THE LAMBETH CONFERENCE
FRANK arrived in England on August 2, 1919, and during the following months spent his time rushing all over England, preaching and speaking. He left England on January 23, 1920, recalled to his diocese by the labour policy of the Government. By June 19 he was once more in England, ready for conflict on the subject of 'Forced Labour,' and while at home attended the first Anglo-Catholic Congress and the Lambeth Conference, playing a great part in formulating proposals for the reunion of Christendom. It was always Frank's fate to have two burning questions on hand at the same time, but they had for him a vital connexion. He had opposed the proposals at Kikuyu and denounced Modernism out of his zeal for the One Faith, so in 1920 he was an ardent advocate for the reunion of Christendom, and a passionate opponent of forced labour because he believed in the One God, Who is the Father of us all. In this chapter, however, we must confine ourselves to his ecclesiastical activities, and in the next we will deal with his defence of African liberties.
When Frank came to England in 1919, he was still much concerned with the consecration of Dr. Henson to the See of Hereford. He had sent home Christ and His Critics some months before, but it was not actually published until after his arrival, and met with scant approval even from his friends. He was not daunted.
A friend remembers him standing in the library of the Clergy House of Rest at West Malvern, facing the window that looks out upon the beautiful county of Hereford. There it lay, a land of woods and streams, of orchards and rich pastures, all bathed in the golden light of a summer afternoon; but Frank, who had been asked to speak, was gazing into the distance without a thought for the view. Suddenly his hand shot out; he pointed and said: 'I am going to speak to you of the man over there--Henson.' I don't know if down below in the valley, miles away, Dr. Henson's ears tingled, but those within hearing had to listen to much that Dr. Henson ought not to have said in The Creed in the Pulpit.
The consecration of Dr. Henson had embroiled Frank once more with the Archbishop of Canterbury, but in truth their correspondence never ceased on Kikuyu, the Colour-bar, ritual, and doctrine. The Archbishop probably never 'had a more troublesome and insistent subordinate. For him, Frank had a great admiration and a warm personal friendship, but he sometimes wrote to me about him as a naughty schoolboy writes about his much respected headmaster; and I, being wicked, thoroughly enjoyed his letters, but did not take them seriously. To the Archbishop himself Frank was polite but pitilessly lucid, to Frank the Archbishop was patient, courteous and unmoved. Frank became depressed because the Archbishop was not impressed. He began to doubt if he could conscientiously enter the Lambeth Conference, or had any standing ground in the Church of England.
I have a long letter from him written in August, 1919, which revealed his deep depression. He began by discussing Benediction but went on: 'I am for the Creed and Gospels, first, last, and all the time.' It was because he was afraid that the Church of England no longer maintained its witness to Creed and Gospels, that he speculated on the possibility of renouncing allegiance to Canterbury and remaining an African Bishop unattached to any Province. This he saw was not practical politics and that the real question was, Should he resign his See? But he went further, and wrote:
I will not hide from you that I sometimes suffer from a kind of institution-sickness. Rome and Church of England both seem so disloyal to the Master in respect to the real things of life. I feel sometimes, that to breathe Christ-air, I must drop out of institutions, and live the simple life in simple Africa, just taking communion where I may find an altar, at which I am accepted. Of this I may talk when we meet, but it is so deep down in me that I've not really given it a voice to anyone. I feel stifled. The Kikuyu Conference people made me feel it, real strong: the people on the mail have deepened the feeling: and I don't see or hear anything in England that lightens the pressure. The one restraint is, what I owe the diocese. I understand that it is kind enough to want me still, and I cannot play it false--one's feelings are bad guides where honour is at stake. You know, the Church of England and the Church of Rome do not represent the Christ truly. They are not revelations of His broken heart. They are as badly infected with caste, as Islam in Africa with witchcraft. The problem of to-day is colour, which follows on with caste: and I'm not sure that the Institutions we name the Church are not playing the traitor. Add to this the unreality of them all, and you may be able to guess dimly at the workings of my mind! I sometimes feel inclined to resign and live my own life with my own children, as a fellow-Christian, communicating at their altar with them, or perhaps as an ' African ' priest (so far as £ s. d. goes)--but, chiefly, I feel moved to the first state. For after all it is what we are and the ideal we follow that makes our real contribution to the world's redemption: not what we say, or write, or protest. Dear man--these are serious thoughts: they may startle you; but I expect we all feel from time to time much that I feel. You may know what I mean quite well. You see, I've cried my witness aloud since 1913; and in such matters too much repetition weakens the force of one's cry--while Travers tells me that they all say, my bark is worse than my bite. If then my witness is taken for granted and discounted as such, the real work before me may yet be a final cry, and a confirmation of its reality by my following the deep-down motion of