St Anselm2
Church of England

The Community of St Anselm – satisfaction and spirituality

 

A few months ago the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby announced a new initiative at Lambeth Palace: the establishment of the Community of St Anselm, the objective of which was to “gather a group of adventurous young adults from all walks of life, hungry for a challenging and formative experience of life in a praying community”. He explained: “Members of the Community will live in a way the ancient monastics would recognise: drawing closer to God through a daily rhythm of silence, study and prayer. But, through those disciplines, they will also be immersed in the modern challenges of the global 21st century church.”

And so Archbishop Justin appointed a Prior, the Rev’d Anders Litzell, to direct its worship and mission. He will be working under the guidance and authority of the Archbishop, who will be Abbot of the Community. “Archbishop Justin longs that Lambeth Palace be not so much a historic place of power and authority, but a place from which blessing and service reach to the ends of the earth,” explained his Chaplain, the Rev’d Dr Jo Wells.

This might all sound a bit monkish and archaic, but the Archbishop is determined that Lambeth Palace will beat with the heart of a cathedral: it will be a house of prayer, Eucharist, service and spiritual renewal – from thence to the Church, from the Church to the community, and from community to the nation and into the world. The Community of St Anselm will “learn and borrow from all the traditions, ancient and modern,” says the Archbishop. “It might be linked to some of the great movements of the past – for example, those led by Benedict, Francis, Clare and Wesley – yet I expect it to look different, as a new renewal for new times. God’s created community is always perfectly designed for its time and place. Yet it almost always begins from below: when Christians get serious about seeking Christ, together.”

But, short of a brief paragraph about the ‘Religious Life‘ and five-and-a-half lines about St Anselm, the Community’s website doesn’t tell us much at all about who this Benedictine monk was, or anything at all about his spiritual and doctrinal significance to the Church. And what does Anslem of Canterbury tell us about Justin of Canterbury?

Anselm was among the first philosopher-theologians to challenge the pervasive ‘ransom’ theory of atonement – the notion that Christ offered himself as a ransom for our sin, and by doing so set us free from the power of Satan. Others had quibbled with how and to whom the ransom had been paid, but in Cur Deus Homo (1098) Anselm stressed what Christ as man does in acting toward God, as opposed to what God does through Christ, thus focusing on the idea of God’s voluntary response to God. An act of satisfaction is different from that of paying a ransom. Anselm proposed that that either punishment from God toward humankind was necessary, or a satisfaction offered by man to God. In the act of punishment it is the offended who would make good; in the case of satisfaction it is the offender.

Anselm set forth a dilemma: humankind must pay the debt of satisfaction for its sin, but it is not able. “He who does not render this honour which is due to God, robs God of his own and dishonours him; and this is sin,” he wrote. He sees that the sinner must repay God, but that it is impossible for God to overlook this – “..if sin is neither paid for nor punished, it is subject to no law” – because God “maintains nothing with more justice than the honour of his own dignity”. There is nothing within humankind that could possibly be of sufficient value to give God the honour due to Him: since the debt is infinite, it can be paid only by God; and since it is man who owes it, it must be paid by man.

This is where Anselm proposes the absolute necessity of Jesus – the “God-man”. Only God could give something of greater value than the offence committed by humankind, so God as man must make the necessary satisfaction. Christ’s divinity gives infinite value to the sufferings of the God-man: Jesus’ sinless life of obedience to the Father here on earth and His willing act of offering Himself up in death more than equals the offence humankind had committed toward God. Sin ‘coerces’ God, who punishes in the interest of universal order, and if He were not to do so, in some sense “he would appear to be deficient in his management”. In order to restore order to the world, God finds Himself in some sense ‘forced’ into the act of redemption. This notion of the necessity of redemption became, from the time of Aquinas, the scandal of Anselm’s doctrine of salvation, however great the efforts he expended attempting to take the edge off his conclusion by a stricter clarification of this concept of logical necessity.

Anselm’s theory finds scriptural support in passages such as Colossians 2:13f, but his emphasis on the cross is largely at the expense of Christ’s incarnation, ministry, resurrection, ascension and return. He does not totally ignore the “hope through the Christian faith, ‘which works by love’, that (one) may be saved”, and neither does he miss Christ’s victory over Satan, the parallel’s between Adam and Christ, or the value of the example set by Christ. But all of these are portrayed only in the context of the atonement significance of the cross. While his theory of atonement may fairly be judged to be incomplete, even a flight of speculative imagination; and while his logic does not always bear the weight placed upon it, Anselm does present a clear perception of the gravity of sin as a wilful rebellion against God, the unchanging holiness of God, and the unique perfections of Christ.

Archbishop Justin clearly understands the cultural and doctrinal confines of the medieval Western world: he grasps that Anselm’s doctrine of atonement is partial, but clearly admires how successfully he contextualised his theology in the thought-forms of his day. In an era characterised by feudal loyalty, the commoners would find themselves hopelessly indebted to their lord, and so strive their whole lives to bring him the honour due him. To understand Anselm we must imagine the atonement as taking place not within the framework of public law, but rather within the framework of the feudal loyalty.

But it is perhaps Anselm’s spirituality that gives the greater insight into Archbishop Justin’s priorities. Anselm’s inner life is the key to understanding his theology of atonement and his exalted view of God’s dignity. His reasoning was nurtured in the Benedictine monastery, which he found a congenial venue for the divine purposes he embraced: man was made to see God but had been “banished to this world of blindness”, he wrote in Proslogion. Anselm was left to quest for God, which was the only worthy vision. The monastery afforded him the space and time for such a pursuit, placing his whole existence in divine context, through obedience according to the ‘Rule of Benedict’, which has long guided Archbishop Justin.

