Project Canterbury The Orthodox Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of 1930
By Canon J. A. Douglas, Ph.D.
The Christian East, Summer, 1930. 11:2, pp. 49-64
IF W. J. Birkbeck, Bishop Collins, Bishop Wordsworth of Salisbury or any of those who were our leaders--Mr. Athelstan Riley is still with us and as vigorous and helpful a leader as ever--in the Anglican-Orthodox movement twenty-five years ago, had been asked whether they thought it possible that at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, conveyed through the Oecumenical Patriarch, an Orthodox Delegation consisting of eight bishops officially commissioned by their respective churches and led by the Patriarch of Alexandria himself, would attend the Lambeth Conference of 1930, I am sure that they would have replied that except that God prepares miracles, such a happy event was impossible.
It is true that Dr. J. M. Neale, Dr. Pusey and the other great zealots for the Reunion of historic Christendom who in 1864 helped Mr. George Williams to found the Eastern Churches Association, looked hopefully for the speedy Union of the Anglican and Orthodox Churches. That expectation, however, was born of enthusiasm and not of knowledge and was destroyed by the famous Conferences at Bonn in 1874 and 1875 which at Dr. Dollinger's instance were attended by Old Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican theologians. Dollinger and those who with him had repudiated the Vatican Council's dogma of Papal Infallibility, knew the history and life of the Anglican Church and, though the Dutch Old Catholic Church which is the lineal Catholic Church of Holland held back, pressed the Orthodox to join in a declaration accepting the Validity of Anglican Orders and advocating Intercommunion between the Orthodox, Old Catholic and Anglican Churches.
In effect the authorities of the Orthodox Church were ignorant of almost everything about us except our existence. They knew that Rome denounced us as a Protestant sect and no church at all and were imbued with prejudices against us derived from Latin Propagandists. The most that Rhosses and his confreres at Bonn could do was to say that they hoped that on further investigation Dr. Dollinger's judgment of us would be vindicated.
Inevitably, the disillusionment of the Bonn Conferences discouraged those who had dreamed that Anglican and Orthodox Union was to be achieved per saltum. That disillusionment chilled the atmosphere of the Anglican-Orthodox movement and, indeed, the Eastern Church Association came near to shipwreck.
God prepares miracles!
The set-back, however, was only in appearance, and the Bonn Conferences proved the real beginning of the drawing together of the Anglican and Orthodox Churches.
On the one hand, both because the Old Catholics represent a Western Catholicism which has never accepted the more modern claims and innovations of the Papacy, Orthodox theologians attached, as they still attach, great importance to their judgments and in particular were greatly influenced by the views of Dr. Dollinger. In consequence, they became ready to reconsider the unfavourable opinions in regard to the Anglican Church which they had accepted at face value from the Papalist controversialists.
On the other hand, as soon as the effect of the set back to their eagerness delivered at Bonn had begun to wear off, there was a rally of enthusiasm in the relatively small but intensely keen body of Anglicans who were devoted to the cause of Anglican-Orthodox Union. Only the lesson had been learnt and from the time of the Bonn Conferences until 1893, those at the centre of the movement were fully aware that many years of hard patient work must be devoted to the preparation of the ground before the Union of the two churches could profitably be discussed.
Forty years ago, as now, a certain interest in the Churches of the East was widespread among Anglican Churchmen. Moreover, those were the days when the red Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid had well begun his habit of periodically massacring his Christian rayah and England had been roused by Gladstone to a passion of indignation at the Bulgarian atrocities. One of the great British political parties, it is true, was obsessed by the extraordinary legend which still lingers in some of our military clubs--it originated in that dream just dreamed by le Roi Soleil and nearly realized by Napoleon which is still fostered by French Chauvinism--that the Greek and the Slavs of the Balkans are degenerate and the Turk is a gentleman. British Jingoism opposed the liberation of the Turk's rayah. But the leaders of English religion of all types had become alive to the fact that it was because of their Faith that the Christians of Turkey had been oppressed for centuries in an unspeakable helotage and were being massacred in tens of thousands whenever the European diplomatic situation made it safe for the Sultan to massacre them. In consequence, a profound and deeply-rooted sympathy with the persecuted Churches of the East and a warm admiration of their steadfastness in martyrdom had begun to develop in England.
