worship idols
Protestantism

Theological illiteracy: 46% of Protestants think it’s okay to worship idols

Talk about theological illiteracy: the recent YouGov poll asking whether the 10 Commandments are still widely considered important principles to live by yielded some data of jaw-dropping incredulity. There’s no surprise at all in the widespread belief among (94% of) Christians (Protestant and Roman Catholic) that ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ are matters of basic courtesy to one’s neighbour. Some 93% of non-religious Britons also believe these to be foundational to the modern social contract, so we can all agree that stabbing people in the back and stealing their Volvo are a no-no.

There’s a slight divergence when it comes to adultery: 69% of the non-religious think it’s not okay, while 76% of Christians think it’s not (though one wonders how ‘adultery’ was understood by the interview sample: almost certainly not including those who are divorced and remarried while the ex still lives). Still, that’s almost three quarters of the population who rate marital fidelity highly, which is heartening.

As is the number of people who think it’s right and proper to honour your father and mother: 78% of Christians and 60% of the non-religious (69% of all Britons), so respect for elders is still cool.

All this being nice to one another helps you to understand why the Church of England continues to embody the essence of Englishness (if not quite of Britishness). It isn’t just some ecclesial aberration spawned by schism, but an authentic expression of the one holy, catholic and apostolic church in the English context. Perhaps it’s better to speak of British Anglicanism rather than the Church of England, for each corner of the United Kingdom is in communion with its own Anglican precepts, and those precepts seem to beat with the national psyche and our national life.

But the most staggering statistic in this survey relates to the worship of idols: it perhaps comes as no surprise that 84% of the non-religious believe this is no longer an important principle to live by, but 44% of Christians (46% of Protestants; 36% of Roman Catholics) also appear to have no problem with idolatry.

One wonders what sort of Protestants these are (if, indeed, they be any kind at all), for the Bible teaches that idolatry is the cause of all sin and depravity:

..For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen (Rom 1:17-25).

When people worship idols more than they worship God, He ‘(gives) them up unto vile affections‘ (v26). It is straightforward cause and effect: idolatry leads to sin. St Paul contrasts God’s righteousness with man’s unrighteousness; His faithfulness with our unfaithfulness. God is now handing people over to experience the consequences of the sin they choose, and that general (pre-)disposition is endemic and pervasive. By refusing to honour the Creator and to render Him thanks, we substitute mere created things and so turn further away. Idolatry impedes communion: worshipping idols is a barrier to the human-divine relationship. This is the universal human condition, and a basic theological truth.

How can 46% of Protestants not know that?

  • IanCad

    Can’t help but wonder how many churches would repeat, word for word, this sermon. Even more so; whether it would be roundly condemned.

  • Irene’s Daughter

    I cannot remeber the last time I heard a sermon on idolatry.

    • Maalaistollo

      And that perhaps explains the survey results; people have never had pointed out to them what Luther said in the quote at the head of this piece.

    • Manfarang

      1966- but the idols referred to were things like money not African idols.

    • Andym

      Ours did on 23 July this year

  • Father David

    Ah, what a great mistake it was to remove the Boards from the East end of so many churches which contained the words of the Ten Commandments, the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. When the Church of England ceased to include the recitation of the Decalogue as part of the BCP service of Holy Communion, the morals of the country started to go to the dogs.

    • David

      Yes you are right, the Boards were most instructive. But so few enter churches nowadays so boards or no boards the vast majority wouldn’t see them.
      With most Holy Communion Services the most you get is the summary of the law. BCP is a very rare beast nowadays, reserved for early and short services at Cathedrals or similarly busy large town churches. The services using the liturgy of that poor substitute Common Worship rarely, if ever, lingers over such matters as the Decalogue. Our services are much debased as a denomination. It all came from the drive to modernise and be relevant. Ah the irony, as I’d say we are more irrelevant now than ever !

      • Father David

        What, two people agreeing with me? Is this a record, I must go and have a lie down in a darkened room. To make my day – I’d love to achieve a hat-trick. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if Mrs. Proudie were also to agree with me? Or is that too much to ask and to hope for?

        • David

          Come, come now.
          Your theological points are always respected, if disagreed with here.
          You only receive vigorous rebuttals when you continue peddling the delusion that individual human flourishing and the common good are best secured via the state using Marxist – lite means.

    • Brian

      I find myself in rare agreement with you – or should I say in regular agreement with Cranmer (the original archbishop, not his esteemed avatar). Since ‘repetitio est mater memoriae’, the regular committing to memory of key elements formed the major substance of instruction in the past, recognising that we all use language long before we really understand what it means (which is in any case a lifelong process). The switch from content to methodology was one of the major mistakes in modern education and has contributed to the widespread ignorance of masses of the population. This mistake is not made at Oxbridge, for example, where they actually want students on interview to demonstrate a high level of knowledge. For some years I made it my daily practice to recite the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Apostles’ Creed and the Fruit of the Spirit as cardinal points in what a Christian should know and confess.

      • Father David

        Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs! Perhaps as a requirement for entry to Oxbridge – potential undergraduates should also be required to follow your good example and recite from memory the 10 Commandments, the Pater Noster and the Creed. For good measure let’s also ask for a dozen BCP Collects to be committed to memory.

    • Anton

      The Ten Commandments are Law. The church is about Grace. Those boards should have had on the things Jesus emphasised from the Pentateuch – love God and your neighbour (and observe the Golden rule).

      • Father David

        Doth not Scripture contain all that is necessary for our salvation? The last time I looked Holy Writ contained the 10 Commandments.

        • It dotheth indeedeth.

          • Father David

            Like Steven, the last man standing in the Great British Bake off – you seem to have developed or cultivated an unfortunate lisp.

          • It will passeth.

          • Chefofsinners

            Yea, for the scriptures do say “It came to pass.”

          • Anton

            Things have come to a pretty pass.

          • Anton

            Verily.

        • Anton

          Jesus Christ is all that is necessary for our salvation. And we are not under the Sabbath regulation anyway.

          • IanCad

            Where in the scriptures does it say that?

          • Anton

            Paul says that Christians are not under Israel’s law. The Sabbath is not added in Acts 15 and Jesus said that it was for man not vice-versa.

          • IanCad

            “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
            John 14:15

            “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12

          • Anton

            “Let no-one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” – Colossians 2:16.

          • IanCad

            For goodness sake Anton! Read the next verse.

          • Anton

            Fine, off you go to Jerusalem with your animal for sacrifice.

          • IanCad

            Obviously you fail to understand that the Ceremonial Law was abolished at the Cross by the full and sufficient sacrifice of our saviour.

          • Anton

            I understand why there is no need for Christians to do that, but I think you don’t.

            Paul says simply that Christians are not under the Law, meaning the laws given by God to Israel at Sinai. He does not say “you are not under some of the law but you are under the rest of it”. If he did that he would have to provide a list of which of those 600-odd laws were in which category. Have you, or the people who taught you, made such a list? Can you be certain it is 100% right?

            The law cannot touch you, for you are dead as far as it is concerned. you died with Christ. Now you serve him and do what he wants. What did he say about the Sabbath?

          • Hi

            I’d like to see Ian try to do that at the Temple Mount, sorry Haram esh-Sharif . You see the nice folks at UNESCO say Jews never had any connection there, but Mo ( peace be upon him) kinda ascended into heaven on a unicorn and stuff. Which must be true because the UNESCO voted that way, like the UN human rights council , they set the gold standard for international stuff . Still I’m preparing the bubbly to celebrate the Balfour declaration.

          • Sarky

            Unicorns defo exist. The fairies at the bottom of my garden told me.

          • Hi

            Better unicorns than unicron .

            You see my bros birthday present is the original old fashioned theme music on a plate sized record of Transformers : the Movie , plus an original set of Constructicons and dinobots .

            Like the G1 stuff not the “fexking shitye” new films , which Sam hates with a passion. It is sooooo boys and their childhood toys , but his collection , sorry ‘ strategic investment’ , are well cool. Like the look on his face when I and my nephews decided to play with the still in the box original G1 1980s Megatron was something to behold. Actually the album is quite catchy. “You got the touch” and the more heavy mental “instruments of destruction”…. very retro eighties.

