In a guest post, Julian Mann asks: What use is the House of Commons Chaplain?
The row embroiling House of Commons Speaker John Bercow over the appointment of a chaplain raises a question in the mind of this Anglican Evangelical at least: what use is a House of Commons chaplain given the current condition of the established Church?
That question presupposes no judgement whatsoever on the merits of the Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a black female, over Canon Andrew Tremlett, a white male. Allegations of political correctness have been made by Canon Tremlett's supporters for the appointment.
Mr Bercow is unquestionably a champion of what he perceives as the 'modernisation' of Parliament, vigorously if chaotically pursued by the previous Labour government whose MPs strongly supported his appointment. The Church of England is manifestly a fringe interest group in modern British society, so why is he not pushing for the abolition of the role altogether and/or its replacement with a more generalised 'spirituality' adviser?
The answer comes back: it's to do with the British constitution and the residual involvement of the Monarch, who is the head of the Church by law established, in the affairs of Parliament.
If that legal argument is to be applied, then a chaplain should be appointed who proactively upholds the historic doctrine of the Church of England as expressed in its 39 Articles of Religion. The 39 Articles remain legally and canonically the official doctrine of the state Church.
Let Heresy Corner readers judge for themselves whether we are ever likely to hear the following doctrines publicly proclaimed by any Chaplain to the House of Commons:
'As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also it is to be believed, that he went down into Hell' (Article III, Of the going down of Christ into Hell).
'The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testaments everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man' (From Article VII, Of the Old Testament).
'Man is very far gone from his original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit: and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation' (from Article IX, Of Original or Birth-sin).
'Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby we must be saved' (from Article XVIII, Of obtaining eternal salvation only by the Name of Christ).
'The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual' (From Article XXXI, Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross).
'It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars' (From Article XXXVII - Of the Civil Magistrates).
These from the lips of an establishment cleric in the House of Commons? Don't hold your breath.