Reading the 39
In a recent Radio 4 interview, genial Gene argued that the OT’s condemnation of homosexual practice had no more validity today than its dietary rules. Obviously his busy schedule promoting his autobiography hadn’t left him time to read as far as Article VI, but, fair play, an academically distinguished former Bishop of Durham had given up before he got to Article IV.
If the death of Buddy Holly (3 Feb 1959 – Ordo compilers please note) was ‘the day the music died’, future historians will date the death of the CofE to when the ASB no longer annexed the 39 Articles. Bishop Conrad Noel used to say he learned the faith by reading the Articles during boring sermons. Today the Articles could be a prophylactic against interminable intercessions.
To get the best benefit from the Articles, they must be taken full strength, in the Latin version. Would that we hadn’t also lost the requirement that clergy be found ‘learned in the Latin tongue’. Such learning would have prevented a recent ABC believing that the use of ‘congregation’ in the English version of Article XIX meant that Anglicanism was the URC Mark 1. On second thoughts, perhaps he was prophetic, given today’s Anglican congregationalism.
Gresham Kirkby, liturgical pioneer and CND militant, used to remind critics that Article XXXVII’s Latin version only sanctioned participation in ‘just’ wars, the English version lacking the qualifying adjective.
However daft General Synod gets, there is solace in Article XXI – ‘Councils may err’. Also, was there ever a better guide to the ambiguity required of working party reports than Article XVII on predestination? Environmentalists note: only one paragraph of paper. Brief. Not like reading lists shown me by some ordinands: bags of sociology and sexology. No mention of Bicknell or Griffith Thomas on the Articles.
Bin such lists. Bring back Bicknell. Add Ryle’s Knots Untied and Ritual Notes, plus Sporting Life for moral theology. Reading list sorted. Now for that other list – the John Lewis one – an oak or mahogany bar for the office when I become the free province’s first Director of Education?