Johannes Althusius, in Politica (1603):

‘To be sure, persons are not to be suffered who are openly and publicly atheists, who take action against the magistrate, who promote unnecessary wars, who support shameful acts in public, and who deny, break, or call into doubt the articles necessary for salvation.’

The state cannot ensure that everyone believes in God, nor should it expel those who do not believe, but it can and should do what it takes to support public submission to what God requires of the nation.

A Call to Christians Drawn toward Paganism

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Brethren, to be saved is not only to be caught out of the evil age but also to be given the power to build for the kingdom without end, to be cleansed now in promise of a crown of glory. Many take no care for their words, and corrupted names lead to corrupted practices, whereas rectified names lead to rectified practices. An informed Protestant knows, as does all of Christendom who knows the catholic faith rightly, that we have been saved in Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, are being saved in Christ’s intercession in heaven and gift of the Holy Ghost, and will be saved in Christ’s coming in glory at the Last Day. Do not be shaken by those who introduce all manner of innovation in the name of religion: in the end they will be confounded, and their corruptions destroyed.

The system of works and doctrine, necessary as these are, is the framework for the mystical life, which is the presence of Christ’s Holy Spirit through faith in the selfsame Christ. Indeed, we must consider how they were saved who were counted righteous before the coming of God’s only-begotten Son in the flesh: they too, as the Apostle says, pleased God by faith, knowing that he is, and that he rewards all who diligently seek him. Thus Abraham believed, and through faith he was counted righteous; for, as the Psalmist would say, Christ was his light and his salvation. It is possible, therefore, among those who have not heard the gospel fully laid out, that they that do not explicitly know Christ are saved through him, just as all were saved of old before his coming in the flesh. In this way, those of our ancestors were saved who put their ultimate trust in God himself: O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.

Therefore we can trust God. No one but he sees the secrets of every heart; and whatever truth remains from Noah down to the present, and whatever else is by man inferred from the law of nature, is the basis of religion on which men knew God, and solely indeed through Christ the life-giving truth, God of God, light of light, very God of very God; begotten, not made; being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made. That this is so, and that this was how any man could have been saved before the full knowledge of Christ, in no way requires postmodern thought, but is all within classical Christian thought. To say such things, one has not even for a moment to step out of catholic Christian doctrine: far from being a perennialist thing, it is a simple recognition of the facts.

Nevertheless, to return from the full revelation of the truth of Christ to shadows and figures is to turn away, like the Jews, to a darkened mind. Simply put, to do so is foolhardy and must needs be in substance a rejection of person of Christ, and thus of God, who is whole and entire, without parts or any possible division. The condemnation that hangs over the Jews is the fire that burns him who turns from the greater to the lesser, who having seen the only God turns from him to the worship of idols. Lady Wisdom calls to all: Be wise.


Oswald Mosley on the good sense of British abstention from Jewish quarrels:

‘We, always rejected the nonsensical doctrine that a whole people were born wicked, and doomed to sin and damnation from birth. This is the deep moral and intellectual error of anti-Semitism, which has for a long period impeded the whole movement of European renaissance; despite all its wide diversity of form, in different countries. Neither before, during, nor after the war, did we have anything to do with the doctrine of anti-Semitism. Our policy now remains the same. When after the war, at the time of Suez, some Jewish interests were trying to drag us to war, not in a British, but Jewish quarrel, we again attacked them. We have neither fear nor favour; we attack men not for what they are, but for what they do. When you see in some periods little or nothing about Jews, in our speeches or publications, it does not mean that we have changed our principles, but that at this time we see nothing to quarrel about. We only attack a Jew, a Gentile, an Englishman or an Eskimo, when he is doing something against the interests of Britain.’

Salus Populi: Ne Me Frego

I saw the Son of Heaven prostrate then,
Before the pow’r of opium specie prone,
Helpless to heal the people in his ken
With spirit-potency from heaven’s throne.
I see all Europe’s craven rulers now
And sov’reign peoples flooded in to town;
And will salvation come? To greed all bow,
Not knowing how in death’s passion they drown.
And once the black king of the south did rise
Condemning, once Hawai‘ian island queen
Bear witness to the crimes, high pity’s cries,
To heaven’s judgement. And has heaven seen?
O lawless! think you now that none will see
Your niente fatto? You will have no plea.


