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Churchianity vs Christianity, by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

10 August 2018

Michael Bourdeaux considers talks from an Orthodox divine

METROPOLITAN Anthony Bloom never produced a book, and yet the rich store of his spiritual heritage continues to present new titles 15 years after his death in 2003. Copious notes of talks (on one series of which this collection is based), recordings of sermons, and radio broadcasts continue to yield a spiritual treasure.

This book could be recommended for Lent 2019, but not all is straightforward. Addressed to a faithful community of Orthodox believers, it several times makes references that fail to evoke Anglicans’ regular experience. For example: “The services of Wednesday evening and Thursday, and Good Friday, and Saturday are so incredibly beautiful by their setting, by their text, by their music, and yet they may be either a revelation or a screen.” Sadly, can they never be experienced in an Anglican parish church; nor is this sequence even applicable to a cathedral.

The heart of Metropolitan Anthony’s message, though, is in the above quotation. What does he mean by the “Churchianity” of the title? The word, he tells us, was coined by C. S. Lewis, and it refers to the contrast, sometimes the dichotomy, between observing the outward forms of the faith and experiencing the inner richness of a faith that produces fruit on the tree. Every one of these nine talks presents a new aspect of this truth.

Metropolitan Anthony gave them in his Russian Orthodox cathedral between February and June 1990. Consequently, there are occasional repetitions, but this is of no consequence, as the reader is almost able to recreate the special experience of listening to a great voice of the past.

Canon Bourdeaux is the President of Keston Institute, Oxford.

Churchianity vs Christianity
Metropolitan Anthony Bloom
St Vladimir’s Seminary Press £12
Church Times Bookshop £10.80

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