Monday, January 06, 2014

Is the Church of England ashamed to preach Christ crucified?

The Church of England is experimenting with a new baptism liturgy (Common Worship on the left; alternative 'experimental' texts on the right). The 'Liverpool Motion' gives the background to the innovation. Essentially, clergy were worried that many of those requesting or participating in services of baptism had little or no understanding of some of theological and historical points of reference. They asked for alternatives to be developed in "culturally appropriate and accessible language".

His Grace was initially relatively chilled about this: after all, the moment you translate Scripture you concede the need to adapt; the moment you modernise you concede the need to trend. Millennia of scriptural evolution have seen shifts from Classical to Mishnaic Hebrew; from Hebrew to Koine Greek; from Greek to Latin; and from Latin to Middle English, Elizabethan English, and thence to a plethora of modern English versions (New Revised Standard, Modern Literal, New American Standard, New International, New Living, Good News etc., etc., etc.)

If Scripture may mutate into the vernacular in order to facilitate the comprehension of sound doctrine and the plan of salvation, it stands to reason the liturgy might also reasonably adapt: those who prefer the Book of Common Prayer 1662 are (sadly) a dwindling minority. This was supplanted by the Alternative Service Book (1980), which was itself supplanted by Common Worship (2000). And let us not pretend that BCP 1662 was the first draft: the version of 1549 was adapted in 1552 and again in 1604 in order to make it more 'common'. If you create a 'Liturgy Commission', cram it with the prosaic, and then ask a democratic Synod to approve it, you can't complain if the result is banal and wishy-washy.

But Bishop Pete Broadbent of Willesden was horrified that His Grace should be so blasé. Perhaps blasé isn't quite the word: Bishop Pete tweeted "I'd have thought you'd be a bit more robust about this piece of liturgical nonsense. It's baptism lite. Not Christian initiation." He went on to say that "without penitence, faith and discipleship, there's no initiation into Christ".

Which is true, of course. But His Grace is of the view that penitence, faith and discipleship are no longer generally demanded of godparents by the Church of England; indeed, they no longer have to be believers at all. A few bishops might expect their clergy to undertake proper preparation with parents and make enquiries about sponsors, but very few do. Contra Canon B23, godparents are not 'vetted' by vicars or assessed for suitability: they are not asked if they have been baptised or confirmed: most are simply an extra 'aunt' or 'uncle' who might be good for a few quid on birthdays and at Christmas.

His Grace does not condone this: it is simply the reality. It is highly unlikely that the Archbishop of Canterbury made these enquiries of Oliver Baker, Emilia Jardine-Paterson, Earl Grosvenor, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Julia Samuel, William van Cutsem and Zara Tindall prior to the baptism of Prince George of Cambridge. One simply trusts the choices of the parents: god-parenting long ago ceased to have much to do with raising the child in the Christian Faith.

There are those who are of the view that the Church of England's baptismal liturgy is not broken and doesn't need fixing. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is one such, but so is Bishop Pete. It's easy to focus on the Daily Mail right-wing conservative objections and ignore the Guardian-reading left-liberal enlightened criticisms: liturgy reform is not a left-right issue.

Bishop Pete argued against the new rite in the House of Bishops: "It's vicar as chat show host," he said.

But many vicars have become ecclesial extensions of Oprah. His Grace does not condone this: it is simply the reality. So if parents and godparents can no longer fathom the devil or understand the concept of sin, why not attempt to find expressions which resonate? Mission relates to every aspect of a culture in its religious, political, economic and social dimensions, and is necessarily mediated through language. From the moment God ‘translated’ Himself at the Incarnation, the task of communicating a Hebrew gospel to a Greek audience became a missiological imperative.

But Bishop Pete is marshalling support in Synod with every intention of ridding the Church of this Krispy Kreme liturgy with its confectionery banality. And His Grace has decided that Bishop Pete merits support, if only because of this proposed emendation:

What on earth is wrong with 'Christ crucified'? Does the phrase no longer resonate in the minds of the un-churched? Is it not a matter of general historical knowledge that Jesus died on as cross? Is it not generally known that this is what the Church believes? It must be the ultimate irony in liturgical development that the Church of England becomes ashamed of the exhortation not to be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (1 Cor 1:23)
Saint Paul goes to the very heart of the gospel with this phrase. One is left in no doubt that Christ crucified is the very nexus - quite literally crucial - to the plan of salvation. We must preach Christ and him crucified, not just the man, for His death and resurrection are the beginning, middle and end of our redemption. Christ crucified is offensive; it is indeed a stumblingblock; it is undoubtedly foolishness to those who are being lost. But we do not help them by purging it from liturgy and trying to express it in "culturally appropriate and accessible language".

Mission is a complex and multi-faceted pursuit, with a plethora of models of praxis. The work of Bible translation and liturgical expression is intrinsic to and inseparable from the work, for one must be constantly sensitive to cultural shifts and developments in language, for neither is as conveniently fixed as the unchanging Logos.

From the moment the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, it became clear that the Word was to be shared in a myriad of diverse words in disparate cultures. There was some regress, of course, when Latin became the lingua franca and the elite asserted an inviolable uniformity of linguistic expression to expound their soteriological certainties. It took the Protestant Reformation to reawaken the need for the ploughboy to be able to read the scriptures once again in his own tongue, since which time the task of Bible translation has been the foundation of Christian mission, and linguistic science has become its most crucial tool.

And in liturgy, it is important that those who visit a church understand what is being said. But one may go too far, and, after reflection, His Grace agrees with Bishops Michael and Pete on this matter.

These 'experimental' texts are inadequate. The postmodern age is relativist and syncretist, and is becoming increasingly secular in order to propagate a conception of 'neutrality'. But that is no reason for the Church to obscure the gospel: it is no reason to eradicate 'Christ crucified' in order to make church experience somehow more palatable to the un-churched, uninitiated and ignorant.


Blogger Flossie said...

Bravo, Your Grace, and bravo Bishop Pete. These constant revisions are a bit like Chinese Whispers - ending up as something bearing very little resemblance to the original. I suppose the Liturgical Commission feels it must have something to DO. Sigh.

Leave well alone, I say. My church actually uses the 1549 for HC (yes, really) and 1662 for all other services - so we don't lose sight of the 39 articles and all the other treasures contained therein.

6 January 2014 at 09:53  
Blogger Len said...

A lot of preachers are somewhat confused as how make the Gospel acceptable to a modern audience.
so we have the 'social Gospel' keep the message upbeat ,don`t mention sin,make the people feel good about themselves, plenty of social gatherings, pop music etc.
This might keep the people coming to your church but this certainly `aint the Gospel.
The Apostle Paul had this problem How do you preach the Gospel to people with' a Greek mindset'(we see this problem here in this blog every day)

"but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles"(1Corinthians 1 :23)
PT 1.

6 January 2014 at 10:02  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Defending 'Life of Brian', director Terry Jones said, "Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly."

Some mangling of language and concept going on there, but what was folly to the old Greeks is equal folly to their modern equivalents. Some of whom are outside the Church; and some of whom, it seems, are within.

6 January 2014 at 10:04  
Blogger David B said...

I read through both versions to myself using the sort of sing-song call and response style that I have come across when socially obliged to attend funerals and wedding, and occasionally see on the media.

In terms of invoking some sort of religious mood by ritual, rhythm and mutual reinforcement, I have to say that it doesn't seem to me to make much difference.

The medium is the massage.

The innovators don't seem to me to have, from the POV of the CoE, to have messed it up this time.

Whether it will prove more important to the public view of the CoE than the making of swathes of houses unsaleable because they have some archaic way of depriving ordinary people of their cash is another matter.

Perhaps they should have renounced that first?


6 January 2014 at 10:17  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

Thanks Explorer for that quotation. It is pretty rich of Terry Jones to come out with that considering that awful song at the end of "The Life of Brian" which thought it was being cutting edge satirical by suggesting Christian belief was light on depth of feeling towards suffering, and has been used such by its unthinking slavish followers ever since.

Now he tries to suggest that we shouldn't have Christ suffering at all. And can he not make the distinction between parts of the image- the vehicle and the content- and understand we do not worship the cross but the identification with fallen humanity in its suffering, and the absorption of all the worst we can do with love, the harrowing of hell and the transformation achieved by the innocent Christ voluntarily and self sacrificailly giving himself in love.

It is reminiscent of the transposition of the concrete with the abstract which occurs within masonry, where mark master masons parade a brick around the lodge and it is an object of veneration, as s.o. produces some garbled bit of biblical text with Jesus' name carefully excised. They deliberately switch the concrete with the abstract however in their rituals, all part of the gnostic experience, whereas it seems Terry Jones is just confused. Or perhaps he is into the whole gnostic thing too.

I heard a beautiful rendition of the "Reproaches" last Good Friday, and I found it deeply moving and profound and think it will outlast "The Life of Brian" by many many centuries, a film with only one good joke (the Romans one) and hyped beyond all sense.

You still hear idiots who think "blessed are the cheesemakers" is the height of wit. No, no, no!!! It is pathetic, and bears no more repetition, EVER. Peace is a very serious matter and people suffer horribly from the lack of it, but Monty Python have obscured the importance of that well known saying and probably more people have suffered in the world as a result.

6 January 2014 at 10:25  
Blogger Len said...

PT2 So to correct preach the Gospel today we have to go back to the foundations because we are living in a country where the foundations have been discredited and rejected by what is increasingly a pagan society within Europe.
'Ken Ham' has identified the problem as the Apostle Paul did when in Athens when Paul had to re establish the foundations before He could begin with the Gospel.The Athenians, who pride themselves on their culture, their history, their intelligence and education, are really quite ignorant.I was quite surprised listening to Richard Dawkins how little he knew about the Gospel. The culture today has been indoctrinated into humanism right throughout all levels of society. There was a clear shift in Paul’s emphasis, from a primarily Jewish focus to a largely Gentile focus.

Read 'Why won`t they listen online'

6 January 2014 at 10:29  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ David B

The differences are also in the rhythm and flow but this is far from the major important focus.

The point is in the imagery and the language.

"Fight valiantly, as a disciple of Christ against Sin, the World and the Devil."

as against "Stand bravely with Him. Oppose the power of evil."

illustrates the problem. THe first is vibrant, memorable language, easy to recall, and which spurs the recaller to action, the second is lame, tame and unmemorable, written by the latest theological fad, devoid of strong imagery, and written by people who are not particularly gifted in writing language. Furthermore they have removed the centuries old and very useful distinctions between the temptations of the world, the flesh and Satan which have rung down the millenia and helped inform Christian living.

Now they may not believe in a focus of evil, but their disbelief is not typical of Christianity across the world and down the ages, and it is unhelpful to those who encounter evil spirits or occult forces in their lives, which is many more than those willing to talk openly of these things. It is particularly unfortunate when many of the music videos are rife with red, lack, flames, altars, nazis in black leather, bodies as altars, upside down crosses and people eating crucifixes and rosaries. Are they totally out of touch? Have they never been there when their children have put the TV on MTV?
It's embarrassing really that they know and notice so very little, and are so poor at decent poetic prose.

6 January 2014 at 10:48  
Blogger MattNotts said...

Whilst not attending a liturgical church myself, I'd always thought that part of the purpose, and the blessing, of liturgy is that it ensures that anyone attending a church that does use it becomes familiar with such terms and concepts.

In addition to removing the specific mention of the need to have faith in Christ's redeeming work for us, I'm sure the devil will be glad to be forgotten entirely! (as far as I can see). I grew up hearing the Anglican liturgy (until 12) and still value what I can automatically remember of it. I'm sure I would have gained less understanding and blessing from these less specific and detailed wordings.

Blessings to all.

6 January 2014 at 11:00  
Blogger Martin said...

PK, so aside from the fact that nowhere does the Bible tell us to baptize infants -

I grabbed my (schooldays) BCP out of a cupboard just to check what the original Reformed version said:

"Dearly beloved, forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin:"

I discussed this a while back on a now defunct forum and I think here. I don't see this point explicitly spelt out in either of the quoted versions. Is this perhaps why so many fail to see that infant as a sinner, as wicked in the sight of God? Is this where the whole of the problem with the CoE and many other churches arises?

The text goes on to say that the child cannot have salvation by natural process, only by the act of God. Al I see in the two examples is what 'I', meaning the godparents speaking for the child, will do.

This is indeed, semi-Pelagian, wickedly claiming for Man that which is God's alone!

Perhaps the need is for an alternative to be produced that takes His Grace's version and updates the language, not the meaning!

And why should such a service be made more accessible for those outside the Church? If the parents are not church-goers why are they bringing their child, do they think it is a magic rite to guarantee health, wealth and happiness? If the god-parents aren't in full agreement with what is said in the service, if they don't understand what is being said, then they shouldn't be god-parents.

Come on CoE, develop some spiritual backbone, blow the dust off the 39 Articles, chuck out the heretics and become part of Christ's Church once again.

6 January 2014 at 11:14  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your communicant is in shock, Your Grace, not having realised that Bishop Pete is a Christian.

6 January 2014 at 11:19  
Blogger Martin said...


I was quite surprised to see words like semi-Pelagian come from a bishop!

6 January 2014 at 11:22  
Blogger ___________ said...

Apologies for going off-topic Your Grace, but I thought you and your communicants would be interested in the following:

Ryan Bell, a Seventh-day adventist pastor from Los Angeles, has just started a year-long experiment in which he's given up Christianity now lives as an atheist. You can follow his adventures on his blog here:

6 January 2014 at 11:27  
Blogger Guy Jones said...

Len, good plug for Ken Ham. Whether we see our countrymen as Greeks, Romans or just Barbarians is a moot point, but to assume they are lapsed sons of Abraham is folly. That said God opens and closes hearts and minds. The law can be dusted off and read again. We can be reminded of our history and the faith of our forefathers. Did you know that Kim Il Sung's maternal grandfather was an evangelical pastor?

