I looked out on the sunset – personal thoughts on doing theology

This brief essay began its formation when preparing a lecture delivered to Unitarians at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. It has bee recently published on Theology Everywhere blog

I looked out on the sunset. The sky, deep red, but fading, could not be captured by a camera’s lens, held for eternity. I mused. Different wavelengths of light refracted by the atmosphere, received by a retina, passing through a tangle of neurones, conducted by chemical and physiological interactions, perceived by something we might label consciousness. And is this all? Later I played with water colours, fluid, wet on wet, running into one another out of control, unpredictable. This was nearer to what I believed I saw. But this did not explain or make sense of it. And a realisation rose rather than forced itself on me of something ‘other’. Call that conversion if you will. It was a glimpse of the ‘other’, I will go on calling it that for want of anything better, that changed the direction of my life. Marcus Borg spoke of the light that glances into our lives rendering significance which, he felt, was something of the shared experience of the mystics. And it began an exploration that could never be complete, a pilgrimage that could never achieve its destination. I was seeking understanding of experience, trying to make sense of all that life opened up to me of joy and elation, of pain and sorrow, of love and anger, of all that is. This would encompass all of existence, birth and death and all that lay between, but also beyond, before and after. This was immanence and yet transcendence. If anything this was love.

The problem, the danger of such exploration, is that we categorise and constrain. We seek to fit into boxes an understanding greater than our human capacity can grasp. We organise it, then call it faith. And when it breaks the bounds we have set for it we say that we have lost it. Really all that has happened is that we have discovered the truth that you cannot hold or constrain that which is boundless. Neither do we have language to express the inexpressible. Yet that is what theology is often reduced to.

My early theological training was dominated by systems in which concepts and doctrines were organised. Any challenge to that organisation was viewed as dangerous, even heresy. But you can only organise things you understand and understanding suggests power, control and knowledge. By definition a total understanding and knowledge of God is a contradiction in terms. In the book Thirteen Moons, the author, a native American, ponders:

Writing a thing down fixes it in place as surely as a rattlesnake skin stripped from the meat and stretched and tacked to a barn wall. Every bit as stationary, and every bit as false to the original thing. Flat and still and harmless. Bear recognized that all writing memorializes a momentary line of thought as if it were final.[1]

I have pondered on this. So often this is what our systems of theology have done. Poetic imagination fired the prophets to enable change, to allow the understanding of God to develop, evolve. Poetry has more freedom than prose. Hymns have so often reversed that process, pinned down our theology, closed it to speculation or changing context. Sydney Carter saw folk music as owned by the singers, generation to generation – a sort of sung liberation theology, always changing.

But I return to art. A few years ago the, then, youngest member of our family was taken to Tate Modern. She reported back on the experience, ‘It was weird!’ So called modern art isn’t always easy ‘to get’. And that’s it, I think. Theology is trying ‘to get’ what is beyond our human capacity to understand, or express. Mark Rothko painted massive, single colour panels. To many they mean nothing. Others report a profound sense of the other when they view them. If ‘the other’ is such as I have suggested, perhaps these are honest admissions and, as such offer that glimpse that mystics seek, and a representation beyond words or understanding of that which we seek.

This is not to deny the validity of theology, but to recognise that theologians need to draw on the  widest possible range of disciplines. These should include, but not be limited to, scriptures, languages, art, science, poetry, philosophy, music. Even then we need the honesty to admit that any theology that we elaborate can never, ever be more than a very crude approximation of the subject we are seeking to address. The quest must be open ended, never closed down, never dogmatic.

[1] Frazier, C., Thirteen Moons, Hodder & Stoughton, 2006, p 21

Andrew Pratt 20/2/2023

Choose life – a reflection on Deuteronomy 30:19 in the light of the Turkish/Syrian earthquakes

Choose life – a reflection on Deuteronomy 30:19 in the light of the Turkish/Syrian earthquakes

After the earthquakes in Turkey, Syria and the surrounding regions – What do we make of this? How do we cope? What, if anything can we do? – a donation, an offering? YES.

But let us begin at the beginning and admit that our understanding of this God and this world of which we are inhabitants, of which we are, stewards is incomplete, a mystery. God moves in a mysterious way as William Cowper wrote.

How can we live in this world.

