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Over the past few weeks, I have written posts about Covington Catholic High School boys who were wrongly maligned and harassed at the Lincoln Memorial after the March for Life in Washington, DC, on Friday, January 18, 2019:

A school chaperone’s role is an onerous one (January 18)

Covington Catholic: responsible media backtracked (January 20)

Covington Catholic: doxxing followed by support on a fateful weekend (January 20-21)

Covington Catholic: when the media narrative turned (January 21-22)

Today, I will look at the Diocese of Covington’s response as well as those from two archdioceses.

Instead of waiting to gather facts about the incident, the Diocese of Covington in Kentucky — and at least two archdioceses — were quick to condemn the high school students.

Diocese of Covington

On Tuesday, January 22, Breitbart posted ‘Catholic Leaders Refuse to Retract Slander of School Boys at March for Life‘. The diocese unquestioningly followed the media narrative from the weekend (emphases mine below):

The boys’ school and the Diocese of Covington joined in the feeding frenzy, hastily issuing a statement of condemnation of the boys as well as a public apology without hearing the boys’ version of the story.

“This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person,” Covington Catholic High School and the Diocese of Covington said in a joint statement. “The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips,” the statement reads.

Bishop Foys created his Twitter account a short time ago in January 2019. The tone of his first tweet contradicts the above statement:

His second was this retweet of a President Trump message:

Conservative network OANN host Jack Posobiec reported that parents wanted a swift apology to the students on the March for Life:

Perhaps Bishop Foys thought the diocese’s strong statement would avert a protest in front of a Catholic church in Covington on January 22. If so, he was mistaken. Fortunately, the weather was cold:

Catholics across the country were frustrated, if not livid, with the condemnation of the students, especially as lengthy videos showing their innocence appeared that weekend:

The Daily Wire article says, in part:

The commissars in charge of Covington Diocese are not the only members of the American hierarchy behaving shamelessly during this railroading of innocent young boys. As of this writing, Cardinal DiNardo, president of the USCCB, has uttered not a word in the boys’ defense, nor has he rebuked priests like Father Edward Beck (CNN Commentator) who doubled down on his condemnation of the boys even after evidence proved them innocent.

On January 23, Gateway Pundit‘s Cassandra Fairbanks tweeted:

Fairbanks’s article states:

The students claim that after some of the kids spoke to Fox News and other outlets, the Bishop informed the school that he doesn’t want them doing any more interviews. The school faculty agreed, claiming they are worried about their safety.

While no punishment was made clear if they fail to comply, the students want to cooperate and plan to do so.

One of the mothers Fairbanks interviewed had said at the weekend (emphasis in the original, those in purple mine):

“Like I said, the Bishop here is literally victimizing the victims twice. They’ve already been victimized by the media, now they are being victimized again,” she added. “There is blood in the water and they are making it worse. They’re feeding the piranha frenzy from the liberal media. I just want people to understand that they need to wake up and stop believing the fake news and defend the kids.”

That day, Bishop Foys addressed Covington Catholic’s students. I’m so disgusted by some of the remarks, I won’t even comment (emphases mine):

I am the shepherd of this Church. I have to present not only to the people of our diocese but also to the world the facts. Not the facts that someone has imagined or the facts that someone thinks or facts that people might determine from seeing a video. I encourage all of you, especially the students who were there at the march, to cooperate with the investigators. This is with the permission of your parents. We’re not going to have you do anything without the permission of your parents. And the teachers and chaperones who were there, I am asking you, too, to be cooperative with this …

I’m going to ask you, as your bishop, to stay off social media in regards to this situation at least until it is resolved. Because the more you say — pro or con — the more you exacerbate the situation. You have to help, especially yourself, by getting off social media. Right now anything we say — you or I — anything we say is questioned. The devil is real; trust me. He has taken this good thing, this March for Life, and turned it into a media circus.”

Bishop Foys then talked to the students about the statements that have been released by the diocese and the school, which have been criticized.

Some people think our first statement was too strong, but in my mind with what we saw and what we heard at the time, we had to say what we said and we meant it. If that behavior is genuine then we have to condemn it.

“We issued a second statement yesterday. Regardless of what you heard or what you’ve read or what you think— I am on your side. I want you to come out of this in a positive light.

“In our second statement I asked people to pray that we will arrive at the truth. The only way we can do that in an objective way is through a thorough and in-depth investigation … If there was some wrongdoing we have to own up to that, too. Father Michael [Hennigen, school chaplain] is right, it is the truth that will set us free.”

“Know that I stand with you, that I join with you in that ‘Spirit that will not die’ and that together we will work through this. Thank you and God bless you.”

As Bishop Foys turned the podium over to Mr. Rowe, he expressed his confidence in the principal. “Mr. Rowe has done a wonderful job here in his leadership. I have full confidence in him and he will continue to lead you,” he said.

In his final remarks before dismissing the assembly Mr. Rowe said, “Bishop Foys supports us — now we need to support him.”

On January 25, Bishop Foys sent a letter to the parents of Covington Catholic High School students. In it was an apology to Nicholas Sandmann and his family. Foys admitted he thought the diocesan announcement of the third-party investigation into the Lincoln Memorial incident would placate venomous critics and acknowledged that did not happen.

Sadly, it took until Wednesday, February 13, for the boys to be exonerated:

If the diocese paid handsomely for this report, they were robbed. The Daily Beast reported:

The Washington Post reports Wednesday that a team of Cincinnati private investigators spent hundreds of hours reviewing footage and interviewing witnesses before concluding that there was no evidence that there were “racist or offensive statements by students to Mr. Phillips.” They did not, however, speak to Nathan Phillips or Nicholas Sandmann, the two people featured most prominently in the encounter. After the results were released, the Bishop of Covington reversed the diocese’s earlier condemnation of the students, noting that “my hope and expectation expressed in my letter to you of 25 January that the results of our inquiry … would exonerate our students so that they can move forward with their lives’ has been realized.” The report doesn’t offer any guidance on how to prevent similar encounters in the future.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore

Two days after the Lincoln Memorial incident, the Archdiocese of Baltimore — hundreds of miles east, in Maryland — got involved:

That tweet received a number of indignant responses, which outnumbered positive ones.

A Catholic priest tweeted:

Boomer Catholic clergy pass judgment on Catholic high school students before investigating all of the evidence. Why aren’t there more young people at Mass?

Someone recommended the archdiocese delete their tweet:

Very sad that a prominent archdiocese would rush to judgment and gullibly swallow a contrived, libelous attack on young Catholics. You’d do well to delete this tweet.

Someone else recommended amending the tweet in light of new facts:

You are WRONG!!! Get the facts. Watch the videos. And CORRECT this tweet. NOW!!!

Another noted that clergy love only the elite:

Love how the Catholic Church stands with elites instead of its children.