None the less, then as now the number of those who had time and contacts whereby to familiarize themselves with Eastern Christianity and to devote themselves to the practical problem of Anglican and Orthodox Reunion was necessarily limited. But the movement was led and controlled by men who were both salted and of unusual ability and wisdom. Thus when the E.G.A. was reconstituted in 1893, Dr. John Wordsworth, of Salisbury, a scholar of great reputation, who belonged to our central High Church tradition, and whose possession of the confidence of every section of the English Church safeguarded it against the suspicion of sectional tendency, became its President. Until his death in 1911, his labour for the movement was unremitting. Among others who in the next fifteen years contributed each in his own way greatly to one steady solid work of E.G.A. were Dr. Headlam, now Bishop of Gloucester, Canon Brightman, Dr. Leighton Pullan, Dr. W. E. Collins, and that inimitable pair of laymen and lifelong friends, Messrs. W. J. Birkbeck and Mr. Athelstan Riley. Of necessity, their active work for the movement was in the nature of a parergon. But it was a consuming interest. They spent their vacations travelling in the Near East. The stream of their writings, some popular and some permanent additions, e.g., Brightman's Eastern Liturgies, to the apparatus of the Anglican student of Orthodoxy was very considerable. Dr. Collins whose learning and pervasive influence make him comparable to that Anglican prodigy of the mid-nineteenth century, Dr. J. M. Neale, became Bishop of Gibraltar in 1904, and though he died in 1911 while still in the forties, his magnetic personality--incidentally he fitted himself to speak and preach and preached in Greek, Armenian and other Eastern languages--and his rare zeal and vision made his seven-years episcopate a veritable apostolate of Anglican-Orthodox Reunion. Happily the time for estimating Mr. Athelstan Riley's share in the progress of the movement would appear to be far off. The notable journey which he made in the Christian East in 1887 well before he had reached the thirties--he was a principal member of the party which at Archbishop Benson's bidding found their way to Mar Shimun at Qudhanes in the then almost unknown mountains of Kurdistan, and 'founded our Archbishop's Assyrian Mission--and the books which he published afterwards brought him into the movement which has ever since been a paramount obsession of his life. To-day he is just beginning to be an old man, but continues to be one of its most dynamic forces. Of his friend, W. J. Birkbeck, it is not overmuch to say that no Anglican who has not lived himself into the atmosphere of Orthodoxy, has a right to form an opinion upon the Orthodox Church or the problems of Anglican-Orthodox relations unless and until he has assimilated the flair which is so communicable a quality of his writings about the Christian East. Steeped as he became in the mysticism which is everywhere the especial characteristic of Orthodoxy, he knew Russia and its Church as not many Russians themselves knew it. The finest kind of English country gentleman, he was devoted to the English Church. Knowing Russia intimately, he enjoyed unusual and close friendship with the martyred Tsar Nicholas and was trusted and employed by King Edward. In his day, Tsarist Russia was Holy Russia and unquestionably his work was one of the factors which changed the hostility of the Tsar's Government towards Great Britain into goodwill and which opened the possibility of the Triple Entente. Strong Anglo-Catholic though he was, he possessed the confidence of Archbishops Benson, Temple and Davidson, who all knew that he was incapable of abusing it for sectional ends. Archbishop Davidson had a singular affection for him and consulted him in all things to do with the Christian East. Our present Archbishop has been known to say, "We have no Birkbeck to advise us now." His death early in 1916 on his return from a confidential mission to Petrograd, undertaken to counteract the evil influence of Rasputin in the Russian Court, saved him from the exquisite pain which he would have experienced at the crash of the Tsardom and the present crucifixion by the Bolshevik tyranny of the Russia which he loved. It is not overmuch to say that to those of us who worked with him--he was one of the men who really count and who get things done, but of whose existence the general public is ignorant--the miss of his guidance has been a sore thing.--R.I.P.
The necessities of the movement as they were perceived clearly by Bishop Wordsworth and the E.G.A. in 1893, was in the first place to establish frequent contacts between Anglicans and the Orthodox and to engender among both a strong will for Union and in the second place to induce Orthodox theologians to make independent investigation of the nature and history of the Anglican Church.
