"YE SHALL know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," is the Scriptural promise to those who seek our Lord. Divine truth, by which alone the souls of men may be enlightened, liberated, and made truly alive, is to be accessible to all who will receive it. God, in His infinite com-.passion and loving-kindness, wills not to remain an unknown God, nor to be known only through the partial and fragmentary intimations of nature, but to be known as He is in Himself, as He has revealed Himself in our Saviour Christ. He has not said to the sons of man, "Seek ye Me in vain," rather He "who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
How is the knowledge of divine truth to become ours? How are we to find the faith, the light which is to guide our souls to life eternal? Surely, as the first Apostles and disciples found it, not in the first instance through the written Word, not even through the spoken Word alone, but through the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The Pentecostal Faith is to be found in the Pentecostal Fellowship, in the Body of Christ, in which alone is the fulness of His Spirit. Hence the title of this paper--for "the faith is the faith of a Fellowship, before it is the faith of the individual Christian"--and only in the Body of Christ can the truth of Christ be known with assurance.
Revealed truth is not to be found by an isolated individual with a book in his hands, nor does it consist in the pronouncements of an external authority, whether that authority be the Pope, or a council of Bishops, or a group of scholars, or even the "assured results" of critical investigation. The truth of Christ is revealed not by flesh and blood, but by His Father which is in heaven, and it is the possession of the Spirit-guided organism, the Holy Catholic Church, which guards it, or rather experiences and lives it, from generation to generation. The Church knows Christ with an interior knowledge, due to the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, who guides her into all the truth and bears the ark of faith safe and invulnerable over the seas of error. Only in vital union with the Church, in living unity with all her members, can the individual find the assurance of truth, which the Son of God came to bring him, and which He sealed with His own Blood.
The position which I am advancing presupposes that God has given us a definite, unique and final revelation of Himself in Christ, and that that revelation is to continue accessible to men to the end of time. It presupposes a Spirit who preserves it and an organism which enshrines it. It presupposes that the Church is not a debating society, not an anarchist club, not a research society for the discovery of truth, but a truth-possessing, truth-teaching Body, the Body of Christ, possessing the mind of Christ and His Spirit.
It may serve to clarify the point of view of this paper if we contrast it with other approaches prevalent today, not with a view to controversy, but to positive exposition. First with that of Protestantism. Khomiakoff, the great Russian Orthodox theologian, has summed up the modern Protestant conception of the Church as "a society of good men, differing in all their opinions, but earnestly seeking for the Truth, with the total certainty that it has not yet been found, and with no hope at all of ever finding it." [Russia and the English Church, W. J. Birkbeck, vol. I, p. 40. I desire to acknowledge my indebtedness to Khomiakoff for the general point of view of this paper and especially to his brilliant work: L'Eglise Latine et le Protestantisme.] This position, which every day draws closer to absolute scepticism, is a natural recoil from the Reformation assumption that every individual, with the Bible before him, is able to discover the truth for himself, independently of the Church which gave him the Bible. It rests on a false individualism, which treats each Christian as a self-sufficient unit, and ignores his social and organic relation to the Body of Christ. It fails to realize that the Christian life is lived in an organism, and that Christian truth is to be known with assurance only in that organism.
The Roman Catholic approach is seemingly quite the opposite of this. Christ has withdrawn from the world, to be sure, but has left a visible representative, His Vicar, who knows the truth infallibly and under certain conditions utters it infallibly for the benefit of the general Church. Its basis is "the accepted and cherished supremacy of one conscience over all other consciences, of one will over all other wills." [Cardinal Mercier's last Pastoral to the Belgian Episcopate.] "The [Roman] Catholic believes in [a doctrine] because the Church which replaces (sic!) Christ, teaches it to him. . . . Christianity is practically submission to Christ in the person of the Sovereign Pontiff and of the pastors who are united to him; submission of the intellect to their teachings, submission of the will to their commands." ("Le catholique y croit parce que l'Eglise, qui remplace (!) le Christ, le lui enseigne . . . Le Christianisme est pratiquement la soumission au Christ dans la personne du Souverain Pontife, et des pasteurs qui lui sont unis: soumission de l'intelligence à leurs enseignements, soumission de la volonté à leurs commandments." [Abbé Marion, Le Christ, Vie de l'Ame, p. 107.])