my heart towards what I call extra-institutionalism. I guess that our Lord and His Apostles had some such relation with the Jewish Church: in it, yet not responsible for it in any way: in it, because it came from God: yet, not of it or responsible for it, because man had defaced its ' appearance.' I cannot cease to be in it: I have been baptised: I might conceivably cease to be a responsible officer in it, just because it is a defaced and marred ' appearance.' But as I say, if my diocese needs me, I am my diocese's! . . . I sometimes feel deeply what I've told you. I feel that if our Lord were to reappear He might class me with the Pharisees, who clung to Moses' seat and Moses' Law, and failed to make men see Him Whom Moses spoke of. You will say the Church is Christ's Body, and her ministry must be carried on--I agree. But there are plenty to carry it on--whereas there are not many who see as I see! You and I will not agree about the externals of the Church, her position in the world, her relation to the State and so on. You must allow for my peculiar views on these points. . . .
This letter was written no doubt in an hour of deep depression, but it represents an impulse which Frank felt intermittently all his life, an impulse which became more insistent as he grew older. We have seen how in his early years he had desired to enter the ' religious 'life; and, notwithstanding his ardent belief in a social Christianity, he found the organisation, which made it possible, irksome. In much the same spirit Gregory of Nazianzus had retired from the throne of Constantinople, Cuthbert had fled to the solitary island of Fame, and Celestine had deserted the chair of Peter to found the Order which goes by his name. The Church has raised all three to the altars as saints, though Dante has placed Celestine in hell because he was the man of the great refusal. Ultimately, no such refusal was made by Frank, because, more than his soul, he loved his Africans and felt their claims upon his care.
In his speech to the first Anglo-Catholic Congress in 1920 he elaborated his ideal of the Church. It should be a family of free children with the Bishop as their Father. The authority of the Father and the subordination of the children could only be explained in the terms of love and its response, so there was no room for tyranny on the one side or servility on the other. All had their place and rights in the family, all were bound to co-operate for its welfare, and all were bound to assist and support one another. The family was a natural unit, and so was the Church. Both were created by God and not of human arrangement, both implied personal relationships which were independent of legislation. On the other hand, councils, committees, and other organisations were artificial--man-made expedients for special work, and their multiplication was to be deprecated. His hatred of what he called Institutionalism peeped out in sundry gibes at the Church Assembly which was then holding its first session. To him it seemed a body which by its very nature contradicted his ideal.
No doubt the Church of England to-day has far too much machinery and overrates its importance; but Frank went too far in his condemnation, and could not understand how inevitable it was that, after fifteen hundred years of very varied history, the Church should be inextricably entangled with the social and political life of the people, half of whom do not even nominally belong to her. Quite apart from the Establishment, which Frank detested, the Church Assembly was needed if Ecclesiastical Courts were to be restored, or the rules governing the Ecclesiastical Commission modified. No diocesan or provincial synod could hope to deal effectively with the education of children or the training of teachers and ordination candidates, pensions for the clergy, or dilapidations. Legislation was desired for the division of dioceses, for regulating patronage, and defining the parson's freehold. On most of these subjects the State was bound to claim the final word, and most of them required fresh money which could only be found by co-operation with the laity.
Frank, because of his long years in Africa, was out of touch with the difficulties of the English Church; but during his visits at home he was quick to learn and prompt to criticise. I remember expounding my views on the Life and Liberty Movement, the desire of its leaders for more and more bishops, and the parrot-like patter of their followers, saying ' Father in God, Father in God' whenever a Bishop's position was discussed. Frank listened and then spoke much as follows:
It seems to me that these men have not thought out how a Father's relation with his children changes as they grow up. Happy is the young man of twenty-five who can go to, his father for advice, encouragement, and help, but he no longer needs someone to hold his hand, to dress him in the morning or to put him to bed at night. My Africans, Christians of the first generation, are like little children, fit objects for a parent's constant supervision; but you English Christians ought to be like grown-up children. Even in my diocese no priest-in-charge wants me continually on his station, and the English parish priest will not become effective if his Bishop is constantly on his doorstep. The English Bishop is still a Father in God, but he is as a father to a grown-up family. His authority will not be increased by his always interfering, and his priests will not be so efficient if they are never left alone. An English bishop, however, needs to remember that his priests are not his servants but his sons. He should not be a mere administrator, but rule in love over children who are born free, and whose progress, even in initiative, is his sufficient recompense.
