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Bible oldThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

2 Corinthians 3:7-11

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

—————————————————————————————–

Last week’s entry discussed Paul’s comparison of Christ to a triumphal leader of a victory procession, where a fragrance of life or death, depending on whether one is a believer or an unbeliever, is present.

In today’s verses, Paul compares and contrasts the Old Covenant with the New Covenant. He did this because Judaizers were infiltrating the Corinthian congregation, insisting that Mosaic Law be followed as well as Christian teachings. An example of this theological error would be to stipulate that Gentile males be circumcised, otherwise they could not be true Christians.

John MacArthur explains (emphases mine):

There were those in Corinth doing that.  Coming along and demanding that the people who were already redeemed in Christ, in order to validate their redemption and to assure their redemption, needed to keep the ceremonial Law of Moses.  These gentiles needed to be circumcised They needed to make sure they followed through on washings and ceremonies and sacrifices and et cetera They were demanding a return to old-covenant symbols which were now obsolete since the reality had come Going back and exalting the symbols is pointless.  It not only rejects the reality of the gospel but perverts the purpose and meaning of the symbol.  It never w[as] intended to minister grace.  It never w[as] intended to minister spiritual life, but only to be pictures of that which could and would do that.

So in dealing with this in Corinth, Paul writes in this section a concern that people understand the difference between the new covenant and the oldOr better stated, that people will understand the transition from the old covenant to the new It isn’t that the old covenant and new covenant are opposites.  It isn’t that they are opposed to each other.  It is that one gives way to the nextThe old covenant, in and of itself, was not complete It could not save It could not grant righteousness It had to pass away and be replaced by the newThe old covenant, however, did serve a purpose, a very good purpose.  And that purpose was fulfilled historically, and when the time came for that purpose to fade, it faded, and the new covenant came in its place

Paul discusses Moses’s receiving the law from God, which made his face blindingly brilliant, like the sun, even though that brilliance faded (verse 7).

When Moses was alone on the mountain, he had asked to see God’s glory. God granted his request, hence Moses’s brilliance in front of the Israelites when he returned to them. Because they could not look at him without being blinded, he put a veil over his face. Even then, his brilliance began to fade. By the time he removed the veil, he was back to normal.

MacArthur explains:

in verse 7, the Law came with glory The glory of God was on the face of Moses when he delivered the Law.  What he’s saying is, the Law is glorious; it is reflective of God.  You see, the Apostle Paul had been accused by the Judaizers and the circumcision party of being against the Law, speaking against the Law, denigrating the Law, depreciating the Law, ignoring the Law, discounting the Law, or lowering the Law.  He never did that He realized that the Law, the old covenant, came in glory.  It came with glory …

End of verse 7, he says, “–the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face,” and then he throws this in, “fading as it was.”  The point is, the glory that was on Moses’ face was temporary After that encounter and that experience, it was gone; it faded.  In fact, it faded even as he was there, talking to the people.  And when he put the veil over his face, it would fade.

It was a “fading” glory

Paul calls the law of God ‘the ministry of death’ because no Jew was capable of obeying over 600 laws regulating every part of his or her life.

The law was there to convict God’s people of their sins. They were meant to take the law to heart and repent, which few did.

God had always intended for Jesus to redeem Jew and Gentile alike through His Son.

MacArthur tells us how redemption worked under the Old Covenant:

The old covenant could provide a basis of damnation, but not of salvation; a basis of condemnation, but not of justification; a basis of culpability, but not puritySomething had to be added.

You say, “Well, did the Jews know it was coming?  Were they ever told?”

Sure.  Jeremiah made it as clear – as crystal clear as it could be made Jeremiah 31:31, he says this, “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke,” not like that one, “this is the covenant I’ll make with the house of Israel after those days.  I’ll put my Law within them and on their heart I’ll write it, and I’ll be their God, and they’ll be my people, and I’ll forgive their iniquity, and their sin I’ll remember no more.”  They should have known that the old covenant wasn’t the last

The ministry of Old Testament prophets – and we don’t have time to get into this the ministry of Old Testament prophets was to call the people to repent Over and over and over again, right on down to John the Baptist Repent, repent, repent, repent, repent.  That was the whole point You’re brought against the Law.  The Law reveals your sinYou’re called to repent.

See, what happened was, most of the Jews knew they couldn’t keep the moral Law, so they figured out a way to get saved “Oh, we can’t keep the moral Law, but what we do, what we will keep, we’ll keep the ceremonial Law, and the ceremonial Law will save us.”  So, they imposed the ceremonial Law on top of the moral Law as the savior, and that’s what it means that they worshiped according to the letter of the Law And that was damning.

But let’s take a true Jew who really believed What would he do?  He’d come to God repentant, pleading for grace and pleading for mercy He saw the ceremonial Law as symbolic of God’s provision for him somewhere down the future He knew God would provide.  He knew God would be gracious, and God would be merciful, because that’s the kind of God he was.  And he cast himself on God’s mercy and God’s grace, and he would be redeemed, based upon what Christ would do in his behalf.