This version of religion certainly has the advantage of simplicity and clearness.
"These Ultramontanes have simplified things," exclaimed a French Bishop on the eve of the Vatican Council. "They have reduced the New Testament to one text, Thou art Peter, and the Creed to one clause, I believe in the Pope."
"Peremptory authority," on the one hand, and "absolute submission" on the other, are the favorite watchwords of this theory, which is naturally accompanied by a rigid system of censorship, at times extending to the suppression of the Word of God itself. This conception of the faith, though very efficient (one is tempted to say frightfully efficient), leaves little or no place for the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free, but substitutes a spiritual autocracy, the ukases of an official head, for the reflection and experience of a living Body. If the Protestant approach to truth leads to anarchy and chaos, the Roman leads to slavery and thraldom.
The Protestant and Roman conceptions, superficially opposed, are in reality at one in their basic position: the disregard of the organic nature of the Church, and the substitution of one man's judgment--whether of the Pope or the higher critic or the average Christian--for the corporate mind of the Church. Protestantism and Romanism are twins. The Protestant exalts his private judgment, or the private judgment of Luther, Knox, Fosdick, or the latest critic, above the teaching and experience of the Body of Christ. The Roman bows to the ex cathedra decrees of the Bishop of Rome, which are "irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church." ["Non autem ex consensus ecclesiae," Vatican Council Decrees.] Both reduce the Church to an ornamental cipher; neither can conceive of a collective mind which embraces yet transcends all the individual members, from the lowest to the highest, in an organic unity of truth and life.
According to the truly Catholic conception, the individual is neither shut up within the narrow confines of his own mind and personality nor enslaved to the mind and personality of another--he loses himself, or rather finds himself, in the larger life of the organism, the Body of Christ, which has the mind of Christ.
Protestantism and Romanism are agreed, moreover, in making the truth something exterior to the body of Christians, something to be approached from without. Both have only an indirect and mediate, not a direct and immediate, union with the truth as it is in Jesus. Catholicity, with its organic outlook, its strong conviction that the whole truth, the whole Christ, can be grasped only by the whole Church, knows Christ from within, as indwelling the Church which is His Body, in the might and power of His Holy Spirit. She has no need to seek the truth, the Christ, apart from her own organism, nor will she admit any such hard and fast distinctions between a teaching Church and a learning Church as would make of the hierarchy a caste instead of an organic differentiation within the Body of Christ.
Our Lord could scarcely have said, nor could anyone plausibly have attributed to Him the saying: "It is expedient for you that I go away," if He intended to leave only a human representative, a phantom of Himself, an external teacher of the truth. Better that we have the Truth Incarnate than His delegate. It would not have been expedient for us that Christ go away if we were to have contact with Him only through heaps of written pages, whether of the Bible or of the Critics. Better that we have the living accents of the Son of God than their distant echo. It was expedient for us that He go away if the truth no longer remains simply an outward fact (as it was even during the earthly life of our Saviour) but an inward experience and presence, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the true Vicar of Christ, animating the whole Body in all its members, and guiding it into all the truth. The Church's faith rests on no external oracle--whether an infallible man or an infallible Book--but on the living Christ, and on the living Spirit, leading her into a vital assimilation, an interior perception, of the truth of God. She knows of no formal, judicial, external "authority"--for even Christ Himself is not that--but a stream of life, a Spirit-guided organic experience of Christ the Way, the Truth and the Life within her.