6 January 2014 at 11:27  
Blogger graham wood said...

We have been here before!

Whether "old" or "new" the article by Cranmer begs one central question, namely what is baptism for?
When one compares the New Testament record of the meaning of Christian baptism, and that primarily its subjects are ALWAYS adult believers in Christ, then the answer becomes clear.

The contrast then between believers's baptism and the current rite of infant baptism in the C of E could not be more stark.
Let us be frank. The latter is a historic anachronism, and expression of a medieval superstition that should be rejected by all Bible believing people, and especially those who should know better - Christian leaders. These who are mandated to believe and teach sound doctrine as opposed to error.
There is not, and cannot be, two mutually opposed doctrines of baptism. If one is truth, then the other must be error.
Infant baptism alters the meaning of Christian baptism, and additions to the Word of God invariably lead to alterations.
It is a characteristic of human tradition, which this is, to always make void some part or other of God's Word.
Go figure. Christian baptism is something entirely different.

6 January 2014 at 11:29  
Blogger Martin said...


Absolutely, but the texts show a clear departure from biblical Christianity, do they not?

___________ it is clear that the SDA pastor knows nothing of salvation anyway.

6 January 2014 at 11:34  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ graham wood

Why should little people be denied? I see no justification for belittling the commitment of the young just because they only understand and commit as the age that they are and not as an adult. For if full adult powers of analysis are necessary, then the mentally disabled are ipso facto forever excluded from baptism.

Why would any kind gentle and sympathetic society want that?

I was recently at a baptism where the little 3 yr old guy repeated all the key words after the priest. To my mind as far as possible he understood and assented as a 3 year old as much as he could. And Jesus would say "let the little children come unto me and forbid them not" and "their angels see always the face of my father who is in Heaven". Thus many of them are more within the Kingdom of Heaven than adults, and thus not less but more deserving of baptism. Jesus is never quoted as telling the children that when they are mature enough they might enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but actually DOES tell the adults that they need to be more childlike. Adults, me included, can be arrogant so and sos and underrate the children. Not so Jesus.

Furthermore whole households got baptised in the Acts of the Apostles and traditions going way back have said that children in a Christian household are to be considered as sharing the faith of their family unless they have made a clear choice otherwise.

6 January 2014 at 11:55  
Blogger The Explorer said...

graham wood @ 11:29

Where does Confirmation fit into the scheme of things?

Allow full efficacy to infant baptism, and you have St Augustine's problem with babies who died unbaptized.

However, if christening is to welcome a child into the family of Christ, then I don't see a problem, provided it is followed up by the individual choice involved in Confirmation.

(Confirmation, too, can have its problems. I myself was confirmed too young to really understand what I was assenting to. A few years later, I rejected Christianity altogether; only returning to faith much later in life after decades as an atheist.)

6 January 2014 at 12:01  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Your Grace, you are right to be worried as this is a retrograde step.

I am not too keen on infant baptism but Churches east and west appear to be stuck with it, for historical reasons that are deeply imprinted on society. So we must take it seriously, do it well and with a much meaning as possible. It often represents a rare opportunity to convey such ideas to the largely unchurched.

Firstly, parents certainly, and if possible Godparents too, should be properly instructed.

Secondly, the liturgy and ritual must include the concepts of sin, repentance and salvation through Christ Crucified, plus striving against evil, sin and the Devil - the latter can be seen as a being, or the absence of God, both ideas work,theologically. With the baby's older years in mind the crucial point about "salvation through faith" must be very visible as well.
It is necessary to use language that people understand of course, but that does not excuse losing the essential meaning of our "fallen" natures, and its remedy freely offered through the grace of God, Christ's own sacrifice of himself in obedience to The Father.
If the C of E loses the concepts of our fallen natures, sin and the needs for repentance, atonement and salvation through faith then it needs serious reform, which I believe it does. That largely explains my membership of Reform.

6 January 2014 at 12:02  
Blogger graham wood said...

Martin @ 11.34. I fully agree.

Even Cranmer seems to have lost his usual clarity and does not attempt to confront the central issue - missing the wood for the trees.

He cites "Essentially, clergy were worried that many of those requesting or participating in services of baptism had little or no understanding of some of theological and historical points of reference."
But it is the 'clergy' themselves who fail to grasp the implications of their rite!
Have you ever heard a biblical exposition of "the theological points" from the C of E? Of course not, because they cannot be spelled out from scripture, and their assumptions vary wildly with the simple biblical doctrine.
I had not meant to engage in a debate about baptism but it is vital that the error is exposed.

Here are some basic objections:
1. Infant baptism cannot be validated from Scripture.

2. It destroys the appointed way of public confession of faith in Christ.

3. It undermines the essential doctrine of justification before God through faith in Christ alone,
since of necessity an infant cannot comprehend or believe the Gospel.

4. It by-passes the essential need for a spiritual new birth of which Christ and the NT speaks so often.

5. It disgraces the name of Christ as it opens to door for multitudes who come to be regarded as part of the "Church" as baptised unbelievers, so bringing the Gospel into disrepute in the eyes of the world.
The issue is not whether the C of E believes in Christ crucified or not (a separate debate), but whether it will abandon the current rite and teach and practice Christian baptism.

6 January 2014 at 12:06  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Two useful articles on this on Anglican Mainstream.

Both Canon Chris Sugden and Bishop Michael Nazir -Ali have good points.

Bishop Michael is a one of the most clear thinking, prescient Bishops that we have, but sadly considered outside the pale by the all too PC , liberal, muddled episcopal and political establishment.

6 January 2014 at 12:08  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! So many's head is in a spin. I look forward to a modern-day Westminster Conference where Anglican divines (such as Dr. Spacely-Trellis) can reword the liturgy and indeed the Bible to include such folk as the Jedi Knights...after all, inclusiveness must be our watchword.

Genesis could open with 'In the beginning was The Force...'

6 January 2014 at 12:14  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

Infant baptism can be validated from Scripture. "and all his household" being the key words.

It is Anglican orthodoxy, from all streams of the church, very much including Evangelicals, such as Stott, Green & N.T. Wright, all of whom have written on this.

Some on here may disagree with their arguments, but that is not the same as saying it cannot be argued from Scripture, because it can be and it is.

If full adult brain working is required, what of the excluded for whom full adult brain working will never happen, or those who have gone into dementia. The commandment is to worship God "with all you heart, mind and soul" not with someone else's heart mind and soul. In other words with all that you are at the stage that you are. It is vital not to over emphasise the cerebral. It is the will and not the mind that is central to respecting the commitment of the person!

6 January 2014 at 12:27  
Blogger graham wood said...

Lucy. By way of response. You make several points.

"Why should little people be denied?"

Answer. But they are not denied anything! (My own daughter believed and understood the basics of the Gospel that Jesus died for her sins, at the age of six, and was baptised shortly after on the strength of her confession of faith in Christ). Thus age is not the primary criteria, but ability to repent and believe the Gospel as soon as a level of understanding develops. That is why it is absolutely essential for Christian parents to teach and instruct their children the essential truths of the Gospel.
Far from "belittling the commitment of the young" it is to lay the foundation of true belief in their young lives which should develop and grow in depth and maturity as they grow spiritually and physically.

You mention "the mentally disabled are ipso facto forever excluded from baptism." Not so, and that is a big assumption!
However, it begs the question of justifying infant baptism. There are many
mentally disabled who do indeed trust and believe the simple basics of the Gospel (the great work of the Christian mission 'Caring for Life' is a constant testimony to that truth!

You quote :Jesus would say "let the little children come unto me and forbid them not"

Indeed so. But this was not for infant baptism, but rather to teach his disciples the value of a childlike spirit (Mark 10:15.
Jesus, & John the Baptist are recorded as only baptising those who first repented, and then who believed in Christ as Saviour.

"Furthermore whole households got baptised in the Acts of the Apostles"

Answer. But no mention of babies in Acts or elsewhere in the NT! But if the sole condition of Christian baptism is repentance, and faith in Christ alone, then clearly infants or unbelieving children would not be included in such household baptisms.
Also why the clear instruction in the Great Commission (Mark 16:16)?

"Children in a Christian household are to be considered as sharing the faith of their family unless they have made a clear choice otherwise."
Where is the biblical evidence for such a claim please? Grace does not run in the bloodstream!
This is why Jesus insisted on a new birth which by (His) definition is a spiritual one. "Who were born NOT of blood (human ancestry), not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, (human tradition), but of God" (John 1:13)
Lucy. I think the one question for those who believe and practice infant baptism is: Is the infant still "in Adam" (that is, original sin) or "in Christ" (through the new birth)?

6 January 2014 at 12:42  
Blogger Fat Sam said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6 January 2014 at 12:47  
Blogger IanCad said...

The process here is really "Christening" which is, in today's society, generally understood as naming the infant. Baptism is not something a child can do.
Our Saviour was baptized when an adult.

As to the watering down of Christianity; Our Lord had plenty to say:

"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."
Matthew 5:13

6 January 2014 at 12:52  
Blogger The Explorer said...

I repeat, and extend, my question.

Where does Confirmation feature in all this, and does it have any validity?

6 January 2014 at 13:00  
Blogger The Explorer said...

To extend the above point, I do not see a stark choice between infant baptism and adult baptism.

As I understand it, infant baptism or 'christening' in the C of E is not an end in itself, but a start in the Christian life to be validated later by individual decision.

Provided that those confirmed are old enough to understand what is involved, I do not see a problem.

Infant baptism WITHOUT later Confirmation: that, I agree, is a problem.

6 January 2014 at 13:19  
Blogger Chalmers said...

As Baptist I am bemused by this storm in teh Anglican teacup. Although I don't agre with it I can see the logic of the classic Reformed paedo-baptist postion, but the Anglican one strikes me as absurd. On what possible biblical grounds can parents - even if believing - repent of sins and renounce the devil and his works or just evil on behalf of their child? A disciple of Jesus can do that because he or she belongs to the new covenent by which every member is regenerate and forgiven but that is not true of children until they come to faith. Semper reformanda!

6 January 2014 at 13:26  
Blogger graham wood said...

Explorer @ 1300. I think the answer to your question is that the "confirmation" service is without biblical sanction or precedence.
Unfortunately it is also error compounded in that the bidding words refer back to the rite of infant baptism, supposedly efficacious by proxy of "godparents" or others present.

But in any case confession of Christ for a believer is not a one-off expression in a liturgical ceremony, but rather a continual confession for any time or place.
Thus Romans 10: 9-11.
One does not need a church service to do that !

6 January 2014 at 13:38  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

This issue for me, more than any other that has plagued the Anglican Church over the last few decades, is like a deathly alarm bell. I know that many parishioners will, along with Willesden, reject this - I also know that it might yet be squashed in the Synod - but the simple fact is, it is wholly representative of the kind of "theological" spirit that has come to possess a large portion of the institution of the church.

These are the kind of changes, the mere consideration of which indicates something is very wrong. The fact that many of them were accompanied by concerns over the "problematic theology" of the original only makes things worse. That we have a core of clergy and staff who genuinely have a problem with submission to Christ is not a quibble or an issue of language: it's a clarion call that the church has been compromised. Not totally - and not, perhaps, fatally yet, though the day surely approaches more rapidly and the course is still not changing.

Cranmer, you are absolutely right about the "reality" on the ground in many places, and I share your sentiments in not condoning it, but I have to go further and say I think that such "reality" needs to be rejected and renounced as well.

My sincere prayers are with all those who will remain to battle this, but for me this speaks of enough rottenness that I am no longer happy to call myself an Anglican. The depth to which I regard the rites and teachings of the Church in years past has not changed: they are and always will be the foundation of my faith.

6 January 2014 at 13:38  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Chalmers

On the same basis as "soaking prayer" works, roughly speaking.

Try as we might also we cannot escape from this thing called "mystery". It is a fallacy to think that all is cut and dried. And I believe that all the same arguments employed against infant baptism could be employed against baptism of those suffering from Alzheimers. Or anointing the dying with holy oil. Or praying for those in a coma. But no one shows any difficulty with those mysteries. But the mystery of what a baby can understand seems to be beyond the pale. But consider the genesis of that baby. Attached to the mother in the womb, if the mother has felt repeatedly emotion x producing chemical y much of that chemical y has gone through the umbilical cord to the baby, who is partly formed, like it or not by the experiences of its mother and emerges with those preferences already there. Recent work with mice has also shown that things associated with fear to the parents get passed down via sperm and egg chemistry to the child.

Furthermore look at the instincts of dogs passed from generation to generation, or the way that dogs absorb human culture in a human setting. They are changed and formed by the atmosphere in which they are raised. So are babies. None of this is magic, but sacrament recognises and endorses and furthers what is already in process.

This is just a short meditation on the reasons why infant baptism could be good, and Anglicans unashamedly balance reason, scripture and tradition. Both reason and tradition show us many examples.

With Scripture the actual passages referring to baptism are not many, and have been interpreted by both sides. One side says it is the whole household, the other says "ah, but babies are not mentioned explicitly". But then neither are any not necessarily not considered chief householders, due to the conventions of the time. Which is why it is important to also argue from other scriptures about for example the nature of sacrament, the commandments, Jesus' attitude to children and babies and so on.

I find it personally alarming that anyone should insist that they regard small children as irreparably unbaptisably unregenerate. I am sure that you cannot really have meant that.

