A Structure for Anglican Religious Instruction in a Grammar School

In grammar school – that is, the university track (maybe 15% of the population) rather than the trade school track, or German Gymnasium rather than Realschule – religion classes in forms 1–6 (or grades 7–12) could be sequenced as follows:

Form 1, Alexander Nowell’s Middle Catechism (1572).

Form 2, First Book of Homilies (1547).

Form 3, Second Book of Homilies (1571).

Form 4, John Jewel’s Apology for the Church of England (1562), Richard Hooker’s ‘Learned Discourse of Justification’ (1585), and Christopher Wordsworth’s lectures On the Canon of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament (1848).

Form 5, John Pearson’s Exposition of the Creed (1659); or else James Gorle’s Analysis of Pearson on the Creed, an abridgement with basic examination questions), compared with parts of Zacharias Ursinus’s Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (1584) for a broader view of the Reformed tradition.

Form 6, Edward Harold Browne’s Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles (1887), sometimes compared with expositions by William Beveridge (1669, incomplete, running only to Article 30) and William Griffith Thomas (1930), for a detailed understanding of the confession of the English Reformed tradition.

The Psalter would be said through once every month at daily Morning and Evening Prayer, with prizes for memorization of the whole Psalter. Other books of the Bible could well be studied whole or excerpted in literature and rhetoric classes, with Proverbs for example supplying maxims for progymnasmata composition exercises alongside (say) the maxims of La Rochefoucauld.

Upon graduation from high school, the top 2% of male students, confirmed and subscribing to the 39 Articles ex animo, could be trained for the diaconate from that age as inductive Bible study leaders, liturgical readers, acolytes, and keepers of accounts. Others can be deacons as well, of course, but I think the top 2% percent especially should be recruited if spiritually suitable, and of this number some who are able to teach may also be called to serve as presbyters. After all, why should the clerics on the whole be intellectually less capable than the doctors and lawyers? Let the ministry be filled with men who have the sound learning and intellectual ability to contend well for the gospel, through an educational system that trains those whom God has already endowed with suitable natural gifts. Then, because they already have some of the necessary education, their further training will not have to wait for undergraduate degrees, but can begin at once after high school.

Commemorative Processions in an Anglican Church

In Anglicanism, processions are probably most popular among Anglo-Catholics, and indeed historically the Church of England went without processions within church buildings (except entrance processions) for quite some time.

But this relative lack of processions is due more to accident of history than to a reforming plan, and certainly there is no Reformed principle against walking to pray or praying while walking. If we want to restore vigil worship and instruction on the nights before feast days, processions may well form a part of that plan. The point is not to instruct the people by reason alone, but also to bring along their bodies into remembrance of what God has done and will do, and thus to build up good Christian cultural habits to leaven a whole people.

According to Sally Elizabeth (Roper) Harper, writing in Medieval English Benedictine Liturgy: Studies in the Formation, Structure, and Content of the Monastic Votive Office, c. 950–1540,

Most processions consisted of three stages: in eundo, where the procession left the choir, a focal statio, or station, and finally in redeundo, the return to choir. The outward phase was normally accompanied by a borrowed respond, or sometimes a proper processional antiphon or hymn. At its destination (an altar or chapel, the rood or some other focal point), the procession stopped for a versicle and collect, sometimes said with an antiphon. The third stage of the procession, in redeundo, was effectively a self-contained memorial. An antiphon (or less often a respond) was sung as the procession moved off from the station, usually halting for the versicle and collect at the choir-step. Often the independence of this final stage was emphasized in that it honoured a quite different saint or intention from the preceding parts of the procession (quite commonly the patron).

The first two of these stages are fairly straightforward. In eundo, the procession would leave the church chancel and sing a hymn or anthem as it went. Arriving at its destination, in statione, the procession would stop for a versicle and collect. For example, at the end of Evensong on Christmas Day, the procession would remember St Stephen for the next day. Leaving the chancel, the procession might be accompanied by the hymn ‘Saint of God, Elect and Precious’.

