Tuesday, May 15, 2012

“Beautiful Abbeys”

By Kyle Moses
    While in England, I had the opportunity to visit many of the buildings (known as an abbey) for the Church of England (henceforth CoE). These abbeys to see are beautiful. Many of these buildings were constructed in the 1100’s, 1200’s, or 1300’s. Some, of course were either lost or damaged during World War II, but most of them still stand and are still in use among the Anglicans for their “worship” periods. The CoE broke away from the Roman Catholic church in the 1550’s when King Henry VIII was not granted a divorce (or annulment as some sources call it) from Katherine of Aragon by the Pope in Rome. Henry the VIII said then that he would just begin his own church that would allow him to divorce. This difference and the fact that they no longer answer to the Pope are the only two fundamental differences in the CoE and the Roman Catholic church. I want to take the next few paragraphs to describe these buildings for you.
    When standing outside of these beautiful buildings, you can easily see the intricate designs of these buildings’ pillars and the shape. For example, the Peterborough cathedral is in the shape of a cross.
    Next, when entering through the front door of an abbey, the visitor is immediately greeted by signs and boxes pleading for money. Usually there will be a “baptismal” font around the “foyer” of these buildings. It is interesting the history that is seen even in this one element of the CoE. In one of the abbeys I lifted up the cover of this font and saw where there had been several major changes. This font, when first made, was large enough to baptize – in the true meaning of the word – an adult convert. Then, over time, they sealed the font half of the way up to make it large enough to baptize – again in the truest sense of the word – a baby. Then, there was a chalice sitting on this second renovation in which the “holy water” is place where they began to just sprinkle babies. Therefore, we can see the decline of the following of God’s law: from baptism of adults to baptism of children to sprinkling of children.
    There are often at least two podiums from which the services are directed. One podium has its own set of stairs because it is elevated so highly. Only the clergy in charge is allowed to stand behind this podium. If there is going to be a lesser clergy member or a “layperson” reading or doing some public act, they must stand on the floor and use a less-than-elegant podium.
    There are beautiful stained-glass windows that line the great halls of “worship”. These windows often depict –as they refer to her – the Holy Virgin Mother of God (or as we know her, Mary) with a halo over her head, or they show images of Christ on the cross and other Biblical scenes.
    In these auditoriums of these buildings, there are often large and very elaborate tables upon which sits candles and a large cross or crucifix. From this table they administer their communion services on Saturdays or on special religious holidays (i.e. Christmas, Easter, etc.).
    In one of the abbeys, there sits a statue of Mary, Christ, and other figures. They have these images of such figures as well as images of past clergy, kings, and queens. This is idolatry at its worst.
    After taking a tour of the abbey in Cambridge on the campus of the world renowned Cambridge University, I saw just how idolatrous this religion is. The historical documents show how the monarch (which serves as the head of the CoE) is held in a god-like manner. The CoE worships someone alongside of God. In one of the displays, they listed the people worthy of our adoration and worship. Here is the list in the same order: “Mary, God, Christ, Holy Spirit.” Many other things that time nor space will allow could be demonstrated from this exposition.
    I wanted to illustrate this religion to tell you this: this religion is not out of the ordinary. Many religious bodies allow idolatrous acts to come into their midst (i.e., calling a person by a special title such as “reverend” or “pastor” thus elevating them above another person). We must be sure that we do not allow ourselves to make idols in our lives. By putting something else above our service and worship to God, we allow idolatrous worship to take over our lives.

- Kyle Moses, Mathis, TX; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website:

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