But for most Jews, the vast majority apart from that true remnant, they disobeyed the Law, offered no genuine repentance, exercised no saving faith in God, depended not on God’s grace but on their own works, keeping the external ceremonial religion, and that was really a killer And along came the prophets and constantly called them to repentance, and called them to repentance, and called them to repentance.  That’s always the message It boggles my mind how that people can say today that we don’t have to preach repentance It’s always been the message.

Paul asks that if the Old Covenant — the law of God — came in glory, how much greater then is the ministry of the Spirit, the New Covenant (verse 8).

MacArthur says:

The term “ministry of the Spirit” is Paul’s descriptive term for the new covenant He calls the new covenant the “ministry of the Spirit.”  The Law, written on stone, was a killer, but written on the heart by the Holy Spirit, is a life-giver and produces righteousness The Law, written on stone, condemns.  The Law, written on the heart by the Holy Spirit, saves.

Therefore, if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation — the Old Covenant — the ministry of righteousness of the New Covenant must far exceed it in glory (verse 9).

MacArthur tells us why that is true:

What does the new covenant bring?  Righteousness.  The new covenant changes God’s view of the sinner It changes his attitude.  He sees him clothed in the righteousness of Christ “Garmented with a robe of righteousness,” Isaiah calls it, covered with the righteousness of Christ, having the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, put to his account.

Paul goes further by saying that the glorious Old Covenant no longer has glory because the glory of the New Covenant has surpassed — eclipsed — it (verse 10).

Matthew Henry elaborates:

The law was the ministration of condemnation, for that condemned and cursed every one who continued not in all things written therein to do them; but the gospel is the ministration of righteousness: therein the righteousness of God by faith is revealed. This shows us that the just shall live by his faith. This reveals the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ, for obtaining the remission of sins and eternal life. The gospel therefore so much exceeds in glory that in a manner it eclipses the glory of the legal dispensation, 2 Corinthians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 3:10. As the shining of a burning lamp is lost, or not regarded, when the sun arises and goes forth in his strength; so there was no glory in the Old Testament, in comparison with that of the New.

In verse 11, Paul says that the New Covenant is permanent in all its glory. Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross has reconciled us to God.

Henry says:

Not only did the glory of Moses’s face go away, but the glory of Moses’s law is done away also; yea, the law of Moses itself is now abolished. That dispensation was only to continue for a time, and then to vanish away; whereas the gospel shall remain to the end of the world, and is always fresh and flourishing and remains glorious.

As for those who do not know God, an Anglican priest, the Revd Peter Mullen, wrote an inspired article for Conservative Woman, ‘God leaves His calling cards’, which concludes with this encouraging, simple instruction and prayer:

You seek God’s comfort and the certainty of this presence? Just ask him for it.

O God, take away all my faithlessness and fear, and give me imagination that I may know certainly that thou art ever near. Make me bold to look for thee, that I might ever find thee.

What a marvellous message on which to end.

May everyone reading this have a blessed week ahead.

Next time — 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Sadly, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died on Friday, April 9, 2021, exactly two months short of his 100th birthday:

The Queen has lost her best friend. My deepest sympathies to her for the unimaginable loss of her long-time husband and daily confidant. My condolences also go to the Royal Family in their grief.

Young love

The couple first met in 1934, and began corresponding when the Prince was 18 and a cadet in the Royal Navy. Princess Elizabeth was 13 at the time.

She was smitten with him from the start.

Prince Philip served with distinction during the Second World War in the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets.

After the war ended, he could have had a stellar career in the Royal Navy. His superiors praised his clear leadership skills.

However, love intervened and the rest was history.

Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, he renounced his foreign titles and took British citizenship before he and Princess Elizabeth were engaged. He took the surname of his maternal grandparents: Mountbatten.

He and Princess Elizabeth were engaged in July 1947. They married on November 20 that year. Shortly before the wedding, George VI gave him the titles of Duke of Edinburgh (created for him), Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.

Prince Philip remained in the Royal Navy until July 1951. He retired with the rank of Commander.

Royal succession — and surname

In January 1952, he and the Queen began a tour of the Commonwealth countries. They were in Kenya when news reached them that the Queen’s father, George VI, died on February 6 that year.

Although she became Queen immediately upon her father’s death, her coronation took place in 1953, as it had to be planned meticulously.

On Coronation Day, he knelt before her, clasped her hands and swore an oath of allegiance to her:

He also had to touch her crown and kiss her on the cheek.

He never had a constitutional role, nor was he ever formally given the title of Royal Consort. The courtiers did not like him, nor did they trust him. They believed his personality to be brash and unbecoming of the Royal household. They shut him out of as much decision making as possible.

When Elizabeth became Queen, the question about her family name arose. Prince Philip suggested that the Royal Family be known as the House of Edinburgh. Upon discovering that suggestion, Queen Mary, Elizabeth’s grandmother, wrote to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who advised the young monarch to issue a royal proclamation saying that the Royal Family would continue to be known as the House of Windsor.

In his inimitable style, Prince Philip complained privately:

I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children. [57]

The Queen did nothing until eight years later, in 1960, 11 days before she gave birth to Prince Andrew. She issued an Order in Council declaring that the surname of her and her husband’s male-line descendants who are not styled as Royal Highness or titled as prince or princess would be Mountbatten-Windsor.

