11th October 1913.
If I venture to address to you the thoughts that fill my heart to-day, and if in so addressing you I seem to intrude, a stranger at your door, my excuse must be that from your predecessor I received my orders, and that later I joined the Missionary Society of which he was the valued Chairman. Nor can I overlook the claim on your attention given me by your relationship to two of the incidents that are disturbing me, in common with very many Christians, at this time.
At the outset, then, while asking your kind attention to my complaint, I beg that you will forgive me if I disturb your thoughts unbidden, or in any word or phrase seem to forget the differences of age and experience that separate us.
My purpose is to submit to you, as a representative Prelate of the Ecclesia Anglicana, and as a most zealous supporter of her foreign missions, the thesis that at the present time, having regard to her exceedingly chaotic system of Truth, she is entirely unfit to send missionaries to heathen or Muhammadan lands.
Your Lordship will guess at once that I have not always taken this view. I am now in my sixteenth year of missionary work; to it I have given my best years; and for it I have gladly sacrificed tastes and aspirations that fail of satisfaction in the isolation of our tropical life. Why then do I now begin to doubt? Simply because the Ecclesia Anglicana is content to have lost her power of self-expression, so that we out here can no longer appeal to her Voice or rest upon her Witness. She has no Voice: she offers no single Witness.
I and my people constitute a missionary diocese: we have no regular diocesan organization beyond a Synod of Priests and a Cathedral Chapter: the Bishop has no seat in a Provincial Synod, nor is he given any canonical position in the counsels of his Metropolitan. We come from Canterbury, we lean on Canterbury, we are subject to the judgement of the Bishops of the Province of Canterbury: yet Canterbury as a Province knows us not, and gives us no share in deliberations over matters that affect us vitally, as part of the Province.
That is to say, we are missionaries, we have been sent, and here we are. If we ask for what we have been sent, we are told that we are here to found and edify a church of Africans who shall be in communion with Canterbury, giving them the Deposit of Faith to which the Ecclesia Anglicana, in common with all catholic Christendom, bears its witness.
All this, of course, is quite admirable in spite of the anomalous position of the Bishop, so long as the Ecclesia Anglicana knows her own mind. But if once the Church at the base gets into any difficulties of self-expression, the missionaries at the front are practically giving their lives to a lost cause.
And it must be confessed that the most prominent feature in the present picture is just this difficulty of self-expression.
The Church at home, to use a homely and untheological name, is in a state of mental chaos: it is more than ever talkative, but what it expresses is anything rather than its own true self.
Three incidents that date within the past year bear out what I am trying to say.
The long series of modernist publications with which we have grown familiar was crowned towards the end of last year by Seven Oxford Men, who published a book called "Foundations" as a contribution towards the reconciliation of religious belief with modern thought. The Seven are not all of one mind on every vital point, but the book read in its printed order is said by the Editor, who was your Lordship's Chaplain, to express their corporate mind, and it is fair to suppose that it contains no theory or theological position which, in the judgement of the Seven, is inconsistent with communion at the Altar of the Church. Now so used are we to heretical speculations and teachings by Cathedral Dignitaries and Academic Teachers, that one book more or less would not be seriously felt. The significance of this particular work lies in the official relations in which the authors stand, or stood, to Bishops of the Church. For it is evident that what an Examining Chaplain, or the Principal of a Theological College, can tolerate in a book of which he is a joint author, he is bound to accept as within the limits of orthodoxy from his ordination candidates. So that the chief value of the book is not in its theology nor its philosophy; but rather in the revelation it affords of the official attitude of the Bishops implicated towards heresy and unorthodox speculation.
Mr. Streeter, who does not regard belief in Our Lord's bodily resurrection as necessary for himself or for others, quietly ceased to be your Lordship's Chaplain, but the other priests, who allowed his view as permissible in a brother priest, remain at their posts, Some of them, we are told, do not accept Mr. Streeter's teaching; but that it is not wrong in a priest to accept it, they are pledged to maintain.
The book, briefly speaking, permits priests to believe and teach, among other things equally heretical,
(a) that the Old Testament is the record of the religious experiences of holy men who lived roughly from 800 B.C. onwards; some of whom wrote the so-called historical books in order to shew how, in their view, God acted in circumstances that quite possibly, and in many cases probably, never existed;
(b) that the Christ's historic life opens with His baptism, at which He suddenly realized a vocation to be the last of the Jewish Prophets;
(c) that Christ did not come into the world to die for us; but having come, He died because of the circumstances of the case;
(d) that Christ was mistaken in what He taught about His Second Advent, thinking that the world would not outlast St. John;
(e) that therefore He did not found a Church, nor ordain Sacraments;
(f) that His body has gone to corruption;
(g) that there is no Authority in the Church beyond the corporate witness of the Saints, many of whom are now unknown, to the spiritual and moral value of the Christian religion.
Thus it is allowed by the Seven to any priest to deny the Trustworthiness of the Bible, the Authority of the Church, and the Infallibility of Christ.
As I have said, the mere publication of such views by priests is not so unusual as to arouse comment. They are quite commonly expressed in reviews and in book form. But it gives one pause to find that one's Metropolitan and several of his comprovincial Bishops are so disposed towards these views as to be able to work their dioceses with Theologians who either hold or allow them. I say one pauses: for if Episcopacy, Sacraments, the Bible, and the Lord Christ Himself are on the official list of Open Questions, what is there left in the Deposit that we are here to hand on to Africans?
The answers that are offered for my consolation in this matter vary. Roughly speaking they may be stated thus:
(a) "The Ecclesia Anglicana is by her nature and claim within the Catholic Church, but in order to save confusion and schism, she allows men to remain within her communion who on the Continent would have been driven out. Thus she has a character of inclusiveness that may be said to give her a duty of mediating between various opinions and temperamental views,"
For myself I gain no comfort from such an answer. A mediating Church, it seems to me, would not include within its borders two men of directly contradictory beliefs: rather it would so modify and adjust the two beliefs until they were seen to be complementary, and then it would help one man to hold them both. For example, while Sacramentalism and Personal Religion can be held by any one man as complementary truths, I do not see how a mere Sacramentalist, if such a man exists, could remain in communion with one who believes only in a Personal Religion; and a Church that would seek to retain both men would in no sense be a mediator: it would not be in any true sense an organism: it would be merely a Society for shirking vital issues. Or again, what is it that the Church is mediating when she includes within her borders a man who believes that Christ is Virgin-born, and a man who calls Him the son of Joseph? Or a man who believes that Christ is his Infallible Guide, and a man who holds that Christ was seriously mistaken about the need of a Church and Ministry? Or a man who believes that Our Lord's Glorious Manhood is the fountain of grace, the Temple of the Holy Ghost, and a man who teaches that the Manhood has ceased to be whole and complete, the Body having gone to corruption? Personally I do not see exactly what it is that is here "mediated" by the Church.
(b) "The Will of God is to purify the Church by permitting these heresies to abound within her borders. If we are patient, all will be well."
As I listen to this I try to work it out for myself. Here, in this diocese of mine, heresy may burst forth. If it does so, shall I be able to say that it is God's Will? First, I must think over the indications of God's Will that are most evident. And at once I remember that in His Will and Providence, just five years ago to-day, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his co-consecrators exacted from me, as a condition of my reception of the rank and grace of Episcopacy, a most solemn vow that I would always be ready to banish from my diocese any erroneous and strange doctrine that I might meet.
Clearly then it is God's Will that no heretic should remain in my diocese unpunished. Arguing thus from the diocese to the Church at large, I perceive that the presence of heresy within the communion of God's Church is entirely contrary to His most holy Will. God's Will is to purify the Church by driving away heresy, which no doubt implies also the driving away of obstinate heretics, sad and unpopular as such an action would be.
(c) "It is an excellent thing that our young men should make experiments in reconciling the Faith with Modern Thought."
This answer can be challenged from many sides. My chief objection is that it omits to specify the point of view from which the experimenting Christian must regard both the Faith and Modern Thought. If so be he is fully conscious of a God-given power of faith, in the strength of which he can see things as no mere modern thinker, as such, can see them; if he brings to his task a mind of which Revealed Truth is the guide; and if he sees in the limits imposed by the Creeds the boundaries of accurate thinking upon God, let him go where he will, and say what he please: he will be always serving the Truth in his degree.
But this is not what young men to-day care to do. They stand side by side with the "modern thinker": they throw away faith lest they be accused of unfair advantage: they "start fair." And then? Without faith, they sacrifice in the name of reason much that faith found in Creed and Book and Tradition: which done, finding their logic pointing them to complete unbelief, they exercise in the end the very faith they had mislaid, making pretence that it is reason alone which has led them to their goal. Which means that we may sacrifice what the modern mind dislikes, in the name of reason; and in the name of reason we may cling to what the modern mind tolerates: while in fact what is sacrificed is lost through lack of faith, and what is kept is kept because of faith. But this faith is nigh to perishing, because it is markedly individualistic: it is more and more removed from that corporately-exercised power of vision which marks the Catholic Church, and makes for her her Saints.
Read, for example, the essays on the "Historic Christ" and "Authority" in this book of which I speak. You will find that literally we are taught to trust no one about the facts of Our Lord's life except St. Mark, and him only in as far as we are critics enough to correct his "inevitable bias"; while at the same time we must accept the fact of a presence of Christ within men's souls. Are both the fruits of reason? Are both the results of faith?
Or again, we are told that Christ did not found the Church, nor the Ministry. He did not do so because He did not know that souls would come into the world for many centuries after His Ascension, each of whom would find real union with Him through His Manhood in Baptism, Communion, and the other Sacraments. He had no idea of this. While at the same time we must remember/that these Sacraments are the normal "media" of the operation of the "Word-made-flesh."
Are both "truths" established by reason? Or is faith their basis? or have we here a new antithesis of faith and reason? Must we shift our point-of-view half-way through our task of reconciling the old religion with modern thought?
It is easy to see the method of the thorough-going Modernist: he is a " modern thinker " and frankly throws over faith for reason, keeping just so much of what corporate faith has stored up for him as approves itself to his moral and spiritual measures. But these experiments of the younger men neither start from faith nor finish in pure reason; they are themselves the measures of individual readiness to sacrifice the past for the sake of the present: whereas all that really matters is the future.
Believe me, then, there is no comfort for me in such an answer as this.
And when these youthful experiments are made by men who have been appointed to train, test, and select candidates for Holy Orders the position becomes critical.
For what is the prospect of a missionary Church whose clergy is recruited in the very dioceses of which these men, and others like them, are the trusted Theologians? Without a shadow of a doubt we must expect to receive year by year young men whose faith is not that of our Church: men who have modified this and rejected that in the name of modern thought, until at last the Diocesan Catechism will be set on one side as impossible, and our people either perverted, or thrown into direct opposition to the very Church whose products they are said to be.
Put it in another way. Let it remain an open question whether the old or new be true: but can the Ecclesia Anglicana in her present state hope to act as a foundation for a permanent, solid, new Church?
I can speak only for what I see and know; and speaking for this Muhammadan land, I do not hesitate to say that a Church that has two views in its highest ranks about the trustworthiness of the Bible, the authority of the Church, and the infallibility of the Christ has surrendered its chance of winning the Moslem; for his dependence upon his Book, his Traditions, and his Prophet will be broken not by a debating society but by the living, speaking Church of the Infallible Word Incarnate.
So that the Ecclesia Anglicana needs at once to choose between the liberty of heresy and the duty of handing on the Faith as she received it. She cannot have the one while she fulfils the other. And the sooner she chooses the better for her, the heathen, and the Moslem.
The second incident that lends support to my contention is the Conference of Protestant Missions with the Church Missionary Society at Kikuyu, British East Africa, in June 1913.
In that Conference two Bishops and several priests of the Ecclesia Anglicana committed themselves to a temporary Federation of Missionary Societies, with a view to the establishment of a new, united protestant Church of East Africa and Uganda.