Some would turn to the The Ten Commandments. The writer of Deuteronomy, literally Second Law, makes some suggestions, attributes them to God:

Deuteronomy 30:19

30:19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,

These are words from the Hebrew scriptures. Could Paul, writing to the church in Corinth be speaking to us? It is for us to decide. He speaks to people who claim allegiance to different leaders

1 Corinthians 3:1-3; 9
1 And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.
2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready,
9 For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

That last verse dedicates us for we are God’s servants, working together; God’s field, God’s building…

What might a prophet say to us today?

This world looks pretty awful at the moment, a mix of war and natural, disaster and we, as humanity, even if we don’t admit to it, are, in Paul’s terms, infants. We have so much to learn, beliefs to change perhaps, habits to unlearn, changes to be made. A friend of mine (Graham Adams) has written a book, Holy Anarchy. He suggests that if we look at Jesus and listen to what he says then the Kingdom we talk about and the church we have built is unimaginably far from what Jesus envisaged. So far that if we found it it would seem like Holy Anarchy compared with the ordered society and church we know.

But I’m getting ahead of myself . What do we make of earthquakes? When things go wrong we like to blame someone, to ask questions. So we blame God?  Why does God allow this to happen? There is a problem, many, if not all Christians believe God created all things, this earth included. If we were to say to God ‘Why? And I’m not being irreverent. I imagine a conversation. It’s like this if the earth was a really round ball there’d be no puddles, no oceans. Moving tectonic plates make dips in the earth’s surface, raise up the mountains, made the sea in which life began, the lakes that gather water that you drink. No tectonic plates, no earthquakes, NO YOU either! So not so much God’s judgment, more providence

So lets readjust to that. Following an earthquake  a still small voice cries in the darkness and the dust. And we can lay this at God’s door but not as a judgment but a necessity, We can lament at the unfairness, that is doesn’t make sense, that a loving God shouldn’t let this happen. But this is the paradox. If it wasn’t like this we wouldn’t be here. To coin a phrase, the goal-posts have been moved.

So lets begin again. ‘Natural’ things happen. They are well named. We have to live with them. This is how the world is. From here on in Deuteronomy makes sense. The comment is pertinent. ‘Choose life so that you and your descendants may live’. This is infant school to use Paul’s term. Are we ready to move on?

To do so means to start taking responsibility for our own actions and the lives of one another. That works in Turkey and Syria today, in Ukraine and over the whole planet threatened by global warming,

In each and every situation, choose life. This is the essence of being Christian, it is active love of neighbour and, hence, God. It begins in the care of a child whose mother had been killed in an earthquake. And that is not away over there, but for at least one family living in near me, a Muslim whom I addressed as brother, who hugged me on Wednesday. He looked no different from me, like Samaritan to Jew. We shared our humanity, formed a bond that transcends the different faiths to which we give allegiance. We could, of course, argue over the value of different surahs of the Qu’ran, the relative strengths of the different Gospels. As Paul put it ‘For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?, And that is the bottom line. Merely human. And when we treat each other as such we begin to grow up and we realise that we can ‘choose life’, because every other person on this planet, however they present themselves is ‘merely’ human. If we are, again ‘God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building’, then our attitude ought to be that of Christ whose grace was and is accepting of all.

Charles Wesley, asked himself a question, worth us asking ourselves the same question. ‘ What shall I do my God to love’?

We began with a question and we return to it. Remember

At a time of decision for the people of Israel Moses challenged them – ‘I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live’. (Deuternomy30: 19)

This hymn asks what choosing life might mean for us today.

1	What are the gifts we would treasure most highly:
	freedom or justice or money or wealth;
	food for the hungry, or drink for the thirsty,
	love for our children, or power, or health?
2	Once God had given a choice to the people:
	they could decide to choose life or choose death.
	They were encouraged towards life's enhancement,
	shunning the ways that would quench life and breath.
3	What does it mean for ourselves at this moment,
        challenged by God, as to what we should choose?
	What does ‘life’ mean, for each friend, 
                                     for each neighbour, 
        what will encourage and never abuse?
4	Now at each crisis, each time of decision,
	save us from selfishness, things that oppress;
	help us, O God, to be wise, never grasping,
	help us to cherish those things you would bless.

Andrew Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2011 alt by the author 2022 © Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
alt 2022 by the author. 
Metre: 11 10 11 10

What now? For you? For me?