Pater familias

Prince Philip had to carve a role out for himself. He became the pater familias and, through the years, his role expanded to cover not only his four children but his grandchildren. He listened to their concerns, shared their joys and gave them advice. He knew everything that went on in their lives.

Although the public knew him for speaking as he saw — rather bluntly, on occasion — behind closed doors Prince Philip was known to be a warm, loving man.

He also favoured a more transparent Royal Family. According to the BBC, it was he who encouraged the Queen to make a multi-episode documentary on their daily lives, including those of their four children. It was broadcast in the late 1960s. I remember seeing it in the United States.

When Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, Prince Philip was the one who kept an eye on the public mood that fateful week. He, the Queen and Princes William and Harry were at Balmoral in Scotland for their summer holiday. When the young princes wanted to attend church, their grandparents took them to the Sunday service on the day of their mother’s death. Later in the week, it was Prince Philip who encouraged the boys to walk behind the funeral procession the following Saturday. He said:

If you don’t walk, I think you’ll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me? [93]

One cannot imagine what he thought of Prince Harry’s departure for the United States to live a life separate from his closely knit family. I did read that the Royal Family shielded information about the Oprah interview from him.

John F Kennedy’s funeral

Prince Philip was in Washington for John F Kennedy’s funeral in 1963.

He had a friendly encounter with John Jr, who was still a toddler and known as John-John at the time. The child wondered where his father was, as he had no one with whom to play. The Prince stepped in to fill that gap. In 1965, the British government gave an acre of land at Runnymede to the United States for use as a memorial to JFK:

Funeral arrangements

Prince Philip was self-effacing and did not like a fuss to be made over him.

Therefore, the funeral arrangements will respect his wishes, which is rather convenient, as coronavirus restrictions are still in place. Up to 30 people will be allowed at his funeral, in line with legislation across the nation:

The funeral is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 17:

It is interesting that Prince Harry will be able to attend when we have a 10-day quarantine in place for arrivals into the UK under coronavirus regulations.

The Sunday Mirror reported on Prince Harry’s return to the UK:

He could also be released from quarantine if he gets a negative private test on day five, under the Test to Release scheme.

Given his status as a member of the Royal Family travelling to support the Queen, Harry might be considered exempt from travel restrictions.

Wow. It’s nice to know we have a two-tiered quarantine system in place /sarc.

A championship boxer remembers the Prince

Former WBC Heavyweight Champion Frank Bruno MBE posted his memories of meeting Prince Philip. He is at the top left in the following photo:

An Anglican priest remembers the Prince

The Revd Peter Mullen, an Anglican priest, recalled his encounters with Prince Philip for Conservative Woman on April 10 in ‘A personal recollection’.

He first met the Prince during his schooldays:

The first time I met the Prince was in connection with his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme which gave a leg up to youngsters from what would now be called the less privileged parts of the country. He paid a visit to the Leeds branch of the Church Lads’ Brigade of which, aged fourteen, I was a member. We were in the church hall making things. My task was to make a table lamp. I was hopeless at it.

The Duke got hold of my half-finished creation, held it up to one eye and said, ‘I suppose this hole is where the flex goes?’

‘I think so, Sir.’

‘You think so? I was never any good at this sort of thing either!’

And he was off . . . 

As an adult, Mullen met him on more than one occasion thanks to the Honourable Company of Air Pilots. The Prince was its Grand Master. Mullen served as chaplain.

He recalls:

The Company gave a lunch for him to mark his 80th birthday and I recall how jovial he was, making light of his years: ‘I believe I have lasted so long because you people are always toasting my good health, but I don’t want to live to be a hundred. Things are dropping off already!’

At another luncheon one of our Liverymen who had his own port wine business presented the prince with Bottle Number One, the first fruits, so to speak. As he left, the duke handed the bottle to me: ‘You have this, Peter. Our house floats on the bloody stuff.’

‘Well, Sir, now I don’t know whether to drink it or frame it.’

‘Gerrit down ya neck!’

Prince Philip on MPs

Guido Fawkes came up with a good quote from one of the Prince’s trips to Ghana. It concerns MPs. His Ghanaian hosts told him the country had 200 MPs. Prince Philip replied:

That’s about the right number. We have 650 and most of them are a complete bloody waste of time.

Incidentally, Parliament will be recalled one day early from Easter recess. On Monday, April 12, MPs and Lords paid tribute to the Prince in their respective Houses:

That afternoon, the House of Commons reconvened to pay their tribute — from 2:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. (good grief).

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle spoke first:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had this to say:

Boris Johnson, who was invited to the funeral but declined so that another member of the Royal Family can attend, said that he would forego a pint when pub gardens reopen on April 12, out of respect for the Prince. Guido Fawkes, however, thinks that the Duke of Edinburgh would have wanted us to toast his memory, especially at a pub that bears his title in Brixton, south London:

Guido had a second tweet on the subject with another quote from the Prince:

Agreed.