The procession would stop at its station, some place where St Stephen would most readily come to mind:

V. Behold, I see the heavens opened.
R. And the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Grant, O Lord, that in all our sufferings here upon earth, for the testimony of thy truth, we may stedfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed; and, being filled with the Holy Ghost, may learn to love and bless our persecutors by the example of thy first Martyr Saint Stephen, who prayed for his murderers to thee, O blessed Jesus, who standest at the right hand of God to succour all those that suffer for thee, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

Upon the return, if the procession was not already in commemoration of the saint after whom the church was named, then a fitting anthem commemorating that titular saint would be sung. For example, in a Reformed cathedral named after the Blessed Virgin Mary, an acceptable Marian anthem would be sung, perhaps one from the Song of Songs, directing prayer toward no one but God. These words by Thomas Ken could also fit quite well:

1. Her Virgin eyes saw God incarnate born,
When she to Bethl’em came that happy morn;
How high her raptures then began to swell,
None but her own omniscient Son can tell.

2. As Eve when she her fontal sin reviewed,
Wept for herself and all she should include,
Blest Mary with man’s Saviour in embrace
Joyed for herself and for all human race.

3. All saints are by her Son’s dear influence blest,
She kept the very Fountain at her breast;
The Son adored and nursed by the sweet Maid
A thousandfold of love for love repaid.

4. Heaven with transcendent joys her entrance graced,
Next to his throne her Son his Mother placed;
And here below, now she’s of heaven possest,
All generations are to call her blest.

Then would follow the Collect for the Annunciation, with a versicle and response before it.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
R. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Let us pray.

We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

But if the procession was already in commemoration of the Holy Virgin rather than St Stephen, then instead in redeundo an anthem should be sung for the Feast of All Saints, and then the collect following with its versicle and response before it.

V. Be glad, O ye righteous, and rejoice in the Lord.
R. And be joyful, all ye that are true of heart.

Let us pray.

O almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Easter Day to Ascension, the anthem in redeundo would be better replaced with one about the Resurrection, perhaps to one of those which the Prayer Book orders for Morning Prayer on Easter Day.

V. The Lord is risen from the grave.
R. Who hung for us upon the tree.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, whose beloved Son for our sake willingly offered himself to endure the agony and shame of the Cross: Remove from us all cowardice of heart, and give us courage to take up our cross and bear it patiently in his service; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Who Heads the Church When the King Is a Heathen?

A question of political theology I have considered, I recently saw addressed by the German Reformer Wolfgang Musculus, translated by John Man of Merton College, Oxford, in Common Places of the Christian Religion (London, 1578), ¶ ‘Magistrates’, § ‘Whether that the Magistrate have authority to take order in religion or no’, pages 1303–1304. The question is this:

Some man will say: What if the faithful people have no faithful Magistrate, but are subject unto an ungodly prince and enemy of true religion, in whom shall then the power be for the charge of religion? When the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt and Babylon, and subjected unto the power of those wicked kings, unto whose jurisdiction did the charge of the true Religion appertain to at that time?

It is easy enough to see, in Protestant political theory, that the Christian magistrate has cura religionis (care of religion) by divine ordinance; what some writers seem to say little of is the question relevant to Christians who face persecution, whether in China or in Afghanistan: When the chief magistrate is not even a professing Christian, is he the temporal head of the Church within his country? Who is in charge of true religion?

I answer: It did appertain unto the very kings of the Egyptians and Babylonians unto whom they were subject. It was their duty [i.e., the kings’ duty] both to understand and to serve the Lord, by whom they did reign, and also to have the care and order of his true religion. And whereas they did the contrary, it was an ungodly abuse of their good authority, whereunto the people of God was not bound at all to obey. So when Nebuchadnezzar did set up an image of gold, and commanded it to be worshipped, he was not to be hearkened to: but then men were bound to hearken unto him, when he forbade by open proclamation that no man should blaspheme the name of the true God, the God of Israel.

This is a hard saying; many cannot accept it. It is especially hard to those who come from cultures that speak often of ‘separation of chuch and state’, or of the autonomy of ‘the Church’ (read: the clerics) from the operation and even the jurisdiction of the magistrate. In support of the notion that Christian believers are a societas perfecta (complete society) that needs no magistrates, neither dependent nor bound to obey, Christians may even cite 1 Corinthians 6, where St Paul writes against the Corinthians’ taking each other to court in front of unbelievers. That is indeed the political theology promoted by Rome and, in their own way, the Anabaptists such as the Amish. It also seems pious to defend the rights of ‘the Church’ against the merely ‘secular’ hands of ‘the state’, and so papists and Baptists alike are prone to circling the wagons when (for example) a cleric is accused of sexual assault or the like. This is the logic of Thomas Becket, who was not martyred for the faith. Musculus, in contrast, exemplifies a different political theology that insists that the chief magistrate, even when he is a heathen, is temporal head of the Church within his own commonwealth.

