Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wise Words to the Priests

"It is your duty to fix the lines (of doctrine) clearly in your minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men. There is a danger here of the clergy developing a special professional conscience which obscures the very plain moral issue. Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines in either direction are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defense of those opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative Party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of the other. ”

--C.S. Lewis, “Christian Apologetics,” Easter 1945; reprinted in God in the Dock


Unknown said...

I rejoice in how fortunate I was in that the priests of my youth were true believers who honestly held and defended the essential doctrines of Anglicanism, those found in Holy Scripture, the three creeds, the first four Councils and the first five centuries of the undivided Church. The part of their duty on which they and their fellows appear to have been sadly remiss was in driving from the Church those priests and bishops who were not honest in their beliefs. But that, I fear, is a reaction long found in Anglicans as a holdover from the period of the English Civil War and Cromwell's Interregnum. We have wanted peace and we have purchased it at the price of ignoring the odd heretic among us and what he and his fellows were doing to the Church.

Many thanks for the reminder. We need it now more than ever.

Anonymous said...

We need a man like C.S. Lewis, again.

Daniel Stoddart said...

Singular quote, Anglican Cleric. Well played indeed.