Edmund Smith Middleton.

Unity and Rome online

. (page 1 of 20)
Online LibraryEdmund Smith MiddletonUnity and Rome → online text (page 1 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


3 3433 07998346







x*\ \

^Xx^ \










MACMILLAN & CO.. Limited








All rights resented




ASTOR. lf:>jox and


R r .'e L



Set up and printed. Published November, 1922




Saiis^t Petee

Prixce of the Apostles

To Whom Cueist Gave

The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven

This Volume

Is IIuMBLY Dedicated


The Authob



The author, in undertaking the present volume, has
had in mind the varying reception with which the terms
of re-union, as recently proposed at Lambeth, have been
received — a lack of agreement voicing itself on both sides
of the ecclesiastical fence. Denominational Christians,
who threw off government by Bishops at the Keformation,
are quite naturally refusing to accept now what they
rejected then. The general attitude of the reformers,
however, went further than a mere rejection of "prelacy."
Their position included some very radical changes re-
garding the nature of the ministry itself. They rejected
priesthood and sacrifice in the Catholic sense, substitut-
ing for them the prophetical, or preaching, office. From
their side of the fence, accordingly, have been heard nu-
merous refusals to accept re-ordination at the hands of
Anglican Bishops.

On the other hand within the Anglican Communion,
including of course the Episcopal Church in the United
States, the opinion has been expressed that too much
concession to the Sects contains elements of danger, and
will defeat the goal aimed at. Every lover of Unity
must respect the good intentions of the Lambeth Fathers.
The need of a re-united Church is very great. As we
understand it. Unity is the will of Christ, as expressed
by those words, "Father, I pray that they may be One,
even as we are One." ^ .

The crux of the matter then seems not to lie m the
noble aspiration for Unity, but rather in the way and
means to this end. Anything less than a real Unity will



be a contradiction in terms and without value in the
sense of producing that Oneness meant by the Nicene
Creed, ''And I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apos-
tolic Church."

The language just quoted from the Creed "throws the
cards upon the table," if one may be permitted to apply
to the discussion of Unity words very popular in world
politics at the present time. That is to say, the Unity
aimed at must be a Catholic Unity.

At the present stage of education on the subject it
is very doubtful whether among the rank and file of
Protestant Christians there is any definite understanding
of what Unity means, or any general recognition of its
necessity or value. If one may judge from the official
replies made thus far by the Denominational Bodies since
the Lambeth Conference, the conception of Unity, even
on the part of their leaders, does not rise above some sort
of an Alliance, or Confederation, of the Sects, which will
manifest itself in closer cooperation but without loss of
identity on the part of any one of the differing Denomi-
nations. It need scarcely be said that any perpetuation
of present Protestantism in its manifold phases can never
result in Unity. It is the nature of Protestantism to
fly apart into individualism.

The opposite of individualism is Catholicity. The goal
of Unity to be aimed at lies in this direction, and a study
of the nature and meaning of Unity would seem to be the
natural and logical procedure. As one pursues the study
of Unity, there will be found along the road certain
sign-posts, — scriptural, ecclesiastical, and historical. One
will look in vain for the source, as well as the principle,
of Unity among those who left the historic Church in
the sixteenth century. They may return to Unity, but it
is not found of them, nor in them. Its source lies else-

The question very naturally arises. Has the Lambeth
Conference, in its offer of "the historic episcopate" to


the Denominations, found the solution of the problem of
a divided Christianity? In other words, does the An-
glican Episcopate contain in itself the necessary matter
for Unity ? A number of Anglicans in England, Canada,
and the IJnited States have declared that the re-ordination
of Denominational ministers by Anglican Bishops with-
out requiring of the re-ordained a full acceptance of the
Creed would only make confusion worse confounded.
Let us suppose, however, that the Denominationalists ac-
cepted Anglican statements of doctrine along with their
re-ordination, but retained, as agreed, the identities of
their present organizations. The world would then be-
hold a spectacle, stranger from a Christian standpoint,
than the present divisions. Upon one corner of our
streets we should see the church of the Methodists (An-
glican-Episcopated), upon another the Baptists (Angli-
can-Episcopated), across the way the Presbyterians (An-
glican-Episcopated), and down the avenue the Congre-
gationalists (Anglican-Episcopated) of course, and so on
along the line of the many and various Sectarian Bodies.
It would be a rare and wonderful sight, naturally quite
a cause of edification and mutual congratulation to the
proponents of such a kind of unity, if there are any.
Yes, it would be all this and more, but it would not
be Unity.