6 January 2014 at 13:50  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

I know it's a radical suggestion, but...

Couldn't the CoE just stop indulging unbelieving adults and their narcissistic desire for a naming ceremony to mark the arrival of an an infant? Couldn't it require that adults actually believe what they say when they present their children for baptism? Couldn't it (in a word) defend the sacrament from being profaned by people who would use it for self-indulgent ends?

It's a simple and effective solution. You wouldn't have to strip Christian theology out if the Liturgy if only Christians participated. As was originally intended from the beginning.


6 January 2014 at 13:53  
Blogger The Explorer said...

graham wood @ 133:38

Thanks for your response, and I take your point about the bidding words. One of those instances in which the middle-way compromise really does suffer the tug of each extremity.

I quite agree that confession of Christ is not a one-off expression: I do so quite often on this Blog.

6 January 2014 at 13:56  
Blogger WindsorBloke said...

If clergy are indeed "worried that many of those requesting or participating in services of baptism had little or no understanding of some of theological and historical points of reference" why don't they try to give some instruction into the meaning and importance of some of those "points of reference" (whatever that means).

6 January 2014 at 14:07  
Blogger Len said...

I think one of the problems with infant baptism is that the parents and also the child (at a later date)believes that they are now a Christian that they have' joined the club' so to speak.
A' Christening' where the child is dedicated and named is fine IF it is understood by all concerned that a Christening is exactly that' a dedication' not a transformation.
Anyone can join the Church but you must be born again into the Body of Christ as directed by Jesus Himself.

6 January 2014 at 14:34  
Blogger IanCad said...


Sounds good in theory but there is no Biblical back-up for the view that the act can substitue for adult baptism.
If we view it more as a "Profession of Faith" as required by some denominations in order to admit new members to their communion, then its validity would rest on the fact that the declarent has already been baptized into the Christian Faith as an adult.
No problems with that.

Several churches practise "Baby Dedication; Really an act of worship to God by the parents in which they are thanking God for the child and declaring their intentions to direct its path in the ways of Righteousness.
It is not a substitution for Baptism.

6 January 2014 at 14:36  
Blogger Wrinkled Weasel said...

The last infant Baptism I was present at was like a scene from TOWIE (Your Grace, a popular "reality" television broadcast)

The skirts were so short I could read the labels on their knickers.

Watching such citizens perjuring themselves is unedifying and crass. The only possible defense of this is that "at least it gets them into church".

Well, given the crap we get these days about sky fairies and invisible friends, I would prefer it if the great un-blessed would bugger off and stop bothering us.

6 January 2014 at 14:38  
Blogger David Hussell said...

To clarify, in the C of E, indeed in the worldwide Anglican Church, infant christening plus confirmation equals Baptism.

Explorer @ 13.19 hits the nail on the head.

Adult baptism is to be preferred, as its cuts through confusion, but as I said this is something Churches, east and west, are stuck with ever since high early infant mortality rates lead to the early Church offering what are essentially pastoral services for the benefit and reassurance of the parents. It is, as some have said, a naming ceremony, but one which creates a link, however tenuous between Church and family, which one hopes leads to confirmation and commitment.

Because the rite is deeply imbedded in society to turn the parents away, as being insufficiently Christian would not serve the spreading of the Gospel at all. But more effort must be made to instruct parents, and if possible, God-Parents.

6 January 2014 at 14:42  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Lucy Mullen @ 13.50

Interestingly there is evidence of the early Church expanding by whole households being accepted into the Church family because, primarily, the male head of the household decides that his household will become Christian. That's how it was.

In our Modern and Post-Modern western culture we find this difficult to grasp, clashing as it does so totally with our individualism, rights and equality , but that simply reflects our western centric views. Similar processes are described in missionary work with the Masai by a very patient and ultimately successful Catholic priest, who presided over tribal baptisms led by Chief and elders. His name escapes me, but I can find the book if you wish - Fr Donovan sticks in my memory, vaguely.
We can fall so easily into the trap of reading Scripture through the lenses of our western individualism, and thus dismissing other ways by which people come to believe, and have faith in God.

6 January 2014 at 14:54  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

The disagreement going on here about infant baptism seems to me to be the result, if I may so say so, of getting two different questions mixed up. One is a question of church membership of children who are too young to have a full grasp of what that means. The other question is purely one of language. Do you call that membership procedure a “christening”, a “baptism”, or something else?

My answer to the first question would be something like this. If you don’t hold a religious ceremony, you will still probably need to go through some procedure to inform the authorities that a child has been born; that it has a surname which is usually the same as that of either its mother, or its father, or both, depending on rules and regulations that vary from country to country; that it has a forename or “Christian” name, freely chosen by some adult, presumably one parent or both; and so on. Should everyone be required to accept that the Registry Office procedure is sufficient? Should parents be denied a ceremony of some kind by which their child is accepted as a member (not necessarily a full member, but at least a candidate member of some kind) of their church or religious community?

In particular, I should like to hear from Martin and graham wood on the question of church membership for infants and young children, disregarding for the time being -– for the sake of clarity -– the separate question of the correct name to be attached to the membership procedure.

Thank you both.

6 January 2014 at 15:36  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

To return to the question of language the difference between the two instructions:
"fight valiantly against..." and "oppose" does bother me as I find the second much weaker than the first, which feels like it demands action. Partly due to the two syllables, beginning with the commonest unstressed vowel sound in the English language, as well as the greater range of meaning. I can oppose things easily, but fighting valiantly is tricky and dangerous.

Incidentally this is a painful attribute of revisers in the church, whereby they take out favourite vivid imagery and apposite poetic effects (alliteration, internal rhyme, onomatapeia and so on) and plonk the latest abstract theological buzzwords in instead, and even wrench out vibrant anglo-saxon words to put in pompous latinisms.

If we should ever find ourselves in a prison cell with no books or computers we will not be remembering these vaporous outpourings but the ones with good solid imagery by the wordsmiths down the ages, Milton, Luther, Christopher Wordsworth, Cowper, Newton, Wesley, Dudley-Smith and the best of Graham Kendrick for example, and not some trendy Fred guy. Good words and writing matter profoundly and the church has a great literary reputation which is slipping horribly.

"Ring bells, ring, ring ring,
Sing choirs sing, sing, sing"

is cringeworthily embarrassing, a blatant non-comprehension of what rhyme does, should do and should not do, and should not be heard in any church anywhere, which understands the word "banal." Some of these churches that sing that also have the rind to whinge about choruses, some of which are much much artistically better than that.

Sorry this has become a bit of a rant but some churchgoers care passionately about good writing.

On a more cheerful note I do like Cranmer's prose style; perhaps they could get him to help more with good prose!!

6 January 2014 at 16:06  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

Sorry about the "more...better". Whoops!

6 January 2014 at 16:07  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Two arguments are running on this thread:

1. Whether or not the ceremony wording should be changed.

2. Whether the ceremony should exist at all.

In regard to '2', two principles are operating.

a. Allow it if it's allowed IN Scripture.

b. Allow it if it's not CONTRARY to Scripture.

In 'Luke' the infant Christ is presented in the Temple, and shown to Simeon and Anna.

We are not commanded to do this with our own children, but you can see why Christian parents might want to do something similar.

That, I imagine, is unproblematic for everybody. It is when more than presentation is involved that difficulties arise.

6 January 2014 at 16:15  
Blogger Frater minor said...

it's a clarion call that the church has been compromised. Not totally - and not, perhaps, fatally yet, though the day surely approaches more rapidly and the course is still not changing.

Bt of course, this should not surprise us in any way, for it has been prophesied long ago:

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jude 4

Frater minor

6 January 2014 at 16:37  
Blogger Paul Perrin said...

Render unto Welby what is Welby's, unto the CofE what is the CofE's.

The CofE has its own 'religion' it can do as it pleases with it - but at least they aren't pretending it has anything to do with the teachings of Jesus any more.

6 January 2014 at 17:07  
Blogger graham wood said...

"n particular, I should like to hear from Martin and graham wood on the question of church membership for infants and young children"

Hi Brian. My answer to your question is that the NT does not mention "church membership" at any point, and it is interesting to ask why this should be?
I suggest because it deals with a far more important membership, at incidentally at great length throughout the NT - namely membership of the Body of Christ which is far more important.
Thus the NT constantly refers to the status of believer as being "in Christ" That in turn changes our relationship to other believers who are also in Christ and members of the same body, and that brings with it many obligations to those who are in that body. (too many to list and expand on here!)
Suffice to say that young children who may be Christian regenerate believers are also members of the body of Christ.
That is afaik the only membership of which the NT speaks.

One further question of significance for the benefit of those who still believe in infant baptism. Is it anywhere commanded in the NT. Or put another way - did the Jews baptise infants? Or the Apostles, or Jesus or John the Baptist?
Answer No in each case.
To respond to the 'household baptism' assumption that these included infants who were baptised alongside believing parents and siblings. This could not possibly be the case for the Apostles were commissioned by the Lord to ONLY baptise believers. To baptise infants therefore would be to directly disobey that commission - Mark 16:14-17.

6 January 2014 at 17:29  
Blogger Albert said...

Good conclusion. Inculturation is one thing, the trouble is, if the culture does not have within it the forms which can be baptized to bear the weight of the Gospel, then inculturation is impossible. It becomes syncretism or a watering down. This is largely the case today because the secular just is a rejection of religious truth.

in liturgy, it is important that those who visit a church understand what is being said

Interesting, because surely in the time of Jesus most people didn't understand what was being said in the liturgy. The language of ordinary people had moved on from Hebrew. Jesus participated in these liturgies without complaining about the problem.

It seems therefore that it wasn't in fact, a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, when he came in the flesh to have the liturgy in a tongue not understanded of the people.

6 January 2014 at 17:32  
Blogger Albert said...


My answer to your question is that the NT does not mention "church membership" at any point, and it is interesting to ask why this should be?
I suggest because it deals with a far more important membership, at incidentally at great length throughout the NT - namely membership of the Body of Christ which is far more important.

If you are saying that membership of the body of Christ is more important than membership of the Church in the NT, I would beg you read:

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

He is the head of the body, the church

For the Bible the Church is the body of Christ and the Church is the body of Christ.

6 January 2014 at 17:36  
Blogger Albert said...

Sorry last line should have read "the Church is the body of Christ and the body of Christ is the Church."

6 January 2014 at 17:37  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

graham wood

Thank you, Graham, for taking the trouble to answer my question. If I have understood you correctly, you are saying that in your Church there is no ceremony, rite, or act of worship of any kind involving children until they reach the age at which they qualify for adult baptism. Is that correct?

By the way, I’m surprised that you should need to ask that question about Jesus, John the Baptist, and the Apostles. One of my reasons for phrasing my question the way I did, “membership of a church or religious community”, was precisely that I wished to include infant circumcision.

6 January 2014 at 18:09  
Blogger Len said...

Albert there is 'no church' in the NT especially the RCC.

6 January 2014 at 18:17  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

“Ashamed to preach Christ crucified” ?

Not yet Archbishop, but you are in the right area. It’s a question of when.

The church needs to be feminised first, so the real rot won’t take place until 2/3rds of the bishops are female. Then there will be a drive to dress down any ‘unnecessary’ violence in the church. Even the crucifix itself will be deprecated. It will just be a plain cross, rather like the current CoE motif. Man on a cross ? – quite horrid to the ladies, one thinks you’ll find...

6 January 2014 at 18:18  
Blogger Albert said...


there is 'no church' in the NT

But...oh never mind.

6 January 2014 at 18:23  
Blogger Albert said...

Interesting point Inspector. Will that lead to a rise in the use of the crucified Christa, or a suppression of it?

6 January 2014 at 18:25  
Blogger Len said...

The 'Church' is an invention of man to give 'ownership' and 'authority' to a group of men over believers.
The word' Church' does not occur in the Greek in which the NT was written.The word 'Ekklesia' was mistranslated into 'Church' deliberately.

The false concept of a universal church is the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church's heretical teaching that it is the only true church and salvation can only be had through it. This completely distorts the New Testament doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. The use of the word 'church' falsely lends support to this erroneous teaching. Correctly translating the word "ekklesia" as congregation or assembly properly defines the local assembly of believers and gives no support to the false idea of a ruling universal church headed by popes, prophets, or any governing body outside the local group.

It might be as well to check this out for yourselves if you belong to your 'denomination' instead of the Body of Christ.

6 January 2014 at 18:33  
Blogger Martin said...


"In particular, I should like to hear from Martin and graham wood on the question of church membership for infants and young children, disregarding for the time being -– for the sake of clarity -– the separate question of the correct name to be attached to the membership procedure."

I would say that baptism is an acknowledgement and public declaration of salvation, and hence membership of the Church, by the believer. Membership of a congregation of believers, or church, is a different but associated matter.

6 January 2014 at 18:40  
Blogger The Explorer said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6 January 2014 at 18:47  
Blogger Darter Noster said...


"The word' Church' does not occur in the Greek in which the NT was written."

That is, presumably, because Church is an English word. I imagine the word Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious doesn't occur in Greek either, with precisely the same amount of significance attached.

'Church' is derived from the Old English/Saxon word 'Circe', as is the German 'Kirche' which - oooooo, drum roll please - doesn't occur in the NT either. 'Circe' means 'group of worshippers' and is probably derived from 'kyriakou oikos', which means House of The Lord in Greek.

Your point, beyond rabid and staggeringly badly researched anti-Catholicism of course, escapes me entirely....

6 January 2014 at 18:59  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Even the crucifix itself will be deprecated. It will just be a plain cross, rather like the current CoE motif.

