Traditionalism Without God? Forget It

Thinking traditionalists need to engage with the best of the tradition that was there before self-identified traditionalists and reactionaries wrote. These are the ones who successfully appealed to the common good rather than vituperating the world for not looking like the world of yesteryear. Hooker, Althusius, and Pufendorf seem to have done good work. People like Swift and Dávila are fun, but one does not build up society with them.

Otherwise, traditionalists are serving dead wood. Their wildest dreams are but fantasies of children they are impotent to beget.

Underlying the neoliberal order, however, is some kind of theology, even if at times what T. S. Eliot recognized as a very negative theology with no cohærent positive vision. A strong positive theology, as we see in the evil ISIS, can be quite powerful in the face of neoliberal impotence. But traditionalists who do nothing but negate modernity have no such power, and what they need to do is more than any human tradition: they need to stare at the face of God, see the image of God in their fellow men, and do what society’s betterment most requires. For this is an act of charity, an act that bears the fruit of the Spirit; and with such, for the sake of his Son, God is well pleased. An impotent traditionalist, in other words, is one who has forgotten that God is there; but someone who remembers his face in the mirror and never forgets the love of God is strong in the Spirit, able by faith, and at God’s good pleasure, to show wisdom and sometimes miraculous power.

Your Revival’s God Is Too Small

A month ago, Matt Wakeling wrote provocatively about the pitfalls of thinking about revival. Responses have been written by Elle Cronin, Ollie Ip, and Yannick Christos-Wahab. I’ll weigh in here so that my blog’s readers can also enter this conversation.

The success of gospel missions will be seen in repentance under the judgement of the Lord of hosts:

Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity! Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Woe to them that carry on in idolatry and in the worship of false gods. That is the way of death, and nations who follow it are like Sodom and Gomorrah, doomed to die. But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. A dead world is one that serves dead things, but a revived world is one that keeps an awed silence before the holiness of the glory of the Lord.

So we should not give up the Lord’s vision of a whole earth that worships him. This is the natural end to which creation is ordered, and anything short of this end is not enough. Nevertheless, Matt and Mrs Cronin have a good point, that we must remember that God is already everywhere working, and that the Father has set his choices unalterable, and the Son has already died for the sin of all men, and the Holy Ghost has been working right from the Fall to teach men virtue and give them faith. Let us not forget, then:

Whilst a number of traditional denominations in the UK report a struggle to keep numbers, church plants from various ‘Christian: Other’ denominations are continuing to grow and blossom. I think leaders and congregations can see true revival every week when someone new asks for prayer, or just a coffee and a chat. There is a sudden, heart-felt change, a breath of life, that may indeed set off a domino-effect in others. It might not. God is still there.

A nation is not revived, a community is not revived, unless its members are filled with the Spirit. Yet one person filled with the Spirit is through faith a member of the catholic Church, and his regeneration cannot be understood or even complete without the life of the holy Church. Let us not neglect that God works in the little things, the despised things, but let us also remember that the whole world, for whom God’s only-begotten Son died, is naturally meant (by God’s command) to serve as his holy priesthood. And mankind is by nature organized into many kinds of households: families, consociations, and nations. Let him deny the piety of national revival who denies the truth of Psalm 85:

Wilt thou be displeased at us for ever : and wilt thou stretch out thy wrath from one generation to another?
Wilt thou not turn again, and quicken us : that thy people may rejoice in thee?
Shew us thy mercy, O Lord : and grant us thy salvation.

The Lord has not finished dealing with families and nations, nor has he stopped blessing children for the sake of their faithful parents. His faithfulness is real. Though we do not understand it, nor elect for ourselves how he will accomplish his ends, we can and must pray for it to be manifest. Let us beg the Lord, not because we or our fathers have the merits – for we have no such merits – but rather because the Lord is pleased to work through the natural bonds of family while also grafting those into his Church who have never been Israelites.