To return to the present attitude of mind among Prot-
estants generally, there does not appear to be any con-
sciousness (as a vital part of Christianity) that Christ
founded the Church in one definite way, and that the
Apostles and their successors continued this closely welded
Society in the form of a Visible Unity. Nor do Prot-
estants seem to understand that these Apostolic men be-
lieved such foundation to be of the essence of the Church,
and that they themselves, having been chosen by Christ
and endued with power from on high by the bestowal
of the Holy Ghost, were the lawfully appointed officers
of the same. Further it may be said that "the new


learning" of the sixteenth century in its break with the
historic Church appears to have lost the sense of authority,
which belonged to the Church from the beginning, and
with this loss has thrown overboard in large measure the
Orders of Ministry, Sacraments, and Creeds of the An-
cient Church.

The approach to Unity, therefore, would seem to de-
mand the learning afresh on the part of Protestant Chris-
tianity the lesson of the authority of the Catholic Church.
The futility of Anglican re-ordination of Protestant min-
isters while retaining their present religious affiliations is
easily apparent. Also, one is reminded in this connec-
tion that the Anglican Church has never claimed to be
more than a Via Media, in other words, a way back to
Unity. Anglicanism does not claim to be the center and
source of Unity itself, and accordingly acknowledges that
her program of a World Conference on Faith and Order
does not mean that she hopes to make Anglicans or Epis-
copalians of the Denominational Christians. At best
Anglicanism cannot be more than a lighted candle set in
the midst of Protestantism, its flame reminding the sep-
arated brethren of the ancient order and the way home.

The world is weary of divisions among Christians. The
rivalries of the Sects are not edifying. The outside mul-
titudes look on amazed and scornful. Meanwhile the
Church is sorely hindered in her work. Which way lies
Unity? In what does its peace-producing principle con-
sist? Christianity is, or should be, seeking that much
desired answer. Does Unity consist in a set of principles
like, for example, the Lambeth Quadrilateral of some
years ago ? Or will this newest offer of re-ordination by
Anglican Bishops produce the end sought for? Judging
by past and present results, the answer to these questions
must be "no." KegretfuUy one is obliged to say this,
remembering the high character of the gathering at Lam-
beth and its solemn, eloquent plea for Unity. The fault
certainly did not lie in the good intentions of the Bishops


assembled under the presidency of tlie Archbisliop of Can-
terbury. Something was lacking. What?

Let us examine this matter a bit further. Even so
august and representative a body as the Lambeth Con-
ference admits that it has no power of legislation. Lam-
beth advises, recommends. It can do no more. Why?
Because of its conscious lack of power. Canterbury,
whose Archbishop presides at the Lambeth Conference,
is not an Apostolic See, and has no authority over Chris-
tendom as a whole. Canterbury is not, and has never
claimed to be, the Center of Unity. Its Archbishop is
Primate of England, but there his authority ends.

Where then is the Center and Source of Unity? As
far as the author knows, only one See has claimed juris-
diction over the universal Church. Rome, as the See of
Peter, to whom Christ gave the keys of the kingdom of
heaven, has no rival in its peculiar primacy. From time
to time, and in various places, the authority of Rome
has been contested, and in some cases thrown off, but so
far as we know no other See or Bishop has made the like
claim of Universal Primacy. At any rate (without going
into the merits of the case) the reforming bodies of the
sixteenth century broke away from Rome, and so destroyed
the Unity of Western Christendom. It would seem,
therefore, to be obvious that Rome cannot be left out of
any program for Unity. In brief that is the thesis, which
the present writer has set out to establish in this volume,
the necessity of drawing Rome into the scheme of Re-
union, because without her there can be no Unity in any
real sense.