The Protestant and Roman theories have a further point of resemblance, in that, since they both rest only on one man's private judgment (whether of the individual Christian or of a single Christian bishop) they offer no divine assurance of truth. The truth which they do hold, even when it approaches most nearly to Catholic Orthodoxy, is in reality only a matter of opinion (the opinion of the Bishop of Rome or of the individual concerned) and has not that invincible solidity of faith which rests upon the consentient witness of the Church. Moreover, there is no certainty as to what their creed will be tomorrow. Protestantism has dropped one fundamental truth after another until today, under Modernist influence, no doctrine, even the Personality of God, is secure. The logic of Protestantism premises tends inevitably to complete subjectivism and ultimate agnosticism. Many sincere Christ-loving Protestants are today looking with horror at the abyss of scepticism which yawns before their feet. Romanism, on the other hand, has added private or provincial opinions to the faith and the Roman can be no more sure than the Protestant of what his creed will be tomorrow. The Protestant does not know what belief he will have to give up next; the Roman does not know what belief he will next have to swallow. The bodily assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the doctrine of Mary Co-Redemptress and Mediatrix of all grace, her co-presence in the Blessed Sacrament, the immaculate nativity of St. Joseph and his perpetual virginity, the doctrine of the Pope as the divine incarnation, "the third visible presence of Jesus Christ on earth" (as Faber calls him)--all of these doctrines have been taught and some of them are considered ripe for definition in the Roman communion. [In his sermon: "Devotion to the Pope." Cf. Devotion to the Pope, by Père Milet, 1904. (Imprimatur of Archbishop of Tours. Highly approved by the Pope.) Others have spoken of the Pope as "the Incarnation of the Holy Spirit"!] For none of them is there a shred of evidence in Holy Scripture or Catholic tradition. In this respect they are no worse oft than the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Papal Infallibility, both of which have been defined. As Father Tyrrell said: "I admit the logic of it all, but where is it to end? Have we yet to learn the immaculate conception of the Pope, or his real presence on the altar?" But to exalt private opinions or pious fancies (more or less pious) into articles of faith is really to reduce the articles of faith to the level of private opinions or pious fancies. Hence both Romanism and Protestantism lack the infallible assurance of truth which only Catholicity, with its organic approach, its interior union with Christ, its Spirit-guided collective witness, can supply.
Orthodox Catholicity, unlike other religious systems, insists on the primacy of a moral principle in the search for truth. That principle is love of the brotherhood, the mutual love and accord of the members of the Church. Only when that principle prevails can truth-seeking be fruitful. When any individual, however high his ecclesiastical station, or however brilliant his intellectual endowments, sets himself up in proud isolation from his brethren, his efforts are bound to be intellectually and spiritually barren. "The knowledge of divine truth is granted only to mutual love," as Khomiakoff beautifully puts it. Hence schism inevitably brings heresy in its train. Where the bond of unity has been broken, the assurance of faith has been lost. Where love has been wounded, truth has been maimed. This love involves not only continuance in the visible communion of the Church, but sympathy with our fellow-members, and respect for their views, however simple or unlearned; it involves also humility toward the Church as a whole. It means that we recognize it is for the Church to teach us (whatever our hierarchical or intellectual standing), and not for us to teach the Church. No individual (whether higher critic, or religious reformer, or Bishop, or Pope) can set himself up as judge and teacher of the Church. To do so is to presume to judge and teach the Spirit who rules and guides the Church. Of course our relation to the Church is that of disciples, not of bondsmen; our assimilation of her teaching is the inner and creative assimilation of sons, not the forced submission of slaves. [Cf. Sergei Nikolayevich Bulgakov, Put ("The Way"). No. i, p. 70.] Thus we see the Church as "the living organism of the truth, entrusted to mutual love," as Orthodoxy conceives it, and on the other hand, "logical knowledge cut off from a moral basis, that is to say, Rationalism, in two aspects of its development, namely, reason clutching at a phantom of the truth, and selling its freedom into bondage to an external authority--which is what Romanism is--and reason, trying to find out a self-made truth for itself, and sacrificing unity to subjective sincerity--or in other words, Protestantism." [Samarin, Khomiakoff's Works, Vol. II, Introd. XXX, cited by Birkbeck, XLVIII.]