Let it not be in hypocrisy, but in sincerity and truth, that we seek to serve our families and our nations and to build them up in godliness. The word of God itself demands that we seek for them the peace that only the Holy Ghost confers; but let us trust in the merits of Christ and the persuasion of his Holy Spirit, not in the earthly power and glory of all that tickles the ear and impresses the eyes. In other words, let us be chaste.

The empire of God is not found in the colonial hand of Rome, but instead our citizenship is in heaven. The glory we shall look for, the glory of which the knowledge is to fill all the earth, is to be found when the Lord Jesus Christ shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. As they used to say in the coronations of the Holy Roman Emperor, ‘Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat’: Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ gives the orders. For his everlasting glory, though his rule is also in the ministry of the civil power and the grave and learned rulings of godly bishops, we are to look not in the pomp of the world but in the leaven-like work of the Spirit. That alone is a sign of the righteousness that endures to everlasting life. Lift up, therefore, your hearts.

God has used the Roman, British, and American empires for his purposes, just as he has used the Assyrian and the Babylonian and the Persian. There have been good kings and bad kings, God-fearing kings and wicked kings. Yannick rightly draws our attention to the social advances effected through a Christian culture. (And, honesty, would anyone prefer the vile and anti-Christian culture of ISIS?) As Ollie says of the term revival, ‘what is needed is the word’s rehabilitation, such that “revival” is not seeking for a once “Christian” nation to be revived into the image of it’s [sic] former self, but for a broken creation to be revived into the image of the Kingdom of God.’ That is, if our vision is only for the nation to look respectable once again, our vision is too small. God was not contained in Rome, Britain, or America, for not even in ancient Israel was his kingdom contained. It is natural to look at nations and pray for nations – what else do overseas missionaries do? – but our eyes need to be catholic enough to look at Christ’s commission and the Holy Ghost’s emission for the whole world, and to count all other glories loss in comparison with the treasure that will not die.

Taking the bigger view, Ollie points out, ‘He is bringing the Kingdom, which is is something more than just evangelism and discipleship (neither of which I am devaluing in the slightest), but extends to include the ending of systemic injustice on a grander scale. War. Poverty. Sickness.’ So great and so profound are the systematic changes God calls for, and so inextricably bound with things particular to this life, that we who are honest about these changes cannot call them anything but Christendom. The Kingdom of God is no less than that. But it is more.

Perambulating Berkeley as Priests

The Mennonite historian and missiologist Alan Kreider says in ‘Ressourcement and Mission’, Anglican Theological Review 96.2 (2014), 260, ‘When we watch the Jerusalem Christians of the late fourth century practicing ambulatory, “stational” worship, we will think of ways that Christians in pluralist societies can give public demonstration to their faith.’ Especially if we ought to separate worship for the baptized and formation for those who are being initiated, yet in a time when believers are not persecuted and so are still free to appear openly in public as Christians, perhaps processions are a way for the Church to show her presence by reminding the world that its peace is secured by the ministry of Jesus Christ and the prayers of the Church.

Such a procession would probably start at the door of the church building or of the house where believers were accustomed to gather. From thence it would go to places of spiritual import, places that needed prayer. On the way to these places, the believers would sing psalms that were fitting for the occasion, and stopping at these stations they would give their prayers, which a man would articulate on behalf of the entire group in a short collect. This public exercise would require a sense of spiritual geography. Perhaps, turning from a place where Christian students lived, the procession would go toward a place where people ate. The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. And the prayer might be for those who ate, who were filled with good things by the hand of the Lord, that they would acknowledge him who had made all these things and come to know the peace of God offered in the holy gospel. Blessed for ever be his holy Name, in whom is all our help.

In-N-Out Gyros and other food court finds. By quite peculiar (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

And thence on to the university campus, a place of learning and hearts shrouded in darkness. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. For the law of the Lord is perfect, and the law of the Lord is the basis of all learning, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works. Teach us, O Lord, to know thy will displayed throughout the world, whose truths we discover in the many sciences. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. The whole world is a school for piety, and all its knowledge directed toward praise, if only the Father of all will give us understanding. Of the making of books there is no end, and God alone is the giver of delight. That those who read many words and write many words and speak many words may hear in the silences the word of the Lord, may God hear our fervent prayers. We stop at the lecture halls, the libraries, the laboratories. O Christ, hear us.