By that monastic profession, Anselm embraced a perpetual and unending obligation to glorify God in all things, to do his good works within the environment of the cloister and stability of his monastery, and to seek God truly – before and above all else. His ‘Prayer to Benedict’ portrays Benedictine life as a continuous turning to God – this is the ebb and flow of Anselm’s whole perspective on divine accessibility. Man must offer an absolute gift of self, but God must bring it to its conclusion. By this precept, the quest for God – an enterprise desired by both God and man – is rendered cooperative; divinity must be relied upon to bring the soul’s good intentions to a proper end. What is impossible for man alone is imminently achievable in cooperation with the God who has called the person to that end.

Anselm places the effects of Christ’s sufferings and death wholly in their moral results. The love of God in giving up his son kindles a responsive love which becomes the ground for the forgiveness of sins. Redemption is the greatest love kindled by Christ’s passion, a love which not only delivers from the bondage of sin, but also yields the true freedom of children where love instead of fear becomes the ruling affection.

Anselm often addresses the redemption theme in extreme states of mind – in prayer, in meditation, or in connection with those themes lying closest to his heart; in the agitated crises of his striving for God, in hopelessness and despondence, as something beyond his reach, or a reality to be hoped for in the next life. On some occasions, face to face with God, Anselm’s exile from God is apparent. The distance is in him, not in God; God is not the source of the distance, but Anselm. At other times, he addresses it in a burst of exuberant joy. This duality of pain and joy originates in his deep awareness of God’s immanence and transcendence, and of the other Divine paradoxes which spring from this source. This is exactly the context in which Anselm’s theology can be understood. In the restoration, all is harmonised. Redemption, God’s supreme act, becomes a “splendid order”.

If this is but half the spiritual expression of the Community of St Anselm, Justin Welby will go down in history as the Archbishop who restored the Religious Life to Lambeth Palace. The incomplete doctrinal theories of the pre-scholastic medieval worldview are mirrored in the partial soteriology of postmodern paradigm. You may yearn for a systematic theology to correct behaviour and refute error: Archbishop Justin seeks to understand in order to believe, and in believing he sets a noble example of prayer and a bold gesture of divine love, thus arousing our own ability to live justly, obediently, and humbly.

  • Busy Mum

    “And what does Anselm of Canterbury tell us about Justin of Canterbury?”

    Anselm, as AofC ….’freed the church (in England) from the yoke of royalty, only to chain it to the papal chair.’ D’Aubigne

  • len

    If Welby is seeking to’ recharge the batteries’ of the Anglican faith so as to bring some life and purpose back into the Church perhaps seeking the Holy Spirit might be more productive than going into a ‘holy huddle’ .

    • alternative_perspective

      Perhaps seeking after God can entail entreating the Holy Spirit to come in power. I’m not sure but maybe He isn’t entirely confined to Western pentecostal movements and Hill Song?
      This said from a more-often-than-not member of a pentecostal church that sings a reasonable amount of Hill Song.

      IMO, the greatest problem the church has is its Greek attitude to Jewish thinking. The way in which we carve out dualistic notions from a holistic thought or approach the things of God exclusively from an Either Or approach when in fact a Both And analysis seems to fit better.

    • Uncle Brian

      “Seeking the Holy Spirit” and “going into a holy huddle” — two ways of saying the same thing? Possibly.

  • IanCad

    No matter how I read this YG, I cannot but conclude that nearly five centuries after the dissolution of the monastries this is the first step toward the restoration of the navel-gazing orders in the CofE.

    We are not instructed to huddle in groups, our orders are clear:

    “Go to all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit—”

    To tell of Him who was annointed to proclaim the good news to the poor; to set the captives free; give sight to the blind and set at liberty those who are oppressed.

    This is a step back to Rome.

    • CliveM

      I understood that the CofE already had (or at least until very recently) a small number of Monks etc? I’m sure I met some at Greenbelt years ago.

      • IanCad

        Thanks for the link Clive.

        To quote from the introduction —

        “It comes as a surprise to many that there are monks, nuns, brother and sisters in the Anglican church”

        Sure was to me.

        • Busy Mum

          Written in 1898…..” There are at the present time, within the C of E, a greater number of Sisters of Mercy than were in this country before the suppression of Monasteries and Convents by Henry VIII. The wealth possessed by Ritualistic Convents is, I have no doubt, far greater than that possessed by the RC convents of England in the early part of the 16th century.”

          The same source describes this as a ‘system which at the Reformation was entirely ejected, root and branch, out of the reformed C of E and, as most loyal churchmen believe, for very good reasons.’

          Welby’s standing as a ‘loyal churchman’ is what is in question here. Loyalty to the C of E or to Rome?

          • CliveM

            Hi Busy Mum

            I have never fully understood why reformed Churches have such a negative view of the ‘religious’ life. If you look into its history it has made a big contribution to Christian mission, both evangelical and social.

            My suspicion is it has more to do with the perceived corruption and wealth of the medieval period, then any real theological objections.

          • Busy Mum

            “Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances after the commandments and doctrines of men?….Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.” Colossians 2 v 20-23

            ” …..in violation of the truth of God and of the commonsense of mankind….men and women in the flush of youthful vigour ….shut themselves up to the morbid contemplation of evil, and the effort to overcome it by unchristian asceticism and penances. The result has too often been utter shipwreck of both faith and morals. And not a few who seem to have succeeded have become, not saints, but pharisees.” Sir Robert Anderson, 1899

            The ‘religious life’ works on the assumption that those taking orders are capable of becoming holy by their own efforts i.e. it is salvation by works rather than by faith.

