Project Canterbury The Catholic Faith and the Religious Situation New York: The Churchmen's Alliance, 1921.
1. The Lambeth Appeal The Rt. Rev. Frederick Burgess, D.D.,
Bishop of Long Island
THE Lambeth Appeal to all Christian People, which is our subject tonight, was adopted after full and free debate by the Conference with an overwhelming vote, only four voices being heard in the negative. By the action of the House it was not subjected to verbal amendment, but was passed in the form in which it came from the Committee. After the vote had been taken the assembled Bishops rose and sang the Doxology, because they felt that the action marked a new and important step in the direction of the visible unity of Christ's Church.
The few who spoke and voted for the negative must necessarily have searched their hearts and minds, as they asked themselves if they were justified in opposing a measure which had the strong approval of the vast majority of their brethren.
If, therefore, to-night we venture to subject the Appeal to criticism, let it not for one moment be thought that we do not heartily endorse and echo the noble spirit of charity which the Appeal breathes in every line and word. Never before has such a stirring call been made for unity, never before has any Christian Assembly sent out to those from whom it was separated by centuries of dissent so tender and yearning a plea to join together, with all differences hushed, in the united service of Him Who is our common Lord.
But the Lambeth Conference does not legislate, and it is only right that every effort should be made by Churchmen to have clear thinking upon this great question of unity. The Appeal must, therefore, be subjected to study and perhaps to stern criticism by those who will influence legislation in the Councils and Conventions of our great Communion.
But we can never fully appreciate or do justice to the Appeal unless we can enter into the intellectual and moral atmosphere which pervaded Lambeth Palace on July 5th, 1920, as the 253 Bishops assembled from all parts of the world in answer to the summons of the Primate of all England to receive encouragement from one another and to consider questions involving the religious hope and the moral welfare of mankind.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, in the short but impressive speech with which as Presiding Officer he opened the sittings of the Conference, struck the note which was to sound in every important motion, speech, or paper to which the members were to listen. So far as your lecturer knows, there is no copy or even resume of this address, and all he can do is to give in his own language the general import of the speech as he remembers it. The Archbishop, after stating that it had been his great privilege to preside at the Conference of 1908, said that if any one of the Bishops present at that time had risen in that room and had ventured to prophesy that, before another Conference should be held, the greatest Christian nations of the world would have been involved in a cruel and devastating war, where each would seek to outdo the others in inventing instruments of destruction, that seven millions of men, mostly young, would be slaughtered, that hostile ships would attack the English shores, that airships would bomb the inland cities and that, within the radius of a mile of that very palace where they were sitting, shells would be falling and pitilessly wrecking the lives and property of the innocent and defenceless, such a prophet would have been regarded as a madman, and bankers and statesmen alike would have answered his words with reproof or with ridicule. And yet every word would have been true, every line of the prophesy would have been fulfilled, and now in the midst of a civilized world, where many hearts are breaking with sorrow, where nations are almost on the verge of bankruptcy, where men and women are making shipwreck of their faith, the Church needs to speak with one voice the message of its Lord. In the face of all these sad facts, and in stern consciousness of the failure of the Christian Church to make its voice heard above the booming of the cannon and the bursting of the shells and the explosion of the mines during the war, we should, now that peace has come, to use the language which the Encyclical later adopted, think of the reunion of Christendom "not as a laudable ambition or as a beautiful dream, but as an imperative necessity." If the Church is united, its sound will go out into all lands and its words unto the ends of the world.
If this then was the moral feeling inspiring the Appeal, the intellectual atmosphere is represented best perhaps by Dr. Headlam's Bampton Lectures on Reunion, preached during the winter of 1920 at Oxford and published just before the Lambeth Conference assembled.
Dr. Headlam opens his lectures with this statement, "It is reported that when the British Army entered France, the village priests, influenced by the instinct of religious and national sympathy, offered the use of their Churches for the service of the troops. The authorities of the Roman Church in England intervened. They complained to Rome and the offer was disallowed. It is reported again that on more than one occasion when, on the eve of a great offensive, with the prospect of immediate death before them, pious members of the Presbyterian or Nonconformist Churches desired to receive the Communion at the hands of a Church of England Chaplain, their request was refused." This paragraph shows the object of these lectures, which is to do away with such differences by producing an organic unity of the Church. It is hard to sum up a great and learned book in a few words, but Dr. Headlam's scheme, if carried out, would imply the two following principles:
First, he would acknowledge and recognize the validity of the orders of the ministries of all religious bodies. If great irregularity, carelessness, or indifference were proved, as for instance in the case of a Nonconformist divine at whose ordination the chief part of the ceremony consisted in the shaking of hands, he would draw the line. "We cannot," he says, "recognize slovenliness and indifference." But all other ordinations he would welcome as valid, and while, if unity could be brought about with any of these Communions, he would give their ministers a commission and solicit for our own Clergy similar powers, yet on no account should there be anything like ordination. "The laying on of hands," he says, "has been done already. The sacramental part of the rite has been performed, but the ecclesiastical rules have not been fulfilled. The essential part of them is the ordination by a Bishop. That being a rule of the Church, the Church can dispense with it and, without it, can confer authority on those already ordained."
