Is our worship really “diminished” by the lack of Christian unity?

“I was dismayed, but not surprised, to hear so many calls for ‘unity’ after Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election,” writes political historian Dr Robert Crowcroft of Edinburgh University. He expounds:

…”unity” is not a good in itself, and to call for it is little more than tribalism of the most unthinking sort. Patriots should not “unite” with people who back Britain’s enemies abroad and who pursue a style of politics at home that is little more than malice in the guise of virtue.

To fixate on “unity” reflects the same problem that landed Labour in its mess: a pathological, increasingly pathetic, fixation with “betrayal”…

His context is Labour’s intra-party political division and the apparently irreconcilable ideologies which necessitate (he advocates) schism. He frames it in manichæan terms: Blairite patriots versus Corbynite enemies abroad: the choice is simple, ‘for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?‘ (2Cor 3:14). Unity which is born of tribalism is “unthinking”, he avers. It is “malice in the guise of virtue”, and so schism becomes a moral course of action; a political imperative. A party which is divided is simply never elected to government: ‘And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand‘ (Mk 3:25). Better two sects abstaining from meat and the worship of demons, than one church wrapped in scarlet headgear pretending to be a white Buddha.

In comments made during an ecumenical discussion at the World Day for Peace in Assisi last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury made a forthright plea for Christian unity. “If we do not suffer together, we do not know the meaning of the ecumenism of mercy,” he said. “When they kill us, they do not ask if we are Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic or Orthodox; we are one in Christ for them. So why are we divided when they are not killing us?” There he sat, confidently representing his Anglican tribe, speaking alongside the absolute leaders of other Christian denominations – Eastern Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Roman Catholic…

What does ‘unity’ mean in this context? When Jesus prayed ‘That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me‘ (Jn 17:21), did he impart a vision of one empire under one emperor belonging to one Church under one God? How much blood has been spilled in that pursuit? Was he talking about the Church and not the world? How do you achieve visible spiritual unity without actual temporal peace? And how do you gain temporal peace with warring spiritual sects? Were not the great ecumenical councils of Nicæa, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon as much to do with uniting a political empire as defining theological heresy?

Is spiritual division necessarily wrong when it concerns what might be termed the “betrayal” of eternal salvation? If one Christian preaches the sufficiency of Christ crucified once and for all, while another preaches Christ and him crucified over and over again, is such a dispute over the manner and meaning of that salvation a question of “malice in the guise of virtue”? Is it a dispute worth having? Is it a schism worth sustaining? Perhaps, more importantly, does the lack of visible unity mean that “our worship is diminished and our capacity to grow close together with God is reduced”?

Dr Welby is concerned with the primacy of love and mercy over doctrine and dogma, not least because ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another‘ (Jn 13:35). But is worship ‘in spirit and in truth‘ (4:24) not enhanced by the sincerity of our faith and the conviction of our division? For sure, our Christian witness to the world may be impaired, but is our “capacity to grow close together with God” really reduced by our reluctance (failure?) to acknowledge the pastoral primacy and moral-dogmatic supremacy of a pope?

Far from being diminished, surely our worship is enlarged and amplified by the conscience-affirming voice of Jesus which speaks of love with truth, and of truth with mercy? Love and mercy may ignite candles of peace, but what manner of peace is it without a thirst for truth? Do we help the poor and suffering by bandaging their wounds without applying antiseptic? Do we heal their souls with whispers of love and unity? Must we pretend that all doctors are equally good and uniformly qualified to administer the water of life to those who thirst for righteousness?

Christian division – indeed, all religious division – is borne of an authentic religious attitude. The world is very good at spotting hypocritical kisses, false hugs and fudged compromise. No matter how much we may pray and long for the visible unity of the Church, Jesus articulated the sheer impossibility of its fulfilment this side of Glory: ‘ thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee…’ No matter how humble, loving, peaceful and reconciling Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis may be (and they both may be with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II), they are never going to be homousion – of one substance – with one another.

The Triune God may be the ultimate eternal model for Church unity, but, in the meantime, let us rejoice in our theological difference and embrace our ecclesial diversity. And thank God for the freedom we have to walk in spirit and in truth: our denominational differences are legitimate, and should not be dismissed with indiscriminate, ecumenical, post-demoninational enthusiasm. If we can avoid bitter destructiveness and petty factionalism, the lack of Christian unity won’t diminish our worship one bit.

  • dannybhoy

    I like this post. Let us say a very popular Man has many true friends. Ask those friends what it is that they like and admire and what inspires their loyalty.
    There will be some things that all the friends recognise as important, and there will be some things that perhaps appeal on a personal level. Maybe a crisis shared or a gift received or something lent in time of need.

  • Anton

    There is often a good deal of unity between Christians of different denominations when they meet. The problem is the hierarchies.

  • David

    True unity requires shared values, beliefs and preferably experiences.
    Unity is a good thing overall, but I would place the seeking and maintaining of Truth as more important. An enforced unity that suppresses discussion and some latitude for differing views can be oppressive of course. Thus the pre-Reformation Catholic Church was united, but the truth regarding false practices was being deliberately suppressed, sometimes violently, which led, unfortunately, to the schisms we have inherited today. So an organisation that is incapable of necessary reform can be united, but forcibly, and in error.
    Most mainline Christians tend to have a reasonably easy relationship with those of other denominations, whilst respecting the differences, in my experience. But the media like to talk up the disagreements as it is basically anti-Christian.

    • “Thus the pre-Reformation Catholic Church was united, but the truth regarding false practices was being deliberately suppressed, sometimes violently, which led, unfortunately, to the schisms we have inherited today.”

      There were no “false practices” in place. Rather, there was an misuse of legitimate practices for corrupt temporal reasons and an abuse of Church hierarchical power by sinful men. A debate was needed in the Church but this was seized upon by those with personal agendas to give legitimacy to changing the social and political order. With proper leadership, from Kings and Bishops, these issues could all have been addressed without schism and heresy.

      • Anton

        Thus the pre-Reformation Catholic Church was united

        Have you asked the Eastern Orthodox about this? 1054 and All That?

        • It’s not Jack’s comment. .

          • Anton

            I’m sorry; I knew you were quoting, but I didn’t look far enough back and I thought you were quoting with approval from a Catholic source.

            Rome was unreformable by 1517, however; Pius II’s bull Execrabilis of 1460 was a threat to anathematise anybody even calling for an ecumenical council to question papal decrees.

          • It’s hardly a Catholic comment.

            Rome was not unreformable by 1517 – as evidenced by subsequent reforms. As Jack said, there were a lot of private and public agendas about that seized the opportunity.

            The Bull Execrabilis was against “conciliarism”. This was a reform movement which held that supreme authority in the Church resided with an Ecumenical council, apart from, or even against, the pope. It was a time of disputes between popes and the secular kings of Europe.

          • Anton

            Execrabilis was the papal response to the view that ecclesiastical authority lay in Councils; a view which had been set forth at Constance of necessity in order to end the schism.

            Had the conciliar movement prevailed and the excesses of the papacy in the next decades been curbed – Rodrigo Borgia and Julius II – would Luther have felt the need to start the Reformation?

  • len

    The Westminster Confession of Faith.
    “Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to him alone: not to angels, saints, or any other creature: and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone” (XXI:2).

    • Anton

      Wonderful words.

    • The replacing of Episcopalianism in the Church of England by the enforced adoption of strict Calvinist standards of doctrine and worship. What ever happened to it?

      Tell Jack, is this the version stating that the Pope is the Antichrist and that the Roman Catholic Mass is a form of idolatry?

    • Jon Sorensen

      Where did the idea of Holy Ghost is a God came from, and why do Christian worship it?

  • Jon Sorensen

    Catholic, Orthodox, Protestants, Mormons, Oneness Pentecostals, JWs and Jews for Jesus praying together would be great. Maybe even add the believers in OT God – Jews and Muslims. That would be great to see.

    • The Explorer

      How about agnostics and atheists as well?

      • You’re discriminating against Satanists … and Jedi Knights.

      • Jon Sorensen

        But they don’t believe in OT God. They endorse reason and science which has shown that prayer does not work. People should do things, not pray to get things done.

        • The Explorer

          Suppose four people apply for the same post, and all pray to get it. Three of them won’t Maybe all four of them won’t. That proves only that the prayer was inappropriate.

          Proving that prayer does not work is as difficult as proving that prayer does work.

          Suppose that you pray for help to do things to the best of your ability. That’s using prayer as a support, but not as a substitute.

    • chefofsinners

      What could unite such a disparate group? Ah yes, … all praying that Jon Sorensen would shut up and grow a brain.

      • Bad man.

      • Jon Sorensen

        So true! Christians are so uncomfortable hearing non-Christian voices…

        • carl jacobs

          Yes, that’s why we are here at Cranmer’s – to avoid hearing non-Christian voices. Perhaps we should rethink this strategy, because it doesn’t seem to be working.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Thanks for making my point! Yet another uncomfortable Christian on a Christian blog…

  • CliveM

    Formal unity and agreement is probably not achievable, but we should be able to stand shoulder to shoulder.

    • Anton

      Persecution would target church hierarchies. If they are wiped out, together with church buildings, that leaves… just Christians!

      • CliveM

        Just to be clear, you appear to be suggesting the mass genocide of church leadership! Or am I misunderstanding?

        • Anton

          It’s not me who is going to do it! (Nor do I advocate mass murder.) I am saying that if it happens I could understand what God is doing.

          • But …. God works through people. Are you saying God will orchestrate the mass murder of priests and bishops and the destruction of property, and will approve of the actions of those individuals committing these diabolic crimes? You’re sounding like a communist rebel.

          • Anton

            I believe that there will be a worldwide persecution of Christians. God disapproves of all evil but nevertheless permits evil to occur, as we both know. One side-effect of this horror will be a united church, because buildings and rival hierarchies will go. Do not suppose that either I or God will be exulting, but good can come out of evil if people keep faith. This is exactly what happened in China when Mao enacted persecution on a church riven with Western factionalism: Chinese Christians had only the Bible and a decentralised structure emerged that, like the early church, grew rapidly under persecution and was no longer weakened by competing loyalties to rival hierarchies. I well understand that someone with a deep commitment to the largest church hierarchy of them all would find my position shocking, but please read carefully what I have and have not said, and please do not impute to me beliefs that I do not hold.

          • “I am saying that if it happens I could understand what God is doing.”

            You wouldn’t support it then? Or actively campaign in favour of it? You know, like a duplicitous foreign policy. Or expect God to approve of it?

            Remember the principle:

            Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, ” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it” – in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general.”
            (Humanae Vitae)

            Jack does not have a “deep commitment” to the church hierarchy. His commitment is to Christ and thus His appointed Church who speaks on His behalf in matters of faith and morals.

          • Anton

            My words are clear and they reflect my thoughts. Stop imputing other ones to me.

          • You wouldn’t let your understanding of prophecy shape your conscience and actions?

          • Anton

            I might. No contradiction there.

            Jack does not have a “deep commitment” to the church hierarchy. His commitment is to Christ and thus His appointed Church who speaks on His behalf in matters of faith and morals.

            My commitment too is to Christ, and therefore not to a church hierarchy. How nice to agree!

          • No contradiction, just so long as you don’t participate or support evil actions so that some good may come from it.

            Jack’s commitment is to the Truth as taught by God’s representatives through His Church.

          • Anton

            We all learn to practice Christianity in a community of Christians, one’s local congregation, being a branch of the church worldwide (and beyond). Teach the scriptures faithfully and you cannot go wrong.

          • “Teach the scriptures faithfully and you cannot go wrong.”

            Something of a truism that. One has to remember where scripture came from and, as it teaches, include Apostolic tradition and preserve and develop the faith as revealed. The Catholic Church most certainly does this and, as she is guaranteed God’s guidance, has never gone wrong on doctrine.

          • len

            Unbelievable…Just like RCC doctrines and dogma.

          • Believable through the grace of God.

          • Anton

            Develop the faith? Sounds oxymoronic to me. Instead, you merely have to explain it to new generations and for new cultures. The first such culture outside the Judaistic culture in which Christianity was born and nurtured was Graeco-Roman culture. But it has no privilege over any other culture, nor do the writings of its first believers.

            Who says that the Catholic church has never erred on doctrine? The Catholic church! Well it would say that, wouldn’t it, but saying something doesn’t make it true…

          • You don’t believe scriptural revelation is capable of development and deeper understanding? That actually contradicts scripture. The history of the early Church, from the Jerusalem Council onwards, demonstrates otherwise. The earliest writers knew Christ and His Apostles and so benefited from direct teachings from them.

          • Anton

            You are trying to have it both ways: the apostolic church understood scripture best because it lived closest to Christ and those who had known him on earth; the apostolic church did pretty well for its time given that they were just a bunch of Jewish hicks rather than sophisticated Greek philosophers, but we have it all sewn up now. Make your mind up!

          • There’s no contradiction in accepting the Apostles knew and understood Christ and also accepting that revelation deepens and develops. Why reduce the argument to such silliness?

          • Anton

            I think it’s a rather nice summary of Rome’s underlying position, actually. I’m content for readers to decide for themselves whether it’s silly.

          • It was one of your sillier comments juxtaposing a supposed “Jewish hicks” with “sophisticated Greek philosophers”. No one thinks that. It is a fact that the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation took years to develop, often in the face of serious misunderstandings. Or don’t you believe these doctrines matter?

          • Anton

            Repeating that it’s silly doesn’t prove it. It proves that you think it, but we already knew that.

            The fact that God is Father/Creator, Son and Holy Spirit, and no other; and the fact that Jesus Christ is both wholly man and wholly divine, are vital – and readily deducible from the New Testament in five minutes. As to HOW God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and HOW Christ is wholly man and wholly divine – we have seen schisms among Christians about these things, because foolish and hubristic philosophers rushed in where angels feared to tread and because of very fallen personality clashes at politicised councils of the post-Constantinian church.

          • The apostolic demand was that we hear them. Anything that is contrary to them is a lie: anything beyond them is interpretation not revelation. In them we have the truth once and for all delivered to the saints, truth that needs no man to interpret but is interpreted by the Spirit of God. The gospel that carries authority is that of the C1 apostles; all is to be tested by the believer by it.

          • len

            Well being human they make mistakes, you prepared bet eternity on a bunch of fallible men ?.

          • No, on the promises of Christ and faith in Him and His word..

          • How does this fit with the selling of Joseph and ‘you intended it for evil, God intended it for good’.

          • God brings good from evil. It does not justify the evil in the hearts of Joseph’s brothers and their malice.

          • No it doesn’t justify the evil. Agreed. Perhaps I misunderstood your previous comment.

            Evil is a difficult term to tie down, especially when we speak of God. Amos says, ‘is there evil in the city God has not done it?’. Here the evil is disaster. The truth is evil in this sense ‘situational evil’ is what we all deserve. It is simply God’s judgements. We need to distinguish between moral evil and situational evil (which may be thoroughly moral).

          • Jack rather likes these definitions of evil:

            Physical evil includes all that causes harm to man, whether by bodily injury, by thwarting his natural desires, or by preventing the full development of his powers, either in the order of nature directly, or through the various social conditions under which mankind naturally exists. Physical evils directly due to nature are sickness, accident, death, etc. Poverty, oppression, and some forms of disease are instances of evil arising from imperfect social organization. Mental suffering, such as anxiety, disappointment, and remorse, and the limitation of intelligence which prevents human beings from attaining to the full comprehension of their environment, are congenital forms of evil; each vary in character and degree according to natural disposition and social circumstances.

            By moral evil are understood the deviation of human volition from the prescriptions of the moral order and the action which results from that deviation. Such action, when it proceeds solely from ignorance, is not to be classed as moral evil, which is properly restricted to the motions of will towards ends of which the conscience disapproves. The extent of moral evil is not limited to the circumstances of life in the natural order, but includes also the sphere of religion, by which man’s welfare is affected in the supernatural order, and the precepts of which, as depending ultimately upon the will of God, are of the strictest possible obligation (see SIN). The obligation to moral action in the natural order is, moreover, generally believed to depend on the motives supplied by religion; and it is at least doubtful whether it is possible for moral obligation to exist at all apart from a supernatural sanction.

            Metaphysical evil is the limitation by one another of various component parts of the natural world. Through this mutual limitation natural objects are for the most part prevented from attaining to their full or ideal perfection, whether by the constant pressure of physical condition, or by sudden catastrophes. Thus, animal and vegetable organisms are variously influenced by climate and other natural causes; predatory animals depend for their existence on the destruction of life; nature is subject to storms and convulsions, and its order depends on a system of perpetual decay and renewal due to the interaction of its constituent parts.


          • Good definition of physical evil. With the moral evil definition I have objections.

            ‘Such action, when it proceeds solely from ignorance, is not to be classed as moral evil, which is properly restricted to the motions of will towards ends of which the conscience disapproves’

            I think that is far too slack a definition of moral evil. Moral evil objectively exists even if the conscience does not disapprove. A sociopath may have no moral qualms but that doe not make his perhaps murderous actions morally good. Nor is he guiltless. The same applies to society at large. Moral guilt is not removed by naivety or moral misguidedness.

            Human conscience is not the standard. Conscience, like the rest of us, is fallen; it is corrupted by sin. Objective moral evil is simply anything that breaks God’s standard of right and wrong. Sin (moral guilt) is lawlessness. Intention and wilfulness increase moral guilt but guilt exists whether intention is there or not.

            Further, moral responsibility does not rest on ability; it rests on relationship. It was utterly impossible for Israel to keep God’s law nevertheless they had covenant responsibility to do so. My obligation to love my parents rests on the fact that they are my parents (relationship) not my capacity for loving nor even their success in being good parents. In the case of humanity our intrinsic evil (our sinful hearts) means we have no hope of fulfilling our relationship obligations (to God and neighbour). This inability is in the first instance our own fault (our hearts are our own, they are who we really are). But this is compounded by the influence of Satan, sin and the world. All four conspire to make us slaves of sin, yet culpable. This is, I submit, the biblical understanding of the human condition and responsibility. However, Jack, I know your semi-pelagian RC views will resist most if not all of this.

            I agree, however, that moral obligation only exists in a moral universe. If there is no God moral obligation is simply a societal construct. In this case today’s moral evil can easily become tomorrow’s moral good (homosexuality). Absolutes don’t exist. Morals are merely pragmatic and reflect tastes and preferences.

          • Jack broadly agrees with you. There is objective moral evil and this is breaching God’s will. However, personal human culpability is diminished by ignorance and it may or may not be subjectively sinful. So far as conscience is concerned, again Jack agrees. A conscience can be malformed or uninformed due to a variety of reasons and the person may or may not be culpable for this. These matters will be judged by God.
            Please demonstrate just how Catholicism is “semi-Pelagian”.

          • Agreed.

            I understand original sin to include the inability of unregenerate human nature to move towards God. Any theologies that suggest this ability is present are to some extent pelagian. I understand RC teaching to grant unregenerate humanity this ability.

          • The Catholic doctrine is that left to ourselves we are incapable of living according to God’s will for us because of original sin. The Church teaches that God makes His grace available to all of us but He has decreed that man is free to reject and obstruct this. Actual grace, available to all, translates into efficacious grace when we cooperate with God and a process of sanctification starts.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Jack and his ilk will be alright then (your first sentence).

          • Ah, the turncoat pops up.

          • CliveM

            Well all I will say, is that there would be a lot of martyrs for Christ created.

          • Anton

            Just how many liberal bishops who have taken a good salary to sow doubt in Christ’s church will hear “Good and faithful servant” on the Day of Judgement?

          • CliveM

            It’s not for me to say. However if they are killed for Christ they will have shown some constancy in His name.

          • Anton

            If they are blown up with no warning then I question whether that is martyrdom any more than going down in a plane crash. If they preach Christ to someone holding a gun at them then Yes indeed.

      • David

        You are not planning an explosion at the next high level ecumenical conference are you ?

        • Anton

          I’m not. But I don’t wish to joke about it because there are people who hate Christianity and believe in bombs as the way to promote their agenda.

  • Anton

    I’ll tell you what diminishes worship… crappy modern songs about how great it FEEEEELS to be a Christian.

    • dannybhoy

      Agreed. They are so empty and shallow.

    • CliveM

      Yes and they are SO one dimensional. Happy, happy, happy. Not always whats required.

      • Anton

        Absolutely. People gather to worship in many moods. Some will have buried loved ones in the previous week. Expecting them to jump for joy and (sometimes) hinting that they are short of faith if they don’t is absurd, shallow and cruel. But everybody can agree on the truths of the faith no matter what mood they come in. So those truths are what should be emphasised in corporate worship songs, as the great hymns did.

        Christianity in this country goes back many centuries. The songs we sing should be gathered from across the ages too, not just taken from the last four decades – which comprise, moreover, an time when Christianity was in retreat unlike the great missionary era.

        • chefofsinners

          The Psalms are a case in point. Lots of misery and complaining there.
          One imagines the first outing of Psalm 96, 3000 years ago: ‘Sing unto the Lord a new song’ and all the people said ‘Why, what’s wrong with the old songs?’

          • Anton

            Change and decay in all around I see…

          • chefofsinners

            You’re a dentist?

          • Pubcrawler

            The dentists’ hymn: Crown him with many crowns.

          • Anton

            Crown him with gold!

          • Anton

            I’m a physicist, but you happen to have hit a sore point just now.

          • Martin


            The Psalms are, of course, inspired. It’s a great shame that churches do not sing them

          • chefofsinners

            But we do sing them. Where do you think the hymn tune ‘The Old Hundredth’ gets it’s name?

          • Martin


            I don’t recall the last time I sang that.

            The church I am in used to sing Psalms but they gave it up after they forced their pastor to leave.

          • Anton

            Singing the psalms is great, but the ‘traditional’ Anglican way of doing so is ghastly as it takes no account of the totally differing moods of the psalms. You want a variety of tunes for them.

          • CliveM

            One of my pet hates with regards the psalms, is how Psalm 23 is almost never sung to Crimond anymore. What’s worse, even though it must be nearly 30 years since I heard it sung to that tune in Church, it’s still introduced by the Leader who feels it necessary to say that we will be singing it too a new tune! Grrrr.

            Before the ghastly ‘Flower of Scotland’ came along, many thought of it as Scotland’s unofficial national anthem. Not many today will even remember that.

          • Anton

            Ah, the days when Abide With Me were sung before the FA Cup final at Wembley. You need to go to a rugby match at Cardiff to get that sort of thing today.

          • Pubcrawler

            Disagree. The point of chant has always been to be transcendent, not affective.

          • Anton

            It is very clear that they were not written to be chanted. Whether chant should play a part in worship is not the question I’m raising, but if it is then let it be something other than the psalms.

            Did chant not come in for a pragmatic reason, namely that the monastic buildings going up were too big for a man to be heard in except at a single frequency, namely their natural resonant frequency?

          • Pubcrawler

            “It is very clear”

            Is it? Perhaps we have a different understanding of the word ‘chant’.

            If you mean strictly western ‘Gregorian’ chant then yes, there is a degree of correspondence between the resonance of the building and the type of singing that works best. But chant is far, far older than that, and is inherited from our Jewish roots — some of the oldest Christian chants are derived from Jewish melodies. That includes the Psalms.

          • Anton

            I’m sceptical of that. Folk music – which is the timeless category that the Jews would have used for the psalms – comes in obvious moods. Are you really saying that

            “Praise him for his acts of power;
            praise him for his surpassing greatness.
            Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
            praise him with the harp and lyre,
            praise him with timbrel and dancing,
            praise him with the strings and pipe,
            praise him with the clash of cymbals,
            praise him with resounding cymbals”

            would have been sung poker-faced in the second Temple by a slowly chanting choir, rather than with the instruments named and with dancing?

          • Pubcrawler

            Ah, Temple worship! But we don’t do that anymore, do we 🙂 But outside the Temple, in the synagogue and domestic setting (from which our own liturgical habits grew) the use of musical instruments was shunned because of strong pagan associations. How Jews (according to their various traditions) do things now is probably not very different from how they were done in the time of the Apostles, and therefore also how the very early church did things. And that is chanting. Not ‘Gregorian’ I grant you, but as I say, there is far more to chant than that, and I confess that I find pure Gregorian somewhat flat compared to what it drove out (Ambrosian, Roman, Byzantine, Mozarabic etc.)

            Music is always affective, and I was perhaps overstating the case. And different musical traditions do it differently, which may not be appreciated by someone who not immersed in (or at least more than passingly familiar with) that tradition. But from Boethius onwards (which is about as far back as we can go in musical theory, but I don’t think he was making it up out nothing) the role of music in liturgy is to be harmonically — mathematically, in fact — beautiful as an act of worship in itself, to move the soul towards appreciation of God, not excite the baser emotions. The early chapters of Albert Seay’s Music in the Medieval World are very good on this.

            Essentially, though, I just bridled at your description of Anglican chant as ‘ghastly’ — and your ‘poker-faced’ in the above. Now musical tastes vary, and we obviously differ here, but I think that’s grossly unfair. There is in fact much variety within its formal framework. I think it beautiful and measured (cf. 1 Cor 14.40), and in the contributions of, say, Thomas Tallis to Archbishop Parker’s Psalter, it possesses some of the most sublime liturgical melodies written in the last 1200 years.

          • Anton

            By “Temple worship” I wasn’t thinking of indoors, but a large crowd in one of the courts.

            I was in a church choir that sang the Psalms the traditional way for a decade!

            Have you come across this fine essay on classical music and the church?


            The author uses KOSMOS in contradistinction to KAOS, which is the positive sense. (As you’ll know the NT also uses KOSMOS in a negative sense, to mean the “world system” from which Christians are called out.) The tale of the author, Alan Morrison, makes me weep, literally. He was a New Ager who became a pastor, wrote the best single book about the New Age (The Serpent and the Cross), then reverted to New Age and now calls himself a “troubador”.

          • Martin


            My recollection of singing pointed psalms was that there were a number of tunes available so it may take thought to choose an appropriate Psalm and more thought and training to sing them well.

            I was, however, referring to metrical psalms, a very much simpler matter, though tunes still need careful choice.

          • Anton

            I’m sure you’re inviting a question about that. I’ll bite… for good reasons?

          • Martin


            As far as I can tell, no.

          • Its an even greater pity when they sing them exclusively.

          • Martin


            Not really.

          • The OC hymbook was never intended as the definitive NC hymbook. Are we to think that the NC church throughout her history should never have songs that used the name Jesus. Not to mention words like cross, propitiation, reconciliation etc. And what of truths like union with Christ.

            New songs were always written to celebrate and commemorate new victories. They were an important means of writing the significance of that victory in the minds of the victors. Shadow language, important as it is, was never intended as the last word on a battle yet future. New wine required new wine skins; it required a new song.

          • Martin


            Trouble is, there is no inspired NT hymnbook and a great deal that is being produced today, often by those who aren’t Christians, is of questionable theological and musical quality.

          • Anton

            You’re a good sola scriptura man; where does scripture give ANY prescriptions for church liturgy, let alone what we should and should not sing?

          • Martin


            How about:

            Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 [ESV])

          • Anton

            That is good reason to sing decent hymns as well as the psalms.

          • Martin


            True, but I’m not going to quarrel with those who sing psalms only after the rubbish I’ve seen others sing.

      • Excuse me ….

        • CliveM

          Ahh, but you’re not always Happy Jack are you? Sometimes you’re Grumpy Jack!

          • And sometimes Mad Jack.

          • carl jacobs

            Twice a year, after Man U plays Man City, Jack is always mad. He wants to be Happy Jack, but somehow the circumstances of the day never quite work out right.

          • That brings out Grouchy Jack- not Mad Jack. Only the type of nonsense spouted by Linus reaches Mad Jack.
            All will be put right on October 26th.

    • Inspector General

      Stand up and testify! TESTIFY!

      Testify to that truth, my children…

    • Pubcrawler

      To which I would add, based on thankfully limited experience, a dood deal of the wooly, anodyne pap that is included within the covers of Common Worship.

      • David

        Are you a BCP man then ?

        • bluedog

          Retreat from BCP has been a terrible mistake. We teach Shakespeare in schools so there can be no claim that the language of BCP is incomprehensibly archaic. Perhaps we need to reclassify the English language into ‘Classical’ (BCP-Shakespearean) and ‘Modern’. Doing this would recognise the difference and assign legitimacy to both without allowing the former to be declared ‘old fashioned’.

          • Anton

            I can’t agree. You’ll never spread the faith in our council estates if you have to ask people to learn the English of 400 years ago as well as learning about Jesus Christ. What are we here for?

          • bluedog

            And yet Islam spreads through the medium of classical Arabic and for fifteen hundred years, Christianity spread through the use of Latin. Given the extent to which the language and ideas of both Shakespeare and the KJV are already part of the English language in daily use, the suggestion doesn’t seem outlandish. It’s all part of product differentiation and brand management. Been to a Roman church recently and seen the way in which the English form of the mass has been watered down, both in terms of language and content? It’s cr*p. If church attendance is the yardstick, the introduction of modern language liturgy has had no impact at all in reversing decline. Quite the reverse.

          • Anton

            Yet the gospels were written deliberately in a dumbed-down form of Greek so that as many people as possible could understand them. The medium is not the message.

          • bluedog

            ‘The medium is not the message.’

            Clearly not a Marshall McLuhan fan. The problem with all modern derivatives of the BCP is that they are in a practical sense, translations. A flaw with translations is the loss of the imagery and the natural rhythm of the original, attributes which in themselves do not translate, although the exact words may do so in a stilted sense. So it is with the BCP, Cranmer’s liturgy and modern derivatives. What Cranmer wrote so many years ago has an austere beauty and metre that has been lost in subsequent re-writings and in the view of this writer, services are the poorer for that loss. The 1928 prayer book was the last gasp of the old liturgical order, since when the path to oblivion has been followed. If congregations can’t understand the classical Shakespearean language of the BCP, they need to be educated and reminded that this is part of their inheritance, reaching back into the foundation of the Anglican communion.

            One can understand that ‘modernising’ the prayer book would have appealed as attendance started to slide with the rise of prosperity post-war, together with the sustained attack on Christian morality from the secular progressives. That modernisation has failed, as has the introduction of women priests, in stemming decline. There is therefore nothing to be lost in recognising these facts and seeking a different path.

          • Anton

            I repeat: you’ll never spread the faith on our council estates if you have to ask people to learn the English of 400 years ago as well as learn about Jesus Christ.

          • bluedog

            Anton, you’ve told us that you have set up your own church. Does that church attempt to spread the word on council estates? If so, do you feel that you are succeeding, and what do you regard as critical to your success? It’s abundantly clear to this writer that the easiest, and possibly the only way, to teach Christianity is through the school system. CofE schools do an exceptionally good job, as do Catholic schools. One suspects it is extremely difficult to obtain converts outside the school system and within the adult community, particularly where there are existing faiths with strong organisational support.

          • Anton

            Where did I say that I’ve set up my own church? I haven’t!

          • bluedog

            Apologies!. I’ll never be able to find the post but do recall that you have used words to that effect, explaining that you have left the CofE, and worshipped privately. At least that was my recollection, and very sorry if wrong.

          • Anton

            I quit the CoE in 2002 for nonconformism. I’m in a congregation led by a plurality of male elders/overseers with no hierarchy above that, and nobody separated out by ordination, as the New Testament describes. I’m not one of its leaders. We are active in trying to take the message into all sectors of society.

          • bluedog

            Thanks for the clarification. You seem to be enjoying yourself!

          • Rhoda

            “It’s abundantly clear to this writer that the easiest, and possibly the only way, to teach Christianity is through the school system”
            Most RE teachers are secular and most textbooks are written from a secular viewpoint; added to which all religions are taught as having equal value. How is that going to make converts?

          • bluedog

            Look, one understands that the state has decided to become secular, possibly an idea implanted by the French through the medium of the EU. If the RE teachers are secularists one can imagine that same sex marriage, transgender issues, multiculturalism, fracking, global warming, rising sea levels and renewable energy studies would be the focus of religious education. Only in the schools run by the two major denominations would there be any coherent RE these days. British society will reap what is being sown.

          • Anton

            And yet Islam spreads through the medium of classical Arabic and for fifteen hundred years

            It spread largely by conquest!

          • David

            There is much in what you say. I myself prefer BCP. Cranmer was a genius with words. Every time the C of E “modernises” it loses something I believe.

        • Pubcrawler

          For preference, yes. I grew up with Series 3, then ASB, which were OK, but once I discovered BCP I realised that they were but pale shadows. CW is barely even that.

          • Anton

            When I found myself in Lichfield Cathedral a few years ago I bought vol.3, on the Reformation, of Nick Needham’s multivolume church history “2000 Years of Christ’s Power”. I wasted no time buying vols 1&2, and vol.4 taking the story forward another 200 years has just come out and is in the post to me. Superb – written by a nonconformist protestant but generous to men of faith in Christ who were embedded in worldly hierarchical systems. Rigorous scholarship yet a book about the living faith. And it didn’t skimp on Eastern Orthodoxy.

          • Pubcrawler

            Not a work I know, I will investigate. Good to know that Orthodoxy gets a look in — unlike the A-level Religious Studies open learning materials that I was scrutinising with my professional hat on recently. (One is tempted to scoff, I know, but to my great surprise, ethics and the various arguments for the existence of God were covered rather well. However, the introductory section on the history of Christianity was generally very thin indeed, wrong in a number of areas, particularly on Orthodoxy in a couple of points, and made absolutely no mention of the Egyptian Desert Fathers or the great theological powerhouse that Syria was — and no mention whatsoever, obviously, of what happened to extinguish this great light of Christian thinking in the seventh century. Perhaps the main chapter will be better — if I’m allowed to see it after my rather terse comments about the foregoing.)

            I like Lichfield — two or three excellent pubs — and I usually find myself there every other year. But I don’t think I’ll be attending any services in the cathedral again.

          • Anton

            Needham originally wrote it for an audience of African trainee pastors he was lecturing church history to. He said that all church histories were either dry-as-dust and overly philosophical or fanatically narrow and shallow. So he wrote his own, and it is very good indeed.

          • David

            Agreed. BCP Evensong is a delight and those few words teach so much about the faith.

    • TrippingDwarves

      Please do name some of them. I say this not to provoke, having had the same feeling myself on some occasions, I just wonder where your criticisms lie, if you don’t mind.

      • Anton

        My own most detested has this as part of its chorus:

        Here I am to worship
        Here I am to bow down
        Here I am to say that you’re my God
        Your’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy
        Altogether wonderful to me…

        What is the key word in this piece of pap? “I”, of course. Not God. And who ever spoke to Jesus like that in the gospels? He’s my Lord and God, not my romantic partner.