          • Sarky

            I always wanted a Megatron as a kid, but never got one. im just a tad jealous.

          • Sarky

            P.s. love instruments of destruction, its by a band called NRG, proper 80’s cheese metal.

          • Anton

            And I’m preparing my sermon to celebrate the same! I’m delighted Britain did it (and I regret the MacDonald White Paper of 1939).

      • IanCad

        No Law – No Grace.

      • The division between God’s Law and Grace is an artificial one.

        “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

        • Chefofsinners

          Tell that to the apostle Paul, who wrote: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” -Romans 6:14

          • Didn’t he mean the Mosaic Law, not the moral laws set out in the Ten Commandments?

          • Chefofsinners

            I would see the ten commandments as part of the Mosaic law.

          • But which part?

          • IanCad

            Then you are discounting and contradicting the plain teaching of scripture.

          • Anton

            They are part of the same covenant, are they not?

          • IanCad

            The Moral Law and the Ceremonial law are entirely different.
            The former written on stone by the finger of God and deposited within the Ark.
            The Ceremonial written in a book by Moses and placed in a pocket outside the Ark.
            In the first case signifying the eternal nature of the Decalogue, and in the latter the temporary substance of the instructions to the Jewish nation.

          • Anton

            The Ten Commandments are part of the Law of Moses because they are part of the covenant that God gave Israel through Moses. Where in the Bible are they stated to be more than that? Where in the Bible do you find the terms “moral law” and ceremonial law”?

            Personally I think the Ten Commandments are the section headings of the Laws of Moses, but that’s not the point. The Law of Moses is a whole. At the day of judgement God will ask a Jew, first of all, “Did you break the law?” The answer is Yes or No.

          • IanCad

            Oh Dear!! here we go again – and the Sabbath is coming on.

  • magnolia

    Most probably have a hazy notion of what an “idol” is, being one disproportionately formed- and partly thereby watered-down by “pop idol”, most of which so-called idols would only tempt a few to the actual thing. Our ancestors would have had far more of a clue. Sometimes I think the UK is getting less wise in most of what really matters whilst under the impression it is getting brighter and brighter.

  • CliveM

    I’m not sure that most people even know what idolatry is. The only time I hear it mentioned in a sermon is in relation to the love of money. British society is crippled by it, it’s just that most people don’t recognise it happening.

    “Perhaps it’s better to speak of British Anglicanism rather than the Church of England, for each corner of the United Kingdom is in communion with its own Anglican precepts, and those precepts seem to beat with the national psyche and our national life”

    I don’t understand this? However it would be interesting for a break down, by nation. For example is, nominally Prespyterian Scotland, more or less anti idolatry? Or even breakdown by nomination? Is this indeed an Anglican problem, inherent in its institutional desire to be nice, remove difficult choices and fudge?

    In which case is this a Protestant issue or an Anglican one? We don’t seem to have the information to know.

  • Albert

    Might this just be an unthinking popular interfaith attitude?

    (i) We must be tolerant of other people’s beliefs
    (ii) Other people worship idols
    (iii) Therefore, worshipping idols is not wrong (for them)

    So a Christian might be thinking “It would be wrong for me, but it would be right for you.”

    • Brian

      This could be well be. Only from the mid-1960s have statues of Hindu gods like Ganesh appeared in the UK and children are taught to ‘respect’ this. I wonder what a survey of British Muslims would show.

    • CliveM

      Yes I think you are making a good point here. It is noticeable (and highlighted by Youguv) that it is the more ‘religious ‘ 10 commandments that are viewed as less important even among Christians.

  • David

    The country is drunk on self-worship. Typical comments heard from high or low in the pub or high street include,
    “As long as you’re happy, that’s all that counts”.
    “Be true to yourself ” – a favourite of a vicar I knew. Also popular with lay Christians I find.
    “One life – live it” – often used as a bumper sticker, sometimes in conjunction with the appropriation of the Christian fish symbol but saying Darwin.
    There is virtually no appreciation of God’s existence and our relationship to Him. Even many Christians seem to have no feel for the holiness of God.
    Moral authority is seen as stemming from our own opinion’s of right and wrong. In practice they are adrift on a secular sea where opinion is formed by popular, even government, influences.

  • David

    Christian Concern for the Nation (CCFN) reminds us that this is the 50th anniversary of the passing of the passing of the Abortion Act. This act of ‘progress’ has already claimed the lives of eight million innocent unborn. Like most ‘liberal’ reforms it was sold to a sceptical nation on the basis that it would simply dress a great injustice, namely bring to an end the few hundred botched back street abortions that took place each year, making it safer for all. The law of unseen consequences is almost most powerful with ‘liberal’ reforms. It is very true that conservatives are always proved right after the event.

  • Inspector General

    No greater idolatry exists than that of football.

    • Anton

      Olympic opening and closing ceremonies are religious services of worship of the same god too.

      • And Cricket?

        • Anton

          When I go to a Test match most of the people I sit among have actually played the game at club level. I wonder if that is true at Premier League matches.

      • Manfarang

        Zeus?

        • Which team does he play for?

          • carl jacobs

            Robin Master’s Team.

          • Who was he?

          • Hi

            Something in Hawaii , maybe Jonathan Quayle Higgins III, VC?

          • carl jacobs

            A millionaire in Hawaii. Higgins worked for him. Higgins was British. Surely you know Higgins!

          • Hi Carl ,

            Higgins was Masters!

          • carl jacobs

            That was never determined. I believe it was Orson Welles. The voice was his.

          • Hi

            Yes I suppose so , although was he bluffing?

            “In the final episode of the series, Higgins tells Magnum that he really is Robin Masters. However, Higgins later recants at Rick’s wedding. This left a cliffhanger and 27 years later, still no one knows if Higgins is the mysterious and eccentric Robin Masters.”

          • Was Higgins Masters?
            It was all before Jack’s time.

          • carl jacobs

            Yeah, no, actually it wasn’t.

          • carl jacobs
          • Anton

            Olympians?

          • Ray Sunshine

            What team does he play for? This one:

            soccerway.com/teams/greece/olympiakos-cfp/1040/

            He’s the captain.

          • Jesus plays for Man City.

          • Ray Sunshine

            Does this mean that Happy Jack will be switching his allegiance?

          • Hi

            They’ve got Mexicans and Brazilians on the team?

          • Manfarang

            The Olympians of course.

        • Anton

          Try again. Your handle gives you a flying start.

          • Manfarang

            The potato race?

    • Oh, Jack isn’t too sure about that.

      Regular pilgrimages to one’s local hostelry to gather with fellow congregants, becoming one in the spirit of grain, to praise and intercede with UKIP is high up there too.

      • Hi

        But where would we all be without Inspector’s reviews of pink news and the guru like higher understandings ?

    • It’s rugby in Wales.

      • Hi

        Rugby is a billion times cooler than football.

        • Chefofsinners

          It is in fact called Rugby Football.

          • carl jacobs

            It’s necessary to keep Rugby separate from both Soccer and Football.

          • Anton

            Easily done by using their correct names, Rugby football, Association football, and American football.

            Hurl that spheroid down the field…

    • Father David

      In Sunderland for example the main religion is the worship of Sunderland F C and they voted in favour of Brexit! Says it all.

    • Hi

      Hockey is much more civilised.

      • dannybhoy

        Amen. Rugby Football is the best team game for men.

      • Anton

        Seen hurling? It’s like hockey with half the rule book torn out. Brilliant game! I know an Irish player who was recruited to a hockey team that was a man short at half an hour’s notice. He didn’t know the rules and got sent off within 5 minutes.

    • Football is a substitute religion. It has: a religious building; a weekly congregation; idols (are they merely venerated or are they adored; a monetary offering; songs of worship; distinguishing vestments; money making I and enemy faiths to overcome…

      And as with all worship, the worshippers reflect their objects of worship; we all are what we worship.

  • Malcolm Smith

    If 84% of the non-religious think it is all right to worship idols, then how can they call themselves non-religious?

    • Anton

      I suggest they think it is OK for others to worship idols if they wish to.

  • Plasterer

    I think you’re over-interpreting the results.
    The survey asked if it was ‘important’: with “statues and symbols” as a foot-note.