Frank was present at the Albert Hall throughout the first Anglo-Catholic Conference, but he did not play a great part in the proceedings. He preached at St. Matthew's, Westminster, at one of the opening services, and The Church Times tells us that more than five hundred people failed to get into the church, including their own reporter. He made the speech to which we have just alluded, but it should have been a paper and was not one of his marked successes. It was the Bishop of Zululand who suggested the collection for Foreign Missions, and it was due to the pertinacity of Father Atlay that over forty thousand pounds was raised for that object.
But if Frank contributed little he received much. The Congress--a triumph of organisation--became conscious that it had a soul and expressed itself spontaneously. Nobody, who heard the way in which ' Faith of our fathers ' was sung, could doubt for a moment the harmonious enthusiasm of the meeting. Fourteen thousand tickets were sold, and day after day there were some nine thousand people in the hall listening to papers; and the papers read did not appeal to ancient prejudices. The men reading them were not muttering some ' mumpsimus' of the past, they were interpreting the one Faith as a living message to the new age. There was little criticism of others and no denunciation. The meeting was concerned only with the proclamation and explanation and the possible extension of the Kingdom of God.
Frank was thrilled. He now knew that he was not a vox clamantis in deserto, but belonged to a mighty band. He now knew that the Modernists were not justified in their assumption that they had the monopoly of learning. The Anglo-Catholic Congress could produce scholars and thinkers of unimpeachable authority on their subjects. He now knew that he was wrong to be chilled by the indifference or icy hostility to real religion shown by the men-in-the-street, for such men accomplish nothing. Here, on the other hand, were hearts on fire with faith, surely sufficient to turn the world upside down.
Frank's depression melted away like a cloud on a summer morning, and he went into the Lambeth Conference feeling that he was supported by many prayers, and confident that all things were possible--even the reunion of Christendom.
We may serve God like cherubim or like seraphim. Most men are called one way or the other, and no one can go both ways at the same time. Frank, in his spiritual history, alternated between a wish to renounce and a wish to conquer the world. At times he desired to devote himself to a life of contemplation and penance; at times he was all for action. In love he sought the Master's feet, and then in love rushed forth to serve the Master's cause.
Frank entered the Lambeth Conference with a well-known name and an unknown personality. Some expected a wild and blatant man from the back of beyond, intolerant and intolerable. Some expected a thin-lipped dyspeptic who would pronounce anathemas with the grim satisfaction of an Inquisitor in melodrama. But the real Frank they found was different. The Bishop of Worcester writes to me:
I had expected a physique worn and shrivelled and racked with the ravages of an insidious climate and with the effects of prolonged apostolic labour; but I found a well set-up Apollo--if you can conceive the god in a purple cassock, and wearing a considerable pectoral cross. I had expected an expression of some petulance, with signs of one who had little experience of bearing the yoke in his youth; but the face, tanned indeed, but almost ruddy in its apparent health, had upon it a certain majesty of large-mindedness, which seemed to belie the possibility of his having railed against Kikuyu and all that Kikuyu implied.
He took his seat in the fourth row, almost opposite to the Archbishop, with the Bishop of Northern Rhodesia on one side of him and the then Bishop of Truro, Dr. Warman, on the other. His place was well chosen. It was not prominent, but he was admirably placed to hear everything, and could easily attract the attention of the Chair.
On the first day he spoke about Christianity and the League of Nations, pointing out the grave wrong which might be done to Africans in mandated territories such as Tanganyika. On the second day he spoke about the Reunion of Christendom, and on the third day on missionary problems in connexion with marriage.