        • TrippingDwarves

          Zing! With you there brother. This one always makes me wince.

        • “You’re altogether lovely …. “
          Lol …
          Jack corrected your spelling error, btw.

          • Anton

            Typo not spelling error, but thank you!

        • Martin


          I was quite surprised at the number of ‘me’ and ‘my’ there were in Timothy Dudley-Smith’s “Above the voices of the world around me” on Sunday combined with a dreadful, tedious tune. And, of course, we must not forget that music has an influence on thought as well.

        • chefofsinners

          Feeling your pain, Anton. I grind to a halt in verse 2 of this dirge, at the invented title ‘King of all days’. It rankles alongside ‘Fountain of delights’ for sheer infantile, doggerel-returning-to-its-vomit destruction of all that is right and good.
          Another particular favourite is ‘You’re my all, you’re the best’. The words just won’t come out of my mouth.

          • Pubcrawler

            Good grief!! I am overflowing with gratitude to the Almighty that I have never encountered anything that dire.

          • Anton

            That’s nothing, there’s that new chorus about my chains falling off inserted between each verse of Amazing Grace nowadays, someone hitching a ride to fame on the back of a far greater hymnwriter John Newton.

          • chefofsinners

            That’s the one. The bit about dissolving like snow was a John Newton original, but we are now blessed with ‘and like a flood His mercy reigns’


          • So is ‘dissolving like snow’ acceptable now since it is written by Newton and not Townend?

          • chefofsinners

            No. It’s bad English and it’s bad theology.
            There has been a lot of junk written in all ages of the church. Mostly, only the good stuff lasts. This is an exception.

          • Anton

            It is perverse that the great English hymns can be sung for free, being out of copyright, yet many people prefer to pay to sing modern crap.

            The labourer is worth his hire? Not in this case he isn’t. And what about “Freely ye have received; freely give” as a motto for those called to write worship songs?

        • Sounds like language reminiscent of the psalms where the personal pronoun was not absent.

          • carl jacobs

            The verses are actually pretty good in that song. That song is not a particular favorite, but I agree it’s a weak example of a happy clappy worship song. What do I do? I worship. I bow down. I confess that God is God. That’s the proper human response, and it fits well as a response to the verses. It is however somewhat sappy in its use “lovely” and “wonderful to me”. I struggle with the idea of God being “lovely” and the prepositional phrase minimizes the wonder in view by localizing the reference to me.

          • Pretty much my sentiments.

          • Anton

            But it’s reminiscent of eros-love not agape-love.

          • I share some of your reservations Anton. Yet eros-love is intrinsic to images of husband/wife and lover/loved bridegroom/bride love used in Scripture to describe that of Christ and his church/God and his people. Think of the language of the prophets, even the psalms.

          • Anton

            Yes, its used in scripture as an analogy. But when we talk directly to God we don’t need an analogy. And we do not eros-love him; we agape-love him.

          • Is there not a danger of introducing to hard and fast a distinction between the two? Is there not an overlap? Below is a few blog posts about this.




            Rather than building too much on word definitions is it not better to think of our love for God in terms of relationships. God loves me as a Creator loves his creature; as a Father loves his child/son; as a lover loves the object of his affection. And we reciprocate with the love our side of the relationship demands.

            Yes, the relationship analogies are not absolutely parallel but they have very real parallels. In fact, I would argue marriage love does not merely illustrate God’s love for his people but is modelled on that love. Are we to include all the sexual aspects of this relationship. No, I would say not. But there are aspects that sit very close to this intimacy that we can include: exclusivity; jealousy; faithfulness; specific covenant choice; passionate commitment being some. These all act as adjectives for married love.

            I rejoice in and resonate with Rutherford’s verse

            The Bride eyes not her garment but her dear bridegrooms face
            I will not gaze at glory but on the king of grace


            O I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine
            He brings a poor vile sinner into his house of wine.

            I can do the same with some modern examples of this.

            I am somewhat bemused as I write this for more often than not I am likely to be found on your side of the fence criticising the banality and sentimentality of too many modern songs. However, I do think this has been addressed by some excellent song writers recently.

            My criticisms of modern songs include:

            – too large a preponderance of response songs
            – too much individualism in worship expression (I) and not enough recognition of the collective (we)
            – too much emphasis on the affective and not enough on the intellectual and evocative.
            – too superficial analyses/reflections on the truths of the faith that provoke worship and are the substance of worship.
            -too many songs that cannot be sung by a congregation unaccompanied
            -too much tendency for music to be an end rather than means to an end.. musical accompaniment should support the congregational praise not swamp it. Praise is a spiritual activity rather than an aesthetic one. If aesthetics control it is idolatry.

            Modern praise and other aspects of Christian worship are modelled too much on OT models of worship (rich in sensory experience) rather than The NT model which is stripped of much of this with an emphasis on simplicity. NT worship lays great emphasis on the invisible/intangible/spiritual rather than the physical/aesthetic/sensory. Emphasis on buildings/vestments/rituals/performance etc owes more to Judaism than Christianity.

            A g

          • carl jacobs

            THAT is the equation. I really struggled last night to describe what troubled me about that chorus. That is an excellent synopsis.

          • Anton

            Thank you! I’ve heard this sort of thing described as “Jesus is my boyfriend” worship songs.

    • carl jacobs

      They aren’t all bad …

      Wonderful Merciful Savior – There is alot of theoology packed into this song,

      We Will Glorify – This is just a powerful simple worship song.

      It’s What the Lord Has Done in Me – The focus of the Gospel is in the right place

      In Christ Alone – Yes, Jack won’t like this one. Liberals hated it as well.

      Days of Elijah – This should be the Anthem of the Age.

      • Anton

        Agreed, Carl; they’re not all bad. Just most of them. You had to work hard to find that list.

      • “In Christ Alone – Yes, Jack won’t like this one. Liberals hated it as well.”

        Correct – The idea that Jesus died to satisfy the wrath of God, as P.P. Waldenstrom pointed out, is nowhere in scripture. Penal substitution theory is based on presupposition being read into it.

  • Inspector General

    Nobody does unity anymore. They reckon it’s to do with modern advertising and consumerism. Everybody can now get what they want and don’t need to put up with second best, or in other words, somebody else’s choice.

    Friends of the Inspectorate have the following ornate plaque hanging in their kitchen…

    “Remember. Not a word to anyone about how we are. As far as the neighbours are concerned, we are just a perfectly normal happy family”

    Unity is much like a family photo portrait. The only time everyone smiles at the same time is when they need to. No other reason…

    • IrishNeanderthal

      They reckon it’s to do with modern advertising and consumerism.

      As G.K.Chesterton wrote in The Intellect of Yesterday:

      One way of putting it is that this is a psychological age, which is the opposite of an intellectual age. It is not a question of persuading men, but of suggesting how they are persuaded. It is an age of Suggestion; that is, of appeal to the irrational part of man. Men discussed whether Free Trade was false or true; they do not so much discuss whether Empire Free Trade is false or true, as whether it is booming or slumping; whether it is based on an understanding of Mass Psychology, or whether its opponents or supporters have what Americans call Personality. It is all great fun, and there is doubtless a truth in it, as in other things. But, whatever else it is, it is not a mark of stronger mentality, and any old Scotch Calvinist farmer, who could follow his minister’s desolate and appalling sermon to Seventeenthly and Lastly, had an immeasurably better brain.

      • Inspector General

        Damn clever fellow, Chesterton. No suprise at all you laud him…

        • TrippingDwarves

          A genius, I would say, and full of an incredible foresight. Read his words today, and it was like they were written yesterday.

  • chefofsinners

    ‘Post denominational’ are we?
    Saints of old knew what they believed and knew why and it mattered to them.
    These days God’s Word is so undermined that most Christians don’t think it’s worth arguing about. Who cares about a nuanced bit of Greek when it’s all just the scribblings of ignorant first century misogynists? Or it’s allegorical myth, or a product of the prevailing culture?
    Even if you wanted to earnestly contend for the faith, there’s no-one else to argue with these days.
    Satan has discovered that apathy is more deadly than schism. And that the oldest trick in the book still works, viz: to undermine the Word of God. “Has God really said…?”

  • His Grace writes, ‘When Jesus prayed ‘That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me‘ (Jn 17:21), did he impart a vision….?’
    No, He did not impart a vision, He prayed a prayer, and because of who He is we may be sure that the prayer has been answered. The unity is not organizational, but spiritual, and it embraces all those who believe the fundamental doctrines of the faith ‘once delivered to the saints’ in the Bible.
    There will be no denominations in heaven, so we should set no store by them here; nor will we argue there over Bible versions or hymn books. But there can be no unity with those who deny the truths of the Gospel or set their own traditions above it, who call good evil and evil good, who cry, ‘peace, peace’ when there is no peace.

    • Christ founded only one Church his Church – on Peter, with the guarantee of indefectibility in the face of the persecutions, divisions and obstacles of every kind which she would encounter in the course of history. Only one Church exists – the “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic” Church.

      As the Second Vatican Council stated: “this Church, constituted and organized as a society in this present, world, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and truth can be found outside her structure; such elements, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic unity”.

      The term “est” would have been clearer than “subsistit in” but the Church wanted to acknowledge the Church of Christ subsists also in Christian communities separated from Rome. Nevertheless, it still identities the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church and reaffirms that the Church of Christ, imbued with the fullness of all the means instituted by Christ, “perdures” (continues, remains) forever in the Catholic Church.

      • Royinsouthwest

        Are the Church and an ecclesiastical bureaucracy the same thing?

        • No. The Church consists of all its members, the People of God, past, present and future.

          • Royinsouthwest

            I agree!

      • len

        Rubbish.If the church were founded on Peter it would be a very shaky foundation.

        .Psalm 118:22

        The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.

        Matthew 21:4

        Mark 12:10
        “Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone;

        Luke 20:17

        But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone’?

        1 Peter 2:7

        This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,”

        Acts 4

        Isaiah 8:14

        “Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

        Romans 9:3

        1 Peter 2:8
        and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

        Matthew 21:44

        “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

        Isaiah 28:16

        Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

        1 Peter 2:6


        Daniel 2:3
        “You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.

        Daniel 2:
        “Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

        Daniel 2:35

        “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

        1 Corinthians 10:4

        and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.

        1 Peter 2:
        And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,

        • None of the above contradicts Christ appointing Apostles to carry His authority until His return, with Peter as their leader. They, in turn, appointed successors.

          • Anton

            But Peter died.

          • len

            If Peter were ‘the rock’ the church would have died with him.

            Good job Peter wasn`t the rock because seconds after that Jesus called Peter ‘Satan’

          • You can ask Peter about that episode when you meet him …. assuming you do.

          • Anton

            Here is the conversation between Pope Julius II and St Peter at the gates to heaven, as imagined by (almost certainly) Erasmus, in circulation shortly after Julius’ death (English translation of Latin original):


            A man of arms, Julius scandalised Rome by continuing to lead martial campaigns after his election. This satire instituted a tradition of ‘pearly gates’ jokes by portraying the recently deceased pope barred by St Peter from heaven and threatening to storm it with an army of men who had died under his command.

          • All the Apostles died and all had successors.

          • Anton

            Successors in what sense?

          • Dominic Stockford

            It would be interesting to hear the names of these supposed hierarchical successors.

          • bluedog

            All the popes, even when there two at the same time.

          • Anton

            Especially when there were two at the same time! Or, better still, three (as in 1409-14, between the Councils of Pisa and Constance).

            I believe in three holy catholic and apostolic churches…

          • Dominic Stockford

            No, I need the name of each individual successor of each individual apostle – which is what we were informed above is the case.

          • len

            Once the false claims of’ the authority’ of the RCC was found to be a forgery the RCC scrabbled round for another way to establish ‘its authority’ so the RCC blatantly twisted scripture to establish its ‘authority’.


          • The Church has always rested on scripture and on the sacred traditions of the Apostles and their successors.

          • len

            One Pope sold the Papacy for the highest price he could get. .Two Popes excommunicated each other.

          • Yeah, those were the bad old days. There was much that was good too but you’ll want to overlook this. Jesus never promised the Church wouldn’t face difficulties or be protected from wicked men.

          • Anton

            Which is why the Reformers were persecuted.

          • dannybhoy

            So.. there was a multiplicity of Popes, or rather a shared Popeship?

          • Nope, only one at a time was the legitimate Pontiff. You’ll find a list of authentic popes through Google.

          • Martin


            A made up list.

      • IanCad

        Now Jack; We’ve been here many times before. Peter is not the Rock, Christ is.
        As the subject is ecumenism it is time again to note that if indeed, all the churches unite, it will be under the headship of Rome, or at least, for a while.

        • It was Jesus who first used the term not Happy Jack.

      • dannybhoy

        “Christ founded only one Church his Church – on Peter,”
        Not implicitly proven Jack..
        There are no Scriptural passages to confirm your assertion.
        Not even St Peter in his letters even hints at it.
        Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
        An Apostle, not a Pope.
        ” 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”

        4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
        “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
        a cornerstone chosen and precious,
        and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

        “The stone that the builders rejected
        has become the cornerstone”,[a]
        7 So the honour is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

        No mention there of himself as having been chosen to found the Church.

        So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God”

        Nope, not there either…

        • Papal authority is clearly there in scripture and Peter’s role is shown to be that of leader. The early Church also recognised the Bishop of Rome to be in a position of settling doctrinal disputes.

          • Martin


            No, papal authority is not seen in Scripture nor is Peter the leader. In that the congregation at Rome had an influential position it was because they were at Rome, not becaus Peter may have been one of the elders of the church.

          • dannybhoy

            But this is assertion Jack, There is no Scriptural indications to back it. If it would be found anywhere it should surely be in the Book of Acts, but there is nothing.
            Anyway You are convinced it’s true so we will get nowhere on it.

          • Paul withstood Peter exposing his hypocrisy.

          • Anton

            Yes, Peter got that matter of theology wrong despite supposedly being Pope and infallible.

          • A pope is not infallible in his personal beliefs or practices. Jack has repeatedly explained this. He was acting as leader of the Church at Jerusalem and the outcome of that Council was infallible.

          • Anton

            Leader? Odd, then, that he didn’t chair the meeting.

          • Who says Peter didn’t chair the meeting? It was to Peter that God revealed that the gospel of Jesus Christ was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews – in Acts 10. Peter therefore pronounced for the Church the policy to be followed in this matter – in Acts 15.

            “When the apostles and presbyters assembled to decide about this matter there was much disputing over it, until Peter rose and said to them, Brethren …… “

            Peter clearly had primacy among the Apostles. He is mentioned more than all the rest combined in scripture. When he is mentioned
            with other Apostles, who is named first? When Paul comes to Jerusalem whom does he seek for acceptance? When any pronouncement of teaching is final, who makes it and who speaks for the Church? Who does Jesus single out to “feed His Sheep”, “feed His lambs” and tend his flock? Who does Jesus single out when He says what you hold bound on earth will be held in heaven? Who is entrusted with the “keys”? Not to mention the concept of Peter’s name being changed by Jesus, Throughout the Bible a name change indicates a special contract being enacted between God and the person and that the person has a new role in God’s plan.

            More to the point, the account of the Jerusalem Council disproves sola scriptura. In the Council, we see Peter and James speaking with authority. This Council makes an authoritative pronouncement, citing the Holy Spirit, which was binding on all Christians:

            Acts 15:28-29: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity.”

            We then read that Paul, Timothy, and Silas were traveling around “through the cities,” and Scripture says that:

            “. . . they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem.”

            This is Church authority. They simply proclaimed the decree as true and binding — with the sanction of the Holy Spirit. Thus we see in the Bible an instance of the gift of infallibility that the Catholic Church claims for itself when it assembles in a council.

          • Anton

            Who says Peter didn’t chair the meeting?

            Luke does, for he wrote Acts. After everybody had had his say, James sums up (Acts 15:12-13) and then says: “Wherefore *I DECIDE* not to make trouble for the gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19). His specific decision (15:20-21) is then sent out in a letter with similar wording (15:29). If you are in any doubt of this translation, check the Greek for yourself: EGO KRINO. KRINO is part of a verb meaning to judge, to decide. The authority here was with James, not Peter. QED.

            Given that we are reading about it in the New Testament, would you care to explain how this disproves sola scriptura?

          • He said it was his judgement or opinion, not his decision. In fact, he supported Peter who had spoken before him. As bishop of Jerusalem, where the Judaizers were strongest, one would expect him to speak up.

          • Anton

            Yes, his judgement accorded with Peter’s. But KRINO means his decision. This is more than “in my opinion”: notice that he spoke last, and the next thing to happen is the writing of a circular setting out his decision.

          • Peter — after listening to the debate — gave his teaching.

            James is the bishop of Jerusalem – Peter was a visitor there. He agrees with Peter’s declaration. And, most importantly, James was the leader of the Church’s “Jewish wing”. The teaching they were overturning as false was actually coming from James and his disciples. So he renders judgment on the matter for his Jewish party, not as a superior or equal of Peter. And, this is clear in verse 19, where it says: “It is my judgment, therefore, that we ought to stop troubling the gentiles.”

          • Anton

            You’d have to say that, of course, but I’m content to leave it to readers who haven’t blinded themselves with Catholic dogma to decide for themselves at this point. I simply repeat the point you are failing to engage with, as it is fatal to your position: KRINO means his *decision* and this is more than “in my opinion”, for James spoke last, after both sides had set out their views; and the next thing to happen is the writing of a circular setting out that decision.