One may very properly at this point (and doubtless
will) say, "But don't you know that Pope Benedict XV.
expressed his inability or unwillingness to take part in
the World Conference on Faith and Order?" Oh, yes,
that is quite well known to the writer, but what of it?
The answer of Pope Benedict was not necessarily infalli-
ble and final. Another Pope may take a different atti-


tude. He will change, if it is the will of God that Visible
Unity shall come about. The Conference, to which the
American Commission invited the Pope, was after all
only the Preliminary Conference at Geneva. A great deal
may happen between now and the meeting of the Con-
ference itself. We should not despair of the future. If
our Christianity is vital, we should remember what great
things are possible to faith.

Another thing that might be said, and unfortunately
with considerable truth, is that the antipathies aroused
during the Reformation Period are still alive. Of course
they are. A divided Christendom keeps the embers of
that unhappy conflagration still glowing. We know,
however, that religious bigotry and hatred are wrong.
The law of Christ is love. A better understanding is
under way. Men of all faiths are drawing closer to-
gether. The time is ripe, or almost so, for Christlike
charity to prevail. Let us clear the way for this by prac-
ticing universal brotherhood in the various churches and
in our individual lives.

The author's insistence, that Rome must be drawn into
any plan of Unity that is really such, may not unnatu-
rally lead to the inquiry, "How comes it that you, a
priest in Anglican Orders, are laying so much stress on
Rome's part in the coming Unity ? Don't you know that
your loyalty to the Communion whose Orders you bear
will be questioned ?" Yes, my Episcopalian or Anglican
or Protestant brother, as the case may be, one does incur
the danger of suspected loyalty, but what matter, in the
last analysis, if the suspicion is incurred in a good cause ?
The VTriter confesses that he values the Unity of Christ's
Holy Catholic Church even above the separateness of any
branch of Christianity. Bigotry has had its day. At
least we know that divisions in the Church are wrong.
Unity is the biggest issue in the Christian World to-day.
There should be hereafter no need for any man to apolo-
gize or fear for speaking plainly, provided only he speaks


the truth in a spirit of love. To-daj the call is to mutual
understanding. This can come ahout only through fair
and fearless discussion.

As the average reader has not easy access to the writings
of the ancient Fathers of the Church, the author hopes
that the brief sketches of a biographical nature prefixed
to the quotations from each Father will not come amiss.
It was thought that the setting in time and circumstance
would give an added value to the writings themselves.

In conclusion the author begs to say that nothing in
the present volume should be construed as disloyal to the
Church whose Orders he bears. He is looking beyond
Episcopalianism and Anglicanism to the broader vision
of a re-united Church. It is not that he loves and
honors the Episcopal Church less, but that he loves and
reverences the Catholic Church throughout the world more.
Even as the pages of this Preface are being written, there
is sitting at Washington the Conference for Disarma-
ment, in the interest of International Peace. For diplo-
mats and statesmen of the various nations to meet in this
way and for these purposes is a unique attestation of the
influence of Christianity among all peoples. Shall the
churches, whose special duty and high privilege it is to
follow the example of the Prince of Peace, do less ?

E. S. M.
Pre-Lent, 1922.



The Question Before the Court


I. The Movement Towards Unity ... 1

II. Some Recent Proposals 5

III. The Basis op Unity 12

IV. Unity in the Gospels 18

V. The ''Via Media'' 25

VI. Grounds for the Via Media Position . . 34

VII. Grounds FOR the Via Media Position (Cotif.) 42

VIII. Debatable Ground 48

IX. The Primacy of Peter 53

X. The Continuity of the Primacy ... 62

XI. The Claims of Rome .... . . 66

XII. Rome and the Validity of Orders ... 74

XIII. Denominational Christianity .... 81

XIV. Anglicanism in the Future .... 87
XV. Rome's Opportunity 91


The Evidence in the Case
(Testimony of the Ante-Nicene Fathers)

I. Clement of Rome to Ignatius of Antioch . 97

II. Justin Martyr — Irenaeus — Hermas . . 106
III. Clement of Alexandria — Tertullian —

Origen — Cyprian 112


xvi oontekts

(Testimony of the Post-Nicene Fathers)