St John Chrysostom:

‘I am often reproached for continually attacking the rich. Yes, because the rich are continually attacking the poor. But those I attack are not the rich as such, only those who misuse their wealth. I point out constantly that those I accuse are not the rich, but the rapacious; wealth is one thing, covetousness another. Learn to distinguish.’


‘ “Well,” said Charlotte, “I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were married to him [Bingley] to-morrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness as if she were to be studying his character for a twelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.” ’

Says the old maid, I suppose. Perhaps arranged marriage is indeed better than the harbouring of expectation that never can be met. Are we unable to know another’s defects and, uncommitted, choose? Has the rise of romantic marriage made us less able to be civilized and happy, or can we find our way through newer thickets?


T. S. Eliot, 1929, in The Criterion:

‘The Conservative Party has a great opportunity in the fact that within the memory of no living man under sixty, has it acknowledged any contact with intelligence. It has, what no other political party at present enjoys, a complete mental vacuum: a vacancy that might be filled with anything, even with something valuable.’

As someone moving constantly through circles of high Toryism, Christian democracy, and fascism, I wonder what opportunities today holds. The future belongs to him who can rule the world by turning over the palm of his hand. In other words, destiny belongs to Christ and whomever he has anointed. But power won by the inducement of vice will not stay long before it is overthrown by yet another power; what potency is there that has no moral potency? The bankrupt will be tossed out like a dog; but he who knows God will inherit the earth. Hosanna in excelsis.


For the Worship of the Holy Wisdom of God

Psalm 118 sung in the Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God.

One day, perhaps, the Hagia Sophia will be returned to the pure worship of Jesus Christ, the word and the wisdom of God, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost. The Muslims, for their worship, have the Süleymaniye Mosque and Sultan Ahmet Mosque; but in this most populous city of Europe the word of God must be heard, and the gospel of Jesus Christ must be proclaimed, to the glory of God and the salvation of the people. May the prayers of the Church and the witness of her evangelists and martyrs, by the merits of Christ our Lord, win back the heart of Constantinople.


Peter Martyr Vermigli certainly thought the civil magistrate was charged with a spiritual task, with the power of God’s word, but according to the law rather than the gospel (HT: Adam Parker):

‘Both ministers and magistrates act to nurture the pious, but in different ways. The magistrate increases them in works, honours and merits. The minister consoles them through the promises of God and the sacraments. The magistrate assures that the laws are kept most carefully, the guilty are punished, and the good are both helped and nurtured. The law acts as a mute magistrate, while the magistrate represents the moving and speaking law. Certainly he is also a minister of God since, as Paul said, magistrates sing the praises of those who live justly. The magistrate wields the sword against the wicked, acting as the avenger and champion of God, and looks to nothing else but the salvation of men.’

Restoring the Sabbath

Charles II touching the scrofulous.

One matter about which Christian students sometimes have questions is the keeping of days of rest. Having created the world, God rested on the seventh day; in the law of Moses, he confirmed his ordinance of days of rest by commanding ancient Israel to work six days and on the seventh cease completely. Today, no less than in the days of Moses, we have the example the Lord has set: as testified even by the rhythms of the earth itself, there is a time to labour and a time to cease. This necessity is written into nature itself, which no ordinance of man will take away, and to which the opposition of man can make no law at all. Let him beware who in the name of grace and truth in Jesus Christ makes bold to declare all nature abolished in favour of his own acquisitive desire.

And let him who has not imagined Sabbath, even he who is not a Christian, first mark what humane value there is in a weekly day of rest. Peter Hitchens says,

Does anyone miss the British Sunday, when our cities were like vast, well-ordered cemeteries, the sky always seemed to be black with impending rain, and a deep quiet fell on the land?

Actually, I do. I chafed at it as a child, because children don’t grasp the point of such things. Now that I know what it was for, it is too late.