This has no necessary connection to 'feminization.' It is rather a tacit denial of the Roman doctrine of the Mass as a re-presentation of the Crucifixion. All Protestant churches intentionally remove the Crucifix to emphasize the completed work of Christ onm the Cross.


6 January 2014 at 19:00  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


That’s an interesting point you make about translation. I have no trouble at all with using the word “assembly” or “congregation” rather than “church” or “denomination”, as long as we make it clear what it is we’re referring to.

Going back to my original point, I am attempting to disentangle what I see as two separate strands. One strand is this: There are a certain number of people who form a congregation, an assembly, an ekklesia or, for that matter, if we’re going into Biblical languages, a Beit Knesset.

Question 1: Do these people recognise their own under-age children as:

(a) their fellow-members of the same ekklesia (whether as full members or only on a conditional or provisional basis)?

(b)Not members at all?

I have tried to frame this question in such a way as to cover all possibilities. Any given ekklesia must surely, I think, give either (a) or (b) as an answer.

Question 2: If the answer to Question 1 is (a), then what event, if any, takes place that enables the parents (or even, after a few years, the child himself or herself) to know that the child is in fact recognised as a part of that ekklesia?

6 January 2014 at 19:04  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

Agree with Carl on that about the cross. I have heard many clergy, and come to think of it most were men, making the point that the cross in the church is empty because of the Resurrection.

"In the Name of Jesus Christ, crucified and RISEN (look significantly at the empty cross) does good things to us Evangelical Anglicans. It is a cultural thing and not mostly to do with the fact that a crucified figure on the cross isn't as attractive, which of course... I have met few who would be rude about or deprecate the crucifix though. That would just be a bit silly and needlessly intolerant.

Bear in mind too that to the early Church the main symbol was actually the icthus fishy sign!

6 January 2014 at 19:10  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Carl, “All Protestant churches intentionally remove the Crucifix to emphasize the completed work of Christ on the Cross.”

Really ? Why hasn’t anyone mentioned this before. All rather embarrassing now. Been made to look a right fool...

6 January 2014 at 19:18  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


Thank you for your comment at 18:40. I need to say I don’t know what Church you belong to, probably because I’ve only been frequenting this blog for three or four months. I’d like to ask you just one supplementary question, if I may. When you say "Membership of a congregation of believers, or church, is a different but associated matter", does some ceremony or act of worship take place which conveys to the congregation the idea that the child is now a member (not necessarily a full member) of their Church or Congregation, which he or he had not been until that moment?


6 January 2014 at 19:19  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Lucy @ 19:10

Good point about the icthus sign.

6 January 2014 at 19:22  
Blogger Martin said...


I'm what would be called a Particular Baptist, or Reformed Baptist if you prefer.

The child is not a member of the congregation, in my view although they attend under the auspices of their parents who may well be.

Two things are required to be a member, first a confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, usually through Baptism. Secondly the acceptance into the congregation, often by means of some words of welcome at a meeting of the congregation, as opposed to a public meeting

6 January 2014 at 19:36  
Blogger bluedog said...

OIG @ 19.18, Carl is quite wrong. Whenever this communicant visits an Anglican church there always seems to be a crucifix on display for all to see. Go to a Presbyterian church and its a different story, you may struggle to find the cross at all. There's certainly no altar.

6 January 2014 at 19:58  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

A fellow is obliged to you Bluedog, Carl speaks with forked tongue. What a relief !

6 January 2014 at 20:04  
Blogger William Lewis said...

David Hussell

"Because the rite is deeply imbedded in society to turn the parents away, as being insufficiently Christian would not serve the spreading of the Gospel at all. But more effort must be made to instruct parents, and if possible, God-Parents."

I know of one Anglican Church that is now syncing baptisms with their Alpha Courses. The vicar managed to persuade the couples that they would have a better idea of what they were signing up for of they attended the first three evenings of the course. The couples ended up attending the whole course. I think he will be trying that again.

6 January 2014 at 20:07  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Carl is quite right. He doesn't measure Protestantism by the compromised nature of the Anglican church and its easy cohabitation with Anglo-Catholicism.


6 January 2014 at 20:08  
Blogger Martin said...


Why should a Christian church have an altar? What is there left to sacrifice?

6 January 2014 at 20:19  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Thank you, Martin. At the very least, then, I think I can assume that a ten-year-old child, let's say, who is still too young for baptism, might be heard taking part in a conversation in the lunch queue at achool along the lines of, "I'm an Anglican, Jim. What are you?" "I'm a Catholic, Mary. And what about you, Freddie?" And Freddie can confidently reply, "I'm a Baptist (or Reformed Baptist or Particular Baptist)," without having to worry that he may not be telling the truth because, strictly speaking, he won't be entitled to make that statement until after he has been baptised?

Sorry about the tangled syntax there. I hope you get the gist.

6 January 2014 at 20:25  
Blogger graham wood said...

Albert. I think we are wandering far from the point at issue which is really about the meaning of baptism, and related practice for infants.

I also think that Len has admirably commented on your point at 1833.

The word "church" is indeed 'loaded' and now comes with so much ecclesiastical and historical baggage and assumptions that it need to be clarified constantly.
For some it is a building, for others the "clergy", for others a monolithic institution, or even just a denomination, and so we could go on!
I would slightly differ from Len's
description :
"The 'Church' is an invention of man to give 'ownership' and 'authority' to a group of men over believers.
The word' Church' does not occur in the Greek in which the NT was written.The word 'Ekklesia' was mistranslated into 'Church' deliberately."

Len, to say that the Church is an invention of man is I think an overstatement, or over simplification, for Christ Himself declared that he would build His "church". The Gk there, as in the other 114 or so references is 'ekklesia', but as you rightly say, translated into the word English word "church" - itself derived from 'kuriakon', meaning "belonging to the Lord".

But it is interesting that in NT times ekklesia simply meant a gathering of people - often entirely secular, as for example a political or trade guild gathering.
But I think we can safely say that in NT terms the Apostles did not think of "church" as a monolithic institution, but rather as largely independent, autonomous and almost exclusively, small gatherings of confessing Christians, conscious of their identity as the local body of Christ.
They met largely in private houses as church buildings per se had not developed until Constantine's day in the beginning of the 4th century. The NT also speaks of the wider church collectively as "the church", but it is everywhere assumed that this is comprised of believers - not a mixed multitude of pagans or simply the 'religious'.
Today those distinctions have gone for the greater part and the word 'church' has largely lost its NT meaning as we well know!

6 January 2014 at 20:27  
Blogger bluedog said...

Carl @ 20.08, your infallibility is only ever spoken of in hushed and reverend tones, but we adherents to the Anglican faith pronounce the Nicaean Creed, which affirms our belief in the Holy Catholic Church. And we are protestant too, as the Roman Church never fails to remind us.

This each way bet keeps us amused and stimulated.

Martin @ 20.19 asks, 'Why should a church have an altar?'

To represent the table at the Last Supper, and thus to assist in the service of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

6 January 2014 at 20:35  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack finds this all terribly. In Romans 6:1-4 it says:

"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

So to Jack Christ teaching crucified and resurrected appears fundamental to christening a child or an adult.

6 January 2014 at 20:37  
Blogger David Hussell said...

William Lewis@ 20.07

Clever Vicar !

The Alpha Course has been a distinct success. Estimates are around one in three C of E churches participating. Running one is, I'm told, hard work but usually produces a steady if not spectacular crop of believers. There are more advanced follow up courses, called, would you believe, Beta Courses.

6 January 2014 at 20:48  
Blogger William Lewis said...


"This each way bet keeps us amused and stimulated."

Love it!

6 January 2014 at 21:04  
Blogger Martin said...


Why would you 'represent' a table with an altar, what is wrong with using a plain, functional, table?

I wonder if anyone can tell me if the Alpha Course presents to those taking part the concept that they are sinners, unworthy to approach God and in need of mercy, rather than those who are called to respond to the gospel?

6 January 2014 at 21:06  
Blogger Frater minor said...

I wonder if anyone can tell me if the Alpha Course presents to those taking part the concept that they are sinners, unworthy to approach God and in need of mercy, rather than those who are called to respond to the gospel?

Perhaps you should go on one and find out.

The Alpha course is simply an introduction to Christianity, and it is quite basic. It is quite possible to go through an Alpha course and have large areas of theology that have not been covered - but that is the nature of the course. It is essentially a set of slightly-directed conversations, not a didactic catechism class.

I think the suggestion that all godparents should be expected to attend a brief course of Christian instruction is sensible, and using teh Alpha course for this seems a good idea.
I know of another vicar who does the same for couple getting married.

Frater minor

6 January 2014 at 21:25  
Blogger William Lewis said...


"I wonder if anyone can tell me if the Alpha Course presents to those taking part the concept that they are sinners


unworthy to approach God

They are told that sin separates us from God, but that we can be free to approach God by accepting, and by virtue of, Christ's sacrifice.

and in need of mercy

in need of forgiveness, grace and love.

rather than those who are called to respond to the gospel?"

Not sure what you mean there, but I suspect not.

6 January 2014 at 21:41  
Blogger bluedog said...

Martin @ 21.06 asks, 'Why would you 'represent' a table with an altar, what is wrong with using a plain, functional, table?'

Nothing. It's just that we like a table cloth over the table, a couple of candles (The Last Supper was implicitly an 'Evening Meal') and a Cross by way of remembrance of Our Lord's sacrifice. Flowers are an attractive addition that the ladies of the parish delight in arranging on the altar.

Martin, you will be pleased to hear that now the Reformation has clattered away over the hill, so to speak, in many country parishes a graven image of the Virgin Mary has re-appeared on the left hand side of the church.

Old habits die hard.

6 January 2014 at 21:44  
Blogger Albert said...


I also think that Len has admirably commented on your point at 1833.

Surely not. What Len did was to cut and paste a set of unsupported assertions from another website. Moreover, it's hard to see why you think that, given that much of what you have written is closer to my position than to Len's. Where I would disagree with you however, is in the bits where your definition is so refined as to be implausibly related to the NT.

6 January 2014 at 22:22  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Martin @ 21:06

The plain, functional table.

Look at 'Exodus' 25-28: the instructions for the Ark, the Tabernacle, and the High Priest's vestments.

If we argue that we've got beyond all that with the New Covenant, what about the description of the New Jerusalem in 'Revelation': 21?

I'm all for simplicity myself, and believe that God can be worshipped in the humblest of places.

I thus find the extracts I've quoted rather difficult to deal with, but they can't, surely, be ignored?

6 January 2014 at 22:25  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ bluedog
The catholic said is with a small "c" meaning spread out over the universe, so not actually a two way bet!!

As for crucifixes, you will find them, mostly but not exclusively in the Anglo Catholic wing, slightly less in high church circles, less again in all things to all people village churches and least of all in Evangelical churhes but it can all depend a bit on things like listing, Victorian society, faculties and practical things like that. Or even who gave what!!

We are a somewhat eclectic church!!

6 January 2014 at 22:26  
Blogger Frater minor said...

We are a somewhat eclectic church!!

Hmmmm, an eclectic ekklesia of the elect, even.

Frater minor

6 January 2014 at 22:51  
Blogger Frater minor said...

I remember watching Richard Harris as Cromwell, when early in the movie he sees a crucifix on the altar - sorry, Table - and bursts out out the baubles and trinkets and clears them off as if he were Jesus clearing the Temple.

I could not help thinking that it was all a bit over the top.

I think that there should be beauty and magnificence in our worship, for God is God of all the universe, and is surely deserving of the very best in everything.

I can appreciate teh empty cross, signifying the risen Christ and his completed work.
I can also appreciate a crucifix, showing the Son of God who gave his life for me when I was yet a sinner,
and reminding me that I was baptised into his death, so that I might rise again with him,
and that this is completed, and is still in progress as I work out my salvation, and will be revealed.

So many concepts to juggle with - no wonder they call it a mystery!

Frater minor

6 January 2014 at 23:00  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

bluedog, Happy Jack read this:

" ... in many country parishes a graven image of the Virgin Mary has re-appeared on the left hand side of the church."

(Not with candles, Jack hopes!)

Jack enjoys ceremony and worship with dressing-up, symbols, processions and singing. The full works really that lift mind and soul. He also loves churches with crucifixes and stain glassed windows and statues of Jesus and Mary.

It just seems right to give God the very best we can we can when we worship Him. Jesus is in Glory, our King, as well as our brother and our friend.

6 January 2014 at 23:08  
Blogger Malcolm Smith said...

The comments about infant baptism indicate two of the problems with radical Protestant denominations such as the Baptists.
The first is that they think it appropriate to interpret the Bible without reference to the traditions of the church.
Now, it is true that if Christianity were extinct, and the New Testament a newly discovered document like the Code of Hammurabi, there would be multiple permissible interpretations. But it isn't. It has been preached by the church for as long as it has existed. Indeed, even longer, because the epistles were written to people who were already believers, and they take a lot for granted - especially the details of day to day worship, which every member would have known.
The fact is, as long as memory runs, it has been assumed that the children of believers should be baptised. Tertullian, in fact, even complained that people were leaving it until Easter, when he thought it should be done right away.
If infant baptism had never been practised by the early church, then it should be possible to discover a date at which it was introduced (as can be done for Purgatory, ascetism, the Immaculate Conception etc. You would also expect to hear of members objecting to such an innovation. But we never have. The first persons to object were the Anabaptists themselves.
The second error is that, in stressing faith through grace, they de-emphasize grace. They have forgotten what most Christians previously took for granted: that grace flows through the sacraments. They have an intrinsic effect of their own, even if the recipient later rejects it. We do not receive grace because we believe. We believe because of what Christ has done already, with the result that we find ourselves in the community of the faithful. This is the work of the Lord, and it is marvellous in our eyes.