In setting about that spade work they relaxed no effort, but adopted the greatest caution. In spite of the Papal Bull Apostolicae Curæ which in 1896 condemned Anglican Orders, they were confident that if Orthodox theologians would investigate the doctrine and life of the Anglican Church, they would find them akin to those of the Orthodox Church and would revise the prejudiced judgments current among them. But for that investigation to be secured and to be carried through time was needed. The one thing to be avoided was premature discussions.
It is now widely, though still not generally, realized by Anglicans that for the Orthodox full dogmatic agreement is the necessary preliminary both of formal Intercommunion between the two churches, that is to say, of the formal reciprocal authorization of the access of their members to their respective sacramental ministration and--which for our purpose is hardly to be distinguished from formal Intercommunion--of their Union, that is to say, of their affirming themselves to be one Church.
That requirement on the Orthodox side is not so stark and forbidding as at first glance it would appear.
In the narrower sense, dogma signifies only a precision of the Faith which because it is to be received as the Voice of the Holy Spirit delivered through the supreme organ of Christ's Church, i.e., the totality of the Apostolic Episcopate assembled in His Name and guided into the Truth by Him through His Spirit, is incontrovertible and binding upon all faithful Christians. Strictly, the Orthodox are tied only by the dogmatic precisions of the Seven Oecumenical Councils. But those precisions deal almost wholly with Christology and with the Nature and Operation of the Holy Spirit and do not touch upon the doctrine of the Nature of the Church, its Ministry, its Sacramental Life and so on. In regard, however, to that large sphere which is epitomized in the last four clauses of the Creed and which provides abundant matter for dogmatic precision, Orthodox theologians do not hold themselves free. On the contrary, they are of one mind that although no dogmas have been precised in regard to it, they cannot go outside the broad and consistent tradition of Faith and Order which they maintain has been preserved in the Orthodox Church from the earliest centuries without "innovation, addition or diminution." That tradition is not to be confused with traditional practice or with popular beliefs, but is to be found in the writings of the fathers of the first eight centuries, the consensus of whose doctrinal statements are to be reckoned as theologoumena, i.e., as teaching which, pending the precision of dogmatic precision upon them by an Eighth Eecumenical Council, may not be controverted. In the tradition of doctrine which is to be accepted as appertaining to the sphere of theologoumena, and, therefore, to be within the sphere of dogma, there are, of course, certain divergences which Orthodox theologians hold themselves free both to note and discuss as open questions. But in doing so, they cannot go outside the limits of the tradition or treat any theologoumenon as open to rejection. Indeed, for safety's sake, as also for the avoidance of disruptive controversy among themselves, they are obliged to emphasise the stricter and sharper statements of their received theologoumena.
Accordingly, in postulating full dogmatic agreement as an essential basis of Reunion, the Orthodox are constrained to look for essential identity with their traditional faith as to the Church, the Ministry, the Eucharist and so on, as expressed in the writings of their theologians, their Liturgy and in their practice.
As was made very plain by the Declaration of the Orthodox Delegates at the Lausanne Conferences the covering of differences which are not justified by the divergences in Orthodox theologoumena, would be a treachery for them and a Union based on a dogmatic agreement by the ambiguous use of words would not be a Union at all, but a Union such as that reached with Rome at Ferrara--Florence, a Unio Haud Vera.
This being well understood by Bishops Wordsworth and Collins, and Birkbeck, and by their chief collaborators, their anxiety was that before approaching the question as to whether dogmatic agreement between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches is possible, the Orthodox should thoroughly understand the Anglican position which as we have noted, was almost unknown to them in 1893.
The great approximation between the two churches which has marked the past sixteen years, could certainly not have taken place except for the unremitting persistence and self restraint with which here a little and there a little they and those who have followed after them, were content to labour for what seemed a distant future.
I have dwelt at such length upon the debt of gratitude due to the men who did the spade work of preparation so wonderfully, because the sowing is greater than the reaping. For my own part to have learnt of them and to have worked with and under them has been one of the great privileges of my life.
