Friar John's Ruminations

Being the thoughts of an Episcopalian Layman. In Search of and service to "Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order."

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Percy Dearmer On the Prayerbook:

Loyalty to the Prayer Book.

THERE was once a man who wanted to escape from a certain prison: he tried to loosen the window-bars, he tried to work out the stones of the wall, he tried the chimney, and he tried the floor. Then suddenly a happy thought struck him. He opened the door and walked out.

I think the historian of the future will say: There was once a Church that wanted to escape from a great mess. Somehow or other this Church had failed to retain her hold upon her members: the people of the country had for centuries been drifting away from her; half the religious folk had formed themselves into other denominations; the great majority of the people somehow had given up going to church at all; those who remained faithful were, in spite of a great Revival, still in singular ignorance as to the principles of their own religion: as a consequence, many of these were so sluggish as to be a source of weakness rather than strength; others were zealous, but their zeal was a source of division rather than of the unity which maketh force. So her enemies raged against her; her own children rushed hither and thither and were not satisfied; while the nation, through its Parliamentary representatives, became insolent, and proposed to refurbish the rusty weapons of religious persecution for the disciplining of her clergy.

[4] This Church was, in fact, in a mess. She had tried so many ways of escape! She had tried Geneva; she had tried Rome; she had essayed a mixture of the two in varying proportions, which was called Moderate; she had tried laissez faire, by which each man did what he found easy and thought nice; she had even tried (heroic and marvellous as it may seem) to establish a Cathedral type of Service in every village church. The one thing that she had never tried to do was to carry out her own laws, and to apply her own principles.

Then one day she had a happy thought. She would be true to her own self, to her own laws. She opened the door, and walked out.

We do not realize the extent of our failure. With everything human in our favour--learning, position, wealth, lofty traditions, the possession of the church buildings, the schools, the universities--we have gradually let our people slip away from us. Goodly was our heritage: if we had but kept what our forefathers had won for us, the whole Anglo-Saxon race would to-day be united in one Church, devotedly attached to it, and most diligent in worship as our ancestors were 1,000 years ago, as they were 400 years ago, as, indeed, a great majority still were, in spite of many losses, 200 years ago.
Read the rest here.

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