Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Does tasteful Christian contemporary art exist?

Recently, I have been thinking about contemporary art in churches and I thought about the newly-built churches of Rome, besides any thoughts I have regarding the liturgical functionality of these spaces, I wondered of how people that sometimes do not live in the most exciting places can restore themselves spiritually in these unwelcoming spaces. Sadly, this is not only the case of Rome, as the Church seems to be aiming for a common sense of aesthetics throughout the world, whether it is here, London or New York. 
When I am receiving communion or when I am praying, I usually take a look at the art in our churches, and it doesn't surely have to be Caravaggio of which Rome is very generous or the lovely stained glass in my church of All Saints', I wonder how can contemporary churches afford beautiful and spiritually inspiring art works that don't date back to the 1600s? 
No matter where we are, but the "official" contemporary scene is rather sad, let's be frank; the same artists, thinking of Marko Rupnik and his perhaps overrated mosaics or the much loved bronze works in the style of Fazzini such as the new lectern and altar in the Pantheon, as well as plenty of tasteless neo-Byzantine icons that find their way into churches whose architectural language is completely different, it is the same in the Church of England, what is an icon doing in Wren's St. Paul's? This is  another subject regarding a wrong perception of early Church art, spirituality, habits and liturgy, but I digress. Anglican cathedrals and churches sometimes present very few modern commissions that seem to be able to inspire the average Christian, think of the statue of Mary in Ely's Lady Chapel or endless obscure installations.
How can modern churches afford inspiring and tasteful art? Can beauty still exist? 

Never say never. Nowadays, there are excellent artists who operate and who produce artworks that are well within the reach of moderately prosperous congregations; who create beauty for any church that can inspire every believer through his or her deepest feelings by creating a strong bond, something that seems not as easy with other Christian contemporary art. One of these artists made it his mission: Davis D'Ambly. 
He has worked in the field of liturgical design for over thirty years. As a long churchman in the Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, his vocation in the Church is to create beautiful objects of worship that can truly make us worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. After graduating from the Tyler School of Fine Arts and private studies in both painting and art history, he began designing for the church in 1972. His commissions included some of the most important churches in the United States, from Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue to Bruton Parish in Virginia, via Anglo-Catholic havens such as the Church of the Advent in Boston. 
In Anglicanism, we haven't had proper liturgical artists since Bodley and Comper, Davis is a modern Travers à la Gothique, with a foot in the English Gothic style and the Flemish and Italian Renaissance. He creates beautiful liturgical furbishing such as roods and tabernacles but also spectacular altarpieces and devotional artworks, from neo-Flemish Renaissance triptychs of the Crucifixion with Saints to properly Anglican paintings of Saint Charles, King and Martyr! Among my favourite works by Davis are a beautiful neo-Italian Renaissance Triptych in St. John's the Evangelist in Brooklyn, a Walsingham Triptych for St. Paul's K Street, probably the most impressive depiction of Our Lady of Walsingham in existence, a carved Gothic Revival tabernacle for Fifth Avenue and an outstanding blue set of vestments, including a frontal, for the Church of the Advent in Boston.
Davis' excellence can in fact be found in his vestments, liturgical hangings and embroideries, his frontals, chasubles, copes and lectern falls that can truly be seen as an exciting revisitation of that Victorian revival that found inspiration in the refined tradition of English vestments, the Opus Anglicanum. What truly makes them outstanding though is his own personal touch, it is in his revisitation that the genius' touch can be found. In this he has no rivals.
I have been willing to write this article for a long time, when I see a modern church, in need of art or with bad art, I always think this is the artist to choose, if only Davis got there. Even the most unappealing place can became an awesome house of God through beauty, and Davis' art is beauty that can inspire, that can bring you closer to God during worship or during a private moment, whether distressing or joyful. This is what Christian art is for. Meet this beauty here: Davis D'Ambly, Liturgical Artist.

Monday, July 16, 2018

John Wesley and Predestination.