    Most Christians would probably be nonplussed by that definition, and so would say – not likely to happen, so not important.
    If they’d had Luther’s definition above, I suspect (hope) their answers would have been different.

  • Anton

    Just finished my sermon for the Reformation’s 500th. The message is much needed, it seems.

  • carl jacobs

    These surveys depend upon self-identification. “Are you a Christian? Yes. Are you a Protestant? Yes.” What does that mean? Whatever the respondent wants it to mean. The Inspector self-identifies as Roman Catholic but his religious understanding has no vague relationship to RCism. Unless there was a rigorous taxonomy built into the poll, the blog title should read “46% of people who call themselves Protestants think it’s OK to worship idols”. That’s a very different statement.

    • There are also issues about how respondents understood the terms being used. Jack would have been interested to learn:

      a) did participants believe it was important for them personally to keep the Commandments; and
      b) did the participants believe it important for a nation collectively to keep the Commandments.

      • The Snail

        I am always suspicious of statistics. The following quote says it better than I can.

        “The government’s extremely fond of statistics. These are raised to the nth degree, the cube roots are extracted, and the results are arranged into elaborate and impressive displays. What must be kept ever in mind, however, is that in every case, the figures are first put down by a village watchman, and he puts down anything he damn well pleases.
        (Attributed to Sir Josiah Stamp, 1840-1941, H.M. collector of inland revenue.)

        • Hi

          It would be cool if Sir Stamp was behind the stamp? It’s like one of those questions you have at a pub quiz….

          • Chefofsinners

            It was Sir Rowland Hill, named after a famous Christian preacher.

    • “The Inspector self-identifies as Roman Catholic but his religious understanding has no vague relationship to RCism.”

      May Jack quote that back to you when the occasion demands it?

      “Unless there was a rigorous taxonomy built into the poll .. .. “

      Defining Protestantism? Good luck with that. Care to try?

      • carl jacobs

        May Jack quote that back to you when the occasion demands it?

        Ummm … No. That could be very inconvenient for me depending on circumstances. Permission would have to be granted on a case-by-case basis. If you think the situation warrants, you should inquire privately, and I will render a judgment based upon the facts of the case.

        Defining Protestantism? Good luck with that. Care to try?

        You need to stop listening to your “30,000 denomination” apologists. You imagine far more difference than actually existts. You build the taxonomy around the five Solas.

        • A set of principles with endless individual variations and presentations.

  • carl jacobs

    The four Commandments that do not have a majority of Brits saying they are still important are the ones most related to the practice of religion.

    Not the practice of religion, but man’s relationship to God. The six still in favor deal with man’s relationship to other men. But the modern reference point is themselves and their concern is the wrong they themselves might suffer. To understand the modern sense of the Commandments, one must modify them slightly.

    1. Thou shalt not kill me.
    2. Thou shalt not steal from me .
    3. Thou shalt not commit adultery with my wife (unless I give consent).
    4. Thou shalt not bear false witness against me.

    Implicit in all this is the idea of precedent.

    5. Thou shalt never establish a precedent that might rebound against me.

    The idol that men truly worship in this present age is the self.

    • You do have a rather cynical predisposition, Mr Jacobs.

      • carl jacobs

        But abortion makes my case. Why do people justify abortion? Because birth establishes a perfect equivalence partition. Those born will never again be unborn so they do not fear the precedent. Thus do they set aside the commandment. “I can kill with impunity and not risk myself.”

        Never forget that violence is a terrifically effective solution to a problem, and murder most of all. The question becomes “Do I desire to use that solution more than I fear it being used on me?”

        Modern morality in one sentence.

        • You may be correct. An alternative view is that the conscience of Western man is not entirely corroded even as he abandons and forgets God. People know instinctively it is wrong to kill, maim, lie, cheat and steal without necessarily comprehending that it harms themselves as well as others.

      • Albert

        I think he just understand original sin.

        • Maybe but he doesn’t understand the will of man is forever weakened by the first sin, even after justification through baptism, and that God has not removed the gift of freewill from man. He also doesn’t accept the scriptural revelation that man’s nature is not totally depraved because man can clearly act justly on a natural level and by nature.

          • Albert

            I don’t see that anything he has said contradicts what you have said.

          • Albert, every comment he writes on the nature of man confirms it.

          • Albert

            That may be true of many of his statements, and I’m not going to argue whether or not Carl is in error in his anthropology. His Calvinism is sufficient to establish that. I merely suggest the post we are talking about is not necessarily inconsistent with Catholic teaching. Which bit do you think is?

          • Because Jack doesn’t believe one can speak collectively about “man” in such Calvinistic broad strokes. Jack doesn’t hold such a dim utilitarian view about man’s relationship with man – that altruism is really selfish interest. You’ll see further down that Jack didn’t entirely disagree with the comment.

            His response: “Why do people justify abortion? Because birth establishes a perfect equivalence partition. Those born will never again be unborn so they do not fear the precedent.”

            As Jack replied: “An alternative view is that the conscience of Western man is not entirely corroded even as he abandons and forgets God. People know instinctively it is wrong to kill, maim, lie, cheat and steal without necessarily comprehending that it harms themselves as well as others.”,

          • Albert

            But man in himself (i.e. without grace), isn’t going to rise above selfishness.

          • But God’s grace is dispensed to man at all times and in all places.

          • Albert

            That may well be true, but we do not know that God gives all graces to man at all times and in all places. And even if he does, man can resist it. Therefore, although the fallen nature of man, as conceived by Calvin is plainly wrong, the effects could still be what Carl describes.

          • The effects, yes, possibly. But the reasons, no. And if Christians want to counter abortion, for example, we need to understand the motivations and devise strategies that address these. Carl’s reasons are that selfishness in this instance is driven by an awareness that there will be no comeback. Abortion has no consequences because there will be no precedent set that will harm them – as they are already born. We see no evil in killing life in the womb because we are already here.

          • Albert

            Sure. The reasons for abortion are complex. But in the end, surely Carl is right. Few would be in favour of this if they thought it might be used against them. Having knocked out this fundamental objection, it then becomes possible to rationalise a decision already desired.

          • So the solution is to campaign once more for the death penalty/life imprisonment for mothers who abort their children and those who assist? That approach will never succeed. Jack thinks the better approach is to try to convince people that life begins at conception and is sacred at all stages through to natural death, and no one has the right to take innocent life. Surely that’s the fundamental issue at the root of rationalisations that attempt to justify abortion?

          • Albert

            I agree. However, that argument will not have any purchase unless we change people’s hearts. People’s hearts are changed in two ways: (i) people realise that a position may eventually effect them (this is Carl’s point). (ii) By grace.

          • Fear of consequences, in this life or the next, or God’s grace transforming hearts and minds. If that be so, and Jack concedes it is so, then Christian politicians and Christian witness against abortion will eventually be removed from the public square – as we are seeing. The shame and psychological impact that by nature accompanies and stays with women who have abortions, will have to be blamed on sexism, misogyny, patriarchy etc. and all the other feminist distortions, and anyone who challenges this defence will be silenced.

            It’s a bleak future and pointing to Cardinal Ratzinger’s/Pope Benedict’s XVI prognosis and prediction.

            In a series of interviews in 1969, he was asked about the Church’s failure to bring about a broad movement against the currents of our time and a general change in mentality. He responded by saying he never imagined he could redirect the rudder of history, and that the Church was not a business operation that can look at the numbers to measure whether our policy has been successful:

            “Perhaps the time has come to say farewell to the idea of traditionally Catholic cultures. Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the Church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterised more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intensive struggle against evil and bring the good into the world – that let God in ….

            The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning …

            She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….

            It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

            And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no69. longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”

          • Albert

            Prayer is the solution.

    • Albert

      Excellent.

  • carl jacobs

    Btw. I am resisting mightily the impulse to say something like “Well, 100% of Catholics think it’s OK to worship idols so 54% isn’t so bad.” It is unknown how long I shall be able to maintain such restraint. I shall have to muster all my strength…

    • You do that, keeping in mind the Ninth Commandment and Exodus 23:1-2.

