The Nature of God
God is the Ultimate Reality, Truth, Wisdom and Eternal Law. God is pure spirit; eternal essence and uncreated energies; a single entity without division. God’s eternal essence transcends the created cosmos and exists outside of time and space as we know it. But the uncreated energies are immanent in the created world, existing within and throughout all matter, a concept known as Panenthesim. God is neither male nor female in the human sense, but rather the dynamic unity of both. God’s nature is love, compassion and justice.
The EFC does accept the concept of God as a Holy Trinity as a means of trying to understand the divine nature. Trinities of one form and another are common in Indo European mythology, culture and social structure and so this is a natural expression of divinity for a folk faith based in an Indo European tradition. In particular, we find value in the thinking of the Neo-Platonists, who argued that within any object that presents itself to our senses, there are three higher spiritual principles or hypostases. Plotinus, for instance, saw them as the One, the divine intellect or Nous and the World Soul. These roughly equate to the way the EFC views the Christian Trinity; God the Father (the One), God the Logos (the Nous) and God the Spirit or World Soul.
Jesus the Christ
Jesus is the incarnated Word, or Logos, of God; born into our world. He is called ‘Emmanuel’, meaning ‘God with us’. He is the Christ, the ‘anointed one’ who came into our world to perform a great task of revealing God to us and fulfilling our previous understanding of and relationship with God.
The EFC does not seek to define precisely how Jesus was God incarnate, fully God and fully man as this is essentially a mystery we shall never fully comprehend. Neither do we insist on a literal interpretation of some of the doctrines that have been built around what is sometimes called the ‘Jesus of Faith’. For instance, many people in our modern rationalist and scientific age find the doctrine of the ‘Virgin Birth’ difficult to accept literally. The same is true for the doctrine of a physical ‘resurrection’ and ‘ascension’.
Jesus taught the natural law of God that had been handed down to the Israelites and which we believe were also understood by the Druids and Gothis of North Western Europe and the Brahmins of India. He was a healer and in many ways can be seen as a sort of Shaman. The basis of his teaching was of love, compassion and reciprocity (treating others as you would wish them to treat you). However, our Jesus is not the weak sacrificial lamb of Judaeo-Christianity. As with our ancestors in the early Christian period in England and other Saxon lands, we identify Jesus as a Saxon Saviour, a brave warrior for good, who teaches ‘compassionate strength’.
Angels and Guardians
Angels are celestial beings that act as messengers for God and can intervene in human affairs. A popular belief is that we all have a Guardian Angel, not just individuals but entire nations. The Old Testament refers to a Divine Council ruled over by God and to which the lesser gods are appointed as Guardians over the different peoples of the world, Yahweh being appointed to Israel. The EFC believes that the Guardians appointed to the English and other Germanic peoples are the old pantheon of pre-Christian gods and goddesses. There are two main groupings, the Ese (Aesir) and the Wanes (Vanir). Some of the Wanes are also known as Aelfe (Elfs), beings of light. Do not think of the popular perception of Elfs as ‘fairy folk’ or Dobby the House Elf in Harry Potter. They are more like the Elfs of Lord of the Rings, bright shining ‘Wise Ones’, of great beauty, wisdom and holiness.
The Guardians were created by God and reflect some of the divine attributes. Some embody the divine principles of natural law, whilst others embody and maintain the on-going process of creation. They shaped our particular ethnic and cultural form, literally breathing life and their ‘godly hue’ into us making us their literal kin. We honour them as such, but do not worship them.
Spirits and Wights
We believe that all physical things are imbued with Spirit. Some spirits are unseen whereas others have physical form and these were known to our ancestors as Wights. They dwell in the forests and woodland, in the landscape of our earth and in rivers, streams and marshland. The Ents are the great primordial spirits of the forest, such as Treebeard from Lord of the Rings. They may be friendly to humans, but some may be mischievous or even unfriendly to us, especially where we harm the natural world they inhabit and protect. Grendel is a Wight of the eastern marshes.
The word ‘bible’ simply means book and that is what it is, a collection of books. The ‘Old Testament’ is mainly the story of the relationship between God and the ancient Israelites. As such, it is not the story of the Angelcyn and so large parts of it have little to say to us. However, we do acknowledge that ancient Israel had been identified as a special and holy people to be a ‘light unto the nations’. However, they constantly set their face against God, even when He was born into our world as Jesus of Nazareth as foretold by the prophets. This rejection of Christ led to the covenant between God and Israel being ended with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD by Roman armies. That covenant now lies with those who form the body of Christ, a theological position known as Preterism.
The holy scriptures of the New Testament contain divine wisdom and inspiration. However, they have been written down by the hands of men and should not be seen as infallible or to be interpreted literally in every instance. We believe that Christ came to fulfil and glorify our earlier understanding of God, not to destroy it. We recognise the importance of inspired poems in our own tradition, especially those written around the conversion times, such as the ‘Dream of the Rood’ and ‘The Heliand’ which we value as a ‘Saxon Gospel’.
Whilst most of us are used to thinking of ‘Church’ as a building we attend services in, or at least the group of people we worship with, it does have a much deeper meaning. Essentially, it is referring to the ‘Body of Christ’, the sum total of all Christian people, living and dead. As such, it is not a single institution and never has been.
Whilst some branches of the Body of Christ have sought to claim that they are the ‘true’ Church and that any doctrine that differs from their own is heretical, we believe that God’s Church is a broad one. Like the kingdom of heaven itself, it is a mansion with many rooms!
The different branches of the Church reflect the different branches of humanity that God has created and these different Church structures minister specifically to their particular group. This is the basis of a folk church. Our Church is our community of kith and kin.
The Saints are the faithful departed who dwell in heaven and especially those who have been perfected, or glorified in Christ, through exceptional holiness. Sainthood is therefore the aspiration of every faithful Christian which is why we pray for the faithful departed that if they have not yet become perfected that they will do so. We may also pray to the Saints that they pray for us, but they have no power to grant us blessings or benefits themselves. The EFC particularly venerates English Saints and recognises King Alfred the Great as one of our most important.
The Holy Runes
Mythology tells us that Woden (Odin) brought the Runes from the depths of the Well of Wyrd, deep below the roots of the ‘World Tree’ Yggdrasil. This can be considered as a Shamanic experience in which Woden acquired the hidden knowledge of the Holy Runes. This knowledge has been embedded in a number of ‘Rune Poems’ within the Germanic world, one of the best known of which is the ‘Anglo Saxon Rune Poem.’ This poem contains much wisdom from our pre-Christian religion, but has been partially Christianised which makes it invaluable for the English Folk Christian. We believe that the hidden knowledge of the cosmos that lies in the Holy Runes makes them at least as important as the Gospels themselves.
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