23 November 2014

Christ the KING: Tom Wright's view

Many readers of this blog will not have heard of Tom Wright. A former don in this University, he became Bishop of (the prestigious see of ) Durham, because of his formidable academic reputation. Within months he joined that distinguished number of heavyweight Anglican intellectuals who've either turned down episkope or else abandoned it after a short trial to return to academe. (Don't ask me to tell you why.) He is an Evangelical but has 'broadened'. He tries to understand the Catholic Faith, but, not having experienced it from the the inside, often gets things wrong. His books on S Paul are worth reading. Don't bother with For all the Saints, because he gets the Catholic cult of the Saints wrong.

But he's no fool. Writing about the adoption by the Church of England of the feast of Christ the King on the dear old Sunday Next Before Advent, he objects because "this particular novelty ... gets it completely wrong. It presses all the wrong buttons. It completes the job of pulling the Church's year out of shape. Once again, more is less. This "feast" devalues other feasts and occasions ... by concluding the implicit story-line at the wrong point, thereby throwing out of kilter the narrative grammar of the whole story. It implies that Jesus Christ becomes King at the end of the sequence, the end of the story, as the result of a long process". So it devalues Ascension Day. It is, he opines, "like trying to eat the Christmas pudding first and stir it afterwards".

I would simply say that it removes the idea that Christ is King now; replaces it with an eschatological picture of the final Glory when all Creation will be restored; and then expects us to pray Thy kingdom come throughout Advent.

7 comments:

Sixupman said...

When did the Feast enter into the CofE Calendar - from The Chapel Royal this a.m.?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Well, I mean no disrespect to Rorate when I observe that, in my opinion, I put it rather well this year on 26 October, and in previous pieces going back to 8 May 2008!!

Fr John Hunwicke said...

My apologies to 'Reader', who contributed a reference to a Rorate post from last month: Accidentally, having printed his post in one place, I then deleted it in a different place withoit realising that the previously enabled post would thereby disappear into oblivion.

Don Camillo SSC said...

There is something to be said for the ancient custom (known to St Antony of Padua) of commencing the Church Year with Septuagesima (and the reading of Genesis 1 in the Office), so that the time after Pentecost moves easily into the Advent themes of Last Judgement, and of Epiphany as also looking forward to the final Parousia.

Tom said...

To be far to him, he did spend 7 years as Bishop of Durham, which is more than any sane person should have to be a bishop!

GOR said...

Well, whatever about the timing of the feast liturgically, our retired ex-pastor – who is very much of a ‘spirit of Vat II’ priest - was having none of it yesterday. Removing all references to Christ’s kingship in the Mass (he is a DIY sort of ‘presider’…), he forcefully proposed that it was rather about the ‘servant nature’ of Our Lord.

His role was to be servant, not ruler – bringing in the ‘agenda’ of Pope Francis as proof. Much was said about social issues – the rich and the poor, water, the environment, etc. – with the plight of Detroit a prime example…

Following the actual words of the Mass in my Missal, it was difficult to determine if we were celebrating the same feast. We certainly were not on the same page - nor, possibly, in the same universe!

Joshua said...

It would seem the feast of Christus Rex would fit best on the Octave Day of the Ascension...