In early June, 2022, my wife (who is Canadian) and I (a naturalized subject of Her Majesty) attended the London events surrounding the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s seventieth year on the throne. She has had the longest reign of any European monarch and, from the outset, has consistently affirmed her personal Christian faith.
The TV commentator on the Sunday service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, David Dimbleby, opined “We live in an extremely irreligious age and for a lot of people, it’s: ‘Whoopee, she’s done 70 years, let’s celebrate!’”
A Commonwealth cleric, in his interview on BBC 1, said, quoting Prince Charles’s line of a number of years ago, that the church (and presumably the sovereign) has had to shift from “Defender of the Faith” to “Defender of faith.” This is, as a matter of fact, utterly untrue in the Queen’s case, but certainly true of the established Anglican Church.
But what is the problem with “faith” in general, as opposed to faith in the biblical religion set forth in the Holy Scriptures? We would surely not wish to return to a society where non-Christian beliefs would lead to denial of civil rights or to totalitarian impositions of an official religion on the entire populace.
The problem with undefined “faith” is that it is open to anything and everything, including demonic belief (think of the religion of Nazi racial superiority or Marxist efforts to eliminate any “non-proletarian” beliefs).
Moreover, if all faiths are equally true, they are all false, since they contradict each other on every single major tenet (the nature of God, the way of salvation, etc.). This is true even in basic ethics—in spite of C. S. Lewis effort to show the “Tao” as universally present. (He achieved this only by assuming the truth of the biblical ethic and then taking quotations agreeing with it from other religions. One could as well start with the discriminatory racism of the Hindu caste of outcasts and move to the lack of women’s rights in Koranic Islam.)
Furthermore, once one considers all religions equally worthy of acceptance, religion ceases to be a truth-claim; it ends up as little more than a matter of likes-and-dislikes. “Why are you a Confucian and not a Christian Scientist?” “Why are you a Christian Scientist and not a Confucian?” Same—and only possible—answer: Because it makes me feel better, and thus it would make society feel better as well.
The faith of the historic Church has well recognized the nonsense and the dangers of such an approach. St. Paul set the stage in 1 Corinthians 15 by declaring that Jesus factually rose from the dead after having died to expiate the sins of the world. And the Apostolic band therefore declared that “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
We therefore see the liberalism in today’s Anglican Church as one of the main contributing factors to our “extremely irreligious age,” and we pray that the future leaders of our sad and broken world come to understand the absolute necessity of believing and following, as Queen Elizabeth II has done, “the faith once delivered to the saints.”[For a more detailed discussion of this topic, see the Editor/s essay, “Why English Theology and Churchmanship Are Hopelessly Weak,” in: Montgomery, Defending the Gospel in Legal Style (Bonn: Germany: Verlag fuer Kultur und Wissenschaft, 2017), pp.357-60. That essay also appears in 37/1 Anglican Way: the Magazine of the Prayer Book Society, March.2014, with responses and author’s rejoinder.]
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Readers of the Global Journal 19/3 benefit from two articles in the area of New Testament scholarship. The first offers a defense of one of the key biblical passages supporting the physical resurrection of Our Lord from the dead, 1 Corinthians 15. The second provides new insight into an aspect of the crucifixion seldom discussed by exegetes: the sop employed to offer drink to the dying Jesus.
John Warwick Montgomery