But secondly, all future ordinations must be Episcopal. This follows as a necessity on his theory that the Episcopacy is necessary for a united Church. He calls it the "Catholic Rule." "When the Church departed from the Catholic rule, the result was a loss of freedom and unity. The Papacy destroyed freedom, Protestantism destroyed unity and order. It is, then, not because I believe that the historical Episcopacy is necessary for valid orders, but because I believe that it is necessary to secure Christian unity that I hold it must be the rule of a re-united Church." In another place Dr. Headlam says with equal clearness, "The meaning of the Apostolic Succession in the Church is not that it is necessary for the validity of Orders, but that it is an external mark of the unity and continuity of the Church. This mutual participation, therefore, in the Consecration of Bishops will be the sign that we are one body and not many separated ones."
This book, which was widely read among the Bishops and found many sympathizers, is an indication of the attitude which was at that time prevalent. Too long have we had dissension and strife. Let us see what we can give up, so that we can unite with others. And the first thing they laid their hands on as convenient to throw overboard was the Apostolic Succession. It is by comparing the Appeal with Dr. Headlam's book that we can see and understand the principles which it maintains.
First, then, the Appeal does not accept the validity of non-Episcopal Orders. This is very important to observe, because the opposite has been asserted. It uses language which to an uncritical reader would imply validity. For instance it says, "It is not that we call in question for a moment the spiritual reality of the ministries of these Communions which do not possess the Episcopate. On the contrary, we thankfully acknowledge that these ministries have been manifestly blessed and owned by the Holy Spirit as effective means of grace." The ordinary layman would say that such language can mean only the cordial, hearty endorsement of the orders of all Christian bodies, and also the acknowledgment of their validity. But not at all, because later the Appeal demands Episcopal Ordination as the only way of obtaining a Catholic Ministry or, as it expresses it, "a ministry throughout the whole fellowship." Dr. Carnegie Simpson saw this inconsistency. "Let us look," he said, "at this insistence upon Episcopal ordination which, though it is quietly introduced in but three words at the end of a sentence, is the crux of the whole business, and should have been printed in capitals." "Without this ordination," he adds, "Anglicanism can not accept us as being a true branch of the Church or as possessing a true ministry of Word and Sacrament. If this is so, the generous things said in other parts of the Lambeth pronouncement really mean very little." Dr. Simpson has, by his words, helped us to realize that the Bishops assembled at Lambeth never intended to recognize the orders of Nonconformists, however truly might be impressed upon their minds and hearts the great truth illustrated all through the ages and in every part of the world that God is not bound by Sacraments, but, as Bishop Gore expresses it, "can be freely believed to have given His gifts of grace as and when He pleased." Or we can legitimately paraphrase St. Peter's words, "God is no respecter of persons but in every Church he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is acceptable with Him."
But, while rejecting any recognition of the validity of non-Episcopal ordination, the Appeal does on the other hand accept and apparently heartily endorse Dr. Headlam's utilitarian idea of the Episcopate. He urges the necessity of future Episcopal Ordination as any statesman might, because, counting the Greek, Russian, and Roman Churches, there is a preponderating reason in the argument from numbers in favor of Episcopacy. "Considerations alike of history and of present experience," the Appeal says, "justify the claim we make in behalf of the Episcopate, that it can be the ministry of the whole body." The Appeal nowhere comes out with any statement of Apostolic Succession or of Grace of Orders or any real indication of why the Anglican Communion clings to the Episcopate, save this, that by accepting a commission through a Bishop's ordination the man will obtain "a ministry throughout the whole fellowship." Of course everyone knew that the Conference, as a Conference, believed in Ordination as conferring grace, but it is plain that it was not thought to be diplomatic or statesmanlike to incorporate into the Appeal any such reference. I wonder if it was the Appeal which caused the Jesuit writer, Chaplain Walker, in his book on "The Problem of Reunion," to make this astounding statement, that the Anglican Church has never committed herself to the position that the Episcopacy originated with the Apostles or that by it sacramental power is handed down. This looseness of thought will make the Anglican proposals welcome to Free Churchmen. "Today," he says, "The Anglican Episcopate, in the event of reunion, is not only to become democratic, but it is to be accepted apart from any theory as to its character. That is even more than the Puritans dared to ask for. In submitting to Episcopacy thus offered and reformed, Free Churchmen will not in reality be making concessions, they will be celebrating a victory." One wonders if the language of our pronouncement justifies this gently veiled sarcasm.
With these two features of the Appeal clearly in our minds, the insistence on reordination of non-Episcopal ministers and the purely mechanical or constitutional reason for accepting a commission "throughout the whole fellowship," I am ready to state my own reason for voting to reject the Appeal. To be allowed to do this before this audience of thoughtful and educated Churchmen I recognize to be an almost priceless privilege.
I would say that, while I appreciate the strong argument put forth by the Bishop of Vermont, yet my own line of thought was ethical. My objection to the Appeal was on moral grounds. If the Church should seek to gain outward unity by lowering the standard of ordination and by asking men to do anything which should be against the conscience, the movement is not only doomed to failure, it is bound to do harm which may be irreparable. The Appeal itself says, "We believe that, for all, the truly equitable approach to unity is by the way of mutual deference to one another's consciences." That this principle has not been held to and that what is asked from non-Episcopal ministers in the way of sacrifice can not be justified by the moral reason, and that, therefore, this Church of ours would depart from the highest precepts of the Gospels if it carried out the proposals of the Appeal, is the burden of this lecture. I realize that it might be regarded as an act of audacity thus to arraign the action of the Conference, but the issue is too serious for personal consideration, and those who see rocks ahead, as the ship forges its track through the waves, have a right to cry out their warning, even if every officer on board maintains that the rocks and the booming surf are only an hallucination.