IV. Augustine 124

V. Chrysostom and Socrates .... 133

VI. Athanasius and Jerome 142

VII. Cyril of Jerusalem — Basil — Theodoret . 150
Vin. Hilary of Poitiers — ^Ambrose — ^Vincent of

Lerins — Cassian .156

IX. Leo the Great — Gregory the Great . . 164
X. Apostolic Constitutions and Early Litur-
gies 173

XL The General Councils — Introduction . 177'

XII. Ecumenical Principles 185

XIII. ''Unity" IN THE General Councils . . 191

XIV. ''Unity'' in the General Councils (Cont.) 203
XV. Ecumenical and African Canons . . .212


Corroborative Argument

The Threefold Ministry

I. Some Fundamentals of the Faith . . . 225
II. The Ministry Under the Apostles . . 228
III. The Ministry in the Sub- Apostolic Age . 240
rV. The Ministry from Irenaeus to Cyprian . 250
V. The Ministry in Canons, Councils, Litur-
gies, Ordinals, and Constitutions. Con-
clusion .262





THE greatest question before Christendom to-day is
the Unity of the Church. It is so wide-reaching
in its consequences that the whole structure of the Church
— root and branch — is affected. Its vital importance can
best be realized by the evils that the loss of Unity has
brought about. The spectacle of a divided Christianity
is sad enough, but the chaos, uncertainty, and inefficiency
following in its train have gradually forced men to con-
sider its practical side. 'No one in his sound senses
wishes to tie up for any length of time to a concern con-
ducted on wrong principles, and it is beginning to be seen
that a divided Church comes under this head.

There is, however, another and higher aspect of this
question. It has to do with the mind of God. What is
the wiU of Christ concerning His Church? If the will
of the Head of the Church is Unity, it is a manifest
contradiction for any of its members to act contrary to
the Divine Purpose. In a certain and very real sense
it is sin for the followers of Christ to live in disunity,
although we believe that Almighty God in His mercy
and understanding of human frailty pardons the mis-
guided actions, which proceed from invincible ignorance.
Opinions which shaped themselves, and self-confidence
which assumed unwarranted authority, in the heat and
strife of the Reformation struggle, have now had abun-
dant opportunity to test themselves in the light of experi-



ence and practical results. As men look backward aided
by the perspective of several centuries misgivings are
beginning to arise in many quarters. Under God this
growing doubt and dis-satisfaction with church condi-
tions are turning the thoughts of men towards Unity — its
desirability, nay, its necessity.

Lovers of Unity see in the movement now under way the
finger of God. They think of the Spirit of God brooding
over the waters at Creation — bringing order out of chaos.
Another chaos has invaded the world — this time the Chris-
tian world — seeking to rend the Church against which
Christ has promised the gates of hell shall never prevail.
Once more the Spirit of God — ^this time in His divine
capacity as the Spirit of Truth — is brooding over the wa-
ters, enlightening men's understanding, recalling to their
minds the will of Christ, showing them the evil results of
going contrary to that will, holding out before them the
blessings that wait on Unity. Almighty God is waiting
to say of the work of His Son — as He did at Creation —
that it is "good.''

God is using various agencies to bring about this end.
The Lambeth Quadrilateral put forth by Anglicans in the
last quarter of the nineteenth century, the World Confer-
ence on Faith and Order instituted by the Protestant Epis-
copal Church, the Concordat signed between the Eastern
Churches and the Anglican Communion, the proposed Con-
cordat between Congregationalists and Episcopalians, the
Inter-Church Movement among the Protestant Denomina-
tions — as well as the reunion between different bodies of
certain of these Denominations — are all evidences of an
increasing interest in the subject of Unity.

Besides these official actions of bodies of Christians,
there is another powerful agency at work, namely, prayer —
the most potent of all because behind it is the faith that
moves mountains. Thousands of individual souls through-
out the world are praying for Unity. Bishops, clergy,
inmates of religious houses, the Pope, are daily praying


that the will of Christ regarding His Church may he ful-
filled. Each year on the 25th of January — the Feast of
the Conversion of St. Paul — and during the Octave, the
Holy Sacrifice and the prayers of the faithful are offered
for this intention. God is not unmindful of the prayers
of His saints. This great moving force — the work of the
Holy Ghost — is gradually illumining the hearts and minds
of men, impelling them to definite action towards Unity.
The Spirit of God is hrooding over the waters.