© Andrew Pratt

The illogicality of faith

The illogicality of faith – Andrew Pratt 20th March 2022 first published Theology Everywhere 28/3/2022

It has been said that the earliest Christian creed was ‘Jesus is Lord’. It carried with it the understanding that for the Christian Jesus was the definitive model for human life and living. To say the words is easy but, for the most part we don’t take this seriously. If we did, finding out how Jesus lived in relation to people and mirroring that in our own lives would be our priority.
Beginning with that creed, we have built a religion predicated on the affirmation of beliefs rather than on ways of being. The consequence is that faithful living has become equated with this affirmation rather than on a recognition of the enormity that follows from embodying those beliefs. When they are attacked we spend time defending them and trying to diminish our detractors rather than demonstrating through our lives and actions that we accept Jesus as Lord. Our loss is that we dismiss this opposition often without hearing what its proponents are saying. Richard Dawkins, especially, I think largely because of his aggressive tone, has been side-lined. Some of what he has to say ought really to be understood if we are to recognise how difficult the call to faith actually is. This calling is unnatural.
A starting point for Jesus was not adherence to a creed, but with a call to love, demonstrated to the uttermost in how he lived and died. Deuteronomy 30:19 states: ‘I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore, choose life, that both you and your seed may live.’ If Jesus did have a creed, this was it. This choice of life is not referring to life after death, though you might want to define it as ‘eternal’ as being so utterly different from ordinary human life as to be ‘other’. The choice is existential, determinant for the very existence of humanity and love is at its centre. This is what I believe Jesus was pointing towards.
Dawkins in The Selfish Gene writes of his understanding that life continues from generation to generation by preferring aspects of living things which preserve them. Self-survival is hard-wired into out very being. That is why being selfless is so difficult. It is, by definition, unnatural. Human nature is counter to what Christians are supposed to espouse. Dawkins is, however, subtle. He addresses altruism. ‘Altruism’ may have advantages. It can make us feel good, but it can have other benefits which are not individual. He points out that care of another, in the long term, can help the whole population. This is simply utilitarian. It relates to the long-term survival of a species, in our case, humanity.
This, if we could see it, brings us back to Jesus Lordship. When we frame our statements as to what defines being Christian we need to be conscious that what is being asked of us is, firstly, apparently running counter to a strand of our being which is fine-tuned to self-interest. This demonstrates itself, for instance, in the uncritical development of hierarchy in the church. We have an inherent drive to survive and the higher up we rise, the greater the likelihood of survival.
It seems that Jesus is conscious of this, but his understanding reaches beyond the individual, beyond the tribe to encompass all of humanity. Jesus demonstrates not what to say, or believe, but how to live in a way which chooses life.
Two, illustrations undergird this. In Mark 1 Jesus is moved to reach out and touch a leper. This opens him to condemnation. It is physically and socially isolating, the opposite of being self-protective. In terms of the Greek words describing what is happening, he is viscerally moved so that he feels the person’s alienation as his own. This motivates him far more strongly than simply seeing it. He has to do something about it even if it is personally deleterious. Secondly, the Good Samaritan is moved to help in the very same way. The same language is used. Following this example puts us at a disadvantage but ultimately makes the body of humanity stronger, more inclusive, more likely to survive.
If we take Jesus as Lord, this is our model. It is not natural, in the sense of our biology, it works against our own existential longing, yet it offers salvation for humanity as a whole. The outcome enables the continued life of those despised or damaged. Finally, on the cross, those who have taken Jesus’ life are offered forgiveness. Had they been condemned, and such condemnation been our creed, humanity would have been diminished.
Moving to immediately current events, the events of war. I am conflicted. For whom do I feel compassion? The answer must be obvious. But Jesus interposes himself between those who espouse hatred and those who are hated to save both. He becomes victim to save both.
And can I follow? This is never as easy as giving assertion to any creed or belief.
This is no cheap grace.
© Andrew Pratt 2022

‘With tender conviction’ – Wesley’s Catholic Spirit – a poem (or a song seeking a tune?)

Catholic Spirit 

With tender conviction I sense love is calling,

no grace is withheld, nor forgiveness repressed,

all people are held in unfathomable comfort,

this love is eternal, forever expressed.

The judgment some fear is a human construction,

for grace is a scandal for those who would judge,

they see it as fair to condemn, exact hatred,

while mercy is something they want to begrudge.

For me none is distanced from love by an action,

a word or a deed, we might not understand,

yet God’s love is wider, beyond comprehension,

if you share this creed, my friend, give me your hand!