It was his speech on reunion which was memorable and established his reputation in the Conference. The new Bishop of Durham, Dr. Henson, had made a brilliant speech in defence of a truly National Church, had urged the necessity of Home Reunion, and attacked the doctrine of an Apostolic Succession which he supposed to stand in the way. Then Frank rose and by degrees passed from debating points to face the real issue: Why had the Episcopate failed in England and elsewhere! Because it had failed to represent the Fatherhood of God. He declared that he would like to scrap the agenda of the Conference, in order that they all might devote the time in learning from God how to reconcile the Episcopate with real paternal government. Each diocese should be a family, a real unit, and all dioceses should constitute a real unity. The unity we desire to see, he said, is one of organic life centred in an authority expressed in a College of Bishops, linked with the past and pointing to the future. Such a unity would be very different from the uniformity which England had tried and failed to maintain for four centuries, and very different from the federation of jealous and competing sects advocated by those who favoured Kikuyu. He did not desire, like Dr. Henson, a national Church (or where did he and his Africans come in?) but a Catholic Church to which all races might belong. He began to plead for his ideal with eagerness and spiritual passion. His vision was of One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church coextensive with Christendom. Such was our Lord's Will. Even those who disagreed with his views or regarded them as chimerical were impressed. From his first speech on reunion, he had the ear of the Conference and never lost it. Again, to quote the Bishop of Worcester:
His voice when he addressed the full Conference was admirable in timbre and in a certain sonorousness which I can still hear, and it would be an impertinence to praise his method of presenting his case: I think of it still with admiration and at the same time with all the disagreement which I felt at the moment.
Frank spoke many times to the full Conference, but the main work was not done in full session, but in Committees. Even then the Committee on Reunion, consisting of seventy-four members, was inconveniently large. Groups soon formed themselves within it, and Frank was very busy, working not only with members of his own party, but with others who on this subject more or less shared his views. The full Committee met nearly every day for a fortnight, and necessitated many more private meetings at which ways out of difficult places might be found.
At first, every question concerning reunion seemed involved in a fog and no measure of agreement seemed possible. Light gradually dawned; and it dawned, I am told, largely from the skill with which Frank was able to present and explain the Catholic position without giving offence. Members of the Conference were surprised that the Catholic representatives, who were so rigid on fundamental points, were so comprehensive in their range of thinking, and so ready to tolerate varieties of religious expression and varieties of religious organisation. They at least were not tied by Tudor and Stuart Acts of Uniformity, or any hide-bound conception of Anglicanism. 'Why,' asked Frank of the Bishop of Durham, 'am I obliged to take my view of the Church's teaching from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when the Church is 1,920 years old?'
He was determined that nothing should be done, if he could help it, which would compromise the Church of England, and make reunion with the great Church of the West more difficult than it is. He told the Conference: 'I know that I and my kind appear reactionary. If you could convince me that I am not doing our Lord's Will in this endeavour for union, I would resign my See and pray for you. But I don't believe that my beliefs are outside our Lord's Will.' And so he held on. He made, however, a great distinction between what the Lambeth Conference might resolve and what an individual bishop might do. A resolution of the Conference would, he felt, compromise the Church; while the isolated action of a bishop would be at most a deplorable precedent. He recognised also that, if reunion were to take place, there would have to be a time when many anomalies and some irregularities would have to be winked at. He made great friends with the Bishop of Tinnevelly (now Madras), who had belonged to the C.M.S.; and with the Indian Bishop of Dornakal. With the latter he had long confabulations at night, and ultimately agreed to his proposals, provided that the Lambeth Conference did not formally sanction what was irregular, and that satisfactory guarantees were given for the future. He told Bishop Azariah: 'If you are one of the Bishops of the South India United Church I shall be entirely satisfied.'
The Committee was impressed by his extraordinary skill in drafting resolutions. In this he found his equal in the Bishop of Durham, the greatest master of English in the Conference. Several have related to me their amusement at seeing the two side by side--the theological precisian and the English purist--collaborating in the formulation of a proposal that all could vote for.
The most important outcome of the Conference was the now famous Appeal to Christendom. It came before the full Conference on the morning of July 30, and noteworthy speeches were delivered in its defence by the Archbishop of York, and Bishops Brent and Rhinelander. Frank spoke immediately after the luncheon interval and pleaded for a unanimous acceptance. His speech was directed especially to his brother Bishops of the Catholic school. It was his crowning effort, the best speech he had made; he swept the Conference with him, and had a wonderful reception when he sat down. After him there were only two other speeches, one by an American Bishop and a second by the Archbishop of York. Then the Chairman summed up, and the Appeal was carried, only four bishops, it is said, voting against it.