Xi's Dictatorship Threatens the Chinese State - WSJ

Having upheld the temporal headship of the king even in ‘churchly’ matters, Musculus then describes a descending chain of authority, such as Charles Bartlett also described a decade ago in terms of the Church of England’s Litany:

When the kings are wicked and adversaries to godliness, the charge of religion comes to the priests and elders of the people, such as at that time Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, etc. were judges, priests, and elders of that people, after the captivity until the time of our saviour Christ. And when they also became corrupt, the power of the charge and order of religion was put over by Christ himself unto the Apostles, and to the ministers of the word, until the time that kings and princes began to understand the truth of God, to believe in the Lord, and to serve him. And how they used this power, we may perceive by their laws. But in case that neither kings nor princes, nor the priests nor elders, not the people itself, should taken upon them the care of well ordering religion, but should go out a contrary way from the word of God, so that the saying of Jerome should be fulfilled, ‘There are wonders and marvels done in the earth, the prophets do prophecy falsely, and the priests do clap their hands at it, and like it well, and the people do love such’: then there is no safety else, but that every husband and master of his family must practise the power of religion in his own house, and dispose and order the same, according unto the prescript of God’s word. So the matters were done in the times of the Fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

So we see a chain of descending authority in the care of religion, from kings in the first place, to the priests and elders of the people, to extraordinary ministers of the word, to the people itself exercising authority on its own behalf, and finally to the patriarchs of every family. But the substitution was only ‘until the time that kings and princes began to understand the truth of God, to believe in the Lord, and to serve him’. When kings and princes began to believe in the gospel, they began to use their God-given supreme power to foster true religion in their realms. This is not a Constantinian stage the Church has grown out of, but the norm and the ideal to which God bids us aim in the conduct of temporal affairs.

Why Call Mary the Mother of God?

‘Moreover we confess that the Son of God was born of the blessed Virgin and we do not hesitate to call Mary the Mother of God.’ So says Peter Martyr Vermigli in his Dialogue on the Two Natures in Christ (Thomas Jefferson University Press, 1995; reprinted by the Davenant Institute), Topic II: On the Property of the Natures in Christ, 2:59.

This is Reformed. Both the theology and the practice are 100% Protestant.

Maryja – Parafia Matki Bożej Częstochowskiej w Lubinie

Some Protestants may object that the point is fruitless and unnecessary to make, and that the title Mother of God is both needless and confusing. When would it be relevant and ædifying?

Suppose that we reflect on the Incarnation over several weeks. Suppose that we come to the thought that God the Son deigned to be born of a woman: as the hymn Te Deum says, ‘When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.’ Then suppose that we look at the same event from the other end: God gave a woman, living under the curse placed upon Eve, the privilege of becoming the Mother of her own Creator. Viewed this way, Mary’s becoming the Mother of God is one part of Christ’s fulfilment of Psalm 8, where the Psalmist says,

What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Is this not what God the Son began to do in becoming the son of a woman, and what he completed in ascending to the right hand of God the Father to reign over heaven and earth as a man? Already in Mary’s becoming the Mother of He-Who-Is-God, Christ was beginning to crown mankind with a glory and honour that was until then unimaginable.

Perhaps that doesn’t do much for you, and you may feel unsure why it should.

But Luke 1.42–43, I think, encourages us to have the same response of the heart as Elizabeth had, mutatis mutandis. Jesus is so holy, and he has both received and conferred such privilege for believing mankind, that even the arrival of his holy vessel elicits from Elizabeth the exclamation, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ It is a godly and indeed prophetic response to the dignity with which Christ, by his incarnation in the womb of a woman, has crowned Mary and all mankind. May these contemplations, called to memory by Mary’s title ‘Mother of God’, magnify God’s holy Name and cause our spirits to rejoice in God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Making Excuses for Divorce

Lol:

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "Jory Micah, M.A. Christian Doctrine... @jorymicah I guess there is no better time to say this. My husband & I are officially separated. I'll always love & respect him, but bc our fundamentalist background, our marriage has been rocky since the beginning, but man did we fight for us. Now it's time to fight for ourselves & heal. 8:25 a.m. 11 Aug. 21 Twitter for iPhone 6 Retweets 4 Quote Tweets 1,360 Like"

Ungodly woman does not want to obey husband, uses psychobabble (e.g. ‘fight for ourselves’, ‘heal’) to justify divorce. Many such cases.

I pass over the fact that this woman præsumes to ‘teach’ in the Church, something clearly forbidden according to Scripture. The healing that this character needs will come only through repentance.

