Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Interesting Thing About Religion

Matt Gunter has posted a letter from Evelyn Underhill to Cosmo Lang (then Archbishop of Canterbury) on the subject of the purpose of religion and the need for "greater interiority and cultivation of the personal life of prayer" in the church's clergy. It is a message that is ever more pertinent in today's Episcopal Church, where it seems that matters of public policy come first, and where matters of theology are purely discretionary. There is no hope for the increase of the gospel where its ministers are not interested in what it tells us about God, and where its ministers are not in converse with that God. A priest without a regular rule of prayer is spiritually malnourished, and cannot properly feed his charges; a priest who is not conversant with the theology which is handed down from the fathers, and who does not walk in the path which they have written for her, cannot properly bring her people into the same knowledge. There is nothing wrong with preaching for action, but it is not all there is to preaching, and people can be inspired to action elsewhere. But it is only in the church that people can be brought to know Christ and to live in him, and to do that, those people much be led into religion, that is, the right relationship with the divine.

1 comment:

AAK said...

Well said. This point is so little talked about, and it couldn't be more important. I can't count how many sermons I've heard exhorting people to find what God wants with them, yet these sermons give no instruction on how to develop either a relationship with God or the inner life of prayer on which such a relationship really depends.