Here is the description in Lambeth and Reunion produced under the joint authorship of the Bishops of Peterborough, Zanzibar, and Hereford. The passage echoes Frank's feelings, but was as certainly not written by him.
There was a tense atmosphere in the great library when on the morning of Friday, July 30, the President called the Conference to prayer, and then announced that the Reunion Committee would present its Report. After he had himself spoken some solemn words of introduction, the Chairman of the Committee (the Archbishop of York), introduced the Report, including the Appeal, in a speech which was entirely worthy of so great a moment in the life of the Conference and of the Church at large. He put the case for the Appeal in a way which found entrance to the minds, and also to the hearts and consciences, of the whole assembly. The wind was blowing again. Other voices followed from every part of the world. There was no easy acceptance of the proposals. Men spoke of the cost, the risk, the almost inevitable misunderstandings, the unpredictable consequences of such a pronouncement. A veteran voice was heard--it was not quite alone--of definite, though of reluctant, disapproval. But the vision would not be denied. It struck home by the compulsion of its own beauty and truth. The President as usual, would not put the question of acceptance or rejection till the discussion was complete. But he put it at last. The majority in favour of acceptance was overwhelming. Then, instinctively, the Bishops stood in silent thanksgiving until, led by one of their number, they joined in the doxology, the doxology bequeathed to the Church by an Anglican Bishop. The moment had come. The decision was made. Many points, and important ones, were still to be discussed. But for the Appeal, with its fresh ideal and its new hope, practically the entire episcopate of the Anglican Communion had now made themselves definitely and separately responsible. For weal or for woe the Conference of 1920 had made the contribution to the life of the Church by which mainly in after years it will be judged. The bishops had tried honestly, without prejudice, to discover, and to follow, the Will of God. The wind had been blowing, a rushing, mighty wind.
Perhaps we shall best appreciate the impression Frank made on the Conference, by noting the estimates of men who were not altogether in sympathy with his views.
The present Dean of Canterbury, who as Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, was present throughout, after emphasising the immense debt which the Reunion Committee owed to the Archbishop of York, writes:
There is no doubt whatever that the Bishop of Zanzibar's conciliatory spirit, large-heartedness, clear-mindedness and passionate desire for Reunion, together with a quite remarkable power of draftsmanship, were predominant forces in the whole working out of the Appeal and its attached Resolutions.
Dr. Watts-Ditchfield, then Bishop of Chelmsford, wrote to his diocese:
Of the unofficial members of the Congress the one who of all others impressed the Conference was the Bishop of Zanzibar. As is well known, I differ most profoundly with many of the opinions which he holds, but no bishop in the Conference impressed it more from a spiritual standard than the Bishop. His lofty tone and abandonment of mere 'party,' even when maintaining his own position, his deep devotion and loyalty to his Lord, which was manifested in every speech, made the whole Conference feel that, however much it might differ from him on many points," they were listening to one who truly lived near his Lord.
Dr. Henson, the Bishop of Durham, writes:
He was, in my belief, a very good unselfish Christian, with all a fanatic's sincerity and all a fanatic's injustice, but by nature entirely lovable. It was impossible not to feel his charm even when one execrated his bigotry. On the whole, I think that represents my deliberate verdict. Something should be added about his practical sagacity, which I think was quite conspicuously great whenever his fanaticism did not influence his judgment: and something more should be said about his passionate love of souls, which lifted him above his fanatical obsessions and carried him into the company of the greater Saints. It was a cause of genuine sorrow to me that I never had an opportunity of getting past his ecclesiastical prejudices, and finding agreement with him in deeper things.
We may conclude, I think, that Frank achieved at Lambeth a personal triumph which he certainly did not seek; but it may be asked, Was he so influenced by the atmosphere that he receded from the position which he had taken up at Kikuyu?
To answer this question it is only necessary to review the proposals which were turned down at Kikuyu in 1918 and published in Central Africa six months before the Conference was held. Everyone has read the Report of the Conference^ few have read Central Africa, but by comparing the documents we may see that rightly or wrongly it was Frank's policy which triumphed.
