In praise of the Church of England

Over at The Corner at National Review, Michael Potemra writes:

 Roger Scruton, the acclaimed philosopher and polymath, has recently issued Our Church: A Personal History of the Church of England, a short but rewarding attempt to explain just how this unusual institution has managed to provide spiritual nourishment over so many centuries. (It will be available through the U.S. version of Amazon in a month and a half; it is already available through

Scruton understands the C of E as a religious institution very much rooted in a specific place and in the character of a specific people. “It is undeniable,” he writes, that “skepticism is now part of the English character. But it coexists with a certain curiosity towards the transcendental, and a desire to imagine it on the English model, as a place where we might be at home — an eternal Wind in the Willows.” This typically English attitude has been both praised and condemned over the years as a “domestication of transcendence”; but it is, in my view, very close to the distinctive essence of Christianity, as a religion in which God becomes Man. God is by definition transcendent; in Christ, He limits Himself and becomes more approachable.

For Scruton, the Church of England is a place of sacramental access to this very approachable God. With its two great literary monuments — the King James Version of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer — it stands with the Reformation in its view of the Word as the purest point of access to the truth about God. But with its emphasis on Sacrament as well, it also stands with its pre-Reformation forebears.



The sanctification of daily life — the elevation of the ordinary — is a central part of Christianity as an incarnational religion; and it took hold with Scruton père so strongly that it survived even his rejection of those rationally formulated dogmas considered most central by theologians. It is a fundamentally Anglican habit of thought to see “the point of intersection of the timeless / With time” in the sort of places hallowed by English memory.

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2 Responses to In praise of the Church of England

  1. Sounds like it might be an interesting read. At I thought he defending the CofE and other Anglicans of choosing to disregard 2000 years of Christian church teachings and history of morality and doctrine. May be he still does but I’m curious enough to read it and find out.

  2. Pingback: In praise of the Church of England | Catholic Canada

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