          • And you would also have to say that …

            Krino can mean a number of things, amongst them to be of an opinion, to deem or think. or to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong.

            Have you ever noticed the striking wording Peter uses in his speech? The main object of his speech Is God: “God made a choice among you, that by my mouth . . .”; “And God . . . bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit”; “He made no distinction”; and “why therefore do you put God to the test?” (vs. 7-10). It is readily apparent that Peter Is quite comfortable in being a spokesman for God. Even James takes this for granted by stating, “Simeon has related how God first concerned himself . . .” (v. 14). There is an immediacy to Peter’s relating of God’s work which is noticeably absent from James’s speech.

            Peter spoke, appealing to the “early days” and his experience in bringing the gospel to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile (Acts 10). We are saved by grace, Peter stated, not by works of the Law (v. 11). A marked silence followed his speech (v. 12a). Then Barnabas and Paul testified to God’s work “among the Gentiles” (v. 12b). After they had finished, James gave his speech, pointing to both the words of Peter (“Simeon,” v. 14) and the Prophets (vs. 15-18). He then offered his “judgment”: the Gentiles would not have to observe the ceremonial Law. An authoritative letter was then written, stating “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us to lay upon you no greater burden” than abstaining from “things sacrificed to idols,” from blood and things strangled, and “from fornication” (vs. 28-29).

            Peter speaks as the head and spokesman of the Church. He formulates a doctrinal judgment about the means of salvation, whereas James takes the floor after him to suggest a pastoral plan for inculturating the gospel in mixed communities where Jewish and Gentile believers live side by side. James simply suggested a way of implementing what Peter had already definitively expressed.

          • Anton

            Let the reader KRINO for himself.

          • Acts 10 and 11 suggest Peter had the truth revealed to him by God about the gentiles and the Mosaic laws.

          • Where does it say that in scripture? That Peter was hypocrite?

          • Gals 2

            11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

          • Hmm …

            Rather harsh of Paul. There was a genuine dispute in the Church about Mosaic practices which was resolved at the Jerusalem Council. Paul’s account of the incident leaves no doubt that Peter saw and accepted the justice of the rebuke.

      • Christ founded only one Church: His Church
        Amen! At least we can agree on that. It is the Church against which the gates of hell will not prevail. This Church is not a corporation; it is a spiritual body. It is found wherever the true Gospel of Christ is preached and His ordinances observed.
        The Church of Rome is not that Church. Peter never called himself a ‘Pope,’ never regarded himself as infallible outside of his letters (just as well in the light of Galatians 2:11), never appointed Cardinals, Monseigneurs and all the other paraphanalia.
        Peter regarded himself as an ‘elder’ (1 Peter 5:1) and his successors are not that series of ‘Popes,’ most of whom were unfit to receive church office and unfit to pass it on, but those who are described in Peter’s words in 1 Peter 5:1-4.

        • Can you send Jack a transcript of your recent interview with Saint Peter, please? Of course the visible Church is different to that of 2000 years ago. What do you expect?

          And, for the record, it’s acceptable even today to question the personally expressed opinions of any pope. He is only guaranteed infallibility in particular circumstances. One type of infallibility granted the Church is when the Pope and Bishops, assemble together in Council to resolve a disputes, agree.

          The Jerusalem Council, led by the apostle Peter and James, decided the issue. Notice how Acts describes Peter’s role:

          “When the apostles and presbyters assembled to decide about this matter there was much disputing over it, until Peter rose and said to them ….”

          His input was decisive and agreements followed.

          Also in Acts, we note Peter:

          Headed the meeting that elected Matthias (1:13)
          Led the preaching on Pentecost (2:14)
          Received the first converts (2:41)
          Performed the first miracle after Pentecost (3:6)
          Inflicted the first punishment (5:1)
          Excommunicated the first heretic (8:21)

          • Anton

            it’s acceptable even today to question the personally expressed opinions of any pope. He is only guaranteed infallibility in particular circumstances

            That would be whenever he says he is?

          • No … as Jack commented a while back, infallibility exists in a number of circumstances.

          • Anton

            Being God helps…

          • ‘Also in Acts, we note Peter:

            Headed the meeting that elected Matthias (1:13)
            Led the preaching on Pentecost (2:14)
            Received the first converts (2:41)
            Performed the first miracle after Pentecost (3:6)
            Inflicted the first punishment (5:1)
            Excommunicated the first heretic (8:21)

            We also note that Peter is never heard of again after Acts 12, other than that he was thoroughly reprimanded by Paul.
            Moreover we do not hear that Paul, John or the writer of Hebrews mention that Peter is their boss. If Peter was ever in Rome (and there’s no biblical evidence that he was), Paul does not send him greetings in Romans 16 or mention him in the Prison epistles of in 2 Timothy.

          • Thoroughly reprimanded by Paul? You clearly misunderstand how the Church operates. Are you doubting Peter existed after Acts 15? In Galatians II, there is an account of St Paul reprimanding St Peter because Peter was giving a contradictory example to the Gentiles who they were trying to evangelise. As Peter had erred in plain sight of people, Paul corrected him in plain sight of people. The disorder caused by a public act of hypocrisy was undone by a public reprimand. Peter showed true saintliness, he took Paul’s reprimand in the right way, and he modified his example so that he lived the same way as he asked the Gentiles to live.
            Pope’s are not free from sin, error or perfect in their private behaviour.
            The bible does not contain the full history of the early Church. It is evident from the Gospels and Acts that Peter has primacy among the Apostles.

          • ‘Pope’s are not free from sin, error or perfect in their private behaviour.
            Apart from the rogue apostrophe, we can at least agree on that.

            The bible does not contain the full history of the early Church. It is evident from the Gospels and Acts that Peter has primacy among the Apostles.

            It wasn’t evident to Peter. As previously related, he regarded himself as a ‘fellow-elder’ to those to whom he was writing (1 Peter 5:1. Perhaps you would like to point me to those portions of the NT letters where Paul, John, James or Jude mention that Peter had primacy among the apostles?

          • Why would he have to mention it? It’s apparent the prominence given to his role.

      • Jon Sorensen

        “Only one Church exists – the “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic” Church”
        I think you meant the Church Jesus brother James lead in Jerusalem and moved to Pella. It’s member walked and worked with Christ, and not the Catholics who showed up much later trying to steal the original church title….

      • “Christ founded only one Church his Church – on Peter”

        I wonder what Paul would have had to say about this –

        “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23 KJV)

        • Jesus never said the Church belonged to Peter.

          • “Jesus never said the Church belonged to Peter.”

            Neither did the Corinthian church. The point is that they ascribed special honour to certain apostles, and Paul disapproved of that practice.

            The church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:20-21 NIV). The foundation is not made up of any single person.

    • len

      Amen .

    • dannybhoy

      Good post MM

    • David

      Well said ! You’ve set out in a few words my stance on this.

    • Amen. It was the point I was itching to make. John never thinks in terms of an organised institutional church. His unity is always the unity of life in Christ.

  • Dominic Stockford

    I was immediately reminded of the FIEC statement on ecumenism – worth a read. Here it is.

    “FIEC’s policy on uniting with other churches and groups is set out in this document.

    This statement was approved by FIEC’s affiliated churches in November 2011. It is an updated and revised version of the policy that was first approved by our affiliated churches in 1996. The text of the statement follows and it can be downloaded as a PDF below.


    The FIEC was founded in 1922 with the purpose of expressing visible unity between churches on a non-sectarian basis. The FIEC has therefore always been a fellowship of churches which rejoices in our unity in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. While we may differ with one another on a number of matters not essential to salvation, we strive to maintain the unity we enjoy together in Christ. We also seek to express Christian fellowship with other Gospel churches and para-church groups outside FIEC. Our commitment to the Gospel means that we are unable to express Christian fellowship with those who cannot affirm the fundamental truths of the faith.

    God’s Purpose of Unity

    From the very beginning of creation God’s purpose was that the entire human race would be united in fellowship under his good rule of love and blessing. Tragically ever since Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden of Eden, sinful humanity has been characterised not only by alienation from God but also by broken relationships, suspicion and division from one another. However God, in his great grace, purposed to save a people for himself out of the broken community of this sinful world, and to build a new humanity united as a single body.

    The ultimate fulfilment of this vision is the single people united in worship before the throne of God in glory (Rev 7v9). This unity of God’s people is effected through the saving work of Christ on the Cross. Through him both Jews and Gentiles are reconciled to God:

    “…His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross… For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Eph 2v15-18 NIV)
    The whole church is to be built up “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ.” (Eph 4v13 NIV). This is part of God’s cosmic purpose “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” (Eph 1v10); indeed all things are to be reconciled in him:

    “For God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Col 1v19-20 NIV)
    Christian unity is therefore at the heart of the purposes of God.

    Unity in the Gospel

    Christian unity is established through the Gospel. It is through this message that we are saved and united to Christ (1Cor 15v1-2, Rom 1v16, Eph 1v13). When the Lord Jesus prays for unity, it is amongst those who receive the Gospel (John 17v20). Some say that we are united as believers by our experience of the Holy Spirit. This is true, but it would be wrong to set the Holy Spirit in opposition to the Gospel. We receive the Spirit through the Gospel (Gal 3v2, Eph 1v13). It is the Spirit who gives us new birth (John 3v5-8), but he brings this new life through the Word (Jam 1v18, 1Pet 1v23). If we have a real experience of the Holy Spirit, then we will find that he deepens our understanding and appreciation of Christ, and his Word (1Cor 2v9-16). When we work and cooperate together, it is in the cause of the Gospel (Phil 1v27).

    This truth finds practical expression within FIEC by the prominence that we give to the essential truths of the faith. If we are to find common cause with other believers, it will be partnership on the basis of a shared commitment to the Gospel. This will be expressed by a shared doctrinal basis.

    Rejection of False Teachers

    Whilst we long to enjoy unity with all who profess the name of Christ, the New Testament warns repeatedly of false teachers and false prophets coming into the church. Whilst such false teachers profess to know Christ as Lord, and appear as brothers, they are in reality wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt 7v15, Acts 20v29-31). In twisting or distorting the Gospel they rob us of our message for the lost, and instead of building up believers in the truth lead them astray to spiritual ruin (Col 2v18-19, Rev 2v20-23). Elders are charged with the primary responsibility of guarding the flock against such malign influences, and we are commanded to reject them and remain separate from them (Rom 16v17, Gal 1v8-9, 5v12, Phil 3v2, 2Pet 2, 2John 9-10, Jude). These New Testament teachings require us to stand apart from those who would deny the core truths of the gospel, whether implicitly or expressly.

    It is important to understand the pastoral motivation of Jesus and the apostles in warning against false teachers. Matters of spiritual life and death are at stake if these false brothers are accepted and their deviant doctrines embraced. We are therefore obligated by love to stand apart from them, both for the sake of the church and its witness to Christ, and also for the sake of such false teachers themselves, as we would long for them to come to repentance and true saving faith.

    Summary of Implications for the FIEC

    Jesus prayed for the unity of his people, and this is an essential element of our witness (John 17v23). We are urged to maintain spiritual unity, in the face of differences of belief and practice which are not essential to the Gospel. Our commitment to unity extends not only within FIEC, but to all who are united to Christ in a variety of church and para-church groups. We look forward to the day when all of God’s people will be united before him in glory.

    This spiritual unity is to be expressed amongst all who confess the truth of the Gospel. It is through the Gospel that we are saved, and built up in the faith. Jesus’ prayer for unity was for those who would believe in him through the message preached by the apostles (John 17v20). Our Basis of Faith affirms that true fellowship between churches exists only where they are faithful to the gospel. The gospel of salvation by grace is so precious to us that we desire to stand together with all who believe and preach it. For the same reason, we cannot express Christian fellowship with those who reject it. The New Testament warns us repeatedly to guard the church against the influence of false teachers who deny the truth. Therefore we cannot join in partnership in evangelism or activities of Christian fellowship with those who are unable to affirm the essential doctrines of the faith as expressed in the FIEC Basis of Faith and similar statements. We are unable to affiliate formally to groups such as Churches Together which exist to express unity between churches naming Jesus as Lord, but without concern as to whether they hold to the core doctrines of the gospel as expressed in our Statement of Faith.

    There are many opportunities for us to find common cause with others (both inside and outside the professing church), if these do not compromise our distinctive testimony to the Gospel. For example we may be able to speak together on moral issues, in defence of our religious liberties, or to work together in acts of practical charity and compassion. Such activities are at the discretion of local church leaders.”

  • len

    Nothing like mentioning’ unity’ to cause a fight to break out.

    • Jon Sorensen

      But Christians can’t agree on what “followed Christ alone” means. Bible is very unclear and offers moral relativism on many issues.

  • CliveM

    Well if Justin Welby is reading this blog tonight, he will be in no doubt the magnitude of the problem facing those trying to promote unity.

    Although some may disagree, I still believe there is more uniting us the dividing us. I also think that if as a body, we engaged in the argument with those outside the Church, with the same gusto as we do with those in it, the place of Christianity within British society would be more assured.

    So as the Inspector may say, tally Ho what! Into battle with the real foe!

    • Murti Bing

      I agree. There is much falsehood in the world today and millions are deceived by it. We should confront them head on, with Love and Courage, rather than squabbling amongst ourselves whilst trying to seem ‘nice’.

      • dannybhoy

        Christian ‘niceness’ does us no favours. Much better to be real with each other. You can’t build real unity on ‘niceness..’

  • Martin

    There are times when a limb must be amputated to save the life of the patient. To speak of unity then is simply folly.

  • Can there be Christian unity on this:

    The world’s first baby has been born using a new “three person” fertility technique, New Scientist reveals.

    The five-month-old boy has the usual DNA from his mum and dad, plus a tiny bit of genetic code from a donor ….

    Experts say the move heralds a new era in medicine and could help other families with rare genetic conditions.

    Some women carry genetic defects in mitochondria and they can pass these on to their children.

    In the case of the Jordanian family, it was a disorder called Leigh Syndrome that would have proved fatal to any baby conceived. The family had already experienced the heartache of four miscarriages as well as the death of two children – one at eight months and the other at six years of age ….

    Scientists have devised a number of fertility methods to help such families.

    The US team, who travelled to Mexico to carry out the procedure because there are no laws there that prohibit it, used a method that takes all the vital DNA from the mother’s egg plus healthy mitochondria from a donor egg to create a healthy new egg that can be fertilised with the father’s sperm.

    The result is a baby with 0.1% of their DNA from the donor (mitochondrial DNA) and all the genetic code for things like hair and eye colour from the mother and father.

    The UK has already passed laws to allow the creation of babies from three people.

    A good thing or a bad thing?

    • Then there’s this insanity:

      An Ecuadorian transgender couple — comprised of a “husband,” or a female pretending to be male, and a “wife,” or a male pretending to be female — gave birth to a son in June in what is being touted as the world’s first known transgender birth, despite neither of the two having undergone gender reassignment surgery and the child having been conceived naturally and carried to term by a biologically female individual.

      “Being a mother was never something I thought I would do because I am a transsexual,” explains Diane Rodriguez, the male “wife,” in the first interview given since the child’s birth over the summer. Rodriguez maintains the process was “complex” but asserted the pair had “decided to add another member to [their] family” knowing it was their legal “right” to do so and the pair were physically capable of conceiving.

      Fernando Machado, the “female husband” who carried the child, asserts couples like them are “the same as other families. … [Even] though we might not have the same rights, we’re the same.”

      So the natural mother thinks she is the “father” and “husband”; and the natural father becomes the “mother” and “wife”.

      • Martin


        In other circumstances it would be called mental illness.

        • Linus

          Whereas in present circumstances, mental illness is the label we apply to those like you who suffer from religious mania.

          Don’t like being called crazy? Then do unto others as you would have them do unto you, sad hypocrite.

          • The Explorer

            It may be true that all religious people are mentally ill, but the problem is wider than that. Some of the mentally ill are not religious.

          • Anton

            Don’t you think that the whole human race is mentally ill? Look at the world. And who dare say that he is better than another man?

          • The Explorer

            Now you’re getting profound. As I understand it, the concept of total depravity is that sin has affected everything, including our reason; whereas Aquinas believed our reason to be unfallen. But that sort of stuff is too deep for me.

            I was in a hospital canteen once, and somebody sat at the next table and had a vigorous conversation with whoever was opposite. I couldn’t see anybody there, but he obviously could. A lot of us talk to ourselves – I certainly do – but not like that. So I’d venture to say that some of us are screwier than others.

          • Anton

            I meant to post that comment as a reply to Linus, and I shall do so next. But thank you for your reply!

          • Linus

            According to the definition of mental health as understood in France, gender dysphoria is not classified as a mental illness. It is a condition that falls within the normal spectrum of gender identity and as such cannot be “treated” or “cured”. It is almost always fixed, although it may in some rare cases spontaneously shift or fluctuate over a lifetime.

            This definition having been reached via a professional consensus of all mental health professionals in France and validated and supported by the ministry of Health, I tend to give it more credence than the uneducated rantings of opinionated Christians, who always “know better than everyone else” and whose opinions are drawn from a collection of ancient folk myths and old wives’ tales.

            If it’s a choice between objective modern science and ancient superstition, I know which gives the most reliable, dependable results.

          • The Explorer

            There seem to be three issues here.

            1. Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness. I agree, and never said it was. Given above-average suicide rates, however, there may be other mental issues connected with it.

            2. I took you to be saying that religious people are mentally ill. I argued that religion does not fully cover the definition since some mentally-ill people are not religious.