Our Future Belongs to the Lord

This 1978 Cantopop song, which I recently learned, has sentiments of James and Ecclesiastes, but in a happy light:

無論有幾多變遷,何必諸多掛牽?
過了今天,再有一天,仲有幾個十年。
願望係做個預算,夢幻係自我去編,
無謂去搵個道理,把你欺騙。

命裡係注定從前,夢境係一片胡言,
唯有我永遠面對目前。
明日話今天,昨天亦提到
想到舊年 更多挑戰。

迎面有幾多變遷,誰知道邊一個先?
這裡高山,那裡滄海,在那天變良田?
實在係話變就變,預伏在樂趣前面,
前面有千變萬化,不會睇見。

(Approximate English translation on Lyrics Translate.)

This Amazing Lifehack Will Scare All the Leftoid Students

A big, beautiful Anglican gulag will frighten leftoid students more than the darkest Soviet gulag: mandatory attendance at daily Morning and Evening Prayer; Litany on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; the Commination on Ash Wednesday; orthodox Christian sermons and no phones; pictures of saints in the hallways; Tallis and no pop music; farmwork.

Modern Problems, Traditional Knowledge: Parking Structures

Anyone want to tell me why people don’t build parking structures like this?

Gothic, Arches, Architecture, Old, arch, stone, monastery, historic,  medieval, historical | Pxfuel

I recognize that the ramps between storeys may be a challenging problem architecturally – but that’s just part of the challenge of architecture. I want people to think carefully about solutions to modern problems, solutions that sustainably draw from a genuine knowledge of tradition, without imitating slavishly. It’s a rebuke against the inhuman transhumanist and a call to be human again.

We don’t have to have ugly parking structures: even a parking structure can be made dignified and human. Part of me doesn’t want neoliberal technocrats to use traditional architecture to deceive people, in much the same repulsive way as they try to brand their companies as ‘family’, but I do think orthodox Christians should use traditional architecture to offer a true alternative to the stultifying world offered by the neoliberals – not as a subculture, but as an apocalyptic sign of a coming kingdom, a witness against the wicked.

‘National Conservatism’ II: The National Conservatism That Isn’t

I recently caught wind of some ‘national conservative’ conference, about which Brad Littlejohn seems rather excited:

I am distinctly less impressed. Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, Peter Thiel, perhaps US chauvinists – particularly against nations DC wishes to subdue with sanctions, coups, and compradors – but none of them actual nationalists. And of the other speakers, what does Ayaan Hirsi Ali know of nationalism, a 2000s liberal who left her country and religion – indeed, legitimate religion altogether – for a distinctly antinational vision of the United States? (For comparison, see Degtyarov on Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.) What does Dave Rubin, an irreligious Koch-funded sodomite and classical liberal, know of conservatism?

Far from strengthening the foundations for the political place of traditional Christianity as such in America, such a speaker lineup seems designed to sap away at those foundations. Or if its speakers attack even traditional madhhabi Islam, rather than Salafi sectarian violence in particular, then perhaps they will wish also to attack the problematic conduct of Pharisees in Brooklyn and elsewhere. But no: these speakers serve that irreligious thing called The West™, so they could not possibly support the political supremacy in America of the historic Christian faith.

How is this national conservatism? They might as well bring on Ben Shapiro, Charlie Kirk, and the whole Turning Point USA crowd to OWN the liberals with FACTS and LOGIC. They’re free to have such a conference; just don’t call it national conservatism.

Mosaic v. the Place des Vosges

Who wore it better?

Mosaic District, Merrifield, an ‘up-and-coming’ neighbourhood in northern Virginia:

The Place des Vosges, Paris, France:

An aerial view of the Place des Vosges, Paris

In terms of a memorable and pleasant look, there is no comparison, I think. Both places are mixed-use developments with commerce on the ground floors and homes on the upper floors, but that is about where the similarity ends. Mosaic is generic drivel of the 2010s, a forgettable piece belonging nowhere; the Place des Vosges is decidedly French, 17th-century but timeless, a place whose very appearance invites you to visit again and again.

And lest it be thought that the Place des Vosges has no parking or anything silly like that, behold, street parking:

And on the lower floors what you see is a covered walkway, separated from the street by an arcade (row of arches), and walking a circuit along this covered walkway you pass by the entrances to cafés, wine bistros, restaurants; art galleries, museums, and a theatre; boutiques for perfumes, clothes, hand-crafted soap, and more.