After a brief review of the Kikuyu controversy, he laid down his proposals for reunion.
(i) The existence of the Catholic Church of Christ, which He intended to be a universal brotherhood, must be acknowledged by all. . . . Some of us lay great stress upon the reality of Christ's glorious Humanity as the basis of the Church's organic life, while others lay the greater stress upon the Spirit as the Church's indwelling life. Some, again, believe that Christ founded and gave directions for His Church before His ascension; others cannot say more than that the Church is the creation of His Spirit. Yet nearly all can agree that it is His brotherhood, in which He wills all His faithful to be united, and through which all his children enter upon a supernatural life. I submit that on an agreement such as that it is not impossible to unite in the one society.
(2) The acceptance of Episcopacy, as the only form of ministry that can be historically justified without further definition, is a necessity. ... It seems to me that when we have agreed to unite on the basis of a ministry that is from above as well as from below, continuous and extended down the ages, which in fact is episcopal, we can afford to differ on other points. . . . And once episcopacy is accepted, each ' communion ' can be left free to reconcile its existing organisation with its newly acquired bishops. We do not want, for example, to abolish the Presbyterial forms of Church government. We want to perfect them.
(3) Is any one of us to declare that his own ordination is invalid and bad? . . . We will not inquire, 'Are my orders valid for the purpose for which I received them?' Rather, 'What is lacking to my orders, which I must receive before I may be invited to minister in other communities? ' My desire in God's sight, whose ordained minister I believe myself to be, is to be in a position to minister everywhere. Therefore I am prepared to accept at the hands of each community that will unite with me, whatever it thinks it can add to me, provided that it will also receive from my community what we think we have to offer. . . .
(4) Next it will be necessary to accept the Holy Scriptures and the Catholic Creeds. ... I suggest that, as a basis of agreement, we clearly separate Revelation from Interpretations of Revelation. The Creed sums up the facts about the Revealer, the Lord Christ, God and Man, Who lived as perfect Man among us, and now reigns as Man in glory. . . . There must be a wide liberty in criticism of documents and literary processes: there must be agreement in the authority of the Scripture message as interpreted within the Society whose book it is. ... Frankly, I do not see my way here, until we can devise a basis of agreement that will reconcile the old and the new in the statement of the authority of Holy Writ, and the truth of the Creed. ... At Kikuyu, Modernist views were a far greater hindrance to reunion than mine. . . .
(5) We cannot unite until we are agreed that God uses sacramental means of grace. For myself, I do not want to know how men define the sacraments, unless they desire to teach under my authority. But I do desire to know that they have sufficient belief in sacramental grace to make them value Baptism, with the Laying-on of hands, and the Holy Communion in our Lord's Body and Blood; and to cause them at least to acquiesce in other people's use of the rest of the sacraments. . . .
(6) And especially must the question of Absolution be fairly faced. . . . Admitting all of us, that Christ in His Church has authority on earth to reconcile the penitent sinner, and that the minister is His agent and the Church's in this task, we shall exercise mutual forbearance in all questions of method and detail.
(7) Lastly, we must all agree that the essential forms enshrining the corporate acts of the universal Church must be acceptable to all alike. The formula of Baptism and the method of baptising, the actual form of the consecration of our Lord's Body and Blood, and the other sacramental forms employed, must be definitely approved and fixed. Otherwise there can be no common participation in the sacraments. But for the rest of these sacramental rites no uniformity is necessary. Much less do we need uniform rites in non-sacramental services. I advocate complete freedom. Let the various communities uniting follow each its own mind. And let English Church congregations receive permission to share the liberty of their less enslaved brethren.
Frank wrote a lengthy article in The Church Times for August 20, 1920, on the Lambeth Conference and the meaning of the Appeal to Christendom. Its outstanding merit for him was that it showed a Catholic spirit and was far removed from the traditional stiffness and self-complacency of Anglicanism.
For myself (he wrote), I am thankful for the Bishops' utterance. It has lifted us to a new level. We are bidden, in effect, to exorcise the spirit of sectarianism from all our communities, to lift up our eyes to the vision of the universal Church, and to humble ourselves at one another's feet. Whatever comes of the Appeal, even though it fall on deaf ears, the bishops have at least purged their own consciences in God's sight. Anglicanism as a model is dead.