I know this partly because of the experience of being in Cairo on a Friday morning, or Jerusalem on a Saturday, cities where a universal day of rest still exists, in defiance of all the racket and commerce of the 21st Century.

Before you have even opened your curtains or fully woken from sleep, you can sense that the day is different from all the others. You can feel the peace in your bones and blood.

But any Christian practice of a day of rest, as by nature it must be social, is incomplete without the power of the civil magistrate. Without such a power protecting its practice from the concrete predations of internationalist finance and (as much as lies in temporal care) the spiritual prison of greed, even among Christian believers the exercise of days of rest, though a testimony, is only a shadow of justice, an impoverished manifestation of the righteousness of God.

Godly magistrates or not, however, a day of rest will not even begin in earnest until the deacons, even if they have little civil influence at first, have urged and organized the people to do what they can and commit to more as they are able. And until we are convinced of what integral part the day of rest plays in – one might say – social justice, and until we have grappled with the principle of natural law which made it a wise and just commandment in the Old Testament, we shall always be convincing ourselves to limit its application, to quench the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. It is crucial, therefore, that the Church think about the meaning of the Lord’s just order and seek to do what she can, not for her own sake but for the sake of the world to which she is sent. This will entail far more than lies within the ability of individuals alone, and its practice needs to encompass the common good of man.

It is unseemly, for instance, for Christians to keep a Shabbos goy within their gates, working for them while they rest. Such devices are a means of jihad against the Canaanites; but now that the Son is come, and the gospel brought to the heathen, such warring measures are beyond the purview of Christian politics and ethics. The gospel is conquering the earth promised to us as part of our inheritance, but it proceeds by the word brought to all nations, a testimony of the Son’s saving power and purpose.

Arguably, the Sabbath allows of necessary labour during harvest, as was done in Europe. Even so, such necessity cannot be allowed to reduce days of rest to a dead letter, nor yet to the custom of the middle class only. For the spirit of the law, consonant with not only the general law of charity but also the Mosaic law’s specific provision for the household’s servants and even its animal chattels, is to give rest even to the lowliest and humblest, that those who have no power of resistance may, by the justice of their masters, be given times to rest their bodies and souls for the testimony of God’s kingdom. The law of charity rules over the demands of money, as Christ rules over coinage of every inscription; and he who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for many, he also desires that those who hold power, even lawfully, on days of rest should count it a blessing to give liberally, not requiring the service of their subordinates but rather washing their feet. For is it not the case that our resting is in the finished work of Christ, in justification by faith alone, that what we rejoice in is a certain æquality before God as justified sinners? Is it not clear that power and authority come from God for the good of those who by the law of nature must submit to it? Therefore let not one’s own prætended necessity be the occasion of denying rest to those with no power to take it.

So who is the Shabbos goy? He is an Amorite, whose hardening wickedness of 400 years has moved the justice of God to dispossess him from the land. Who will so præsume of anyone who, like Onesimus, might become a brother in Christ, and to whom one has the Christian duty to proclaim the gospel? Are there any such Amorites even among the Jews, who have assumed an ethnic identity both apostate and anti-Christian?

Along these lines the deacons must reflect on just application. It is not as simple as being the godly among the ungodly, the godly as a whole society separate from the ungodly: for Christ came into the world to save sinners. As long as the gospel is for all men, as long as Jesus of Nazareth gave his life for all, we must so keep days of rest as to testify to the world concerning the righteousness of God. It must give rest for our souls, but it must also call to the weary unbeliever to come to Christ, that in Christ he may enter the everlasting rest in which we believers rejoice in this world and are glorified in the world to come. The Son of God will come to be our judge, and his righteousness must be the clothing of the Church until he returns through the clouds descending.

Some Meditations on the Mid-Autumn Festival

This year, on Sunday, the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) will be marked by the rare combination of a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse, which we along the Atlantic (weather permitting) will be fortunate enough to see in its entirety – those of you in East Asia will, alas, miss this event.

