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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham, 1752.

The English Church in the eighteenth century was besieged by deists, nonconforming evangelicals, and most of all by indifferent or lazy clergy of her own. Joseph Butler was an outstanding example of the other side of the coin. Operating well within the structures and traditions of the established church, he forged a positive Christian apologetic which has outlived the attitudes of his opponents. He is credited with breaking the force of deism in England, without compromising his reason, and with saving many from fanatic evangelicalism, without surrendering his warmth, personal piety, or social concern. His masterpiece, the Analogy of Religion, is still considered one of the most reasoned and convincing defenses of Christian faith and ethic.

Butler first established a reputation as a preacher at the Rolls Chapel, London, where his famous Fifteen Sermons were delivered and published. He wrote the Analogy of Religion under very different circumstances, as rector of the small parish of Stanhope in the north of England. He was elected Bishop of Bristol and served most admirably in that post for twelve years before accepting the bishophric of Durham, in which position he died. Bishop Butler was a great pastor, who served the minds as well as the bodies and spirits of his people.

We thank you, O God, for the teaching of your servant Joseph; may our witness be as faithful. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, and to others the word of faith: We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Joseph Butler, and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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