Geoffrey worked with myself and our dear friend Kenneth Stevenson on a book entitled Love’s Redeeming Work, an anthology of spiritual writing in the Anglican tradition. I don’t think that
Kenneth would mind if I said that the heavy lifting, in terms of the volume as far as the later period was concerned, was done by Geoffrey in his heroic labours on the vast mountain of
material from the late eighteenth to the twentieth century. His share of that book reflects those Tractarian roots already mentioned, but it also reflects the generous engagement which made him so open to, and so enthusiastic about, resources well beyond his own tradition, including resources beyond the United Kingdom. His voice was always advocating in the editorial
discussions we shared for a better and more accurate representation in the book of Anglicanism outside Europe and North America.
In the introduction to his section of that volume, the last page touches briefly on a number of perhaps predictable theological heroes – Lightfoot and Westcott, of course; Archbishop
Michael Ramsey; and then, more surprisingly, Charles Kingsley and Charles Raven. There they are, rubbing shoulders in one paragraph – probably as uncomfortable there in each other’s
company as they no doubt are in the Kingdom of Heaven. In that paragraph Geoffrey speaks of two things which this unlikely calendar of saints might have in common as representatives
of Anglican identity. He speaks of those great Anglican teachers, above all Archbishop Ramsey, for whom ‘contemplative prayer was not just for enclosed religious’, and he speaks
of what he calls the ‘characteristically Anglican sympathy with new knowledge’: a depth of hinterland in prayer and devotion, a sympathy with new knowledge – never uncritical, but
Then, in the last paragraph, he goes on to quote another name familiar to Geoffrey’s friends – John Henry Newman, on the Church that ‘changes always in order to remain the same’. To
believe that at a time of rapid, disorientating change, is particularly hard. But Geoffrey held to that and lived by it; and that is why he turns, at the very end of that introductory essay, to Lancelot Andrewes – and to T. S. Eliot: the tongues of flame in-folded, the fire and the rose one. If Jesus is indeed the resurrection and the life, and if because of that we cannot fall into nothingness, it is because the fiery trial of discipleship and ministry in Christ’s Church is not to be separated from the flowering of God’s generous purposes and the fulfilment of our humanity in ways we cannot imagine. We do not fall away, for God is God, and Christ is God. Knowing this is the key to knowing ourselves and knowing what song is sung by the whole of reality. Remember Geoffrey’s pitch in hearing and singing that song. And so we endure – as the Apostle says, ‘abounding in the work of the Lord’, as did Geoffrey
so abundantly. And we look with him at the cloud of witnesses, alive with the living Lord whom he adored and adores.
Read it all.