Although the seed which they sowed has now begun to ripen towards harvest, the same wisdom which they exercised is no whit the less necessary to-day than forty years ago. If the Orthodox have got rid of their old prejudices against the Anglican Church and have entered into warm and fraternal contacts with it, dogmatic agreement is far from having been reached between us and them and much patience will be necessary before such an agreement can be formulated in terms which the whole Orthodox Church can accept and which the whole Anglican Church can affirm.
Certainly it is true that if the Anglican Church were--not an Anglo-Catholic bloc but--an historical central High Church bloc, such a dogmatic agreement would be easy. But from first to last, those who have been at the centre of the movement have, on the one hand, been aware that no special relations with a section of the Anglican Church are possible for the Orthodox and, on the other hand, have resolutely ruled out a sectional Anglican relationship with the Orthodox as unthinkable.
Whatever progress has been made or may in the future be made in the rapprochement of the two Churches, has been and must be between the Anglican Church as a whole and the Orthodox Church as a whole.
The fruits of the sound method of approach adopted after the Bonn Conferences, were apparent before the Great War.
The most thorny and--as we in England know so well--the most difficult of all the questions which belong to the problem of Reunion is that of the Validity of Ministries.
Once two Churches have recognized the validity of each other's ministries, their Union or Intercommunion necessitates no more--though no less--than their dogmatic agreement, and that arrived at, they can merge into a common life. But, if that recognition cannot be given by one of them, then it cannot accept the sacramental life of the other as being of the same nature as its own. Before Union or Intercommunion with it, it must require the re-ordination of the other's ministers. Reordination is meaningless unless it signifies the acknowledgment of deficiency in his Orders on the part of the person reordinated and such an admission cannot be made by those who believe in the validity of their own Orders without the repudiation of their Church's history and their own experience.
For practical purposes, therefore, the validity of a Church's orders must always be among the first questions investigated by a Church which looks to Reunion with it.
Accordingly, the attention of the Orthodox became concentrated upon the possibility of their accepting Anglican Ordinations as valid. In the scope of that enquiry they were governed, of course, by the principle of Orthodoxy that while the Orthodox tests of the external and canonical side of the Ministry and the Sacraments must be satisfied, the inner meaning and significance which Anglicans give to the Ministry and Sacraments, must in effect be the same as their Ministry and Sacraments have for the Orthodox.
The investigation of Anglican Ordinations thus involved a general investigation of the Nature and Faith of the Anglican Church through the study of her formularies and actual life.
I have myself in preparation for publication the masterly survey of the history of the Orthodox investigation of Anglican Ordinations which that admirable ecclesiastical historian and prelate, Archbishop Chrysostom of Greece, contributed in 1924 to Nea Sion, the official Jerusalem monthly. In that résumé his Grace shows how when the Orthodox began their investigation, they were struck by the fact which had almost been forgotten, that in the 17th and 18th centuries when the contacts between the two churches were very close, no 8oubt appear to have existed in the four ancient Orthodox Patriarchates as to the validity of Anglican Orders. Thus the Orthodox Patriarchs salute the Archbishop of Canterbury as brother--a mode of address which according to Orthodox practice would have been impossible if they had not taken for granted the validity of the Apostolic Episcopate of the Anglican Church.
Further, as they studied the history of the English Church in our Articles XV--XIX and in our Prayer Book, Ordinal and other formularies, Orthodox Theologians found that in spite of certain difficulties those documents were at least very susceptible of an interpretation which satisfied Orthodox desiderata and the more they examined the matter, the more they found that neither in regard to the external aspect of the Apostolic Succession nor in regard to its inner significance, was the Papal condemnation of Anglican Orders warranted.
It was thus that as early as 1898 the Russian Professor Bulgakov and--about the same time--Professor Sokolov published memorable monographs in which they concluded that all that was needed for the acceptance of the validity of Anglican Ordinations by the Orthodox Church was a Synodical declaration of our bishops that they believe themselves to be in the true line of inner and external succession to the Apostles in the sense in which the Orthodox Church understands that succession.
In itself, those monographs were a great advance but, of course, they embody no more than expressions of individual opinion and, though the fact that they were uncontested was typical of the gradual change from prejudice to understanding, they were not authoritative.