A mother tweeted:

I’ve been preparing my teens that we’ll likely see more aggression towards Catholics. Who knew it would come from a hierarchy that can’t even keep their own accountable for their sins? Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

A Catholic man said:

Would that the hierarchy was this quick to deal with molesters in its ranks…🙄

On January 21 — Martin Luther King Day — the archdiocese issued a clarification:

The statement reads in part:

The Archdiocese of Baltimore wishes to clarify its message condemning what was widely reported as disrespect toward a Native American elder during the March for Life in Washington, D.C. We reiterate our condemnation of disrespect and denigration toward any person or group based on the color of their skin, their religious or ethnic heritage, or immigrant status. The circumstances of this confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial are now being reported as more complex and it will be the responsibility of school authorities, parents and others involved to determine the actual circumstances, responsibility and consequences. Regardless, it is deeply unfortunate that the annual March for Life was marred by this confrontation.

That made their Twitter readers even angrier.

Risky business, that. Donations can dry up in an instant.

One Catholic tweeted:

Then let me respectfully clarify my position on the annual appeal letter I just received …until you apologize to those boys for rushing to judgement and condemnation, I’ll set the letter aside and will recommend that all Catholics in this Archdiocese do the same

Another Catholic responded:

You’ll never receive another dime from me.

A third Catholic said:

This is why we refuse to give to the Hope Appeal.Your quick to condemn these young people w/o all the facts yet you covered up pervert priest for years.. Apologize now.

A fourth sent them back to Catholic catechism:

Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, specifically paragraph 2477 “Respect for the Reputation of Others” and the definitions of “rash judgment” and “calumny.” You owe those students an apology!

A fifth wrote:

Apologize and stop attacking the laity.

A sixth said:

This explains why the Laity is taking the lead. Because the leadership is not Catholic.

And, finally, a Venezuelan Catholic wrote:

Still waiting s not an . These is the perfect example of why more and my re people is LEAVING the church.

On January 23, the archdiocese tried again. Money talks. They probably got a lot of angry phone calls, emails and letters:

This was a guarded — let’s just say, lame — apology. The statement reads in part:

It has become apparent, however, that initial reports of that incident were at best incomplete. Those incomplete reports led many, including the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to speak out too hastily. We apologize for doing so. It is our hope that the young people involved were in fact acting in accord with the truth and values that are foundational to Catholic education. We also hope that this sad incident will give to all a renewed determination to respect the life and dignity of every person without exception.

Only three people were happy. Everyone else was scathing. Responses from Catholics follow. Interestingly enough, all of the following are from women.

One lady wrote:

Nick Sandmann turned the other cheek and you stabbed him in the back. For once could you put the well-being of teenage boys ahead of your own ambitions?

She added:

That was such a quisling statement.

Another lady said:

How about having the courage to unequivocally state that these boys did nothing wrong? So sad that pro-life Catholic boys can’t even depend on their shepherds to stick up for them in the face of persecution.

To which another responded:

Totally agree! A pretty lame statement.

A second response rolled in:

Why was everyone so quick to judge the boys in the shortened video, but afraid to condemn the aggressive behavior of adults (towards kids!!) after seeing the full video? It boggles my mind. This is a cowardly, conforming statement, at best. We are lost.

I wonder if the archdiocese thought its tweets on Catholic schooling were somewhat misplaced the following week. I accept that it was Catholic Schools Week, but when Covington Catholic High School and the diocese weren’t defending their students, one wonders.

Even after Catholic Schools Week was over, the archdiocese was still at it. Meanwhile, Covington Catholic High School’s students were still under the cosh, as it were, awaiting judgement — for having done nothing wrong:

Two days later — after the Diocese of Covington found no wrongdoing on the part of the students — the archdiocese tweeted:

Oh so generously, the Archdiocese of Baltimore felt it could finally support the students. Pah.

Here’s the statement in full. Note what could be construed as a legal disclaimer in the second paragraph:

Citing the public release today by the Diocese of Covington of the Final Investigative Report into the January 18th incident at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Archdiocese of Baltimore joins Bishop Roger J. Foys, Bishop of Covington, in expressing its support for the students of Covington Catholic High School. The independent investigation, conducted by a third-party firm with no connection to Covington Catholic High School or the Diocese of Covington, found that “our students did not instigate the incident that occurred,” Bishop Foys said.

As previously related, the Archdiocese regrets communicating before all the facts were known about the unfortunate confrontation that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial with other demonstrators.  Furthermore, the Archdiocese of Baltimore again commends the students from Covington and across the nation who participated in the annual March for Life in witness of their active faith and defense of the sanctity of human life at every stage.

By then, Twitter readers must have been fed up. The tweet only garnered four responses: three negative and one positive.

First tweet:

At least you finally responded in the right way. My ongoing complaint and criticism remains: You act like pansies without a backbone unwilling to take a strong stance on any issue (esp Catholic issues) unless you have the support of a corrupted society. I keep praying for you.

Second:

didn’t support Needed an “independent investigation” in order to clear youths’ reputations. What a bunch of cowardly shepherds. Skulking under their skullcaps. Creeping behind their croziers. You should be embarrassed.

And finally:

When the ex-con fake vietnam vet got in this child’s face, his Indian friend yelled racial slurs at the white kids. The Indians then attempted a hate-crime by trying to disrupt a Catholic Mass. How sad you attacked these pro-life teens. SHAME!

The Archdiocese of Baltimore never should have said a thing.

The Archdiocese of Louisville

Closer to home, the Archdiocese of Louisville chimed in.

The Archbishop’s original statement of January 19 was replaced with one dated January 22:

Over the past few days, I have received many calls and email messages from people with many different viewpoints and seemingly opposite messages about the incidences involving Covington Catholic High School students at the March for Life. Many of these calls and messages have revealed the regrettable polarization in our Church and in our society

As many have noted, over the weekend, I joined Bishop Foys in a condemnation of alleged actions, not people. This post replaces that original blog entry with the additional information below from the Diocese of Covington.

I do not have jurisdiction in the Diocese of Covington. However, I have sought to act in solidarity with the Bishop of Covington, who is in a position to have the best information about what transpired and who has pledged an independent investigation of the situation. (See the statement from the Diocese of Covington below.) At this time, I am not going to get ahead of the Diocese of Covington’s independent investigation with additional comments.

I want to assure those who are concerned that I am confident that Bishop Foys and the school will reach out and respond to those who were impacted by these events and media reports

Whatever the investigation reveals, I hope that we can use this as a teachable moment, learn from any mistakes on the part of anyone involved, and begin the process of healing.

That, too, was pretty lame. The last sentence in particular suggests that, somehow, someone did something woefully wrong.

The Archbishop issued one further statement — a weak apology — on January 25:

I offer further reflections about the events at the March for Life involving Covington Catholic High School students.  Today’s letter sent by Bishops Roger Foys to Covington Catholic High School parents is a good description of what has transpired since the events at the March for Life.

Since I joined with Bishop Foys in condemning the alleged actions by Covington Catholic students, I apologize for what was a premature statement on my part based upon incomplete information. I very much regret the pain and disruption in the lives of the Covington Catholic community and in the broader Church and society.

I support Bishop Foys in his efforts to investigate fully what happened, to learn from mistakes, and to take any action needed to address the harm done to anyone from the events that occurred last Friday at the March for Life.

There is a great deal to be learned about the risk of responding to social media and media reports without additional analysis and especially the need to elevate our discourse and to foster the much-needed skills of listening, dialogue, and mutual understanding.

After the Covington Catholic High School boys had been cleared of wrongdoing, nothing to that effect was posted on the archdiocesan website.