          • CliveM

            So nothing theological then? I don’t see that your biblical quote excludes living in community and even if your final point regards RC religious tradition is true (I’ll leave others to argue the point) at most it is a criticism of a form of religious life, not the principle.

          • Busy Mum

            How can you let your light shine forth among men if you shroud it in a cloister?
            The darker your surroundings, the brighter your light will shine.
            Withdrawing from society under the guise of holiness may actually be the hypocrite’s avoidance of taking up his cross.

          • CliveM

            The cloistered, withdrawn from the world model is only one way of leading a communal, religious life. But lots of religious communities don’t follow this model and do go out into society and always have done. St. Columba lived a communal religious life, he was a Monk, but he very much worked and evangelised in the world.

            It is not a better Christian witness simply a different one. And to organise your life so you have more time for prayer, more time to study Gods word whilst living in a supportive community cannot be a bad thing.

            As I said before I am a bit bemused by some reactions to it.

          • Busy Mum

            I wonder whether this new Community of St Anselm will be subject to OFSTED-type snap inspections to ensure that all prayers conform to new ‘British’ values? And of course, the priors, abbots, abbesses and whoever will have been thoroughly CRB checked……but surely not, this is a ‘religious’ life, of course nothing untoward could possibly take place – after all, we are so enlightened nowadays that secluded human beings living closely together for a year are incapable of falling…..monasteries and convents failed in medieval times because the inmates were still learning how to be good but 21st century novices have evolved sufficiently to be perfect……!!

          • CliveM

            Why would they need to be CRB checked? We are talking adults, even if young ones.

            We are also not talking 1960’s style Hippy Commune!! 🙂

          • Busy Mum clearly believes it part of an ongoing Roman plot to corrupt and take over Anglicanism. Actually, in reality, she hasn’t researched the aims and objectives of this initiative which is to prepare a younger generation, through prayer and study, to go back into the world and help transform culture towards Christian values.

          • CliveM

            It’ll all be the fault of the Jesuits!!!

          • That’s not even Roman Catholicism, let alone its view of religious life.

          • Busy Mum

            Can’t see that I mentioned Roman Catholicism? If by religious life we mean withdrawing from society and living in a virtual ghetto with others likeminded, religious life has been a feature of every belief system under the sun.

          • CliveM

            But that is only one type!

          • Monasteries and convents are not “virtual ghettos”, Busy Mum. And they’re not places of “morbid contemplation of evil” with efforts to overcome it by “unchristian asceticism and penances”. Certainly, they are founded on a different theology of atonement to the classic Calvinist one. This is where an understanding of St. Anselm’s writings comes in handy.

          • len

            I think to withdraw from society has many attractions but to live in a religious invironment could possibly promote a false sense of piety and aloofnesss from the realities of life.
            It is when we contact the realities of life that God can use these as an ‘abrasive’ to trim us to the shape He desire us to be in?.

          • CliveM

            You make a reasonable point. But not all religious communities do withdraw from society, some engage actively (as some orders of monks and nuns did and do) and use their ‘community’ as a support in the prayer and Christian life.

            I find some elements of that quite attractive, although it wouldn’t be for me.

            In the past a Church I belonged to had a Church flat where young Christians tried to live as a faith and witness community. It lived in it for a couple of years (this was a long time ago!!). It was challenging and I failed in many ways, but I did also learn a lot.

            I think this sort of model does have a place.

          • And the source? Walter Walsh; ‘The Secret History of the Oxford Movement’.

            According to one source, “Walter Walsh …. exposed the war plans against Protestant Anglicans by the 19th century Tractarian, Oxfordian, and Ritualistic Romanisers (TORR).”

            TORR apparently had “governing, global, national, doctrinal, liturgical, and anti-Reformation objectives.” Its objectives being to: “Subordinate the English Church to Rome, seize assets, livings, institutional structures, and obliterate the Protestant face of worldwide Anglicanism.”

            Perhaps Justin Welby is really a secret agent for the Vatican continuing this covert warfare.

          • Busy Mum

            And those objectives have been achieved, haven’t they?

          • Hardly …. it’s taking much longer than anticipated.

          • Busy Mum

            Anticipation=waiting in hope, so you admit that this was the aim of TORR and is an ongoing strategy?
            The face of Anglicanism is very similar to the RCC – candles, prayers for the dead etc

          • Jack is admitting nothing. He is sworn to secrecy.

          • Coniston

            The Church of England has a number of religious orders, including Benedictines and Franciscans (for men); there are more women’s orders. It is not a question of a ‘holy huddle’; some (not many) are called to a monastic life in order to serve God and the neighbouring community. Arguably, in the present age, we need more of them instead of the frantic activism which (unfortunately) some think is the essence of Christianity.

          • Busy Mum

            Being patronised by either monks and nuns or frantic activists would be anathema to this independent free Brit.

          • Coniston

            What on earth do you mean, ‘patronised’? Who is doing the ‘patronising’? And how? I’m afraid your comment makes absolutely no sense at all.

    • Terry Mushroom

      “”Go to all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit—”

      Didn’t the Benedictine, Augustine of Canterbury, do precisely that when he came to England?

      • IanCad

        It is my understanding that Augustine’s mission was to force the native Christians to bow to the will of Rome.

        • Are you saying Christianity in England owes nothing to St. Augustine because he sought universal unity with Rome in matters of doctrine and hierarchy? You can’t achieve the former without the latter.

          • IanCad

            Why on earth would the church want to seek unity with Rome?
            The simple British Christianity of the 6th century had far more in common with the Apostolic Church than Church of Rome ever did.

          • In what way?