[For me none is distanced from love by an action,

compassionate grace, could not set us apart,

for God’s love is wider, beyond comprehension,

if you share this creed, then we are of one heart.]*

*Alternative last stanza after conversation and critique by Pesky Methodists, thankyou!

© Andrew Pratt 5am 29/11/2021 - 4/12/2021

Link to A version of John Wesley’s sermon

Theology after Singing the Faith – from ‘Methodism Abounding’, edited by John J Vincent Published by Church in the Market Place Publications

In 2004, following the Methodist Conference, Richard Jones and Ivor Jones, respectively words and music editors of Hymns & Psalms, met with the newly convened Music Resource Group (MRG) which had been tasked with exploring the provision of a supplement to Hymns & Psalms. They encouraged the group to be courageous in what they chose, recognising the conservatism of Hymns & Psalms and cognizant of the greater freedom that had pertained in the editing of Hymns & Songs. The warning against conservatism was well founded. Methodist hymnody, at least since 1904, has been conservative as I have argued elsewhere.[i] Hymns & Psalms had taken steps towards being an ecumenical hymnbook, and while this set it apart from the Methodist Hymn Book of 1933, it also meant that it offered an over-liturgical face for a denomination that was already questioning its free-church identity and raison d’étre, a process that has been accentuated in the signing of the Anglican-Methodist Covenant.

Theologically the weight of Singing the Faith was to be determined by the texts available for inclusion, the calibre of the members of the MRG and the ecclesiological and theological persuasion of those reviewing and overseeing the process of compilation and editing. While the MRG members tackled their task as effectively as they could through the period of exploration and eventual publication, compared with the committee that had produced Hymns & Psalms the group was both theologically and hymnologically light. From 2009 to 2011 the hymnological expertise of the group was further reduced.[ii] Nevertheless, a hymn book is never simply a theological tool, nor a hymnological construct. The MRG was, arguably, more democratic and representative of Methodism of the period than previous editorial groups had been.

The end result cannot be examined in detail here, but a summary is necessary in order to be able to proceed with the main task of this paper, that of envisaging the direction that Methodist theology might take in its wake. To begin with, Singing the Faith is far more eclectic than previous collections, containing material from a wider variety of sources and styles. There is, if anything, an uneven representation from current Scottish hymnody, but this was in-keeping with public taste current at the time of compilation. Some ephemeral children’s material is included, something that earlier in the process had been warned against by the then representative of Children’s Work on the MRG. Indeed the report to Conference of 2009 contained no such material in its draft. Another change, which can be discerned between 2009 and the final compilation, is the removal of some material from significant female authors. In justification, the salient report to Conference stated, ‘the MRG has expressed concern that there is some evidence that female authors’ work is being rejected because [of] the type of imagery they use’.[iii] A section entitled, ‘A World of Belief’ containing material to be used which related to other faiths, was completely removed. Though it is a generalization, the overall feel of the collection from the draft offered to Conference in 2009 to that accepted in 2011 was that it was broader, to some extent less erudite, less inclusive and more evangelical in tone. A single text demands comment: ‘In Christ alone’, that in 2009 had been suggested for inclusion subject to editing, which the author did not subsequently allow. While the Faith and Order Committee Secretary had indicated that the phrase in this text, ‘scheme of man’ is ‘diametrically opposed to Church policy on inclusive language’, the response of the MRG report was:

A considerable number of modern songs had already been rejected on precisely these grounds. But where does the balance lie between making a small number of exceptions, and excluding songs which are deeply meaningful to many in the Church? After careful debate we concluded that In Christ Alone should be included. While this was probably one of our most difficult decisions, it is illustrative of the depth of analysis and thought which has gone into the selection of the whole collection.[iv]

It is worth noting that no mention is made here of the theological objections which some might wish to bring against the inclusion of this text, these selfsame nuances being seen as positive by others. In addition the introduction to Singing the Faith effectively re-states the position of the Faith and Order Committee in relation to inclusive language.

Where then, does this take us?