In 1903, my old friend, Professor Chrestos Androutsos, whose judgment, precisely because he is pre-eminently a strict and conservative theologian, had great weight, published his memorable treatise on Anglican Ordinations.1 In that work he reached much the same judgment as Bulgakoff and Sokolov, but with greater theological science.
Weighty though Androutsos' authority was and is among Greek theologians, his treatise derived the more weight because of its provenance.
Instigated by an American Bishop, Dr. Grafton, of Fond du Lac, who was impetuously enthusiastic to bring about Intercommunion between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches, four American Anglican priests had addressed the Oecumenical Patriarch in 1902 with the embarrassing question as to whether the Orthodox could and would accept Anglican clergy in their Orders. As things were, the proposition of that question was a mistake, and though I had had a humble part in its consideration, I remember very vividly how his All Holiness Joachim III., who was one of the greatest of the Oecumenical Patriarchs under the Turkish Sultans, told me a year or so later that such direct enquiries had better not be made. "Avoid," he said, "the formal proposition of agreements. Wait patiently. Things will happen and with larger knowledge on your side and on ours, a position will be created."
Joachim III. was not only a visionary in the field of Reunion, but a very wise man. That which he said to me in 1904 was almost identical with that which Bishops Wordsworth, Collins and Mr. Birkbeck impressed upon me. At the time, as was natural, having a relatively young man's impulsiveness, I was impatient of the advice. Looking back, however, over all that has happened in the past twenty-five years, I recognize as providential the shelving of that American enquiry by the appointment of a Commission of the Holy Synod of Constantinople to investigate the question of Anglican Orders and by the issue by Professor Androutsos of his brochure by the instruction of that Commission as its interim report. As his All-Holiness told me they would, things have happened and a position has been created. So that I have realized in dust and ashes that my relatively youthful impetuosity of a quarter of a century ago was altogether wrong, and that as in most matters, so in that of the Reunion of the Anglican Church with the Orthodox Churches of the East, the mills of God grind slowly.
In fact, between 1902 and the beginning of the Great War in 1914, no single event in the history of the approximation of the Anglican and Orthodox Church can be regarded as salient. None the less, piu si muove. As I have said, those were years of preparation. Slowly but surely, the number of the Orthodox who were convinced, or ready to be convinced, that the Anglican Church has not lost the Apostolic tradition and that in her main current of Faith and Life, she is very akin to the Orthodox Church, continually increased. Now and then, as when in 1905, Dr. Blyth, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem posed a formal question to the Patriarch Damianos as to whether Anglicans could be admitted to Orthodox Sacraments, and was told that unless and until the whole Orthodox Church had decided the matter, nothing could be done, a set-back occurred.
But the contacts increased, the liaison was strengthened, the desire for union became stronger and more widespread and--to understand the nature of a problem is the first stage of its solution--the difficulties which must be removed before dogmatic agreement between the two churches began to be adequately estimated on either side.
I am bold to risk whatever small reputation I possess as understanding the spirit and life of the Orthodox Church by saying that, if the atmosphere could be cleared of confusing side issues, the essential and cardinal point on which dogmatic agreement between the two Churches must hinge is as to whether or no the Faith, i.e., the Truth as it is in the Lord Jesus has been revealed to men.
The radical antinomy between Rome and Orthodoxy is as to whether there exists an organ in Christ's Body the Church, the precisions of the deposit of Faith precised by which must be received as incontrovertible by every faithful Christian.
The radical antinomy between extreme Protestantism and Orthodoxy, as I understand it, is as to whether an explicit and incontrovertible Revelation--a deposit of Faith--has been mediated once and for all, which revelation is and has always been safeguarded, sustained and verified by the Holy Spirit in the collective consciousness of the members of the Church.
The Orthodox make their appeal to Holy Scripture as plainly containing that Revelation with no less finality than the most Evangelical of Protestants and I venture to regard as by no means desperate, the hope of an ultimate resolution of the apparently sharp antinomies between the Orthodox theologoumenon that the organ by which Christ through the Holy Spirit guides the members of His Church to experience that Revelation is the whole body of the Apostolic Episcopate and the axiom of the historic Anglican Evangelical that that Revelation is plain to every man who seeking the Holy Spirit's guidance, searches the Scriptures.