Two things are necessary precursors to real Unity — the
spread of Christ-like charity and the intelligent under-
standing of the Catholic principles upon which alone
Unity must rest. It is with these considerations that this
volume has to do.

Among Protestants probably the aspiration for Unity
has not advanced in most cases beyond the conception of
Inter-denominational Alliance. Thus far judging from
the utterances of their leaders, they are concerned with
some sort of a Confederation of Churches, in which they
are to retain their Denominational names, but will co-
operate in religious work — with interchange of pulpits.
Of course this would not be Unity in the Catholic sense.
It would not be Unity at all, so long as they insist on
perpetuating their Denominational differences. Our Prot-
estant brethren, however, are building better than they
know. The fact that they are considering Unity at all
is the encouraging feature. They are beginning to open
their minds and widen their vision. The Holy Ghost,
the Spirit of Truth, can be trusted to complete the work
of leading them into all truth.

It is a part of the author's present task to examine the
proposals for Unity referred to above, and compare them
with what the Church in the past has set forth as the
necessary conditions of Unity. The study of our Catholic
heritage — the Fathers, the General Councils, the Creeds,
should enable us to arrive at a clear understanding of
what the essentials of Unity are. It may sometimes


wound our pride to do tUs, and test our courage to accept
results arrived at, but fearlessness accompanied by charity
and humility, accomplishes much when attended by the
blessing of God.



THE word "recent" in the heading of this chapter is
intended to include the proposals directed towards
Unity made at any time during the last half century,
as well as those now in process. These overtures for
Unity deserve respectful consideration because of their
praise-worthy intention, if for no other reason. They are
to be examined, in what seems to the author the only light,
namely, that of Catholic faith and practice. There must
be some standard of judgment, and as one hears on all
sides only of a Catholic Unity, it is reasonable to set up
a Catholic standard of judgment. Indeed, it would be
difficult to do otherwise, because Protestant standards are
so various and rest upon the individual opinions of differ-
ent men.

It may be well in opening this discussion to quote a
few sentences from the Encyclical put forth by the Lam-
beth Conference of 1920. "The foundation and ground
of all fellowship is the undeflected will of God, renewing
again and again its patient effort to possess, without de-
stroying, the wills of men. And so He has called into be-
ing a fellowship of men. His Church, and sent His Holy
Spirit to abide therein, that by the prevailing attraction
of that one Spirit He, the one God and Father of all,
may win over the whole human family to that fellowship
in Himself by which alone it can attain to the fullness of

"This, then, is the object of the Church. In the prose-
cution of this object it must take account of every fellow-
ship that exists among men, must seek to deepen and



purify it, and above all, to attach it to God. But in order
to accomplisli its object the Church must itseK be a pat-
tern of fellowship. It is only by showing the value and
power of fellowship in itself that it can win the world
to fellowship. The weakness of the Church in the world
of to-day is not surprising when we consider how the
bands of its own fellowship are loosened and broken."

In this formal declaration of the two hundred and fifty-
two Anglican Bishops gathered from all parts of the world
several truths are voiced with no uncertain sound. First,
the will of God is recognized as the ground of the Church.
Second, it is the will of God that all men should be won
into the one fellowship, His Church. Third, the failure
of the Church to do this is owing to its divided, and con-
sequently weakened, condition.

The Encyclical says further, referring to the lessons
learned from the great war, ^^Men in all communions
began to think of the reunion of Christendom, not as a
laudable ambition or a beautiful dream, but as an im-
perative necessity. Proposals and counter-proposals were
made, some old, some new. Mutual recognition, organic
union, federation, absorption, submission — these phrases
indicate the variety of the programs put forward.''

Since the undefiected will of God is the foundation
and ground of the Church, Christendom is confronted
with the question, wherein lies the will of God? Surely
the answer to that question will bring the Church to

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryEdmund Smith MiddletonUnity and Rome → online text (page 1 of 20)