He explained the ideal of unity in diversity contemplated by the Appeal.
The visibility of the one organism would be due to an undivided College of Bishops, Orthodox, Roman, Anglican, with bishops from the Presbyterian and Free Church communions. Each communion so represented in the undivided College of Bishops would remain an individual group within the one visible body. It would retain its own customs, methods, and ways of worship, as far as is compatible with life in a universal fellowship that professes one faith, possesses one episcopal ministry, and uses sacraments common to all. Between these groups there would be intercommunion and all such acts of mutual fellowship.
Rome, he maintained, had already set the example by her Uniate Churches, and no other solution was possible. He felt, however, the difficulties which would be raised by Anglo-Catholics, and wrote in a somewhat menacing fashion:
If Anglo-Catholics spend their time picking holes in the language of the Appeal, rather than in thanking God for what He has done for us, they will be, indeed, blind leaders of the blind. They will further betray a singular unconsciousness of the dangers from which they have been preserved.
Criticism, however, is not so easily stifled. Old-fashioned Churchmen brought up in the Tractarian tradition were scared by the new point of view; and the Extremists, whom Father Knox calls ' Ultramarines,' disliked proposals which were more likely to lead to an increase of Protestants in the Church of England than to reunion with the Holy See.
Wise men hesitated over resolutions, skilfully drafted though they were, to safeguard the catholicity of the Church of England, for they knew that provisos and restrictions are apt to be disregarded by enthusiasts intent on accomplishing their object. They foresaw what a plentiful crop of misunderstandings would grow out of resolutions, which had been so framed that men of contrary views had voted for them.
Frank and the Bishop of Nassau were especially attacked, and they arranged a meeting during September with the Federation of Catholic Priests in the Church Room of St. Matthew's, Westminster. On the appointed evening the number, who had arrived long before the advertised hour, was such that Father Atlay hurried across to the Church House and secured the Great Hall. The Bishop of Nassau took the chair, and Frank defended the Appeal and Resolutions. His temper on this occasion was admirable, and he conciliated if he did not convince a hostile audience. He pleaded that the Appeal had come out of an atmosphere of penitence, and was the result of concentrating on the many faults of the Anglican Communion since it broke away from the Roman obedience. He found a difficulty in justifying the scheme, because his hearers had not shared his experience. 'We,' he said, 'speak out of one state of mind: you judge us out of another state of mind.'
Dr. Darwell Stone and Father Puller provided learning for the attack and Mr. N. P. Williams dialectical fireworks. Bishop Gore was judicious. He recognised the value of the Appeal, he recognised the skill with which certain pitfalls had been avoided, but he pointed out the dangers of misunderstanding, and the difficulties which would inevitably arise during the period of transition. Frank made in reply a good debating speech, and his critics were reassured about his loyalty to their principles, but not converted to his policy for their application.
A few months later in collaboration with Dr. F. T. Woods, then Bishop of Peterborough now of Winchester, and Dr. Linton-Smith, the present Bishop of Hereford, he published a little book on Lambeth and Reunion^ which ought to be better known. It is useless to speculate which of the three bishops wrote any particular chapter, because it seems to me obvious that one, probably the Bishop of Peterborough, got the book into shape and has made it a continuous whole. It is noteworthy that Frank's last two proposals for reunion, which occur in his Central Africa article but are not alluded to in the Appeal, are explained and insisted on.
The Bishops say:
We desire to go all lengths to recover a ministry which is not denominational, but truly Catholic; a ministry, that is, linked to the Apostles in the past, recognised by the whole Christian people in the present, bearing the commission of the whole Church, and bringing to the service of the world the very fulness of ministerial power.
They expounded their system of 'group episcopates'--the group preserving its own customs and autonomous--the episcopal head being the link which connected it with other groups and also with the territorial bishops. The scheme is the only one that has yet been adumbrated which would allow separated communions to reunite with the Catholic Church without losing their identity, and their special gifts, and without repudiating their old traditions. It was a vision of unity in diversity, very clear to those who proposed it--so clear that they hoped it would be soon realised; but it has had at present very little attention, for most men have been looking in other directions.