Before explaining this position it must be pointed out that the Lambeth Appeal is one-sided. While it is headed "An Appeal to All Christian People," and while it has an allusion to the other ancient Episcopal Communions in East and West, yet it is plainly addressed to the non-Episcopal Communions in England and Scotland, and does not try to meet conditions outside the British Isles. Again and again in debates the Conference had to be reminded that it was not national, but world-wide, that its suggestions and resolutions must be applicable to every branch of the Anglican Communion throughout the world. Here in America, where millions are coming to our cities from Southern and Eastern Europe, the problem of unity is essentially different from what it is in England and Scotland. One cannot help feeling that the Appeal for unity would have been helped if the Bishops had stretched out cordial hands toward the Greek and Russian and also the Roman Churches. The inclusion of the great Episcopal Churches, now unhappily divided from us, would have made the Appeal more truly Catholic and might have eliminated several ambiguous or difficult passages. But it is plainly an appeal to the non-Episcopal Churches or Communions of England to accept from the hands of the Church of England Bishops Episcopal Ordination, so that the vision of a visibly united Church may be realized.
This, then, being the scope of the Appeal, demanding in unequivocal terms Episcopal Ordination for all non-Episcopally appointed ministers, it is not difficult to see the ethical objections which were urged to its adoption by one at least of those assembled.
It does not need a Pope, it does not need a canon, to tell us that it is a sacrilege to repeat the Sacrament of Ordination. That law is written in the human heart and is upheld by the human conscience. If a man consents to be re-ordained it must be because he believes his own ordination to have been invalid. For were he to consent to go through the ceremony again, while believing that the first had been all sufficient in the eyes of God, he would stultify the noblest instincts of his heart. Dr. Headlam has understood this and, having granted that the non-Episcopal Ordinations are valid, he does not in his scheme seek to outrage men's consciences and propose a new Ordination, but only the acceptance of a commission, and, by insisting on future ordinations by Bishops, he hopes in this way to render the unity of the Church secure for all time.
But what does the Lambeth Appeal do? It asks men, the spiritual reality of whose ministry it recognizes, to submit to re-ordination at a Bishop's hands; and for what? Because by this act they will receive a new power and grace? because by it they will fulfill the law of Christ and receive from His hands the gift of His Holy Spirit? No, not at all; but in order that they may receive a ministry acknowledged throughout the whole Church. But it really presents us with no reason why the Church should not have a Presbyterian ministry rather than an Episcopal, save the argument from numbers. It is a cold mechanical view of Ordination, and it is therefore no wonder that from one after the other of devout and learned divines there should have come a strong protest. Dr. Carnegie Simpson I have already quoted. Dr. W. B. Selbie, Principal of Mansfield College, says, perhaps satirically, "It will make all the difference if the Episcopal Ordination suggested for non-Anglican ministers is only an extension of commission comparable to that which Anglicans themselves state they are willing to receive from the Free Churches. This is a very different thing from re-ordination, but the report itself does not make it clear which of the two interpretations is meant." Dr. Alfred E. Garvie, Principal of New College, says, "For so blessed a consummation as the reunion of the divided Church of Christ I personally should be prepared to go further than many Congregationalists in abandoning tradition and convention, theories and practice, which might stand in the way; but what would be involved for me in the acceptance of the Bishops' proposal would be the abandonment of a principle for which, if need be, I should be ready to die." And Dr. Orchard, in an address before the Society of Free Catholics, says that there is need of better understanding between Catholics and Protestants before unity can be reached. "What has kept the Episcopate alive is a theory, the theory that it is through the Episcopate alone that valid orders are conveyed; and until that is either given up by the one side or accepted by the other, the difficulties will be concealed but will only break out worse again after attempts at compromise."
These quotations are all from men who have been sincerely working and studying in the cause of unity. What then, can we think, would be the answer of the rank and file of Protestant ministers to any such proposal?
It has been a surprise to me to hear men talk glibly about re-ordination. It startled me to listen to Bishops declaring on the floor at Lambeth that they would, for the sake of unity, submit to re-consecration. It would seem to need little imagination to picture the barrenness and horror of such a mockery of service. A minister of Christ looks back on the ordination hour as the most solemn event of his life, when he received his commission from the Lord, and so long as he believes that service to be valid he cannot consent to repeat it. The Rev. G. H. Clayton, in a paper read before the Anglo-Catholic Congress, declares, "I would most willingly submit to conditional re-ordination, if by that means I thought I could do anything towards healing the wounds of Christendom." Such a statement as that seems incomprehensible. I do not know what conditional re-ordination can mean. So far as I know, no such service has ever been held in all Christian history. Conditional Baptism is something recognized by the Church when there is doubt as to the fact or the form of any previous Baptism, but Ordination is something which is conferred only on men of ripe years, and the man who cannot recall his Ordination would be unfit for ministry in any Church.
No, we are forced back to the true principle of the threefold Ministry as the Episcopal Church has always held it through all its troubled history. It is the Catholic truth that only a Bishop can ordain, and that the Apostolic Ministry ranks with the Apostolic Scriptures and the Apostolic Creed. Never was the tyranny of Parliament more cruelly shown than when the English Government refused to permit Bishops to be consecrated for the thirteen Colonies of America. There exists a pathetic letter, written in the 18th century, when the Connecticut Clergy pleaded with the Archbishop of Canterbury to give them the Episcopate. "Two young men", it says, "recently ordained by your grace were lost at sea. Of the fifty young men who have been sent to England for ordination during the previous 40 years, ten have perished from sickness or shipwreck." I think that is a larger proportion than that of the killed in our late war.