      • carl jacobs

        Like latria and dulia, you don’t deny it so much as define it out of existence. And then you demand we accept your definitions.

        • Accept the definition or not, your adversarial, sectarian misrepresentation does not make it so. Jack could accuse Protestants of worshiping the Bible as an idol as opposed to understanding the living, developing message it contains and the God who is communicating this.

          • carl jacobs

            When I show you blindingly clear examples of Marian idolatry, you immediately demand that I shift the context. “No, no. You must understand that prayer in the context of Marian devotion.” But your attempted transformation does not in fact change anything. You can’t change the reality of what you are doing by reorganizing some definitions to your own convenience. You don’t control those definitions.

          • Mary is not worshipped as a God or as a part of the Triune God. You’ve never demonstrated this. All you do is cite the odd single line from a prayer without reference to a Catholic understanding.

            The Marian doctrines are laid out in the Catechism of the Church:

            http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p6.htm

            Read them and then point out any idolatrous statement.

          • Anton

            The 39 Articles of the Church of England aren’t bad either but the trouble is that people ignore their own rules…

          • The Catechism sets out the understanding of the rules and explains them, as well as the doctrines of the Church. In times such as these, Its an invaluable guide. Jack also inherited a copy of the Catechism from the Council of Trent and a couple of pre-Vatican II missals. The laity are poorly taught and instructed these days and have been for a generation or more.

          • Anton

            Jack also inherited a copy of the Catechism from the Council of Trent

            I didn’t realise you were that old !

          • Jack is timeless.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack is timeless.

            Like spam. Or fruitcake.

          • Anton

            Or cricket.

          • carl jacobs

            Criicket is an impenetrable mass of unknown biological origin from which even bacteria shrink in horror?

          • As in freedom from a clock.

          • Maalaistollo

            Maybe he meant Burton-on-Trent – the source of the Inspector’s Higher Understanding.

          • Dominic Stockford

            The catechism of the Catholic Church says that Mary is not worshipped by being adored, but by being venerated. Do allow me to quote:

            ” “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.”515 The Church rightly honours “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honoured with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.”

            I note ‘intrinsic to Christian worship’ – come on, explain that one away!

          • Anton

            If we are going to criticise Rome, Dominic, we have to be accurate. You are assuming that the word ‘worship’ is reserved exclusively for what a man takes to be divine, but the marriage vows between man and woman conducted in Christian churches formerly ran “with my body I thee worship”.

          • Why did you omit the first sentence – ““All generations will call me blessed” from which the sense of : “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship” is understood?

            Our devotion to Our Lady belongs naturally to Christian worship, directed to Christ, because she holds a special place in Heaven as His and our mother. It’s not complicated.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Just as Carl said, obfuscation. If you had to you’d argue your granny was your daughter to win your point.

          • Hardly obfuscation. It’s perfectly clear to those who understand and show Mary the honour and devotion she merits.
            Why did you omit the opening sentence?

          • ardenjm

            He omitted it because he is a liar and a tiny part of him knows that he is doing a terrible thing: an ex-priest railing against the Church. It’s like a child who hits their mother…

            For my part, in relation to the survey findings, I’m still chuckling to myself that after 5 centuries of fulminating against Statues and Stained Glass and Icons as idols which Catholics (and Orthodox) heathenly worship. And after making the 5 solas their central doctrinal guide-rule:

            nevertheless, MORE Catholics know that idolatry is wrong than do Protestants.

            Hilarious.

          • There’s so much disrespect and in some cases outright malice directed toward Our Blessed Lady by many protestants under the cover of a bogus claim that Catholics worship her. What a gift from God they are rejecting. It’s shocking. As you’ve pointed out in previous posts, they’ve stripped worship of beauty and spiritual content because, fundamentally, they regard the created order and creatures as evil and cannot grasp the true significance of the Incarnation.

          • Anton

            It’s Rome’s view of Mary at which we protest. Mary herself was obviously chosen for her excellent maternal qualities and a strong faith. She was blessed and I am happy to call her Blessed Mary, mother of the King. Let that be enough.

          • You so understate and underestimate Our Lady’s contribution to our salvation and her ongoing assistance.
            As the King’s mother, she’s now Queen of Heaven. As Christ’s mother, she’s our Mother as adopted sons of the Father. Mary was chosen and filled with grace before her birth because God foreknew her voluntary response to His invitation to bear and give birth to His Son, God incarnate. She’s our advocate in Heaven because of her privileged place at the side of Christ our intermediator with the Father.

          • Anton

            That’s where we disagree. I am not seeking to go round that disagreement again, but protesting that we direct malice at Mary herself.

          • Jesus metaphorically looks down and weeps at the abuse of His mother and the refusal to accept the great gift she is to the Church and to men. His mother weeps at the sin of man in refusing salvation through her son which He bought at such cost.

          • Anton

            Your second sentence is I am sure true. Your first is mere assertion.

          • dannybhoy

            Mary would be regarded as blessed for being chosen to bear the baby Jesus whose beginnings were of old..

          • Dominic Stockford

            Quite so. and, of course, being ‘blessed’ is something that comes from God, as a gift, that is, undeserved. Thus your latter point is highlighted and strengthened.

          • carl jacobs

            Hrmmm. Let’s compare and contrast.

            O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary

            O Baal of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Baal, O Sweetest Baal, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Baal, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Baal, Baal

            Do you really need me to explain in detail? Because I can do so if you really want me to. But it seems kind of obvious.

          • “Oh Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your powerful name, the protection of the living and the salvation of the dying. Purest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, Blessed Lady, to rescue me whenever I call on you. In my temptations, in my needs, I will never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary.

            What a consolation, what sweetness, what confidence fills my soul when I utter your sacred name or even only think of your! I thank the Lord for having given you so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering your name. Let my love for your prompt me ever to hail you Mother of Perpetual Help.”
            You understand the meaning of the word sacred – right? There’s nothing in that prayer that indicates she is worshipped. All her power comes through her intercession to her son, Jesus. Did you read that link Jack posted?

      • Simon Platt

        Eighth, surely?

        • Jack was being ecumenical, Simon.

          • Brian

            Ecumenical, eh? Happy Jack channelling Father Jack.

          • Drink!

          • Anton

            isn’t it œcumenical?

          • Chefofsinners

            … with the truth?

    • Royinsouthwest

      Sometimes I find it very interesting to read posts on this site exploring differences between Protestant and Catholic understandings of the Bible, and also, but much less often, the Orthodox interpretation.

      Sometimes the discussions reminded me of the story about the blind men who tried to describe an elephant after using their sense of touch to get an impression of an elephant. Spiritually we are all only partially sighted. As Paul wrote we now see and understand in part.

      Sometimes however discussions of differences, or apparent differences, between Protestants and Catholics are not illuminating but are merely point scoring. I admit I have contributed to the latter category on occasion.

      Admittedly there is also a third category; leg pulling. That is, I think, OK, particularly if it does provoke a smile.

  • John

    46% of Protestants might know idolatry is sinful if they sit in churches week by week that barely open the Bible and spend their energies instead entirely on social justice issues or on putting on extended rock concerts every Sunday.

  • The Snail

    The Ten commandments are an instance of the generalisation that is “To Love God with all your heart mind ans soul and your neighbour as yourself”. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is also an instance of the second part and defines our neighbour. Thus idolatory, in the generalised sense, is anything we give more importance to than God. Jesus gave other instances of idolatory e.g. mother, father family, money etc.not just pieces of wood or stone.

  • David

    Has anyone spotted Len on other websites ? I would be good to know at least that he is well.

    • Even Happy Jack is missing him. Hopefully, he’ll return soon fresh from his swim in Rome.

      • IanCad

        Never miss a trick, do you Jack?

        • Dominic Stockford

          I hope he catches no nasty bugs in their waters….

  • Redrose82

    On another matter altogether, what do you think of the decision of the new vicar of a church in Oadby, Leicestershire who has banned the traditional singing of the hymn ” Onward Christian Soldiers” at the remembrance service. It has created quite a furore with parishioners threatening to sing it outside the church while the service takes place. No wonder C of E congregations diminish by the week.

