Archbishop Michael Ramsey died in his home in 1988. He was cremated and his ashed buried near William Temple in the Cloisters at Canterbury. The inscription on his tomb was a saying of Irenaeus’s: “The Glory of God is the living man; And the life of man is the Vision of God.”
This is an excerpt from his address at the opening of the 1968 Lambeth Conference:
The faith to which we are called will always be folly and scandal to the world, it cannot be in the usual sense of the word popular; it is a supernatural faith and it cannot adapt itself to every passing fashion of human thought. But it will be a faith alert to distinguish what is shaken, and is meant to go, and what is not shaken and is meant to remain. When men today tell us that they revere Jesus but find God or theism without meaning it sometimes is that the image of God as we Christians in our practice present it is the image of a God of religious concerns but not of compassion for all human life, and it is just not recognisable as the God and Father of Jesus Christ. So too when men reject theism it sometimes means that they cannot accept in this shaken world any easy, facile assumption that the universe has a plan, a centre, a purpose. It is for us Christians to be sure that our faith is no facile assumption but a costly conviction that in Christ crucified and risen, in suffering and victorious love and in no other way, there is a plan, a centre, a purpose. In dying to live, in losing life so as to find it – there is the place where divine sovereignty is found and theism has meaning and vindication. The Bishops who will lead our thinking about faith at this Lambeth Conference will help us to see that faith means standing near to the Cross in the heart of the contemporary world, and not only standing but acting. Our faith will be tested in our actions, not least in our actions concerning peace, concerning race, concerning poverty. Faith is a costly certainty, but no easy security as our God is blazing fire.
Ramsey recognized that it was often the lack of “costly discipleship” of Christians themselves who made Christianity seem implausible, but that rejection of an unfaithful church did not in itself signal a rejection of Christ. He wrote:
The Spirit’s renewal of the Church is linked with the Spirit’s witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The way of truth along which the Paraclete leads is always the way that is Christ himself, as he takes the things of Christ and declares them to the disciples….At the present time there are attempts to understand Christian spirituality as an experience somewhat apart from the historical events of the gospel…in the apostolic age the events and the experience are interwoven….The Christians are justified by faith, they have peace with God, they rejoice in hope, and they rejoice even in suffering, because the love of God was poured into their hearts by the Spirit. But what is this love of God? It is the love made known in the death of Christ for the sake of the ungodly, and in that death the love of God himself was commended to men. The event of the death of Christ not only enables the Christian life, it provides its continuing motive and interpretation.(Ramsey, Holy Spirit, 131)