While the integrity of Methodist theology as determined by CPD rests on the test of John Wesley’s sermons and his Notes on the New Testament, the hymns have implicitly offered another standard which, arguably, has been both more formative and instructive for the people called Methodists. Set alongside this is the theological integrity of those who seek to choose and sing hymns. From this perspective our hymnody has been dependent on our expression of historic beliefs and on the degree to which such beliefs are palatable to those who worship in our churches. This, necessarily, results in an innate conservatism in which those familiar texts which have served our forebears are retained as definitive. In this, what is forgotten is that John & Charles Wesley at a time when Calvinist theology, particularly that of double-predestination, predominated, sought to go against that flow by espousing an Arminian theology. This was expressed in the language of their time and gave rise to the ‘All can be saved’ language that still holds sway today and is epitomized in the text ‘Let us build a house where love can dwell’(‘All are welcome’), written, ironically, by a Roman Catholic, Marty Haugen.

However, the manner in which the Wesley’s sought to serve the age in which they lived was not predicated just on theology, but on an awareness of the politics, science and the events of their day and a practical outworking of their faith. They reflected on slavery, the American War of Independence and both the London and the Lisbon earthquakes. And this was translated into hymnody which questioned and reflected on theology, positing answers as the texts progressed.

These factors prompt the need for our examination of the way in which our hymnody works, if it works at all, on into the twenty-first century.

I want to begin with what might be termed traditional theological constructs by reference to the Trinity, incarnation and atonement. Much historic and current hymnody contains within it an inherent contradiction. To some extent this has been determined by the theology that the church has perpetuated and that hymnodists simply repeat. The most overt expression is found in the popular text, ‘How great thou art’:           
            And when I think that God His Son not sparing, 
            Sent Him to die-I scarce can take it in. 
            That on the cross my burden gladly bearing, 
            He bled and died to take away my sin:[v]
The contradiction is in the idea of God sending his Son, a problem presented when we seek to express Trinitarian theology in terms of the anthropomorphisation of the God-head without knowledge of the associated philosophical modelling from which it derives. Taken as metaphor the images perhaps pose little problem. More often, at a popular level, the words are taken literally which simply denies any incarnational currency, suggesting that God sends God, which makes no logical sense at all. Hence the conundrum. The simplicity and popularity of this text makes it all the more insidious in continuing a false theology, notwithstanding that the fault is with the translation and not the original.[vi]

This raises for me a wider question, that of the usefulness of archaic creeds to continue to convey beliefs still held by the church. I am led to question what are the underlying suppositions of these creeds and their derivative translation into hymns. Incarnation, the understanding that Jesus is truly human and truly divine, seeks to affirm the intimate relationship of the divinity to humanity and the reconciliation of the one to the other. This allows for, amongst other things, an assumption that God understands our human condition. Seeking to explain how this can be, we have employed philosophical models extant at the time of the formulation of the creeds. We have also taken as real the image of a virgin birth, an interpretation of Hebrew scripture which is, in any case, suspect. Why not simply accept such divine intimacy without absorbing ourselves with the biological mechanics of divine impregnation or philosophical models, intended to be used metaphorically, which over time have been defended as representing literal truth? Yet within the church, belief in these self-same models is defended by many as being conditional for membership, if not salvation.

This can be illustrated further in relation to Atonement. Within the church the Penal Substitutionary theory still holds sway with many. For some its acceptance is a test of the integrity of faith. This ought to be regarded as perverse, given the manner in which early twentieth-century theologians unmasked the inconsistency of the model:

‘That Christ died in the place of the sinner would, at one time have been beyond question. For many this had already been challenged by Lofthouse in his Ethics and Atonement (1906) and Altar, Cross and Community (1921). In these works he broke away from traditional substitutionary theories, approaching atonement from an ethical standpoint. For him ‘morality was determinative of religion,’[vii]

In 1926 Kenneth Kirk wrote, ‘We may dismiss at once any explanation which leans to the suggestion that […] God demanded a victim – any victim, but still a victim – on whom to wreak vengeance for man’s sin’;[viii] and in support of this challenge he cites Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity (1648)[ix]. What is at issue here is the clear expression of belief, not the preservation of outdated metaphors. I believe that in the twenty-first century we need to elaborate images and metaphors which work today. We are slow within the church to re-express our beliefs in language which is contemporary. Can someone on the fringe of, or outside of, the church make sense of a phrase like, ‘by the blood I may enter Your brightness’. I fear that, like those who opposed the Reformation, we are fearful of losing control and power, exercised through the imposition of a belief system contained in language which only the initiated fully understand? Perhaps this is what lay behind the resistance to the hymns by some female authors whose material was edited out of the final collection between 2009 and 2011? Do we perhaps espouse the belief that there is no language, or image suitable for those with no knowledge of the faith, so worship has to be reduced to practically nothing to meet the presumed starting place of the enquirer? If we have any wish to communicate outside the confines of the church community, the language and metaphors, even the material that we subject to theological scrutiny, ought to be of contemporary significance and interest. This is not to pander to fashion, nor to reduce our theology to some common denominator, but to ensure that our theology has integrity, is contextual, apt and appropriate; that it will ‘serve the present age’. It all comes down to the question of how our theology can best be presented for the twenty-first century and some material within Singing the Faith is not adequate for this purpose. This is not to criticise the book per se, for it represents the faith and practice of the church as it has been for many years. What it ought to do is to raise the question as to how our theology can be presented clearly in language and metaphor, in a way best suited to today and, more importantly, tomorrow.