Prince Philip on Australia

This is too funny. For those who are unaware, Australia was established as a place where Britain could send convicts. That was a long time ago, but the nation’s original purpose was to serve as a prison:

https://image.vuukle.com/afdabdfb-de55-452b-b000-43e4d45f1094-dd97fb07-388d-4ddb-91b8-ccf8a88d5905

Prince Philip on civil liberties

On a serious note, the 12-minute interview below from 1984 is well worth watching, especially in the coronavirus era.

Prince Philip firmly supported the rights of the individual and believed that the state should serve the individual, not, as in our times, the other way around.

This is from a Thames Television programme originally broadcast on ITV:

I have posted the video below in case the tweets are deleted:

The Prince also said that certain subjects are out of bounds, such as the media and the NHS.

He said that the media are incapable of taking a joke about themselves and, as for the NHS, well, one cannot say anything against it. He didn’t necessarily dislike the NHS but thought it was held in too high a regard. Nothing is perfect in this world.

We have been travelling a long road towards the point where we are at present: ruled by the media (they clamoured for coronavirus restrictions) and worship of the NHS. This is how Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and SAGE have been able to rule our lives. It’s been at least 40 years in the making.

BBC coverage on Friday

I was watching BBC Parliament early Friday afternoon, around 1:15, when the programme was interrupted by a broadcast from the BBC News Channel.

I checked the schedule an hour later, which said that the programme would last until 4 p.m. It was still going when I was preparing dinner at 5 p.m.

The final of MasterChef was to have been broadcast that night on BBC1. This was a clip from Thursday’s programme:

Pictured are the hosts and judges, chef/restaurateur John Torode on the left and former greengrocer, now television presenter, Gregg Wallace on the right:

BUT:

The BBC News channel was simulcast all afternoon and all night long, not only on BBC Parliament but also on BBC1, to the dismay of MasterChef fans (myself included), and BBC2. BBC4 was suspended for the evening.

I read on social media that the BBC also broadcast continuous coverage of Prince Philip on their radio stations, including Radio 2, knocking out Steve Wright’s drive-time show on Friday afternoon.

A friend of mine said that most of the BBC’s employees were probably rubbing their hands with glee because it meant an early weekend for them. It’s a cynical perspective that could well turn out to be true. We’ll find out when someone writes his or her memoirs.

Everyone with a television set receives the BBC News channel. It comes into our homes at no extra charge. There was no need for the BBC to take over every channel for hours on end. By the way, if one had watched two hours of the Prince Philip coverage, as I did, one would have seen and heard everything in its entirety.

The BBC braced themselves for a plethora of complaints; they took the relevant page down on Sunday. Good. I am sure Prince Philip would have objected, too.

As much as I love the Queen, I hope they do not try this when her day comes. God willing, may it be long into the future.

Record-beating prince

Prince Philip established two records as consort to the Queen. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history. He was also the longest-lived male member of the British royal family.

May he rest in eternal peace with his Maker.

May our gracious Lord grant the Queen, Defender of the Faith, His infinite peace and comfort in the months ahead. May He also bless the Royal Family during this difficult time.

Readers of the Revd Peter Mullen’s columns in the Mail and Telegraph will be delighted to discover that the Anglican priest has plans to make a film about Jesus Christ with a British production company.

The Telegraph reports:

the 71-year-old former Rector of St Michael, Cornhill and St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in the City of London is hoping to break into the film industry. The eurosceptic has joined forces with new British film company, Faith Based Movies, to look for backers to turn a screenplay he has written into a motion picture.

The project, which will detail the life of Jesus, is billed in the company’s Enterprise Investment Scheme as being likely to follow in the success of Mel Gibson’s Jesus biopic. “We believe Jesus will be the most successful exposition of the life of Jesus Christ since the Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ.”

Mullen said:

“This is not a schmaltzy version of The Life of Christ,” the brochure reads. “This is the story of Jesus Christ as a strong, man’s man, not the meek sometimes-portrayed effeminate figure found in Sunday school teaching.”

It will be interesting to gauge the effect the film has, especially on men. It could be a few years before it appears in cinemas or church halls.

It’s great to read that a British company is studying the project. I wish them well.

After the NPP series, here’s lighter fare.

My thanks to Llew of Lleweton’s Blog for calling my attention to another cracking post by the Revd Peter Mullen, a priest of the Church of England and former Rector of St Michael, Cornhill and St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in the City of London. He has written for many publications including the Wall Street Journal and has a regular column in the Telegraph.

In ‘A Fete worse than death’, Dr Mullen describes English village life, prompted by a Telegraph news story about a parish councillor who was suspended for threatening a man who criticised his wife’s handling of a tombola draw.

First, an excerpt from the news story:

The unsightly spat occurred at a parish meeting in the picture-postcard village of Long Melford, with its listed Tudor mansions and quiet country pubs, near Sudbury, Suffolk, in July last year.

Members of Long Melford Parish Council, first formed 118 years ago in 1894, gathered to discuss the upcoming annual street fair.

Cllr Michette’s wife, Carole, had been tasked with helping organise the event for the fourth year running.

But when Mr Roper used his address to take exception to an error over raffle and tombola prizes, Mr Michette, who has sat on the local authority for 30 years and runs Long Melford opticians alongside his wife, flew into a rage.