As an Anglican, I have never found myself comfortable with the idea of predestination, with a Calvinistic idea of salvation in which free will plays a little role in the economy of soteriology.  I vividly remember hearing a sermon from a formerly Presbyterian minister, and it came across as if that priest thought she was going to be saved, the congregation? Who knows. Indeed, under Edward VI and his prayer book such views highly influenced Anglicanism,  and to an extend it still does in some Evangelical wings of the Church of England. Thankfully, during the 16th century, the Caroline Divines, a number of loyalist high church clergymen welcomed back in the Church a more catholic and historical theology of salvation: Arminianism in which salvation is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It still is the view held by most Anglicans and which many great clergymen held, including John Wesley, an 18th century Anglican vicar who started a spiritual revolution in the English Church, he strongly despised the reformed idea of salvation and to this day the reformed churches are broadly divided on this matter between Arminian and Calvinist thanks to him. 

In 1739, he preached a wonderful sermon named "Free Grace", as an attack to the close minded views other Evangelicals in the Church of England held: Manifestly does this doctrine tend to overthrow the whole Christian Revelation by making it contradict itself... This doctrine is a doctrine full of blasphemy; of such blasphemy as I should dread to mention. John Wesley could not accept that a God who sent his Son to be sacrificed for all men and for all sin and created us as an act of love already planned who was going to be saved and who wasn't. It is a doctrine contrary to the very basis of Christianity, such as redemption and forgiveness, common subjects in 18th century Anglicanism, but also a historical and catholic view of religion. Wesley continues in his sermon: This doctrine destroys all his God’s attributes at once: it overturns both his justice, mercy, and truth; yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust. Only a non-loving God can create man in his own image to write his destiny beforehand. Wesley stated that Calvinistic theology was contrary to any idea of Christianity: No scripture can prove that God is not love, or that his mercy is not over all his works; that is, whatever it prove beside, no scripture can prove predestination. To this day, even the most hardcore Presbyterians have softened their views on predestination, and it is thanks to the great Anglican saint, John Wesley, that a catholic idea of an all-loving, ever-forgiving God who sent his Son to save us all has spread to the four corners of Christendom, as John Wesley concluded: I abhor the doctrine of predestination.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sermon on Saint John the Baptist.

Today I had the privilege to lead a service of worship and to preach in Rome's English-speaking Methodist church of Ponte Sant'Angelo, Pastor Tim Macquiban kindly welcomed me and allowed me to experience what it is to lead God's people in God's praises. This was my first time leading any Sunday service and I am indeed touched to have done so in a church whose tradition finds its roots in Anglicanism, through John and Charles Wesley, a movement whose aim was to bring God to the four corners of the world, by speaking of God's infinite grace and love but also through a splendid musical tradition, and indeed today we sang some favourite hymns with joy and enthusiasm. I will always treasure this special occasion. Here is a transcript of that sermon I preached today:

Whether you are a visitor, a long time resident of this city of Rome or a Roman; you surely have noticed the beauty that this city has to offer, in its churches, frescoes, paintings, galleries, palazzos, gardens, bridges, even the food, anywhere! But sometimes, the most exciting, beautiful places hide some dark secrets. Surely not a surprise for a 2,700 years old city. Sometimes what seems ordinary can hide gruesome details! If you take a stroll not too far away from here and head towards the Spanish Steps area, you may end up in the not so exciting piazza of San Silvestro, named after a church that still stands there, if you keep walking heading north, on the Via del Gambero, you may notice a tiny door along the church’s wall; the small door leads to a little chapel guarded by a charming Gothic-revival screen that hides what looks like a reliquary, the rather large object houses a mummified skull, that supposedly belongs to Saint John the Baptist. Surely, there are various skulls of Saint John, throughout the world, but the thought and faith is what counts, now the need of showing it openly, is something that we can talk about instead! But every time I pass by that alley, I reflect on a simple thought that comes to mind; are people walking outside, children eating gelato, adults holding hands, tourists doing some shopping, are they aware of this little, dark secret? Are they aware of how hard it is to be a Christian? To Fight the Good Fight?