The historic Anglican Evangelical is needlessly shy of the Orthodox postulate that the Holy Spirit has worked and works to make plain the meaning of Holy Scripture through the whole body of the Apostolic Episcopate. In advancing that proposition, the Orthodox do not predicate that any and every precision of the Faith or decree of the totality of the Episcopate meeting in a General Council is to be received as incontrovertible and as eo ipso binding on all faithful Christians. On the contrary, they hold that such Councils can err and are to be regarded as Oecumenical Councils, sc. Councils of the Whole Episcopate guided into the Truth by the Holy Spirit, when and only when the whole body of the Church recognizes them by the guidance of the Spirit as consonant both with Holy Scripture and with the age-long collective experience of the Gospel by all faithful Christians.
Some twenty years ago I was inclined to work for a special liaison between those Anglicans who approximated to Anglo-Catholicism and the Orthodox. But as time went on, I have increasingly realized both that special relations between a section of Anglicans and the Orthodox can lead nowhither and also that, apart from being increasingly aware of myself as a thorough Anglican and altogether devoted to the maintenance of the unity of the Anglican Church, dogmatic agreement and ex sequitur formal Intercommunion between the Anglican Church as a whole could be achieved without compromise of principle on either side, if it were not for the presence in the Anglican Church of that relatively small but not insignificant section which refuses to agree that any dogma whatever can be accepted as incontrovertible.
For my own part I can never understand how in view of the history and the formularies of the Anglican Churches that section justifies its existence to itself. But to doubt that it is conscientious and does so justify itself, would be a treachery to charity.
Accordingly, though I cannot perceive how it is that the section in Anglicanism which--to me it often appears mediaevalist in its philosophical anachronisms--describes itself as Modernist, is content to affirm the 39 articles and to retain membership in the Anglican Church. I am eager to do to them what I would have them do to me. If it were in my power, therefore, to achieve a dogmatic agreement with the Orthodox and in doing so to drive them out of the Anglican Church, I could not and would not exercise that power.
God prepares miracles. But until the antinomy is resolved between those who among us believe that an incontrovertible Revelation has been given to the Church and those who believe all Revelation to be relative and would cheerfully accept for themselves the Russian Khomiakov's ironic designation of the Lutheran Churches as a body of good men eagerly seeking after Truth, but certain that they cannot attain to it, our Union or Intercommunion with the Orthodox will be difficult, humanly speaking, of achievement.
But if that full dogmatic agreement which is necessary before the Anglican and Orthodox Churches can unite did not appear to be on the horizon thirty years ago, the Orthodox principle of Economy permits the Orthodox Church to have practical relations with other churches of a warm and fraternal nature.
Put very briefly, that principle of Economy is that where it is for the good of individual souls or for the advancement of Christ's Kingdom in earth, the Church having the right and duty of exercising the stewardship, i.e., the oikonomia of the laws of her household, can relax with the letter of those laws at her discretion. Such dispensation or economy, however, must in no wise compromise the Faith and can rightly be exercised only so far as those for whom it is exercised, approximate towards Orthodoxy both in faith and in goodwill.
At least a very large body of Orthodox theologians hold that the Orthodox Church cannot recognize as valid in principle any sacraments except those administered by the Orthodox priesthood. But where the due succession of the Apostolic Episcopate has been maintained, where the current of Life and Faith in a Church presents near kinship to that in their own and where the relations of the two Churches are characterized by fraternal love, that Economy can be exercised.
As to the sphere in which it can be exercised, no corporate decision has been made by the Orthodox Church as a whole and twenty-five years ago the consensus of Orthodox theologians pointed to the exclusion of the ministration and reception of the Sacraments. But in modern times, so far as I am aware, no authoritative Orthodox theologian has ever questioned the right-fulness of its exercise in the acceptance of non-Orthodox adherents to Orthodoxy in their Baptism, Confirmation and Orders when they have been administered by a priesthood which the Orthodox authorities can recognize as canonical and valid.
Accordingly pari passu with the great progress made in the past twenty years in preparing the ground for Anglican-Orthodox dogmatic agreement, a continually increasing exercise of Economy has been made possible both by that progress and by the warm friendship which has grown up between the Churches.
