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Dominant Ideas

AND Corrective Principles



Bishop of Oxford , I ^ b A ^

A. R. MOWBRAY & CO. Ltd.

London : 28 Margaret Street, Oxford Circus, W. i

Oxford : 9 High Street

Milwaukee, U.S.A. : The Morehouse Publishing Co,

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First impression, 191 8

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This little book opens with three addresses
delivered during a visitation of the diocese of
Oxford in the early summer of this year. The
first two addresses are devoted to maintaining
that the dominant ideas of present-day demo-
cracy are fundamentally Christian ideas, but
that Christianity is needed to supply the cor-
rectives of these ideas as popularly current.
The weakness of the democratic movement
is that it is much more occupied with claims
than with responsibilities, and shows itself as
a whole too little conscious of the moral diffi-
culties involved in realizing its ideals. It
exhibits but little sense of how profound a
claim real democracy must make upon the
average citizen — not only upon his intelligence,
but also upon his character. It demands not
only deepened and prolonged education, but
also profound and widespread moral reforma-
tion. Jealousy, dishonesty, slackness, and lust
appear to be as prevalent in the circles of
'' labour '' as in any others ; and their preva-
lence does, I fear, threaten democracy with

Q ^ ^ OCT 18:919 4^4130 '

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vi Preface

failure, unless the message ''Repent ye, for
the kingdom of heaven is at hand I " receives
a quite new welcome on a very wide scale.
In other words, there is no real hope of the
establishment of a true human fellowship
without a greatly deepened and widened
sense of the moral claim of God upon the

The third part of the charge puts forward
proposals for reconstruction in religious educa-
tion ; which, if they are to be judged aright*
must be taken as a whole.

The addresses which form chapters iv-vi
justify, I think, their inclusion in the volume
by the kinship of v to i and ii, and of iv and
vi to iii. Chapter vii is included only because
there appears to be need for it.


Amitut, 191S.

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Ghaptbr I

Ghaptbr II

Appendix A— Towards Christian Unity • 38
Appendix B—Towards Christian Unity - 44

Chapter III


Chapter IV

Chapter V


Chapter VI


Chapter VII


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Dominant Ideas and
Corrective Principles


dominant IDEAS'

My Brethren of the Clergy and of the Laity ^

Since my last Visitation in the autumn of
1914, this country has been involved in the
most awful war which the record of history
presents. It has taxed, as nothing in our
experience or in the experience of our fore-
fathers has ever taxed, the vital energies of the
nation. It has so occupied our attention that
it has been difficult to think of anything else.
And it is still being waged with no end in sight
and its issues uncertain. We were bound to
enter upon the war, and we are bound to fight it
through, in the sacred cause of human liberty.
But in the process the very foundations of our
long and slowly-buih-up civilization seem to he

* A ohftrge delivered Kt tke Bishop's Visitation of the
Diooese of Oxford in Mfty ftad June, 1918. It consisted of
this And the two following addresses.


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2 Dominant Ideas

threatened. ''Men's hearts are failing them
for fear and for looking after those things that
are coming on the earth.''

What effect is this vast catastrophe producing
in the ideas and habits of men — especially in
their religious and moral ideas and habits ? In
this diocese our social conditions have not been
as violently changed as in some other parts of
the country. But the changes are still great.
Oxford is a quite different city from of old.
Many of our rural districts have been trans-
formed in their interests and occupations by
the planting in the midst of them of military
camps or factories or stores ; we come upon
gangs of German prisoners or Chinese labourers
in our quiet country places : refugees from
London have crowded up our towns and vil-
lages ; everywhere the absence of the younger
men makes our villages sad places to live in ;
we are almost all working harder, and often ^t
unfamiliar tasks ; we are ''eating our bread by
weight and with carefulness '' ; ' the world is
fi^l of anxious and bereaved hearts.
. What religious and moral changes, then, is
the war bringing about among us? Almost
nowhere do I hear of what could be called
a wide and deep religious revival such as might

' Ezekiel iy. 16.