Today’s readings were, to say the least, quite unusual, sometimes the Word of God, isn’t easy to digest, isn’t it? First, Paul tells us of God’s infinite grace, shown in his son Jesus Christ, as tricky as this passage may seem, and surely throughout the centuries there have been extreme interpretations of these words, what really is the meaning is that God predestined all of mankind to be saved and the incarnation of his Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed us all in his sacrifice of blood and love, is its very sign. In love, he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. 

God who first revealed himself to the people he freed from Egypt, finally in his revelation to the world he made himself incarnate in order not to save someone, but to save all of humankind - in order to extend his salvific mission to everyone of us, denying that, would be denying the sacrifice of many. As Christians, Paul also gave us the key in order to make our communion with God stronger, in Ephesians he continues: and you were also included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the Gospel of your salvation. When you believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. It is by Christ we have been saved, with the grace of God, bestowed by the Holy Spirit, this holy and blessed Three, glorious Trinity, Wisdom, Love, Might; boundless as ocean’s tide, rolling in fullest pride, through the earth far and wide, let there be light. It is this Trinity, this mysterious communion of love that is God, one in three and three in one, that can save us, that can give us light. And we just have to understand and be thankful for such an act of love that transcends ages, time, space, the very limits of our universe and understanding of what surrounds us. 

If God, entrusted us with such a responsibility, if God believed we as creatures made in his own image, were to be worthy of the time to be considered for salvation we must take our faith and make it grow, we have to cultivate our daily thanksgiving to this boundless love, we must Fight the Good Fight. I have to say, I am partly thankful, that I managed to be here, when one of the most difficult Gospel readings from the Church’s year were to be read: the death of John the Baptist. Here in Rome and in Italy in general, as an art historian to be, I have always been fascinated by the spectacular Renaissance art works, that portrayed the Baptist as a little child playing with baby Jesus or as an adult baptising Jesus, even in England, the beautiful and yet simple Baptism of Christ by Piero della Francesca, in London’s National Gallery, truly holds a strong message, the message that this saintly man was chosen by Christ to baptise him, so that he could baptise everyone and open the kingdom of God to all believers, so that, that grace given to us by God could really make its way among us. It is no surprise that our Muslim sisters and brothers in the faith regard the Baptist as an important prophet that announced the coming of Christ, there is even an ancient Middle Eastern tradition within Judaism that sees the Baptist as a reincarnation of the prophet Elijah, as our Gospel today also states. 

As for the little relic in the tiny chapel near the Spanish Steps, hidden from the bustling life of this city, the Renaissance depictions of an adorable Baptist as a baby or as a humble preacher in the Baptism scenes, hide the fact that this holy man was slaughtered for having stood up to tyrants in order to follow his faith and God’s grace. If there is an example out there of how strong faith can be, that is it, the example of the first Christian! He taught us how to Fight the Good Fight.

Sometimes, everyone of us feels too let down by God, I am the first, there are moments when there isn’t even anything serious going on and you’re just tired to pray, but not enough to watch some tv series or to eat a snack. Yet, the first Christian wasn’t afraid of standing up for God when he had to, does that mean we all have to be slaughtered? No! But I think it is important to be a living testimony of God’s love as Christians, to hold strong to his faith and to be good examples of human beings. People throughout the world still die for their faith or for human greed, even in more brutal ways than the Baptist, for the sole fanaticism or enjoyment of others, to Fight the Good Fight means to take conscience of this, to fight this and to try and make an impact on the world, in Jesus’ name! Faith is what saves us all, believing and God’s grace is what saves us, but what makes us whole is making this world a better place. We must Fight the Good Fight.