Nevertheless, eclipse or not, Chinese all over the world will observe the Mid-Autumn Festival on the fifteenth day (i.e. the full-moon day) of the eighth month. As I have written earlier, ‘it corresponds, for the Chinese, to the Feast of Tabernacles ordered in the Law of Moses, and is therefore a most fitting time to give godly thanks for “the kindly fruits of the earth”.’ In connexion with the moon, however, especially around the autumnal equinox, it also is associated with the increase of yin influences and the decline of yang as autumn continues and becomes cold and wet. The time will come for the earth to rest and, after harvest, for farms to be still, and for the womb to wait in silence. Even as it is an agricultural festival, then, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also a time to remember the being of women. Thanksgiving for harvest and petition for fertility go hand in hand at this time of the year.

Indeed, the Chinese have kept a custom that makes explicit the connexion with fertility, as Zeng Baosun (曾寶蓀) explains:

In addition to enjoying the moon and eating moon cakes, there is also the custom of presenting melons. If a woman was married for a long time and was still childless, friends and relatives had a small boy present her with a melon. This was a very long melon wrapped up in a child’s red silk garment with two golden flowers stuck in it. With the child holding the melon in his arms, gongs and drums sounding, firecrackers going off, and lanterns displayed, they brought the melon to the childless woman’s home, placed it on her bed and covered it with a quilt. Then they came out and loudly offered congratulations to the couple wishing them a child very soon. Naturally, those that presented the melon had to be provided with food and drink and received most graciously; the child that bore the melon was given a gift of money.

Unto us, God willing, a son is given. We may offer prayers that, to the childless, who wait open to the working of providence, Almighty God may indeed provide a child like the son who has brought the melon; but in awaiting a child, shown as a son, Christians also know that the greatest gift is God’s own only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.

Perhaps now the poems of menfolk upon this festival, praising the beauty of the moon, will also turn their rhymes to the subject of God’s saving grace. There is much to be written here about the glory of God, both in the making of nature and in the saving of all creation in Christ.

When we eat our moon cakes, when we see the orange yolks buried in the lotus paste, these will be our hearts’ remembrances toward God: giving thanks to God for his gift of life, we also remember that the seed of life is sowed in the stillness of death. When we see even the winter of discontent, we can remember that God is still there, and that the darkness by which he hides his secret work is like the womb that hides a promised child. Though the West commemorates the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary on 25 March, it is perhaps appropriate that on the other side of the year we should also remember how our blessed Lord did not abhor the Virgin’s womb, but chose rather to give it the greatest dignity and make it the Ark of the Covenant where he would dwell in the flesh. The Mid-Autumn Festival then becomes, before Advent, the first foreshadowing of what is to come. Shortly after the Winter Solstice, marking the return of the light, we have Christmas, the feast at which we rejoice that the Sun of righteousness has entered the world. So the Mid-Autumn Festival brings to us a sweet memory, a memory we can hold and treasure, of what God has done and what God will do among us.

PEARUSA Ending Membership in Anglican Church of Rwanda (PEAR)

Joel Martin has alerted me to PEARUSA churches’ ending formal ecclesiastical ties with the Province de l’Église Anglicane au Rwanda (PEAR) and becoming full members of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). This is good news, but it remains for the orthodox Anglican churches to speak out against PEAR bishops’ complicity in the high crimes of the Rwandan magistracy.


The Church of the East in China

I want to learn more about the Church’s first arrival in China, before the Jesuits. I also insist on finding out about the 景教’s formulation of original sin which this video denies.

The Sacral Solution to Megachurch Capitalism?

The Rev. David Robertson says about Tullian Tchividjian’s resignation from his ministerial position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church,

There are honourable exceptions to this, but it seems that the American megachurch tends to reflect the American corporation, rather than the biblical concept of the church. Corporate churches tend to be run like corporations, with corporate boards, corporate facilities, consumer mentalities and corporate leaders with corporate salaries. … The trouble with the corporate model of church is that it leaves the CEOs (otherwise known as ‘senior pastors’) as a combination of business manager, advertising guru and celebrity personality. And that is a very lonely and isolating position. Maybe a return to a more biblical pattern of church, with elders and preachers as ‘under shepherds’ and answerable to the wider church, rather than the stakeholders (shareholders?) of the local corporate church entity, might provide a better context for accountable ministry.