Sather Tower. By Michelle658 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

At the clock tower, one remembers that all men must live and die, and that praise must be sung to God for the time that is given us and the hour that is appointed for our death. And the only-begotten Son of God himself, incarnate as a man, has died for us and our salvation, and by his precious death and glorious resurrection has redeemed the race of sinful men, and we believe that he will come to be our judge at the Last Day and set all things right.

Sather Tower reflection. By OhOlek (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Therefore we look up to the heavens, whence the Son of Man is to come with power and glory, and remember the washing of regeneration which assures us that he will change this vile body into his glorious body, incorruptible. And in the meantime he is King.

Sproul Hall. By Prayitno Hadinata (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

All power and authority in heaven and on earth is in his hand. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away. The gates of hell shall not prevail against his kingdom, which shall have no end. Let the people praise him. Thy God hath commanded thy strength: strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us. Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee. Therefore shall no man stand against his will, but their hearts will melt like wax, and they will be scattered who will not do honour to his Name.

People’s Park. By Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Down the street the Christians go, to the park where beggars live, the Pool of Bethesda where the shadows lie. My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. It is a house of affliction and drugs. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. Let us pray that the Lord may lift up the countenances of those who are in the shadow of death, and show the glory of his Name. Hear us, Almighty God, that the waste may become the meadow of the blooming crocus, and the deaf hear, and the mute speak, and the lame dance for joy in thy righteousness.

Through all these places the believers went, for they trusted in God that he would deliver them. Through their prayers God looked upon the place and blessed the Church with great wisdom and power to give due priestly honour to his Name and proclaim the Desire of Nations. As they worked for love of their neighbour, the Holy Ghost moved upon the waters, and fear came upon the people to lighten their minds toward the knowledge of God.

Asking Pagans Not to Attend Church?

Or, ne paganos adducant liturgiæ, lest they bring pagans to the liturgy.

These days, it seems, most evangelicals think the way to minister to pagans is to invite them to the Church’s worship, supposing that the pagans, seeing our pious worship, will themselves be moved to piety. That was not the practice of the Church in her early days, who instead kept a measure of secrecy (or modesty?) and excluded those who were learning about the faith from seeing or taking part in believers’ worship services. Perhaps this is what we, too, ought to do, since calling people to attend believers’ worship – such as during the Great Awakening – was a practice more characteristic of times when those who were so called were already baptized. Perhaps the distinction between the worship of the faithful and the instruction of the hearers has been eroded by revivalism and forgetfulness, and we should guard it once more in an age when many are strangers again to the Church and to the Bible and its doctrines.

Related: ‘The Prayer Book in the Process of Evangelism’.

Ask Not for What Name the Bell Tolls

Jokes aside, and for all my writing about Anglican stuff, I am not actually interested in being a better Anglican. And neither, I think, have most Anglicans been. In a short guide to the duties of church membership (1955; HT: Lee Gatiss), Geoffrey Fisher and Cyril Garbett, archbishops respectively of Canterbury and York, listed nothing that was distinctively Anglican:

Following this example, I think it is important for the clergyman to show the people what it means to be Christian, not what it means to be Anglican. To do otherwise is to reduce the Anglican churches to a sect, boxed away from the great treasure of the catholic faith. Such a narrowness, such a mean-minded concern with the honour of Anglicanism, is not of the Kingdom of God, but is rather an ‘I follow Paul’ or ‘I follow Apollos.’ It were a great irony that Anglicanism, named not after a man but only after a national culture and its enactment of the gospel truth, should become the subject of painful introspection rather than a framework in which the ordinary Christian could find himself most free to sit under the teaching of Christ and, through his holy word and sacraments, be united to him in body and soul for the life of the world to come.

So it is not for the growth of Anglican churches that we must look, but for the growth of the holy catholic Church. In Chinese, in fact, the Anglicans are the 聖公會, the holy catholic Church, because that is the Church to which we belong.