Now had the English Church held any but the highest doctrine of Orders, what would have saved us from doing what the Church of Sweden does today in the missionary field, authorizing ordination by Presbyters? As it was, the Church in the American Colonies went on for generations without Bishops, without confirmations or Ordinations, and stunted in size and spirit by lack of the Episcopate, and testified to the truth which no usurpation of spiritual power by Parliament or Crown could destroy, that the Episcopate is not, as has been claimed, a "mere matter of administrative convenience," but essential to the handing down of the Ministry commissioned by our Lord, when He said to His Apostles, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Bishop Lightfoot sums up his great essay on the Christian Ministry in these words, "If the preceding investigation be substantially correct, the three-fold Ministry can be traced to Apostolic direction; and short of an express statement we can possess no better assurance of a divine appointment or at least a divine sanction. If the facts do not allow us to unchurch other Christian communities differently organized, they may at least justify our jealous adhesion to a policy derived from this source." In these words does the Church's great scholar vindicate the Ordination principles of the Prayer Book, and present the minimum of conviction on which the minister of another Communion can seek the laying on of a Bishop's hand in ordination. The young man who in the 18th century left his home, his father and mother, his friends, and all that made life lovely and beautiful in the New England or Virginia of those days and embarked in the flimsy little sailing vessel to face the dangers of the Atlantic, made no such sacrifice as does the minister, who in these days will give up the traditions of his life, the association with men whom he respects, renounce, for so in a sense he must do, all his former ministerial life and brave the sea of obloquy and misunderstanding, neglect and slander and contempt and, perhaps, poverty, in order that he may find a Lambeth Palace where, in the Chapel with its crowded memories, he may kneel before a Bishop and answer the question, "Do you think in your heart that you are truly called, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and according to the Canons of this Church, to the order and Ministry of the Priesthood?"
It was because the Lambeth Appeal presented to my mind no sufficient reason for a sacrifice so complete and a renunciation so heart-stirring, and because it laid no stress on, but rather seemed to ignore any sacramental grace in Ordination, that I for one could not vote for it. It was in such a spirit that a minority could join in singing a doxology, praising God for the blessing of charity towards all, and praying Him that what seemed in the Appeal an error in judgment might be overruled for good.
We have finished our perhaps unwelcome criticism of the latest attempt to solve the problem of Christian unity. Whether our argument has been convincing or not, more and more it has been borne in on our mind that, by emphasizing the necessity of Orders, we have been taking the wrong path through the forest. It is the Apostolic Faith in Jesus Christ, as perfect man and Perfect God, which alone will lead us on to the City of God.
The world is sick today for lack of faith. No one can look at all deeply at the underlying facts of our so-called Christian civilization and not see that the foundation is weak indeed. Paganism is all about us. Our boys, yes and perhaps even more our girls also, in their schools and colleges, look at supernatural theology as a thing of the past, and echo the rationalism they have heard in their lecture rooms. Our modern cities are dotted with ecclesiastical buildings, most of them conveying little symbolic meaning and possessing slight beauty. From their pulpits, if you can believe the papers, there is little preaching of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of the soul. "Let it always be remembered," says a bright writer of our day, "that no one can invent a theory so absurd but that someone can be found who will believe it." And these theories are all about us. When they have to do with politics or economics or governments, they are sad enough, but when they invade the Church, they produce a befogging of the mind and a subsequent shipwreck of faith. Naturalism in all its phases has been tried and found wanting. The Christ who is a myth, no matter how beautiful may be the rhetoric with which He is described, gives no help to save a man from sin when he meets temptation, or to give him grace when he faces bankruptcy or sickness or death. Modernism, which seemed to promise so much and to be preserving all the poetry of Christianity without the burden of its miracles, was discovered at last to be only like some exquisitely painted picture of a stream of water shown to a traveller perishing from thirst in a desert. It has only emphasized despair. Young people are brought up to think that faith is only an individual thing, and the Church does not hold it out to them with authority and affection. And yet more and more we are finding out that the Christ can only be believed in as the Church has revealed Him in its Scriptures and Creed, truly the man, yet with meat to eat which the world does not know, the Saviour because He is the Son of God.
Liddon, at the end of that great book of his, The Bampton Lectures on the Divinity of our Lord, the greatest book the English Church produced during the 19th century, a book which every Clergyman should read every two years in his ministerial life, has a noble passage, where he claims that "a heartier, more meditative, more practical grasp of the Divinity of Jesus will one day again unite His children in the bonds of a restored unity." "Is it altogether chimerical," he asks, "to expect that Christians who believe Christ to be truly God, will see more clearly what is involved in that faith and what is inconsistent with it; that they will supply what is wanting or will abandon what is untenable in their creed and practice, so that before men and angels they may openly unite in the adoring confession of their Divine Head?"
In view of such a statement as this, we cannot but look with deep regret at the only practical result of the Geneva World Conference which has as yet come to our ears. I refer to the proposal by the Executive Committee of our Commission that the Bishops should open local conferences to discuss whether a creed is necessary or desirable, and, if found to be so, what creed is desirable. Sadly and yet boldly we submit that such an attitude does not represent the Church which through all the centuries has been true to the Faith. In old days Christians were ready to be thrown into the arena to be torn to pieces by the lions. Surely they are not now ready to fling the ancient symbols of their Faith on the platform to be torn and discussed by unbelieving critics while a Bishop presides at the ceremony. The watch-word of progress and even democracy, however stirring the slogan may be, cannot be used in this way. The Church of Jesus Christ will progress and does progress, but not by denying the Faith about the nature and person of Jesus Christ which was declared by the councils of Nicea and Chalcedon. Rather it is to progress by building on that foundation its spires and arches to point the road to Heaven. The modern age often thinks it is progressing when it is only destroying.