One cannot help but think the Archbishop really wanted someone to be expelled. As if the boys hadn’t suffered enough — for doing nothing wrong.

If nothing else, this painful debacle proved the truth of the New Testament to the boys that followers of Christ will be persecuted.

It’s a pity that their own clergy had to join in that persecution: Pharisees, every last one of them.

I will look at the legal angles in another post.

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the much-maligned students at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky:

A school chaperone’s role is an onerous one (January 18, March for Life, Covington Catholic High School)

Covington Catholic: responsible media backtracked (January 20, March for Life, Covington Catholic High School)

Covington Catholic: doxxing followed by support on a fateful weekend (January 20-21, Covington Catholic High School)

I meant to write about them last week, but that worked out just fine, because the story gradually progressed to a happy ending. On Wednesday, February 13, the Diocese of Covington has cleared the boys of any wrongdoing.

Nonetheless, the story needs telling in full.

To pick up where I left off, Monday, January 21, 2019, was Martin Luther King Day, so there was no school. No doubt, the boys who were harassed at the Lincoln Memorial after the March for Life the previous Friday were delighted during that long, horrible weekend to hear from someone their own age, CJ Pearson, who rallied to their cause:

Pearson posted a video of two of the boys that Monday:

The Gateway Pundit was able to interview two students and two mothers under conditions of anonymity (names were changed). One of the mothers said the boys, who were performing their school chants — with permission — thought the Native American who approached them (emphasis in the original):

was on their side and drumming along to their cheer.

Clearly, this was traumatising for the families involved, especially when politicians and even their own diocese criticised the students:

The families also wanted to make it clear that there were no chants of “build the wall,” or anything else that could be seen as offensive. Mrs. Smith recited one of the Covington chants, saying that it could have been what Phillips heard.

Another mother whose son was present during the incident, who we refer to as Mrs. Adams, said that “it’s just terrible that they are being criticized the way they are.”

Mrs. Adams said that she is worried about the safety of the students on Tuesday when they return to school. The American Indian Movement Chapter of Indiana and Kentucky has called for a protest at the high school.

“I’m worried about their safety on Tuesday — people were threatening to shoot up the school,” Mrs. Adams said. “I’m worried about sending my child back.”

Mrs. Smith added that she “demands an apology and a retraction from the Diocese.”

The mothers had much more to say (purple highlights mine):

Mrs. Adams added that the worst for her has been the Bishop of Covington throwing them under the bus. “That is the worst thing to me,” she said, her voice shaking.

“I personally think they were targeted because they had the MAGA hats on,” Mrs. Smith said. “I think it’s a shame that people are saying that we shouldn’t have let them wear them. It’s a shame that you can’t support your president in Washington, DC.”

Trump “is the first and only president to come out to support the March for Life,” Mrs. Smith added. “To get blamed for this because they were wearing a hat instead of blaming the aggressors — it’s blaming the victims.”

“Like I said, the Bishop here is literally victimizing the victims twice. They’ve already been victimized by the media, now they are being victimized again,” she added. “There is blood in the water and they are making it worse. They’re feeding the piranha frenzy from the liberal media. I just want people to understand that they need to wake up and stop believing the fake news and defend the kids.”

The Gateway Pundit asked the families if there is anything they would like to say to the Democrat mob of adult journalists and celebrities that are coming after their children.

“I don’t think you could publish it,” Mrs. Smith said, taking a break from the righteous outrage for some laughter.

These students aren’t adults, these are kids — innocent children — and the adults should pause before they react when it’s children’s lives that could be ruined,” Mrs. Smith said. “And kids are so susceptible to bullying. I honestly thought, this kid could kill himself over this. What are they thinking? They could destroy this boy’s life, depress him, and he could end up committing suicide — and he did nothing wrong! These people, who are supposed to be adults, are jumping in and accusing him of terrible things — shame on them! Shame isn’t even enough of a word,” Mrs. Smith demanded.

Adam Smith noted that many of the children on the collage of photos that is being passed around the internet, looking for their names, are as young as 14-years-old. Many of them are freshmen.

“They’re really young,” he said. “They’re really going after kids. Half of us were just standing in the background and they’re looking for our information.”

Online scrutiny then turned to the Native American, allegedly a left-wing activist who appeared in a 2012 anti-police video, and thought to have been involved in a 2015 incident targeting a group of university fraternity members. In that incident, he also claimed he was abused, when it appears he instigated it.

Questions were raised about the timing of and his rank during his military service. Even the Washington Post had to correct one of their stories, retracting a mention of his service in the Vietnam War. Someone else unearthed his family history and past interviews with the media, which raised more questions about him.

Another Native American protester with him acknowledged that the two of them decided to join in solidarity with the group harassing the students.

That day, President Trump had a message of encouragement for the students:

One Trump supporter, whose Twitter account was later deleted, tweeted about the main target of the Left’s ire, student Nick Sandmann (emphases mine):

Imagine being Nick. One day you are on a field trip – next day the President of the United States got your back. That’s life in the Maga lane. The President understands loyalty better than many Bishops & ‘Catholic’ Teachers. Think about that. He fights for us. This is proof.

Things began looking up. Digital company INE Entertainment fired one of their employees who had tweeted a death wish towards the boys — and their parents. The Wrap reported:

Digital company INE Entertainment has fired a journalist who publicly wished for the death of several Covington Catholic High School students and their parents in a pair of tweets over the weekend. Aside from his job as a post-production supervisor at INE, Erik Abriss is a contributor to New York Media’s pop culture site Vulture.

“We were surprised and upset to see the inflammatory and offensive rhetoric used on Erik Abriss’ Twitter account this weekend. He worked with the company in our post-production department and never as a writer,” the company said in a statement to TheWrap on Monday.

“While we appreciated his work, it is clear that he is no longer aligned with our company’s core values of respect and tolerance. Therefore, as of January 21, 2019, we have severed ties with Abriss.”

The Wrap included the text of the offending tweet.

Tucker Carlson had a great segment on the journalists who ‘rushed to judgement’ about the Lincoln Memorial incident (also see YouTube). Note, there are neo-conservatives on his list, too:

A man helping the Covington families tweeted:

More messages of support rolled in from Patricia Heaton of Everyone Loves Raymond fame (also see her tweet), TurningPoint USA’s Charlie Kirk about his phone call with Nick Sandmann and Kyle Kashuv of Parkland, Florida, where the mass high school shooting took place a year ago on Valentine’s Day. He said:

The Media has bent over backwards to defend my Parkland Highschool liberal peers, no matter what outrageous things they have said. But now they have tried to ruin a highschool kid’s life, over fake news. What changed? The student was a Trump Supporter.

That day, the school’s principal sent an email to all parents. Gateway Pundit has the details. The message announced the beginning of an investigation into what had happened on Friday. One of the mothers was indignant (emphasis in the original):

“No apology. No explanation. No news on protests planned for tomorrow. No cancelling of school. Nothing,” she said.

The far-left radical activist group the “American Indian Movement” and Antifa have called a protest for Tuesday when the students are supposed to return to school.

The local Antifa group is urging “co-conspirators” to join them …

Two mothers that have spoke to The Gateway Pundit have both said they will not be sending their children to school tomorrow out of fear for their safety.