            Barbarian tribes had been raiding and pillaging England and then settled and invaded. These “Anglo-Saxons”, were pagan and were converted by the mission of St. Augustine.

            English Christianity was a minority faith alongside pagan beliefs and paganism was set to get the better of it when the Angles, Saxons and Jutes arrived. Augustine’s mission in 597 to King Aethelbert of Kent, set the future course of Christianity in Britain.

          • IanCad

            Jack,

            It didn’t celebrate mass as did Rome. Neither was Mary granted a status more lofty than the scriptures dictate. Petrine inheritance held no sway with them.

            Celtic Christianity – to use a very broad brush – was more educational and evangelical than monastic. At least in the modern understanding of the term.

            As Christianity spread from Ireland, to Scotland and from there to Wales and England it faced a constant battle with the forces of darkness. Augustine converted – to his brand of religion – only the areas of Kent.

            Colman,Aidan and Finan did far more to bring light to darkness.

            Off – topic Jack, but here we are debating an issue that is important to us both and we have to suffer clicking way down at the tail end of the thread.

            In the old format this debate would be current. Others would, doubtless, join in. Albert and maybe OldJim (where is he?) to back up you and numerous stout Protestants to help bail me out. The subject could have the making of a lengthy and enlightening discussion.

            Ian

          • Terry Mushroom

            Ian

            “It didn’t celebrate mass as did Rome.”

            There have always been churches who do not celebrate Mass as Rome does, yet are in union with the Pope.

            If the Ionans at Whitby were some kind of proto-Protestants, one can only wonder why they agreed to Peter’s place in the Church if, in fact, they disagreed.

            And why God apparently then waited 800 years to correct matters.

          • IanCad

            Terry,

            “It didn’t celebrate mass as did Rome.”

            Let’s put it differently.

            “It didn’t accept transubstantiation.”

            They were most certainly not “Proto-Protestants” as then Rome did not have total ascendancy.

            God works in His own time. Some things we just do not know.

             

            Ian

          • Terry Mushroom

            Ian

            “It didn’t accept transubstantiation”.

            What is your source(s) for this?

            It seems truly remarkable that a such a profoundly fundamental difference about what happens at the Eucharist (or not) was not discussed at Whitby or elsewhere.

          • IanCad

            Back in the mists of time we can’t be absolutely sure what was squabbled over at Whitby.

            Bede is the primary source. The victors write history so we must take his account with a dose of salt.

            Bearing in mind that the early Celtic? British? church had been pretty much on its own outside influences had little impact on their apostolic heritage. The Roman view of the Eucharist would not have penetrated to those distant lands.

            Sure did after Whitby though.

          • Terry and Ian,
            The reason is that Transubstantiation did not exist as a doctrine until around 800 AD and wasn’t formally adopted by the Church of Rome until around 1050.

          • IanCad

            Martin,
            I just replied to you and now it’s vanished!
            This new system is a pain in the neck.
            The practice or understanding of it dates back to the early days of the church.
            The title came later. At least, as I understand it.
            I am going to carefully, slowly, click, down at the right

          • IanCad

            That’s how it should be done.
            Deliberately, without haste, and with care.
            It’s not the system; it’s me.

          • Ian,
            There was no settled understanding of what was going on in the Lord’s Supper amongst the early church fathers. The belief of many would not have been so very different from that of Calvin.
            Around 830, a monk called Pascharius Radbertus wrote a book called Concerning the Body and Blood of the Lord which laid the basis for the doctrine of Transubstantiation. He was opposed by, amongst others, Ratramnus of Corbie, who wrote a book, Concerning Christ’s Body and Blood which argued that the bread and wine remained such in their own physical nature, though for the believer they became the body and blood of Christ in a spiritual sense.
            The argument between the two did not get anywhere and it was another 200+ years before transubstantiation became the dogma of the Church of Rome.

          • IanCad

            Martin,

            I’m no expert here so I’ll tread lightly.

            I understood the roots of T/S to go back to the years of Irenaeus, and further, Justin Martyr.

            If I recollect, the Eucharist was celebrated on Sunday in those early days, giving license to the changing of God’s Holy Sabbath from the Seventh Day to the First. (Day of the Sun)

            Corruption set in early.

            Ian

          • Uncle Brian

            That’s interesting about Irinaeus and Justin Martyr. As I said just now to MM, this is something I’ve never looked into. Do you have further references?

            On the other question, the days of the week, I recall that I learnt a lot from our earlier conversation on the subject.

            Regards
            Brian

          • IanCad

            Getting back to you Uncle Brian,

             
            St Irenaeus (200AD) in his writings “Against Heresies” Book 4 Ch. 18 states thus:

            “Then, again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life? Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from offering–“

            Justin Martyr (160AD) in Ch. 66 of his “First Apology” is quite clear:

            “–from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.”

            Even earlier, St Ignatius of Antioch, circa 110AD; in Ch.7 of his “Letter to the Romans,” writes of his desire to “Drink His blood.”

            Tertullian writes in the same vein as do St. Cyprian, St Athanasius and others.

            The sources are available here:

            http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/index.html

            Ah Yes!! That marathon with the esteemed Albert. Took me a week to recover.

            But, if I may say so myself, pursued in a spirit of good fellowship all round.

            As I recall The Explorer participated to some degree. I do hope that he is getting better. It’s been quite a while since he told us of his health woes.

            Regards,

            Ian.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you, Ian. That was quick! Your information also now duly cut and pasted. All this is going to take some mulling over.

            Thanks
            Brian

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you, Martin. I have filed your comment away for future reference. I have never attempted to research the debate about “what was going on” any further back than the quaintly-named Marburg Colloquy. Also, I have the impression that nowadays, by and large, this is a question that Protestants tend to find more interesting or more important than Catholics. Does that match your experience?

            By “Protestants” and “Catholics” I mean, in this case, ordinary believers and churchgoers, not clergy or others who for whatever reason have taken a course in theology.
            Thanks
            Brian

          • Terry Mushroom

            Ian

            “The victors write history so we must take his account with a dose of salt.” Certainly that can be true. But sometimes it can also be the truth.

            Why are you so sure of your version?

          • “It didn’t accept transubstantiation.”.”

            Eh? Where did that one come from?

            The term “transubstantiation” wasn’t actually used until the early 11th century. All Christians accepted the Eucharist was the Body and Blood of Christ but didn’t question the mystery too deeply. It was only in the 11th century when a controversy arose the Church had to clarify the truth of this by reference to scripture, tradition (what the Church has always believed) and reason. That’s the process by which doctrine has always developed. When the time is right, and necessity demands it for unity, God reveals His deeper truths.

          • “All Christians accepted the Eucharist was the Body and Blood of Christ but didn’t question the mystery too deeply.”
            Come on, Jack! You know better than this; you must do.
            It was only in the 11th century when a controversy arose the Church had to clarify the truth of this by reference to scripture, tradition (what the Church has always believed) and reason.
            And, of course, murder and torture. Details on request.

          • You believe the early Church didn’t believe the bread and wine was Christ’s Body and Blood?

            And why wallow around in the past history of Christianity? Who do you think it damages?

          • You believe the early Church didn’t believe the bread and wine was Christ’s Body and Blood?
            Yes. Obviously one doesn’t want to wallow around in the past history of Christianity, but I can supply details.

            And why wallow around in the past history of Christianity? Who do you think it damages?
            I was rather under the impression that you have been doing that for most of this thread. However, I will spare you the details. Those who are interested may google up Peter de Bruys and/or Petrobrusians.
            As for whom it damages; I am rather hoping it will damage those who are trying to whitewash the bloody history of the Church of Rome.

          • Terry Mushroom

            Martin

            ” I am rather hoping it will damage those who are trying to whitewash the bloody history of the Church of Rome.”

            As I started this thread, and Jack and I are arguing along the same lines, that attack seems to includes me.

            All of us, in our own way, have played a part in pinning Christ to the cross. It’s a particular, appalling sadness that some hammered in the nails in the name of God.

            While principally a lurker here, I have long appreciated the space Cranmer has created for those of varying traditions and none to be stimulated by and debate his well crafted essays. Discussing sex, politics and religion is a heady mix where restraint and good manners are essential.

            So I’m assuming that you are using the word “whitewash” in a Pickwickian sense.

          • Then provide details showing the early Church did not believe the bread and wine was Christ’s very Body and Blood.
            And the bloody history of Christianity involves more than the Catholic Church.

          • CliveM

            From what I have read its understanding was subtly different. Different in a way theologians love, but leave the rest of us scratching their head!

          • IanCad

            True, the word was used much later to describe a practice that was then current.
            From very early days the Papal interest was pretty consistent in this regard.

          • Ummmm …. you missed one of Jack’s favourite Saints off that list of early Christians. Saint Ninian – yes, another who submitted to Rome. It was he who first converted the Picts in Scotland.

            Frankly, these early disputes were over minor matters of discipline – Easter dates, tonsures, the like – and not weighty theological matters. This ‘looking back’ is really an attempt to claim separate jurisdiction for local churches in all matters.

            And it is a shame others don’t join but there we are. Jack misses Old Jim’s comments too.

          • IanCad

            Jack, you wrote:

            “This ‘looking back’ is really an attempt to claim separate jurisdiction for local churches in all matters as a way to justify the Reformation.”

             

            No way! The Reformation was justified by the abuses and scandals of the Papacy up to the time it blew up. It sure didn’t need incidents of long ago for back-up.

             

            Ian

          • If it was just a matter of abuses these could have been resolved within the Church. It ran much deeper. Political, economic and social forces combined with theological disunity to cause the split. The authority of the Church was attacked for multiple reasons.

          • CliveM

            Ian

            I remember reading that the relationship between the Celtic Church and the RCC was similar to the relationship that the Coptic Church and the RCC have to this day. Autonomous but still part of the Commmunion.

            Of course the RCC being obsessive compulsive with regards uniformity and control couldn’t leave matters alone. So over relatively minor issues (as HJ admits) a culturally and uniquely ‘British’ form of Christianity, was destroyed and a culturally alien form imposed in its place.

            It would be interesting to consider how things would have differed if the Varican could have left things alone as they did with the Copts. Henry VIII’s split would never have happened and it is arguable that as an island we would have had a more uniform identity. No RC, CofE, Prespyterian split.

            I think some thing important and unique was lost. I’m not convinced what replaced it was better.

        • Uncle Brian

          That’s not what my history books said, back in the dim and distant past. They said Augustine came to convert the pagan Anglo Saxons. “Non Angli,” and all that. Even after their conversion, the Anglo-Saxons were never really on speaking terms with the British Christians until many years later.

          • IanCad

            Sorry UB, just stumbled on your post. This new format sucks,
            Remember, in those supposed dark days, Celtic (British) Christianity held the fort. They were very active during the turbulent years of The Heptarchy.
            The Pagans did not have free rein.

  • alternative_perspective

    Gosh, seems many of the commentors here seem to believe ++Justin is yoking himself to the whore of Bablyon by bringing together a group of people to pray in community for while.
    Who’d have thought a family of believers seeking after God together would be so controversial. Imagine if they’d bumped in to the twelve, huddled together in that upper room. They’d surely have had a schism.

    • Busy Mum

      Four of us so far, not sure that counts as ‘many’! And one would expect to find an element of Protestantism on a C of E site, after all…unless,of course, the yoking is already hard and fast….

    • Rasher Bacon

      Aha! At last someone who looks like he knows about this “++” malarkey. Never mind the Babylonian bint – what’s the plus plus for? I’m nonplussed; please enlighten.

      • Uncle Brian

        A single + means bishop and a double ++ means archbishop. I’ve only ever seen them in Anglican use, though I suppose there may be Catholics, Lutherans and others who use them as well. Other communicants will be better informed than I am.

        • Rasher Bacon

          Thanks Unc.

  • We live in strange times. Conservative Protestants here appear to suspect Justin Welby of having Romish

    • Shadrach Fire

      Maybe they could get together. The Vatican or Lambeth?

      • How do you know they are not plotting together as Jack writes this? A cricket match here and there and before you know it ………..

    • len

      And never the twain shall meet …hopefully.

      • You are opposed to Christian unity, Len?

        • len

          Nothing person H J, I expect you are a very nice bloke once you slip out of the swiss guard outfit?.

          • As Jack suspects you are too once you take off your ‘Whore of Babylon’ glasses.

    • carl jacobs

      How Protestant of conservative RCs to presume to question the Pope and by extension the Magisterium.

      • Ha …. except they are quite entitled to question the Pope’s personal views and theological opinions which do not form part of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium. The Church has dealt with these issues before too.

        • carl jacobs

          If the Magisterium tells you that its current teaching is consistent with its previous teaching – no matter what it is – you have no standing to question that assertion.

          • That all rather depends on what you mean by “the Magisterium”, and what you mean by “tells you”, now doesn’t it. Care to elaborate?

          • carl jacobs

            You know darn well what I mean when I refer to the Magisterium. You referred to it as a knowable entity. And it doesn’t matter how it tells you. (Cough) Vatican II (Cough) You don’t have standing to tell your RC superiors that you know Magisterial teaching better than they do. That’s the authority you constantly elevate. You are welcome to it.

          • Actually Jack doesn’t know what you mean by ‘Magisterium’ as its bandied around with different meanings all the time. There’s the Ordinary Magisterium; the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium; and the Extraordinary Magisterium. It’s the same with the status of various documents coming from the Church. They have different status. Once the Church – through a Council, an ex cathedra statement of the Pope, or through an Encyclical defines something as definitive and requiring consent then it has to be accepted.
            Vatican II made no new doctrinal statements – even Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre signed its various documents. It was a pastoral Council. The problem with some of their teachings is ambiguity and lack of clarity, leaving too much room for personal interpretation.
            And Jack would never tell his Church superior he knows better. However, not all teachings require internal consent or even provisional agreement as not all of them are deemed definitive or infallible. And it doesn’t mean he cannot question or challenge the Church hierarchy when it is acting under the Ordinary Magisterium or when Bishops, Cardinals or Popes express personal opinions.

      • Actually, the short answer to that Carl is – the Pope isn’t the Magisterium and criticisms of him do not extend to the Magisterium when he contradicts or confuses Church doctrines and moral teachings.

    • CliveM

      I spent a night and a day in the Monastry in Fort Augustus before it was shut down. Stayed in the Monks quarters (the reasons for this are not for here!!). It was an eye opener I can tell you. They weren’t as aesthetic as I expected!!

  • Shadrach Fire

    It has been this aspect of religion that I have so despised when there is so much to do in the world. Just maybe there is room for this type of group prayer just as believers in churches up and down the land have their prayer groups. But please, let this not become a ‘religious’ act but something that leads to an outward expression of faith.

    • You should read the ‘Community of St Anselm’ website. It answers that doubt.

      Why have such distain for monasteries and religious orders? Their contribution to spreading and preserving the Gospel has been immense – and still is. Look at their role in the Middle East today.

      • CliveM

        I don’t know. As I said elsewhere on this I think its a hangover from the medieval period when they got a bit of a reputation! As you say in the past they have done sterling work.

      • IanCad

        Making things a little awkward for me Jack.
        You have a valid point.

      • Busy Mum

        See today’s post – not sure to what extent the Gospel is being spread and preserved in the ME, seems more as though it’s being totally obliterated.

        • How do you suppose Christianity was established there in the first place? Eastern Christianity has always had a strong tradition of monasticism.

          • Busy Mum

            We were discussing the spread and preservation of Christianity in the ME, not the establishment of it. Anyway, to credit monasteries etc with establishing Christianity anywhere in the world is to discount the work of The Holy Spirit and to talk about Christianity in the ME in terms of monasteries rather than Jesus is bizarre.

          • The Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, is Jesus’ hands and feet on earth. How else is His message to spread?

  • Inspector General

    Greetings chaps. The Inspector is back !

    He had been the victim of a ‘peer to peer permanent denial of service’ attack (PDOS) from some blighter who works for a notorious gay propaganda site. However, your man has the better of him, and is before you as proof.

    Normal service to be resumed tomorrow. One is rather looking forward to that – back on the greatest blog in Christendom, bar none…

    Pip Pip !

    • IanCad

      What with all the others who have flaked out with the new format it’s a relief to have the most controversial and creative poster of the Old Guard back.

      • Inspector General

        Bit of a mystery that Ian. Could the new ‘tabloid’ format be putting interested parties off from making serious points. Perhaps tweaking the thing to increase line length might be the answer. Perhaps Cranmer can look into that. Good word, ‘tweaking’, don’t you think. Brings back pleasant memories of one’s nurse acquaintance…

        • Uncle Brian

          Tweaking, tweaking little nurse
          Things are getting worse and worse.
          IT hackers are a curse,
          Can’t wait to stow them in a hearse.

