3 Minute Theologian

Words about God and Life for the Attention Deficit Generation

The Weathercock

Now it is not the office of the Church of Christ to be a weathercock, but to witness to the stable, eternal background in front of which these figures cross the stage, and so to preserve and maintain precisely those elements of the truth which are in most danger of being lost. For this reason, it rarely happens that the Church can “co-operate” with a popular movement; more often it is compelled to protest against its onesidedness. If we consider at what periods the Church has been most true to itself, and has conferred the greatest benefits on humanity, we shall find that they have been times when Churchmen have not been afraid to be “in the right with two or three.” Like certain ministers of state, the Church has always done well in opposition, and badly in office.

William Ralph Inge, The Church and the Age (London: Longmans, Green, 1912).

2 Comments

  1. Does he give examples of the periods – and issues – in question, that we might form some assessment of his claim?

  2. Pertinent question! The book is a short series of addresses given to an interested, but uninformed, lay audience. Inge (“It is not ‘Inge’ as in ‘hinge’, but ‘Inge’ as in ‘sting'” was his favoured way of explaining his name) was a contrarian and a controversialist. He says some damning things about Nonconformists (“the famous” Nonconformist con­science,” which is sometimes no more than a rather tortuous and greasy instrument of party politics…”), and then wonders why Nonconformists objected!

    His gaze over church history is equally pithy (!): early Christianity in a paragraph, the Christianization of the Roman Empire in the next. If you want to read the book, it is available on archive.org, and is only 80 pages long.

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