Archbishop Michael Ramsey’s basics…

The short, stocky fellow with white, bushy eyebrows gave a nod as I entered the room and smiled. I took my seat for the Theology Colloquium with my fellow students around the table. A student came into the room and took a seat nearby.

The class was called to order by Archbishop Michael Ramsey, whose keen eyes were never obscured by his white, bushy eyebrows. Bishop Mike, as we knew him, began the discussion which was about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The student who arrived a little later than I did seemed to have a new idea, which he advanced.

Bishop Ramsey asked him a few pointed questions, and that fellow was more than willing to expound most articulately about his new understanding and his new way of expressing the theology of the Trinity.

Bishop Mike just kept asking more questions, and the more he asked, the more the fellow responded. The rest of us all wondered where this was going, but no one seemed either brave enough or foolish enough to interject.And so the duel of  minds went on for about 25 minutes.

At that moment, Bishop Ramsey smiled and announced, “A cursory glance at page 19 of the required reading text for this course would have delivered your sad classmate from many dismal and grievous errors.” Then Bishop Mike went on for another 20 minutes about the many pitfalls of our classmate’s logic.

The fellow squirmed uncomfortably. (If his prayers had been answered, I’m sure the floor boards would have opened to swallow him alive!) It was fairly brutal, for although Bishop Mike (the one hundredth archbishop of Canterbury) was a compassionate soul, he did not abide intellectual sloppiness– particularly of the sort that he had seen that morning.

Many years have come and gone since that day. Many things have come down the pike since that time—efforts to redefine the understanding of Christianity and to water down those things which ought to be basic and essential. Things like worshipping Jesus and being focused on Jesus not the self, and attending public worship and tending to one’s prayers… things that many of us treat as though they were optional or occasional, but they are not.

When we stray too far from those, we do so to our soul’s detriment.

Some things may indeed change; in life, as we well know, most things are in flux. But there are some things that are rudimentarily basic, and we would do well to pay attention to that.


Canon Greg+


About canongreg

I have been Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Wellsboro, PA since 1994.
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