We Wish You a Merry Saturnalia: Northern Churchman

We Wish You a Merry Saturnalia? The Northern Churchman There is a familiar feel to this time of year. The Christmas advertising on television, the darker evenings, the Carol Services – and the inevitable scoffers who call the Christmas story a myth. Not ‘Once in Royal...

Mark Pickles: The Story of Two Trampolines

Gospel-Driven Anglicanism By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles The Story of the Two Trampolines:  A passage that is frequently referred to during times of great revival is Isaiah 64:1-3:  “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your...

Ten Thousand Bibles for London’s Children

TBS Auxiliary Meets Ten Thousand Bibles For London’s Children The Greater London Auxiliary of the Trinitarian Bible Society was delighted to report at its Annual Meeting held on 15 November that over 10,000 Bibles have been distributed to London schools since the...

Good News for Egypt’s Christians

Barnabas Fund Reports Good News for Egypt’s Christians The government of Egypt licensed 125 churches and church-affiliated buildings on 14 November. It is the 24th batch of approvals made since the government committee overseeing the licensing process started work in...

Church Society’s Response to MP Ben Bradshaw

Church Society’s Response to MP Ben Bradshaw In the aftermath of Desmond Tutu’s daughter being refused permission to preside at a funeral in a Church of England parish, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw told The Guardian that the “C of E must move swiftly to welcome lesbian...

Collins: Who’s Your Righteousness?

Who’s Your Righteousness? By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins Who’s your righteousness? "The Lord our Righteousness" was the sermon preached March 20, 1757 at St. Mary's Church in Oxford. It offended nearly everyone that day and William Romaine was invited to never preach...

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act of 1963

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act of 1963 Persons Against Whom Proceedings May be Instituted. Proceedings under this Measure may be instituted against an archbishop, any diocesan bishop or any suffragan bishop commissioned by a diocesan bishop or any other bishop or a...

Editorial: Joy to the World Cup

Editorial Joy to the World Cup The result of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is already in. And it appears the Church of England has lost. The latest advice from the Church of England’s Support Hub is for parishes to consider the timing of Christmas Carol Services to avoid...

Symes to Step Down from Anglican Mainstream Leadership

Symes to Step Down from Anglican Mainstream Leadership By Chris Sugden Andrew Symes is to stand down as Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream on January 1, 2023, after nearly ten years in post. Rev Symes, 56, who had earlier served with Crosslinks in South...

Retired Bishop Given Life Suspension

Retired Bishop Given Life Suspension By George Conger The former Bishop of Ramsbury has been suspended for life from the ordained ministry after he admitted to having sexually abused two women. The Daily Mail reported the Rt Rev. Peter Hullah had been the subject of...

Pilgrim’s Process: Following the Science, by Peter Sanlon

Pilgrim’s Process

By Peter Sanlon

Following the Science

In recent days there has been much talk about ‘following the science’. People have realised that moving forward in days of a health emergency requires a precise understanding of the situation. We need accurate information to advance.

So it is in our pilgrimage to the celestial city – we need accurate knowledge to keep our steps secure. Some of the most profound words written by the reformer, John Calvin were those with which he opened his classic Christian book, the Institutes. Calvin wrote: ‘Wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.’

Calvin realised that it is of foundational import to see that knowing about God and knowing about ourselves are both distinct and interdependent. 

We need to see that the knowledge of God is radically different to knowledge of ourselves (and any human art or pursuit) because only when this is realised, can we exalt God as the Lord who is glorious, sovereign, transcendent and holy. We always have the temptation of wrongly thinking God is smaller than he is. We err in viewing God as one similar to us in the sense of being subject to unreliability, capriciousness or weakness. Merely pondering how different and other to us God is, can refresh us and give us more light for the path ahead. Calvin saw this with great clarity.

He also recognised that knowledge of ourselves is interdependent with knowledge of God. The difference and otherness between people and God is not absolute – we are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26). As creatures fashioned in the likeness of God, we only have right knowledge of ourselves when we see ourselves as dependent and related to our creator. This means that the partial knowledge our world proclaims to have about itself, is misleading insofar as it purports to be autonomous and impartial. The  so-called ‘assured facts’ loved by rebels cannot but be hostile to the Lord. Those who think they can understand people and families and relationships and societies apart from obedience to God’s Words mistake darkness for light.  People are known and understood when all relevant information is traced back to the light of all – Jesus Christ (Jn.1:9). 

As Calvin noted the fundamental distinction and interdependence between knowledge of God and people, he experienced the evidence of true knowledge – humility. He admitted that there is much he could not discern or know. ‘…it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.’ This is the kind of knowledge we need for our pilgrimage.

Rev. Dr. Peter Sanlon is rector of Emmanuel Anglican Church, Tunbridge Wells: