In a paradox that never ceases to challenge and puzzle both believers and unbelievers, it is when we are free from the passion to be taken seriously, to be protected or indeed to be obeyed that we are most likely to be heard. The convincing witness to faith is one for whom safety and success are immaterial, and one for whom therefore the exercise of violent force against another of different conviction is ruled out.
Greg Jones, reflecting on the recent speech by the Archbishop of Wales writes in his essay “Force is not of God,” I was struck by the words of the great hymn ‘The Great Creator of the Worlds’ (no. 489). The lyrics come from the Epistle to Diognetus, which I find it to be a fantastic and moving proclamation of the Gospel. The fifth verse of the hymn got me to thinking of the situation in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. The verse goes: “He came as Savior to his own, the way of love he trod; he came to win us by good will, for force is not of God.”
The Primate of the Church of Wales, Barry Morgan, has recently stated that he is very much in favor of the Windsor process and an Anglican Covenant — as am I — but not in the way they are being steered by a faction of Primates looking to take the Anglican Communion in a confessional or magisterial direction. As with the lyrics of hymn 489, if “force is not of God,” then we do not want force to be of the Church. I would hope that we do not adopt a form of Anglican Covenant which would have force as an attribute. We do not need to reaffirm bonds and boundaries of affection by an attribute which is not of God.
Read it here. Greg includes the text to the Epistle to Diognetus which ends
Was He sent, think you, as any man might suppose, to establish a sovereignty, to inspire fear and terror? Not so. But in gentleness [and] meekness has He sent Him, as a king might send his son who is a king. He sent Him, as sending God; He sent Him, as [a man] unto men; He sent Him, as Saviour, as using persuasion, not force: for force is no attribute of God.
Rowan Williams would agree.