Why look for a soul of Anglicanism? Anglicanism has no soul; or rather it has no other soul than that of Jesus Christ himself, who gave himself freely and sent his Holy Spirit, even the Spirit of truth, to abide with us for ever. No name, no earthly power and glory, is the glory of Anglicans, but only the great and holy Name of the blessed Trinity, who is ever to be praised, world without end.

Protestant Solemn Evensong

An evangelical Solemn Evensong for Sundays and red-letter days, based on and altered from Herbert George Morse’s Notes on Ceremonial from the Antient English Office Books.

§1. Preparations at the Lord’s Table and in the Vestry.

At the Lord’s Table the number of candles to be lighted will vary according to the Sunday or festival. The same candles and candlesticks should be used as at Solemn Eucharist, and it is not desirable to light a number of other small candles on the Lord’s Table or retable. If more light is required, the extra candles should be placed on brackets or elsewhere. The candle-bearers, vested in cassock and surplice, will light the candles.

If there is to be a procession after Evensong, the sacristan or cross-bearer will see that the processional cross is in the sanctuary set against the wall near the credence table or other convenient place. The banners also will be in church.

In the vestry, a cope for the officiating priest; surplices for deacon and clerk; sleeveless rochets for candle-bearers and thurifer; two portable candlesticks; and the censer with incense and charcoal (perhaps a perfuming pan) should be prepared before the commencement of the service.

§2. From the commencement of Evensong to the Magnificat.

Having said an introductory prayer in the vestry, the choir has no need to kneel for private prayer in the chancel. As soon as all are in their places the officiant, vested in surplice and hood, should at once commence the opening Sentences.

After pronouncing the Absolution, the priest will face east for all the preces.

It is fitting before the psalms to include the lucernarium, an ancient part of the service. Light is a practical need for a service that takes place when day turns into night, and it is natural that the Lord should be praised for giving us light, yea even being our true Light. The deacon will carry in the lighted candle and bring it before the priest.

Deacon. In the name of Jesus Christ, light with peace.
Answer. Thanks be to God.
Priest. The Lord be with you always.
Answer. And with thy spirit.

Hail! gladdening Light, of his pure glory poured
Who is th’immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of Holies: Jesus Christ our Lord!
Now we are come to the Sun’s hour of rest;
The lights of evening round us shine;
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!
Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung
With undefiled tongue,
Son of our God, giver of life, alone:
Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, they own. Amen.

[Outwith Easter week, lucernarium hymns may be found in the hymner edited by George Herbert Palmer, apart from those which promote unædifying practices.]

§3. The Magnificat

The psalms being ended, the officiant will go out of quire to the vestry. In the vestry he will put on a silken cope of the colour of the day over his surplice, and a Canterbury cap or college cap.

At the conclusion of the first Lesson, a little procession, consisting of the two candle-bearers carrying portable candlesticks with lighted candles as at Solemn Eucharist, followed by the thurifer, and behind him the priest in cope and Canterbury cap, will come from the vestry by the directest way to the step of the upper quire, where the candle-bearers and thurifer halt and arrange themselves for the priest (with deacon and clerk) to pass between them, with the candle-bearers at the ends of the line. The priest will have taken off his cap as he entered the quire, and on passing between the candle-bearers he gives it to the deacon as being on his right hand, and the thurifer takes it to the sedilia before returning behind the priest, deacon, and clerk.

The candle-bearers ascend immediately after the priest and put down their candles at once in the places where they would be at Solemn Eucharist, i.e. on the lowest step and as far apart as the length of the Lord’s Table, and themselves remain standing by their candles. Meanwhile the priest, the deacon, and the clerk stand in plano with their hands joined, the thurifer standing behind them, all facing east.

[That it is lawful to make a ceremony of burning incense before the Lord’s Table is questionable at best; nor is it reasonable to ape the usage of Rome. Therefore the censing of the Lord’s Table, which did not come into the Church’s general usage until the 11th or 12th century, should rather be omitted than copied from the unreformed churches. See also my post on moving incense in Holy Communion.]