His conduct was so shocking that another member of the public at the meeting, Christopher Buckley, later complained to Babergh District Council. The incident was then referred to Babergh and Mid Suffolk Joint Standards Committee and a hearing was held in February following an investigation.

Earlier this year the sub-committee concluded that Mr Michette had failed to treat Mr Roper with respect and had brought the office of councillor and the parish council into disrepute.

Mullen has a few reminiscences to share from his time as a country parson in Yorkshire:

I love the story of the near punch-up at the parish meeting in the holy and venerable village of Long Melford. “Shut your mouth!” and “One more word from you and I will thump you now!” And all over a villager’s criticism of another villager’s handling of the tombola draw. Forget the turmoil in the Middle East – the real aggro goes on in the English countryside …

I ought to have gleaned some hint of what I was in for when I went for the appointment and my interview by the Parochial Church Council in the big house next to the common. I imagined I would be asked whether I was High Church or Low, did I prefer the old Prayer Book to the new Noddy version, or even did I believe in the Apostles’ Creed and subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles. Not a bit of it. They talked for an hour about money and how much those “swine” in the diocesan office were swindling the parish out of every year.

Then there was a long silence before a lady with a big hat and an eminent moustache said, “I have a question for you, Vicar: do you think whist drives are sinful?”

… “only the reason I ask is that our last Vicar preached against whist drives. Said it was gambling. He turned up at one and started a rumpus during the prize-giving at the end.”

She appealed to the assembled PCC for support and addressed the chairman, “You remember, Fred, it was Connie Hardcastle who’d won the bottle of sherry. Our last Vicar was against booze as well. Anyhow, he kept blathering on until he’d right got Connie’s goat. She just flung the bottle of sherry at him. Missed. And it smashed against the wall. Glass everywhere. And you can still see the stain on the wall.”

I tell you, recent events in Long Melford were tame compared with some of the rural aggro I’ve witnessed first hand up i’Yorkshire …

He has a few more anecdotes if you need a smile and a chuckle today.

The past two posts have featured common sense from the Revd Dr Peter Mullen, an Anglican priest who is Rector of St Michael, Cornhill and St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in the City of London. He is Chaplain to six Livery Companies of the City of London and has written for many publications including the Wall Street Journal.

Every service at St Michael Cornhill uses the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer. Excellent!

Unfortunately, Dr Mullen is due to retire on his 70th birthday on January 11, 2012. It is to be hoped that he continues his Daily Mail and Telegraph columns, which Llew of Lleweton’s Blog — also highly recommended — recently brought to my attention.

This post shares Mullen’s thoughts on Occupy London, which has been making a scatalogical mess of St Paul’s Cathedral over the past several weeks. If you had told me a year ago this was going to happen, I would have thrown you out of the mousehole. Now it is a sad reality of the unchurched, lazy and greedy.

What follows are excerpts of what Mullen posted in the Mail on November 6, 2011 (emphases mine):

But what exactly are the protesters protesting about? Nothing I’ve heard makes me think that they are saying anything other than that some people are richer than others – and it’s not fair. “It’s not fair! – it is the cry of every child in the infants’ class. And so a competent teacher will agree and say, “Yes, life isn’t fair. It never was and it never will be. You’ve just got to work hard and get on with it.”

Work? The word is English as a foreign language to the gang outside St Paul’s who, so far as we can tell, are living on either daddy’s misplaced generosity or state benefits – or, of course, since the human heart is greedy beyond measure, both. They claim to be against capitalism. There is their big banner CAPITALISM IS CRISIS. Do they think we don’t know that? All political systems involve crisis. In fact in Marxism, the preferred philosophy – insofar as this lumpen band of professional narcissists are capable of philosophising – crisis is built into the system, based as it is on the dialectic which makes disagreement and class war not only necessary but desirable. Have they never read Das Kapital? …

The main alternative to capitalism remains socialism. And wherever socialism has been tried it has led at best to economic stagnation and widespread poverty. Of course it has generally progressed to incompetent rule by a privileged and corrupt elite, to the bureaucratisation of society – with all its attendant inefficiency and over-regulation – and usually to the gulag and mass murder as well. It is a pity that the protesters don’t read anything, otherwise they might learn the truth about the history of socialism, communism and the attempt at levelling since the French Revolution and through the monstrous genocides of Stalin and Mao who between them murdered 100 million of their own people in the name of socialism.

Let me give you a tip: whenever you hear the cry, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!” listen out keenly for the next sound, because it will be the sound of the tumbrels.

There is this crazy idea that communism/socialism is based on a sense of fairness and kindness of heart. This view is a particular superstition among clergymen. But socialism is not based on those desirable qualities. It is based on control and repression. Eliot warned us against “dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.” That is the fatuous fantasy of society’s sentimental socialists, especially in the church and in the media: that you can regulate to produce goodness.

There is some excuse for the media. Most journalists never attended their Confirmation classes. But there is no excuse for churchmen, for we have been taught the reality of Original Sin from our youth up. Original Sin is not some sort of supernatural perversity. It is simply the way it is with us.

