Lessons of history

Giles Fraser’s column in the Church Times applies the lessons of history to our Communion’s current controversy:

On Sunday, I dined in Exeter College, Oxford, under a portrait of Charles I. He was not a man without failings, but I raised a glass to him none the less. As a Royalist soldier once said to his parliamentary opposite number: “We have the sins of men – eating and drinking – but you have those of devils – spiritual pride and rebellion.”

It’s possible to recognise a number of the battles that curse today’s Church as being fought out in the 17th century. That’s why it is essential to remember our history. At the end of the civil war, most people recognised that no single theological party was ever going to land a knockout blow on the other, and that all would have to learn to co-exist.

Charles II sought to introduce a declaration of indulgence to extend religious liberty to all, Roman Catholics and Nonconformists alike. Being overly suspicious, Parliament blocked him. The civil war all but destroyed this country; it filled the land with beggars, orphans, and the maimed. It poisoned relations with the Scots and Irish to this day. Some battles are not worth fighting.”

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