    • David

      What is more his objection is not based on being against what one could argue is militarism but against the use of the word “Christian” in the hymn as that could cause non-Christians to feel excluded ! Are not Christian services, including their hymns, for Christians ? An incredible position. I can’t see the new vicar being very successful at his Leicestershire parish !

      • Anton

        It’s a problem of having an Established church that yokes the church to the world.

        • David

          When the country was broadly Christian and Christian values and ideas seldom questioned seriously establishment was not a serious problem. But now with society anti-Christian I do believe that establishment is preventing the C of E from obeying God. I therefore support disestablishment.
          I support spiritually and materially the success of the Gafcon led re-evangelisation of England.

          • Anton

            A country cannot be Christian. Only people are Christians. A country can be moral, of course.

          • David

            You state the obvious. I use a shorthand for “a country that contains a clear majority of practising Christians and where orthodox Christian ideas are normative”.

          • Anton

            I’m a little more radical than that. The country you describe should be like heaven, but no such place, whether Catholic, protestant or Orthodox, has remotely resembled heaven (or if it has then I am in for a severe disappointment). Every age in every land has seen institutional injustice, corruption and ungodly priorities. I remain doubtful that most churchgoers were deeply committed to Christ in the era of institutional Christianity. God knows the ones who were.

          • David

            Well I agree that, when it was normal for most to attend church, certainly only a small minority of those were truly Christian.

      • Chefofsinners

        So the Church of England is now a place where we shouldn’t mention Christianity in case it offends people.

        Coward Christian soldiers
        Rotten to the core
        With the cross of Jesus
        Left outside the door

        • Ray Sunshine

          That deserves three upticks, at least – one each for the first, second and fourth lines.

    • Dominic Stockford

      If they’d like to pop down to Teddington (Middlesex) for the morning I will ensure that we sing it that morning.

      • How about “Faith of Our Fathers”.

    • The clergy have little or no respect or love for the parishioners anymore.

    • Albert

      The bit I found curious was that it was banned not for the references to soldiers, but the reference to Christian soldiers.

  • A Berean

    “How can 46% of Protestants not know that?”

    It’s no great mystery really. Further along in the passage you just quoted, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient…”. (Romans 1:28).

    And furthermore, “[E]very man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25).

  • Been at the wine, Hannah?

  • Chefofsinners

    Idolatry was, of course, the sin in which the Israelites were indulging even as Moses descended from the mount, carrying the ten commandments. He dropped them and they broke.
    Human nature today is exactly what it was then. Idolatry shifts its shape into many forms, often seeming innocuous, but it is the gateway drug of sinning. Aren’t we, today, like the Israelites? Saying: “Jesus is a long time up the mountain. He will not return. Let us make an idol out of the treasures of Egypt.”
    Whatever it’s shape, idolatry is always this: putting something in God’s place of pre-eminence. It is the reason why Satan fell, and it is the root of all rebellion and evil.
    I am encouraged that 54% of Protestants know this. The problem is that 0% of Christians are free from its subtle infection.

    • IanCad

      Surely you’re not suggesting that because the first tablets were broken the Decalogue is no longer valid? He did make a second set which were deposited within the Ark of the covenant.

      • Chefofsinners

        No, not at all. The breaking was symbolic of the fact that the commandments had been broken even as they were being given.

        • IanCad

          All square with that Chef. It may get hot and heavy here with the Antinomianists and the traditionalists fixing for a scrap.
          Time for me to quit. The Sabbath is coming on. Blessings to all.

  • Anton

    From the interview which led to admission to medical school in Doctor in the House (Richard Gordon, 1952):

    ‘Have you been to a public school?’ he asked.

    ‘Yes.’

    ‘Do you play rugby football or association?’

    ‘Rugby.’

    ‘Do you think you can afford to pay the fees?’

    ‘Yes.’

    He grunted, and without a word withdrew.

  • not a machine

    Idolatry is subtle and difficult to digest will have a think as there are some problem influences that are unclear in any true position about their desired destination.

  • Hi

    The guy in the pictures My sister Rachel has commented that she thought he was black ? But he does look like a grumpy sod .

    • Chefofsinners

      Martin Luther and Martin Luther King. Different people.

      • Hi

        I knew I was right! Shabbat Shalom to you as it is time for our day of rest.

        • Mike Stallard

          Hannah – can you read Hebrew?

          • Ray Sunshine

            I think Hannah told us she was taking off for the sof shevuah and we shouldn’t expect her back until yom rishon at the earliest.

          • Hi

            Yes , both the modern and ancient stuff. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to follow the services in synagogue or participate in Torah study.

          • Mike Stallard

            OK Hannah, here goes. In the Anglican Church finding people who can do Hebrew is like finding real saints! This is even more so in the Catholics, I have found.
            For forty years in the wilderness I have been looking for someone – anyone – who can do Hebrew.
            At the moment I am concentrating on translating Psalm 119. I do it word by word from an analytical concordance!
            The problem is this: my translation bears little or no resemblance to what the professional theologians produce! And I am very ready to agree that it is probably me that is wrong!

          • Hi

            I suppose the lack of Hebrew speakers is because you don’t have to read the scriptures in the original language and I’ve been told by a few that king James version is the one to use , although others say it isn’t very good. I have sympathy for translation difficulties because my grandmother’s journals were all written in Jewish Arabic. And in any translation it depends on what you wish to draw out from the text or whether you want a literal translation or something else.

          • Mike Stallard

            Hannah – I have some touch with Arabia although Arabic is way beyond me. I think that I understand now. With the semitic three letter script, I get the idea that a lot of the translation depends on the reader! I rather like that. I was brought up on Latin and Greek, you see, and am used to the principles of translation and the strict rules too.
            Jewish Arabic! WOW! That presents a fascinating challenge for someone who collects languages.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Martin Luther did indeed have a reputation for not tolerating fools, as did Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Its the only thing that gives me any comfort with my similar tendency.

      • dannybhoy

        Yeah, I’ve been meaning to speak to you about that.

    • dannybhoy

      I think Rachel was probably pulling your leg.

  • Hi

    I just thought that our North American friends play ice hockey, which is a male sport. Which is why they dress up in protective gear and not just a polo shirt and skirt armed only with a hockey stick ….. ah boarding school memories.

  • IanCad

    I’ll say it again – Rugby is an apprenticeship for buggery.

    • Anton

      No, just thuggery.

  • dannybhoy

    but 44% of Christians (46% of Protestants; 36% of Roman Catholics) also appear to have no problem with idolatry.

    “One wonders what sort of Protestants these are (if, indeed, they be any kind at all), for the Bible teaches that idolatry is the cause of all sin and depravity:”

    Not to be judgmental or falsely pious, but many of the folks I know in the Anglican circles I move in seem to share a similar religious edict:
    “Thou shalt in no wise judge anyone or any life style.”
    This seems to based on a universalistic assumption regarding the nature of God and the state of the individual. Namely that God is All Accepting Love, and each one of us is as God designed us to be.

  • Norman Yardy

    Your Grace,
    Who commissions these surveys and for what purpose and how do we know what kind of Protestant or Catholic they were interviewing? I would not be surprised to find their results were pretty accurate.
    Christians today are generally very illiterate on Biblical matters. C of E gets at best twenty minutes of inane drivel and I have no idea what Catholics get but I expect that it is no better. His Grace gave us no statistics for infidelity. There seems to about 90% of the population these days has no problem with sex before marriage.
    In our Pentecostal church we get an hour of mixed teaching on a Sunday and another hour of solid Bible teaching at our house group. That is the best.
    After 52 years of being a Christian, there is always something I can learn about scripture and faith.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Most RC clergy wouldn’t preach for more than 10 minutes, if even that.

      • dannybhoy

        Really?
        Must be catching..

        • Mike Stallard

          Our Parish Catholic Priest is an ex Anglican. I really enjoyed his last Homily (we don’t do sermons). I woke up when everyone stood up for the prayers.

          • dannybhoy

            There is a malaise in many of our established churches. However I have found Catholics nearby whose lives and reverence for God is a blessing, and forms a basis for fellowship.
            Interesting to me is that they are slightly shy or awkward about sharing their deeper thoughts, whereas we who are nonconformist find this quite natural.

          • “Deeper thoughts” about what?

          • Dominic Stockford

            I have also found that when in one of these ‘ecumenical gatherings ‘ (which I no longer attend) they are almost invariably unable to pray from the heart, out loud, without reverting to words someone else has written. Some Protestants, of course, are quite loquacious!

      • Ray Sunshine

        In some cases, at least, I believe that is the recommendation handed down by their bishop. “If you can’t say it in five minutes, you’re saying too much” – it’s an old slogan but it still has many adherents in the Catholic hierarchy.

        • Anton

          How long is the sermon on the mount?

          • Ray Sunshine

            Good point, Anton. I don’t remember anything in either Matthew or Luke about people dozing off before He’d finished.

      • Our liturgy expresses our faith and includes: a confession of sin and penitential act, giving glory to God, three readings from scripture, a creedal confession, the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Christ, and expressions of our unworthiness to receive the Body and Blood of Christ as sinners.

        We don’t centre our worship on listening to a minster taking centre stage and preaching at people from the pulpit.

        • carl jacobs

          Besides which, Catholic laity don’t actually need to learn anything. All they really need to know is the ritual.

          • A ridiculous comment. One needs to understand the liturgy – there’s a difference. The Mass really is a summation of our faith as well as perfect worship.
            The scripture readings from the Old Testament, Gospel and Epistles are all linked and can be summarised without endless padding. The Gospel message isn’t that complicated. And over the three year liturgical cycle a Catholic is exposed to the life of Christ set within the prophecies of the Old Testament and the teachings of the Apostles in their Epistles.
            All in all, very uplifting worship to God being informative and spiritual. It feeds the heart, mind and soul and is both communal and personal in nature. Much better than a few hymns and a minster being the focus and propounding his personal musings on the meaning of scripture.

          • Anton

            Yes, Catholic Mass has improved greatly in recent centuries, with the introduction of Bible readings in a language understood by the congregation, and hymns in which they may participate. Where did those ideas come from?

          • Erasmus and other reformers? The change would have come in the Church without rogue priests imposing their ideologies on translations thus precipitating political upheaval and violent revolution with millions of deaths across Europe. It was never about vernacular.

          • Anton

            Erasmus put unity above truth. Luther did the opposite. He did not want to split the church but to reform it for the better, but it proved unreformable from within.

          • Come off it. Erasmus put fidelity to Christ’s Church above rebellion and revolution, trusting in God rather than man. He understood the Holy Spirit guides the Church to maintain continuity through the Church’s magisterium. Luther initiated an attack on the very foundations of the Catholic faith. His intent was not simply to fight abuses in indulgences or the sins of the Renaissance Church. He abandoned the principles of the Catholic faith, Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Magisterium of the Popes and Councils.

          • Anton

            Aren’t you aware of how he was unhappy at the state of the church in Germany but presumed all was better in Rome till he visited it? Or of how his 95 Theses were an offer to debate rather than a declaration of independence? You can’t telescope an entire lifetime into its conclusion. It is Rome that had abandoned the faith of the early church and the scriptures.

          • The Protestant “Reformation” was the greatest disaster the West has suffered over the last millennium. It brought theological confusion, political turmoil and decades of war which killed about three percent of the world’s population, the same proportion that died in World War II.

            There was much was wrong in the Catholic Church of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Personal morality was lax and corruption was widespread among the clergy, being particularly scandalous the higher one went up the hierarchical ladder. It needed reform. What it got was the “Reformation”. Luther rejected some long-taught beliefs and offered novelties of his own making. His counterparts elsewhere in Europe, such as Calvin and the English Reformers, did likewise. The result was an ever dividing Protestantism, the members of which were unable to agree among themselves on doctrines and practices. All they agreed on was to opposing Papacy.

            Protestantism was grounded on false principles, among them the private interpretation of Scripture. Once you accept the principle that there is no human authority appointed and guided by God to which you give obedience of mind and not just of action, you’re free to use private interpretation at will. It isn’t limited to Scripture. It extends to the whole of religion and to life.

            One man’s private interpretation gets reinterpreted by another man, who thinks he has the final and pure understanding. Then successors come along who argue that he claimed too much or too little. There is no stopping point. There is a kind of law of religious entropy at play with the tendency toward simplification. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob becomes the God of the Deists and then the God of the philosophers.

            A straight line can be drawn from Protestantism through the Enlightenment to today’s secularism. The ancestor of secular humanism isn’t a vague paganism; it’s Puritanism. By its inner nature, Protestantism is unstable. It is a hodgepodge. Much in it is true, but that truth pre-existed in Catholicism. To that truth were superadded partial truths and untruths and that made the construct unstable.

            There never was a need for the Reformation. There was a need for reform, but the Reformation was not a reform. It was a revolt. It did not make the Church more of what it should have been. It made the Church into something else by making new churches.

          • CliveM

            Surely if the reformation was a result of the corruption and immorality of the RCC, the greatest disaster was not the reformation, but the state of the church that provoked it?

          • But it wasn’t the result of the corruption and immorality of the Church. That prompted many Catholics to call for reform. The revolt and its consequences cannot be justified by this. Do you believe the form and manner of the French and Russian revolutions can be defended because the Monarchs in these countries were slow at addressing social and political injustices?

          • CliveM

            The manner no, but the Monarchs must shoulder the responsibility for creating the conditions that allowed it to happen. They will be judged for this, as will those who revelled in the blood shed.

          • Social injustice generally set the conditions for violent reactions.

          • CliveM

            Likewise if we behave in ways disrespectful of God and what he calls us to be, we cannot but expect people to walk away from us and look for a better way.

          • Anton

            Yep. Too bad the church didn’t protest more vigorously about that injustice when it had the chance; for example, Roman Catholicism in 18th century France or Orthodoxy in late-19th century Russia. Both were cuddled up to the aristocracy that perpetrated the injustice.

          • Jack wouldn’t necessarily disagree, however one has to ask whether the consequences of violent uprisings against lawful authority by triggering mob hatred, brought greater evils than those they sought to address. Are you a of supporter liberation theology? Look what happened in both those revolutions, as in the Protestant revolution.

          • Anton

            You have twisted my words to suggest that I support violent revolution when they imply nothing of the sort. It was you who said that social injustice was a necessary condition for an uprising but I wasn’t so base as to suggest that you were supporting revolution in such circumstances.

          • Your words suggest that Luther et al had no alternative to seeking reform of the Church other than publically attacking its core doctrines and seeking mass movement support for its downfall. It wasn’t a reform movement at all. It was a revolution aimed at very the institutions of Church and State. We now know the consequences of such an attack, as did Luther as he witnessed it unfold. Men like Thomas Muntzer were the forefathers of violent revolutionaries in France and Russia. A just cause and illicit methods.

            Was else could Luther have done given his beliefs? Jack really doesn’t know given that his objections would have been framed as heresy and resulted in the State executing him. Christ died unjustly because Hs revolution threatened the established order. He avoided the path of confrontation and revolution. Maybe there’s a precedent there.

          • Anton

            Luther was not a consequentialist. He simply attacked what he rightly saw was wrong.

          • True Luther wasn’t a “consequentialism” in that he didn’t consider the consequences of his attacks on the Church at all. His actions were directed at inflaming passions in an attack on legitimate authority was a direct disregard of scripture.

          • Anton

            Whereas the selling of Indulgences, which is what his passion was originally directed against, wasn’t?

          • The selling of indulgences and the exploitation of people was a great sin as were other aspects of late medieval Europe society supported by the Church. This could and, Jack is sure, would have been resolved without recourse to an all out heretical and violent revolt that resulted in years of war and millions of deaths and resulted in the division of Christianity. Luther was an impatient hothead protected by political forces with their own interests to pursue.

          • Anton

            How?

          • Trust In the Holy Spirit – how else?

          • Dominic Stockford

            Given that the Roman church held the reins of society – in England for instance the monasteries ran people’s lives and effectively owned almost all food production – this was down to them.

          • Just like the French and Russian revolutions and subsequent bloodshed was down to the Monarchs and Church in those nations? Never took you for a supporter of liberation theology.