Capitalism is simply the least worst way of going on available to us. It works with rather than against the grain of human nature. Entrepreneurship is good for you! Make a decent mousetrap in order to enrich yourself by its sales and you will rid a million households of vermin. Of course there are people who are richer than others. There always were.  And, as someone [Jesus] said, “The poor are always with you” [Matt. 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8] …

Many still mistakenly believe that eschewing capitalism and ‘harmful’ products (e.g. tobacco, transfats) can save their souls. It’s the Pelagian works-based belief in ‘holiness’, as if anything we could do could merit our own salvation.

Yet, there is another side to this which is those who refuse to do nothing to help themselves and quote New Testament verses ad infinitium in order to make an (erroneous) point in order to make hard-working people feel guilty.

May God help them and us as we attempt to navigate this destructive way between truth and error.

More Peter Mullen editorials to come in the New Year.

Tomorrow: St Paul’s Cathedral latest

Yesterday, I featured a post with perspectives from the Revd Dr Peter Mullen on the State’s persecution of Christians in Britain.

Dr Mullen currently serves as Rector of St Michael’s Cornhill and at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in the City of London. (At St Michael’s the Book of Common Prayer is used in every service.)  He also serves as Chaplain to six Livery Companies of the City of London and has written for several publications, including the Wall Street Journal. As such, I am very sorry to read that he will be retiring when he turns 70 on January 11, 2012. Dr Mullen’s pastoral leadership and guidance will be sorely missed by many.

Whether Mullen maintains his columns in the Daily Mail and Telegraph, I don’t know. However, I have enjoyed reading his columns, which were kindly brought to my attention only recently.

What follows is a speech that Mullen gave to UKIP — the UK Independence Party — in Chichester on March 24, 2010. A substantial part of it concerns Islam in the world, specifically throughout European history. If you are unfamiliar with this aspect of history, I would highly recommend that you read Mullen’s brief précis which covers what you will need to know going forward.

For the purposes of this post, his views on Europe and the European Union may be of interest (emphases mine):

My Lord, ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege and a delight for me to have the opportunity to address supporters of the only party with the character and will to rouse our country to face the existential dangers which threaten us. I must begin by saying that, although I am Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill, I am speaking for myself this evening and my words will in no respect present the views of the Church. The hierarchy will surely be rather relieved to hear this!

Before we can overcome the problems we must, of course, understand precisely what these problems are. Again, UKIP seems to me to be the only party with the wit to identify these great dangers and to explain their nature without woolliness or that cowardly evasiveness based on the deadly euphemisms of political correctness. Twelve years ago, when totalitarian regimes were falling in the east – falling faster even than today’s Conservative party in the opinion polls – the distinguished poet and administrator C.H.Sisson said to me, “It is a pity that, just when the tyrannical bureaucracies of Eastern Europe are collapsing, we are so keen to construct something very like them in the West”. He was talking, of course, about the burgeoning of authoritarian power in the EU.

At this point I must insert a disclaimer. I am not anti-European. So often our party is sneered at as being full of little Englanders, but I am sure most of us are not such backwoodsmen. I love the Europe of Montaigne, Pascal and Immanuel Kant, of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven; of Goethe, Schiller, Rembrandt; the Europe in which the great philosophical theologians Aquinas and Anselm felt at home in monasteries and universities that were truly international and fraternal. I am talking about European culture and civilisation which, for fifteen hundred years and more, has been one of the greatest achievements of human endeavour.

They try to sell us the EU as if it were this European heritage. It isn’t! The EU is the opposite of civilisation. The EU is the enemy of Europe. It represents Europe in its decadence and its death throes. Whenever a civilisation is in decline, it does what the EU is doing today. Instead of creativity and bold involvement with the world, it turns inwards upon itself and becomes obsessed with its own structures. It begins to despise its own history and tradition and so, instead of being confident in its historic culture, it becomes paranoid and nit-picking, setting up what are called ‘systems’ and ‘structures’ – in T.S.Eliot’s phrase …”dreaming of systems so perfect that no-one will need to be good”. We are dying because the elites which control us actually hate what we have achieved, all the good things we have fought for over the centuries.

But, of course, the systems it invents are not perfect. The labyrinthine, Kafkaesque nightmare of EU procedures is one monstrous lie. And upon this lie, all other lies are constructed like some modern version of the Tower of Babel. The lie that people of Europe have democracy, when actually we are all dominated by the diktats of a corrupt and self-serving elite. The lie that we shall have a say in governance of our continent, when actually all the plebiscites and referenda which go against the wishes of the lying elite are cancelled or re-jigged until they produce the required result. The lie that the business of the super-state is being conducted efficiently and honestly when, in reality, it is a continental bureaucracy run on a system of bribes, with proper accounts neither produced nor audited for decades. The lie propagated by the bureaucratic elite that European culture and values will be preserved – while what they are really up to is fixing immigration policy on a model which will create a Europe essentially Muslim within a generation …

Meanwhile, you can tell that Doomsday is just around the corner when the drowsy sophisticates at The Spectator use an editorial to speak of “western Christian nations”. And to urge, “We must defend our own traditions and our own religion”. There are only two possible comments on this: there are no western Christian nations – not in Europe anyhow – and consequently we have no Christian traditions. The reality is as follows:

Devout Muslims in Britain desire to promote their own moral and religious standards among us. We say, “It’s kind of you, but actually we have our own standards”.