On Tuesday, January 22, Covington Catholic High School was closed. Gateway Pundit reported that parents received early morning phone calls with a recorded message from the principal (emphases mine):

A mother who received the call tells the Gateway Pundit that it was a recorded message from the principal saying that they decided to close the school after discussions with local authorities. They said that there were security concerns and no parents or children are permitted on campus throughout the day or for any evening activities.

The recording also asked that parents continue to pray for the school.

“It sounded serious, like they had some serious threats to call it off like that after they planned for it to be open,” the parent told TGP.

The parent also expressed frustration at the fact that they hadn’t cancelled sooner — as the threats were everywhere.

A local Antifa group and a far-left Native American group have called for protests at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at the school — though the Natives have reportedly moved their protest to a church.

That afternoon, the Cincinnati Enquirer published Nick Sandmann’s full statement on the incident and the aftermath. I cited most of it in an earlier post, but there is more. He received many threats — and so did his family:

My parents are receiving death and professional threats because of the social media mob that has formed over this issue …

Also:

I provided this account of events to the Diocese of Covington so they may know exactly what happened, and I stand ready and willing to cooperate with any investigation they are conducting.

The newspaper added:

This is the only statement that has been made by the Sandmann family. Any comments attributed to any member of the family that is not contained in this document are fabricated. The family will not be answering individual media inquiries.

That day, President Trump tweeted again about the incident:

As there are a number of other aspects to this story, I will continue next week.

Cardinal Robert Sarah from Guinea in Africa recently gave an interview to a reporter in which he expounded on the cultural and religious dangers the West faces:

Cardinal Sarah spoke so much truth there that it is unlikely he will ever be a candidate for the papacy, even though his name has been mooted by a few Catholic media outlets internationally.

That said, he is the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He was also part of the conclave of Cardinals that elected Pope Francis. Prior to his current post, he served as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2001 to 2011.

His parents were animists who converted to Catholicism. You can read more about him here.

We need more Catholics — and Protestants — like him!

Two ELCA — Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — pastors have been in the news this month.

Adult content follows — discretion advised.

On Tuesday, December 4, 2018, Big League Politics reported on a story that first appeared in the Christian Post about the Revd Nadia Bolz-Weber who:

is protesting the “evangelical purity culture,” also known as “adherence to the scripture,” and sometimes even “Christianity.” Her plan is to “take down” the church’s teaching about sex, which makes one wonder why she became a pastor in the first place.

This month, she is asking girls to send her their purity rings so that they can be melted down to make a golden vagina:

Mail in your purity rings to be melted down into a special sculpture. In return you’ll receive a Certificate of Impurity, an “Impurity” ring, and the support of all those ready to support a sexual reformation!

Big League Politics tells us:

“This thing about women that the church has tried to hide and control and that is a canvas on which other people can write their own righteousness ― it’s actually ours,” Bolz-Weber reportedly said to HuffPost. “This part of me is mine and I get to determine what is good for it and if it’s beautiful and how I use it in the world.”

The Christian Post article says that one pastor left the ELCA, he was so disgusted by this and similar clerical goings-on (emphases mine):

Rev. Tom Brock, formerly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, crushed Bolz-Weber on his blog. He left the church over its liberal stances on abortion and same-sex marriage.

“Instead of disciplining this heretical pastor, the ELCA invites her to speak at events,” he said. “I am part of a clergy Facebook page for ELCA and former ELCA pastors and it is tragic to see some of them defend all this.”

Bolz-Weber’s website’s About page has a potted autobiography:

NADIA BOLZ-WEBER first hit the New York Times list with her 2013 memoir—the bitingly honest and inspiring Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint followed by the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller Accidental Saints in 2015. A former stand-up comic and a recovering alcoholic, Bolz-Weber is the founder and former pastor of a Lutheran congregation in Denver, House for All Sinners and Saints. She speaks at colleges and conferences around the globe.

Big League Politics says:

Bolz-Weber’s behavior is simply the effect of modern liberalism on the church, which tends to preach God’s love and acceptance, forgetting that a large portion of the bible teaches God’s wrath and anger with the wicked.

Their second ELCA clergyman up for examination is the Revd Steven Sabin:

On Monday, December 10, Big League Politics reported on the pastor, who is from San Francisco:

A gay Lutheran Pastor with a history of fighting for gay rights within the church was arrested for possession of child pornography in mid November.

“The Reverend Steven Sabin, pastor at Christ Church Lutheran at Quintara Street and 20th Avenue, was arrested November 15 on three felony charges,” according to Bay Area Reporter. 

Sabin pleaded not guilt to one count of distribution of child pornography and two counts of possession or control of child pornography. According to a San Francisco Police Department news release, the investigators “located a cellphone belonging to Sabin, which contained hundreds of child pornography videos and images depicting juvenile minors being sexually abused. During a subsequent search, investigators found that Sabin was storing child pornography on a cloud storage application.”

The pastor has since been released on bail while he awaits a Dec. 19 pre-trial hearing.

The article says that, in 1998, before the ELCA went off-piste, they expelled Sabin for coming out of the closet. Sabin then joined an offshoot of the ELCA, Christ Church Lutheran. Fortunately, Christ Church Lutheran San Francisco took the child pornography charges seriously and issued this announcement:

We have learned of the arrest of Steve Sabin, who will no longer serve as pastor of Christ Church Lutheran. We are concerned for and ask for prayers for all affected, including all victims of sexual misconduct and for the people of the congregation of Christ Church. We will cooperate fully with law enforcement. We have zero tolerance for clergy sexual misconduct and are committed to providing safe spaces for all children and youth in our church.

Big League Politics points out that the ELCA has gone off the rails over the past two decades:

The ELCA, from which Sabin was booted for being gay, now accepts openly gay pastors, even one who teaches “sex positivity” and is asking young women to send her their purity rings so she can mold them into a large golden vagina. Needless to say, this is contrary to biblical teachings.

Absolutely.

Those looking for a church, especially parents with children, need to exercise caution and pray for discernment.

My apologies for not posting Forbidden Bible Verses today.

I intend to schedule it for tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I had something to do this afternoon which took much longer than expected and had to be done within a particular deadline. It’s finished now and I can truly agree, once again, that there is a wideness in God’s mercy.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy is a hymn that Dr Frederick William Faber, a clergyman with a Doctor of Divinity degree, wrote in 1862 to the melody of WELLESLEY (Tourjee).

Since then, Dr Faber’s lyrics have been adapted to other melodies, such as Corvedale by Maurice Bevan (b. 1921), sung below by the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, London:

The hymn is widely sung across many denominations and appears in 785 hymnals.

Hymnary.org has the lyrics to Faber’s hymn:

1 There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There’s a kindness in God’s justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven.
There is no place where earth’s failings
have such kindly judgment given.

2 For the love of God is broader
than the measures of the mind.
And the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we would gladly trust God’s Word,
and our lives reflect thanksgiving
for the goodness of our Lord.

Faber was part of the Oxford Movement — members of the Church of England who moved to High Church (traditional Roman Catholic-style) liturgy — in the 19th century. The movement later became known as Anglo-Catholicism and exists today.

John Henry Newman was one of the Oxford Movement adherents. He eventually became not only a Roman Catholic but also a Cardinal.

