Project Canterbury

From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 7),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 234-236


To the Editor of The Southern Churchman:

I must send you my Christmas greetings and thanks for your able defense of the faith in the matter of Christ's Virgin Birth. God bless the Southern Churchman.

Living in Boston as I did for many years, I came in much contact with the Broads and their school of thought. They do not believe in the "historical" Christ, but in the "essential" Christ, which is a being of their own construction. The miracles of our Lord are explained after this fashion: Christ did not walk on the water. There was a shallow where He walked. Peter got into deep water and our Lord pulled him out. Our Lord did not multiply the loaves. All the people had brought some food with them. But they were ashamed to bring it out. Our Lord began by bringing out what He had and the Apostles had, and thus shamed or encouraged the multitude to do likewise. They did this, so there was enough to go round. These Broach Churchmen are not sound on the deity of Christ, and reject as unessential or unproven his His Virgin Birth and the resurrection of his crucified body. To them the sacrifice on Calvary has lost its vicarious, atoning character.

The Broads have succeeded in capturing a large number of the wealthy parishes in the East, and as their system is in accord with the worldly and unbelieving spirit of the age, it is popular with the laity. A number of the clergy, who inherited the old-fashioned High Churchmanship of a past generation, have also sunk down into its rationalizing Churchmanship.

I venture to suggest one possible solution to this. In my younger days, the theological battle waxed sore over the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. The High Churchmen made it the basis of every sermon, just as the old Evangelicals did the atonement. With the High Churchmen baptismal regeneration was the core and apparent consummation of the Gospel system. It led many to this: that they practically omitted the need of conversion. They largely rejected the necessity of being convicted of sin, and the work of the Spirit, and of salvation by Christ's cross and passion, and of a conscious acceptance by Him. Indeed, in cases, they rejected it as Methodism. I remember being taken to task for preaching it.

But baptism, without a vitalized union with Christ, could not save men. Consequently their own spiritual life and perceptions declined. In the developments that succeeded, they easily fell under the influence of the new rationalizing, easy-going, and popular Broad Church system.

I have always thought that the old Evangelicals and the conservative High Churchmen were agreed in essentials more than they realized. The one is drawn more to the subjective, the other to the objective, side of the Gospel revelation. They are, however, reconcilable. There are, it is true, extremists on either wing. You will, perhaps, count me as one. I extend, however, my Christian love to all the brethren loyal in heart to the Prayer Book, and apologize to any who have been offended by me. We Churchmen are in the presence of a great struggle with radical unbelief in our own body. The Church has been slumbering and is just awakening to hear the cry, "The Philistines are upon thee." Let us sink our minor differences and unite in defense of Evangelical truth and Church Order.

For the protection of our beloved Church, would it not be well for the next General Convention to pass a Canon placing all our theological seminaries (save the General) so under the supervision of the Bishops of their departments, as to give them the power of deciding what text-books should be used, and have a general oversight of the teaching, and possibly the confirmation of the election of professors?


Bishop's House, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin,
April 10, 1906.

Project Canterbury