Forget the Bishops: it’s all up to us
The Gospels don’t flinch from telling us that the first disciples were cowards, says Rev. Peter Mullen in his always readable Eternal Life column in the latest issue of the Salisbury Review. But they didn’t spin the gospel narrative to show themselves in a good light. After they had run away they came back and preached, taught and worked miracles just as Our Lord had predicted they would, and then gave their lives as the first Christian martyrs. Mr Mullen, a retired Church of England clergyman, continues:
Compare and contrast the old and the new. Some disciples of Christ, prominent leaders in the church, have denied him and traduced the gospel for 40 years. But, unlike the first disciples, they have not come back to make good. Certainly none has been martyred. One only thinks the pity is that, having done such damage to the church, they did not imitate the first disciples on Maundy Thursday and run away and stay away. Instead, they have hung around, clinging to their mitres, their palaces and their vast and effete synodical bureaucracy. And the result of all their doings has undermined the gospel and the church.
He doesn’t spare us Catholics, either.
The Catholics have ditched the Latin Mass. They have done this partly because of their slavish attachment to modernity, as if it were an item of their faith that today always knows better than yesterday. They have also invented new and ugly forms of services, rather as many modern architects design ugly buildings because they despise the past and are envious of their elders and betters. Unable to produce anything themselves which is other than already ugly and crumbling with obsolescence before the foundations are finished, they wish only to pull down and destroy the good that has gone before.
Rev. Mullen points out that the period of liturgical revision, really vandalism, has seen the biggest desertion of the pews in all church history. This, he says, is because the new services have nothing of the beauty of holiness in them, but are really vapid and useless—the theological equivalent of junk food. The new services have emasculated and undermined Christian truth, because they don’t face the facts of life.
Anything not nice, like sin and judgement, has been fairly thoroughly expunged. This is to offer a lying vision of human nature.
We need to know that we are sinners under judgement, for only then can we kneel down and receive the glorious gospel of God’s forgiveness. One wants to ask these failed leadership charlatans and incompetents, these euphemising bourgeois, why they jump up and down and throw their arms in the air so much. What is there to be joyful about? If we were not mired in sin, why should Christ bother to come and save us? The modern theologians fail to understand human psychology. They underplay human wickedness with the result that they are bound also to underplay redemption. They may pipe but I will not dance to their tune. No evil, no death, no worms, no vile bodies—so all their talk of salvation is worthless, for all their banana-split smiles and hideous backslapping.
So what’s to be done? he asks.
There are four things we must do if we want to avoid destruction. We must recover intellectual rigour. We must understand what manner of people we are: not rather nice people actually who have no need of the Saviour; but sinners under judgment. We must recover moral seriousness and return to the laws which God set down under Moses. That is, we must stop regarding men and women as mere consumers of sensations and thrills—any thrill will do. This is the pig philosophy which destroys the dignity of mankind made in the image of God.
We must return again to the beauty of holiness. Words and music that reveal the world charged with the grandeur of God. We must stop trivialising holy things. And most important, we must ask God to make us desire him. St Augustine said that the best way to understand how much God loves us is to think of erotic love between a man and his wife. We must ask God to kindle in us an intensity of affection and desire for him that will transform our lives. We don’t adore God naturally. We must beg him to make us desire him.
All this is not for the hierarchy to do. They have failed, They are apostate. They can’t do it. We must do it, the traditional laity. We who used to be called the holy common folk of God.