            3. Christian medical opinion, being based on ancient texts. cannot be as reliable as modern scientific medicine. That’s a big one. Modern doctors still take the Hippocratic Oath. Do you think they should outgrow this? As far as Christianity is concerned, I suppose it’s a question of whether ancient principles are simply ancient, or still applicable. Don’t forget that although the biblical writers did not know what the human race would one day do to itself with transgender operations, God – with knowledge of the future – certainly did. God probably took that into account when inspiring the biblical texts.


          • Linus

            1. Gender dysphoria is associated with high rates of social rejection and bullying, or what is commonly known as “minority stress”.

            Society plants expectations in all of us, expectations that are impossible for trans people to live up to. This translates into significant psychological pressure that more than adequately explains the higher rate of suicide in the trans community. It’s not the fact of being trans that destabilises them psychologically. It’s the ceaseless harassment and bullying they’re subjected to from their early childhood onwards.

            2. It seems to me that the basic premise behind religion, i.e. faith in something magical and other-worldly that you cannot detect using any of your senses and for which you have no proof at all, is a species of mental derangement. Like all mental instabilities, it varies in degree. It also just one madness among many. The human mind is a complex thing and many things can go wrong with it. Religion is one of those dysfunctions. There are many more.

            3. The Hippocratic Oath is not Christian in origin. It’s an outworking of pure logic. If a physician’s role is to treat a patient in order to preserve life and improve health, then it follows that some kind of engagement is necessary which, if transgressed, would lead to expulsion from the profession. Patients must trust their doctors, it’s as simple as that.

            This fact has not changed in thousands of years, therefore the Hippocratic Oath hasn’t changed. Although it has, as different religions have given way to each other and most recently to secularism. Its form has changed but not its substance, which is based on the unchanging role of the physician and will therefore always remain the same.

            Compare this to early Christian medicine that made demons responsible for mental illness and masturbation responsible for blindness. Neither of these two conclusions were logical, but rather dogmatic. If that’s the sort of doctor you want, good luck to you. I’ll stick with a physician schooled in modern scientific methods of diagnosis and treatment. Everything else being equal, I’ll almost certainly live longer than you.

          • The Explorer

            Good post. I’m aware the Hippocratic Oath is not Christian in origin. My point was not that it is Christian, but that it is old. Old concepts can still be valid. I take the point that it is valid because it is logical, but some biblical concepts could be logical as well, and therefore equally as valid as the Hippocratic Oath.

            That masturbation causes blindness is not mentioned in the New Testament. Consider the story of The Man Born Blind. The cause is elsewhere. When Christ makes a paste to heal the blind man in ‘Mark’, masturbation is not mentioned. I’m not sure where it came from: it’s probably gnostic in its contempt for the body. Concepts extraneous to the Bible did undoubtedly enter Christianity and have always plagued it. They do so still.

            Demon possession is an interesting point. Certainly true of ‘Legion’. As to illnesses generally, some are depicted as cased by demons (Christ speaks a word of command) but others are not (Christ touches the afflicted.) There is a suggestion that Satan is responsible for illness (the woman bound by Satan for fifteen years) and that disease was not part of God’s original plan, but not that all illness is the result of demonic possession.

            As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a cessationist. After the Apostolic period, miracles, exorcisms etc tend to die down. No one tells Luke he can forget about his medical training. Human ingenuity is put to the service of God. The Benedictines went on to found a thousand hospitals in medieval Europe and to conduct research into the medical properties of plants.

          • A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced illuminating results regarding the transgendered.

            The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery.

            When presented with evidence like this, supporters of sex-change therapy say that negative health outcomes arise from “social stigmas” or “lack of resources for the transgendered.” But this is a classic example of “heads I win, tails you lose.”

            If a transgender person reports having no negative health outcomes, then transgender therapies and surgery are vindicated. But, if a transgender person regrets his decision to change genders or reports having high levels of stress or other disorders, then that’s not because being transgender is harmful. Instead, it’s because society oppresses the transgendered, and that causes their negative mental health outcomes. Of course, this is a convenient way to frame the issue so that one’s position can’t be disproved.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, that makes sense. There’s that recent report about high suicide rates among Swedish gays. It comes from within. It’s not the result of social attitudes: the Swedes are as keen to acquire gays as they are to acquire Muslims.

          • Gender dysphoria is a socially constructed medical condition which seeks to legitimise transsexuality. This is where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a perceived mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.

            Biological sex is a reality at birth. Gender identity is the gender that a person “identifies” with or feels themselves to be.

            What determines reality: facts or feelings? If Linus, for example, said he was a cat, would we leave him a bowl of milk in his room? If a person with a male genetic code and male genitalia says he’s was a woman, should we treat him as a woman and refer to him with female pronouns?

            What’s the difference between someone redefining his species and redefining his sex? Both are determined anatomically and genetically. Or, what if a person thinks she is disabled but is actually healthy? Should we treat her sense of identity, or should we disable her so her body conforms to her mistaken self-identity? Just as transgender people make a distinction between the sex they were assigned at birth and the sex they now identify with (their gender), the “transabled” make a distinction between the disabilities society says they don’t have and the disabilities they think they have. Some “transabled” people even ask doctors to help them become disabled by having their spinal cords severed.

          • The Explorer

            Well yes, those are good points. There’s that Norwegian woman who thinks she’s a cat, laps milk out of a bowl and relieves herself on a litter tray etc. I’d say she was mentally ill. I winder what happens when she thinks she’s on heat?

            So when Linus says expert French opinion doesn’t think gender dysphoria is evidence of mental illness is he misrepresenting the French experts, or have the French experts got it wrong?

          • Jacks first sentence: “Gender dysphoria is a socially constructed medical condition which seeks to legitimise transsexuality.”

          • Anton

            Human psychology is an “objective modern science”? Do me a favour; I’m a physicist and I know what that looks like.

          • Anton

            The BBC is fond of referring to Islamic terrorists who commit acts of barbarism in the West as mentally ill. Secular mental health practitioners are unhappy with this designation. Where do you stand?

          • Linus

            I don’t have an opinion on the topic because I do not have sufficient data to reach a conclusion.

            In order to diagnose mental illness, a patient must be examined and assessed. This can’t be done via the medium of TV news reporting and suppositions about beliefs and motivations.

            Islamist terrorists may well have a screw loose, indeed their fervent belief in a religion every bit as make-believe as Christianity certainly points to some form of mental instability. But do they really believe? Are they brainwashed? Drugged? Or just violent thugs with no respect for anything but their own wants and needs? Psychopaths in other words. Perhaps they are. Or perhaps they’re not. I’m not qualified to make that judgment.

            Are you?

          • Anton

            “I don’t have an opinion on the topic because I do not have sufficient data to reach a conclusion.”

            It’s not stopped you before…

          • The Explorer

            Is the BBC? That was the question

          • Linus

            You want me to answer on behalf of the BBC?

            If you want to know what the BBC thinks (if a corporation can think), ask the BBC.

          • Anton

            Don’t you think that the whole human race is mentally ill? Look at the world. And what man dare say that he is better than another?

          • Linus

            Christians never stop proclaiming their moral superiority and their opinion that only if we believe what they believe will we find true fulfillment.

            So how come you can dare to say your way makes you better than anyone else?

          • Anton

            Did you read what I actually wrote?

          • The Explorer


          • dannybhoy

            And here comes Linus, all guns blazing……

          • Pubcrawler

            And completely missing the barn.

          • Martin


            Claiming you are not the same gender as that produced by your genetic identity is clearly not the act of the mentally well. In the same way, pretending you do not know God exists identifies you as on of those who are both mentally and spiritually sick. Both indicate a need for remedial treatment.

          • Linus

            Thus spake Martin the qualified mental health professional gifted by his imaginary god with ultimate wisdom concerning human psychology.

            No, no, no … what I meant to say was “thus spake Martin the religious crank, driven by his delusion that we were all created by a literary muse of a pixie who left as the only “proof” of his existence a badly written and cobbled-together compendium of rants and prophecies that he calls the bible.”

            I wonder what made it come out wrong the first time. Was Martin’s imaginary pixie influencing my fingers as I typed? Does Martin possess ESP and can he beam thoughts and suggestions into other people’s minds? Or was it purely a case of sarcasm getting the better of me?

            I’ll leave it to Martin to determine, shall I? He already has anyway. Of course it was his god-pixie doing what god-pixies always do: beaming orders and messages into the receptive minds of their brainwashed followers. That Martin should be the repeating station that amplified the weak signal into my brain would be consistent with his delusion of being a tool in his god-pixie’s plot to dominate all men and bend them to his will.

            Such are the ravings of the religious mind. There’s no arguing with it. All you can do is chuckle at it and treat it with the humour it deserves.

        • It is most certainly a delusion.

    • Martin


      They are playing with a machine they don’t fully understand. When was that ever a good thing?

      • All medicine does this.

        • Can this be described as “medicine”? Isn’t it technology taking over the procreative process?

          These technologies make the child a commodity produced in a laboratory, and makes doctors, technicians, and business people part of the conception process. The sperm used is usually obtained by masturbation, which is immoral. The sperm or eggs – and now part of the egg – used may not come from the couple desiring the child. In these processes, most of the embryos conceived – which should be respected as new human lives – die, are frozen indefinitely for later implantation, are used for research, or are discarded.

          Bottom line:

          A child as a gift from God.

          There is an “inseparable connection, willed by God, and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning.”

          • I cannot, in principle, see the difference between taking measures to cure/eradicate a disease/physical evil after birth and doing so before birth.

          • It’s the means used that make the difference.

          • I agree the means used must be legitimate. But this is another question. I am merely observing that curing congenital disease is in itself a good thing.

          • It is a good thing. However, genetic modifications are illicit methods as are those which rely on experimenting with human embryos and those which dissociate sex and procreation.

          • I don’t agree that procreation must always be in conjunction with sex.

          • Based on what authority do you disagree?

          • My own right and responsibility of private judgement in interpreting Scripture and on reaching conclusions on matters where Scripture is silent.

          • So you can do it … and other Christians … and we all carry equal “authority”? That doesn’t work too well, does it?

            Good job Peter and the early Church didn’t think the same way about things. If they had, we’d have Christians who still adhere to the Mosaic laws of diet and circumcision. Would even have a common creed? Then there’s this in scripture:

            “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the Law, do by nature what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the Law, since they show that the work of the Law is written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts either accusing or defending them.”

            This means that by applying our power of reasoning, the light of revelation,, we are able to fathom and comprehend God’s will. God’s entire creation is imbued with divine purpose. By examining the world carefully – by uncovering the essential natures of things and the laws determining what they are for – we can discern God’s plan and intentions.

          • But the early church did; the faithful listened to the apostles and to the Spirit, my persistent claim.

            Don’t understand your reasoning. Having just questioned the ability of individual Christians to understand the will of God you then suggest that unconverted people can discern God’s plans and intentions.

            However, you misinterpret the text you cite. This text does not say we can discern in creation God’s plan and purpose. Only the special saving revelation of the gospel does this. The cited text simply tells us that all men have a God given sense of what is right and wrong. That, and no more. There is no saving truth in creation or conscience. There is no promise of salvation to believe. This is declared only in the gospel.

            HJ, forgive me being personal. You seem to me to be very comfortable in debate when expressing Catholic belief and orthodoxy. However, when discussing Scripture you seem to be much less firmfooted. You appear to be much less conversant with it. Is this not telling and damning? It is the Scriptures that are ‘able to make us wise unto salvation’. It is they who testify of Christ. It is Scripture that is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for correction, rebuke, training in righteousness. It is Scripture that is the living word of God, a sharp two edged sword.

            No creed, catechism, or church pronouncement has this ability or carries this authority.

          • “Don’t understand your reasoning. Having just questioned the ability of individual Christians to understand the will of God you then suggest that unconverted people can discern God’s plans and intentions.”

            Every person has a conscience implanted by God. This informs us of right and wrong and although dulled by sin, it is God’s way of showing us His will. Divine revelation informs us about the nature and qualities of God and His plan for our salvation and why, without grace, we cannot keep His laws.

            The early Church had to be taught the faith by the Apostles. Without the creed, catechism and Church leadership that you decry in favour of individual autonomy we would have even greater chaos and disunity in our faith than we have today. The early Church had to withstand many heretical ideas as it worked out the fuller meanings of revelation – as it still does today.

            The first six verses of Psalm 19 testify to the revelation of God through His creation:

            “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.”
            (Psalm 19:1-6)

            A second passage that speaks of God’s revelation through nature is Romans 1:18-21.

            “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of humanity who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that humans are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
            (Romans 1:18-21)

            This demonstrates that because of the witness of nature, people are held accountable to God for that knowledge that God has revealed to them – about His existence and also His law. This revelation about God does not consist of words – it is nonverbal revelation.

          • Largely agree with you here regarding God’s revelation in creation. I do, however, have one important area of disagreement; creation does not reveal God’s saving plan. It reveals his eternal power and godhead (his creatorliness) but says nothing of his redemptive purposes. Scripture does not claim it does. There is no message of salvation in creation only in the gospel.

          • Anton

            I have asked Jack above why, if sex and reproduction are inseparable, God created the human female to be sexually receptive when infertile (after menopause, in early pregnancy, when lactating, during some of the cycle) unlike almost every mammal having the same reproductive apparatus…

          • You may have misunderstood my comment as we are in agreement. Jack said “Divine revelation informs us about the nature and qualities of God and His plan for our salvation and why, without grace, we cannot keep His laws.” Natural revelation cannot do this.

          • Ah. My dull reading. Apologies.

          • Anton

            Based on the fact that God made Eve to be a companion for Adam, not a brood mare. Based on the fact that the human female is sexually receptive when infertile (after menopause, in early pregnancy, when lactating, during part of the cycle) unlike almost every mammal having the same reproductive apparatus. Why, Jack, should that be?

          • “Brood mare”! The purposes of sex are both unitive as well as procreative. Do pay attention.

          • Anton

            Do answer the question!

            Based on the fact that the human female is sexually receptive when infertile (after menopause, in early pregnancy, when lactating, during part of the cycle) unlike almost every mammal having the same reproductive apparatus. Why should that be?

          • Because sex serves more than one purpose but the two cannot be artificially separated. It also helps promote life long marriage and sexual fidelity and stops men roaming.

          • Anton

            Yes – by naturally separating procreation and sex. God did that. Within marriage we are free to follow in his footsteps.

          • This is not a licence for man to artificially control the procreative processes and usurp God. Cooperating with God’s natural spacing of fertility and eventual infertility of women and men, is one thing; doing it unnaturally, as man does, is another matter.

          • Anton

            You base it all on what’s “natural”. But man affects the natural all the time – by farming rather than hunting-gathering for a start, and by medical interventions. Your criteria are arbitrary.

          • One can hardly accuse Thomas Aquinas of arbitrariness. It’s all about the natural God given purposes of things and the moral obligation of man not to offend God by misusing these. There’s no offence to God in either hunting or farming. Man needs to eat. And medical interventions, directed at enhancing and improving natural functions, are hardly contentious provided no illicit means are used.

          • Anton

            I agree. But if you base it all on what’s “natural” then you are going to have trouble deciding where your red lines are, in which case don’t be surprised if other Christians disagree with you – especially if your fallback position is “I’m right because my church says so”.

          • But the Church is always right when it defines and decides on matters of faith and morals.

            The Catholic position on this really is unassailable and until1930 was taught by all Christian denominations.

            Contraception is wrong because it’s a deliberate violation of the design God has built into the human race.The natural law purpose of sex is procreation. The pleasure that sexual intercourse provides is an additional blessing from God, intended to offer the possibility of new life while strengthening the bond of intimacy, respect, and love between husband and wife. The loving environment this bond creates is the perfect setting for nurturing children and for the couple to remain together for life.

            Sexual pleasure within marriage becomes unnatural, and harmful to the spouses, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes the basic purpose of sex – procreation. God’s gift of the sex, along with its pleasure and intimacy, must not be abused by deliberately frustrating its natural end.

          • Anton

            By 1930 contraception was no longer the horror that had restricted its use to prostitutes and cause it to be associated with immorality and therefore condemned by the churches. Respectable married couples stared to use it. Some churches understood that they had condemned it on the basis of its association with prostitution and had a rethink.

            Sexual pleasure within marriage becomes unnatural, and harmful to the spouses, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes the basic purpose of sex – procreation.

            That’s abstinence methods condemned then. You’re even tougher than Rome!

          • Contraception was judged immoral in and of itself, not because it was used by the disreputable.
            In A.D. 195, Clement of Alexandria wrote, “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted”
            (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2)

            Around 307 Lactantius explained that some “complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife.”
            (Divine Institutes 6:20).

            Augustine wrote in 419, “I am supposing, then, although you are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility [oral contraceptives]”
            (Marriage and Concupiscence 1:15:17).

            Lambeth Conference, Resolution 15, allowed: “in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles.”

            This contradicted the Lambeth Conference’s emphatic warning in 1920 against the use of unnatural means for the avoidance of conception.

          • Anton

            As I explained, a church rethink was needed once contraception ceased to be so unpleasant as to be restricted to prostitutes, whom the church could attack for sexual immorality, and was adopted by committed Christian married couples. I am uninterested in the opinions of church fathers where they seek to add legislation to the Bible.

        • Martin


          Not to this extent.

    • I’m not sure. I don’t like the methods of research that gets us to this point. Yet, I do think the ability to eliminate genetic disease is in principle a good thing.