Has the Church an infallible organ of expression? That is, has it any agency, such as a Pope or a council of Bishops, which of itself has binding authority and infallibility in matters of faith? To this our answer must be an unqualified No, as leading theologians both among ourselves and among the Eastern Orthodox recognize clearly today. Nothing less than the total organism, the whole Body of Christ, is immune from error. Patriarchs have erred, Popes have erred, the majority of Bishops, in council and out of it, have erred, only the whole Church as a Body has never erred. Thus in the Arian conflict in the fourth century, when the Pope and the majority of Bishops denied the faith, that faith was saved by the steadfast laity, led by a handful of the clergy. Hence the sharp Roman division of the Body of Christ into a teaching Church and a learning Church--a division which some Anglicans and Orthodox have uncritically admitted--cannot be for a moment maintained. The real distinction is between a teaching Spirit and a learning Body, or between "a teaching Church and a learning world." The Eastern Patriarchs in their Response (1848) to the Encyclical of Pius IX, set forth this truth clearly. "The real guardian of the faith," they say, "is the body of the Church, that is to say, the people itself." Wholeness (in other words, Catholicity) of faith depends upon the Church as a whole, not simply upon the hierarchy, much less any one member of it. The Eastern Patriarchs reject the rigid division of the Church into Ecclesia docens and Ecclesia discens and recognize that mutual love, and unity with the whole Body of Christ, is the only security of Orthodox belief. Even an Ecumenical Council derives its significance from the fact that it has been accepted by the Church as a whole, clergy and laity alike, and thus recognized as expressing truly the latent consciousness of the Body. [Florensky's masterly work, Stolpi Utverzhdenie Istini (Pillar and Foundation of the Truth), Berlin, 1929, elaborates this point of view.] A recent Anglican writer has given lucid expression to this view: "The General (here-ecumenical) Councils are held in honor, not he-cause they were infallible, and could not possibly have erred, but because the whole inspired sense of Christendom was convinced that in these particular cases their members did, in fact, give a true interpretation of the Gospel of Christ." [Rev. G. L. Prestige, Christian Verity, p. 62 (Anglo-Catholic Congress Committee).] This is no abstract question. "We trusted the bishops and they failed us," lamented Newman. "I never trusted the bishops; I trusted the Church," replied Pusey. Newman went to Rome; Pusey stayed. One believed in an inerrant hierarchy; the ether in a Spirit-guided Church.
It would be a mistake to conceive of Anglo-Catholicism as a timid via media between Protestantism and Romanism (it is not between them, but above them), or on the other hand as "Popery without the Pope." The Papacy has so colored the whole range of Roman faith and practice that while the Churches in communion with Rome are essentially Catholic, their Catholicism is overlaid with imperialism, feudalism, and Italiamsm. The organic conception of Catholicity has fallen into the background. To take just one illustration: the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, and the blessed interchange of prayer between them and ourselves, as members of the one Body of Christ, has been corrupted by such conceptions as that of dulia (servitude) and hyper-dulia (extra-servitude), ideas quite appropriate to the feudal system, but scarcely adequate to describe the organic relation which exists between fellow-servants of God and co-members of Christ.
We repudiate not only the Papacy, but all the accretions that the papal system has brought along with it. For example, we, in common with the Eastern Orthodox, reject wholeheartedly the Romish doctrines of Purgatory, of the Treasury of Merits, of Salvation as earned by external works, and of Indulgences, with the thousands of plenaries and tens of thousands of quarantines, and all the rest of the mad mathematics of a system which tends to import into the sanctuary of Christ the mechanism and the atmosphere of the Stock Exchange, and to substitute the wage-slavery of hirelings for the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
The Church, by virtue of her vital union with her glorified Head, and the sure guidance of the living Spirit within her, is incapable of error in faith. No doctrine which has once been set forth as an essential article of faith has ever been discarded, nor could it be. [Despite loud assertions to the contrary, materialistic ideas of heaven, of the Resurrection Body, of the Ascension to the "right hand" of the Father, and the "three-story universe," have never been dogmas of the Catholic Faith. So, too, the immediate return of Christ to judge the world was a general expectation of the early Christians, including St. Paul; it was not, like the Resurrection and Eucharistic dogmas, one of the things which they had "received from the Lord Jesus" as authoritative]. False opinions may prevail, and prevail widely among Christians; local or provincial churches may be ravaged by heresies, councils intended to be general may set forth grievous errors, but the Church as a whole has never committed herself to them, and never will. To do so would mean that God's Revelation had to all intents and purposes disappeared from the. earth, that the assurance of truth had been lost forever, that the Spirit of truth had deserted her. All development of doctrine, all "re-interpretation," all "restatement," must be understood from this point of view.