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.. Dominant Ideas 3

have t)een hoped for under this tremendous
visitation of God. There is no widespread
turning to Him. Nx> crowding of our churches
with multitudes possessed with the passion of
penitence and prayer and of hunger for the
word of God. There is, on the other hand,
some turning away from Him — some increase
of positive disbelief, because (as is said) '' God
has not stopped the war.'' If there has been
no alarming moral decline, there has been no
notable moral reformation among us and no
obvious deepening of the sense of sin or need
of the Redeemer. In one or two places church-
going has notably improved. But this is not
commonly the case. In more places it has
declined, partly because people are busier. But
there is a general testimony that ''the war has
made the good people better." There is a steady
rise in the appreciation of Holy Communion
as the chief act of Christian worship. The
religious people believe more in prayer, and
are mwe interested in learning how to pray.
Almost universally the use of freer intercessory
prayer, especially in the Sunday evening ser-
vice, has been heartily welcomed.

(May I say both to clergy and churchwardens,
in a parenthesis, that I earnestly exhort you to
do your very best, in spite of lighting difficulties.

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4 Dominant Ideas

to maintain the Sunday evening service through
the winter?)

But there are two kinds of change on the
largest scale to which I want specially to draw
your attention.

First, the war has evoked such a wealth of
self-sacrifice and self- forgetting service, and
such capacity for resolute endurance, not only
in our gallant soldiers and sailors and airmen,
though we think chiefly of them, but in non-
combatants also, and in women as well as men,
as to banish from our minds the idea that we
are a frivolous or decadent race. This is pure
gain. The idea that membership in a nation
and empire involves sacrifice and service has
deepened and widened immensely. Every-
where in our villages and towns there is an
enlarged sense of brotherhood, and we are
everywhere more ready to help one another.
Even if, owing to the absence of fathers and big
brothers, or the exciting neighbourhood of the
soldiers, our boys and girls are more difficult to
manage, I fancy their minds are also opening
to higher ideals of service for others.

Secondly, there are going on amongst us big
and deep changes of ideas. We are apt to set
down the current expression of ideas in news-
papers and conversation as ''mere talk.'' But

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Dominant Ideas 5

when a new or revived idea really gets hold of
our common mind and becomes current intel-
lectual coin, it is the harbinger of great changes.
The immense changes of the industrial period —
the last century— were rooted and centred in
certain current ideas, more or less new in the
history of men — the idea of free, relentless
competition between individuals, classes, and
nations as the secret of progress, and the idea of
''the struggle for existence,'' with the conse-
quent victory of the well-equipped and the
strong over the unorganized and the weak, as
the most important law of nature ; these ideas
fashioned the minds of several generations.
They were dominant, if not unquestioned,
maxims. They were the dogmas of the period.
They produced or accompanied great social
changes. Now they have been largely dis-
credited. We are weary of this unrestricted
competition. We feel that instead of promot-
ing the real welfare of men in general, it proved
to be die tyranny of the few strong over the
many weak; it thought in terms of money
rather than of persons; it enslaved men to
machines ; it produced unwholesome extremes
of wealth and poverty. Thus we have reacted
indignantly against it And while the reaction
has been largely the reaction of human feeling

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6 Dominant Ideas

•gainst the inhumanity of the old political
economy, it has been accompanied by a corre-
sponding reaction within the area of economic
science itself. The economists have become
convinced that the old political economy was so
abstract as to be misleading. Even its strong-
hold in the scientific doctrine of "the struggle
for existence and the survival of the fittest''
is giving way, for the competitive struggle is
found not to be the only or perhaps the chief
factor in the making of nature, especially in
its higher ranges. What then are the ideas
now dominant?'

1. There is the idea of the equal worth of
every individual person: that every human
person counts for one, and no one counts for
more than one ; that nothing can justify the
misusing of any person in the interest of another
man's profit or pleasure ; that every one born
into the world has a divine right to the oppor-
tunity of making the best of himself or herself
and doing the best service of which he is capable.

' ''If tht Britlth Expeditionary Force were to make a
confettion of faith .... it would all centre round tke ideas
of democracy and freedom. Everywhere I find among the
men of the Army that this it the one great thing that touohet
them and rouses real enthusiasm. They do believe in demo-
cracy. ... If they have any religion, it it centred in the idea
of democratic freedom." — G. A. Studdert Kennedy's Tke
Hardest Part (Hodder & Stoughton, 1918), pp. 77 f.