As always in such cases, the imponderabilia which cannot be scheduled are more important than those events which can be put in a chronological table.
In this case their common experiences during the Great War and after, and their reciprocity in mutual service, together with the love and sympathy born of the unspeakable sufferings of the Greeks in their martyrdom by seas of blood and by the white death during their utter extirpation from their home lands in that Asia Minor which was the cradle of Christian Theological Science, and of the martyrdom of the Russian Nation in its blood gilt crucifixion by the Bolsheviks, have created the very atmosphere in which the two Churches could really come to know each other as sister churches.
It will be better here for me to notice only a few of the more symbolic notabilia chronologica of the progress of the past twenty years.
As I have pointed out the recognition of Anglican Orders by the Orthodox was so to speak the salient of the advance in regard both to the formal theological front and to the economical front of their relations.
In 1902 when the Holy Synod of Constantinople set up its Corn-mission to investigate Anglican Ordinations, optimism could not see a favourable decision on the horizon.
In 1922, a Commission of the Holy Synod of Constantinople reported that on Orthodox principles Anglican Orders presented the same features which had led the Orthodox Churches to accept Roman Catholic, Coptic, Jacobite, Armenian and Assyrian Orders. Accordingly it recommended the Oecumenical Patriarchate to declare and to invite the other autokephalous Orthodox Churches to declare the acceptance of their validity. To that recommendation it added another that Anglicans in isolation and emergency should be admitted to Orthodox Sacraments and that in like case the Orthodox should be authorized to receive Anglican Sacraments.
The Patriarch Meletios, of Alexandria, who heads the present Orthodox Delegation to the Lambeth Conference and was then Oecumenical Patriarch, at once notified Archbishop Davidson formally of the acceptance of Anglican Ordinations by the Great Church of Constantinople and issued an encyclical to the other Orthodox autokephalous Churches inviting them to do the same.
With the exception of the Churches of Jerusalem and Cyprus, no formal answer has been returned from any Church, the others having decided to wait until the question has been settled and conjoint action can be taken by a Synod of the whole Orthodox Church.
The Constantinople judgment of 1922 has been controverted, however, by no Orthodox theologian and may be taken as having been generally accepted.
The second recommendation was supported with a convincing precedent by my dear friend, that fine theologian, Professor Komnenos, who died in 1923 when tending typhus patients among the refugees from Asia Minor and whose name will always be remembered as the author of the Commission's report. In the twelfth century, Latin prisoners in Egypt were admitted to Holy Communion by the Patriarch of Alexandria. That being so, if Anglican Orders can be accepted as valid, the admission of Anglicans in isolation and in emergency would be precedented.
The Oecumenical Patriarch naturally decided to reserve action upon the second recommendation until all the Orthodox autokephalous Churches should have concurred in the first. No pronouncement, therefore, has been made upon it either by it or by any Orthodox autokephalous Church.
On the other hand, according to the wise dictum of the Patriarch Joachim, "things have happened."
During the War, in England, where thanks to the work of the Revs. H. J. Fynes Clinton whose labour and achievements for our movement can never be adequately recognized and the Rev. R. M. French, the present secretary of the A. and E.C.A. to form which E.C.A. and A. and E.--O.C.U. amalgamated in 1916, a band of Serb theological students was trained at Oxford under the guidance of Father Nickolai Velimirovic, now Bishop of Okhrida. Their communion at Anglican altars was frequent. In many countries of the Near East, Orthodox Bishops authorized Anglicans to receive communion when in isolation and emergency. Overseas and especially in U.S.A., the Orthodox in isolation and emergency resorted, and continue frequently to resort, with the sanction of their ecclesiastical authorities to Anglican Sacraments.
In the past few years, the Archbishop of Corcyra has ordered his clergy to communicate those Armenian refugees who are still to be found in Corfu. Over and above the many Anglicans who have been admitted by economy when in necessity and isolation to Communion all over the world by the Orthodox and the Orthodox who have been authorized to resort to Anglican altars for Communion, the late Serb Patriarch Dmitri himself communicated six Anglicans who were neither in necessity nor isolation to Communion--contrary to the usual custom whereby a priest administers the Sacrament to the communicants at a Patriarchal Liturgy, he gave it them with his own hands--very publicly in his Cathedral at Belgrad on our Christmas Day, 1927. And further, although her Majesty is an Anglican and a frequent communicant in the English Church at Bucharest, the Roumanian Patriarch administers Communion to Queen Marie of Roumania four times a year.