And the Muslim asks, “What are they?”

And we reply: “Take a look for yourself. Practical atheism in our schools…where teachers are bound to teach that any god is as good as any other – or none. Anarchy in personal and sexual morality, as any coupling between any two (or more) pieces of flesh is celebrated. A brief, furtive exchange between (or among) strangers, without either commitment or affection, ascribed the same value as Christian marriage. The consequent near-abolition of marriage and family. What were once mortal sins are now only lifestyle choices.

Abortion used as a form of contraception and amounting to 200,000 every year. A mass media which sexualises young children. Casual fornication taught to junior school children as part of the “diversity” agenda. But what is the difference between “diversity” and perversity?” A debauched customer culture of mingled celebs, Big Brother – who would have thought Orwell so right and yet so wrong? – cocaine, heroin, a government that declares a “war on drugs” and the hands out knighthoods to drug-crazed rock stars. Clubbing, TV nuts’n’sluts shows wall-to-wall, and hyper-shopping.

All this uneasily hitched to a totalitarianism and bullying political correctness which everywhere seeks to curtail our natural freedoms – from foxhunting to smoking, from the sorts of games allowed in the playground to what’s written on packets of sweeties. And – have you noticed? – we have complete freedom of speech – only you’re not allowed to say anything. Yes, we say, Britain has standards all right …

The decadent godlessness we now inhabit is generally agreed to have begun with the permissiveness of the 1960s when we sang “All you need is love” and let it all hang out, debauching our institutions in the process. There is some truth in this and certainly the 1960s was the decade in which the Church of England effectually resigned – throwing out the real Bible and the real Prayer Book and replacing them with unspeakable modern parodies which obscured the fact of sin and so rendered all promises of redemption worthless.

Sin is not something mystical and so old fashioned you couldn’t believe it: it is just the old religious word for a constant human characteristic – that we have a capacity to foul things up, to act against our own best interests. If anyone doubts that the notion of progress is just plain stupid, let them look at Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Vietnam, Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia – take your pick from the repertoire of genocides. The mass media loves to derogate the middle ages and everything in the past as medieval, but there were many more slaughtered in the wars and genocides of the 20th century than in all the previous centuries put together.

In reality, we face not one enemy but two: militant Islam is the alien peril; valueless secularism is the decadence within.

I am not here to ram religion down your throat … but I will say this: what has befallen us is our being persuaded that we can ditch traditional English Christianity and the traditional English values which are part of it, and yet everything else – all the good things – will stay the same. They will not. Throw away our Judeao-Christian inheritance and the lot goes with it. Every intellectual standard of excellence. Every moral imperative. All etiquette, politeness, chivalry. Well, you only have to take a walk through the streets of our towns and cities to see that this has happened already …

Tomorrow: Peter Mullen on Occupy London

The next few posts are later than anticipated. My thanks to Llew of Lleweton’s Blog for sending me a link to the Revd Dr Peter Mullen’s Daily Mail article on persecution of Christians in Britain.

Before this, I had not realised that Dr Mullen had columns in the Mail as well as in the Telegraph. Mullen has been Rector of St Michael’s Cornhill and St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in the City of London, where he has served since 1998. He is Chaplain to six Livery Companies of the City of London and has written for many publications including the Wall Street Journal. He is a staunch champion of orthodox Anglicanism and uses the Book of Common Prayer in all services at St Michael’s Cornhill.

Although Mullen had a period of church discipline between 1989 and 1997, he has repented and has become a rare guiding, orthodox light in a Church of England that, sadly, appears to favour darkness of theology and spirit.

It is with great pleasure that I start the first of three posts with Llew’s hat tip on Mullen’s views on the persecution of Christians in Britain. I would encourage my readers in the United States to kindly take note of what this priest says, regardless of your denomination. It seems to me as if you are not far behind us.

Mullen’s editorial begins by citing horrifying incidents in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and China.

Then he looks at Great Britain (emphases mine) and the psychological violence against Christians:

In England a Muslim girl who converted to Christianity from Islam has been removed from the home of her carer after she chose to be baptised.  She was placed in a foster home because her father beat her and threatened to send her to Pakistan for a forced marriage.  Her carer, who has fostered more than eighty children, did nothing to encourage her to convert

In Sheffield, a primary school head teacher, described by her colleagues and pupils’ parents as marvellous, has resigned after being accused of racism by parents of Muslim students.  The accusation comes after she proposed that the school stop holding separate assemblies for Muslim children and replace them with assemblies which would include all pupils.

Also in England, three Coptic Christian children have been placed by social services with a Muslim foster family after their parents divorced. They were originally placed in the custody of the city mosque.  The authority has refused to return the children to the custody of the Coptic Church.

