October 2009 Anglican Newsletter
Keith discusses the various views of Anglican form of religion
I have recently been interested and somewhat dismayed by a remarkable dialogue on a Church chat room between (mainly) priests arguing their fundamentalist and liberal positions. Both those adjectives inadequately (and somewhat unfairly) describe them, but they will have to do. Most interesting was an involvement by John Rutter (the most highly acclaimed English composer of today's Church music). Whilst acknowledging his very real debt to and affection for the Anglican Church, he was less than patient with its wrangling and pointed out that he was firstly not a 'Rev' and secondly actually an agnostic.
But the rigidity of the positions being adopted and the effectively unforgiving nature of them reminded me of a Celtic Parable I had read some time ago, which I am reproducing for you.
"There were three priests living in a small town. One wanted to preserve the old simple Celtic styles of religion: 'I abide by the traditions of Patrick and Brigit, the founders of our church,' he said. The second wanted to adopt the new sophisticated styles and doctrines of the Roman church: 'I want to be part of the universal church under the pope in Rome - and that is what Patrick and Brigit wanted,' he said. The third said: 'Let people worship and believe as they think best; if religion is just going to cause divisions, I want none of it.'
These three priests remained friends, and often met for dinner; but their meetings always ended in argument. Sometimes they argued about how certain rituals should be performed. Sometimes they argued about heaven, and who would get there. 'I believe that only those who remain loyal to the old Celtic traditions will get to heaven,' the first said. 'I believe that only those who accept the authority of the pope in Rome will be saved,' the second said. 'Let each person try to lead a good and honest life,' the third said; 'and then God will be the judge.'
Some years later the three priests died, and arrived at the gate of heaven. Peter took the hand of the first priest. 'Welcome, friend,' Peter said; 'you go and sit over there among the others who preserved the Celtic traditions.' Then Peter took the hand of the second priest. 'Welcome, friend,' Peter said; 'you go and sit over there among the others who have obeyed the pope in Rome.' Finally Peter took the hand of the third priest. 'Welcome, friend' he said; 'you are free to wander wherever you want.'
So the third priest wandered freely amongst all the different groups in heaven. And amongst the other people he saw wandering amongst the different groups were Patrick and Brigit - and Jesus Christ himself."
Licensed Lay Minister