Modernism, for example, ignores this principle, and so, while claiming to "re-state" or "translate" the historic faith into modern terms, it really substitutes something radically different, something which is not Christianity at all. We are reminded of the scene in A Midsummer Night's Dream, where Bottom, after his metamorphosis, appears with an ass's head, whereupon his friend exclaims: "Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee, thou art translated!" So, after viewing the work of the Modernist wise men and magicians, we rub our eyes with amazement and cry out: "Christianity, thou art translated!"
Let us re-state the Catholic faith in modern terms, by all means; but let us make sure that it is the faith, and not a man-made substitute. The faith, to be sure, is not a static but a dynamic thing; it develops, in the sense that not only individuals, but the whole Church, sees continually a new wealth of meaning, value, and application in it, but certainly not in the sense that dogmas change their fundamental meaning. The dogmas of the Nicene Creed, of the seven Ecumenical Councils, and those voiced by the consent of "the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops," to whom our Church appealed at the Reformation, as true interpreters of Holy Scripture--in short, all doctrines held as essential by the deliberate judgment of East and West in common, are the utterance of the Church herself, and hence of the Spirit who indwells her. [Anglican Canons of 1571.]
Thus the doctrines of the Real Presence, of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, of Apostolic Succession, of the sacramental (i.e., grace-conveying) character of Ordination are not open questions, optional opinions, "non-essentials," which Anglicans are (morally) free to accept or reject. They come to us on the authority of the undivided Church (that is to say, the whole Church) to which our spiritual fathers appealed at the Reformation, and they have continued in the living tradition and experience of the Universal Church ever since. The unanimous declaration of the Anglican Bishops at Lambeth reaffirms the Catholic doctrine on these and other crucial matters, not as party views, but as the historic teaching of the Anglican Church. Similarly, the doctrines of Priestly Absolution and of the other Minor Sacraments belong to the faith itself. The faith for which Anglo-Catholics contend is the faith of the whole Episcopal Church, of the whole Anglican communion; it is the faith of the 200,000,000 Orthodox Eastern Catholics, it is the historic faith of Christendom. These again are no academic issues. For example, there is an intimate connection between the refusal to recognize Holy Matrimony as a sacrament and the current degradation of marriage to the role of a temporary concubinage, divorced from all supernatural meaning, and even from its natural end. The abandonment of the Church's faith leads gradually but inevitably to the dissolution of Christian morals.
Certain doctrines, to be sure, come to be seen in a different context in one age from that of another--thus we today view the mode of the Resurrection of the Body, or the mode of the inspiration of the Scriptures in a different way from that of our forefathers. What of it? The Church has never defined the mode, she has simply asserted the fact--and she continues to do so. To make this change of context an excuse for making a change of content in dogmas--for example, for denying or explaining away the Virgin Birth--is absurd, and open the door to Rationalism of the wildest and most irrational sort, or worse still to a vague sentimentalism which believes only what is "felt" to be true. The Church's faith--which is not simply a matter of past decisions, of "authority," but a living tradition and experience--forms an organic whole. To deny one part is to undermine all; it is to set oneself up as a teacher and critic of the Spirit-guided Church, instead of a son and disciple; it is to lose that certitude of faith which our Lord promised to those who are His. It reduces the Church to a debating society, and substitutes the guess-work of man for sure revelation of God. We cannot have it both ways--either the Holy Spirit has guided the Body of Christ in the past into assured truth, preserving her from corporate error, in which case we can depend upon His sure guidance in the present and future; or He has not so guided her, nor is there any evidence that He will do so, in which case we may well relapse into utter scepticism. Faith disappears, and only a multitude of warring opinions remain.