The thing is, the amount of money put into Mosaic could have built in northern Virginia something as beautiful and worth visiting as the Place des Vosges. Mosaic’s residential buildings go up 6 storeys, comparable to the Haussmann residential buildings seen all over Paris, which usually have 5–7 storeys. For about the same money as it takes to build the mind-numbing houses of Mosaic, suitable for eunuchs and hussies, one can build something dignified and memorable for everyone to enjoy, not to mention more environmentally sustainable. Why was this not done? The only real answer is the depraved spiritual condition of the society in which Mosaic was built.

Why Secondary Burial? Tradition, to Stand Against Globalism

A master of disposal of skeletal remains demonstrates the meticulous sequence for placing the remains in the ‘golden pagoda’ (urn). Photo by 陳亮華, for Apple Daily.

Some people may ask, Why? I ask, Why not? I don’t even care why we deep-southern Chinese originally began to bury the dead and collect their bones seven years later for secondary burial 執骨: if it’s lawful and not burdensome, it should be done, because it’s been done for more than 2000 years, before the region was even Chinese. If we Christians need to, we can invent new Christian reasons for maintaining or reviving the practice. My instinct is just that we have to do this kind of thing to stand against globalist forces bent on destroying our culture.

Against the 1979 Edit to the Prayer of Humble Access

Recently, a friend asked me my opinion on The Episcopal Church’s 1979 Rite 1 edit to the Prayer of Humble Access in the Book of Common Prayer.

The edit

The original says, in the Prayer Books of 1552, 1559, and 1662 (and in America, 1789, 1892, and 1928),

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

The 1979 edit omits the purpose clause that says, ‘that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood’.

The friend’s opinion

To my friend, someone who loved the original version, the 1979 edit made quite a bit of sense. The original Prayer of Humble Access, he thought, could easily be ‘misunderstood’ to mean that the body and blood of Christ had different effects from each other: thus, he said, the prayer would give the impression that the bread/body redeemed our bodies and the wine/blood cleansed our souls, when in reality both elements did both things.

My own judgement

On the omission of the clause ‘that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood’, my judgement was completely different.

First, we Anglicans haven’t the notion that one or the other is sufficient. Jesus said eat and drink, not eat or drink. It seems to be that the authors, in the wording of the Prayer of Humble Access, intentionally distinguished the effect of the body and effect of the blood. The two elements’ effects they did not distinguish strictly, but rhetorically. The authors did not deny absolutely that the bread and the wine could be interchangeable (or, in the language of Rome, concomitant), but they did more than merely refer to God’s command to take both bread and wine: going further, they distinguished the effects of bread and wine rhetorically, to connect body with body and blood with blood, the body of Christ with the body of man, and the blood of Christ with the soul of man. The body of Christ is a human body, and the blood is the symbol of the soul (‘but flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat’, Genesis 9.4), and thus the joining of body with body and blood with blood would be the believer’s union with Christ in both body and soul. Thus, distinguishing in words between the effects of the bread and those of the wine encourages people to receive communion in both kinds (i.e., both bread and wine); and not only so, but it implies a theological basis for doing so, a basis more intelligible to us, and apter to help us know God, than simply ‘Jesus said so’.

Second, the effect of the clause’s 1979 omission has been to weaken the worshipper’s sense of original and actual sin’s effects on both body and soul, and that weakening (not all caused by the change in the Prayer of Humble Access, of course) has been devastating in the last 50 years. We need all the help we can get in strengthening the Church’s confession that sin pollutes both our bodies and our souls, and that Christ cleanses both. In terms of our standing before God, he does so through our faith in his promises (without needing to count any good deeds on our part), so that the full promise of the Last Day is ours in potentiality; in terms of our character and knowledge of God, so that we bear God’s image in full, he does so by increasingly filling us with us his own perfect character as we struggle to live as Christians and fight against sin. To omit a clause on how Christ makes our sinful bodies clean by his body, and washes our souls through his most precious blood, is to aid the neglect of this saving doctrine.

Third, the Church very much needs an emphasis on the sacramental salvation of the body, as against visions of salvation that concern only the naked soul and are curtailed, cut off, to leave only a justification that happens in a moment. Rather than being content with such a mutilated salvation, we need to bear the crucifixion of Christ in our bodies, as St Paul did (Galatians 6.17; Philippians 1.20; 3.17–21; Colossians 1.24), identifying in our very bodies with the body of the Christ who was crucified for our sins and raised on the third day to bring us to peace with God and the full measure of what God intended for man created in his image. This salvation of our body and all its works, this participation in Christ, happens through the sacraments. The two sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are God’s visible word to us, that we may take his offer of salvation for ourselves and make it our own continually. To cease to mention the cleansing of our human body by the body of Christ, then, would be to refuse a great help to a full understanding of what God in Christ is doing in our bodies by his Holy Spirit.