Before beginning the Magnificat, the priest, with deacon and clerk, bows before the Lord’s Table and makes the sign of the Cross. Once the deacon has put incense into the censer, the thurifer then carries the censer through the quire and the nave, which done he will put away the censer in the sacristy and return to his place at the eastern end of the quire or near the sedilia. Meanwhile the candle-bearers stand by their candles, facing east.

Having bowed at the Gloria Patri, the priest then goes to the sedilia accompanied by the candle-bearers without their candles, which are left where they were first set down. He will stand at the sedilia facing north until the Antiphon after the Magnificat is ended, the candle-bearers standing on either side and somewhat in front of him facing each other.

§4. From the Second Lesson to the end of Evensong.

At the conclusion of the Antiphon, the priest will sit down for the second lesson, and with him the deacon and the clerk. The candle-bearers will arrange his cope, and give him his cap, which he will wear while seated. It is desirable to have placed near the sedilia a movable seat for the priest such that his cope can hang down behind without being sat upon. (The candle-bearers will remain standing.)

At the conclusion of the second Lesson the priest will remove his cap and stand up, the deacon and the clerk rising with him. They will stand during the Nunc dimittis, Creed, and V. and R. following. They will all kneel facing north, in the places where they are, at the words ‘Let us pray.’

At the last clause of the Lord’s Prayer the priest, deacon, clerk, and candle-bearers rise and return to the front of the Lord’s Table. Standing in plano they will all bow slightly towards the Lord’s Table, and the candlebearers will go off right and left to fetch their candles. While this move is being made by priest and candle-bearers, the thurifer will come from his place, with a book of the Office, to the left hand of the priest as he stands in the midst of the planum.

The thurifer standing at the left of the priest will hold the open book with his right hand, the upper part of the book resting on his left arm, in such manner that the priest may read from it.

Meanwhile the candle-bearers having taken up their candles and come near to the priest will stand on either side of him with their candles in their hands, facing each other, as at the Gospel in Holy Communion, the thurifer holding the book being between them.

[Contrary to the picture, the servers ought to wear surplices or sleeveless rochets.]

The priest at once begins: ‘O Lord, shew thy mercy upon us,’ &c., and continues to the end of the Collect ‘Lighten our darkness,’ &c.

At the conclusion of the Collects the thurifer passing behind the priest will carry the book to the credence table or sedilia and fetch the priest’s cap. As soon as the priest has received his cap he bows towards the Lord’s Table, the thurifer and candle-bearers bowing with him, and then at once returns to the vestry by the shortest way preceded by the candle-bearers and the thurifer in the same manner as they came in; the choir meanwhile singing the Anthem or hymn to be sung after the third Collect.

While the Anthem is being sung, the churchwardens may collect alms from the people.

The priest having taken off his cope will return to his stall in quire. He will not now wear his cap, though he may carry it in his hand.

The thurifer and candle-bearers, leaving the censer and candlesticks in the vestry, go into quire to the eastern ends of the lower stalls or other convenient places until they are required for the procession.

The Prayers after the third Collect will be said as at the commencement of the service, and ought not to be treated as ‘memorials’ to be said solemnly by the priest in cope. They may be said by the deacon or the clerk.

In blessing at the end of the prayers, the priest, turning to the people, will raise his right hand and say, ‘God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless, preserve, and keep you, this night and for evermore.’

Over the Fog and Sea

Thy leavin’s a week till Ash Wadensday:
Sae do thou repent then an’ turn that leaf over.
But I cannae keep thee, dear laddie.

O’er skies an’ rough waves an’ their power
I have but ‘fareweel’ now across the wide ocean
Tae send frae the cliffs of auld Dover.

The fog will envelop thy motion
Though pigeon do fly an’ God’s righteousness guide it
Tae bring us tae purer devotion.

Sae God be my witness. Benighted
Are vanity’s vapoury wishes; but he, in his mercy,
He keep thy guid fellaeship lighted.