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Defender of … Faith


WORLD Radio - Defender of … Faith

King Charles III ascends the throne following a dramatic moral shift since the last coronation

Britain's King Charles III kisses the Bible, with Camilla, the Queen Consort at right during their coronation at Westminster Abbey, in London, Saturday, May 6, 2023. Richard Pohle /Pool via AP

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Tuesday, the 9th of May, 2023.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up first: the Christian coronation of King Charles III.

Great Britain’s monarchs for centuries have been crowned in a ceremony that is deeply Christian and deeply Protestant Christian.

But the United Kingdom’s new king has said that he’s by no means an orthodox Anglican. Here he is in a 1994 documentary explaining his concerns about the monarch’s title, Defender of the Faith.

CHARLES IN 1994 DOCUMENTARY: I personally see, would much rather see it as Defender of Faith, not the faith, because it means just one particular interpretation of the faith, which I think is sometimes something that causes a great deal of problems. It has done for hundreds of years. People have fought each other to the death over these things. Seems to me a peculiar waste of people's energy when we're all actually aiming for the same ultimate goal.

EICHER: Charles went on to say that the theologies of Islamic, Hindu, and Zoroastrian religions are of equal and vital importance.

That creates a clash: England’s religious tradition on the one hand and the modern pluralism of King Charles on the other. So how did that play out in the coronation this past weekend?

Joining us now to talk about it is Albert Mohler. He’s the President of Southern Seminary and Editor of World Opinions.

REICHARD: Good morning!

MOHLER: Mary, it’s good to be with you, as always.

REICHARD: You wrote an article for WORLD Opinions about the great moral shift that’s taken place between this coronation and the last one. Can you tell us a bit about that shift as it relates to Charles’s marriages?

MOHLER: Yeah, you know, it's amazing when you think about it, there's so little conversation about this, even as the coronation was taking place, because the British Royal Family the throne itself, it was thrown into an absolute crisis, just a little less than a century ago in 1936, with Edward the eighth, intending to marry, a woman often described as a twice divorced American, that so shook the monarchy, that Edward the eighth, had to abdicate the throne in favor of his younger brother who became King George the sixth, who was the father of Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth, just a few years after taking the throne herself. And by the way, her father was a picture of just integrity and stability and rectitude as king and of course, great courage over against the Nazi threat. And all the turmoil of World War Two. Elizabeth soon after taking the throne, had to make a major decision on the question of royal marriage. And she basically denied her own sister the right to marry a man who had been divorced. And that again, was an earth shaking development. She refused royal assent, but now her son, now King Charles the third, who is himself divorce is, is crowned along with his Queen, who is the second wife also divorced after both of them were involved in an absolutely scandalous pattern of adultery. And nobody seems to have noticed now. So what was considered to be the threat to the very end of the monarchy less than a century ago is now unremarkable. And I think that demands some thought and attention.

REICHARD: Well, we played that clip from then Prince Charles nearly 30 years ago where he said he wanted to change the enthronement title from defender of the faith to defender of faith in a generic sense. Did that happen?

MOHLER: So that didn't happen. And it didn't happen, partly because it would require parliament to act on an ordinance that actually establishes those royal titles by law. And so that just didn't happen. The king ended up not only taking that throne title, but also declaring himself to be a Protestant Christian of necessity in the course of the ceremony on Saturday, but what was not the same, and where you did have a lot of, let's just say, interfaith intentional representation, was that the archbishop cooperated with the king, in bringing in in the coronation ceremony, representatives of quote ‘major world faiths.’ You also had something else people did not notice, and that is that a giant change from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Second in 1953 and Charles III in 2023, was the very visible presence of female bishops. Not only would female bishops not have been imaginable when his mother was crowned, but frankly, a woman priest was not then imaginable.

REICHARD: Well, you've been thinking about these things for a long time as an anglophile. Is there anything else about the coronation that you think our listeners ought to know?

MOHLER: Well, I think we just need to recognize the entire history of Western civilization, certainly in the English speaking tradition is laid out there. You can't describe this without the language of the King James Bible. You can't you can't crown a king even in this very secular Britain without having an extended liturgy that is intensely Christian, and which repeats the Lordship of Jesus Christ over and over again and the authority of the king is derived by God. You know, it's doubtful very many Britons actually believe that beginning with the monarch, but it does say something worth our know think that they can't actually crown a king without acting as if they're all Christians.

REICHARD: Albert Mohler is Editor of WORLD Opinions and Author of The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. And we will put a link to his World Opinions article in the transcript today. Thanks for joining us.

MOHLER: Great to join with you, Mary, as always.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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