          • Inspector General

            Damn good there Brian. The perpetrators of PDOS deserve the rack, no less. Sure you’ll agree…

    • CliveM

      I wondered if your IT had been under attack again.

      Still it’s how we won an Empire, overcoming these dastardly attacks! It’s the bulldog spirit!

      • Inspector General

        Couldn’t agree more Clive. We can overcome anything with resolve. One does fear that determination is one of those no no subjects out of favour these days…

        • CliveM

          So many of the old virtues seem out of favour, it’s no wonder as a country we are on the slide!

          In our reigning Monarch we see one of the few who still exhibits these virtues!

          • Inspector General

            The sliding is over Clive. We shall regain our greatness and return to our natural level in the world. One of the greatest influence. We can all help this by voting for a somewhat recently formed political party that ticks all the right boxes. Need one say more…

          • CliveM

            What ‘Respect’?

            I wouldn’t have believed it of you!!

            Outrageous…………

    • Uncle Brian

      Good news, Inspector. Never heard of PDOS before — sounds nasty. Congratulations on your victory, and I trust you will be returning to His Grace’s congregation with renewed vigour.
      Regards
      Brian

      • Inspector General

        Chomping at the bit, Brian…

        There is much out there that by passes virus blockers. The latest threats, that are…

        And so it is with our Christian based society. A fellow is needed, so he is, to do his bit to guard us all. But of course, we need the wonderful Cranmer to channel it…

    • dannybhoy

      Welcome back Sir. Did you get your computers all sorted out as well?
      You are completely wired up and ready to broadcast?
      We anxiously await the next bulletin.

      • Inspector General

        Yes, old chap. One doesn’t want to give away all his secrets just yet, but any fellow subject to a PDOS needs to turn off the mains and let the battery run into flatness. Takes about 72 hours. This weakens the virus due to voltage drop and allows the laptop device to instigate recovery. Clever things, these whatevers. They know they’re ill…

        • You need advice from Danjo. He’s pretty keyed up on these matters. Jack turned off his email notifications and Windows Live after visit to said site resulted in some technical problems.

        • Martin

          IG

          Can’t say I’ve ever heard of a computer virus being defeated by powering down, indeed that’s what I do to my desktop.

          As to peer to peer, you haven’t been indulging in naughty file sharing on a music sit have you? Indulging in a bit of Al Jolson or Eddie Cantor perhaps?

          • Inspector General

            Not merely powering down Martin, but running the battery to
            flat. Viruses that achieve PDOS do so by giving your PC a task to do that it will never finish, and thus it will never release it to allow you to log on. This means it is doing work, and
            work requires energy. When there’s no more energy coming through it stops working and the virus loses its grip allowing the machine to go into recovery mode. One had previously run his machine down (ie switched off the mains) for first 24 hours, and then 48. It took 72 before we were there…

          • Why not just remove the battery?

          • Inspector General

            Hadn’t thought of that….

          • Modern technology, eh?

          • CliveM

            Oh dear, laughed so much I think I’ve strained something!

          • Martin

            IG

            But if the virus has installed itself on the hard disk it will merely start itself up when you start the machine.

    • CliveM

      Out of interest, how do you know its militant homosexuals attacking your IT?

      • Inspector General

        The Inspector dropped a ‘helpful’ comment on one of these deviant’s sites, and his e thing was picked up from that. Misery followed, but so has deliverance. Rather like life and our souls salvation on death, if you will…

        • *Allegedly* gay flamingos adopting an orphaned chick ….. Lol

    • Hi inspector

      pip pip indeed….Sometimes I only read the comments here to see if you’ve posted one of your musings about your curry nights or experiences in the mouse and wheel….Okay you are somewhat “old fashioned” in your views toward gays, ethnic minorities and us females, but you’re inspector so we understand the modern world is a big shocker to you (:

      • Inspector General

        Ah, Hannah. One is still getting used to the new century (20th). Saw a fellow without a hat on today. Did you ever !

        • Hi inspector

          I’ve written a short story about someone being cryogenically frozen and being brought back to life in 23rd century earth…as for hats. Most of the guys I know cover their heads, with either a kippah or a fedora, which are well cool

          • CliveM

            Bow ties are cool, Fez’s are cool, fedoras aren’t!!

          • Hi Clive

            Funnily enough my great grandfather used to wear a fez!
            Also Tom Baker wore a trilby!

          • So did Tommy Cooper. Any relation?

            The Inspector’s on a whisky diet . . . last week he lost three days!

          • CliveM

            Your Great Grandfather was definitely cool!

          • Uncle Brian

            Have you never seen any of the Indiana Jones films?

          • CliveM

            Ok sometimes fedoras are cool. But not as cool as Fez’s!

          • Uncle Brian

            Agreed.

          • I used to be indecisive but now I am not quite sure ….

    • len

      Playing with fire is a dangerous occupation inspector,,, once bitten and all that?

  • Martin

    So tell me, how does “a daily rhythm of silence, study and prayer” draw you closer to God? Is such a life anywhere commanded or exampled in the Bible? Yes Jesus called his disciples to come away from the world, but only for a short period before going out.

    What is this blessing and service that arises out of such introspective atmosphere?

    And where are the churches called to build cathedrals, rather than preaching houses where the people of God may gather and be taught? We aren’t called to revive traditions of men but to, with the aid of the Spirit, read the Scriptures and learn. We seek Christ in His word, not in the isolation of the cloister.

