Entries tagged with “COE”.


As I’m working pretty much all the time on my thesis at current, I can’t take much of a break for blogging. But I want to share, for your edification, a favourite passage from the sermons I’m working on. In my opinion, the thoughts expressed below are as relevant today as they were when the book was first printed in 1547. The first version has been slightly updated by myself (in case reading 16th century English is not your favourite pastime); the second is the selection as it was originally published.

A Modern Adaptation

If we profess Christ, why are we not ashamed to be ignorant of His doctrine? Any man is ashamed to be ignorant of the knowledge of his profession. A man is ashamed to be called a philosopher if he does not read books of philosophy. Likewise, men are ashamed to be called lawyers, astronomers, or physicians if they are ignorant of the books of law, astronomy, and medicine. How can any man then say that he professes Christ and His religion, but will not apply himself to read and hear and know the books of Christ’s Gospel and doctrine? Although other sciences are good, and no man can deny¬† that to be well-educated in them is also good, but this – our faith – is the chief thing and passes all others studies incomparably. What excuse shall we give at the last day before Christ if we delight to hear men’s fantasies and creations more than His most holy Gospel? What excuse can we give if we never make time to do the very thing we should do above all other things? What shall we say in our defense if we choose to read everything except Scripture, the very thing we ought to make time for before all other readings? Let us therefore apply ourselves, as much as we are able, to know God’s word by diligently hearing and reading it – as we must, if we truly profess to know God and have faith and trust in Him.

The Original

If we professe Christe why be we not ashamed to be ignoraunte in his doctrine? Seyng that euery man is ashamed to be ignoraunt in that learning, which he professeth. That man is ashamed, to be called a Philosophier, whiche readeth not the bookes of Philosophie, and to be called a lawyer and Astronomier, or a phisicion, that is ignoraunt in the bokes of law, Astronomie, and Phisicke. Howe can any man then saie, that he professeth Christ, and his religion, if he will not applye hymself, (as farfurther as he can or may conueniently) to reade and hear, & to knowe the bokes of Christes Gospel & doctrine. Although other sciences be good, and to be learned, yet no man can deny, but this is the chiefe, and passeth al other incomparably. What excuse shal we therfore make (at the last daie before Christ) that delight to reade, or heare mennes phantasies and inuencions, more then his moste holy Gospell, and will fynd no tyme to doo that, whiche chiefly (aboue all thynges) wee should do and wil rather reade other thynges, then that, for the whiche, we oughte rather to leaue readyng of all other thyngs. Let us therefore apply our selfes, as farfuth as we can haue tyme and leasure, to knowe Gods worde, by diligent hearing and readyng therof, as many as professe God, and haue faithe and trust in him.

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Selected from Thomas Cranmer’s “A fruitfull exhortation, to the readyng and knowledge of holy scripture.” Certayne Sermons, or Homelies. 1547.

Bishop of Rochester Nazir-Ali’s announced upcoming resignation has – surprise, surprise – made him the target of Liberal defamation. In the introduction of the annual report for Southwark Cathedral, the Very Rev. Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark, accuses Nazir-Ali of attempting to create a rival church, reports the Telegraph (see article here). “Whatever he may say,” writes Slee, “it is clearly a move towards a sectarian alternative church intentionally designed to create turbulence in the Anglican Communion.” On top of everything else, he takes the opportunity to further insult the Evangelical branch of the Anglican Communion by calling them a “Puritan fringe”, seemingly blaming them for the all the divisions currently raging in world Anglicanism. One would almost think Slee actually believes that it’s the Evangelicals who are breaking from traditional Anglicanism, and not the Liberals.

One thing’s for sure. If Nazir-Ali’s departure wasn’t going to foster further division in the Anglican Communion, Slee’s derogatory treatment of Evangelicals certainly will.

I recently submitted my Honours Thesis proposal to the English department here at the University of Regina. My paper is somewhat interdisciplinary in nature, looking at the literary, historical, and theological implications of the 1547 edition of Certayne Sermons, or Homilies (what would become the first volume of what is now frequently referred to as the Anglican Book of Homilies). This book, along with the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles (there were originally 42), would become foundational texts of the Church of England (COE). But unlike the latter two works, the Book of Homilies is seldom spoken about these days – a pity, if you ask me. Perhaps if the COE had continued to stress the book’s importance as official doctrine, world Anglicanism might be in a bit better state these days.

Currently, there is a major split between liberal and orthodox Anglicans across the globe. In North America, orthodox congregations continue to separate from their liberal national churches and align themselves with more conservative church bodies in Africa and South America in an attempt to preserve their biblical Anglican beliefs. Talks are well underway for the creation of a new North American Anglican province, a province that will affirm orthodox Anglican theology. On a global scale, we see the same sentiments expressed by the 2008 GAFCON in Jerusalem (seen by many as an alternative to the Lambeth Conference). And just a few days ago, Bishop of Rochester the Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali announced he is stepping down from his post – one of the most prominent positions in the Church of England – to encourage and aid persecuted Christians elsewhere. Bishop Nazir-Ali, the only bishop from England to boycott the Lambeth Conference last year (he was joined by many bishops from other nations), has been severely critical of the liberalism growing within Anglicanism. His departure is being seen as an affront to the prevailing COE hierarchy.

Anglicanism, it appears, is in the midst of a new Reformation.

It seems inevitable that these orthodox Anglican groups will eventually make a final break from the Anglican Communion. Like many more before them, they are finding out just how to difficult it is to “re-form” a church that has lost its way. And like those before them, they are finding out that “cutting off the hand that causes you to sin” is perhaps the best (though by no means easiest) approach when confronting doctrinal error and unrepentance in church hierarchy.

Let’s grant our prayers to their efforts.