The preservation of the Catholic Faith is closely connected with our theme, for it will not escape the careful student of Church history that this faith in the supernatural Christ has had its firmest hold in connection with the Apostolic Ministry. Can we not see, therefore, that this Church of ours will do a far greater service in the cause of unity if, instead of trying to heal the wounds of centuries of dissent lightly by bringing about prematurely a coalescing of Orders, it preaches its Faith and upholds the banner of the Lord Jesus Christ with all the power of the Blessed Spirit. Preaching the truth in love, let us trust to Him Who said to the frightened Apostles, as their little ship shook and shivered and creaked before the onslaught of the waves on the Lake of Gennesaret, "How is it that ye are so fearful? Have ye not yet faith?" There is no other hope for the world today, sick with its doubts, mad after its pleasures which do not satisfy, and crazed into dishonesty and injustice by its greed for gold, than the living faith in Him Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man. Where men believe in Him there is unity, and in His own time and His own way He will lead His Church onward into peace.
APPENDED NOTE. Are Bishops Essential to Valid Ordinations?
(The following extract from a review in the American Church Monthly for March, 1921, is reprinted as supplementing references in the preceding lecture, to Dr. Headlam's Bampton Lectures for 1920, The Doctrine of the Church and Re-union.)
THIS is a somewhat startling question. We had thought that point conceded amongst the scholarly theologians of the Church, Latin, Eastern, and Anglican. The teaching "of our own formularies is that "no man shall be accounted a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon in this Church, or suffered to execute any of the said functions. . . . except he hath had Episcopal Consecration or Ordination." (Preface to the Ordinal, pg. 509.) But the author of the Bampton Lectures for 1920, Dr. A. C. Headlam, is obsessed with a theory which results in quite the contrary to this statement. "The final result," he says, "that has impressed itself upon my mind is that we have no sufficient justification for condemning the validity of any Orders which are performed with a desire to obey the commands of Christ and fulfill the intentions of the Apostles by prayer and the laying on of hands." This is sufficiently radical to make the churchman who has held Bishops to be necessary to the esse of the Church, not merely the bene esse, sit up with a shock. At the same time the non-conformist, e. g. a Congregationalist, smiles benignly and says, That has always been the congregationalist position. The situation is immediately reversed, however, when the Churchman and the Congregationalist listen to the completion of Dr. Headlam's statement. "On the other hand the Church rule of episcopal ordination, and the fact of the Apostolic Succession which has resulted from it, was in the past the great strength of Christian Unity, and the breaking of that rule has been one of the most fruitful causes of disunion. As a result of that conclusion I arrived at the practical solution of the question before us that reunion must come from the mutual recognition of Orders and Sacraments and the establishment of the Catholic rule of episcopacy and episcopal ordination for the future on a firm and regular foundation." (pg. ix.)
Here indeed is a striking out in two directions, a curious policy for one who claims to be working in the interests of getting the Protestant bodies back into the visible Unity of the Church. Dr. Headlam in effect seems to say to Protestants, "You did not suffer any essential loss when you lost the episcopate and drifted out of Catholic continuity. Your ordinations continued to be sufficient. Your sacramental rites are unimpaired. Nevertheless, now you must all, without exception, accept and maintain forever afterwards the episcopate and episcopal ordination." To those who have continuously insisted on the episcopate as of the esse of the Church, including no less than practically the entire Christian Church down to the sixteenth century and the Eastern, Latin, and Anglican Communions since and now, a mere bagatelle of witness whom the lecturer airily waves aside, he seems to say:—"All through these nineteen centuries you have been narrowly, rigidly, and mistakenly believing, acting, and teaching as though the Ministry of the Church was divinely instituted, and under the guidance of the Holy Ghost differentiated into a threefold Order. You were quite wrong. The Ministry of the Christian Body developed according to the practical wisdom of the human members of the Church. Episcopal ordination was only customary, not necessary, having not even authoritative traditional foundation. You must apologize to the whole world and to the bodies which have deliberately separated from Catholic Communion. Nevertheless, there cannot be any achievement and maintenance of Church Unity except by insisting without modification or exception upon the episcopal form of government and episcopal ordination." What a rapid and complete volte-face. Our protestant friends seize the weapon Dr. Headlam puts in their hands and at his suggestion deal Catholic Churchmen of all the Christian centuries a knock-down blow. Then as the latter crawl to their feet the same peaceably intentioned benefactor and infallible arbiter forces into their hands another bludgeon, and says, Go at them, knock them down, keep them down until they accept episcopacy and promise never again to say aught against it.
In reading the Bampton Lectures for 1920, the thought came into the mind, did Dr. Headlam read them over carefully and critically after they were ready to be delivered, or did the friends who "pointed out defects", refrain from calling attention to the amazing logical gymnastics of the argument, because they felt that would be to eliminate the personality altogether. For Dr. Headlam's method, which with unintentional satire he calls historical, is characterized by such slashing right and left as he drives his way through the surprised crowd who face him, that he leaves the field littered with corpses, nothing but corpses, whom he proposes later on to bring to life again by the magical medicine of his theory reduced to practice.