Where, then, does this take us? C.S Lewis once wrote, ‘Any fool can write learned language. The vernacular is the real test. If you can’t turn your faith into it, then either you don’t understand it or you don’t believe it’.[x] The challenge is to understand our theology well enough to re-express it in ordinary language that people who are not theologically educated can understand, interrogate and internalise. It is a matter of hermeneutics and translation, the bed-rock of apologetics. Yet for this to work, we need to go on seeking to answer questions related to theodicy, to scientific and sociological advances, to global relations and the insights offered by world faiths. Historically hymn writers have sometimes enabled such exploration, reinterpretation and expression. In the middle of the nineteenth century Frederick Faber wrote of God offering ‘grace enough for thousands of new worlds as great as this’. At the time astronomy had not offered evidence of such worlds. Theology was often national and colonialist. Where today are the hymns that address the scientific advance, inter-faith cooperation and the theodicy of earthquakes (for instance), let alone a recognition of the place and voice of women? Theology after Singing the Faith needs these areas to be addressed and, who knows, we might have to move some treasured texts to a museum of hymnody where, like madrigals, they will be appreciated by specialists and enthusiasts. Perhaps, even, beyond this the church needs to move towards expressions of faith that are less creedal and confessional, but more contextual and incarnational, a living faith expressed in each succeeding moment.

Andrew Pratt (2016)

[i] Pratt, A.E., O for a thousand tongues, Epworth, London, 2004.

[ii] The membership of the group can be reviewed in consecutive reports to Conference from 2004 to 2011.

[iii] conf10a-29-singing-the-faith-160211 – – accessed 6/12/2015

[iv] conf10a-29-singing-the-faith-160211 – 3.4 – accessed 6/12/2015. It is worth noting that many so called ‘modern’ songs are, in terms of both literary style and theological language, archaic.

[v] Stuart K Hine (1899-1989) © 1953 Stuart K Hine/The Stuart Hine Trust/Published by kingswaysongs.com. http://www.kingswaysongs.com. Worldwide (excl. North & South America).

[vi] O store Gud, när jag den värld beskådar – the original hymn ‘O Store Gud’ by Carl Boberg approached this doctrine somewhat differently:

When I behold His Son to earth descending,
to help and heal and teach distressed mankind;
When evil flees and death in fear is bending
before the glory of the Lord divine,

With rapture filled, my soul Thy name would laud,
O mighty God! O mighty God!
With rapture filled, my soul Thy name would laud,
O mighty God! O mighty God!

When, crushed by guilt of sin, before Him kneeling
I plead for mercy and for grace and peace,
I feel His balm and, all my bruises healing,
He saves my soul and sets my heart at ease.

(Translation by E. Gustav Johnson (1893–1974) From Hymnary.org http://www.hymnary.org/text/o_mighty_god_when_i_behold_the_wonder accessed 9/6/2014).

[vii] Davies, R., George, R. A., Rupp, G., A History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, Vol. 3, p.215. Quoted , Pratt, A.E., O for thousand tongues. See also: Selwyn E. G., edit., Essays Catholic and Critical, Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, 3rd edition, London, 1929.

[viii] Kirk, K. E., (1926) ‘The Atonement’ in Essays Catholic and Critical, SPCK, London, p262.

[ix] Hooker, R., (1648) Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity: Books VI, VII, VIII, , from the edition of 1981 published Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.v

[x] C.S. Lewis, ‘Version Vernacular’, The Christian Century vol. LXXV (31 December 1958) p 1515, reprinted in God in the Dockp 338.