Old Dudes with Beards – F.D. Maurice

F.D. Maurice was a theologian, ethicist, and Anglican priest in the middle of the 19th century.  Concerned with the social and economic impact of the Industrial Revolution on the class system in England, Maurice was deeply concerned wtih the work of the Church  in an age of wealth and poverty.

Over the course of his life, Maurice published over 5 million words.  Of course, we can never hope to cover the totality of Maurice’s writing, but we can get a sense of some of his ideas from this brief passage.

From a letter to Daniel Macmillan, June 28th, 1844:

“The one thought which possess me most at this time and, I may say, always has possessed me, is that we have been dosing our people with religion when what they want is not this but the Living God, and that we are threatened now, not with the loss of religious feeling, so-called, or of religious notions, or of religious observances, but with Atheism.  Everywhere I seem to perceive this peril.  The battle within, the battle without is against this; the heart and the flesh of our countrymen is crying out for God.  We give them a stone for bread, systems for realities; they despair of ever attaining what they need.”

In essence, Maurice is discouraged by what he perceives as a loss of true faith in the Church and in the world.  People are crying out to know the living God; and instead of giving them a true and lively faith, the Church gives them a cold and dead theological or ethical system.  Because of this failure on the part of the Church, the people will never know God because they are taughtrules rather than given a Savior.

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