A concrete instance of the lecturer's rapid-fire tactics may serve to put readers on their guard. And indeed one must scan every argument and every piece of evidence closely lest an untenable premise or assumption be allowed to slip in as an admissible member in the syllogism. "The Christian society," remarks Dr. Headlam, (pg. 42) "has grown from the development of certain great principles—discipleship, brotherhood, ministry, sacraments." That is a fine sentence, clever phrase-making. But it will not bear examination from the side of Christ's own illustrations, nor from Christian theology. The Christian society grows out of Christ Himself, the God-Man, the Crucified, Risen, Ascended, Reigning Jesus, Whose Vicegerent is God the Holy Ghost. The branches grow out of the Vine, not out of the soil. The plant does not grow out of the rich and fertile ground, the warmth of the sun, the refreshment of the rain, nor from the carefulness of the vinedresser. It grows from a root, a seed. These adjuncts aid and foster growth, but they are not the source of life. The Church is built upon Jesus Christ, the head Corner Stone, not upon His sayings even, much less upon abstract principles. The most perfect human discipleship, brotherhood, ministry, and sacraments, are not the seed and do not constitute the Christian Church. They are the outcome of Him Who is the Master of the disciples, the Head of the brotherhood and family, the Apostle and High Priest, the Bishop of souls, the Life within the sacraments. Dr. Headlam's descriptive definition is akin to Gibbon's five causes for the success of Christianity. One must go back of generalities and mere principles to find the source and rationale of Christianity. At another point in the lectures the figures of the vine and the body are elaborated but with the subtle intimation that there is co-operation between vine and branches, head and body, rather than that there is no existence, as branches and members, except in Him, The lecturer's doctrine of the Church seems not to recognize with clearness the work and operation of the Holy Ghost in the Church, as an abiding presence actively engaged in the task of inspiration and guidance. Also, the question of Vocation to the Ministry is confused with Ordination. "Christian thought did not argue that because a man was called by the Spirit to the work for which he was appointed there was no need of ordination, but it considered that he should be ordained because he was fitted, and the Church prayed that he might receive the necessary gifts. Such gifts must be continually renewed." Does Dr. Headlam hold that repetition of the laying on of hands is requisite from time to time? He certainly cannot get that out of the passages from the Pastoral Epistles. He might, however, fall back upon the theological position of the Eastern Church which regards the lapse into heresy or schism as nullifying the grace of episcopal ordination, necessitating a fresh ordination. But how would his Protestant friends like the idea that because they are in schism the gifts conferred for their ministry have been nullified?
We are concerned not only to deal with some of the arguments employed in these lectures, but also to put readers on their guard against being carried along by the sweeping current of Dr. Headlam's style which is of a character not to allow any pause to examine, much less question, the landmarks along the shores of the Church's history. First of all, the reader must not allow himself to be captured by the naive criticism of all scholars who have reached conclusions other the lecturer's that they have been guilty of the petitio principii, or assuming what they wish to prove, while Dr. Headlam intends to employ the historical method. Dr. Headlam offends most blatantly against his own canons of investigation. Why, before the reader begins the first lecture Dr. Headlam has told him the thesis which he intends to prove, viz. "that we have no sufficient justification for condemning the validity of any Orders which are performed with a desire to obey the commands of Christ and fulfill the intentions of the Apostles by prayer and laying on of hands." He accuses Bishop Gore of assuming in his monumental work—The Church and the Ministry—"one of many theories of the ministry" and consequently "it is not altogether surprising that he is able to find what he desires." That is meant to settle Bishop Gore and get rid of his thorough and conservative scholarship, even though the Bishop indignantly points out in an open letter how he has been unfairly quoted and misrepresented. Dr. Moberly, Professor Turner, Dr. Hatch, and half a dozen others are in like fashion shouldered aside, and even Bishop Lightfoot is treated in patronizing fashion. Only Dr. Headlam remains as an unimpeachable authority. That is, with one exception mentioned in the preface, the late Dr. Harold Hamilton to whom Dr. Headlam pays the just tribute that "his death is a great loss to the cause of Christian theology and of Reunion." But the lecturer hints that Dr. Hamilton would, had he lived, have arrived at the same conclusion as Dr. Headlam. That is a surmise that should not be allowed to pass unchallenged. Does Dr. Headlam think none of us have read Dr. Hamilton's great work, The People of God, or that we shall not take it off our shelves in order to see what its conclusions are? Let us turn to see exactly what Dr. Hamilton does say, for Dr. Headlam does not quote Dr. Hamilton on the main thesis of the lectures, but only upon a subsidiary point. We shall take space to quote a single passage from Dr. Hamilton that readers may compare it with conclusions of the Bampton lecturer for 1920, noted hereafter. Also, we hope some will be induced to study Dr. Hamilton's book, a scholarly, not controversial, work.
We should, then, conceive of the society of Christians as a single organism developing in history. It begins, when, on the day of Pentecost, body and soul were united, as it were, by the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Twelve Apostles. Immediately it began to increase in size; new members are added; life and activity expand on every side; functions must be discharged and organs must be developed to discharge them. Although no individuals seem to have fully understood the whole significance of the fact, yet the organ which was developed to discharge the function of presiding at local celebrations of the Eucharist followed lines entirely different from all other organs. Certain individuals were put forward and received through the Apostles the sanction of the whole Church for their work of breaking the bread in memory of the Lord Jesus. These individuals came to be known as a special order to whom the right to preside at the Eucharist was universally recognized to be confined. Thus they became the organ of the whole Church for this purpose."