The doctrinal basis of the present Federation is, I gather, likely to be taken over by the new Church. It involves the acknowledgment of the Bible as the supreme rule of Faith and Practice, in accordance with which we may suppose so many different Missions exist side by side; it requires an acceptance of the Apostles' and Nicene Creed, not as a supreme rule but merely as a general expression of belief; and emphasizes the absolute authority of Scripture as the Word of God, and the vital importance of belief in the atoning death of Our Lord as the ground of forgiveness.
Meanwhile, pending the formation of this new Church, the two Bishops and the Heads of four protestant missionary societies have pledged themselves
(a) to recognise common membership between Federated Churches;
(b) to establish a common form of Church organization;
(c) to admit to any pulpit a preacher recognized by his own Church;
(d) to admit to communion a recognized member of any other Church;
(e) to draw up and follow common courses of instruction both for candidates for baptism and candidates for ordination.
And as a pledge of good faith, and with every appearance of heartfelt joy and gratitude, the Bishop of Mombasa celebrated the Holy Communion, on the last evening of the Conference, in a Presbyterian Church, and admitted to communion as many of the delegates of protestant societies as cared to present themselves.
I venture to say that there has not been a Conference of such importance to the life of the Ecclesia Anglicana since the Reformation. For it has brought us to the parting of the ways that we have so long dreaded and sought to avoid.
The differences between the catholic and protestant interpretations of the formulas of the Church are so well known to us that we hardly need explain them. As was said above, the Ecclesia Anglicana has always desired to find room for those who otherwise must pass into schism, and their translation of privilege into right has so far been accepted popularly in England that we, who claim the older interpretation as true, have suffered much at their lips. To-day we are justified. For in British East Africa and Uganda the protestantizing party has developed itself with a grim logic, in warm-hearted love of souls, and at Kikuyu announced clearly the Deposit that it was prepared to make over to the new African Church.
Let us for a moment consider the negative side of the Deposit:
(a) It does not contain the Creed commonly called the Creed of St. Athanasius.
(b) It does not contain the Rite, or Sacrament, of Confirmation.
(c) It does not contain the Rite, or Sacrament, of Absolution.
(d) It does not contain Episcopacy.
(e) It does not provide a Priest for the Celebration of the Holy Communion.
(f) It does not contain a rule of Infant Baptism,
(g) It does not know the Catholic Church, or the Communion of Saints, except in such a general sense as is already admitted by the four protestant bodies that have joined the Federation.
From this analysis we may measure the positive teaching given to Church members in the dioceses of Mombasa and Uganda, as well as the witness offered to the members of the protestant bodies working within those limits.
To me the Conference is incomparably the most important thing in my life, except my consecration as Bishop. For it challenges me in respect to my office as Bishop in a way that cannot be ignored or softened. I am compelled once and for all to ask myself, for what does a Bishop of the Ecclesia Anglicana stand? What is the Truth he has vowed to hand on to others?
This matter is the more serious to us because our missions in Zigualand are not far from those of the Church Missionary Society; Mombasa Diocese lies on our Western Boundary as well as to the North-West and North; our Christians move about in British East Africa and Uganda, while some are resident there for years at a time; and in fact we are so closely joined to the sphere of the Church Missionary Society that its actions have more influence upon us here than have the acts of the Bishop of Northern Rhodesia, who belongs to our own Society.
Once more, in the long strip of East Africa from Guardafui to Moçambique there are only three Bishops in communion with the See of Canterbury: the Bishops of Mombasa, Uganda, and Zanzibar, The teaching of these three men is daily watched and criticized by intelligent Moslems, who know our plans for them and seek earnestly to frustrate them. Already they know of our differences in ceremonial and the like: now they will see that on matters fundamental to the Christian Church one Bishop is alone against two!
And again, the relations between our own Missions and those of other ways of belief and practice have always been most friendly. We have observed boundaries: we compete with no other Mission of any sort within our own limits. All was peaceful, and full of promise for the future. Now, without notice or consultation, the action of two of the three East African Bishops forces the hand of the third. He is compelled to speak out and to speak plainly, at the risk of hurting the friendly relations that up to the present have existed between his mission and those of the Lutherans and Friends; while those bodies are afforded the unusual spectacle of two Bishops depreciating the Ministry of which they are consecrated Heads, a third Bishop moving heaven and earth to baulk them of their purpose.