      • Anton

        Indeed; is it not the case that the baby has all its genes but one from a man and woman who are married to each other, and that other gene has been spliced in? A single gene is sufficiently simple that it could, with effort, be synthesised from chemical elements in a laboratory before being spliced-in, but it is easier to take it from a third person. Yet it is still just those elements in combination. And just about anybody would have done as ‘donor’ as very few people carry the rogue gene that its parents do.

        I can see both sides of this.

        • Yes, everyone can. That’s why the option to interfere with procreation is so attractive. It elicits sympathy – just like euthanasia and abortion.

          • Anton

            And if the gene in question *had* been synthesised in a laboratory prior to insertion?

            We interfere with natural processes all the time to our advantage; what is special about procreation that it must not be?

            You might well have a good reply; as I said, I can see both sides of this and I am very happy to receive information from both sides.

          • Synthesised how? Inserted how?

          • Anton

            Inserted by CRISPR and synthesised from amino acids and bases, themselves synthesised from elemental carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and a few other elements by standard means of organic chemistry in reaction flasks.

          • In plain English, if you please.

          • Anton

            CRISPR is here:


            and is a way of isolating part of a DNA strand and modifying the isolated part. The rest of what I wrote above is basic O-level chemistry.

          • Does it interfere with the “the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act”?

            In other words, is the child conceived through the natural process of human sexual intercourse?

          • HJ

            In general I’m sympathetic to your concerns. I think most here will be. Much in this field seems a moral minefield, however, I think you press the procreational obligations beyond what is merited. I know your theology is orthodoxly RC. In one way this is a commendable strength – you are loyal to your authority. In another way it is a tragic and fatal weakness – your authority is wrong and your confidence in it is misplaced.

            Is it possible the RC church could change its position on this? Is it ever possible you would demur from RC magisterial teaching?

          • ” …. your authority is wrong and your confidence in it is misplaced.”

            Why is the Church wrong on this?

            “Is it possible the RC church could change its position on this?” No, not unless it stops being the Catholic Church.

            “Is it ever possible you would demur from RC magisterial teaching?” By the grace of God, no.

          • What is wrong is the level of authority you give the institutional RC church. This authority belongs to Scripture. It is ‘the word of God’ not the church. And while God has given gifts of teachers from whom we may benefit ultimately and primarily our teacher is the Holy Spirit. The Word and the Spirit teach in tandem.

          • There is no support in scripture for resting authority in it alone. Quite the opposite in fact. The Apostles and early Christian Church came before the New Testament and, indeed, decided what was canonical and what was not. God, in His wisdom, has given us a teaching authority to help us understand scriptural revelation and to apply the Gospel message to our lives. It is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church into all truth.

          • My point was that Scripture is the word of God. The word of God existed before the church. The church is born through the word. Scripture is the final and full expression of that word.

            Actually the canon was not so much decided as recognised; the process was more organic than mechanical.

            John is clear, when some wished to ‘advance’ on apostolic teaching that no such advance was possible. The obligation was to hold fast to ‘that which was from the beginning which was revealed via the apostles.

            1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

            And again

            6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood…

            24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father…

            20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth…

            27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit…

            John in his letter is building on the teaching Christ gave which he recounts in his gospel.

            ‘I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

            Note this was not a promise to the church but to the apostles.

            Thus elsewhere we read

            I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints

            It’s impossible to read the NT and miss the revelatory authority that lies with the initial apostles and prophets, the foundation upon which the church is built (Eph 2). And it simply won’t do to argue this apostolic authority continues beyond these C1 apostles. There is no biblical evidence for this whatsoever.

            Since these foundational apostles and prophets all subsequent teaching and prophecy must be tested by the bar of the foundation laid, the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Where teachers add or subtract from this apostolic word we have the freedom indeed the responsibility to reject them and their teaching.

          • But that’s just your private interpretation of scripture. If you believe that scripture is the word of God, then indirectly you must acknowledge the authority of the Church. Christ did not establish a bible, he established a Church, and the New Testament arose out of the very life of the Church.

            The word of God – Christ – existed before the Church, sure. However, the message of Christ was revealed to His Church and was written down by His Church. This same Church decided which accounts of Jesus’ teachings and which letters should make up the New Testament.

            “Note this was not a promise to the church but to the apostles.” And you know this, how? As Jack reads it, Christ established a Church on the foundation of the twelve Apostles. The Apostles and their successors are the official teachers of the Church. The charism of infallibility is a gift given by Christ to the whole Church. It is a gift that is ours, if we belong to His Mystical Body. Just as sight belongs to the entire living organism, yet requires an organ if the power of seeing is to be realised, so too the charism of infallibility that belongs to the entire Church requires an organ in order to be realised. This organ is the Magisterium, the official teachers of the Church, which is made up of the successors of the Apostles, that is, the bishops and Pope.

            “And it simply won’t do to argue this apostolic authority continues beyond these C1 apostles. There is no biblical evidence for this whatsoever.”

            Again, how do you know this? The bible is full of evidence. Christ established the Church, but the Church teaches in history, as the New Testament gives witness. Scripture is already the living tradition of the Church. The first gospel written was Mark, written around 70 AD; a little later Matthew was written, followed by Luke. The gospel of John was written near the end of the first century, and it reads very differently than the first three synoptic gospels. What they give witness to is the living historical tradition of the Church. It is the living Church in history who teaches, and she teaches the truth. We know this because Christ promised this to the Church.

            John: “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete—to be with you always: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, since it neither sees him nor recognizes him; …”(14, 16). Christ could not have been referring to individuals when he said “the Spirit of Truth will lead you to all truth.” He was referring to the Church that He established. He commissioned the twelve to go out to all nations and teach all that he taught them: “Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name ‘of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!”(Mt 28, 18-20).

            The role of apostolic succession in preserving true doctrine is illustrated in the bible too. To make sure that the Apostles’ teachings would be passed down after the deaths of the apostles, Paul told Timothy, “[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). In this passage he refers to the first three generations of apostolic succession – his own generation, Timothy’s generation, and the generation Timothy will teach.

            The Church Fathers, who were links in that chain of succession, regularly appealed to Apostolic succession as a test for whether Catholics or heretics had correct doctrine. This was necessary because heretics simply put their own interpretations, even bizarre ones, on scripture. Clearly, something other than scripture had to be used as an ultimate test of doctrine in these cases.

            In the year 110 A.D., while on his way to execution, St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote: “Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic church.” The Church believes that when the bishops speak as teachers, Christ speaks: “He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me,” (Lk 10, 16)

            The Church is a body, and a living body is characterised by unity. It is organized, as all organisms are. We are members of a larger body, and it is not for us to separate ourselves from this living body because we see things differently from the official teachers of the Church. St. Paul urges the faithful: “Make every effort to preserve the unity which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all…” (Eph 4, 3-5)

            The Christian faith is an ecclesial faith. St. Paul points out that prophecy, although a charism belonging to an individual through which the Holy Spirit manifests himself, is subject to the judgment of the larger community: Let no more than two or three prophets speak, and let the rest judge the worth of what they say.” (1 Co 14, 29).

            There is an obvious problem with sola scriptura. The Christian reads the bible and insists that the bible is the sole rule of his faith. He comes up with an entirely different interpretation from that of the Church. But another person reads the same bible and comes up with an interpretation entirely opposed to the other two. Given four hundred people reading the same bible and interpreting it on their own authority, we end up with four hundred different and often conflicting versions of Christianity. One person believes Jesus is God the Son, fully God and fully man, but another denies it, insisting that he is not equal to the Father, that he’s just human, but God is present in him in a special way. Another says Jesus is God; he has a divine nature, but not a real human nature. One insists that it is good to pray for the dead, another denies it. One says it is good to pray to saints, others say no. Who is right? They can’t all be right. Who is going to settle the dispute? Certainly not the bible. Who has the correct interpretation of the bible?

            In the early Church, when disputes arose it was the bishops of the Church who gathered together to form an ecumenical council and Rome would have the final say. What the bishops of the Church taught was official. Without that authority, there’s nothing but confusion and a myriad of conflicting opinions. The Holy Spirit can’t be inspiring all of them; for truth does not conflict with itself. So which one has the truth?

          • HJ

            I recognise what you say is official RC theology but I do not see it taught in Scripture. We differ profoundly on many of these points.

            I do not agree there is a magisterium. Or at least, I do not agree with ‘The charism of infallibility is a gift given by Christ to the whole Church. It is a gift that is ours, if we belong to His Mystical Body. Just as sight belongs to the entire living organism, yet requires an organ if the power of seeing is to be realised, so too the charism of infallibility that belongs to the entire Church requires an organ in order to be realised. This organ is the Magisterium, the official teachers of the Church, which is made up of the successors of the Apostles, that is, the bishops and Pope.’

            I do not agree there is a magisterium. Or at least, I do not agree with your definition of what this magisterium is. Properly speaking it is the apostolic word interpreted by the indwelling Spirit in each believers heart as I previously showed from first John. There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that attributes infallibility either to the church or to its teachers. Indeed it is clear as we read the NT that the church was anything but perfect and its teachers often false.

            ‘Christ could not have been referring to individuals when he said “the Spirit of Truth will lead you to all truth.” He was referring to the Church that He established’

            Why ever not? A careful reading of John 13-17 readily reveals that those led into all truth by the Spirit is specifically the apostles. Firstly, it is individuals he addresses. Secondly, although, much of what he says to those present applies to the whole church (as he often signals by expressions like ‘if any/whoever etc’, clearly some of what he says is addressed only to them for it addresses their unique situation. For example we read

            ‘All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you’

            He cannot here be speaking of future generations of the church for they never heard Christ speaking on earth. This was the privilege of but a few. There is apostolic specificity here. As there is in 14:15

            ‘If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.’

            Only of the apostles is it true, ‘he lives with you and will be in you’.

            And again,

            ’19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. ‘

            This is a reference to the apostles seeing him in resurrection. Integral to their apostleship is their witness to the resurrection. The dynamics of salvation history are at work here and elsewhere. It is an oversimplification to say that Christ’s teaching in these chapters addresses the church. But even if it did it gives no warrant to the elaborate edifice the Catholic Church has created that you go on to describe.

            All to often you take what are simple straightforward statements and construct on them edifices they were never intended to support. You do this with the Timothy text. An instruction to Timothy to pass on the gospel to the next generation becomes a basis for a doctrine of apostolic succession even though Timothy was not an apostle. I suggest any fair reading of this text cannot envisage the theological construct it is being asked to carry.

            But you and I are never going to reach agreement in these matters HJ. I do respect and honour your tone in discussion. I believe we could well if we were friends have many a long discussion on these matters. Which leads me to say that important as these questions are they are not of saving importance. It is possible to be on either side of these issues and still be saved. They do not touch the heart of the gospel.

            For religious people like us the key question is in what we are trusting for our salvation. We are rather like first century Jews. We belong to those who claim to be the people of God. Yet many of these were not genuine. Their faith rested on wrong foundations. Thus for me the more important question for us to discuss is the basis of our Christian hope. What HJ is the foundation on which your hope of eternal life rests?

          • Anton

            Jack is supposing that discerning what words are from God and what words are not gives the discerner equal authority with God. Put that way it stands forth as obvious nonsense.

          • “I do not agree there is a magisterium. Or at least, I do not agree with your definition of what this magisterium is. Properly speaking it is the apostolic word interpreted by the indwelling Spirit in each believers heart as I previously showed from first John. There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that attributes infallibility either to the church or to its teachers.”

            Acts 15 rather disproves these assertions. Without a magisterium we would not have a Christian New Testament or our Creed. Still, as you say, we will not agree and all these arguments have been made before.

            “What HJ is the foundation on which your hope of eternal life rests?”
            The Love and Mercy of God and union with Jesus the Christ.

          • Anton

            If I decide who is speaking false prophecy and who is speaking the words of god into a pastoral situation, does that give me any authority over Almighty God the author of those words?

          • Jack doesn’t understand the question. No person has authority over God. However, that’s not quite the same thing as God giving the Church authority to interpret His word.

          • Anton

            Jack doesn’t want to understand the question!

          • It’s a nonsensical question.

          • len

            Thats you totally stuffed then Jack.

          • And Jack is likely to accept that from you? The “go it alone” Christian who does not believe in Christian fellowship or collective worship. Sure.

          • len

            You do not seem to understand the fellowship of theSpirit Jack…Probably ‘above your level of understanding?’

          • Anton

            Which book of the Bible is that from, Jack?

          • Which book of the bible is sola scriptura from, Anton?

          • Anton

            Anybody who does not think that the word of God has a supreme authority which the word of man does not…

          • The word of God of course has supreme authority. That’s not the same as saying it is contained in scripture alone. There is oral tradition from the Apostles and God’s revelation to His Church of deeper understandings of scripture.

          • Anton

            St Paul’s mention of “oral tradition” obviously means, at the time he wrote, the words of Jesus that subsequently became the gospels. As for “God’s revelation to His Church of deeper understandings of scripture”, please give me an example.

          • You think everything was written down? Scripture says it was not.
            Triune God, Hypostatic Union …..

          • Anton

            As I’ve already said, you can show that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all divine from the Bible in a few minutes. Doesn’t take a few centuries….

            Hypostatic union? Christ is both wholly divine and wholly human, as the scriptures reveal, but how is a mystery. More cannot and should not be said – or else you get needless schism over things not in the Bible.

          • “As I’ve already said, you can show that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all divine from the Bible in a few minutes. Doesn’t take a few centuries….”

            Go on then … You’ll simply be using scriptural evidence identified by the Church. People still disagree on this so this in itself gives you a problem.

            “Hypostatic union? Christ is both wholly divine and wholly human, as the scriptures reveal … “

            Really? Where?

          • Anton

            Who are his father and his mother? He died – that’s human. He is God – Isaiah 9:6. Holy Spirit – Acts 5:3-4. QED. Other verses back this up but that will do for a start if you wish to play devil’s advocate.

          • Of course Jack agrees, but others do not and it requires an understanding of the Old and New Testaments.
            Then there are more difficult issues on which Christians do not agree – e.g. how Christ’s death achieved human salvation for some/many/all; and how grace, freewill, God’s sovereignty and predestination interact.

          • Anton

            Why complicate the issue? If we agree, grand. And when you meet other Christians who don’t, make reasoned argument argue for whatever view of the scriptures you accept. Simple.

          • We agree that Christ is God, the Second Person of the Trinity. And do remember, it is the Church who forged doctrinal orthodoxy in the face of numerous heresies about the divinity of Christ. Just as she continues to teach the truth today about how Christ’s death redeemed mankind and how freewill and God’s sovereignty interact.

          • Anton

            Just put a red line between yourself and those who deny Christ’s divinity, meaning divine in the same sense as the Creator. It might feel nice to have those councils and the papacy behind you, but you can get that red line from scripture just as they did. As for freewill, there’s a paradox involved, and I consider that God gives paradox in order for man to grow in the contemplation of it. I wouldn’t say that either you or Carl were right or wrong in your clashes upon which I have been privileged to be a spectator.

          • Jack genuinely believes you cannot get the very clear red line between orthodoxy and heresy from scripture alone. Scripture has to be interpreted and explained to enlighten us about the truth of Christianity.

            You claim the Bible contains all of the material one needs for theology and that this material is sufficiently clear that one does not need Apostolic tradition or the Church’s teaching authority to help one understand it. The whole of Christian truth is found within the Bible. Anything extraneous to the Bible is simply non-authoritative, unnecessary, or wrong.

            Catholics, on the other hand, recognize that the Bible does not endorse this view and that, in fact, it is repudiated in Scripture. The true “rule of faith” – as expressed in the Bible itself – is Scripture plus Apostolic tradition, as manifested in the living teaching authority of the Church, to which were entrusted the oral teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly.
            Btw, Carl is most definitely wrong in his conception of predestination because it contradicts the very nature of God.

          • Anton

            He thinks you’re wrong too. I’m keeping out, but it’s good spectator sport – and good for both of you, in my view.

            Interpretation only enters when a verse is hard to understand and those verses are the exception rather than the rule. Those who make Christianity harder to understand than it need be (eg by pontificating about HOW Christ is wholly human and wholly divine) bear a heavy responsibility.

          • len

            ‘Hypostatic Union’ ..sounds like the suspension on my old Austin 1100?

          • Yes, it is rather above your level of understanding.

          • len

            Really glad my religion is for ‘simple people’ like fishermen, shepherds, carpenters etc……

          • bluedog


          • CliveM


            Saw this and thought of you. Very interesting in my opinion


          • Anton

            Can’t read most of it because the Guardian wants to charge me 3 pounds/month not to read their ads. But Hannan is a hero.

          • CliveM

            That’s odd, I didn’t have that problem. Got it for free! It’s a very good article.

          • Anton

            I tricked The Guardian and read it. Good stuff.

          • CliveM

            A good article and the Guardian tricked, can life get better?

      • Is interfering in the procreative act an intrinsic evil? That’s the temptation, isn’t it? Good very often comes from evil acts. That’s why they are so attractive. Does the resultant good justify them? Jack considers it best to stick with the traditional doctrine on this as expounded in Humanae Vitae.

        “Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, ” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it” – in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general.”

        So is interfering with the procreative act always wrong?

        “This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.

        The reason is that the fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of marriage fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called. We believe that our contemporaries are particularly capable of seeing that this teaching is in harmony with human reason.”