"And again, as time went on, it became necessary that other individuals should from time to time receive the same authorization to preside. To meet this need a further differentiation was developed. The Apostles authorized certain individuals to give authority to preside at the Eucharist. And these became, in the course of time, known as a special order, and the right to ordain was recognized universally as being confined to them. Thus by the second differentiation a second organ was developed. The earlier organ was known at first by the class name of 'bishop' or 'presbyter'. Later on 'bishop' was appropriated to designate a member of the second or ordaining organ. Thus the twofold ministry is the organ of the whole Church for the celebration of the Holy Communion. The bread which they break and the cup which they bless is the communion of the whole Church, is the Body and Blood of Christ." (People of God, II., pg. 204. Cf. II, pg. 170.)
A second warning is to beware of the lecturer's cleverness in trying to draw his readers aside from the main line of the discussion. How clever, but how mal-apropos, to sneer at "Apostolic Succession as ordinarily taught in the Church of England" and to characterize it as "mechanical and unreal" because he "could not see any marked superiority—often, in fact, there seemed to be a real inferiority—in the spiritual life and capacity of our clergy, and Anglicanism, though extraordinarily attractive to me, seemed often to fail in life and effectiveness." This sneer, whether with or without foundation, has nothing to do with the issue in question.
Then Dr. Headlam has recourse to the same position which characterized Puritanism in the times of Richard Hooker and which was answered with such telling strength and cogency by that thorough scholar. Dr. Headlam seems to be driven to that untenable position and exploded theory, that nothing is to be required as authoritative in the Christian Church which is not explicitly set forth in Holy Scripture. Hence such unsupported statements as that Christ "established ministry, but gave no order for the appointment of ministers." How does Dr. Headlam know that? Clement of Rome suggests, at least, the contrary. The latter is quoted in the familiar passage:—"Having then received commands and being fully assured through the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and being confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost..... they appointed their first
fruits, having tested them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons (probably the two lower orders) to them that should believe." This affords a piece of evidence antagonistic to our lecturer's sweeping generality, but he proceeds to get rid of any and all scholarly interpretations of St. Clement which favor the theory that "the later rule of the Church already prevailed," by declaring, "all this is guess-work and we cannot build up evidence of Apostolic custom by guess-work." That is a short and easy way of dealing with evidence that makes against one's own position. But the same eagerness to impugn scholarly interpretations does not prevent the lecturer, for his own purposes, from making such wild statements, without any presentation of evidence, as the following:—"It must be further remembered that in the ordination of priests, it is the priests, with the bishop as president, that perform the ceremony and not the bishop alone." This is a gross distortion of the meaning of the joining with the Bishop, at his laying on of hands, by priests present. The latter in their action signify the assent of the second order of the Ministry, not that presbyters are organs for transmitting the grace of ordinations. The Bishop, and he alone, is essential to ordination and the very passage quoted by Dr. Headlam in a footnote is evidence to that point. Or again, he repeats the allegation which cannot be proved as done by the action and with the full knowledge and assent of the Church of England, viz. that "previous to the year 1660, on certain occasions those who were not in Episcopal Orders but had been ordained in a Reformed Church, were admitted to benefices." Notice that in this assertion he implies that such persons, if any, discharge the spiritual functions of the priesthood, although admission to benefices may mean only the temporalities of the benefice. Such cases may possibly have been, but the few instances alleged of the priestly functions performed without episcopal ordination and with the direct knowledge and consent of proper ecclesiastical authority break down or remain not proven under careful examination. Dr. Headlam must know that his statement is questionable. The same is true of the succeeding assertion, that "in the Prayer Book of 1661, as a result of the reaction against the Commonwealth, and as a part of the policy which deprived those in Presbyterian Orders in English benefices, it was definitely stated that none might hold office in the Church of England unless he had received Episcopal ordination or consecration." This statement was inserted to meet a condition which had never existed before the Commonwealth, and to make clear that the Church of England held the ancient and Catholic doctrine of the Ministry, not that it was adopting a new practice.
Investigations have been made by careful students of the period with the result of showing that no evidence exists to back up such loose assertions as that quoted above.
It was necessary to adduce instances that Dr. Headlam is guilty of violating his own canons of historical inquiry. Consequently the reader should accept nothing unsupported by proper evidence and references to documentary authorities and a scholarly consensus of interpretation. A strong case has no need to slur over important points as though there were not two sides.
When the Bampton Lectures have been carefully considered two theses stand out as of weight and moment in the lecturer's arguments and as of great significance if they could be established. We shall briefly consider them to see whether they are tenable, that is, whether their correctness is so unimpeachable that they may be used in the terms of a syllogism.
I. The postulate is laid down that Apostolic Succession (which as Dr. Headlam states, or misstates it, is a "man of straw", not the real position of Catholic theology) is merely a mechanical or magical and quite unreal doctrine. He denies that the Succession is bound up with due transmission of power. He confines transmission to succession in office, the right, apart from the power, to perform the functions of the office of Bishop. He sees no more than that the occupant of an episcopal chair is accredited as being its lawful occupant and so to be the due successor. Now ordination means that and a great deal more. It is true that due appointment and ordination qualify for the seat in the Bishop's place and that continuity demands such due procedure, in which the Church through laity and clergy have a share. We have an illustration ready at hand in successions to the papal office. No more than due election and recognition are requisite for discharging papal functions. There is no consecration necessary, except to the episcopate. If the Pope-elect be already a Bishop he is simply enthroned. If he be not a Bishop as yet, he may still discharge papal functions, and cases are adducible when this has been done. An English Bishop-elect or designate, having sued out his civil rights, may discharge the temporalities of his see before consecration. But in neither of these cases are spiritual functions included. Neither the Pope-elect or the Bishop-elect may exercise episcopal functions of ordaining or consecrating others.