Today we read of how as for Jesus, Herod was too afraid of killing John the Baptist, he was too afraid of laying a hand on someone who was carrying a testimony of faith that clearly made an impact on the monarch. And yet, in order to follow his earthly promise, a promise requested by greed and jealousy, Herod agreed to the request: the head of John the Baptist, and so that was it. Do I feel as I should judge Herod for his decision? I am not sure. This decision is only up to God, but to be honest I do not feel like it. What if the little child eating gelato would find the gruesome head in San Silvestro? What if Herod had the courage to stand up to his pride, not make the mistake of agreeing to that promise, not offer to make any promise as a ruler with certain duties and responsibilities? What if we could stand up to the injustice we witness day by day? What if we could put our own interests aside and aim for the common good? What if we would Fight the Good Fight?

It is not our duty to judge, for example the first Christian man, the Baptist, couldn't even sweeten Herod up; people make mistakes, though not as great as his perhaps, but at the very least, we should stop asking and asking, we should stop and think that perhaps it’s time to give, it’s time to be thankful, it’s time to forgive and not ask for anyone’s head on a platter. Why did the Baptist die? For his faith. For a common belief in Jesus Christ who died to save us all. We have incredible hardships to go through in our lives, we are all saints, and it is because of Christ’s incredible act of love that we know any hardship can be overcome. We have to have the courage to find what’s hidden, it may be much better than a mummified human skull. Let us be thankful in the Baptist’s sacrifice and testimony of faith, let us go out into the world with new eyes. The Baptist showed us that being a Christian is not easy, let us remember whenever we are feeling a bit under the weather, being us is not easy, but Jesus is always by our side and in our hearts. We simply have to Fight the Good Fight!

Fight the good fight with all thy might;
Christ is thy Strength, and Christ thy Right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Tiber Island, a fascinating history.

Recently, I took a water bus on the Thames in London between Blackfriars and Westminster, back and forth; admiring the beauties of a great city that was made such also thanks to its important waterway, it is a fluvial artery that saw the Romans, Tudor galleons as well as ships that made the British Empire great, today along it rise both the shadows of London's past glories as well as the skyscrapers of the City, one of the two most important financial centres in the world. The greatest cities in the world were founded on rivers: London, Paris, Florence, Prague, Vienna, New York and Rome. It is probably the latter that made a long lasting impact on the use of rivers from the age of the empire to our day. If we should seek then the original "holy" river, which one would it be? It would be the river Tiber, sacred to the Romans, it became a new Jordan when Rome superseded Jerusalem as the Rome of the Popes (at least theoretically) and while today surely it would need a thorough clean up, it still holds signs of its former glories.

One of the most fascinating tracts of the river is perhaps the Tiber Island, located in the southmost area of the centre, between the Jewish quarter and the Trastevere quarter, since Roman times it has been for over 2,000 years a place of healing and of medicine. It is still connected to the mainland through two surviving bridges from antiquity: the Pons Cestius, leading to the Trastevere and the Pons Fabricius leading to the Jewish quarter, both dating to the 1st century BC. The Pons Fabricius, is also known as Bridge of the Four Heads, because of the ancient two-headed sculptures at each corner of it and it remains intact since antiquity.
According to legend, the island was formed in 510 BC, when the Romans threw in the water the body of evil Tarquinius Superbus, his body settled to the bottom of the river where dirt and slit accumulated around it, eventually forming the island - another less macabre version states that the Romans threw Tarquinius' wheat and grain in the river and eventually the island was formed.
The island was considered a dodgy place during the early Roman Republic, up until the 3rd century BC.

It was then that it became a vast and magnificent sanctuary dedicated to Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. According to various accounts, in 293 BC a massive plague took hold of Rome, the Roman Senate consulted the Sibyl and was instructed to build a temple in honour of the god; a delegation even went to Epidauros in Greece to obtain a statue of the deity. It was customary to bring a snake onboard ships at the time, and interestingly that one curled itself around the mast and that was taken a good sign. To this day the image of snakes curling around a mast are a symbol of medicine. And so the island was deemed a good place given the godly sign. 
Eventually, the island became associated with the temple which was modelled to resemble a ship sailing the river, Travertine prow and stern were added, as well as an obelisk erected in the middle, acting as a mast. Part of the prow still survives and there is still a surviving relief of Aesculapius' rod with an entwining snake. In the 19th century the obelisk was removed to make way for a neo-Renaissance obelisk with the four patron saints of the island: Paulinus of Nola, Francis, John and Bartholomew. Parts of the obelisk are now in museums in Naples and Munich.

In 998, Emperor Otto III, had a basilica dedicated to the martyr Saint Bartholomew built on the island. A nice anecdote links the island as a place of healing to London: in 1123, Augustinian canon Paul Rahere travelled to Rome on a pilgrimage but fell ill, he was hospitalised at Saint Bartholomew on the Tiber Island and when he came back to London he vowed to build a church as a sign of thankfulness: that became the church of Saint Bartholomew the Great, also a place of healing as a hospital that bears its name was also founded adjacent to the church. Meanwhile, the island remained a place of medicine and healing; during the Renaissance many hospitals were being restored, enlarged and founded by the Church, in 1554 the hospital on the island was enlarged and it became known as the Fatebenefratelli. In 1943, during the Nazi occupation of Rome, when the Jews were being rounded up, Dr. Borromeo, the then head of the hospital invented a "deadly" and highly contagious illness known as the "Syndrome K", as the SS were highly scared of contagion, the hospital managed to save dozens of Jews, just a stone's throw from the Jewish quarter! 
After over two thousand years the island still manages to impress and to be a place of healing, and through the river it is on, it connects it with its sister foundation in London! What marvels these rivers can do.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

How the Medici became the most powerful family of Florence; because of the English!

During the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, trade was a very important mean through which knowledge, art, goods of all kinds could travel throughout Europe, nations were much more connected than we could believe and often the great nation states exchanged raw materials for precious goods or loans, for example eastern England during the 14th and 15th centuries had a strong link with Florence through the Flanders, especially Bruges, the wool that made England rich was exchanged for eastern spices from Venice, stunning artworks and often... loans. It always amuses me to hear conspiracy theories about the Jews and especially the Rotschilds, when the great banking families that fuelled art, literature and especially war throughout Europe were... Tuscan and Venetian! Talking about which, there is an amusing historical anecdote from the 14th century about just this.
By 1310, Florence was a vibrating and rich city, filled with beautiful art, bustling with merchants and the most educated men of the time, it was also much larger than London; but Florence could have never been so grand, had it not been for what it was: a city of bankers, built by bankers, it's them that built the churches, commissioned the sculptures, frescoes and churches to Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael and Leonardo. Renaissance Florence was the Gilded Age New York of a hundred years ago.

By 1310, the most powerful banking families of Florence were the Bardi, the Peruzzi and the Acciaiuoli. They had branches at locations stretching from England to the Flanders and even North Africa and the Middle East, all key areas for Italian trade. Each family owned each operating capital, sometimes together with few close partners, but money was also received from outside deposits. Foreign branches were operated by Florentines sent abroad. These firms traded in agricultural commodities, industrial products, but more especially refined woollen textiles imported from England. They drew most of their profit from the fees levied on exchange of currency. Florentine bankers were the most trusted, because moving money abroad was risky, of course it was less so if you had a presence everywhere, therefore they also had more information than those they were dealing with.
Another significant portion of their profit came from extending credit, a risky activity in the 1340s, as these families discovered soon.
Both the Peruzzi and the Bardi made the mistake of lending vast sums to King Edward III of England during the 1330s as the Hundred Years' War was approaching. Sadly, the bankers soon realised that it is quite difficult to repay a lot of credit all at once, they just lent so much that they felt compelled to lend more, also because they needed royal licenses to export the precious wool. By 1343, it was clear the war would not have ended soon, the king repudiated his debts. The large amounts lost were of circa 600,000 gold florins owed to the Peruzzi and 900,000 to the Bardi, none of it ever repaid. This led to the 1345 economic crisis that eventually had a strong impact on all of Europe.