7 January 2014 at 03:13  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...


"It just seems right to give God the very best we can we can when we worship Him." but what if "It just seems right to give God the very best we can" is not what we MUST do?

Jesus says in John 4:23-24, "But the hour is coming, and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." It doesn't say we can worship God anyway we want, but we "must worship Him in spirit and in truth". The word "must" makes it absolute..When "must" is used it means that it is not optional.

Since God is the object of our worship, He and He alone has the right to determine how we are to worship Him. We read in Jeremiah 10:23, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself, it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps." We are not granted the option of directing our own ways in religion. God is the One who we look to for guidance and direction in our lives.

God does not have to have our worship, but we must worship Him to please Him. Our singing, praying, studying His word, giving, and communion are designed by God to bring us closer to Him and to cause us to think more like He thinks, thus becoming more like Him. James 4:8 tells us to, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

We are told in Colossians 3:2 to, "Set your mind on things above, and not on things on the earth."

Our Lord says in Mark 7:7, "And in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." When we follow the commandments of men instead of God's instructions, our worship becomes vain. If our worship is vain, it is empty, hollow, and useless. It will do us no good. If it is vain, it would be as though we had not worshipped God at all and we will be lost. When we worship in the way "we want" then God is dishonored and insulted. When we worship the way God has told us in His word, God is honored and glorified.

Our Lord says in Matthew 15:14, "And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch." We must first have a desire to know the truth of God's will and then be willing to change when we find we are wrong and are not worshipping according to His truth. Jesus says in John 8:32, "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." Only the truth can make us free, otherwise we are still under the bondage of sin. We may be sincere in our worship, and we must be, but if we do not worship God "in truth", that is as God directs, then our worship will be vain and unacceptable to God.

Jesus says in Matthew 15:8, "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me."

7 January 2014 at 03:26  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

God forbids us to make and worship idols. God says in Exodus 20:4-5, "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God." We see we are not to make any image whether it is a statue or any likeness of anything in heaven or earth to worship them. But this is done today when people worship icons. People bow down and pray to these statues and painted pictures whether they be the supposed likeness of Mary the mother of Jesus or one of the many other dead people who are called saints. This is in direct disobedience to the command of God.

When I see people bowing down, burning candles, praying, and worshipping an icon image of a saint, Ernst's heart bleeds for them because they are putting their souls in jeopardy of being lost.

We are warned in Colossians 2:18, "Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worshipping angels."

People can loose their reward of heaven if we say it is ok to worship someone other than God by glibly believing it is fine because it is meant to be Jesus etc.
You may not worship it yourself but saying it's nice and lifted mind and soul for some is deadly to lead someone in a sin you don't do yourself.

He is the only one we are to worship because He is a jealous God.

God will not allow us to worship anyone else other than Himself.

Revelations 21:8 tells us that "idolaters shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

We must only worship God and our worship must be in spirit and in truth if we expect to be with Him in heaven when this life is over.


7 January 2014 at 03:33  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 sums up everything quite well for those that wonder how bbest to please the only one who is worthy of our worship, loud praises and love.

"What does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commands of the Lord and His statues."
This is what God requires of us all, both in our daily obedience and worship of Him.
We must worship God in spirit and in truth as He requires us to and not how we feel is best for us, if we really want to go to heaven and take others with us for that joyous day.


7 January 2014 at 03:49  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


It's not a matter of infallibility. It's a matter of fact. Protestant churches do not use crucifixes for reasons of theology and not aesthetics. There is within two hours of my house an old Catholic Seminary that has been converted into a Bible College. I can show you the cavernous alcoves in the chapel that once held statues of Saints. I can show you the bolts on the wall behind the altar where the crucifix had been removed. Chapels on American military bases are often constructed with a rotating section of wall in the front. One side holds a cross. The other side holds a crucifix. This allows a single Chapel to be configured for both Protestant and Catholic services. Survey 1000 Protestant churches and I would be shocked to find even one with a crucifix in the Sanctuary. Have you ever seen a RCC without one? I haven't.

Is the CoE Protestant? I have heard many Anglicans deny it - including the host of this weblog. The CoE is an act of doctrinal compromise for the sake of institutional and national unity. It has no actual doctrine. It has Liturgy. Else it could not contain at least three separate religions within its bounds. So you may find more variation to this rule in the CoE. But that would be a result of doctrinal incoherence. The more particularly Protestant the individual parish, the less likely it is that it will have a crucifix.


7 January 2014 at 05:11  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Carl J @ 05.11

Ingenious and very practical solution for the bases to the Protestant / Catholic options - rotating crosses/ crucifixes, excellent !

On the C of E thing you are basically spot on, but with one exception. "It has no actual doctrine". You are right in that Liturgy, what we pray is what we believe, but those of us at the Protestant end put emphasis on the 39 Articles. However that is being largely ignored except by us at one end. Are the articles doctrine ?, well depends what you mean by doctrine I suppose.

7 January 2014 at 09:12  
Blogger Ian Paul said...

Thanks for your analysis. I have added my own, more extended assessment at

7 January 2014 at 10:02  
Blogger Albert said...


Survey 1000 Protestant churches and I would be shocked to find even one with a crucifix in the Sanctuary.

Are Lutherans not Protestants?'s_Evangelical_Lutheran_Church,_Milwaukee,_Wisconsin,_Interior,_North_View.jpg

7 January 2014 at 10:15  
Blogger The Explorer said...

I have to say that until this thread I had never really has an issue with crucifix or cross. The one reminded me of Christ's sacrifice, the other of Christ's triumph. Both were relevant.

The abbey church where I used to attend services when I lived in France had a cross radiating light above the altar, and a crucifix on the side wall. I drew inspiration from both.

Maybe I really am an Anglican at heart.

7 January 2014 at 10:48  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


I was baptized and confirmed a Lutheran. I spent 35 years in the Lutheran church. Yes, you will find exceptions. You will not find many.


7 January 2014 at 10:52  
Blogger Preacher said...

I believe it is acceptable to bring a baby to be dedicated to the Lord & to pray for its protection from evil & to ask adults to pray for the same for the child. But how can, or will a non believer intercede before the throne of Grace on the child's behalf?.
To be a follower of Christ one first has to be convicted of ones sinful fallen nature & the need to repent & accept the sacrifice of Christ's atonement for our sins, past, present & future. A baby has no ability to do this.
Indeed, as the Church today often becomes more secular & worldly the teaching & preaching of the gospel & all it requires is so often neglected. (This is not just a CofE problem).
The Apostle Paul asks "How can they believe unless they hear & how can they hear unless someone tells them?". A good example of a gospel message is Peters first & second sermons in Acts. No holds barred & no punches pulled, result, several thousand responses.
It was customary in the first Church for the Apostles to lay hands on those water baptised believers, for them to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with the power & gifts associated with them in the service of the Lord. As the number s grew & the gospel spread, it became impossible for this to take place so Bishops were designated to substitute for the Apostles. This is as I understand where the concept of confirmation originated.

7 January 2014 at 11:35  
Blogger bluedog said...

Carl @ 05.11 says, 'The more particularly Protestant the individual parish, the less likely it is that it will have a crucifix.'

Agreed. But the Anglican Church, per the Coronation Oath with HMQ being Supreme Governor, is described as the Protestant Reformed Religion. This communicant takes that as a valid authority that the Anglican Church in general, and the CofE in particular, is a Protestant church. However, as the late ABC Fisher is quoted as saying in His Grace's right-hand margin, 'The Anglican Communion has no peculiar thought, practice, creed or confession of its own. It has only the Catholic Faith of the ancient Catholic Church, as preserved in the Catholic Creeds and maintained in the Catholic and Apostolic constitution of Christ's Church from the beginning.'

The each way bet. Where is the third leg to which you refer?

In an attempt to answer Lucy Mullen's further points @ 22.26, this communicant could take you to a CofE church, of ancient origin but rebuilt and reconsecrated circa 1703 if the tombs on the floor are indicative, that contains a Crucifix. Its very big and very Roman too. There's nothing fancy about this deeply rural church, no evangelicals, no High-Church, no Anglo-Catholics, just ordinary congregants. Again, at another location somewhere in southern England, an ancient church rebuilt in a Georgian/Regency style contains the first sign of a Marian chapel on the left-hand side of the Nave.

Demonstrating an impressive grip of the modern idiom, let me 'unpack' this for you. The CofE seems to have retrenched from the practice of a vicar in each parish to a system of grouped parishes serviced by a panel of rostered clergy. This opens the way for the Parish Council to fill a power vacuum, and they do. A parishioner may go to Italy, to Florence for example, see a replica medieval painting of Madonna & Child, think that'll look nice, and it does.

Lucy, you are right about the Nicaean Creed, in the 1928 BCP its 'one Catholic & Apostolic church'. But note capitals.

Carl, drawing some of these points together, one could suggest that the US is a far more Protestant country than the UK, where there are considerable regional differences. The US has Protestant worship deeply embedded in its DNA. On the other hand the UK seems to this communicant to have largely retained its Catholic DNA. The north-west of both Scotland and England in particular are Roman Church strong-holds. It is just one communicant's perception, but what used to be called the Non-Conformist branches of the Christian faith in England - Baptist, Methodist, Quaker, Wesleyian, seem to be in steeper decline than the CofE. There is no tradition of entrepreneurial religion as there is in the US, so nothing stands ready to fill the vacuum caused by the demise of these sects.

Don't mention Islam.

7 January 2014 at 11:45  
Blogger Len said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7 January 2014 at 13:14  
Blogger Len said...

Malcolm Smith, You seem to be doing a very Catholic thing and making up your own' theology.'
"They have forgotten what most Christians previously took for granted: that grace flows through the sacraments."

My Bible says different;
"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ"(1 John 1 :17).

7 January 2014 at 13:20  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

A Dorset church warden was on TV last night talking about her flooded grade 1 listed building.

'This used to be a lovely old church and now it's been ruined' she said, or words to that effect.

My thoughts exactly, although I wasn't thinking about soggy pews and parqee floor.

7 January 2014 at 13:24  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7 January 2014 at 13:27  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7 January 2014 at 13:33  
Blogger Len said...

One thing seems to have been forgotten here?.(And this is probably my main disagreement with those who practice religion)

The Atonement of Jesus is what justifies us(believers) in the sight of God.

It is the Life of Jesus which saves us.
And receiving this Life from Jesus Christ is only possible by the new birth.

'But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.' (1Corinthians 6:17)

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam,(Jesus Christ) a life-giving spirit.(1Corinthians 15 :45)

7 January 2014 at 13:33  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

All the best in your battles, Your Grace. I promise you no similar nonsense after your Orthodox conversion, if you choose no take up my friend Len's offer for a cold dip (ours is a heated mikvah.

All proper, original prayers in Hebrew and Aramaic. Oldies-but-goodies. No playing silly-buggers with liturgy, "relevant" sermons for the yoots, or guitar-strumming, Hassidic tune-humming Carlebach evenings with the surviving remnant of liberal Jewish hippiedom. And after services, I'll race you down to the meat kitchen for neat shots of peaty Laphroaig and salty herring with the guys. That's how you do religion.

Good time to come to Toronto too, Your Grace; -40 with wind chill and another night of booms and tremors due to the ice quakes (cryoseism). Will be a great ice roads season...I can feel it in my bones. For the taste of real Canada, you are welcome to come along and ride shotgun...literally in this case, as the yards and loading docks of Churchill will be crawling with polar bears.

7 January 2014 at 13:39  
Blogger Albert said...


You wrote:

All Protestant churches intentionally remove the Crucifix to emphasize the completed work of Christ onm the Cross.

It's a matter of fact. Protestant churches do not use crucifixes for reasons of theology and not aesthetics.

Survey 1000 Protestant churches and I would be shocked to find even one with a crucifix in the Sanctuary.

But now you say,

Yes, you will find exceptions. You will not find many.

But a simply googling of Lutheran churches shows that huge numbers of them have crucifixes. Thus it seems to me that your contention is quite wrong. Lots of Protestant churches have crucifixes, unless you wish to deny Lutherans as Protestants. Therefore, you cannot, on these grounds unProtestantize Anglicansm without doing the same to the Lutherans, I think.

7 January 2014 at 14:25  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Avi @ 13.39

You make Toronto in the winter sound so appealing you'd better charter a jumbo to take us all there.

Slightly more seriously, I appreciate the uplifting jokey stuff .... do keep it coming.

7 January 2014 at 14:27  
Blogger Albert said...


Malcolm Smith, You seem to be doing a very Catholic thing and making up your own' theology.'
"They have forgotten what most Christians previously took for granted: that grace flows through the sacraments."
My Bible says different;
"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ"(1 John 1 :17).

It's interesting to think that you think there is an opposition here, as if, proving that grace comes through Jesus proves it doesn't come through the sacraments. Anyway, here's what my Bible says:

Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
[18] Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,
[19] saying, "Give me also this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

Now, even if you argue that this laying on of hands is not a sacrament, it can hardly be denied that the Holy Spirit is given to us as grace. Thus, the fact that grace comes through Jesus Christ, does not prevent it coming through a sacramental-like action (even if I concede that the laying on of hands is not a sacrament, which I don't, of course).

And again, St Paul says:

I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands

Now here again, it is hard to see how this gift cannot be a grace (cf. 1 Tim 4.14).

So I'm a bit puzzled. Exactly what is your point? Is it simply that you do not think that grace can be mediated through physical things which aren't Jesus? It seems evident that it can.

7 January 2014 at 14:40  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Preacher @ 11.35.

Your ideas about how "confirmation" got going coincide with my understanding. There's another stage as well worth mentioning.

When Christianity was concentrated in towns or cities, each with its own Bishop, both the water and spirit parts, laying on of hands, would involve the Bishops. As the faith spread further out into remote parts Bishops became reluctant to travel out to all the distant areas. Similarly rural Christians , who had been christened as babies, by the local priest, became reluctant to travel to the distant towns, especially as lawlessness increased with the demise of the Roman Empire. So to "encourage" more of the rural christened but unconfirmed Christians to make the journey to the Bishop, in their cities, the rule was introduced that unless one was confirmed, Holy Eucharist was not available. This decision was taken in the 11th century, if my memory is behaving.

The Eastern Church did not encounter these problems as any ordained priest, not a Bishop, could both christen, and confirm.

So from the very earliest of days when a person became a Christian, either Jew or Gentile, involving an adult experiencing total immersion in water, to today, the Church has gone through various stages and modifications to the initiation ceremony.

Our Christian water ceremony was selected because the symbolism would have been understood at Jesus's time. So then a Gentile wishing to convert to Judaism would be ritually, totally immersed in a "Mikveh", a stone bath, 6th century examples of which are found today in Spain. Hence John the Baptist inviting Jewish sinners to recommit themselves to God and a Godly life through repentance followed by total immersion in the Jordan.

The key thing is that we come to God in repentance, that we die to our old selves, through symbolic drowning, and rise up, are reborn into life with Christ. Those elements, essentially in the human heart are essential to faith. We are born again into life with Christ.

7 January 2014 at 14:56  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Crosses and crucifixes.

Well as an Anglican I'm not bothered either way really. If you look at a bare cross you tend to remember that Christ hung on it, and if you look at a crucifix, well there it is, starring you in the face.

It's not a big thing to me. But if it bothers someone I'd let them have what they'd prefer. It's really not worth arguing about.

7 January 2014 at 15:03  
Blogger Frater minor said...

To be a follower of Christ one first has to be convicted of ones sinful fallen nature & the need to repent & accept the sacrifice of Christ's atonement for our sins, past, present & future. A baby has no ability to do this.

It is certainly true that Christ's atonement is central to the gospel, but I am not convinced that it has to be the first thing in a believer's walk with God.

I started following Jesus when I was a teenager, because I was convinced that he was the Son of God and he had the words of eternal life. It was several years later that I gained the insight that his sacrifice was the thing that brought me forgiveness.

My point is that even though my understanding was partial, I was still committed to following him.

I might quote the example of Peter, who confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the Most High, but did not understand that Jesus had to go to the cross.

Frater minor

7 January 2014 at 15:43  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

You make Toronto in the winter sound so appealing you'd better charter a jumbo to take us all there.

Gladly, Dave H! You folks can keep the bears distracted with your antics while we unload the trailers. Your accents might even scare them off.

But it's not as bad you think. Weather Canada promises a balmy -15C later in the afternoon. I think I'll throw on a pair of shorts and borrow my friend's vintage Harley to see how it handles the snow drifts. I see the temp in London today is 13 C. Nice, if you like vacations in the tropics, but too hot for me, especially with that humidity of 72%.

7 January 2014 at 16:03  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Brother Ivo has a good post on his site.

7 January 2014 at 16:51  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Avi B @ 16.03

London like most mega- cities "enjoys" its own urban heat island. So it's a bit colder out here in the sticks.
But you are right, the humidity often in the UK is not its best feature. There's much to be said for the crisp cold of a higher latitude winter.

7 January 2014 at 16:54  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Frater M @ 15.43

I agree with you. People come to complete, full faith in Christ in different ways. Younger people, as you say, as well as adults, often grow into faith in steps. So expecting the full wicket immediately can not be a requirement of Church membership. Ultimately it is between the individual and God. But it is contingent upon the Church to teach, to point towards, the real deal - the full gospel of repentance and salvation through faith.

7 January 2014 at 17:00  
Blogger The Explorer said...

blue dog:

Back @ 11:35, you asked what Carl's "third leg" of Anglicanism was.

Since he hasn't responded, I assume he meant Liberalism, which grew exponentially with the rise of Modernism, and with an influence driving the current topic.

7 January 2014 at 17:56  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear dear Avi, may I join David on his expedition to Toronto? I have a lovely furry muff, so I should be as warm as toast.

7 January 2014 at 18:29  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Dear Mrs Proudie

This wanderlust of yours is most unseemly.

I can see that you need to be taken firmly in hand.

I am sure one of the new Ruritanians could rise to the occasion.

7 January 2014 at 19:01  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Explorer @ 17.15, quite so.

7 January 2014 at 20:01  
Blogger Chaconia said...

I do agree with Carl (1st comment) that it would make life easier if the C of E only baptised the children of believing adults – however I would think the logical conclusion to this would be to only baptise believing adults as to exclude an infant on account of its parents unbelief does not seem right.

The best solution would be to offer a service of dedication as an alternative – which is what I chose for my children as I wanted them to decide for themselves about baptism when they got older. In that way you avoid professions of faith being made by unbelievers.

I myself was baptised into the Methodist church as an infant – and was later, after many years of being an atheist, formally excommunicated by the same Methodist church for being re baptised as a believer in a Baptist church! I now go to a C of E church which appears to offer all varieties of baptism from the christening of infants to the full immersion of adults. I think the churches are very confused over this doctrine, and so am I. I content myself that God looks on the heart …

Btw Albert, Wikipedia – if it can be believed -- states that “Luther at the time of the Reformation retained the crucifix in the Lutheran Church. Only in America, where Lutheranism came under the influence of Calvinism, was the plain cross used. Calvin was violently opposed to both cross and crucifix.” This would explain Carl’s later comment as it appears he is living in the USA.

7 January 2014 at 20:31  
Blogger Len said...

Over time, the Roman Catholic Church has abandoned biblical teaching on faith and on God’s means of communicating saving grace and established instead a full blown sacramental system as the means by which salvation comes to man.This of course make the RCC feature prominently(some might say more prominently) than the Grace which comes through Jesus Christ.
The RCC seems to function much as the Pharisees did.
If you have a fully up and running 'salvation system' does this not make Christ redundant?.

7 January 2014 at 20:36  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


If you have a fully up and running 'salvation system' does this not make Christ redundant?.


7 January 2014 at 20:44  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Chaconia @ 20.31

You've had an interesting journey.

"I agree that the Churches are very confused over this doctrine, and so am I. I content myself that God looks on the heart..."

A fair summary I think.

When we debate heatedly, the finer points of a now widely varying theological practice, we put rather silly limits on what God can see in us, our sincerity and faith, which is really what matters to God, and therefore each one of us.

7 January 2014 at 20:44  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

The Explorer

Sorry to go back to the top of the thread....

"Infant baptism WITHOUT later Confirmation: that, I agree, is a problem."

A problem for whom exactly? The Church? the individual? or God?

The church? Not really any more in the Anglican Church

The individual? Maybe. A public rebuttal of the "old life" may be helpful as long as they realise that they cannot hold to impossible standards and they have not failed God, when they cannot meet their self imposed standards. Also self imposed standards makes one feel that God "owes them" and/or miserable when they fail to meet these standards.

God? The Church cannot save you by putting water on your head or immersing you in a bath. you need to get to the point of loving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. God does not love you because you had a bath, had a blob of water on your head by the church, or recited some promises. He loves you because he loves you. Not because of what you do or what the Church does or doesn't do for you. If God loved you only because of what you did it would not be love.


7 January 2014 at 20:48  
Blogger Albert said...

Thank you Chaconia - I wondered if there was a geographical thing here, because as far as I was aware, most Lutheran churches in Europe seem rather as if the Reformation hadn't happened. Anyway the Luther on the crucifix thing rather concludes the matter - you can have crucifixes and still be Protestant.

7 January 2014 at 20:51  
Blogger Albert said...


You have a view of a Christ that is weirdly limited. To say that grace comes through something created does not mean Christ is not the author of the grace, it just means that he is able to use that thing to give his grace.

Assuming we believe Jesus is truly God, what's so hard to believe about that?

7 January 2014 at 20:53  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jacks recalls Jesus gave His friends Himself at their last meal together and later Paul warned people not to eat and drink Jesus' body and blood if they were unworthy. Surely this is a sacrament and a means of grace?

Having read around on baptism or christening, as some call it, Jack sees some believe it removes the guilt of original sin and makes a child a member of Christ's church. Is this just a Roman Catholic belief or do others believe this too? If this is true and if one's soul is at risk without baptism, then infants should be baptised.

7 January 2014 at 21:11  
Blogger Martin said...


I'm not convinced that the Alpha Course is an introduction to Christianity. There are, of course, critical areas of theology that must be understood, that all mankind is in rebellion against God, that we cannot accept Christ as our Saviour without God first changing us. Such are taught in the 39 Articles and should be accepted without question by any godparent.

No crucifix, no cross, no candles, no dressing up.

7 January 2014 at 22:51  
Blogger Martin said...


That sin separates us from God is hardly the same thing as making us unworthy to approach God. We cannot respond to the gospel because we are dead in our sins, therefore God must save us.

7 January 2014 at 22:52  
Blogger Martin said...


I wouldn't have a cross on the communion table, let alone an idol.

7 January 2014 at 22:52  
Blogger Martin said...


But we are not taking about the Ark, the Tabernacle, or the High Priest's vestments

Nor are we talking about eschatological figurative language.

We are talking of a simple memorial service of eating bread and wine, nothing more.

7 January 2014 at 22:54  
Blogger Martin said...


What value have traditions? Where is the evidence of infant baptism in the NT? Baptism is only a symbol of what God has already done, as is the Lord's Supper.

7 January 2014 at 22:54  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

What a unique position you're in, Happy Jack; shopping for a religion. A bit like the king of the Khazars. The Mohammedans haven't a chance and even though I tried to lure you with scotch and herring, you were lost to the Tribe forever when a woman rabbi laughed at your honest search for these. The Proddies here seem too stark for you with all the talk about graven images, but I think the Papists are in the lead, as you have an affinity for stained glass windows and sacred statuary and seem to intuitively understand their teachings on baptism.

Good Heavens, Mrs Proudie a tour without you? What would be the point? Be sure, of course, to declare the fur item you mentioned at Customs, but tell them that it's for a Toronto friend.

7 January 2014 at 23:02  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Phil R @ 20:48

My comment @ 16:11 is a partial answer.

Why I say a problem is a bit like the issue of Purgatory. If your time is reduced because of the prayers of others on your behalf that takes away your choice in relation to Christ.

If there is purely infant baptism without confirmation then your baptism is the decision of others, not your own.

7 January 2014 at 23:25  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Martin @ 22:54

I concede figurative language in 'Revelation', but WHY so figurative?

Why not just plain stone city walls?

Why not a plain white robe for the High Priest, and a plain wooden box for the Ark?

7 January 2014 at 23:29  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Avi, Happy Jack doesn't think he's the only one "shopping for a religion" on here. Goodness knows there's so much variety within Christianity its difficult to know where to turn.

Jack does like ritual, beautiful churches with altars, holy pictures to gaze upon, and statues, crucifixes, candles and music. As he said, the full works. And, he confesses, he does often say a silent prayer to Mary for help when times are especially difficult. (Blowers will disown Jack for this). Some of the people on here do give Jack the shivers with all their dark opinions about God.

Jack hasn't completely ruled out becoming an Israelite but at his age it might be a traumatic experience and he's wondering if whiskey and herrings are worth the 'loss'. If he did, he'd most certainly go for the group with the big hats and long coats like David K wears - very cool.


8 January 2014 at 00:02  
Blogger William Lewis said...


"That sin separates us from God is hardly the same thing as making us unworthy to approach God."

How so?

"We cannot respond to the gospel because we are dead in our sins, therefore God must save us."

And yet people can and do respond to the gospel - many of them whilst attending Alpha Courses!

8 January 2014 at 00:06  
Blogger Frater minor said...

Jack sees some believe it removes the guilt of original sin and makes a child a member of Christ's church. Is this just a Roman Catholic belief or do others believe this too? If this is true and if one's soul is at risk without baptism, then infants should be baptised.

There are a number of different topics here.

Firstly Original sin is teh tendency we have all inherited from Adam by which we find it easier to sin than not to sin; we have to teach children to be good, but we do not have to teach them to be naughty.

Baptism does not change that inner twist in our natures.
The essence of baptism is that we are buried with CHrist and rise with him. We rise in newness of life, where there is no condemnation.
So we are delivered from the penalty of sin, but we still have to deal with the actual everyday sins and trials and tribulations that afflict us while we are on this earth.

The usual Catholic teaching is that baptism is the beginning of the person's walk with Christ, initially under the guidance of his parents, and later when he comes to reason, under his own steam.

But the whole of Christian life is lived from faith to faith, without which it is impossible to please God.

Frater minor

8 January 2014 at 00:22  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Frater Minor. Happy Jack read this on a Catholic website (about and copied it:

"For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ ....

Since baptism removes both the guilt and the punishment due to Original Sin, delaying baptism until a child can understand the sacrament may put the child's salvation in danger, should he die unbaptized."

Is this what Catholics believe or is this a wrong teaching about how Catholics see baptism?

8 January 2014 at 00:41  
Blogger Timothy Fountain said...

These secularists who hang out in churches and expect accommodation would not be happy with a teacher in their public school trying to convert their children to Christianity.

