Thinking Anglicans

views from the papers

The Tablet has an appreciation of Brother Roger by Alain Woodrow A man of peace cut down.

In the Telegraph Charles Moore thinks that Westminster Abbey was right to reject Hollywood’s 30 pieces of silver, while Christopher Howse discusses government attitudes to religion in A game that the Romans played, and a leader column discusses The Pope’s duty.

Dwight Longenecker writes in The Times about Roman Catholics in the USA: Roman road leads South to a brighter future.

More interesting than today’s godslot on Bible translation was the Guardian’s report yesterday Call to end state’s link with church. More about this is at the Fabian Society’s website, and the full article is Religion and the British state: a new settlement. Earlier in the week, Giles Fraser had written The idolatry of holy books which explores the parallels between Islam and the Christian reformers. He concludes:

For there can be few more chilling examples of theocratic fascism than Calvin’s Geneva. In toppling the authority of the clergy, he made it the responsibility of the civil magistrates to enforce the word of God. Spon, in his History of Geneva, writes: “In the year 1560, a citizen [of Geneva], having been condemned to the lash by the small council, for the crime of adultery, appealed from its sentence to the Two Hundred. His case was reconsidered, and the council, knowing that he had before committed the offence, and been against caught therein, condemned him to death, to the great astonishment of the criminal.” Elsewhere, Picot observes, “There were children publicly scourged, and hung, for having called their mother she-devil and thief. When the child had not attained the age of reason, they hung him by the armpits, to manifest that he deserved death.” Quite clearly, the fear that western liberals have of sharia law can hardly be appeased with reference to a reformed polity.

Rushdie’s suggestion that a reformed Islam might find a way beyond the besetting sins of anti-semitism, sexism and homophobia is also, alas, unlikely. Luther himself was famously and virulently anti-semitic. The Reformation did little for women, and the place to find the most neanderthal religious homophobia in Britain today is in an organisation called Reform. Until the Reformation finishes its work and trains its powerful commitment to iconoclasm on the sources of its own prejudice it will hardly be a model to hold up for other religious traditions to follow.

One of the most interesting articles this week is in the Church of England Newspaper: The hidden Bible – Mark Ireland asks why evangelists are neglecting the Bible. This reveals that:

One of the strange rules of thumb I’ve discovered, visiting many churches in my role as a diocesan missioner, is that the more evangelical the church is, the fewer verses of the Bible you are likely to hear read in worship. When I go to a church in the central or liberal tradition, I will always encounter two Bible readings. When I go to one of the catholic parishes in the diocese, I will usually hear four pieces of Scripture read – Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament and Gospel – with the words printed out on the service sheet for the people to follow. However, when I visit an evangelical parish, I will usually hear only one passage of the Bible.

And finally, the Financial Times reports on what happened when Jonathan Miller visited St Mary’s Primrose Hill: True disbeliever.

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DaveSimon SarmientoKeith KimberJ. C. FisherMark Beaton Recent comment authors
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Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

re Mark Irelands piece. I have been rather saddened to discover that in a no of evangelical churches when there is a Gospel reading people no longer stand to hear it.

Martin Reynolds
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A host of very interesting pieces gathered together for us, thanks Simon.
The Giles Fraser offering I found to be one of his best.

Dave
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Dave

” the place to find the most neanderthal religious homophobia in Britain today is in an organisation called Reform” Hmm, I may be too liberal for Reform, but I do not think they are either neanderthal or homophobic – unless Giles Fraser just mean them as terms of abuse for anyone who is not a supporter of “gay lib”. I saw a debate on Channel 4 a while ago with, as I remember it, David Holloway and folk from Reform one one side and Richard Kirker of LGCM on the other. Reform’s supporters (well Jesmond Parish Church I think) included… Read more »

Robert
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Robert

Odd rule of thumb, that. My experience is the opposite! At our (evangelical) church we have regular readings of the Scriptures, we have songs which are based on the scriptures, and the sermon is always very much based on the scriptures. When I have been to churches in the centre or liberal tradition, whilst quite often there is a scripture reading, there are occasions when there has been none, and sermons often come over as a homily with Christ left out entirely – a mish-mash of sociological or political statements that may often be thought provoking, but might as well… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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On the matter of Bible reading, the Anglican tradition of Bible reading owes much to the tradition of lectio divina.
Perhaps the churches the author of this article has been visiting would espouse the following remark I found in a book review recently:
“Of course, there were a handful of things I didn’t care for. One is Dan’s emphasis on lectio divina, silence, and listening prayer- all of which I believe to be dangerous practices not supported by Scripture.”
Interesting ….. ?

Mark Beaton
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Mark Beaton

Giles Fraser’s take on the Reformation is difficult to credit. The Reformers objected to pictorial and statuary representations of God as a violation of the Second Commandment. It was a replay of the great crisis of the eighth century (and significantly, to this day the Orthodox, for all their icons, will not abide religious statues). Of course the Reformers had no problem at all with the idea that God reveals Himself (= speaks) in the Scriptures; in fact all of Christianity agreed with that. A word is not an icon, though sacraments may be verba visibilia. If you reject the… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

We may not stand up for the reading of the Gospel in every evangelical church, but we do believe it!

J. C. Fisher
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Having been a life-long Episcopalian (43 years), in several different parts of the U.S. (East, West, Midwest), I can testify that one of the things which so move me about my church is the intentionality with which I observe Episcopalians “hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” the Scriptures. (Collect for Proper 28, BCP p. 236) Of course, talent for preaching varies widely. But the vast majority of Episcopal churches of my acquaintance print the Sunday lessons in the bulletin, so even IF there is a substandard homily (few is the time I can recall utter clunkers, though I may… Read more »

Keith Kimber
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Systematic liturgical reading of scripture in the Anglican tradition indeed provides lots of food for thought and personal reflection, irrespective of the quality of preaching. In fact, it balances out the tendency for the sermon to be more of a showcase for preaching egos, than a vehicle for the Spirit. Public scripture reading allows individuals to let the Word form in their imagination and understanding. Sometimes, I think there we are reading too many words to chew on all in one go. However, reducing scripture content to a few select sentences and/or a lot of musical doggerel is editorial licence… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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About this business of never having multiple scripture readings at main Sunday services, here’s someone, well David McCarthy in fact, who defends the practice at his church:
http://gadgetvicar.typepad.com/gadgetvicar/2005/08/bible_readings_.html

I wonder what the canons of the SEC have to say on this topic?

Simon Sarmiento
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And here is another eyewitness report about no less than All Souls Langham Place, where amazingly NO lessons at all were read prior to the sermon. http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/?p=8507#comment-303708 “In early June, during an Anglican Heritage tour, my wife and I attended All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, a famous Church of England evangelical congregation where John Stott is rector emeritus. We found no evidence of the Prayer Book tradition or of Anglican liturgy. It was a general evangelical service, with only eight verses of Scripture read (the sermon text) and many hymns and choruses (praise songs) sung. I later learned… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

I’m somewhat concerning if the Bible gets sidelined or subordinated to experience as the CEN’s writer seems to be suggesting… Christians who don’t know their Bibles well are inevitably weak in the faith, and vulnerable to being led astray ! However you may find that many people attending these evangelical CofE churches also study the Bible during daily personal “Quiet Times” and in small groups that meet during the week. Instead of criticising “form” of liturgy, it would be more interesting to check the time spent per week on Bible reading, the bible knowledge of church members, and their level… Read more »