Faber also ‘crossed the Tiber’ and became a Roman Catholic in 1846. Hymnary.org tells us that he was the son of a Church of England clergyman, Mr T H Faber, and:

was born at Calverley Vicarage, Yorkshire, June 28, 1814, and educated at Balliol College, Oxford, graduating B.A. in 1836. He was for some time a Fellow of University College, in the same University. Taking Holy Orders in 1837, he became Rector of Elton, Huntingdonshire, in 1843, but in 1846 he seceded to the Church of Rome. After residing for some time at St. Wilfrid’s, Staffordshire, he went to London in 1849, and established the London “Oratorians,” or, “Priests of the Congregation of St. Philip Neri,” in King William Street, Strand. In 1854 the Oratory was removed to Brompton. Dr. Faber died Sept. 26, 1863.

Balliol College is one of the foremost Oxford colleges. It is interesting that Faber served a parish in Huntingdonshire, part of Cambridgeshire, which was known for its Low Church adherence. During Cromwell’s time, two centuries earlier, Cambridgeshire was Calvinistic in belief, the very antithesis of High Church beliefs and worship.

Anyone who knows London will also know that the London Oratory is one of the centres of the capital’s Roman Catholic worship. The Oratory also has a famous boys’ school, which is over-subscribed year on year.

Last week, I recapped the 2018 royal wedding, which included this …

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States gave an address. BT.com reported:

The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, the first black presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, gained worldwide attention with his address at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding on Saturday during which he evoked Martin Luther King and spoke of poverty and injustice.

Mr Curry, along with the gospel choir, brought a flavour of the American bride’s homeland with the speech at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

… along with a tweet:

One of my readers, longtime Episcopalian blogger, underground pewster, wrote a sharp analysis of the sermon on May 23: ‘Bishop Curry: All You Need is Love’.

It is a must read, especially for fellow members of the Anglican Communion. As pewster has probably put a lot of work into this, only a taster follows.

The first part of Curry’s sermon is about love. Before I go into pewster’s analysis, my perspective is that, if he had preached this 50 years ago, most of us would have found it novel and engaging. It’s very much of that era, especially with a timeless Martin Luther King Jr quote at the start:

The late Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. once said and I quote: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.”

There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it. There’s power – power in love. If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved.

Now on to underground pewster’s analysis (emphases in the original):

I think he is equating two different types of love.

“Oh there’s power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There’s a certain sense in which when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you, and you know it, when you love and you show it – it actually feels right.”

Uh oh, following “it feels right” can lead you into all kinds of problems.

“There is something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant – and are meant – to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here.”

It would have been helpful if he had defined what type of love he was talking about, and that is one of the major weaknesses of his sermon. 

I agree. How many times have we heard this type of thing before, especially conflating different types of love? As pewster explains at the beginning of his post (emphases mine below):

While there is nothing wrong about preaching on love, it requires a deeper exposition. The love of God and the love of Christ for the world, God’s love for the Church, and God’s intended love between one man and one woman are things that most Episcopalian Bishops are incapable of communicating. No one expected Bishop Curry to talk about complementarianism, and no one expected any major digressions into his favorite themes, so his sermon appeared benign if not great to most of his viewers. It had to sound benign you see, because he could not say the words that he really wanted to say about his novel ideas about what makes up a Christian marriage in front of an audience of two billion people because those words are so unbiblical that the effect on his sect would be ruinous.

Most traditional Anglicans, including Episcopalians, understand exactly what pewster means by ‘unbiblical’, but, in case there is any doubt, he clarifies it at the end of the post:

Maybe we haven’t supported enough liberal causes, maybe we haven’t marched in enough gay pride parades, maybe we haven’t celebrated enough gay marriage ceremonies in the Church, maybe we have been sending those e-mails from The Episcopal Public Policy Network into the Spam box, maybe we haven’t performed enough abortions, maybe we haven’t brought enough lawsuits against faithful Christians, or maybe we have been critical of the Episcopal sect in print and on social media.

And you know what they call people who go against the zeitgeist, those who disagree with Bishop Curry and his unbiblical agenda, an agenda that he was afraid to verbalize in front of an audience of billions?

“Haters!”

True.

There was another bit from Curry’s sermon which did not escape pewster’s notice (emphasis in the original, mine in purple):

It was only a matter of time where the power of this version of love will be used by the Bishop to try to stir people to political action,

“Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history.”

Wait a second! God revealing himself, and dying for us was the number one world changing event in human history.

Exactly!

The second half of Curry’s sermon was all about fire. Recall that the following day was Pentecost Sunday, but the bishop did not mention that. He went into a long description, citing Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (ugh), of how fire shaped human history. Curry ended with this (emphases mine):

Fire makes all of that possible, and de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love – it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.

Dr King was right: we must discover love – the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world, a new world.

My brother, my sister, God love you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.

Fire is the main symbol of Pentecost. One of the mandatory readings for that feast is Acts 2, the account of the first Pentecost, excerpted below:

2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

2:2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

The Holy Spirit isn’t just for Pentecost or Confirmation. He is here to guide us all our days. Therefore, as I wrote in a comment to pewster, this is a summary of what I would have said without describing all the human uses of fire:

With all the preaching about fire, couldn’t he have mentioned that May 20 — the morrow — was Pentecost Sunday?

I would have done a sermon on the divine gifts from the Holy Spirit that can enrich a Christian marriage.

It’s not that difficult and would not have gone off track.

Then again, sadly, we are dealing with today’s Episcopal Church.

Curry’s sermon exemplifies the weak theology we so often see not only in the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion but also in other established churches, including the Catholic Church. We are infested with unbiblical messages, especially many that, like Curry’s, ‘sound nice’.

The truth of the matter is that biblical Christianity offends. That said, its challenges can — and should be — presented in a winsome way, to encourage people to live in a Christlike manner.

It’s a shame that yet another cleric missed yet another opportunity — this one on a grand scale — to tell that truth.

Is it any wonder Anglican churches are closing in so many English-speaking countries?

I was of two minds as to whether to report on the royal wedding which took place on Saturday, May 19, 2018.

I turned off the television after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — Harry and Meghan — took their preliminary vows.

A wedding not a blessing

I wondered why they were given a full wedding ceremony rather than a church blessing, since Meghan Markle had been married previously.

However, Sky News reported that the Church of England changed the rules well over a decade ago (emphases mine below):

The Church of England agreed in 2002 that divorced people could remarry in church, with the discretion of the priest.

The duchess, a former actress:

married American film producer Trevor Engelson in 2011. They filed for divorce in 2013, citing “irreconcilable differences”.

The Most Reverend and Honourable Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated at the service.

The Dean of Windsor, The Rt Revd David Conner, conducted the service and the initial vows (‘I will’), although rings were exchanged later in the service with the Archbishop of Canterbury officiating.

It was somewhat off-putting to hear the Dean’s words at the beginning, which included ‘the joy of sexual union’.

If people are getting married only to salve their consciences in that department, they’re headed down the wrong route.

There are two reasons for this.

The first is that a marriage should be a partnership of equals — the best friendship a man and a woman can ever share with God’s blessing.

The second is that no one knows what the morrow will bring. I do know of young couples who were deprived of ‘the joy of sexual union’ early in their marriages because of sudden debilitating illness or accidents.