By a specious and a little too clever confusing of cases and evidence Dr. Headlam appears to get rid of anything but transmission of office. He ignores, or minimizes to a vanishing point, the correlative matter of the transmission of spiritual grace or power. Moreover he repeats in effect, even if he does not himself accept, the misunderstanding so common amongst protestant objectors to episcopacy, as to the method of transmission. This misapprehension acts upon the erroneous assumption that the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, the "Shepherd and Bishop of souls", is infinitely or immeasureably removed from the Church on earth, instead of being "present all the days". The teaching as to transmission of grace is assumed to mean that the grace flows through a channel which reaches back through lines of Bishops to the first century and the Upper Room. Thus the source is felt to be further and further removed. But that is not the true teaching as to the transmission and receipt of the Grace of Holy Order. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as even Dr. Headlam admits, is really present at the administration of every Sacrament and He acts then and there through His own accredited representative, the Bishop, in ordaining, and the priest in consecrating the Eucharist, blessing, absolving, and (normally) baptizing. The succession in office and the transmission of the power to act for Christ in conferring gifts are two parts of the order of procedure which on the Church's side are inseparable. Christ works by His own appointed instruments, empowered continuously by the Holy Spirit guiding His Church. I cannot but feel that Dr. Headlam realizes that he is distorting things, but that his argument gains by magnifying one side of a truth and minimizing the other. He does that again and again until one gets to be sure that the point of evidence he ignores or disclaims is just what he is afraid will weaken his case.
Just in line with this feature of his discussion is the emphasis upon the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo. This is not the first time that the African Father has been detached, from the Church and its theologians and made to furnish the grounds for a novel system. Martin Luther and John Calvin both appealed to St. Augustine, the former to find basis for Justification by Faith only, the latter to get some foundation for his doctrine of Predestination and Election. All who rest their case for novelties in doctrine upon St. Augustine ignore the fact that the great Doctor of Grace left mainly controversial works, not constructive theology. They also forget that St. Augustine did not depart from the Catholic Church Order in his own procedure. When an advocate of a theory has to resort to a glaring species of non sequitur in order to get evidence, we are not so much impressed with his fairness, as with his cleverness, and cleverness sometimes comes dangerously near a suppressio veri. The glaring instance is the quotation from St. Augustine of a passage which the lecturer mistranslates, as is evident from the Latin of the passage in the foot-note. He argues from his inaccurate translation that Bishops are not necessary. The passage really states only that "we can be saved if we are not Bishops or priests, but we cannot be saved without becoming Christians." It is absolutely indispensable to Dr. Headlam's scheme for restoration of Christian Unity to get rid of episcopal ordination as a necessity. Consequently he endeavors to make his readers swallow his assertion, to state it in brief, that episcopal ordination is only customary and not essential. He lays it down as unquestionable that laying on of hands and prayer with a right intention alone are the essentials. He would have "the fullest and freest recognition, as a condition of reunion, of the Orders and Sacraments of all those who have been ordained in accordance with the Apostolic rule with prayer and laying on of hands, and who have celebrated the Sacraments according to the command of our Lord." Yet he brings no more than presumptive evidence of a very weak and individualistic kind to back up his contention. He is palpably ignoring certain facts when he argues that the Roman Church and the Anglican alike, as well as the Eastern, do not consider ordination by Bishops essential because in the discussion which resulted in the Bull of Leo XIII no assertion was made that the only true minister of ordination was a Bishop. Why of course not, for that was the very point as to which there was absolutely no controversy. The question was not, who is the proper minister, but, are our English Bishops proper Bishops because episcopally ordained with the proper Form and Matter. Surely Dr. Headlam is a great deal too ingenuous here for his reputation as a straightforward scholar.
His sole argument is that the fruits of Sacraments are to be observed in non-episcopal Christian bodies. That is a popular line to take, and whatever validity it has, it is capable of being pressed so as to prove quite too much. For Jews, Mahometans, Unitarians, Ethical Culturists, almost any individuals, can be brought forward to exhibit certain natural virtues, like kindheartedness, generosity, happiness, but these are not identical with the supernatural fruit of the Spirit. This argument may be corroborative, but certainly is not direct evidence. The whole passage on the non-essentiality of ordination by Bishops is unconvincing because of the utter lack of positive evidence in the teaching and practice of the Church.
We need say no more in order to indicate the points and method on which the lecturer's train of argument is to be stoutly challenged. Many, who are anxious to get rid of the episcopate as of the esse of the Church, will seize eagerly upon Dr. Headlam's book and boldly state that its deductions are final and conclusive. We have heard already of one rector of a parish who proclaimed to his congregation that Dr. Headlam had finally settled the question and that episcopal ordination can no longer be considered necessary. But scholars do not feel that Dr. Headlam has proved his case. Quite the contrary. His hypotheses remain unsupported by sufficient direct evidence and the verdict in the case of most of them is —not proven. Hence his conclusions are still in suspense.