Having thus briefly hinted at the inconvenience of the action of the Kikuyu Conference, we may return to our main point, which is the unfitness of the Ecclesia Anglicana, in her present state, for any serious or permanent mission work.
For we who deliver the whole Catholic Faith to our people are not only weakened by the heresy that is rife at home, we are here and now directly challenged to our faces by the two Bishops who are within easiest reach of us, and our cause is by them betrayed into the hands of our protestant neighbours. Our work is hindered, our witness stultified; we are made to appear as pretenders and impostors.
Is it not quite clear then that unless the Ecclesia Anglicana purge herself of heresy and eschew schism, her missions have no future? They will be crushed out between the two opposing forces of the Roman and Protestant Missions.
To what purpose then is this vast expenditure of money, this self-sacrifice of our supporters? If there be a reasonable chance of spreading a Catholic Christianity that can take its place in a reunited Catholic Church, all is well worth while: the loss is gain. But if our own position is so chaotic that a Bishop, consecrated for the very purpose, among others, of ordaining priests, may publicly communicate with a Church without Episcopacy, the whole purpose of our life and work is gone.
I am aware, as I write, of the resentment my use of the word "heresy" will cause. But if heresy be so evil that it is wrong to impute it to another man, should we not do better to forsake it than to hide it?
And shall we ever be healed of our troubles unless we face things as they are, and admit to ourselves that while in our communion there is an official Creed, there certainly is no official interpretation thereof? Again, Episcopacy, and all that flows from it, is either God's Gift, or a terrible curse. If it be His Gift, dare we pretend that we have nothing to hand on to others? If it be not His Gift, had we not better renounce the Church that cherishes it as her life, and cast in our lot with those who long ago decided to go on without it?
I can see no sin of the kind more terrible than that of preserving an outward form and organization of religion that offends many thousands of sincere believers in Christ, unless it happens that the outward is essentially filled with the Spirit of God.
I have charged the Bishops of Mombasa and Uganda with heresy in their teaching of the meaning and value of Episcopacy: I would also add that, to my mind, they and their followers are as seriously wrong in remaining in an Episcopal Ministry which is to them merely an outward form and to their protestant neighbours a rock of offence.
On the day that a Bishop can communicate with a protestant minister, deliberately and of set purpose, one of them is, it seems to me, bound in conscience to surrender the outward form which means so little to him, and yet so powerfully hinders the work of reunion.
The third incident to which I appeal as bearing out my contention of our unfitness, as a Church, for Missionary Work happened recently in your Lordship's own diocese, and has resulted in an action on your part that calls for serious consideration.
Your Lordship will recall the part played in the editing of the book "Foundations" by your chaplain, Mr. Streeter, a part that led to your inviting him privately, and quietly, to resign his chaplaincy. This step on your part, in so far as it has become known, has been heartily approved by all who hold the faith. A priest who denies the bodily resurrection of Our Lord, regards the Christ as the last of the Jewish Prophets, dates His historic life from His Baptism, disparages the trustworthiness of the Gospel Record except in so far as he has himself corrected and annotated it, challenges the infallibility of Our Lord and Master, and accepts editorial responsibility for many more strange and erroneous doctrines, may well be asked privately to surrender the responsible office of selecting candidates for the Catholic Ministry. It is to many of us surprising that your Lordship did not make public the admirable action that you took.
But I confess to utter bewilderment when, with this measure of your mercy and judgement in my mind, I read that you had publicly inhibited from ministering in your diocese a priest who had invoked Our Lady, and two other Saints, in one of your Churches, that you had delated him to his own diocesan as an offender against Church Law and Catholic Truth, and had announced your refusal both of ordination and jurisdiction to any who practise these Invocations.