Friendship comes first in a marriage. The Dean would have been better placed to use the old American adage:

Kissin’ don’t last, cookin’ do.

Prince Charles took the wise decision to walk his future daughter-in-law part way down the aisle:

The Duke’s aunt, Princess Diana’s sister, gave the one reading of the ceremony:

Here is Justin Welby formally joining the couple in matrimony. These video clips are excellent. No one does weddings like the Church of England (I’m so pleased to be a part of it):

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States gave an address. BT.com reported:

The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, the first black presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, gained worldwide attention with his address at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding on Saturday during which he evoked Martin Luther King and spoke of poverty and injustice.

Mr Curry, along with the gospel choir, brought a flavour of the American bride’s homeland with the speech at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

At the end of the ceremony, the happy couple left St George’s Chapel, Windsor:

Back story: Meghan’s Baptism and Confirmation

The Duchess of Sussex was baptised and confirmed privately prior to the wedding.

Sky News reported:

Prince Harry and Ms Markle announced their engagement in November. A day later Kensington Palace confirmed that Meghan, who identifies as Protestant, would be baptised and confirmed ahead of her wedding day.

Heavy had more:

According to Access, Markle has already been accepted into the Anglican faith, and Welby baptized her in a secret ceremony in March 2018.

The cake and reception

The Queen hosted the first reception:

Sir Elton John, who had sung at Princess Diana’s funeral, performed:

Thankfully, the cake was not the usual heavy fruitcake:

A filling made from Amalfi lemon curd and elderflower buttercream ties all the elements together. The cake is decorated with Swiss meringue buttercream and 150 fresh flowers, mainly British, and in season, including peonies and roses.

Then it was time for the second wedding reception:

Official wedding prayer

This is the couple’s wedding prayer from the Church of England:

But Heavy pointed out:

This stands in contrast to the previous royal wedding, between then-Prince William and Kate Middleton, who wrote their own prayer for the ceremony, as the Telegraph reported.

God our Father, we thank
you for our families; for
the love that we share and
for the joy of our marriage.
In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on
what is real and important
in life and help us to be generous with our time
and love and energy.
Strengthened by our union, help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I have prayed for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and hope that they grow together in the peace and love of Jesus Christ.

The Archbishop of Canterbury — The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby — has a short sermon on the life of Christ and the importance of His sending the Holy Spirit to the disciples on the first Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit not only increased the growth of the Church from a mustard seed to a mustard tree (my words, not Welby’s), He also changed the world. Welby says that during the first few centuries, only Christians took time to help the poor:

I’m hardly the greatest fan of Justin Welby, but this sermonette, which runs just over three minutes, is well worth reading (subtitles) or listening to.

If you’ve been following my Forbidden Bible Verses series on the Book of Acts, you’ll feel the excitement that Welby describes — all thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit.

You can read more about Justin Welby at Heavy. Note the first point in the article, which must have come as a shock.

This year, I have been running a series of posts on Percy Dearmer‘s 1912 volume, Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book, published by Mowbray.

These are the previous posts in the series:

Percy Dearmer on the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles of Religion

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer – part 1

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer – part 2

Percy Dearmer on the earliest church service manuscripts

Percy Dearmer’s interpretation of St Paul on prophecy and tongues

Percy Dearmer on elements of worship in the New Testament

Percy Dearmer: how several prayer books became one liturgical book

Percy Dearmer on Reformation, royalty and the Book of Common Prayer

Percy Dearmer: first Anglican Prayer Book ‘too fair-minded’ for a violent era

Percy Dearmer on the effect of Edward VI’s reign on the Church of England

Percy Dearmer on the Second Prayer Book’s Calvinistic bent

Percy Dearmer on the Third Prayer Book and Elizabeth I

Percy Dearmer blamed Calvinists for sucking the life-blood out of Anglicanism

Percy Dearmer on the Fourth Prayer Book and the King James Version of the Bible

Percy Dearmer on historical background to the Fifth Prayer Book, 1662

In that last post about the tumultuous events leading to the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Percy Dearmer emphasised the joy that Anglicans felt on being able to use their once-forbidden Prayer Book again. In fact, demand was so great that it was reprinted five times that year.

Consensus was that a new Prayer Book was needed. The one in use dated from 1604.

Atmosphere during the Restoration

Even after the Restoration, memories of Charles I’s beheading and the oppressive Puritan Interregnum were still fresh in the minds of the English people.

The new Parliament passed laws ensuring that Puritans and other non-Conformists — called Dissenters during that new era — and Catholics were prohibited from holding public office and more.

In Chapter 10, Dearmer explains (emphases mine):

their worship forbidden by the Conventicle Act of 1664 under a final penalty of transportation, their extremer ministers refused permission to come within five miles of a town by the Five Mile Act of 1665, and their conscientious members debarred, in common with Papists, from all civil, military and naval office by the Test Act of 1673.

This was because many new Parliamentarians had returned:

to their native villages at the Restoration, to find the church smashed, the trees felled, and the home of their ancestors destroyed.

Although Dearmer, who wrote in 1912, was appalled by these draconian laws, he did acknowledge that:

The Puritan ministers also, who were ejected, were, after all, themselves intruders; for there had been a worse ejectment of Anglicans before. Above all this, there loomed in men’s minds the indelible memory of the martyrdom of King Charles.

Continued Puritan interference

The Puritans were not going to give up easily, however.

Before Charles II set sail for England in May 1660 — he had been in exile in the Spanish Netherlands — a delegation of Presbyterian divines (learned and pious theologians) went to meet with him at The Hague:

and asked that, as the Prayer Book had long been discontinued, the King should not use it when he landed. They also asked that his chaplains should give up using the surplice.

The new king replied:

with his usual keenness of wit, that he would not be restrained himself when others had so much indulgence.

Once Charles II was in England, the Puritans continued putting pressure on him and Anglican bishops, asking:

that the Prayer Book might be made like the liturgies of the Reformed Churches.

The nine surviving Anglican bishops replied that maintaining the status quo — holding on to existing elements of ancient Greek and Latin Liturgy — would give the Catholics less cause for complaint. (The Puritans had moved far away from ancient liturgy, parts of which were in the Anglican Prayer Book.)

In October 1660, King Charles declared that a conference would take place the following year to discuss a new Prayer Book.

The Savoy Conference

The Savoy Conference convened on April 15, 1661. It lasted over two months.

It was so called because the Bishop of London, Gilbert Sheldon, lived at the Savoy Hospital and held the conference in his lodgings there. (Today, the Savoy Hotel and Savoy Theatre stand on the site.)

In attendance were 12 Anglican bishops and 12 Presbyterian divines. Each side also had nine assistants, called coadjutors.

The Puritans expressed their usual complaints about the use of the word ‘priest’, the frequent participation of the congregation in prayers, kneeling for Communion, the use of wedding bands in the marriage ceremony, commemorating saints’ feast days, the Catholic nature of vestments and even the use of the word ‘Sunday’.

The Anglicans were not having any of it:

The Bishops replied to such criticisms as these by referring to Catholic usage, and to a Custom of the Churches of God, agreeable to the Scripture and ancient, and to the Catholic Consent of antiquity.

Dearmer gives us summary statements from both sides.