The results were indeed a great disappointment to Frank. Directly it was over, as a constitutional bishop, he submitted the proposals to his sacred synod. He signified his hope that he would not be asked to promulgate the resolutions which permitted women to preach under certain restrictions, that he might be helped to define quite strictly the sense in which he was to interpret the resolution, which dealt with the attitude of the Church towards ministers of separated communions pending the time of reunion; and he asked the synod to ignore the resolution, framed to meet difficulties which had arisen in uniting various denominations in Southern India. On this last point it should be remembered that the Lambeth resolution only gave a general approval to the Committee's tentative recommendations, and that it could have no bearing on Church life in Zanzibar.
But if Frank acted as a constitutional bishop, and if the Appeal began by saying ' we greatly desire that the office of a bishop should be everywhere exercised in a representative and constitutional manner,' very few bishops showed any intention of translating that desire into action. Most of them preferred to continue as irresponsible autocrats, to go their own way and make their own pronouncements without any reference to a synod or even to a diocesan conference. Two bishops proceeded to Sweden to take part in the consecration of a bishop, which was strictly in accord with the twenty-fifth resolution of the Conference; but they went without any authorisation, and Frank protested in the Press against this hasty and irregular action. He had opposed the resolutions on the Swedish Church, but he would have stood by them, had they been carried out in a constitutional manner.
He wrote on behalf of himself, and the Bishops of Zululand and Corea:
Fundamental to the scheme are the resolutions pledging the bishops to act only through Provincial Synods, to restore constitutional government within each diocese, and to act in all matters of reunion on lines that are in general harmony with the principles underlying the Conference's appeal and resolutions.
A year later, on intelligence reaching him of the Bishop of Manchester having invited Nonconformist ministers to preach, he withdrew from all connexion with the Lambeth Conference. In principle he was right, but I believe in fact he was wrong. He had been misinformed about what the Bishop of Manchester had done. He had, he wrote to the Archbishop, been prepared for the possibility that ' two or three eccentric bishops would run a wild policy of their own,' but it now seemed to him that the provinces of York and Canterbury were ignoring the restrictions and provisos which governed the scheme.
In Lambeth, we bishops were able to arrive at an agreement to do nothing in regard to reunion that could not win the approval of the Anglican bishops as a whole. We agreed to show Christendom a united policy, and we dreamed a dream of a reunited East and West. In view of that dream we pledged ourselves to consider one another's consciences.
Frank never quite understood the Church of England. In England, bishops and priests of all parties, never consider the consciences of their brethren. They adventure boldly, and pursue the policy they think right, and excuse themselves by reflecting that 'Truth is great and prevails.' Many accused Frank of being inconsistent, but he himself said: 'I do not withdraw a single word of what I said in the Lambeth Conference, or outside it, in defence of the scheme.' It was in truth his scheme and he believed in it; but he had deceived himself as to how it would work, because he had naturally a legal mind. He saw the scheme as a whole, and he had great belief in the value of precise words. He could fairly agree to certain propositions so long as they were governed by the general principles set forth in the Appeal, and so long as the resolutions were not interpreted to mean more than they actually said. He was not prepared for those who would pick and choose what they liked, and give the widest possible application to particular statements removed from their context. He did not understand that the scheme was not like an Act of Parliament to be interpreted by judges, but a collection of numbered resolutions offered for popular approval.
Frank withdrew, and many beside him would say that the Appeal had failed. Only in the East has it had any result, and there are those who discount this by saying, that Easterns have political reasons for being polite to the Church of England.
Eminent Free Churchmen have been willing to sit in conference with Anglican divines, but their various denominations have made it clear that they represent no one but themselves. Nonconformists as a whole have not understood the appeal and have no desire for unity. They argue: 'You recognise our ministry and admire the fruits of our system. By your own showing we are all right, and if so why should we change?' They were cradled in individualism and have no conception of a Church.
There have been conversations at Malines, where eminent liberal Catholics, wrongly distrusted by their own Church, have met eminent Anglo-Catholics wrongly distrusted by ours, and we have yet to learn that they have reached any basis of agreement.
Is there no hope, and was the vision at Lambeth only a mirage? I think not: the Vision was real enough, but it was a vision for many days. The mistake was, that it was so clear to those who saw it, that Frank and others set to work to elaborate a scheme by which it might be realised. It was in itself a good scheme, but those who assented to it had not thought out all its implications, and those to whom it was sent had not yet seen the vision.