For these reasons, I think we would gain nothing from allowing that this clause be omitted, and we should give thanks that it remains in many places and in other places (such as those that have switched from the 1979 to the 2019 ACNA Prayer Book) has been restored, that the Lord’s people may better partake of his gifts and thereby know him in body and soul.

Immigration, Citizenship, and the Law of Moses’s Discrimination Among Nations

Deuteronomy 23 discriminates among several nations and their relation to the congregation of Israel and its covenant:

He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.

An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever: because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee. Nevertheless the Lord thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee. Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.

Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land. The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the Lord in their third generation.

Draw your conclusions from this example from the word of God, concerning what laws are lawful according to nature.

Ancestral Religion v. Marketplace of Ideas

On the one hand, some people wanting a religion to practise (or else just affiliate with) go with what their ancestors have done; on the other hand, some go with what appeals to them, with no regard for historical connexion. Many Christians today are likely to think the latter is better, but I disagree. It’s natural to start with the deity worshipped by your ancestors and try to understand that thoroughly first. I have less respect for people who judge all religions on an æqual footing, trying to choose as if religious belief is a ‘marketplace of ideas’. After all, the instinct that your ancestors were probably right about something in religion is a pious one. It’s just that, when the word of God himself comes to you, you must kowtow, because he is the God who made and sustains this whole world, not a god of some but the one God.

This is true even of someone from an Islamic or Hindu or Sikh background: rather than treating all religions as æqual and starting from nowhere, he must start from somewhere, and humanly that somewhere is whatever religious tradition his family and his nation already have. When the ray of God’s word pierces into the darkness, then either he will love the light and discard what’s wrong in his religious tradition, or he will hate the light and set himself against the gospel, to his own destruction. But a person purporting to judge religions out of nowhere, even if he does outwardly become a Christian, will have much difficulty in the Christian life because of his impiety toward his parents and his forefathers. Indeed, such a convert may make shipwreck of his faith and show himself to be reprobate and destined for hellfire. But if God has chosen him to be saved, the word of God is enough, and encouraging him to pose in a false neutrality will tend toward impiety rather than genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

Oratorio Idea: Josiah

I’m imagining an oratorio, Josiah, King of the Jews, the titular character being voiced by a countertenor – in my dreams, someone like Jakub Józef Orliński or Iestyn Davies – and the plot centred around the discovery of the long-lost book of Deuteronomy in the temple of the LORD. The oratorio is set in the 18th year of Josiah’s reign, in the waning years of the Assyrian empire, while Josiah energetically leads a national revival, breaking idols throughout the land and restoring the temple of the LORD.

Act 1 opens with Josiah troubled at the prophet and royal kinsman Zephaniah’s words about the day of the LORD in the midst of Judah’s national revival and overlord Assyria’s decline.

In Act 2, while the temple is being repaired upon Josiah’s orders, the young priest and prophet Jeremiah appears at the temple gates; upon those who have ‘healed’ the hurt of the people by putting their confidence in ‘the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD’, he pronounces certain doom. The people and Josiah are perplexed and displeased with Jeremiah’s words, but the oldest councillor remembers his father’s account of how Josiah’s great-grandfather Hezekiah broke the brazen serpent that Moses had made.

In Act 3, the book of the law of the LORD (viz., Deuteronomy) is found in the temple. Josiah tears his clothes and weeps when he hears the word of the LORD, and sends for the prophetess Huldah.

In Act 4, word returns from Huldah, saying that the LORD will surely bring evil upon Jerusalem and its inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah, because the people have forsaken the LORD; yet, on account of Josiah’s tender heart before the LORD, this evil will not come upon David’s house within Josiah’s reign. Josiah, relieved at the LORD’s kindness but sobered by the calamity that will befall Jerusalem after his time, prays that a future Anointed of the LORD may reverse the fortunes of the house of David according to what is written in the book of the law.

In Act 5, the people observe the Passover exactly 100 years after Josiah’s great-grandfather Hezekiah’s revival of the Passover, and slaughter the Paschal lamb for sacrifice with great rejoicing.