Friday, 4 May 2012

England, and The Church of England, as a latent Byzantine polity


It is, perhaps, surprising that Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the Church of England, who appoints the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and who (via her parliament) controls many aspects of the Church.

In modern times, and indeed for most of its history, this has been a mostly (not wholly) malign influence - sometimes called 'Erastianism' - meaning the State controlling the Church.


It is particularly malign that the Prime Minister and the House of Commons have usurped almost all of the Monarch's prerogatives - so that the PM actually chooses the Archbishops, and it was a vote in the Commons that rejected the 1928 revision to the Prayer Book (not that I favour that revision - I do not).


And yet, the fascinating things is that - although perverted and inverted - the Constitution of England is, in its basic shape - very much like the 'ideal' (I mean, ideal to me!) constitution of the Byzantine Empire.


For instance, the Monarch of England is meant to be by the Grace of God, chosen by God (and not, therefore, hereditary, nor appointed by Parliament - except when these procedures lead to the correct answer).

The Monarch chooses the Patriarch (Archbishop of Canterbury) who rules the Church, yet the Patriarch could (in principle) excommunicate the Monarch and exert other types of authority over him.

The Monarch chooses the Government by asking the leader of a Party to form a government - usually this is the 'winner' of a general election; but it could be someone else.

The Monarch can also dismiss any government for breaching the constitution (this actually happened in 1975 when the Queen's representative dismissed the Australian government led by Gough Whitlam). 

And many of the primary aspects of English life retain the form of being done in the Monarch's name, and by his authority.


For a Christian reactionary, this situation is strange.

In real life the English constitution has been and is being used to impose an atheist, anti-Christian and Leftist democratic agenda; but in principle, if the English people became devoutly Christian Monarchists - pretty-much everything essential is in-place to make England a Byzantine Monarchy.

All that would be required is to remove all committees and votes, reverse the direction of power; and to live by the spirit of the constitution instead of merely by its letter.