Let us grant for a moment that the Catholic Church knows no invocation of Saints; just as she knows not most of the dogmatic positions assumed by Mr. Streeter and his fellow-authors. And let us ask which in itself is more worthy of punishment, the theory that the Lord Christ so indwells the Saints, our brethren, that in Him they can know us, and by Him can pray for us, and therefore may be asked to pray for us; or the theory that Our Lord was mistaken in His teaching, that He founded no Church, and that His Body, so far from being received in Holy Communion, is mingled with the dust of Palestine?
Surely Mr. Streeter's theory is a million times more dangerous to souls and more harmful to the Church's witness than is the action of Dr. Langford James. For the one robs us of Christ and Church and Bible, while the other merely ventures to speak, here and now, with those in whose company he hopes to spend eternity,
Or is it a sin to exalt the Blessed Mary to heaven, and no sin to degrade the body of Our Lord God to dust?
But in fact I do not grant that the Catholic Church knows no invocation of Saints. Whether you appeal to the first six centuries, or to undivided Christendom, you cannot escape from the fact that Invocation of Saints is a Catholic practice. And in the present day the majority of Catholic Bishops who approve and practise it is so vast as to make the minority of no account.
On what principle then does your Lordship discriminate between the actions of the two priests who have come under your displeasure?
For we in the Mission Field have to face problems like your own: and with us they weigh far more heavily than with you. You administer a Church centuries old: we are only beginning to build. And at the outset we must rightly define the principles that are to guide our converts in the future.
But as I consider this matter of the Saints, I confess that I have been unable to elucidate a clear principle of action.
Had you measured both priests by the standard of antiquity, Dr. Langford James would have been reproved for holding an unauthorized service, and commended for his piety; while Mr. Streeter would have been publicly condemned and inhibited.
Had you measured them both by the present faith and practice of the whole Episcopate of East and West the Doctor would, again, have been at once reproved for a technical illegality and excused for his devotion, while your Chaplain would have been forbidden to enter your Churches.
By what measure, then, if I may ask the question, has your Lordship meted out their punishments? May we in the Mission Field be told why our converts, some of whom read the English Church papers, are allowed to hear that your Lordship has raised so great a trouble because a priest has exercised himself and his friends in certain forms of Catholic piety?
I have recently heard that your Lordship hopes to induce the Bishops at home to condemn and forbid the Invocation of Saints. And it is for this reason that I have ventured to write so boldly on this point. For why are we Missionary Bishops placed in a position in which, behind our backs, the faith and practice of the Catholic Church can be modified and altered?
It is quite intolerable, my Lord, that you in England should send us out to the labour and suffering of isolated Missionary work, expecting us to conquer Islam and heathenism, and in their place to create a living, catholic Church; while you yourselves are at no evident pains to defend the traditions of the Catholic Church from erroneous speculations and interpretations, but rather set yourselves to attack and abolish practices of piety which have the sanction of the whole of Catholic Christendom.
My own wish, as a Catholic Bishop, is that in my diocese Christians shall be so carefully taught the true meaning of the Invocation of Saints, that on the one hand no eccentric priest shall be able to lead them to substitute loving conversation with their Mother and brethren for vital communion with their Heavenly Father; and, on the other hand, no protestant influence shall rob them of that knowledge of, and familiarity with, the dwellers in the Supernatural World which is of such vast importance to the making of the really Christian atmosphere.
Believing as I do that balanced use is the best preventive of misuse, I have always found in a sane and moderate invocation of the Mother of God, and of the other Saints, just that sense of the Brotherhood of Heaven which St. Paul promised to his own converts. And with Africans who from childhood have learned to invoke the heathen dead, I have found in this Catholic Devotion a very useful way of leading them to Christ alone as their Mediator, while preserving to them an exercise of human piety. For when once they have grasped the truth that a Saint is the Lord Christ indwelling a human being in heaven, or a man in heaven who has nothing but Christ and thinks nothing but Christ's thoughts, they quite naturally learn to pour out to Him their supplications, at the same time begging their brethren in heaven, whose acceptance with Him is more assured than their own, to help them by their prayers, which are also Christ's.