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Dominant Ideas 7

To realize the greatness of the change, you need
to look back eighty years and read of the treat-
ment that women and children, not to speak of
men, were receiving in factories and mines, and
of the callousness of even good men, obsessed
by the industrialist dogmas, in contemplating
what we should now regard as intolerable and
brutal cruelty. Or look back forty years and
think of the agitation about labourers' wages
aroused by Joseph Arch, and the beginning of
the campaign against slums in towns; think,
I say, of the facts revealed and the apathy of
the well-to-do classes, and the heartless insis-
tence on the rights of property, and you will
realize how profoundly we have changed. This
change has been going on at a greatly enhanced
pace during the war. To-day you get unques-
tioning acceptance in the most conservative
circles for ideas which would have been listened
to with horror a short time ago. And this
deepened sense of the equal worth of every
human life has been at the root of the immense
change which has come about — again with
increased speed during the war — in the position
of women and in the whole ideal of education.

2. How rapidly during the years of the war
has the idea again become dominant that the
welfare of the community should be supreme

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8 Dominant Ideas

over the profit of the individual. The old
individualism which was the spirit of the
industrial development laid all stress upon
competition-— each for himself, the interven-
tion of the state being reduced to a minimum.
But this spirit, which was so proud of itself
fifty years ago, hardly ventures to assert
itself to-day. The welfiare of the community
—the sharing of all the citizens in the best
available life — is to-day taken as the test of
the good state. And, as one accompaniment
of the change of thought, we fix our attention
less exclusively on the industrial towns —
the great sources of wealth — and we think
again of the country. The statesman and
the reformer tell us again that the fabric of
national prosperity must be built upon the
revival of country life and the welfare and
happitiess of the villages. Moreover, in our
social philosophy the dominant idea is no longer
that of a society in which nothing intervenes
between the individual citizen and the supreme
^ate. That sort of State Socialism is out of
date* The idea revives of men as living and
co-operating in smaller groups — village com-
munities, town coQimunities, industrial groups,
educational or religious corporations — each
group invested with authority to manage

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Dominant Ideas 9

its own concerns under the supreme control
and regulation of the state so far as the common
welfare is concerned.

Well, all this development of the social idea
has its own perils. At this moment I am only
pointing to the extraordinary strength of the
development among us during the war of this
idea or group of ideas ; this way of thinking of
men as members of a community in which the
interest of the whole must be allowed to be
supreme over the profit of the individual; in
which the individual cannot be allowed to ''do
what he will with his own/' if he is thereby
damaging the common life. Even on the
eccHiomic ground we believe that the stimulus
given to production by every person feeling
that he has a free opportunity to render the
best service he is capable of and a fair share in
the proceeds of his industry, will more than
compensate for what may be lost by the re-
straint upon the ambition of a few men to
make immense fortunes.

3. Again, we have seen during the war the
revival of the passion of patriotism. We
entered reluctantly upon this awful struggle
for the sacred cause of freedom and justice
among nations, and specially for the rights of
the weaker nations. And we are striving to


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10 Dominant Ideas

keep our ideal prominent before our own
mind8 and before the world. I need not say
how much the President of the United States
has done to help us in this. But while the war
has intensified patriotism, it has also made us
feel afresh what an intensely dangerous virtue
patriotism is. It becomes so easily corporate
selfishness and lust of domination. Germany
is before our eyes as an example of the false
exclusive patriotism which threatens the wel-
fare and liberty of every other nation. This
is why we feel that we are fighting against
Germany for what is vital, and must fight
on till the militarist ambition of Germany
is discredited and defeated.

But it is not only Germany that is liable to
the disease of patriotism. Recently the unex-
pected publication by the Russian Bolshevists
of the Secret Treaties between the Allies has
disclosed to us that there are other nations
besides Germany which have been harbouring
excessive and unjustifiable ambitions for the
acquisition of territory over which they have
no rights. Thus, besides the kindling of
patriotism during the war, we have been
developing a widespread feeling among think-
ing men that if the rivalry of nations is to go
on unchecked after the war, if the nations are

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Dominant Ideas 11

to begin again to build up threatening arma-
ments one against another, there is no hope
for our civilization. Accordingly, as we have
demanded that the interest of the community
shall be dominant over the individual and
family, so we are learning to demand that the
interest of the whole group of nations should
be made effectively supreme over the ambition
of any one. So only can we be saved. Thus
we get to the idea of the League of Nations,
armed with effective powers to suppress the
insolent ambition of any one.' It is a very
difficult doctrine. It is very difficult for any
proud nation to submit its interests to the
arbitrament of the world. But it is in the air.
Practical statesmen embrace it, and give it
expression. President Wilson and Lord Grey
of Fallodon have become its prophets.

