the devotion and give more time for reflection.

I've also discovered that the use of a particular Eucharistic Prayer/Great Thanksgiving increases in clerical (RC or Anglican) popularity according to its brevity. The 'dewfall' Eucharistic Prayer is by far the most popular. [That must sound horrible in US English - Doo-forl!]

Regardless, it is an honour to join in the RC Liturgy, despite being non-communicant. I remember to pray for Christian unity and leave with a sense that I have spent time with the Lord.


Whether it's the Orthodox Divine Liturgy or the Roman Mass (or even the Anglican Holy Communion), almost all the texts used are pure Scripture or inspired by it, or full of Scriptural references.

Calling the great liturgies of the Church the words of man is simply not fair. They have been composed by humans but inspired by Scripture. I find that a set liturgy sets me free to pray from the heart and that Scripture becomes truly 'alive and active' for me when listened to in the context of public worship. The liturgical texts become a springboard for rich, private prayer.

My experience of waffly ex tempore prayer by those with limited grasp of English, let alone liturgical theology, has not been edifying. Jesus knew the words of the Psalms by heart or "by rote" - enough to quote them on the cross. The Psalms are the hymnbook of Judaism, so I think using a set public liturgy has good pedigree for Christians.

24 July 2013 at 14:40  
Blogger kirkegaard7 said...

David Hussell, Albert, Peter D, & perhaps The Explorer (your cryptic 8:44 comment seems to be a knowing wink and nod referring to my post),

I see that the use of the term “monergism” resulted in varying degrees of bafflement and curiosity; and was thus largely unhelpful. What is worse, I’ve had an enormously busy week and I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to respond. I did not mean to roll a grenade through the door and walk away.

First, monergism is a term referring to the lack of human agency in our justification. It’s a theology geek term and I should have known it would be unhelpful on those grounds alone. But I’m trying to avoid certain buzzwords as well for a particular reason. I, and many others I am guessing, are looking for a new way of framing the Gospel so that its saving and shocking power can be felt anew by a western culture that has grown inured to traditional Gospel vocabulary: justification, righteousness, redeemed, atonement, sinner, etc. All these things are as true as they’ve ever been, but they largely evoke yawns.

What is being rediscovered in the American circles and seminaries I described is the power of Christ, and Christ alone, to comfort and heal. This is especially potent in that many people feel like complete failures(in secret) and feel the need to “fake it” in the American self-help “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” culture. Now I could call this a renewal of sola gratia and solus Christus but then we would all put on our Reformation battle armor, the fault-lines would be familiarly drawn, and the same reflexive arguments would ensue.

What is lost every time we recommence the same tired war dance is that the solas were initially used, not as doctrinal bludgeons, but as a pastoral salve for miserable sinners. In the BCP Communion service, after the confession and absolution, the priest gives the “comfortable words”. His Grace placed these here because 16th century Christians were genuinely uncertain of their salvation and truly terrified of hellfire. So, after absolution, to be the first generation to hear in English that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins” would have been tear-filled comfort and relief in a way that you and I will never understand. You see, sola gratia was a word of tremendous comfort to a people that had been emotionally abused by the medieval Church.

So, how does the Church proclaim Christ’s comfort and healing to harried, frazzled, Prozac-popping westerners whose souls are no longer moved by the traditional language? I was just trying to avoid tradition Reformation language that would evoke the typical battle-hardened responses. Even now, I had to erase a couple of paragraphs of Romans, Galatians, Basil the Great, and St. John Chrysostom that I had invoked to demonstrate the biblical and Christian truth of monergism. Some of you sniffed it out anyway and named it Calvinism; which I mostly own. The problem with “Calvinism” is calling something that allows people to get away with not intellectually engaging it because they know he was just a mean, nasty prude anyway.
I guess I would summarize this lengthy post by saying that it is a New Reformation in that old truths are being rediscovered for their pastoral and Spirit-filled power, not for their sound doctrinal value. And that is a new and refreshing thing. And trust me, lots of Millennials are craving it.

24 July 2013 at 21:43  
Blogger kirkegaard7 said...

And for Anglicans who aren't quite certain where they should stand on the matter, His Grace did have a definite position:

“This proposition – that we be justified by faith only, freely, and without works – is spoken in order to take away clearly all merit of our works, as being insufficient to deserve our justification at God’s hands; and thereby most plainly to express the weakness of man and the goodness of God, the imperfectness of our own works and the most abundant grace of our Saviour Christ; and thereby wholly to ascribe the merit and deserving of our justification unto Christ only and his most precious blood-shedding.

“This faith the Holy Scripture teacheth; this is the strong rock and foundation of Christian religion; this doctrine advanceth and setteth forth the true glory of Christ, and suppresseth the vain-glory of man; whosoever denieth this is not to be reputed for a true Christian man, nor for a setter-forth of Christ’s glory, but for an adversary of Christ and his gospel, and for a setter-forth of men’s vain-glory.”

24 July 2013 at 21:51  
Blogger Martin said...


I spent 6 years or so at an Anglican affiliated boarding school to I'm well aware of the Scriptural nature of the liturgy.

However I'd still rather the service be led by someone using his own words out of his own heart.

25 July 2013 at 21:17  

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