    As to a theory of the Atonement, surely the Bible makes it perfectly clear, Christ bore the punishment for His people’s sins, taking away their guilt, and positively by granting to them the righteousness of His life. As we were once under the federal headship of Adam, with the inherited guiltiness of original sin permeating our natures, we are now under the federal headship of Christ, infused with His righteousness. We are saved, the deed has been done. Justified we are being made fit for Heaven, sanctified in Him. From what He has done for us, we should show our gratitude in the World, not the cloister, glorifying Him before all.

    And what is this about God giving His Son as if it were a one way street? The Godhead agreed in Eternity what their plan would be, who would take the roles and even who they would save. A glorious plan of mercy that would cause God’s people to glorify Him throughout eternity.

    • Busy Mum

      Yes, and the question we should be asking is, what exactly are these youngsters going to be praying FOR?

      • If you read the ‘Community of St Anselm’ website it answers that question. There is a link to it in the article.

        • Martin

          HJ

          Does that mean you don’t know either?

          • Jack knows, Martin. There are just some things, assisted by the grace of God, you need to find the answers to yourself.

    • CliveM

      “So tell me, how does “a daily rhythm of silence, study and prayer” draw you closer to God?”

      Tell me why it wouldn’t?

      • Martin

        Clive

        I’ve always found that I find God more frequently in battling against the difficulties of life and relying on Him.

        • CliveM

          And that is true for a lot of people. However for others they need to avoid distraction and have peace to hear Gods calling.

          We have all been made unique.

          • Martin

            Clive

            I think God is able to raise His voice sufficiently to be heard above the bustle of a normal life, even where pop music is involved.

          • CliveM

            Martin

            Yes he can. But doesn’t he also like us to go looking?

            Certainly in Church you wouldn’t also try to do work, you would want not to be distracted. So why not at other times of your life?

          • Martin

            Clive

            Read the Bible.

          • CliveM

            I do

    • Martin, you should read St. Anselm’s ‘Cur Deus Homo’ as it offers a richer insight into the life and death of Christ than the one you’ve presented.

      Here’s a link to an online version:

      http://www.ewtn.com/library/CHRIST/CURDEUS.HTM

      • Martin

        HJ

        My aim was certainly not to give a treatise but just a summary. Can you show me where, from Scripture, I was in error?

        As for richer, I doubt anyone can give a richer insight than Scripture does itself. Perhaps you can save me the effort of reading by giving me a summary of what you think his points are.

        Having glanced through it I see no references to Scripture, which is rather disappointing.

        • “Perhaps you can save me the effort of reading by giving me a summary of what you think his points are.”

          It’s well worth the effort, Martin. As Jack advised in another post, some things you need to work out for yourself.

          ‘Cur Deus Homo’ is firmly based on scripture even if it is not full of detailed references. Knowing the bible will assist you greatly in understanding it. Read it. It doesn’t take too long. Then we can discuss it.

          • Martin

            HJ

            I’ve a Kindle full of books to read, a pile of books to read & a pile of journals to read. I tend to avoid bookshops at the moment.

            If the references aren’t given how can we test against Scripture?

          • Then prioritise your reading …
            And how on earth did Peter and the Apostles teach the Gospel of Christ without the written books of the Gospel? And how on earth did those who could not read ever convert?

          • Martin

            HJ

            I have prioritised my reading, hence I won’t be reading Anselm.

            How did the apostles teach without the NT? They had the OT & the special inspiration of the Holy Spirit. When they died, the Church had the NT.

          • …. but where did the ‘New Testament’ come from? Who decided to accept and reject the various written texts around at the time?

          • Martin

            HJ

            The churches of the 1st & subsequent centuries based on what they knew of the origin of the books.

          • Individual judgement or collective decision?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Individual judgement within each congregation that resulted in a consensus amongst the churches.

  • Inspector General

    Now, to the article.

    There is outside Gloucester, the marvellously situated Prinknash (pronounced ‘Prinnash’) Abbey. This most recent of re-establishments (1928) was undertaken by monks from Caldney Island. The interesting part of the story is that these monks had converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism in 1913.

    Looks like Welby, acting as abbot, is taking no chances with this new lot, what ! (Something about keeping the flock from temptation, don’t you think…)

    • CliveM

      And I would hope so to!

      I hope Busy Mum doesn’t see this, all her worst fears will be confirmed!

      • What goes around comes around …. it just takes time.

        Prinknash was originally gifted to the Benedictines in 1096.

        • CliveM

          Like the head gear! Suits you, very cool.

          Is that a bow tie?

          • Wot ?

          • CliveM

            I warn you, if you keep doing this to me, your going to find yourself supporting an all woman Priest hood in the Catholic Church!!

            And urging the Pope to join the Anglicans.

          • Eh?

          • CliveM

            When you get a post from Martin rejoicing in your repentance, you’ll know why!!!!!!

          • Hmmm ………

          • CliveM

            Baldy!

          • I went to buy a camouflage hat the other day but I couldn’t see one.

          • CliveM

            Stick with the Fez!

          • Jack has reverted to his usual head wear.

            Man goes to the doctor, with a strawberry growing out of his head. Doc says “I’ll give you some cream to put on it.”

          • CliveM

            We are a bit off topic! Better not try people’s patience!

          • That’s hate speech. Jack will report you to the Equalities thingy.

          • CliveM

            :)!

          • CliveM

            Oh you’ve left the fez elsewhere!

            I withdraw my threat.

      • Busy Mum

        I’ve seen it Clive – don’t worry about me – I can cope! Actually it’s quite satisfying when one’s fears are confirmed – strengthen’s one’s faith….

  • I think that if Mr. Welby wants to look into history to revive Christianity in England, he would do better to found an order of Wyclif rather than an order of Anselm. We need preachers, not monks.