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This article is taken from PN Review 13, Volume 6 Number 5, May - June 1980.

Liturgy: Need and Frustration Derek Brewer
 
(Reprinted from Theology, May 1977)

THE objections to Series 3 put by Richard Harries (Theology, July 1976) will raise a sympathetic echo in many minds, especially in his criticism of the poor verbal quality. 'This is terrible stuff' indeed. But my sympathy abruptly stopped when I realised that as happens in other areas of national life, what is proposed as a cure is a further heavy dose of the primary infection.

As an example may be quoted Mr Harries's objection to the phrase 'Almighty and Everlasting God'. He gives no reason for objecting to this though he makes an indirect reference to Cranmer's alleged predilection for addressing God 'as though he were an illustrious nobleman'. Did Cranmer or any other Christian ever address any nobleman as Almighty and Everlasting? Mr Harries does not say that the epithets are untrue, or that they give an inferior and misleading sense of God. It could be argued that 'Almighty' is indeed a seriously wrong attribute for God, but that is not Mr Harries's argument. He only says that 'many Christians today would prefer to begin simply "Father" or "Holy Father".' That 'many people would prefer' to do something is an alarmingly Benthamite pseudo-argument. 'Many people would prefer' to do or say all kinds of things that are highly undesirable or wrong, and 'many Christians' are not so very different from many other people. Counting heads is no argument; but even if it were it has not been done, ...


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