And so on. The nurse who offered prayer to a patient, as part of her ministry to body and soul, is sacked. The airline worker who wears a discreet Cross is sacked also. A child was reprimanded for discussing God at junior school. Public libraries have been instructed to place Bibles on the highest shelf – as if they were some sort of pornography likely to deprave and corrupt.

Despite the conclusion that many of us in Britain would draw in the blame game, Mullen states:

I have not come across many Muslims who object to Christmas decorations or the wearing of the Cross or the public exhibition of the Bible. The truth is more sinister. We are dominated by a secular elite which hates Islam every bit as much it hates Christianity. This elite of atheists and metro-political despisers is also a cowardly elite and dare not attack Islam for fear of getting its corporate throat slit.  But it finds it useful to invoke an allegedly outraged Islamic sensitivity in order to persecute the Christian faith.

This secular elite – the Dawkins, Pullmans, Toynbees, Graylings and the BBC entire, targets Christianity because it sees Christianity as the embodiment of those historic and traditional values which, until the contemporary reversal, made this country a place worth living in.

Too right. The social change that has occurred in the UK over the past two decades is startling.

Many of us wonder where the voices of the Church of England hierarchy, so eager to preach to us on ‘social justice’ and ‘fairness’, are on this issue. Surely, Christian persecution should rank higher than issues of perceived ‘equality’?  Mullen agrees:

Why is the Church of England’s hierarchy not out on the streets protesting about the persecution of Christians? Because, shocking as it sounds, many of its members are effectively non-believers who reject the traditional teachings of the church – the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord – and reinterpret them in secular categories as mere metaphors for social involvement. Their ideal image of Jesus Christ is that of a social worker and preacher of the multicultural society. What was it Muggeridge said of the “liberal” Christian view of Christ – that they regarded him as the Labour member for Galilee South…

The Bishops and Synod have sidelined The Book of Common Prayer and The King James Bible and introduced their mindless jogging for Jesus new liturgies and unreadable versions of Scripture. These people are virtually unbelieving in any sense that St Augustine would have understood. For them, Christian doctrine is a sort of long-running metaphor for the social policies of the soft left. And their eschatology amounts only to a slavish acceptance of the pagan fantasy of global warming. The Bishops and the Synod have also accommodated the church to the secular social agenda which gnaws away at the fabric of the family and public life like a moth fretting a garment.

He adds:

The plain fact is that Europe, and particularly our nation, was formed out of Christian values. The secular assumption nowadays is that you can remove Christianity and all the other good things will stay in place. They won’t. If Christianity goes, the lot goes with it. T.S. Eliot saw the way things were going more than sixty years ago when he wrote:

If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes. Then you must start painfully again, and you cannot put on a new culture ready-made. You must wait for the grass to grow to feed the sheep to give the wool out of which your new coat will be made. You must pass through many centuries of barbarism. We should not live to see the new culture, nor would our great-great-great grandchildren: and if we did, not one of us would be happy in it.

He warns us about the current culture of bread and circuses:

As in St Augustine’s day, the repression of freedom is accompanied by the tawdriest and lewdest entertainments and public spectacles. What a falling off there has been. We inhabit the electronic, techno-digital version of the bread and circuses of Augustine’s time. The celebration of low life in mass entertainments such as Big Brother. The debauched worship of celeb-trash. But a serious civilization and culture can overcome any amount of aggression from external enemies. It cannot, of course, survive its own suicide.

However, Mullen boldly sees a positive side:

Christianity in Britain today is under severe persecution. And it will get much worse. I do not resent this persecution. I welcome it. For it will weed out the pseudo-Christians, the wimpish bishops and the caved-in Synod. By persecution we discover who our true friends actually are. Persecution? Bring it on, I say. We will stand for what is good and right as Christian men knowing whose subjects we are. And if there should come the day when we are murdered by the unholy alliance between the Islamist terrorist and the secular commissar, then so be it. For the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

Mullen ends by quoting New Testament verses — Matthew 24:9:

They shall deliver you up to be afflicted and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated for my name’s sake

And Matthew 5:12:

rejoice and be exceeding glad, for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.

Mullen received five comments, two excerpts of which are below (edited slightly for spelling and grammar):

Ian Vallance: The barbarism will only happen if their are none in society organised enough to take advantage of the vacuum that occurs when a society collapses. (E.g. Islamic princes ruled a successful Egypt for 3 centuries before Islam and Arabic became the commonest religion and language in the region). OK, Islamic armies were the final cause of the Egyptian collapse but the rot had set in centuries before which was why it wasn’t hard for them

Michael Grinzaid: I know what atheist state is. I’m from Russia. In our country some people were trying to build an atheist state, the atheism was the only ideology in our country. If in Bolshevik Russia people were free to criticize faith (actually they destroyed state, but not the faith, it can’t be destroyed, because it HAS something objectively behind it, so no one can destroy it), in Soviet Russia everyone was just a slave, and did everything what state said or was in prison, or he could be killed (many people were killed just because Stalin was afraid they would capture the power). Many people were killed for their faith, churches were destroyed … In Soviet Russia, there w[as] no light. And now this state is gone …  But the moral collapse that was in Soviet Russia is still in heart of our people …

Tomorrow: Peter Mullen on the EU

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