The Puritans said:

To load our public forms with the private fancies upon which we differ, is the most sovereign way to perpetuate schism to the world’s end. Prayer, confession, thanksgiving, reading of the Scriptures, and administration of the Sacraments in the plainest, and simplest manner, were matter enough to furnish out a sufficient Liturgy, though nothing either of private opinion, or of church pomp, of garments, or prescribed gestures, of imagery, of musick, of matter concerning the dead, of many superfluities which creep into the Church under the name of order and decency, did interpose itself. To charge Churches and Liturgies with things unnecessary, was the first beginning of all superstition.

If the special guides and fathers of the Church would be a little sparing of encumbering churches with superfluities, or not over-rigid, either in reviving obsolete customs, or imposing new, there would be far less cause of schism, or superstition.

The Anglicans said:

It was the wisdom of our Reformers to draw up such a Liturgy as neither Romanist nor Protestant could justly except against. For preserving of the Churches’ peace we know no better nor more efficacious way than our set Liturgy; there being no such way to keep us from schism, as to speak all the same thing, according to the Apostle. This experience of former and latter times hath taught us; when the Liturgy was duly observed we lived in peace; since that was laid aside there bath been as many modes and fashions of public worship as fancies.

If we do not observe that golden rule of the venerable Council of Nice, ‘Let ancient customs prevail,’ till reason plainly requires the contrary, we shall give offence to sober Christians by a causeless departure from Catholic usage, and a greater advantage to enemies of our Church, than our brethren, I hope, would willingly grant.

The Anglicans won.

The one thing both sides did agree on was including Scripture readings from the Authorised — King James — Version of the Bible.

The Savoy Conference ended on July 24, 1661.

Fifth Prayer Book, 1662

On November 20, 1661, a committee of Anglican bishops was appointed to revise the Prayer Book.

They completed their work on December 20. The Convocations of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury approved the Fifth Prayer Book.

On February 25, 1662, the new Prayer Book was annexed to the Bill of Uniformity.

After passing both Houses of Parliament, the Bill of Uniformity received royal assent on May 19.

The legislation then became the Act of Uniformity, and the Fifth Prayer Book — the Book of Common Prayer — was made mandatory for public worship in the Church of England. And so it remained until 1984.

Dearmer concludes:

It is sometimes said as a jibe against the Prayer Book that it is part of an Act of Parliament.

Yet:

our present Prayer Book was not one whit less the work of the Church, whose rights and liberties were most carefully safeguarded at every stage. The troublous century which we call the Reformation Period began with tyranny and oppression, but it ended with the establishment of constitutionalism in 1662; and the royalist Parliament which enforced the settlement, did at least represent the people.

The next entry will concern the 1662 Book of Common Prayer itself.

This year, I have been running a series of posts on Percy Dearmer‘s 1912 volume, Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book, published by Mowbray.

These are the previous posts in the series:

Percy Dearmer on the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles of Religion

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer – part 1

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer – part 2

Percy Dearmer on the earliest church service manuscripts

Percy Dearmer’s interpretation of St Paul on prophecy and tongues

Percy Dearmer on elements of worship in the New Testament

Percy Dearmer: how several prayer books became one liturgical book

Percy Dearmer on Reformation, royalty and the Book of Common Prayer

Percy Dearmer: first Anglican Prayer Book ‘too fair-minded’ for a violent era

Percy Dearmer on the effect of Edward VI’s reign on the Church of England

Percy Dearmer on the Second Prayer Book’s Calvinistic bent

Percy Dearmer on the Third Prayer Book and Elizabeth I

Percy Dearmer blamed Calvinists for sucking the life-blood out of Anglicanism

Last week’s post about Calvinists is recommended reading for today’s entry.

The theological conflict between Calvinists and traditional Anglicans continued long after Elizabeth I’s reign.

Elizabeth I was not a Calvinist, nor was her successor, James I (James VI of Scotland). However, a Calvinist — Puritan — faction was strong and still wanted to leave its stamp on the Church of England.

This conflict continued throughout most of the 17th century, as Dearmer explains in Chapter 9 of his book.

Fortunately, even during the tumultuous atmosphere of the early 1600s, lasting good was to emerge in England via the Authorised — King James — Version of the Bible.

Percy Dearmer researched the history of that era and found documentation by a prominent German historian, Dr Dollinger, regarding this new edition of the Bible (emphases mine below):

I believe we may credit one great superiority in England over other countries to the circumstance that there the Holy Scripture is found in every house, as is the case nowhere else in the world. It is, so to speak, the good genius of the place, the protecting spirit of the domestic hearth and family.

Would that this were the case today. Believers would do well to pray that this becomes so once more. I have never seen such a group of atheists as I have in England — and Great Britain as a whole.

Dearmer, while condemning Edward VI’s advisors and the subsequent Puritans, asks us to be philosophical about good coming from bad:

Those who come after — some time after — are able to separate the good from the evil, and to possess all that is worthy, not from one side only, but from both. Thus the world does slowly grow in wisdom, learning to eschew what is evil and to hold fast what is good … that freedom to-day which is the main hope of Christendom — the freedom to go back behind the traditions of men to the plain words and pure example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Before I get to the Authorised Version — the KJV — there were other ecclesiastically historical events which preceded it.

The Hampton Court Conference, 1604

In January 1604, when James I succeeded Elizabeth I, the Puritans pressed for what they called a Millenary Petition. The objective was for more reform in the national Church.

The King, who was no Puritan but who — according to Dearmer — loved a good argument, responded with the Hampton Court Conference.

The Puritans, predictably, laid out their objections to the Third Prayer Book of Elizabeth’s reign. As notionally ‘Romish’ elements of the First Prayer Book had been restored, they wanted to see these eliminated once and for all.

The Puritans’ objections were much the same as before: vestments and the Sign of the Cross made during Baptism.

They had others:

the wedding ring, the word “priest,” bowing at the name of Jesus; the Puritans also disliked the Thirty-nine Articles as not sanctioning Calvinism; they desired that Baptism should never be ministered by women, that Confirmation should be taken away, and also the Churching of Women, that “examination” should go before Communion, that “the longsomeness of service” should be “abridged” and “Church songs and music moderated,” that the Lord’s Day should not be “profaned” (by the playing of games), that an uniformity of doctrine should be prescribed, and a few other things.

The wedding ring is interesting. I used to run across committed Christian men in the United States who refused to wear one. They never explained exactly why, but, presumably, this objection to wedding bands as being unbiblical must have persisted through the centuries.

As for the Thirty-nine Articles espousing Calvinism, that was never going to happen as the previous posts in this series explain. The Church of England was always intended to be a middle way. It had — and has — its own identity.

Unfortunately, that sound set of Thirty-nine Articles was discarded as being of historical interest only at the end of the 20th century not only in England but elsewhere in the West, including — perhaps, especially — in the Episcopal Church in the United States. It is no surprise, therefore, to find clergy becoming agnostic or atheist and turning to New Age rituals. Biblical preaching and practice is largely gone. But I digress.

Dearmer explains that dictating to the letter what churchgoers should believe in what was a somewhat pluralistic church community would have been a dangerous move. So was dictating what people could do on Sundays. That came during Cromwell’s Interregnum, but that is the subject of another entry.