Of course, this was not the end of Florence, and eventually the Bardi and Peruzzi rose from their ashes and lived quite comfortable aristocratic lives: during the 15th century, smaller firms that survived the crash started to acquire more and more power, this was a new, greater era of Florentine banking, the names? Pazzi, Rucellai, Strozzi and the Medici. Florence and its economy were only bound to become greater, this led to such a flourishing time for the arts, culture, archeology, philosophy, sciences and even religion that became known as the Renaissance. Perhaps we can forgive that thief of a king then!

England's St. George's Flag: an Italian job.

What is the most recognised symbol of Englishness today? It is probably the simple and yet beautiful flag of Saint George, a red cross on a white shield, a theme used since the late Middle Ages in various flags throughout Europe, including Florence or the banner of the risen Christ in much Christian iconography between the 13th and 16th centuries. What is the story of the use of Saint George's Cross in England?

In 1188, according to various 13th century chroniclers, Henry II of England and Philip II of France agreed to go on a crusade to Jerusalem, it was agreed that the two kings would wear respectively a white and a red cross, later, according to a Victorian tradition Richard the Lionheart adopted both the flag and the patron saint of Genoa for his crusade. Also, in the late 13th century, during the reign of Edward I, red crosses seemed to have been already used to distinguish English soldiers - documents also prove that the king in 1277 made an extensive order of cloth for the production of several Saint George banners. By the 1300s the banner was eventually used as a royal standard.

Of course, Saint George had become a popular saint during the crusades as a warrior saint, as opposed to the national saint of England, Saint Edward the Confessor, known for his good heart. Edward III made Saint George even more popular by using his flag for the Order of the Garter in the 1300s. Finally, King Henry VII commissioned John Cabot to sail to Newfoundland under our flags, banners and ensigns. That was the first use of George's banner in the Royal Navy.

Before the Reformation, England's patron saint was Saint Edward the Confessor with Saint George's Day being considered a "double major feast" since 1415, but later, despite the king saint still being honoured, especially given his royal role, Saint George rose to a primary position when the cult of saints was altered, this also appears in the revised Book of Common Prayer of 1552. The use of Saint George's flag became widespread during the late Tudor era.

But what's the Italian connection? As remarked by the Duke of Kent in 1992: the St. George's flag, a red cross on a white field, was adopted by England and the City of London in 1190 for their ships entering the Mediterranean to benefit from the protection of the Genoese fleet. The English Monarch paid an annual tribute to the Doge of Genoa for this privilege.
At the time Genoa, was along with Venice the most powerful naval force in the world and using its flag and protection was a warranty of making a safe trip without being bothered by Saracen pirates or other enemies.

A few days ago, the mayor of Genoa, during a fundraising campaign for the Comune decided to ask for help directly to the Queen, 247 years of unpaid debts of the British Crown for not paying rent for their flag! His words: your Majesty, I regret to inform you that from my books it looks like you didn't pay for the last 247 years. Quite a clever marketing operation, though I believe that since Napoleon put an end to the Republic of Genoa, later occupied by the Savoy state of Italy, he has lost any right to claim those funds, but nonetheless, what a fascinating story!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Who is saved? Understanding salvation beyond Christianity.

Salvation, that is to say the redemption from sin and an eternal fellowship with God, is often a difficult topic to confront in the 21st century as Christians, we have heard it all, from the first Christians who were martyred in order to be saved, to the Medieval and Humanist Christians who persecuted others in order to save them, to Calvinistic Protestants who believed (and some still do) that God chose some and rejected others. 
Shortly after the Reformation, especially under the reign of Edward VI, Anglicanism departed from its roots and adopted a Calvinistic inspired concept of salvation based on the doctrine of predestination which lasted for the entire length of the Tudor dynasty: God selected only a certain few to to receive eternal salvation.

