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Archive for February, 2012

No sooner had I published my most recent posting, on bishops, I saw that John Hick has died.  His obituaries show in detail how he too had to endure his developing views falling foul of church authorities, in his case the United Reform church.  Like Richard Holloway he drifted away from the categorical belief systems to find a mooring in gentler waters.

I met John Hick at a seminar in 1965 and have read several of his books and articles since, always with admiration. He it was who pointed out that all the great religions share at least one moral directive: Do unto others as you would want them to do to you.

“God” may be this or that, or not exist at all as we understand the word ‘exist’, but our obligation is clear, and it is other-directed.  God in us, for God in others.

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A favourite writer of mine is that turbulent priest Richard Holloway, ‘controversial’ former Bishop of Edinburgh, so I am glad to see that he has published his autobiography, recently sympathetically reviewed by Andrew Motion.  I look forward to reading it, partly in the hope that it will shed light on a phenomenon that I have wondered about for some time. (more…)

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Searching the web for a favourite quotation can sometimes be a struggle.   What you thought was a phrase that ‘everyone knows’ turns out to be difficult to locate; to be sure, it’s quoted everywhere but where is the original source?  Here’s a good example.

Everyone in the Anglican tradition knows this majestic benediction:

Go forth into the world in peace;
be of good courage;
hold fast that which is good;
render to no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted;
support the weak;
help the afflicted;
honour everyone;
love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;
and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,
be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen.

This is listed in quite a few places in Anglican worship but it’s difficult to identify who originally wrote these wonderful words.  So I’m happy to yield the floor to a Presbyterian minister in Williamsburg VA who traces its history at least:

“This particular catena, “Go out into the world in peace,” has a remarkable history. It first appeared when the Episcopalians were revising their 1892 The Book of Common Prayer. In their 1928 proposed The Book of Common Prayer this charge concluded the service for confirming baptized members into the church. The Episcopalians evidently didn’t care for it, so it did not appear in the final version in 1928, but when we Presbyterians were revising our 1902 The Book of Common Worship we picked it up and in 1946 The Book of Common Worship provided it as the conclusion to the
Confirmation service. Some Presbyterian pastors thought so much of those words that we began to use them at the conclusion of worship, and when the Presbyterian Church again revised The Book of Common Worship in 1993 this catena was as an alternative ending for worship.”

http://www.williamsburgpresbyterianchurch.org/Sermons2011/20Feb2011.pdf

And here I was thinking that Cranmer wrote it!  But it’s still a wonderful benediction.

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