        The Catechism of the Catholic Church has developed this to include IVF and other genetic manipulations seeking to interfere with procreation:

        “Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that “entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.”

        • CliveM

          Is this interfering with the procreative act? The intention is to ensure a healthy child. Multiple eggs are not used, fertilised and implanted (I believe). This is a medical procedure, yes technology is used, but that’s hardly new in medicine.

          • “Is this interfering with the procreative active intention is to ensure a healthy child.”

            Well, yes. The question is whether this end justifies the means.

            These technologies make the child a commodity produced in a laboratory, and makes doctors, technicians, and business people part of the conception process. In these processes, most of the embryos conceived – which should be respected as new human lives – die, are frozen indefinitely for later implantation, are used for research, or are discarded.

            Bottom line:

            A child as a gift from God, and there is an “inseparable connection, willed by God, and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning.”

    • dannybhoy

      They’re doing a ba-aaaaad thing Jack. We can’t have it all, and we are rapidly moving towards that Brave New World we all thought was so scary.

      • CliveM

        Hi DB

        you will probably have heard of the ‘Groningen Protocol’ which allows for the post birth termination of babies in the Netherlands.

        Is this really worse than that? You’ve worked with the severely disabled and witnessed their suffering. Is the correcting of a bit of DNA using an adult donar and avoiding at least some of this suffering not a good thing?

        • David

          That sounds like state legalised murder, pure and simple to me – truly wicked !

          • bluedog

            The Benelux countries seem to be moving towards the idea of a state mandated lifespan, with careful screening of those leading lives not worthy to be lived.

          • IanCad

            Those Muslim chaps posing as children may be on to something we don’t know.

          • bluedog

            Indeed. Fear of racism and accusations of cultural insensitivity would immunise the Muslim population from the murderous policies of the state. The Christians will be euthanased by their government, leaving the Muslims triumphant as rulers of Benelux.

        • dannybhoy

          On the face of it yes, but it’s where it leads to that should concern us. After all in ww2 we fought Hitler and all his evil ideas, all Mengele’s programmes and experiments. Now we in the West are reviving his programmes.
          The great weakness of my position on selective abortion or ending the suffering of a loved one’s terminal illness is where it leads to. Having witnessed the effects of a child with serious physical and mental damage I took the position that a woman should have the right to choose to abort as early as possible. I still believe that, but I can’t deny what Jack and others point out, ‘Where does it lead?’
          Same with this one. If personal happiness becomes the guiding principle in society how can we deny ‘happiness’ to others however they define it? It then becomes a free for all. We see it now with abortion on the grounds that we wanted a boy not a girl..
          As you know I never had children, but I never wanted to go down the route of scientific help so that we could. Not because I thought, ‘God doesn’t want me to have them’, but I accepted that these things happen in life; and whilst it made me sad for a while, I found comfort in fostering and working with children.
          So the issue is in terms of human life, whilst a scientific discovery may bring hope in some cases where might it ultimately lead us to. Will we become more human or less?

          • CliveM

            I agree that there needs to be a concern about where this might possibly lead. However the procedure as I understand it seems to be right for the alleviation of suffering with regards disability and medical conditions. I would not support it for lifestyle reasons ie wanting your child to have fair hair.

          • So do you subscribe to the moral theology that a good end justifies an evil means? There always are “good” reasons advanced for justifying evil. Once it gets a toe hold, there’s no containing it.

          • CliveM

            I don’t think that’s what I’m saying at all. I don’t have all the facts, but on the facts I do have it seems right.

          • I don’t subscribe to the fact that a good end justifies an evil means. The issue is whether the means is evil.

          • Indeed, it is the issue. The artificial manufacture of human life in a petri dish, never mind using DNA from three people, is surely intrinsically evil.

          • My problem is not the Petri dish. I don’t think that is in itself intrinsically evil. Other issues surrounding this are more problematic. What happens to other fertilised eggs, for example.

          • Can you defend the unnatural creation of human life in a laboratory? These techniques dissociate the sex from the procreation. The process which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another. It establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. It’s man playing at being God.

          • All medicine involves meddling with the natural.

    • Royinsouthwest

      It is a good thing to try and avoid a serious genetic defect by changing the chemical make-up of that gene (I don’t know enough about biochemistry to know if that is possible now or not) or, if that is not possible, by replacing that gene with one that functions normally. It would be better if that functioning copy came from the parent who did not have a defective version. Unless the defect is on the Y-chromosome which only males have I would have thought it possible to get the functioning gene from the other parent, unless both parents are unlucky enough to carry the same defect, but as I wrote, I don’t know enough about the subject to tell whether or not that can be done. However if the correctly functioning gene has to come from a third person, is that really wrong?

      It may surprise some people to know that each of us has many ancestors from whom we have inherited no genes at all. That is because with each new generation the genetic contribution of each ancestor gets diluted. That does not mean that those we have no genes from are unimportant – we would not be here without them! However it does show that although genes are extremely important to who we are they are not everything.

  • Paul instructs believers how they should seek fellowship when the professing church becomes apostate, as it was by the end of C1; they are to depart from ini

  • Paul informs believers how they are to seek fellowship when the professing church is apostate; they are to ‘depart from iniquity (doctrinal and moral evil) and meet with those that call upon the Lord from a pure heart’. 2 Tim 2

  • bluedog

    Completely off topic, but just received the post below from Linus on last week’s Portrait of the Week by Mrs P. Any other communicant wish to reply? Life’s too short. Form an orderly queue behind the Inspector?

    ‘The whole point of Christianity is to cover pride and sufficiency with a mask of modesty and humility.

    The idea is to pretend to be imperfect when you’re really convinced there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you and that you’re pretty damn wonderful really. Any minor sins you may be guilty of are so inconsequential that God finds them cute and fetching, and instantly forgives you, because how could he fail to appreciate your heterosexual wonderfulness? When he looks at you, he’s gazing into a looking glass, isn’t he? And he loves what he sees.

    The real sinner is not you, it’s your gay neighbour. When god looks at him, he sees nothing to love at all. Your gay neighbour needs to be more like you, because despite your trifling little trespasses that merely make god chuckle indulgently and love you even more, you’re essentially perfect. And those awful gays are just disgusting, aren’t they? How could god possibly love them when he has you to fawn over and treat as his favourite child?

    The proof of your superiority can be found in the gifts he showers you with. Love and marriage are yours by divine right, as well as uncon tested control of a society designed to serve your needs while marginalising anyone who is not like you. Because of course we must be made to realise how broken and twisted we are in comparison to you, mustn’t we? I mean, what’s the point of being the favoured children if you can’t lord it over the rest of us?

    That’s Christianity in a nutshell. A faith for self-obsessed bullies to beat those they view as their inferiors over the head while piously exclaiming that we’re all sinners and we all fall short of perfection in god’s eyes. Only some fall a great deal shorter than others, don’t they?

    • CliveM

      I am certainly not going to waste time responding to it. As you say life is to short and Linus is too bigoted!

    • The Explorer

      Wow! Who rattled his cage?

      • bluedog

        Whistles, avoids eye contact, looks around.

        • The Explorer

          Did you also prod him while he was asleep?

          • bluedog

            No! It’s a question of ‘Get thee behind me Satan’, but not too close, you know what he is like.

          • The Explorer

            Wile we’re on the subject of Satan, you’ve turned our Linus into a roaring lion. Actually, I went back to the relevant thread and looked at the dialogue, and I can’t for the life of me see that you said anything to prompt that sort of reaction.

          • CliveM

            Roaring but toothless.

          • The Explorer

            Full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.

          • Inspector General

            Don’t underestimate his powerful suck, Clive.

          • bluedog

            Yes, it’s distressing, isn’t it? But I seem to have this effect on some people. Hard to explain to them that I’m not really high-handed and arrogant at all, which seems to be M. Linus’ view. C’est la vie.

          • Pubcrawler

            He would take that view of you whatever you had written, simply by virtue of you being a Christian. Don’t take it personally: it’s purely because you were the only one still talking to him that he latched it onto your comment.

          • bluedog

            Many thanks for your concern, Pc. On this occasion I have resolved not to self-harm, although deeply offended and very much the victim.

          • Merchantman

            As we know names are important and he announces himself as something he may not even realise himself.
            If one feels led one should pray for his soul but its a battle fought out in heavenly places where its a battle already won by Jesus overcoming death and all the bad stuff.
            I wont debate this thread.

    • It is not ‘the point of Christianity’ but sadly some of these features can be displayed in those who call themselves Christians. If dominant it’s doubtful if this person is a Christian at all.

      It is also possible, and often is the case, that this parody of Christianity is more in the mind of the observer than real. In this case, the culpability lies with the observer who wilfully twists reality to support his prejudice.

      • Linus

        The reality of Christianity is what people make of it.

        It’s all in the minds of those who believe in it, so the faith is what they live.

        My description is valid for every Christian I’ve ever met. The more they deny it, the more truly blinkered and self-centred they are.

        I’ve never met a bunch of people so deeply enamoured of themselves, and I had a model for a partner at one stage, so I know what narcissism looks like from close up. All of its tricks and strategems and false declarations of humility and modesty can’t mask the fact that a Christian narcissist says he’s created in god’s image, which is just a roundabout way of saying that god is created in his. He is god. Therefore his opinion carries divine authority.

        How convenient for you that god acquiesces to your every judgment and condemnation. I shouldn’t be surprised though. That’s what sock puppets do. They appear to move and speak independently, but we all know whose hand is jammed up their rear end making their lips move…

        • You don’t think there is a whiff of prejudice in your analysis Linus? Is it possible you’re being a tad less than objective?

    • carl jacobs


      What point was served by reposting this here other than to draw attention to it?

      • bluedog

        Good question. If you go back to the original Proudie thread you will see how one had tried to respond to every Linus out-pouring with sarkyesque one liners that synthesised an argument in rebuttal. Essentially trying to shut the whole thing down without appearing to admit defeat. But Linus showed no sign of recognising that it was pointless to continue the diatribes so long after the initial thread. This particular comment from Linus seemed to break new ground. After some thought I did what I did to enlist help! Perhaps it was the wrong thing to do.

        • The Explorer

          I think it was the right thing to do. Indicative of Linus’ state of mind, and explains the nature of his other comments on this thread. Without your bringing it to our attention, his comment would have remained out of sight on the previous thread.

          I get the impression he must be having dialogue elsewhere with particularly virulent Christians, and then comes here to take it out on us. That’s because the things he accuses us of don’t seem to tally with what is said to him by people on this blog. It’s a bit like listening in to one end of a telephone conversation: you can reconstruct what the other party must be saying from the things that you can hear.

          • bluedog

            Thank you.

          • Linus

            There are Christians more virulent than you???

            In Westboro maybe. And in certain dark and dusty corners of the Vatican. But the only other blog to the right of this one belongs to the mad Italian Mundabor, and his status as the star of a conservative freak show makes him more of a fairground attraction than a serious contributor to any debate on the subject of religion.

            They don’t come much more fundie than you lot. Or if they do, they’ve probably eschewed the Internet and are living in an off-grid compound somewhere isolated and heavily wooded where prying eyes won’t see how they abuse their women, or how they persecute their gay and trans children and drive them out, or drive them to suicide.

            You’re it as far as Christian virulence goes for the general population. No wonder your religion was so easy to sideline.

          • The Explorer

            I didn’t say your dialogue was necessarily on the Internet. For all I know, you might be communing with memories.

          • Anton

            We don’t mind compliments!

          • Linus

            So you’re proud of driving your gay and trans children to suicide, are you?

            Your faith is like a canister of nuclear waste. Innocuous-looking enough on the outside, but deadly with prolonged exposure. If you really want to see evil close up, crack it open and recoil with flash burns as it explodes in your face.

          • Anton

            I have actually said in another public forum that, if I ran a congregation, the leaders of Westboro would not be welcome in it without a statement of repentance for their attitude to gays. I was referring to your reference to our politics and the strength of our faith; thank you again.

      • The Explorer

        I think the extract quoted by bluedog indicates that Linus has moved into a new phase. There’s no point in denouncing God if there is no God: there’s no one to hear. So the next best thing is to denounce those who believe in God.

        I think we’re witnessing a titanic spiritual struggle. I can think of a couple of ways it could go. but I wouldn’t care to predict the outcome.

        • Given the existential despair associated with homosexuality and the all too common tragic outcomes of this, one’s responses need to be considered. He’s showing himself to be very volatile.

          • David

            Good point.

          • Linus

            That’s right, build up a picture of a mentally deranged opponent on the verge of doing himself harm. It’s all part of the strategy of calumny that losers so often employ against victors.

            The other losers here all want to believe you. So here’s a chance to pander to their hatred of those who have defeated them and, in doing so, to raise yourself up as their leader and champion.

            Better to command a band of defeated relics than nobody at all, eh? You’ll be the most important dementia patient in the care home, Jack. Everyone will look to you for leadership against those damned psych nurses who hold you under lock and key for your own safety.

    • IanCad

      Quoting part of the last paragraph:. “A faith for self-obsessed bullies to beat those they view as their inferiors over the head….”
      Applies perfectly to most atheists as I see it.

    • Inspector General


      The damn arrogance of the man…

      If the Inspector could be bothered to reply direct to him, he would say this…

      “No one on this site holds any hatred for homosexuals. The Inspectorate certainly does not. But the militants of that persuasion are out to queer the world, and they will be stopped.”

      • David

        Yes they will eventually be stopped, as the truth always outs.
        But sadly they only be stopped after they have caused and spread much pain and confusion.

    • Inspector General
      • bluedog


        • Inspector General

          Yes. One is sure the blond fellow has been told he has a “pretty mouth” many times. Many many times…

        • Pubcrawler

          At first glance I thought you’d typed ‘felching’! (If you don’t know, be blessed in your blissful ignorance.)

          • CliveM

            I was blissfully ignorant, but curiosity got the better of me.

            There are no words to describe………….. ☹️

          • len


          • Allosexuel

            Are we torkin aboot Linus?

    • You must realise he’s talking about how he sees himself. Jack suspects rejection by one of his parents and acute jealousy of his sister.

      • bluedog

        As you have recently pointed out in a very interesting post, a trigger of homosexuality can be the absence of the father. Add to that a possibly domineering mother and we can see the result. There is certainly a deeply ingrained hatred of women, and his obsession with Mrs Proudie’s ‘hypocrisy’ is both illuminating and mildly alarming. One wonders whether her post this week will trigger yet another episode of manic vitriol.

        • Inspector General

          This site is a haven for him. Somewhere to let it all out. If he was content in himself he would not come here, but he isn’t so he must.

      • Linus

        And there he goes again: the amateur psychiatrist attempting to undermine his opponent with a spurious and manipulative diagnosis that he broadcasts far and wide for the sole purpose of discrediting someone whose arguments he can’t refute.

        If none of you object to the disrepute Jack drags your faith into and continue to support his manipulative and defamatory actions, so much the better. You illustrate far better than I can just how contemptible Christians have become.

        In losing every argument they engage in, in every First World country with free public discourse, and then attacking the victors with barbed and entirely fabricated character assassinations that merely serve to express the hatred and frustration they feel, they reveal exactly the reasons why they needed to be relieved of power in the first place.

        To couch it in terms that Jack will understand, and to play the game according to his rules for a few moments (just to show the caged animal how it feels when he’sthe victim of an ad hominem attack), I suspect in his case an upbringing where an abusive and domineering father, perhaps with a history of drink and failed ambitions, and a long-suffering, submissive punching bag of a mother who took solace in the false comfort of religion, taught him that when a show of strength can’t be resisted, a back-biting gossip’s tactic of character assassination via the spreading of calumny and false witness at least allows the defeated loser a psychological space of perceived independence from which he can plot revenge on his conqueror.

        Jack knows he’s beaten, but like the oppressed woman his personality resembles in so many ways, he relies on bitching and gossiping to relieve his feelings and fuel his hopes for revenge and the acquisition of personal power. His momma taught him well. If you can’t beat ’em, hate ’em, bitch about ’em, spread rumours about ’em, and pray for the day when your petty god will take revenge on ’em.

        As an example of what Christianity coupled with a selfish and malevolent personality can do, nobody illustrates the dangers of Christianity better than Jack. Keep the insults coming. What better way to show the world exactly what motivates you?

        • Allosexuel

          La dame fait trop de protestations.

    • chefofsinners

      Linus is the dung beetle of this blog, proudly rolling his enormous ball of misogyny and prejudice.
      He performs a useful janitorial function down there at the bottom of the food chain, polishing and presenting the blackest of backgrounds against which the truth shines ever brighter.
      I suspect that Linus and Cranmer are in fact one and the same. There are many advantages in his presence, not least the number of comments generated.

      • bluedog

        ‘Linus is the dung beetle of this blog, proudly rolling his enormous ball of misogyny and prejudice.’

        Possibly a bit like Sisyphus; gets it that ball of toxin near the summit, only to be flattened by his own bile yet again.

        ‘I suspect that Linus and Cranmer are in fact one and the same.’

        Confidently disagree. Early in his emergence, Linus disclosed many personal details, including that his mother was English. Whether this explains his utter contempt for British women, so frequently expressed in so many ways, is an open question. He has also boasted that he has travelled outside France as part of the entourage of the President, possibly Chirac. One recalls a characteristically misogynistic comment about the First Lady.

        Given his complete fluency in English, inventiveness and obvious intelligence, this is a believable story. One can imagine that his deep knowledge of the UK would be an asset in negotiations with British counter-parties and that he may have had a career in the French foreign service before inheriting the wealth of which he now boasts. Cranmer has yet to boast of wealth and never writes in French.