Thankfully, during the 17th century, Anglicanism began to readopt a more Christian idea of soteriology, especially thanks to the Caroline Divines, a group of high church theologians that lived during the reigns of Charles I and Charles II, after the Restoration - figures such as William Laud, Lancelot Andrewes and Thomas Ken, introduced an Arminian idea of salvation. Arminianism is the redemption, the freedom from sin through grace, unlike in Lutheranism, in which human nature is considered intrinsically sinful, or Calvinism in which human nature is in bondage to sin, despite in both cases human nature posses free will - in neither of them there is a conditional election, in Arminian theology one's faith makes salvation conditional, by choosing Jesus who made it possible through his death. Justification is by faith as in the previous too, but only because of Christ's sacrifice to redeem mankind, this is when Anglicanism readopts a more Orthodox concept of salvation and regains continuity with its millenary history as the English branch of the Church, founded by Saint Augustine in 597, a catholic idea of salvation akin to that of the early Christians and the Orthodox. Arminianism and this gentle, reformed and yet catholic, approach to salvation influenced various Christians, among them John and Charles Weasley, the founders of Methodism, and our Church to this very day. Most Anglicans, especially thanks to the Catholic Revival of the 19th century adopted an even more traditional idea of salvation based on the importance of receiving the sacraments of baptism and of the eucharist, and so do also good works play an important role, indeed they are also a sign of grace and faith. Salvation, or damnation, for Anglicans is not automatic, it is the fruit of our own faith.

However, what is my point in this article? Quite recently, I went to a Bible Study where a fellow Anglican, however enthusiastic was making points on how only Christians can be saved through Jesus, indeed the Bible says that, but I also believe that as Anglicans the three-legged stool of Scripture, Tradition and Reason here gives us a huge help in not coming across as fundamentalists and really it is all about the sense of continuity of this ancient English Church and its ancient but welcoming concept of salvation. Historically, Anglicans always had a positive concept of salvation and of human nature, even the harsh words of the Prayer Book are just really there to make sure we'll do well. So what when it comes to those who haven't accepted or received Jesus? How do we dare, for example, judge two of the Abrahamic religions that share so many of our beliefs? Judaism and Islam.
I think we can look with confidence at the Catechism of our fellow Roman Catholics which states the role of Jews and Moslems in the economy of the salvation of all men, I personally agree with them and I know they reflect almost any recent Anglican idea of salvation for all men.


The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People, the first to hear the Word of God. The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.


The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honour Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.

I believe that sometimes we don't often look to other Abrahamic faiths as Christians and we do not realise how the roots are the same and salvation is but inevitable for the Jew and Muslim that leads a good life, like any Christian; God doesn't forget his promise of the Old Covenant, he doesn't forget the people he first revealed himself to, neither the people that gave birth to Mary, Joseph and Jesus - nor does he forget those who adore him and respect the Son and his Mother. God doesn't forget those who honour the Father, day by day. Didn't Christ die for the sins of all men? How about those who haven't even heard of our Abrahamic monotheistic God? 
All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city...
The second of the 39 Anglican Articles of Religion reads: whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men. Surely a God of love would save rather than reject? This is what Christ came for. I do not mean to do wishy washy theology, I do believe in God and Satan, in salvation and damnation, of course the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ is an essential mean of salvation, and his very Incarnation and Passion are incredible signs of God's love for us, but in this article I wanted to explore the case of the non-Christian in the eyes of Christians, evangelisation in the 21st century does not have a Crusader attitude, we should let people of other faiths keep their beliefs, we should focus on the non-believer, and we should bring Christ's light into the world through faith and love, not fanaticism - I just also believe that God, a Lord of love, and a whole company of saints and angels  are constantly fighting for us to enjoy his eternal presence.
The first and chief article is this: Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification (Romans 3:24-25). He alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), and God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away (Mark 13:31).