            Henry VIII certainly wanted his own way when it came to women and also the wealth and land of the monasteries. The likes of Cranmer and Cromwell gave him the ideological justification.

          • Dominic Stockford

            The opposite of opposing tyranny isn’t the communism of liberation theology.

            By the way, buy yourself a copy of the Daily Telegraph tomorrow. It’ll give you plenty to rail against.

          • Anton

            I’ve made a note to, in my diary.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Enjoy, an entire page!

          • “Tranny”? Hardly. How do they differ? Both use rebellion and popular insurrection against established authority. One claims the Holy Spirit as its justification; the other forces of “history”.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I haven’t mentioned transexuality. Why do you bring that up?

          • Jack meant tyranny …. Lol.

          • Pagans say it’s the day the dead who are not at peace walk. Ironic, or what.

          • Anton

            Secularism is, of course, parasitic on freedom of conscience. Given that Jesus told his disciples that if people did not accept the gospel then they should sake the dust off their feet or move on, do you or do you not believe in freedom of religious conscience?

            If you agree with Christ and answer Yes, it follows that Rome should not have used violence to try to continue to enforce its churchly monopoly, and that it therefore bears the responsibility for the blood shed, does it not?

            It is good that you agree the Roman Catholic church needed reform by Luther’s time. In the beginning Luther was protesting against exactly the things you object to. When he refused to back off he was excommunicated. Here is the proof that Rome was irreformable. How do you think it might have been reformed for the better? By what strategy?

            You have to bang on about interpretation in order to make roof for your views, but most verses are clear to all, so that interpretation is the exception rather than the rule. What you call private interpretation is more accurately called a non-Roman interpretation, because plenty of people hold those alternate views. And you in any case have to make your own interpretation of the Catholic rulebook, and end up disagreeing with other Catholics – such as the present Pope.

          • Secularism is, of course, parasitic on freedom of conscience. So too, of course, is heresy. Jack shared his views on conscience in the article on abortion. Private conscience cannot be asserted over Divine Truth or the common good.

            Rome wasn’t responsible for the upsurge of violence from the peasants, egged on by protestant ideas. Rome wasn’t responsible for the outbreak of rivalries and warfare between earthly princes that the protestant revolt provoked. Not conceding to Luther’s demands hardly constitutes proof Rome was responsible for the bloodshed his disobedience precipitated. He got ahead of himself and let his ego take over.

            If scripture is so clear why are there such divergent opinions on justification and sanctification? Why so many different opinions on the atonement. On how grace is received? On the nature and effect of original sin? On the sacraments? On worship? There are, indeed, plenty of people holding alternate views to Catholic teachings and to one another.

            “The Reformation needs completing, ie the church needs to be depoliticised and returned to its original structure of a network rather than a hierarchy.”

            And so the disputes amongst protestants will continue as you each invent your own churches because you recognise no human authority to which you owe obedience. One group’s private interpretation will be accepted by some and not others. As Jack said, there’s no stopping point.

            “This will be accomplished in the foreseeable future by a persecution that will sever all links with the authorities and lop off the hierarchies.”

            Says Anton …. and his chuch.

            “Christ’s bride needs cleansing prior to her wedding and it will come to pass.”

            On that, at least, we agree.

            [And Jack is confident the disagreements in the Catholic Church will be resolved in God’s own good time. The deposit of faith is not a “Catholic rulebook”. It is a living, developing unfolding of God’s revelation applied to changing situations. And, just as has always been, there will be differences of opinion about where the Holy Spirit is leading His Church which have to be authoritatively resolved when schism and disunity is threatened]

          • Anton

            Yes, heresy too is parasitic on freedom of conscience. but do you or do you not believe that heretics should be done away with rather than merely excommunicated?

            “Private interpretation” again… you seem wary of discussing the scriptures when you should revel in it because you are sure you have the answers.

          • Of course Jack doesn’t believe heretics should be “done away with”! Then, he doesn’t believe that traitors should necessarily be killed by the State either.

        • Dominic Stockford

          I am well aware that the idea of your minister preaching on the Bible, for instance, Hebrews 10, is not what Rome wants happening.

          • The Catholic Church has no the problem with Hebrew’s 10 and the Mass. Why would you say such a daft thing?

      • Chefofsinners

        Which is a blessing, and shows remarkable self-awareness.

    • David

      Yes for the great majority of the liberal C of E churches theological illiteracy abounds.
      But there is fortunately a small minority of thriving conservative evangelical churches like mine where the Word is taught through lessons, individual and short courses, house groups etc and good, solid, themed preaching in each of the services designed to feed the soul. We provide a good proportion of the funds of the denomination too, which is a sore point with me, as I do not believe we should be propping up an effete, faithless hierarchy.
      I also support the Anglican Mission to England and Gafcon.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Your Grace, theological illiteracy doesn’t, in my humble opinion, cover it.

  • dannybhoy

    And to you and yours, Hannahle.

  • Jack thought she seemed excited. Congratulations to you, your chid and your husband and may God protect all of you.

  • Mike Stallard

    Why are all the churches round here kept permanently locked? This was not the case in the last century. Why now?
    Why, on “Pointless” did only a handful of people know the most common hymns?
    Why are most of the 20th century theological colleges closed?
    And, most of all – does this have any effect at all on the Great British Public?
    Finally – what are the new idols? What do they stand for? What do they teach us?

    None of these questions are often asked.

    • Ray Sunshine

      I don’t know about the other questions, but the answer to the first one is Theft – now quite widely regarded as only a trivial form of misbehaviour and only to be expected in a society that is so tolerant of drug habits, however unaffordable. Yet another commandment gone down the memory hole.

      • Mike Stallard

        Fear of theft = wimpishness by the Church.
        Thieves there have always been. I remember, at St Peter’s Bedford, entering the Church for evensong and passing a used sanitary towel. On another occasion, someone had taken a dump in the annex.
        Did we respond by locking up?
        No. Instead we cleaned up and made sure that the wooden cross was still on the altar.

        • Anton

          not wimpishness. To prevent theft someone has to be there all the time the building is open, and it is not easy to find enough people to provide such cover.

          • Mike Stallard

            Well now. Why was this not so in the 1990s? Why has it suddenly occurred? The churches have stood open for, in many cases, hundreds of years.
            I remember having to close my own church in Norfolk while the (priceless) organ was being repaired. It took six months to recover until people started frequenting the place again. But – hey – that was way back in the 1980s before thieves were invented!

          • Anton

            Not my problem Mike, I take the view that the church is living stones not inanimate ones.

          • Mike Stallard

            OK I have heard that a lot. It is the normal argument. But where do you go if you want some peace and quiet? Where do you go for an instant atmosphere of religious feeling and sanctity? I know God is everywhere. Of course He is. But a historic focal point is terribly important. And a closed church says a lot.
            Tescos over extended and there is a huge closed Tescos near where I live on the main road. It says an awful lot about the state of the Tesco Empire. “GOD IS DEAD!” was written on the side on one church I saw.
            PS For our village harvest festival, I was pleased to see that, apart from the Vicar, two cars had pulled up to enjoy the festivities. So three living stones there! All over 80!

          • Protestants don’t believe in the Real physical Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. Hence the comment: “I take the view that the church is living stones not inanimate ones.”

          • Anton

            Physical? Nobody questions that the physics of the elements remains the physics of bread and blood.

            I take my comment directly from the scriptures (1 Peter 2:4-5); how about you?

            Jesus is really present where two or more gather in his name (Matt 18:20).

          • He’s also physically present in the Eucharist in every Catholic and Orthodox Church throughout the world. The substance of the Eucharistic elements are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ and only the appearance, the accident, of bread and wine remain.

          • Anton

            Prove it.

          • Mike Stallard

            Queen Elizabeth I: “He took the bread and brake it, and that which He doth make it, I do believe and take it.” – Wise woman.
            But it still doesn’t really go to the heart of the churches which go right back to beyond Norman times. Let’s chuck them away too! I really do hope not. They are the house of God.

          • It’s a classic statement of believe whatever you want to believe. Political pragmatism, perhaps, but not wisdom.

          • Prove God made the Universe.

          • Anton

            That is not at issue and you made the assertion.

            You could always get out of it by deciding I don’t exist, of course.