8 January 2014 at 01:54  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


I wondered if there was a geographical thing here

OK, so if I was being totally honest with myself, I would probably be forced to admit that I didn't consider the geography thing, either. I realize this totally out of character for those of us from the States, but I might have been making the American Lutheran experience normative. Maybe. I'll have to think about it.



8 January 2014 at 03:29  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Pffft! Carl, the shy, unassuming American.

8 January 2014 at 04:28  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

I say, Happy Jack, you should go with the Catholics, then. You'll have to jam yourself into a baptismal font somehow, but no snipping needed. Besides, the Borsolino hats and the 1940s black suits are going to get boring after a few months, you'll have to grow a scratchy beard and dangling side-locks and scariest of all, you'll need to marry and start producing kids. To be honest, I'm not sure I want to compete with you for the scotch at the bottom of the bottle or the last few slices of herring. And the Catholics have a lot more franchise operations domestically and internationally.

8 January 2014 at 04:36  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


If you need me, I'll just be standing here in the back of the room. Not putting myself forward.


8 January 2014 at 04:59  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Get used to it, Carl, your Commander in Chief managed to put your whole country in the back of the room. Nay, in a corner, face to the walls, wearing a silly dunce hat while your pockets are being emptied. Even your Customs agents have been polite lately and waving me through; there goes Pax Americana when that happens.

8 January 2014 at 05:07  
Blogger David Hussell said...

This thread is becoming hilarious !

8 January 2014 at 08:35  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear Avi, I would think one of those Borsolino hats would compliment my furry muff to perfection, what say you?

8 January 2014 at 10:30  
Blogger Martin said...


Infant baptism is a great deal like purgatory, neither are found in Scripture

As to why Revelation is figurative, perhaps because we have no words to describe that which is immaterial. What words could we have to describe God's throne?

8 January 2014 at 10:32  
Blogger Martin said...


Why pray to Mary when you can pray to Jesus, one who knows our frailty?

And, as I think Ive already mentioned, you don't gain anything by baptism, it's just a outward demonstration of what God has done to you, a witness to God's saving act.

Baptism does not remove the guilt and the punishment due to 'Original Sin', original sin is just the tendency to sin we have. No one is punished for Adam's sin, we are punished for our own sin.

8 January 2014 at 10:44  
Blogger Martin said...


To say that sin seperates us from God says nothing of the evil of our nature that makes us so unworthy to approach God.

No, people do not respond to the gospel unless God first changes them. Alpha Courses may well give false assurance to those who are not saved.

8 January 2014 at 10:45  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


Alpha Courses may well give false assurance to those who are not saved.

But if he's not saved anyway, how can that false assurance leave him any worse off than he is now?

8 January 2014 at 10:53  
Blogger Martin said...


Is a person who thinks they are saved going to seek to be saved? They are like the soil in the parable where the seed sprung up but soon died. When they hear the gospel will they listen or will they say 'heard that before'?

8 January 2014 at 11:02  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Martin, is it then possible for someone who is not saved now to become saved in, say, a year's time, provided he says and does the right things in the meantime?

8 January 2014 at 11:18  
Blogger Martin said...


Saying & doing the right things has nothing to do with salvation, salvation is an act of God, not of Man.

8 January 2014 at 11:25  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Martin, you used the expression, "seek to be saved", in a context that suggests that that is something people ought to do. To seek is do something, isn't it?

8 January 2014 at 11:34  
Blogger Martin said...

But it has no influence on your salvation, only God can do that.

8 January 2014 at 12:12  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Martin, Happy Jack says, apologies, but you're one of the Christians who gives me the shivers. Jack sees no harm in asking Jesus' mother for a little bit of help every now and again and to ask if she'd have a word with her son for him.

And yes, Jack knows Jesus listens to us and is the one advocate. Still, a little bit of extra help can't do any harm. Do you have any idea of the power of Jewish mothers?

Avi, Happy Jack is beyond a reasonable age now for marriage and, as for children, he is not sure if he is in 'full working order' as its been so long. Would there be grounds for exception here for the rite of entry? Surely that big book of yours, the Talmud, can provide a way out? And Jack would still want to go with the hat and coat. He's nearly bald now so no long hair or curls for him either.

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack wonders if you know that furry muffs are going out of fashion?

8 January 2014 at 12:28  
Blogger Len said...

There are two (possible more) types of people that have created' a system' which does not need God, in fact once you have joined either of these 'systems' God finds it very difficult to get your attention at all , because you have got it all sorted(or so you might think)

First is the atheists .
They have a belief system all of their own.It is called 'the theory'
And what is 'this theory'?.
Well once there was nothing then this nothing went...bang...and created everything.(yes people really believe this!.)

Then there are those who believe in 'religion'. This is when you have everything figured out by some men who are infallible and know everything (so you don`t have to think for yourself in fact they tell you you will be in deep 'trouble' if you try thinking for yourself )
So this group of men have worked out 'a system' where you can save yourself(with their help of course)

of course there are also some who havene`t a clue what its all about and these people God can reach if they are willing ?.

8 January 2014 at 12:33  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8 January 2014 at 12:50  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


At 11:02 you wrote, "Is a person who thinks they are saved going to seek to be saved?"

I understood you to mean that it would be in some way regrettable, unfortunate or wrong for someone who had the opportunity to seek to be saved to fail to do so, to let the opportunity slip through his fingers.

But now (at 12:12) you seem to be saying that somebody who takes the opportunity, and does seek to be saved, ends up getting no closer to salvation than someone who doesn't. If this is so, then why should anyone go to the trouble of "seeking to be saved" in the first place? What's the purpose? What good can it possibly do?

8 January 2014 at 13:07  
Blogger Martin said...


Why would you think that Mary has greater access to Jesus than you do yourself? Mary is just another Christian.

8 January 2014 at 13:32  
Blogger Martin said...


I don't think God has difficulty getting our attention when He wishes to. After all Saul soon gave his attention to God on the Damascus road. I'll grant He tells us that not many of the wise & powerful are saved but that is God's choice, not theirs.

8 January 2014 at 13:33  
Blogger Martin said...


God doesn't turn those away who honestly seek Him. But if you thought you had found Him would you continue seeking? The Bible teaches tho' that seeking God is something God initiates in us.

8 January 2014 at 13:33  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


There's an old quip that defines an economist as someone who says, "Yes, I can see that it works in practice, but will it work in theory?"

Well, that sums up how I feel about Calvinism. I have every respect for the Baptist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches. I've read Max Weber. I have nothing but admiration for Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment. But I'm still puzzled by the fact, as I see it, that the whole rationale of Calvinism rests upon a logical flaw.

Sorry, old chap, no offence, okay?


8 January 2014 at 13:45  
Blogger Albert said...


Thank you - I enjoyed the self-deprecating humour! In all seriousness, I have often been surprised by the Catholic things Luther often believed. But that perhaps that explains why you left the Lutherans...!

8 January 2014 at 14:10  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Remember that Wesley - patron saint of Methodism that he is - had to postulate the extra Biblical concept of prevenient grace in order to break what he called "the iron logic of Calvinism.". When you start importing external concepts into Scripture just avoid what Scripture teaches, you are doing something wrong.


8 January 2014 at 14:21  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

@ Happy Jack: Happy Jack is beyond a reasonable age now for marriage and, as for children, he is not sure if he is in 'full working....Surely that big book of yours, the Talmud, can provide a way out?

Not really, marriage is pretty fact it's a requirement for a man. An unmarried man in the community wouldn't get a moment of peace from the match-makers, the rabbi's wife, visitors from out of town aggressively trawling for prospective husbands and any busy-body with an unmarried friend or family member. If you go with the black hat folks, you'll be matched up within days of your conversion, go on two or three dates (in public places, no touching, even holding hands) to establish that you won't hate each and soon you'll marry. There is no culture of "falling" in love, although it does happen, but it's assumed one builds love after marriage after establishing basic compatibility.

As for kids, I wouldn't waste time worrying about that as that's totally up to your wife; marital relations are her right not yours, you don't initiate them, and while she can refuse, you shouldn't. Your thoughts on the matter, opinions and moods may be considered for entertainment purposes of course, depending whether our wife has patience for such nonsense. But at your age, you'll probably be matched up to a widow or a divorcee past child-bearing years and you'll be plunged into enough family politics and obligations to make your head spin. And your only escape will be studying Gemorah in the beit medresh with the other "refugees." There is a convert, a Chinese fellow, in our synagogue who married a widow from a large Lithuanian family and everywhere I see him, he is tagging around with at least half a dozen grand-kids who adore him and hang off him like limpets. He makes lunches and snacks, car-pools them to and from school, goes shopping with them, takes them for ice cream and such, looking like a shell-shocked gander with a bunch of squeaking and squawking goslings. Safer to go with the Catholics, I'd say.

8 January 2014 at 14:21  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Happy Jack

Jack sees no harm in asking Jesus' mother for a little bit of help every now and again and to ask if she'd have a word with her son for him.

Why, Jack! How very ... Methodist .. of you.



8 January 2014 at 14:35  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


But that perhaps that explains why you left the Lutherans...!

Nahh. They kicked me out actually. Sent me a letter and everything. The proximate cause was "Holding Communion without a license" but the actual charge was Calvinism. I got involved with a church plant that initally had the support of the District, but that support was withdrawn. We did it anyways.

The back story is this, however. I got involved in a serious Bible study and started encountering problems with Lutheran doctrine. Then my younger daughter got very sick and almost died at the age of three weeks. I had her baptised in the hospital to save her soul. That single act collided head-on with Romans 9 ("I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy") and put me on the inevitable path of departure. That is why I got involved in the church plant.

Three years later, a Presbyterian minister handed me an apologetic written by Jonathan Edwards, and I discovered I was a Calvinist. Who knew?


8 January 2014 at 14:46  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

carl jacobs

Thank you, Carl. A few years ago I read Pascal’s Provincial Letters. Pascal is one of those writers―Bertrand Russell is another―who have the great virtue, to my mind, of always making themselves absolutely clear. The reader is never left in the slightest doubt about the meaning he’s trying to convey. Nevertheless, one thing in the book had me utterly foxed. That was the seemingly endless list of all the different kinds of grace, and how they are all supposed to fit together, like the parts of a car engine. It’s not a very long book, under 300 pages, I think. One day I hope I’ll have the time and energy to go through the book again, making a list of them all.


8 January 2014 at 15:23  
Blogger Albert said...


Thank you for the clarification. Re the letter: What a super story - Christianity with balls - on both sides (if I haven't messed up the metaphor there).

I'm sorry about your daughter, I'm glad it all ended well.

I had her baptised in the hospital to save her soul. That single act collided head-on with Romans 9 ("I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy") and put me on the inevitable path of departure.

I don't follow that. Surely God's mercy was shown to your daughter in that you had her baptized? Grace all the way, as far as I can see.

8 January 2014 at 15:51  
Blogger William Lewis said...


"To say that sin seperates us from God says nothing of the evil of our nature that makes us so unworthy to approach God."

I think it does say quite a lot, unless you think that sin is good, and they are not that different in outcome. The salient point is, I think, that we are not able to approach God because of our sin.

"No, people do not respond to the gospel unless God first changes them.

Certainly the Alpha Course would be utterly ineffective if the Spirit were not involved.

"Alpha Courses may well give false assurance to those who are not saved."

What assurances do you think the Alpha Course gives?

It would be interesting to run a Calvinist Alpha Course focusing on the depraved, evil nature of everyone which they can do nothing about unless God steps in. It might be rather short though. Do you think it would be effective?

8 January 2014 at 15:53  
Blogger IanCad said...

Happy Jack,

There are quite a few on this blog who understand that Mary is dead and in the grave.

Wonderful servant of God that she was, the bible offers no basis for the belief that she is in Heaven and hears our prayers.

Quite the contrary in fact; We are warned through the story of Saul not to pray to the dead.

8 January 2014 at 16:13  
Blogger Albert said...


Why would you think that Mary has greater access to Jesus than you do yourself? Mary is just another Christian.

In answer to the second point, Mary, though evidently a Christian is not just another Christian. Scripture shows her to be highly favoured by God, and was necessarily prepared by God's grace to give birth to God made Man. Thus, Mary had a level of righteousness which the rest of us do not have.

Therefore, in answer to the first point:

The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

8 January 2014 at 17:11  
Blogger Albert said...


Wonderful servant of God that she was, the bible offers no basis for the belief that she is in Heaven and hears our prayers.

No one who has grasped what the promises and faithfulness of God mean would wish to confess that Mary's body, which God had used as his dwelling-place on earth - and even as the source of his own humanity - would wish to say Mary's body is in the grave.

8 January 2014 at 17:13  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Here in Barchester the Bishop thinks - and I agree with him - that the middle way is best. Moderation in all things, neither too high nor too low. Calvin is too much of a hot Prot for us, and Luther was afflicted by piles (never conducive to rational thought when the itch turns nasty). As Bertie Stanhope is prone to say, you cannot beat a good Hooker, and Tenison's sermons are models of common sense. I do however have a reoccurring dream of purgatory, which involves being stuck in a perpetual 'Big Brother' house-party with Peter Hain, Polly Toynbee, Russell Brand and Jo Brand...but I digress. Now, as for that young scamp Happy Jack - yes my dear, I do know that the furry muff is no longer fashionable - neither is the Church of England - but I shall continue with both for a while longer I think. Now, I must dash - I am lighting a candle in the Jess Yates Chapel in remembrance of the days when the BBC Religious Affairs supremo was not a Mohammedan.

8 January 2014 at 17:22  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Martin and IanCad, Happy Jack once visited a Church of England Cathedral where they had a little chapel for Mary and a box where you could post written requests to her for help. Jack has learned that Anglicans can and do hold a wide variety of views about Mary.