I am of much the same opinion, but King-Ho questions whether the megachurch is simply a product of American capitalist culture, pointing out that Charles Spurgeon was neither American nor a part of the postindustrial neoliberal order. He adds, ‘Whilst it is undoubtedly true that pastoral ministry is characterised in the Scriptures with imageries of the “shepherd”, I do wonder whether one (say, in the Middle Ages) may argue that the “shepherd” model is just yet another “reflection” of the contemporary “secular” culture – just of a feudalism rather than capitalism?’ Perhaps, he says, cathedrals and the Jerusalem Temple were a sort of pre-capitalist megachurch, with a diocesan bishop or a high priest as the centralized CEO figure. That a model of polity (and, by extension, of authority) is not capitalistic does not make it necessarily biblical or ‘less secular’.

While I share the concern that Christians in ritual and organization, as in morals, should not simply ape the ungodly, I find the imitation of ‘secular’ organization, at least in moderation, to be rather good than bad. Indeed, I think it as much a problem as ‘secularization’ that the solutions proposed are clericalist in tone. This kind of solution is prone in its turn to something like ultramontane Papalism with its centralized figure in Rome, which tends in the face of challenges to have the whole world conform to the canons and the liturgical usages of Rome, rather than deal with licensing usages locally as orthodox. Even Presbyterianism has its own version of this tendency, though less bureaucratically centralized, in the biblicist compulsion to justify its form of worship as mandated by holy Scripture. (In both cases it is imagined, or comes to be imagined, that the whole world is to have but one form of worship treated as pleasing to God.) But holy Scripture and the Ghibelline tradition, their principle articulated by the Reformed confessions, hold that the determination of things in themselves indifferent – such as the appointment of bishops, the organization of the visible Church as integrated with society, and the form of worship used – has a place for the king or the other civil magistrates, and indeed that in such matters, under God, the king is supreme.

Indeed, if the ideal is for society to be thoroughly Christian and thus locally to be the Church, the fact cannot be escaped that the king is inseparable from the duty to protect the gospel and, as head of all things not by nature æternal, to rule. Just as clear is that the things we often call ecclesiastical, or churchly, cannot so differ from the rest of (to-be-Christian) society that Christians live virtually double lives between ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’: the call is for our entire lives on earth to be, not sacralized, but godly, characterized by the grace of the Holy Ghost and ruled by the imperium of Jesus Christ.

Thus, when we read of the worship in Christianized Rome, such as in the Ordo Romanus Primus, we do see it reflecting the civil order and calling the people to sanctify that order. Before Mass on solemn days, the Ordo Romanus Primus orders thus:

Thus, on solemn days (such for instance as Easter day) first of all the collets of the third district and the counsellors of every district meet at daybreak in the Lateran Palace, and proceed on foot before the pontiff to the stational church: and the lay grooms walk on the right and the left of his horse in case it stumble anywhere. Those who ride on horseback in front of the pontiff are the following:– The deacons, the chancellor, and the two district-notaries, the district-counsellors, and the district-subdeacons.

Not only do we have deacons, subdeacons, and collets (acolytes), belonging to one of the seven ecclesiastical districts, but also accompanying the Bishop of Rome we have the city’s chancellor and the district notaries and counsellors. Clearly this pomp, having both ecclesiastical and civil officers, reflects the fact that the entire city, both ecclesiastical leaders and civil, is concerned with the work of worshipping God. It also reflects the city’s social hierarchy by attaching officers to the Bishop in the approach to the place of worship. Thus the retinue both reflects and sanctifies the city’s organization.

Even when the Bishop of Rome has gone into the church sacristy and the deacons have exited to their duties, there remain with him ‘the chancellor, the secretary, the chief counsellor, the district-notaries, and the subdeacon-attendant’. Thus, even where he dresses for worship, the Bishop is accompanied by several of the civil officers. When he dresses, it is the chancellor and the secretary who arrange his vestments so that they hang well.