If it be asked why there is so much dissention and disagreement among Anglicans, the answer is that the dissention is due, not to the following of this rule of faith, but to its violation. Wherever it prevails, as it does among the Orthodox Easterns, both unity and freedom are found in a harmonious synthesis. This will be the case among ourselves when the Catholic Movement has won its way, as it will, to universal acceptance.
The Catholic conception of the faith, which I have endeavored to outline, combines the search for truth and the possession of truth in an organic unity, in marked contrast with rival theories. The latter appertains to the Church as a whole, the former to her individual members. The search for truth is the right and duty of every Orthodox Christian, who is no less free in the employment of his intelligence and all his native energies (assisted by grace) than the most extreme Protestant. In fact he is more free, for he has access to data (supplied by Catholic tradition) and to whole ranges of religious experience (to a unity of truth and life) from which the Protestant is necessarily excluded. The possession of truth belongs to the whole Church, the total organism, where it can never fail. There it is not tied up with any inanimate thing--any fetish--such as a Book, the sense of which, and hence the soul of which is lost, apart from the Church's life (of which it is a precipitate), or a Chair, a privileged See, a particular organ of the hierarchy, exalted above the Church (to which it owes its organic functions). Roth types of Fundamentalism, Roman and Protestant, are utterly alien from the mind of the Church and represent a reversion to Judaism, the religion of a Book and a Chair. Nor does her faith shift like Modernism, with every wind of radical criticism, for it is wholly based upon, and centered in, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever. Rather the truth abides in her as a living experience, allied with the mighty upthrust of the dynamic, creative forces of the indwelling Spirit. Catholic Orthodoxy alone unites in perfect harmony the utmost freedom in the (individual) search for truth, and the utmost security in the (corporate) possession of it.
"There a unity is to be found more authoritative than the despotism of the Vatican, for it is based on the strength of mutual love. There a liberty is to be found more free than the license of Protestantism, for it is regulated by the humility of mutual love. There is the Rock and the Refuge." [Khomiakoff, Sixth letter to William Palmer. Russia and the English Church, W. J. Birkbeck, vol. I, p. 102.]
Since, then, the Church knows the truth, knows Christ, with an interior knowledge, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, her faith is unchangeable, although, its contents being infinite, no generation of finite minds can exhaust their meaning, and she, like a wise householder, brings forth things old and new from her divine treasury. Therefore she allows wide liberty to her sons in their search for truth, so long as they realize that revealed truth is to be sought within her, and not apart from her, and so long as they recognize that when the Church speaks, it is the Holy Spirit who speaks in her, and therefore she can no more reverse herself than the Spirit of God can reverse Himself. She reminds us constantly that the knowledge of the truth which we seek, and which she all the time possesses, is conditioned by the principle of mutual love, as she herself is the "organism of truth and love." [Samarin.] The principle of comprehension, rightly understood, applies only to matters upon which the Catholic Church as a whole has never spoken decisively--it does not mean that the children of the Church are left without guidance, free to believe anything or nothing. Such freedom would be utter bondage. The wide freedom which the Church, Orthodox and Anglican, leaves her children in their seeking of truth is the correlative of her own sure possession of it, and cannot otherwise be understood.
