The English Folk Church affirms the orthodox Christian faith as understood by the traditional English Church, especially the pre-Conquest Anglo Saxon Church and the Anglican tradition that sought to restore it. However, the EFC is more about living English Christianity than it is about debating the finer points of theology. We also believe that there was a great deal of cultural continuity over the course of our history, including many folk beliefs and practices which have their origins in the pre-Christian era. Whilst many of these have disappeared over the years, we wish to help restore them, where they are or can be made compatible with the Christian faith, to help strengthen our bonds to the lives and culture of our ancestors.
The Nature of God
We believe in one God who 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. In this, the EFC is Panentheistic.
The EFC defines God as a Holy Trinity; one God in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, eternally sharing the one divine nature. However, we recognise that this is an imperfect doctrine devised by man to try to explain the complexity of the divine nature which is something essentially beyond the scope of the human intellect. The EFC also teaches that God is neither male nor female; but rather the dynamic unity of both.
God the Father
God the Father is the head of the Trinity and the source of all things. He is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere). His nature is love, protectiveness and justice. Although referred to as ‘Father’ and seen as having the qualities of the perfect Father, God is neither male nor female in the human sense. So it is appropriate to see the first person of the Trinity as not just father, but also as Mother with the qualities of the perfect Mother.
God the Son, Logos & Jesus the Christ
God the Son is the second person of the Trinity and also known as the Logos, God’s inner voice of thought, reason and logic. Logos is God’s Law, the natural law, which our ancestors called Wyrd or Orlog, which literally means the primal law. However, Logos is personal not impersonal, being brought into existence (begotten not made) by the Father before creation. Indeed, creation was brought about by the Father through the Son or Logos.
The Logos is the ‘light that shone in the darkness’, the inner voice that whispered to our ancestors and who sought to guide them through mythical tales before His incarnation. He was then born into our world as Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ or anointed One, and lived amongst us for a while.
Jesus taught the word and natural law of God that had been handed down to the Israelites and which we believe were also understood by other peoples such as the Druids and the Brahmins of India. He frequently sparred with the Pharisees, the precursors of modern day Rabbinical Judaism, who had corrupted the Hebrew natural law with their emphasis on literal interpretation and embellishment of meaning through the oral tradition which was to become the basis of the Talmud.
The Logos is the mediator between the Father and creation, between the divine and human as he is the union of both. Christ was crucified, died and rose again after three days, taking away the sins of the world. After appearing to his followers on several occasions in a physical, yet changed body, he rose into heaven. Christ’s resurrected body is both physical and spiritual, glorified and not subject to the imperfections of our human condition. The ascended Christ remains with us just as he has always been with us and it is the ascended Christ to which we direct our prayers and worship. Eternal life is ultimately a gift of Christ.
The EFC does not teach that a literal belief in the virgin birth is necessary to believe that God dwelt amongst us in Jesus. Two Gospels relate the story, two do not. Neither does Paul refer to it.
God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, referred to in the Nicene Creed as "the Lord, the Giver of Life”. He also known as the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth and the Paraclete or Comforter. He is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Holy Breath’ or Ruach and the Spirit of Wisdom. In traditional Christian imagery, the Spirit is depicted as either a dove of peace or as fire to represent His power.
We believe that, whilst much of the Old Testament is the story of the ancient Israelites and not the Angelcyn, it does contain divine revelation that transcends nationality. In particular, it foretells the incarnation of God as Jesus of Nazareth.
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. God’s Word is also to be found in the natural law and in our God given ability to reason and through the continued inspiration of Christ and the Holy Spirit. We also recognise the importance of inspired poems such as Dream of the Rood and ‘The Heliand’ as a ‘Saxon Gospel’.
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 Divine Council & The Guardians
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).
These Guardians were created by God and are to some degree hypostases of God reflecting some of the divine attributes. 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 and recognise that they may be good, bad or even a bit of both.
The Aelfe or Elfs
In addition to the Angels of the bible and folklore, there is a vast unseen world of the 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 and holiness. Some, but not all, of the Aelfe are also Wanes and so are considered to be holy Guardians. We need to be aware that the early Church sought to, literally demonise the Guardians to wean people away from them. We believe that this was not only wrong and hugely disrespectful to our holy Guardians, but has created a disconnect between Christianity and our folk soul that to this day leads many to think of Christianity as an alien imposed religion rather than a faith which fulfils our pre-Christian tradition.
Angels are celestial beings that act as messengers for God. Their role is to communicate or carry out the will of God for both individuals or whole nations. Individual Angels are entrusted with God's will for humankind and form part of the glorious heavenly host who continually worship and praise him. In the New Testament, Angels intervene in human affairs several times to make important announcements. The most famous of these is the announcement of the Incarnation, remembered in the 'Angelus'. It was also two Angels who were present at Christ's empty tomb and announced his resurrection. In many ways, there is a fine distinction between Guardians, Aelfe and Angels, although the latter appear to not have freedom of will in the way that the Guardians and Aelfe do. However, in a very general ‘folk Christian’ sense, we may see them all as Angels of one kind or another.
Ents, Spirits and Wights
We believe that all physical things are imbued with Spirit and that as such God permeates all things and that all things are holy. Some spirits are unseen whereas others have physical form. The Ents are the great primordial spirits of the forest, such as Treebeard from Lord of the Rings. Wights may also dwell in the forest, but can also be associated with rocks and water. Grendel is a Wight of the eastern marshes. Whilst some of these beings are friendly to humans, others are less so especially where we harm the natural world they inhabit and protect.
Folk and Culture
We believe that God deliberately created different races of people and meant them to preserve this diversity. In Genesis, we read: “And God created all things; each to its own kind”. In Deuteronomy, we read: “When the most High gave the nations each their heritage, when he partitioned out the human race, he assigned the boundaries of nations according to the number of the children of God (or Gods). Deut 32:8. And so each nation (which we identify as a people and not necessarily a national State) has been assigned a homeland with their own particular Guardians. The Guardians of the north, and our folk of the north, reflect our northern climate, the woodlands and sea-faring culture required of us. Our culture emerges out of this; from the nature of our folk, our Guardians and our homelands.
The EFC recognises the importance of our ancient mythology, but also that it is complex and varied. Myth is not to be taken as literal fact, but rather as an expression of an underlying truth. In fact, there is very little written evidence of a specifically English mythology because our ancestors had a mainly oral culture until after conversion. However, important glimpses of it remain in the literature we do have, although often in a Christianised form. We see the old mythology as a sort of ‘Old Testament’ of our folk, containing stories about our origins and world view. Although they are many and varied differing over time and between tribes, they do convey the same underlying message and wisdom. We revere the Holy Runes as windows into the deepest secrets of creation and the divine order of things.
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