The offertory is even more elaborately organized according to rank and office, and I think it better to direct the reader to read about it than to try to describe it myself.

It is sufficiently shown, I hope, that according to the Ordo Romanus Primus the ecclesiastical offices are organized quite like the civil, and that the civil officers even take special parts in the conduct of worship itself, expressing the integration of Church and state. But the cæremonial, though concerning and involving the civil officers, is also recognizably about the holy, the divine, the supernatural: it is about the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

To be sure, the existence of clerical officers distinct from the civil, and even in some ways parallel to the civil, is significant. But the significance is not that they, unlike the civil officers, are sacramental: for the civil officers too, even qua civil officers, are integral to the logistics of worship. In other words, it is not mere involvement in the sacrament that distinguishes the clerical officers, because even the lay officers of the city are ministers in the sacrament. Furthermore, it was commonly accepted in the Middle Ages that even a layman could baptize an infant. In the end, the holiness of the Church is not saved by a mere sociological difference between ordinary and sacramental parts of life, and between ordinary and sacramental persons. For is it not just as much a tragœdy when a prominent Christian layman is caught in adultery as it is when a priest is caught in adultery? And is it not just as wicked for a whole commonwealth to be ruled by capitalism as it is for an ecclesiastical corporation?

The Church’s clerics do lead the way in the commonwealth by publicly upholding and insisting on the standards of the word of God, but neither proximity to sacraments nor distinction from laymen, nor the formulations of orthodox sacramental theology, can make them holier. It is piety, and piety alone, that makes for human holiness. Sacramental theology is indispensable, but it is only a servant to sacramental piety, in which we long all week long to behold the holiness of the Lord in his temple the Church (and first of all in ourselves), and, while longing, to trust that the Lord has provided his precious body and blood and seek his righteousness by doing what is lawful and right. If we do so, as Ezekiel says, we shall save our souls alive; and the clerics who do so with diligent faith will help many do the same. It is for all of us to approach the sacraments with reverence and godly fear, with awe at God’s dreadful power to make us holy. To the source, then, that we may be one with the sacrifice of our Lord! May the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which were given for us, preserve our bodies and souls unto everlasting life.

Folk Metal Psalms

Based on the Genevan Psalter setting of Psalm 130 by Claude Goudimel.

Listening to Brother Down’s album Old Paths, New Feet (2013) and such folk metal groups as Ensiferum, Tengger Cavalry, and Eluveitie has led me to believe that there is a place for folk metal metrical psalmody. In the French Renaissance, metrical psalmody was a significant literary force, not among the Protestants only but among the Romanists as well. People sang psalms not only at church but also in daily life. Today, for imprecatory and elegiac psalms, the folk metal genre seems to be a good way to express some of the Psalmist’s feeling and spirit; the word of God would also lend strength to the genre.

For metrical psalms, there is already plenty of good musical material, some from folk sources and some from classical. The names of Tallis and Goudimel are known well enough among those who listen to Renaissance music that I need not say more about the quality of their music, and likewise the folk tunes still used for unaccompanied metrical psalmody in the Free Church of Scotland are both vigorous and easy to find. The Gaelic psalmody in particular refracts familiar music in ways that could inspire new interpretations. He who seeks will not lack. That the music is not altogether unfamiliar would appeal to ordinary folk hearing it in a new form, and those who were unfamiliar with the traditional music would find it in these modern compositions; for both, more often neglected parts of the Psalter could become a part of common life, and (if musically well clothed) the word of God would dwell more richly in the commonwealth, giving the people a renewed sense of the life of the spirit.

Vocals could generally vary from churchly chanting to more folkish singing characteristic of lustier songs; some growling might be suitable for parts of Psalm 137 and suchlike, though I think a more elegant approach might be influenced by Thomas Campion’s ‘As by the Streams of Babylon’. Much of the heaviness or dark colour required would already come from the instrumentation, of course, giving writers and musicians greater latitude to find fitting vocals that were satisfying æsthetically and ædifying spiritually.


And graphically, need I say much more? For cover art the sixteenth century has no poverty of invention.

Will anyone do this?