          • It is the very same issue. You believe in a Triune God and the Incarnation because of the Church – her scripture and her teachings. You cannot prove the God we worship exists by science or the physical senses, nor through natural reason. For the same reasons, Jack believes in the Real physical Presence of Our Lord. He told us so and this has been passed on by the Church in inspired writings (the Gospel) and in her constant teachings and practise.

          • Anton

            You really need to learn that assertion isn’t demonstration. If you want to showboat before readers, fine, but if you want to persuade the other in a dialogue then you need to find a mutually agreed starting point. We do have scripture in common, you know.

          • “We do have scripture in common, you know.”
            Because ….. you insist on private interpretation. Jack isn’t trying to persuade you; he’s just setting forth Christian truth. You’ve been walked through scriptural evidence for the Real Presence – the transformation of bread and wine into Christ’s Body and Blood – but choose to deny it. That’s not down to Jack.

          • Anton

            You really need to learn that assertion isn’t demonstration.

            Private interpretation in your post just means “not my interpretation” so far as I am concerned. We can discuss our differing views of scripture. As you reckon you have 2000 years of theological discussion in your corner you shouldn’t find it difficult (nor need to refer me to links if you find the going getting rough).

          • There’ll be plenty of time in purgatory for all that. Jack isn’t prepared to take on your invincible ignorance on a blog.

          • Anton

            Purgatory? I’ll see you in heaven first!

          • The going never “gets rough”, Anton.

          • Anton

            The going is rough in your corner without me saying a word. Watching Rome making it up as it goes along and then contorting itself to say it hasn’t changed its mind, because it can’t admit it has ever been wrong, is the finest farce in town.

          • You need that statement to be true. Unfortunately, for you, it isn’t.

          • Anton

            You really need to learn that assertion isn’t demonstration.

          • Anton

            Peace and quiet is important, of course. Jesus withdrew to the desert for it. It is still not too hard to find. As for “an atmosphere of religious feeling”, if you need a specific building for that then I suggest it is your faith that needs building!

          • CliveM

            Tbh I feel these sort of issues don’t have a right or wrong. We are al different and each of us find these things more or less helpful. I think God will be generous with that .

          • Some people’s faith does need building. Like the person who has no real idea of faith but finds herself drawn to an open church building during a time of crisis and then finds herself connecting with God in the silence and the holiness of the place. Church buildings are physical witnesses for people who aren’t theologically adept enough to know about living stones. Insisting that the church is nothing to do with the building is just as pharisaic as insisting that it’s all about the building.

          • Anton

            The amount of money, time and effort that goes into buildings that could go into what the New Testament says the church should do is large. But my main motivation is, as usual: Get ready for persecution. That is why I exhort believers not to be concerned about buildings. Someday we shall be thrown out of them. Let us be ready for that day, rather than running around like headless chickens when it happens.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Yes. We have had thefts from the church when we have been in it, let alone if we were foolish enough to leave it unlocked and unattended – which is the necessity for most city congregations. It is not a great use of time to have a ‘rota’ for people to stand guard – and if they did it would make little difference to many of the thieves.

    • Sarky

      Because nobody cares.

      • Anton

        Which is why the country is in deep trouble. You seem to be blessed with a happy life Sarky, and if so I’m glad, but the nation is gong down the tubes and will take you with it. Why do you think that is?

        • Sarky

          I don’t think it is. Its no better/worse than its ever been.
          There is a big difference between a direction you don’t personally like and ‘going down the tubes’

          • Anton

            Look at the family breakdown stats. They will have their outworking.

          • Sarky

            What?? Divorce rates are down, teenage pregnancies are down. But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

          • Anton

            Are you kidding? Since the war which is less than a lifetime ago these things have gone up approximately tenfold.

          • Sarky

            But they are gowing down.

          • Anton

            Good. Is that because our Muslim community is improving them?

          • Sarky

            They’re not significant enough to make a meaningful difference.

  • not a machine

    Your graces post has a quote in the painting which made me think of a sure fire winning question to pose in the Turing test. That aside the most striking example in the old testament is Moses, people were wanting a home, food and a focus to give a God that was one of plenty and riches to sacrifice to as they had perhaps seen in Egypt, Moses returns with the communed ten commandments and they did not understand it, so I concluded that explanation still is a problem today. Idolatry is different to reminder very often it has it’s own religious practices and perhaps in the era of manufactured goods quite a wide base of things one might consider idolatrous if keen, noting also that the hair shirt is not welcome in any political thought. Not regarding post I think I have to look forward to Macron thought perhaps all week?

    • not a machine

      Whilst we seem to be on our words in this post this week I heard the old collect for purity from old BCP, I don’t know if it was his graces ashes hand but quite wonderful.

  • Chefofsinners

    106% of Protestants don’t understand statistics, but if you’re not one of them, try this: The average adult has one testicle.

    • carl jacobs

      That’s. Just. Awful.

    • I agree with this 1,000%.

    • betteroffoutofit

      Sad, but true. At grammar school, etc. everybody had been very bright. Then, sometime in the outer world of the ’60s, it dawned on me quite shockingly… So many people refuse to use their noddles

    • CliveM

      Really I would have thought less (sex change, testicular cancer, trauma)!

      • Chefofsinners

        And, like every argument, we rapidly arrive at Hitler, who did his bit to reduce the average. And Himmler, who has one similar.

      • James Bolivar DiGriz

        Like most (>99%) people have an above average number of legs.

        • Anton

          Didn’t some Trade Union leader once say that everyone should earn more than the average wage?

          • Chefofsinners

            Politicians of all parties frequently lament that nearly 50% of children have below average levels of attainment.

      • Hi

        So what is I wonder , the mean verses the average?

        • CliveM

          I’m sure someone knows but I don’t. Heartiest congratulations to your sister by the way.

  • Ian G

    How can 46% of Protestants not know that? Easy. Nobody taught them.Furthermore, they silenced the teachers. The C of E does not want Bible teachers. If it did, we would not be in this mess.

  • CliveM

    Hannah

    That gave me the biggest laugh I’ve had for quite a while!

  • Pubcrawler

    Necessary but not sufficient. See Pakistan.

    • CliveM

      The exception that proves the rule!

      Which is also one of those ‘wise’ sayings I have my doubts about!

  • IrishNeanderthal

    Do anyone here remember Telegraph Blogs, and a frequent commenter who seemed to think that abortion was somehow better that pregnancy?

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    6% of Anglicans think “thou shalt not steal” is a bit much? All of them senior clergymen, perhaps? 🙂

    • Anton

      Tetzel and his boss?

      • Dominic Stockford

        Ah, but for them it was a way of life, not an occasional activity!

  • big bwana

    What is most alarming/shaming for the CofE is the level of understanding among longstanding and regular church goers about the nature of salvation. Many if not most of those whose views I have heard on this subject firmly believe that if they are ‘good enough’ then they will get to heaven, whilst shockingly few have any concept of what Jesus’ death on the cross means or how salvation is through faith.
    I sometimes wonder what on earth has been going on during church services all this time and why has the gospel not been proclaimed in ways that are straightforward, clear and easy to understand.

    • SimonToo

      Pelagianism was the British heresy.

  • I’ve been listening to Phil Robertson videos on You Tube. He says the ten commandments should be on public display in the court house because that’s where you end up for violating any of them. I also think they should be displayed in police stations and on police websites.

    • Anton

      I’ve been trying to watch his 1-hour documentary Torchbearer on the history of Christianity, but it’s available by download only (not DVD) and for reasons I don’t understand your credit card has to be registered to a North American address. Nor can I find a free upload on YouTube except by going to links that I don’t trust not to give me a virus. (In an internet cafe I learnt that some of these illicit links also want a credit card number but no way to that.)

      Can anyone help?

      • I can’t get any further than having to register and give card details for a free 30 day trial on every site I try. I’m not going to give any card details either. Seems Satan is blocking the way to further enlightenment.

        • Anton

          I’d give my card details to one of the legit online outlets, eg Amazon.com, but it has to be registered to a US address to get Torchbearer. Amazon.com isn’t so fussy about books!

  • Coniston

    It would be interesting to know what people thought the word ‘idols’ meant.