Chris Hancock on Faith and Politics

August 26, 2012

We were very pleased to welcome this morning, The Very Rev’d Dr. Christopher Hancock. Chris is the Director of Oxford House Consultancy and an Honorary Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University. This October he will add Chaplain at St. Peter’s College, Oxford to his responsibilities.

We are near the end of our sermon series on the 39 Articles and Chris preached on Article 37: Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates. The text of the article is below the sermon.


Article 37: Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates.

The Power of the Civil Magistrate extendeth to all men, as well Clergy as Laity, in all things temporal; but hath no authority in things purely spiritual. And we hold it to be the duty of all men who are professors of the Gospel, to pay respectful obedience to the Civil Authority, regularly and legitimately constituted.

The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article reads as follows: “The King’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction. Where we attribute to the King’s Majesty the chief government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended; we give not our Princes the ministering either of God’s Word, or of the Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen do most plainly testify; but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers.
The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.
The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences.
It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars.”

One response to Chris Hancock on Faith and Politics

  1. I rather like the 3 possible ways in which the church can act towards the state as presented by Bonhoeffer and do believe they have direct application today: #1 “…to question the state regarding its actions regarding their legitimacy – to help the state be the state that God has ordained.” #2: “…to aid the victims of state action” where the church has an “unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society,” and – #3: “…not just bandage the victims under the wheel but to put a spoke in the wheel itself.” That is to stop the actions of the state where there exist evil actions of that state. All quotes from Metaxas’ biography. Most compelling and straightforward!