Nor do I see how I am to break it to them that they were wrong in thinking that when Christ has heard all they would say to Him, He likes also to hear their elder brethren charitably pleading for them, the young ones of the family. How can they believe that so beautiful a conception of the family love of God's Household is wrong?
And yet, my Lord, you would, behind our backs, seek the complete condemnation of a practice so catholic, so beautiful, and so profoundly useful!
My Lord, I can quite understand that some have never used this practice, and some mistrust it. Our past history accounts for all this. I recognize that the Ecclesia Anglicana has excluded Invocation from her Divine Office. But what I cannot understand is that any Bishop should oppose all and every use of it, much less seek to bring about its official condemnation. And when I add that we Bishops who are abroad have had no official intimation that our Deposit of Faith and Practice is to be reduced for us, you will understand how anxious I am, how worried, and how unhappy.
No doubt I have written more fully and boldly than will appear right to your Lordship. But the concurrence of these three incidents seems to me unusually significant.
At no time has there been more genuine desire for, and effort after, reunion than at present. In no generation has the presence of the Spirit of Unity been more evident than in this. And of all the Churches there is none that so grievously hinders Him in His task as does the Ecclesia Anglicana.
Boasting herself to be the obvious centre round which re-union will be realized, puffed up with a sense of what she calls her broad-mindedness, she stands to-day at the judgement-bar innocent alike of narrow-mindedness and broad-mindedness, but proven guilty of double-mindedness.
And until she recovers a single mind, and knows it, and learns to express it, she will be of use neither in the sphere of reunion nor in the mission-field.
She craves reunion with Rome, and Rome points to "Foundations" and much else that lies behind it. She sends emissaries to the East, and the East asks explanations of the Kikuyu Conference, and the St. Albans Inhibition case. While the protestant bodies with whom the Bishops of Mombasa and Uganda are already in communion will draw attention, with just amazement, to this letter that I have the honour of addressing to your Lordship to-day.
Is the Ecclesia Anglicana indeed a centre of reunion? Is she not rather the one most evident hindrance to reunion that exists?
It is because I believe that in God's providence the time for our purification is near, that I have dared to write what I have written.
The whole Church of God waits for the Ecclesia Anglicana to find a single mind, and to express the same clearly and strongly.
And because she has so long hesitated, it has been permitted to her to see, within so short a space of time, Modernism capturing the Bishops' trusted friends, the Bishops of Mombasa and Uganda crossing the boundaries of Catholicity, and your Lordship inhibiting a priest for Catholic piety while barely rebuking one who has erred from the accepted Creeds in ways more than a few.
God grant that we accept His warning and dispose ourselves to His Will. Let us once and for all face our position, seek out our principles, and define our message.
We Bishops of the Ecclesia Anglicana stand for the theory of the universal Episcopate as opposed to the modern Papacy. In our official view each Bishop represents to his diocese the authority of the whole Church, delivering the Truth as it was received before the division between East and West, and appealing for support to every Catholic Bishop in every generation who has handed on this deposit faithfully: not frightened at this or that local addition, but joyfully welcoming the sound, universal doctrine faithfully preserved and taught in East and West. We appeal to those many thousands of Apostolic men long since passed to their rest, whose witness remains; we appeal to their Creed and Formulas, to their writings, and to the fruits of their labours, the living, truth-bearing Churches; we appeal to the great Bishops of the ancient Ecclesia Anglicana; we appeal to the living Bishops of East and West whose testimony to the dogmas they have received is evident to all. Our unhappy disunion with the Patriarchs of the West and East does not hinder us from falling back upon their public witness to what Holy Church has received and taught all down the ages: and in the strength of their witness, patiently waiting for that power of the Spirit which shall clear up the present trouble about the claims of the See of Peter, we should be powerful enough to resist the temptation to make common cause with the protestant bodies and the modernizing party.
Our concern is not to prejudge the holy Will of God. He has not revealed to us that by way of reunion with protestants we shall help the reunion of Christendom: on the other hand, He has clearly bidden us, and sent us, to bear a faithful and fearless witness to the present indwelling of Christ in the Holy Catholic Church, and to invite men to His Heart by the way of the Sacraments that a Catholic Ministry alone can offer. This is our commission.
