Rectorial rule

"Everyone did that which was right in their own eyes", Jud.21:25.

The church is believers gathered with Christ - gathered both here and in heaven, Matt.18:20. As article XIX puts it, "The visible church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached and the Sacraments be duly ministered."

The Anglican church was a lay church - a peoples church. The church did not belong to the priest, but to the priesthood of all believers. The clergyman was the pastor/teacher of the people, not their dictator. His vested authority was given to preserve Prayer Book Christianity - the faith owned by the people and to which the people had committed themselves. As Archbishop Cranmer noted "the purpose of the Prayer Book is to protect the laity from the clergy." Yet now some ministers determine for themselves how they will take the services. The use of robes and Prayer Book is their prerogative, not the congregation's right.

All Anglican clergy once affirmed Anglican polity, for it imaged the Biblical notion of church as the "body" of Christ gathered with Christ. Lay members could once say "this is my church", but increasingly the push toward secular management criteria is removing the final vestiges of congregational rights and privileges. It is the fallacious expectation of numerical growth which moves us from a Word centred ministry.

To survive we cry, "appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." Yet to such a leader we "become his slaves." Managing change for growth, rather than maintaining the integrity of the faith received, is a dangerous game. People management through powerful leadership may be the way to grow Babel, but Christ's "Kingdom is not of this world". The "keys of the kingdom of heaven" are in the hands of the gathered flock and "the gates of Hades will not overcome" them.

It is sad but true that "some be so new-fangled that they would innovate all thing", Cranmer.

[Pumpkin Cottage]