Dearmer also points out that the Puritans’ desire for fewer hymns resulted in an equally ‘longsomeness of service’ as clergy preached ever-longer sermons and introduced lengthy extemporaneous prayers.

King James wrote his impressions of the Hampton Court Conference afterwards, documenting his delight at verbally opposing the Puritans:

We have kept such a revel with the Puritans here these two days as was never heard the likeI have peppered them as soundly . . . They fled me so from argument to argument without ever answering me directly

Today’s Puritan sympathisers do the same thing. Answer comes none.

The Fourth Prayer Book, 1604

The Puritans were determined, as are their present-day Anglican equivalents, most of whom reside in the United States.

They wanted a new prayer book and they got one.

It was not a total win for the Puritans, but they won certain battles over verbiage and ceremony (see sections in bold):

– A new section was added to the Catechism which explains the Sacraments. Dearmer credits this to a prominent theologian of the day, Dr Overall.

– A prayer for the Royal Family was added to the end of the litany.

– Prayers of thanksgiving for weather (e.g. needed rain) and health (e.g. against the Plague) were added.

– A ‘lawful Minister’ — not ‘priest’ — had to administer Baptism, although this did not exclude a layperson doing so in an emergency.

– A subtitle to the rite of Confirmation — ‘the laying on of hands’ — was duly added.

– A subtitle to the Absolution — ‘the remission of sins’ — was added.

Existing lessons (readings) from the Apocrypha, still in use in Roman Catholic liturgy, were omitted:

the quaint history of Bel and the Dragon, and the much-loved romance of Tobit were given up.

The Canons of 1604

The King had approved the Canons of 1604 which prescribed elements of worship in England, including use of the Prayer Book.

Some of these please neither ‘Romanists’ nor Puritans as they specified a middle way. They reinstituted the reverence for the name of Jesus — probably by the bowing of the head each time His name was mentioned — and enforced a minimum of altar linen and clerical vestments in worship.

The Authorised Version of the Bible

The Fourth Prayer Book was eventually replaced by that of King Charles II in 1662.

The more lasting contribution of this era was the Authorised Version of the Bible, so called because King James granted his approval, hence ‘authorised’. Today, most of us call it the King James Version, the KJV.

I wrote about the KJV in 2011:

The King James Version celebrates its 400th anniversary this year

BBC shows on the King James Version

BBC’s Story of the King James Bible — The Commission

BBC’s Story of the King James Bible — The Translation

BBC’s Story of the King James Bible — The Legacy

The timeline of a Bible for the British Isles

Now on to Dearmer’s history of it. During the Hampton Court Conference of 1604, one of the Puritans, Dr Reynolds, proposed a new edition of the Bible.

At that time, the Geneva Bible of 1560 — inspired by John Calvin’s teachings in that city — was the pre-eminent version used in England by the people. It seems odd then, that a Puritan would want a revision of it and that the mainstream Anglicans present opposed the idea. The clergy used the Bishop’s Bible of 1568, which was never popular amongst churchgoers.

However, King James voiced his support. He never liked the Geneva Bible because its Calvinist footnotes, in his words, were:

very partial, untrue, seditious, and savouring too much of dangerous and traitorous conceits.

This is because the footnotes implied that only God, not governors, kings or princes, was the true authority. Whilst that is scripturally accurate, our governors are there to maintain godly order. However, the Geneva Bible does not mention this. Consequently, James thought that zealous people could take against the Crown, citing the Bible.

When the conference ended, James drew up a list of 54 divines, irreprochable and highly learned theologians. Interestingly, none were bishops, although some did become bishops later. Dearmer observes:

the Authorized Version, in fact, owes its excellence to the common sense of the King in choosing his men for their learning and capacity, and not for their official position. This may seem a very obvious piece of wisdom: but it is to be noted that it has been forgotten in our hitherto unsuccessful twentieth century attempts at Prayer Book revision.

I couldn’t agree more.

The King reduced the number of divines to 47. They were the ones who came up with the new Bible:

King James’s fifty-four divines were afterwards reduced to the “prodigiously learned and earnest persons, forty-seven in number,” who, Carlyle says, gave us our version of that Book of Books, “which possesses this property, inclusive of all, add we, That it is written under the eye of the Eternal; that it is of a sincerity like very Death, the truest utterance that ever came by alphabetic letters from the Soul of Man.”

The history of English versions of the Bible was accompanied by bloodshed and martyrdom, and this particular era would see the same in the English Civil War, which was to come.

However, as Dearmer rightly says, Scripture united the divines, some of whom were mainstream Anglicans and others Puritan:

Puritans and High Churchmen had the Scriptures in common, and did alike fervently believe in them: outside the rooms in Oxford, Cambridge, and Westminster, where the forty-seven divines met, religious folk were maligning each other in brilliant, bitter, and abusive pamphlets; but within those learned conferences all hostilities were silenced, all differences ignored: men like Overall and the saintly Andrewes, on the one side, joined with Reynolds and Abbott on the other; and the forty-seven worked in such singular harmony that it is impossible even to distinguish between the three companies which worked in three different places: the Authorized Version of the Bible reads like the work of one great man.

The Holy Spirit was truly working through them to write one great Bible which has withstood time. Dearmer explains that the genres of various books were preserved, some poetic and others, such as the Gospels, simplistic so as to be understood by the greatest number of people.

It is a theological and literary masterpiece — for everyone:

The divines — who might have wrought a literary gem for the bookshelves of the learned, after the manner of the age that produced Donne and Milton, Burton and Sir Thomas Browne — threw aside the pedantries and preciosities which were in fashion, and sat humbly at the feet of those predecessors who in peril of death had hewn out the words of life with such strength of simplicity; and they produced a book which has been at once the comfort of the peasant and the model and inspiration of our greatest writers.

Dearmer rightly adds that, although this was the era of literary masterpieces (e.g. Shakespeare), scholarly wisdom does not often equate with absorbing prose:

Now scholars are not generally masters of prose, and the combination of the critical and the constructive gift — of science and art — is almost unknown to-day, when learned translations and exact commentaries are common enough, but the majority of ancient books have still not been turned into English classics. The English Bible is an exception. We do not think of it as a translation at all: we think of it as the greatest of English classics, which, among other things, it is.

Many unbelievers in Britain have read it for its literary merit. I can only pray that the Holy Spirit works through them and ends their stubborn blindness to our Redeemer and only Advocate.

Dearmer says that, although King James appointed the divines in 1604, they did not begin work until 1607. It took them only four years to write this beautiful and enduring Bible, which first appeared in print in 1611.

Dearmer concludes:

And what is true of the English Bible is true also of the English Prayer Book. Scholars who won the consecration of martyrdom gave to it a like power of inspired translation, and endowed it with the magic of their prose. Thus it is that the one book worthy to be set side by side with the English Bible is that Book of Common Prayer, which has won a place in the heart of the Anglo-Saxon race second only to the Bible, and which day by day issues it forth in psalter and lectionary to the people.

I wish that were still the case. Fortunately, I am able to attend a 1662 Book of Common Prayer service once a month.

Next time we look at Dearmer’s history of that prayer book, written after the Restoration. With the end of the English Civil War and the Interregnum came the return of monarchy and a new king, Charles II, my favourite.

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