Jack says, according to the bible, Elijah went straight to Heaven in a chariot. So he can't be in the grave, now can he? And didn't Jesus meet Moses and Elijah during the transfiguration? Where did they come from? Or were these just imaginings? Jack doesn't think Jesus would play tricks like that.

8 January 2014 at 19:27  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack sees there is no answers to his points. Jack also says not to forget Enoch either who, the bible says, walked with God and then one day God just took him - where to? He's not in the grave, now is he?

8 January 2014 at 21:35  
Blogger Frater minor said...


Is a person who thinks they are saved going to seek to be saved? They are like the soil in the parable where the seed sprung up but soon died. When they hear the gospel will they listen or will they say 'heard that before'?

I am a little concerned about the often-expressed view that if someone prays a particular kind of prayer, then one is 'saved'

I think it does not match up well with Jesus' teaching that on judgement day, the criterion will be firmly on what we do with our lives, things like feeding the hungry, helping the poor, tending the ill and dying and that kind of thing.
He also mentioned that many who are saved on that great day will be surprised at it, and many who are lost on that terrible day will also be surprised.

I think that there will be far too many people who think they are in but will end up out, and vice versa, and so I prefer to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, as well as having full confidence that God is able to save to the uttermost.

Frater minor

8 January 2014 at 21:57  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Avi, Happy Jack is still reflecting on the Israelites. He would most certainly only go with "the black hat folks.". Those cool hats complimented by the long black coat would be just great with my guitar. Jack would become the Jewish Johnny Cash. Do they permit 'street musicians'? Jack could cover Jewish ceremonies as an alternative. This would be my sole source of income.

Now, all this nuptial stuff. Jack cannot be a 'love machine', ever ready to perform! Jack will share a secret. After his one true love was lost, all that followed has been most depressing. Eventually, Jack set his mind against it and lost all interest. Jack does not have the will now to recover this. The inclination just isn't there. Even the beautiful, saucy and enchanting Mrs Proudie only ever arouses feelings of endearment. And what man could resist her charms?

Jack doubts he could rise to the demands of a Jewish wife. He would marry for partnership and companionship. Is this a 'deal buster'?

8 January 2014 at 22:48  
Blogger IanCad said...

Sure, Happy Jack, the Bible plainly names those who have been translated or not tasted of death.

Mary is not among them.

Neither was she granted exalted status in the Apostolic age, nor in the early church.

There is nothing in scripture that could possibly be interpreted as annointing her as Co-redemptrix, Queen of Mercy, Queen of Heaven or any other fanciful honour that the mind of man can invent.

8 January 2014 at 22:51  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

IanCad, Happy Jack says well, maybe, but these examples from the bible do blow a bit of a hole in your views about the grave. If God can take Enoch and Elijah to be with Him and avoiding death, then why not the mother of His son? She is the most special woman in all of creation. The bible says that, doesn't it? And Moses died but was with Jesus, remember?

Now, did Jack say anything about titles for Mary? No. Jack doesn't do "fancy" anyways. All Jack has said is that he asks Mary's help from time to time and he will continue doing so.

8 January 2014 at 23:55  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Happy Jack thinks too much. The nuptial requirements which would be made of him require very little activity in the cerebral cortex, while the reptilian complex takes care of everything. Cabbalistically speaking...and you better get used to that if you're going to be a Hassid, a "Black" or a "Black Hat"... this would be the yetzer ha-rah, the so-called "evil inclination" which when harnessed properly and subjected to God's laws supplies the desire for reproduction, positive competition and seeking respect and wealth.

Speaking of guitars and Cabbala, start with "Stairway to Heaven," based on a traditional Hassidic cabbalistic tune about Jacob's Ladder. I suck at bar cords and complicated picking, so I've found a way to play it with the capo on the third fret a la Ian Anderson and 5 basic cords. What's your guitar? Mine's a Quebec-made six-string acoustic dreadnought with an unvarnished white birch body. It's over 30 years old, with a new nut and bridge, but the rosewood fret board needs replacing because of a couple of divets from hammering on the D chord.

9 January 2014 at 03:02  
Blogger Albert said...


Nor is the formal sufficiency of scripture found in scripture. Leaving aside that point, you argue as one who has the form of scripture, but not its power.

What does Jesus say:

O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"
And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

They would have argued as you do. They had the form of scripture, but not its substance - at least, not exhaustively.

9 January 2014 at 10:12  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Avi, Happy Jack sees you are a Jethro Tull fan and admire Ian Anderson. Good choice.

Jack's guitar is a simple steel string acoustic one and is good for playing the blues and folk. Jack has had it many years and has a number of plectrums, or 'flatpickers'. One was given him by a very famous man many years ago who Jack knew as Roger but others called Syd. This man helped reach Jack to play and also 'loaned' him a mouth organ which he still keeps.

About those nuptial matters, again. This "evil inclination" is no longer present in Jack and Jack is sure his new Hassidic chums would agree if this yetzer ha-rah has been mastered its best to let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak. Jack appreciates this Hassidic perspective on human nature too - the drives which when harnessed properly and according to God's will keeps the human race going. Jack's always thought the more Christian notion of 'sin' less imaginative. The passions are necessary and can be on a knife edge between good and evil.

9 January 2014 at 11:13  
Blogger Len said...

With Mary worship we/you are entering into very dangerous territory.
There is only one mediator between man and God and that certainly isn`t 'Mary'.
But we have discussed this before 'Jack'?.

9 January 2014 at 11:22  
Blogger Martin said...


In no way would I say that saying a prayer would save. But we are told that those who have a gospel influence in their life and then reject it cannot be saved.

9 January 2014 at 14:17  
Blogger IanCad said...

Now Albert,

Granted that I am indeed foolish and slow of heart; I struggle to see how the beautiful words of our Saviour (Luke 24:25-27) that you quoted, could possibly be used as evidence to support consideration of the worship of Mary.

9 January 2014 at 14:26  
Blogger Paul Perrin said...

Martin - how would you know if someone has rejected something? It could be a temporary thing.

And aren't the rewards in heaven supposed to be for good deeds unrewarded in life - if you have been rewarded already, you are owed nothing.

9 January 2014 at 16:06  
Blogger Albert said...


No one is suggesting that we worship Mary, and I wasn't proposing the passage in the defence of that - not least because, since worshipping Mary is idolatry, I am opposed to it.

The point is that just because someone has the scriptures and is reading them, it does not follow that they grasped the message. The reason Jesus had to interpret the message of Moses and all the prophets was because, although they read them, they could not understand them. Once we recognize the typology involved, we begin to realise all sorts of things there in scripture.

9 January 2014 at 16:09  
Blogger IanCad said...

I was making the presumptionAlbert that you did hold Mary as a figure to worship.
Forgive me if I was wrong.
Would I be correct if I were to suggest that the Church of Rome is broader than most Protestants assume?

9 January 2014 at 16:45  
Blogger Albert said...


I was making the presumptionAlbert that you did hold Mary as a figure to worship.
Forgive me if I was wrong.
Would I be correct if I were to suggest that the Church of Rome is broader than most Protestants assume?

Forgiven! But no, the Catholic Church is narrower. No Catholic believes he should worship Mary. It is gravely contrary to the Catholic faith. There's no space for breadth here. A person who offered Mary worship, would by that very act have excommunicated himself.

9 January 2014 at 17:35  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Len, Happy Jack repeats what he said

"All Jack has said is that he asks Mary's help from time to time and he will continue doing so."

This is not "worship" of Mary and Jack does not believe it takes anything away from Jesus. Its not as if Jack believes Mary can do anything on her own. Here's what Wiki says about it:

"There exist a variety of Christian views on Mary ranging from the focus on Marian veneration in Roman Catholic Mariology to Protestant objections, with Anglican Marian theology in between ....

... there is no systematic agreed upon Mariology among the diverse parts of the Anglican Communion. However, the role of Mary as a mediator is accepted by some groups of modern Anglican theologians."

Tell Jack, do you believe when the saints die they go to Heaven straight away or do you think they lie in the grave?

9 January 2014 at 20:19  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Aren't RC's hilarious when speaking of historically recorded 'facts' such as the assumption of Mary.

Rome now believes this from 1950, via Pope Pius XII that the Assumption of Mary could be officially declared a dogma of the Roman Catholic faith and yet..and yet..In 495 A.D., Pope Gelasius issued a decree which rejected this teaching as heresy and its proponents as heretics.

In the sixth century, Pope Hormisdas also condemned as heretics those authors who taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary.

The early Church clearly considered the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary to be a heresy worthy of condemnation. Here we have “infallible” popes declaring something to be a heresy but another “infallible” pope, declared it to be official Roman Catholic doctrine fifteen hundred years later.

Is she, isn't she..Has she , has she not?

The stuff of myths and legends??.

There is no biblical reference to the assumption of Mary.

The Gospel of John was the last gospel written around 90 A.D., which is more than 100 years after Mary was born.

If Mary had been supernaturally assumed/translated into Heaven, wouldn’t John (the disciple that Mary lived with) have mentioned it? He is strangely silent?

When Enoch and Elijah were taken up to Heaven but NOT the 3rd Heaven (The Scripture mentions three heavens (2 Corinthians 12:2), not just one! 1.The first heaven is earth's atmosphere. 2.The second heaven is outer space where the planets and stars exist and 3. The third heaven is what Christ calls his "Father's house" or Heaven of Heavens (John 14:2),(Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27, 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18, Nehemiah 9:6, Psalms 148:4), the Bible recorded it. With Elijah it was recorded in some detail. (See Genesis 6:24 and 2 Kings 2:1‑18.)

No being caught up in the clouds visibly for Mary then.

She died and is in the grave as we all are or will be until the Shout of Michael the Archangel reunites our soul and spirit and body!!


Jack Lad...Jesus said in John 3:13, "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."

These words were spoken by Our Lord Jesus himself at a time when only Christ had seen God (John 1:18 '18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.').

And how did Our Lord know that no man had ascended up to heaven...the throne of God? Because he came from there!

The apostle Paul specifically mentioned the circumstances associated with Enoch in Hebrews 11:5 ('Should not see death' is NOT 'did not see death'..All die the first death, even Our Lord!!!), along with other men of faith, and then stated: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises" (Hebrews 11:13). Yes, Enoch died, and he did not receive the promise of heaven (verse 16) at the time the book of Hebrews was written.

To believe Enoch did not die is to deny the plain word of many other scriptures as well. For example, Romans 5:12, " death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" and Romans 5:14, "...DEATH reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned."

Are we to believe that Enoch did not sin?

Are we to believe that a man who was not yet cleansed of sin by the blood of Jesus could enter heaven and dwell in God's presence prior to the Cross? Is Enoch, Moses or Elijah the First Fruit of those that sleep?

Hebrews 11 names and includes the three characters mentioned, Elijah under ;

32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, AND OF THE PROPHETS:

39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received NOT THE PROMISE (of resurrection to eternal life):

We should not assume things not specifically declared by scripture if something else clarifies!!!

10 January 2014 at 03:02  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said... clarify better;

So what exactly does the phrase in the verse saying "should not see death" mean?

As stated by Ernst, it is not in the present tense, that he "did not see" death, but that he "should not see death."

In John 8:51 Jesus said this, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death" [see also John 11:26 ; 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?].

This phrase must and can only mean "the second death," since all the Apostles kept Jesus’ sayings and yet died the first death as we who believe will also, unless the Lord does not tarry any longer whilst we still live.

Hope this helps, my Boy?


10 January 2014 at 03:17  
Blogger IanCad said...

"This phrase must and can only mean "the second death," since all the Apostles kept Jesus’ sayings and yet died the first death as we who believe will also, unless the Lord does not tarry any longer whilst we still live."

So right Ernst; How many are led into Spiritualism by falling for the myth that the dead go straight to heaven?

The "State of the Dead," or at least, the common misunderstanding of it, has lead to much evil.

10 January 2014 at 09:24  
Blogger Len said...

If Jesus is available to listen to you why go to someone else?

If you wanted to know something from me why not ask me instead of my mother?.
Frankly I would find it slightly puzzling and quite insulting . I wounder if Jesus feels the same? Jesus carried out all the work necessary for salvation and you go through a third party?.

10 January 2014 at 10:33  
Blogger Len said...

Prayers to the dead(Mary is certainly dead and not the mythical 'mary 'of Catholicism) are extremely dangerous because there are many deceiving spirits who are only too ready to 'answer' your prayers.

Jesus Christ is alive and the only Mediator between man and God and He is the only one who has the God given authority to do so.
Jesus Christ is our mediator because He stood in our place at Calvary and suffered our death for our sins.
To pray to the' mary ' of Catholicism is futile and extremely foolish.

10 January 2014 at 10:45  
Blogger Len said...

It never ceases to amaze me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is as much an offence to some religions (even those purporting to be' christian') as it is to the heathen.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Power and the Wisdom of God and I suppose that is the reason for the offence.
I suppose if you think you can save yourself to be then told you can do nothing is a major blow to ones pride and self esteem?.

10 January 2014 at 11:15  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

IanCad said...

Dear fella

Let Ernst clarify as you appear to have grasped something old me did not say.

No man was in heaven prior to Christ walking the earth and being crucified, dead and buried until He rose again on the third day.

Now Christ has ascended and taken the faithful from Abrahams bosom (He made a show of His triumph), there are now the faithful in Heaven with Him but NONE were prior to this event.

Christ is the first fruit.

The bodies are still in the graves awaiting immortaility at the trumpet call.


10 January 2014 at 11:33  

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