It would be impossible to give anything like an adequate summary of the Church's faith within the compass of this paper; but we may survey hastily its leading points. The Church, as we have seen, knows the faith with an interior knowledge: for her, truth and life are one. She knows God not as a lonely self-loving Monad, but as a living, loving eternal Fellowship, reflected in herself. She knows God the Father as the Source of her supernatural life, the eternal Son as its Content, the Holy Spirit as its Generator. The unity of life which binds the Father and the Son in the Godhead is expressed in her own organic nature, and the Blessed Spirit, the mutual Love of the Father and the Son, is her own Bond of union. The Incarnation--the union of God and man in Christ--is perpetuated and made universal in the Church, the organism of Manhood-in-God. Our salvation consists in this vital union. Hence the Church has fought to the death all false systems, "heresies," which attacked either the true Deity or the perfect Manhood of Christ, as striking a deadly blow at our reconciliation and union with God. She knows nothing of "the man who dared to be God"--such utterances, natural enough on the lips of infidels, appear to Christians nothing sort of blasphemous--but of the God who dared to be Man, who in His marvelous condescension and infinite love stooped to share our sorrows and sufferings, ignorances, temptations, agonies, death itself, to take our nature into union with His own; who became human that man might become divine; who still offers us, in the Church, His Body, the fulness of divine life. She knows that all activity of God is morally conditioned on man's part; and therefore insists on the overwhelming importance of the Virgin Birth, as exemplifying the truth that God initiates man's salvation but man must co-operate; and this cooperation (the faith of the Blessed Virgin in the amazing promise of God and her utter self surrender) makes of the Incarnation a moral act and not simply a fiat of divine power. Here as always the activity of grace does not overbear human freedom, but waits upon it, and perfects it.
The Church knows of no salvation apart from the Cross of Jesus, though she sets no limits to the prevailing power of that Cross; and the sacrifice of reconciliation finds concrete expression in the fellowship of reconciliation, the Church, and in the twofold sacrament of reconciliation (Baptism and Absolution) in which it is made effectual, as well as in the Eucharist where it is continually pleaded and presented. The Church believes in the Resurrection--both as an outward fact and as an inward experience--for it is the basis of her life, and she has the risen Jesus within her. In the Ascension of her Lord, she sees the source of her own transcendent powers, and the goal to which she is predestined. She knows the Spirit who spake by the prophets as the same Spirit of truth who speaks within her in even-age, bringing to her remembrance all things whatsoever that Jesus hath said unto her, and enlightening her to understand them rightly. The same Spirit makes of her sacraments not empty symbols but life-giving rites, conveying remission of sins and the power of an endless life. In that Spirit, all her members, living and departed--men and angels, the Blessed Mother, and all who belong to Christ--form one organic fellowship, and the communion of love and prayer between them is never broken, but is deepened with each step toward God. As forgiveness, the resurrection of the soul from sin, is obtainable in her organism now, so its counterpart, the glorious resurrection of our bodies--the transfiguration of the whole universe, material and spiritual, as the living Temple of God--will be achieved within her organism at the last. Hence she awaits with eager confidence the coming of her Judge and Saviour, the vision of the kingdom of God, and the life everlasting.
This is the faith of the Body of Christ, to which we were committed at our Baptism and to which every member solemnly pledges himself anew each time he comes to offer the High Sacrifice and to receive the Bread of Life. This is the truth which we Anglo-Catholics, or Western Orthodox (to use a supplementary title which we might well adopt), hold as from God in common with our brothers of the Eastern Orthodox Church, without addition or subtraction. It is not something which we are free to keep for ourselves, or fritter away--it is a trust with which we are entrusted from above not for our own sakes alone but for that of all God's children. To us, though utterly unworthy, has this grace been given, that we should be witnesses to the divine truth in a world which is perishing for lack of it. Let us walk worthily of the vocation wherewith we are called; of the divine organism of truth and love to which we belong; of the Holy Spirit, who guides us, in the Body of Christ, out of darkness into His marvelous light, from the sunrise of partial knowledge here to the noon-tide radiance of the Beatific Vision, when we shall know even as also we are known.
To sum up very briefly: "Ye shall know the truth," says Romanism, "or rather ye shall submit your minds and consciences to a man who knows the truth, and the truth shall make you slaves."
"Ye shall be free," says Protestantism, "free to be ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
"Ye shall know the truth," says Catholicity, "and the truth shall make you free. If the Son shall make you free, then are ye free indeed!"
Such is the constant faith of the Church, such her unshakeable witness. And that faith and that witness, though a stumbling-block to Judaizing Fundamentalists, and to Hellenizing Modernists foolishness, remains to them that believe (however fundamental their approach, however modern their outlook), the revelation of the power of God and the wisdom of God, made manifest to men through Jesus Christ our Lord.