        • Linus

          The ability of Christians to take one small egg-white and whip it up into a mountain of seemingly solid yet brittle and hollow meringue is really quite breathtaking. It’s their one great talent and they apply it to everything in life, from grand delusions about their religion to grand delusions about those who debunk their grand delusions about religion.

          You should start writing airport fiction. With an imagination like yours and a religious obsession that would put Sainte-Thérèse la Fêlée de Lisieustucru to shame, you’d give Dan Brown a run for his money.

          There’s money in literary meringue. Try working in a few allusions to the Lizard People and a zombie apocalypse and you’ll capture the Zeitgeist quite nicely. I confidently predict you’ll be the next J.K. Rowling and am busy screencapping all our conversations as proof that your main villain is based on me. When I sue you for a share of the royalties, you won’t have a leg to stand on. Mouah hah hah!

          See? For all my millions, historic homes cost an arm and a leg to maintain, so if I can fleece an English Christian writer of fantasy fiction and use the proceeds to shore up a piece of French patrimoine historique, I won’t hesitate…

          • The Explorer

            Not one small egg white. Lots of egg whites across lots of posts, and the yolks used as tempera for a detailed mural depicting your origins and current circumstances.

            It may be that bluedog is surmising beyond what the data justifies. It may also be that (if what you said about yourself is accurate) you revealed more about yourself than you intended and are now trying to obfuscate the information.

          • Linus

            Lots of “might bes” in that last comment. But you forgot one. Bluedog may be talking out of his/her rear end.

            I’ll let you make of his/her suppositions what you will. I may have to laugh at them if they get much more invraisemblables et farfelues, but of course that may just be me trying to divert attention away from somebody who’s getting too close to unmasking me, mightn’t it? Or maybe not…

            One of the most entertaining things about Christians is watching them start from a false premise and build storey after storey of fantasist detail on it, ending up with structure so grotesque and unstable that it comes crashing down the moment the tiniest little brick is removed.

            But please, don’t let my hilarity stop you. Keep on thrashing the life out of that egg-white until it forms stiff peaks, and then you can bake it into a pavlova and at least any Australians who chance on this site will be happy. Wouldn’t want all that effort to go to waste. And even the wonkiest cake can be made to look presentable if you smear whipped cream and passion fruit pulp all over it.

          • The Explorer

            You provided the premise and the detail. If there is fantasy, then it is fantasy you have created and passed off as fact.

          • Linus

            Bluedog is the fiction writer here, not me. That such flights of fancy should be written by a Christian comes as no surprise, of course. It’s what you people do. I’m just not used to having my own life given the paranoid Christian conspiracy theory treatment, and therefore find it quite amusing.

            By all means make me a part of some atheistic French plot to destroy the godly and righteous British. It can be no coincidence that virtually all airport fiction is written by Brits and citizens of their ex-empire. Who else could conjure up such ludicrous ideas out of nothing?

          • The Explorer

            “By all means make me a part of some atheistic French plot to destroy the godly and righteous British.” Where did bluedog say that, or even suggest it?

          • bluedog

            Sainte-Thérèse la Fêlée de Lisieux Stucru. Hmmm. And it’s her feast days between 25th September and 4th October. Do we have an observant communicant in Lower Normandy?

          • Linus

            La Basse-Normandie ? When you want to hurl insults, you really don’t hold back, do you?

            If you’re going to defame me, you might at least do your homework first. There’s no such place as Basse-Normandie any more. It has been subsumed into the larger region of Normandie. So your insult is obsolete. Just like everything else you write.

            In any case, I’m a Frank, not a Norman. In France the transmission of quality has always been governed by the Salic Law, which means that any Norman blood I may have inherited through the maternal line counts for nothing.

            I was born in Paris to a French father whose line hailed from the East of France, and an English mother who may well have had some sang normand fourbe et sournois but what can you expect from a race of pirates, dodgy tradesmen and purveyors of poisonous food?

            As a single drop of Frankish blood quite carries all imperfections, your attempt to paint me as a dull, clodhopping and shifty Norman fails on all counts. The only Norman in this conversation is you, as Guillaume le Bâtard must figure among your male ascendants given how fond the man was of raping peasant women. As for that other Norman, the religious madwoman Thérèse Martin, all she proves is the capacity of an adolescent to lie through her teeth with a look of angelic innocence on her plain and pudgy face and in the process fool everyone who wants to be fooled. That’s as Norman as anyone can get, bar red hair, bad teeth and body odour that makes a ripe Camembert smell like Chanel No. 5 in comparison. And who knows what was going on under that wimple?

          • Allosexuel

            Wen deed yoor père quitter ‘ome?

          • bluedog

            Adding pedantry to pederasty or whatever your other vices may be?

            ‘There’s no such place as Basse-Normandie any more. It has been subsumed into the larger region of Normandie.’

            On the 1st of July 2016, with final ratification of the whole Balkanisation of France on 1st October 2016. Scarcely a startling error, and frankly, who cares? If the French want to submit to yet more governance by Brussels, ‘cos that’s where this leads, bon chance. One imagines President Le Pen will rescind the whole plan and the previous 22 regions will return. Not that the French will take the slightest notice of the new names anyway.

          • Linus

            I see I’m dealing with a typical Anglo-saxon homophobic know-it-all and blowhard.

            How difficult would it have been to look up the names of the French regions? Instead you chose to air the dated knowledge you picked up during your last vacation in France, probably many years ago, and try to pass it off as current. Do you also “know” that Frenchwomen wear shoulder pads and carry Filofaxes and smoke ten packets of gitanes every day? That’s about what I’d expect from you. Been somewhere once, no matter how long ago, and you know everything there is to know about the place, don’t you?

            And your reaction when your mistake was pointed out to you? You dismissed it as unimportant, but as far as I’m aware, according to Christian values the truth is a valuable commodity. But not for you.

            I now know all I need to know about you. Graceless, homophobic, proud and careless with the truth, especially when it comes to saving face by pretending that the false information you spread around isn’t really false, and anyway, anyone who says it is, is just a pedant.

            This is Christian humility! This is Christian forbearance! This is Christian love of the truth! In fact this is a Christian, and what a vile mess of self-regard and hatred trying (and failing) to masquerade as sweetness and light it is.

            These are the fruits of the Spirit, are they? What better way could there be to show the world how empty and powerless your faith really is?

            And as for your French … je vous souhaite “bon” chance aussi, pauvre analphabète. Vous en avez drôlement besoin.

          • bluedog

            I’ll say it again. The whole re-organisation is not final until 1st October 2016. They’ve been arguing about the names as you would know. My source is wiki, which one imagines is updated by your government. No need for yet another rodomontade. Only one more sleep to go and you will be right.

          • Linus

            I am already right. The new names became definitive yesterday when they appeared in the Journal Officiel, but the regions have existed since January of this year, which is when the law creating them was promulgated.

            The Normandie region has been called Normandie since January. Some of the regions with longer names had debates about their new names, which had to be settled by decree following public consultation, but not Normandie.

            If you rely on Wikipedia for your information, no wonder you’re so badly informed. Must we add intellectual laziness to the list of your shortcomings? A quick read of the Journal Officiel would have told you everything you needed to know, but judging from your disastrous attempt at an easy French phrase higher up on this thread, one can only assume you knew that reading any French more complex than “Frère Jacques” would be beyond you.

            But of course to admit ignorance would make you lose face, which is exactly what a Christian can never stand to lose. It’s a poser’s religion. We must all think you’re holier than holy and smarter than smart, eh? Pity the truth of the matter is that you’re holier than thou and only as smart as Wikipedia…

          • bluedog

            ‘but judging from your disastrous attempt at an easy French phrase higher up on this thread, ‘

            Bon chance is an English expression, just like mercy beaucoupy. Thought you’d know that.

          • Linus

            “Bon chance” is bad French, but in your inability to admit to any kind of error or mistake, you’re trying to pass it off as good English.

            The English language is malleable. But not that malleable. You can’t create new phrases out of thin air just to win arguments.

            If there is a god, when he’s judging you for all your errors, lies and sins, do you think your current strategy of denying everything and lying to cover your tracks will fool him?

            You probably do. Because you’re smarter than god, aren’t you?

            Another real Christian is unmasked. Better than his fellow man. Better than god. Better avoided…

          • bluedog

            ‘The English language is malleable. But not that malleable.’ That’s what you think. Words and phrases are incorporated on a basis similar to the dog Latin term ‘hocus pocus’ to describe the liturgy of the Tridentine Mass. So it is with bon chance and mercy beaucoupy.

          • Linus

            Hocus pocus you’ll find in the dictionary. “Bon chance” you won’t. Slang you make up yourself does not qualify as English, even if you are suffering from a form of narcissistic arrogance that makes you believe that all of your utterances are divine commands.

            If you want to learn more about the delusional egomania that underpins Christian faith, just talk to a Christian. They can’t help but reveal themselves for who they really are.

          • bluedog

            Ah, the dirigisme of the French. English is an open system, just because a word isn’t in the dictionary it doesn’t mean it isn’t used, it just means the dictionary editors haven’t heard it. We don’t have frock-coated and be-medalled academicians pouring over every new import from the corrupting rosbifs before declaring it haram and inventing a new word themselves. Chillax.

            Tell us about verlan and how that fits in to the scheme of things.

          • Linus

            Verlan has strict rules. You can’t just pull a word out of your rear end or knock off a foreign word or phrase and claim it as authentic verlan.

            English is more open to neologism than French, however even in English there’s a huge difference between a widely accepted term used and understood by almost everyone and the silly little witterings of the partially educated vulgarian who learns three words of a foreign language on his package holiday and then lards his conversation with them upon his return to show everyone how smart and international and cosmopolitan he is.

            How many are fooled by your Lucia-like use of easy foreign phrases designed to give the impression that you speak another language when you can barely string a coherent sentence together in your own?

            Given the general level of ignorance and credulity on this site, you probably pull the wool over more eyes here than you would elsewhere. Could this be why you come here?

          • chefofsinners


          • Linus

            More bad French from yet another ignorant English Christian.

            Whoever it was who said the Church is the human equivalent of a stinking rubbish heap certainly knew a thing or two.

          • chefofsinners

            Mal Francais? Moi?
            If you had been around this blog for very long you would remember that the misspelling of pissoir was down to a commenter who claimed to be French. When his mistake was noticed he deleted himself and was never seen again.
            If only I could remember his name…

          • Linus

            I remember the incident, when somebody claimed that the English word “pissoir” was actually French, when the word we use is “pissotière”.

            “Pissoir” may have been used many hundreds of years ago in France, which would explain why it was absorbed by the cave-dwelling English, who clearly had no word for such a sophisticated device (the things they most often pissed in being their pants and their beds, of course), but it is not a modern French word.

            This of course means nothing to any of you, because you believe you’ve scored a point against me, and when Christians believe something, the truth can never be allowed to get in the way of their delusions.

          • CliveM

            Hi Chef

            I think I have found a video of Linus showing off his linguistic skills

          • The Explorer

            Upper and Lower Normandy merged only in 2016. So only marginally out of date.

          • dannybhoy

            The wife and I stayed in an hotel in Lisieux some years ago on our way to the glorious Dordogne. It was not a particularly pleasant experience, but perhaps they had us down as Protestants…

          • bluedog

            Next time you should ask Linus if you could park a camper-van or caravan in the grounds of his chateau for a week while in transit to somewhere pleasant. They say that enjoyment of life is a matter of contrast.

          • Allosexuel

            Is et troo? You ‘av syphilis? Yoo must tell all yoor amis intimes.

        • Allosexuel

          Linus ‘as syphilis? Oh non! Dis est trop d’informations.

      • The Explorer

        I think his reversion to calling himself Linus is significant. I’m not certain what it signifies, but it signifies something.

        • CliveM

          It signifies that he has finally accepted the fact that all these multiple personalities simply make him look a pillock.

          • The Explorer

            That too.

          • He doesn’t just look like one, he is a pillock.

        • Anton

          On a point of clarification, are you suggesting that it signifies something significant?

          • The Explorer

            Two issues there the name itself, and his reversion to it.

            As to the significance of the name, I have no idea. Pope Linus, Linus van Pelt, Linus Pauling, or private significance? Take your pick.

            The multiple identities suggest trying to confuse us, to conceal traces, and to make it hard to track things said previously. He could keep it up indefinitely – there are lots of names out there – and the fact that he hasn’t suggests that he knows we can identify him very quickly. He’s stopped running. A call for us to accept him for who/what he is?

        • len

          Linus calls himself ‘Frank ‘on a thread below I think he has forgotten his real identity ..

      • len

        ‘Linus’ is a computer generated ‘Gay Reponse’ robot programmed to become hysterical at the word ‘Christian’…Much as’ the Inspector’ is at ‘Born again’.
        Ignore them .It is fruitless engaging with them much as it is with ‘The Inquisition.’as well…
        Why do I still bother at all?
        …dunno its a mystery to me as well….

      • Anton

        Vicious. But funny. Except that you too might be another of His Grace’s pseudonyms…

        • Pubcrawler

          Aren’t we all?

      • Lienus

        Ow dare you insult Lameass? He is twice the dung beetle Cranmer will ever be.
        Why don’t you just chefoff?

        • Allosexuel

          Lameass is mon héros boot ‘e is a tosser.

      • Allosexuel

        ‘e eats merde? I thort is breeths smeeled.

    • len

      linus`s opinion of some christians might be true to some extent.Of course Linus starts of with a grain of truth then overcooks his case to make it totally implausible then becomes ignored by all or almost all. Satan does a much better job of condemning and deceiving Christians because he keeps the whole thing totally plausible…Until you know the Truth .

  • preacher

    Endeavouring to display Unity where it doesn’t exist is false & hypocritical, it fools no one & will eventually lead to dispute & separation as well as discrediting the main parties in the view of those spectators who may be considering joining one of the parties involved.
    Just as a bad apple will eventually become a rotten apple & as the old saying goes destroy the whole barrel full, so false unity will only serve to contribute to worse destruction in the long term, be it in the Church or in a political party.
    God examines the heart of man, not his outward actions or professions of faith, it’s what’s in the heart that counts, not in the traditions or customs of men. As individuals we Know what the state of our hearts are, & if we have any doubts, the Holy Spirit will soon set the record straight if we allow Him to & hear His voice.
    When we read our Bibles, the examples of the repentant sinner, compared to the self righteous priest who viewed the man with disdain & boasted of his own good works should make us aware of the danger, ” Which one went home justified ? ” asked the Lord.
    The parable of the good Samaritan made the same point, the Samaritans were despised by the Jews, but here was a man of real compassion & love.
    If it wasn’t for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ & His Blood shed for the forgiveness of the sins of all who will accept it – Heaven would be – Empty, ” Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins ” .
    We would All be united – united in separation from the God who loves us – Forever !.

    Blessings. P.

  • Anton

    I’ll go with this:

    Psalm 127, in Hebrew.

    • Linus

      Religious music can be beautiful even when the sentiments being expressed are trite and formulaic. I put this down to the fact that most composers in the past had to write religious-themed music because there just weren’t enough secular patrons to go around.

      A good example is this piece from Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. You may find music as beautiful, but I challenge you to find anything more beautiful. I particularly love the irony of the fact that possibly the definitive rendition of it was performed by the USSR’s Ministry of Culture choir. Atheists showing boorish religionists what true beauty is:

      • Anton

        Yes, music is the art form most capable of going straight through the intellect to the heart. And as such, wonderful regardless of the personal faith of writer or performer. But do read the essay I’ve linked to above by Alan Morrison:

        I was in a choir singing this about three years ago:

        • Linus

          Ah yes, Ave Maria à la russe. Starts off beautifully, as Rachmaninoff always does, with everyone apparently getting along very well and harmonizing beautifully. But they’re Russians, so once the vodka starts flowing, things start to get a bit rowdy, and as the piece progresses it develops into a full-blown and very shouty mêlée, with the altos apparently getting their toes trodden on quite painfully if their prolonged shrieking is anything to go by.

          Not my cup of tea. Quite literally. Some of those top notes would shatter the Sèvres. And I’m surprised that an Anglican would participate in something quite so idolatrous as the singing of hymns of worship to a Mother Goddess.

          Are you a closet papist?

          • Anton

            I’m not even an Anglican; I moved to the nonconformists more than a decade ago. I sang in this during a highly musical Catholic wedding; it was not part of a set liturgy, or I could not have done so. What of Morrison, please?

            If we’re going to chat art forms, did you see the film Les Visiteurs in the 1990s?


            I understand that a recent sequel covered the French Revolution, although I’ve not seen that. Abel Gance’s Napoleon will do for me in regard to the revolution, cinema’s greatest 6 hours and at last due out on DVD, before Christmas. As Gance stops before Napoleon’s success goes to his head, he is enabled to portray him as uncompromised hero.

          • Linus


            You mentioned “art form” and “Les Visiteurs” in the same sentence?

            And what’s the greatest ever British film? “Carry On Up The Jungle”?

          • Anton

            Take the compliment, you oaf!

            By “art form” I meant cinema.

          • Anton

            If only French cinema criticism was as good as its films. “Les Enfants du Paradis” is regularly voted the no.1 French film. It vies with Citizen Kane as the most over-rated film ever. Truly weird when you have Gance, Renoir’s La Grande Illusion, and Vigo’s L’Atalante.

            British cinema? Try The Third Man, If…. and Black Narcissus.