4. Well, here we have three ideas :— the idea
of the equal right of every person to the c^por-
tunities of the best life ; the idea of the welfare
of the community as supreme over the selfish
self-aggrandisement of the individual ; the idea
of the fellowship of nations as supreme over
the unbition of each by itself— these ideas are
daily taking stronger hold of the imaginations

' I would refer especially to Lord Grey't tract 71l# I#4tf»#
•fNaUmu. Oxford Uniyerdty Pratt. Zd.

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12 Dominant Ideas

of men. They work like leaven. We cannot
but anticipate that, after the war, if the war
ends before we are all bled to death, they will
be productive of deep changes in our social
organization. And, whereas the dominant
ideas of the industrial epoch were not Chris-
tian at all, these are Christian ideas. ''It is
not the will of your Father which is in heaven
that one of these little ones should perish.''
'*It were better for a man that a millstone
were hanged about his neck, and he cast into
the sea, than that he should offend one of these
little ones.'' "Those members of the body
which seem to be more feeble are necessary."
''Honour all men." ' The equal spiritual
worth of each individual soul — the sin of
using any other person as the instrument of
another's profit or pleasure— these are founda-
tion principles of Christ. Again, Christianity
is a brotherhood— a body of many members in
which the interest of all is the care of each ;
in which the law of social action is " from each
according to his capacity, to each according to
his need." And, once more, Christianity is
catholic : it is based on the principle that God
has no favourite nation; that in Christ there

' S. Matt, xriil. 14 ; S. Luke zviL 2 ; 1 Cor. zil. 22
1 S. Pet. ii. 17.

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Dominant Ideas 13

can be neither Jew nor Greek, barbarian nor
Scythian ; but a universal supernational fellow-
ship in which, only in proportion as it becomes
actually a universal fellowship of service, can
Christ be ''all in all fulfilled." True it is that
Christianity knows how inveterate in human
nature sin and selfishness are ; and that sin and
selfishness are incompatible with liberty and
brotherhood. This is a great part of the
message of Christianity to the world. But
the Church, because it has experience of the
divine redemption, and knows how human
life can be rid of sin and selfishness, exists to
present to men the life of liberty, service, and
fellowship actually realized in a catholic super-
national society, which is the body of Christ,
His organ of self-expression in the world.

Thus men are not, on the whole, turning
away from Christ, but turning to Christ as
the prophet of the trua humanity. Their
apprehension of Him and His teaching is
sometimes surprisingly defective. About that
I would speak more at length on another
occasion. Now I am content to insist that
these dominant ideas are in themselves Chris-
tian ideas, and lead men to look on Christ as
the true emancipator of men. But then they
turn upon us professed Churchmen with indig-

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14 Dominant Ideas

nation. " Why," they say, " have you left us
to find all this out from more or less alien
sources, as if it were no part of the Christian
religion? Why have you left it to men who
do not belong to the Church to re-discover
these truths? Why have you {Mt>fessed followers
of Jesus Christ been so stupidly acquiescent in
just tiiose very evils which, in the name of
your Master, you ought to have been denounc-
ing ? Why have you not stood up for justice —
stood up for the oppressed and underpaid and
underfed and ill-housed? Why have you not
been scandalized by the extremes of wealth
and poverty? Why did you acquiesce in a
false philosophy, manifestly anti-Christian?
Why have you been satisfied with a national
Christianity, and forgotten your supernational

And it is not only our adversaries who press
these charges upon us ; we have pressed them
upon ourselves. This has been the fruit of the
National Mission. Very commonly this National
Mission is said to have accomplished little or
nothing. It is true, I fear, that in many parishes
there is little visible fruit to be discerned. But
those who talk about it as a failure forget its
main purpose. It was to generate in the Church
corporate consideration and corporate repent-

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Damimamt Ideas 15

ance. Churchmen were to be made to think
of the mission of the Church as a body, and
to cross-question themselves as to how it was
fulfilling its task. The Church is the body of
Christ existing in the world, and inspired by
His Spirit, to express His mind. And our cor-
porate self-examination, assisted by the evidence
supplied by the Army, led to a humiliating con-

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