I submit to your Lordship that it is safer for us to do and say what God has commanded, rather than, being moved thereto by an unbalanced desire for union, to falsify our witness and tamper with the message with which we have been entrusted.
Nor has He revealed to us that by the way of modifying revealed Truth to the taste of the modern world we shall lead the souls of men to Him. Rather has He bidden us uplift our voice in solid, corporate witness to the Faith delivered to the Church, leaving it to His wisdom and love to tune the modern mind to His sacramental presence in His Church.
For Modernism does not make men Christian in the accepted sense of the word, much less does it make them sons of the Holy Church of Christ. It is a new religion, and every soul attracted thereto means a new betrayal of the witness with which we are entrusted. It is easy enough to cast away the dogmas that hinder the modern mind from professing Christ: but if so be God requires of us, for the furtherance of His plans, a faithful witness to Revelation rather than an increasing roll of not very humble disciples, to what purpose is our self-appointed task?
Surely, my Lord, we may leave to a merciful God the present and future fate of honest doubters, and attend solely to the task for which we have been anointed by the Holy Ghost: the task, that is, of preserving and handing on, complete and undefiled, the Apostolic Deposit of Faith, the Catholic Dogmas, the Religion of the Holy Catholic Church. It may be that in so doing we shall ultimately be of more service to our generation than are those who break down all the walls that men may find safety within the enclosure!
I am well aware that in speaking of Modernism, Pan-protestantism, and Denial of Catholic practices in one Letter I am not acting with worldly wisdom. For those who may agree with me on one point will perhaps be opposed to me on another. Yet I have written what I have written with calm deliberation, in God's sight.
The Ecclesia Anglicana claims to be the Catholic Church in England, and to recall her to her true witness requires more than one voice. We cannot shew a united front against Modernism, our most deadly danger, unless we at the same time declare ourselves true to our own position.
I therefore beg you, my Lord, and with you all the Bishops of the Province, to join me in my request made to our Metropolitan, that the matter of the Kikuyu Conference be heard and judged in our Provincial Court, before him and his comprovincial Bishops, according to Catholic precedent; and at the same time I implore you to reconsider your decision about the Invocation of Saints, and so strengthen our corporate witness to the Catholic Faith in this hour of grave danger.
If God grant us so far to recover our loyalty to our own position, we may venture to deal with Modernism itself.
And in the meantime what shall we do who feel deeply the present position?
My Lord, "without shedding of blood is no remission." As the corporate work of redeeming men's wills to the moral law of the Holy God requires of many an individual soul, in each generation, a real Gethsemane of will, so I take it the corporate task of recovering men's minds to the influence of the Spirit of Truth demands of many to-day as real a Gethsemane of Mind. For the sake of Truth, for the sake of our converts, we must be content to endure distress and even agony of mind, until the matter be finished.
The one thing we must not do is to consider our self and our mental peace. Not until our flocks are safeguarded, or the Chief Shepherd give us order to depart, may we look about us for peace and quiet.
In the darkness of our days the one, only rule that serves is to do His Will and guard His flock, until the Ecclesia Anglicana find her mind and her voice, and tell us for what it is she came into the world. If she have need of us to catholicize the heathen world for Christ, I am at her service now as always. But if to protestantize the world, and modernize the Faith, be the works that she officially undertakes, I for my part have no longer place or lot within her borders. Let the Ecclesia Anglicana declare herself, that we may know our fate.
Finally, my Lord, I beg you and all my brethren of the Province of Canterbury to see to it that, whatever liberty it may be thought wise to give to individuals in speculation and unofficial discussion, and whatever variations it may be judged good to allow in ceremonial and the like, the Ecclesia Anglicana, as represented by her Episcopate, give forth a clear, unwavering testimony to the Truth as it was received by, and accepted in, the Universal College of Catholic Bishops from the days of St. Peter down to the Great Schism, and as it has been ever since preserved and maintained in common by the three divisions of that one College, with which we are to-day so unhappily familiar.
I am, my Lord,
Your obedient, humble servant,
To the Right Reverend
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS.