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The Old Savoy Declaration
eIpnosis is edited, maintained and © Denis Postle 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
The Savoy Declaration, Oct 12th 1658 is a confession of faith produced by the Congregational Churches in England and developed from the Westminster Confession of Faith that had been written a few years earlier. The main difference between the two documents is the inclusion of material which asserts the autonomy of local churches.

In this monumental document there is a note that reminds us that genuine declarations of faith are not the same thing as impositions of faith. It also defines decentralisation in the form of local, voluntary constitutions, and adds how important it is to reject the hierarchy of the church.

There are seventeen signatures to the so-called New Savoy Declaration, all of the names are attached to high offices of a variety of kind of association. They are all Chairs, Presidents, or Chief Executives. Some of the organisations represented are well known some of them are very obscure. But at first glance, it appears we are looking at a significant document.

Strange, then, that the new text of this name is full of superficial jargon and grandiose blather. A clutch of fashionable phrases are scattered about the page (state of the art, world leader, and yes, of course, evidence based), and the author must be congratulated for arranging them into something resembling sentences. One cannot fault the grammatical structure. Nonetheless, I suppose I am not alone in expecting something rather more from such a document. Reason, clarity, and purpose would come pretty high on my list.

The original Savoy Declaration, was the outcome of a long series of meetings between people with ideas and the courage to speak from the heart. The pseudo Savoy Declaration was cooked up by person or persons unknown, and published before the great meeting that was supposed to herald the new era of discussion and enlightenment signified by those two great figures from history that are mentioned on the introduction to the conference where it was presented: Einstein and Freud.

Andrew Marr’s beautiful big book on the history of modern Britain ends by concluding that those of us who live in the UK today should count ourselves very lucky indeed. Why then, are some of the most successful and competent people (all those presidents, chairs, and directors) behaving as if they were under some kind of political siege?

The original Savoy Declaration was written just sixteen years after the death of Galileo. He could teach today’s people a thing or two about politics, economics and science.

Perhaps this is what should be available on the national health – a celebration of Galileo Galilei. It might even cure some of that depression and anxiety that everyone is talking about.

Janet Low

January 2008.

Reference: Andrew Marr (2007) A History of Modern Britain, London, Macmillan