At the same time, it became normal for the Orthodox to welcome Anglican bishops and priests as brother bishops and priests, for Anglicans and Orthodox to preach in each other's churches and so on.
On the official side of the movement the appointment by Archbishop Davidson of our Archbishop's Eastern Churches Committee under the chairmanship of Bishop Gore, and the visit of the Metropolitan of Demotika and Professor Komnenos as an official Delegation from the Oecumenical Patriarchate to the Lambeth Conference of 1920--their Report may be read in the Christian East of September, 1920--were significant.
In March, 1921, the Locum Tenens of the Oecumenical Patriarchate came to London to thank Archbishop Davidson for his championship of the persecuted Orthodox of Turkey and presented him and his successors with the Stavropegeion or double-headed eagle which is worn only by an Oecumenical Patriarch and which Dr. Lang will wear when he introduces the Orthodox Delegation to the present Lambeth Conference--a unique and very symbolic expression of the relations of the two churches.
In 1922, the then (Ecumenical Patriarch appointed Archbishop Germanos of Thyatira to be apokrisary, sc. legate, to Archbishop Davidson, an appointment which was renewed to Archbishop Lang in 1928. There is no precedent for the appointment of such an official by an Orthodox Patriarch except to an Orthodox Patriarch.
And so on and so on.
Such circumstances explain the statement of the Oecumenical Patriarch to Canon Wigram early this year that the relations of the two churches had passed from the stage of friendship and had become fraternal and have led the Pan-Orthodox Commission which was held last month at Mount Athos to place the relations of the Anglican and Orthodox Churches as one of the most pressing items in the agenda of the Pan-Orthodox Pro-Synod, for the holding of which preparation is being made.
They also indicate why it was that Dr. Lang not only acted on the recommendation of the Archbishop's Faith and Order Committee of which Dr. Headlam is the Chairman, to invite the Oecumenical Patriarch to arrange for an official Delegation representative of all the Orthodox autokephalous Churches to come to the Lambeth Conference of 1930, but has received with Delegation with an emphasis and distinction which in his own words have been calculated to demonstrate to the world the fraternal relations of the two Churches.
God prepares miracles!
To expect startling results from the visit of the Delegation would be unduly optimistic, but we may be sanguine that by the work of the Spirit on the one hand, its discussions with the Bishops of the Conference may bring the two Churches much nearer to dogmatic agreement, to Union and to formal Intercommunion, and that on the other hand, much may be done to solve the problem which is very urgent overseas, of regularizing by economy the practical relations of the two churches.
In closing this survey, it is impossible not to refer to the great work of Archbishop Davidson in the field of Anglican and Orthodox Union as of every other noble cause.
If it is proper for me to say so--and I am confident that Mr. Riley and Mr. Fynes Clinton would say I do not exaggerate-- without his zeal, patience, wisdom, courage and greatness of vision, that which is to-day could never have been. A large book would be needed to summarize all that he did, and the repercussions of what he did, to further the movement. That he is not among us in the flesh to welcome them is a matter of poignant regret not only to the Patriarch Meletios who knew him well, loved him dearly and indeed owed to him his life as also the lives of tens of thousands of his people, but to every member of the Delegation.
The affectionate gratitude with which the Orthodox cherish his memory is evidenced by the eagerness with which they made their way on their arrival at Canterbury on July 5th, to praise God for his life and love, and to pray for the peace of his soul at his grave in the Garth of the Cathedral.
Among the things which the Patriarch Meletios wrote me on his way from Alexandria that he desired most to do in England, was to visit Lady Davidson and nothing that he has done since his arrival in London has delighted him more than the gratification of that pious wish.
Finally, I may be pardoned for saying that we are indeed happy that Dr. Lang shared intimately with, and advised Archbishop Davidson in, his labours for the bringing together of the Anglican and Orthodox Churches and that he possesses the profound affection and the full confidence of the Orthodox.