Walter Hobhouse.

The church and the world in idea and in history : eight lectures preached before the University of Oxford in the year 1909 on the foundation of the late Rev. John Bampton ... online

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Dominus noster Christus veritatem se non consuetudinem
cognominavit. — Tertullian, De virginibiis velandis, i.

O navicella mia, com' mal se' carca !

Dante, Purgatorio^ xxxii. 129.

First Edition 1910
Second Edition, revised, 1911; re-issue 1916











" I GIVE and bequeath my Lands and Estates to the
Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of
Oxford for ever, to have and to hold all and singular the
said Lands or Estates upon trust, and to the intents and
purposes hereinafter mentioned ; that is to say, I will and
appoint that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of
Oxford for the time being shall take and receive all the
rents, issues, and profits thereof, and (after all taxes, repara-
tions, and necessary deductions made) that he pay all the
remainder to the endowment of eight Divinity Lecture
Sermons, to be established for ever in the said University,
and to be performed in the manner lollowing :

" I direct and appoint, that, upon the first Tuesday in
Easter Term, a Lecturer be yearly chosen by the Heads
of Colleges only, and by no others, in the room adjoining
to the Printing-House, between the hours of ten in the
morning and two in the afternoon, to preach eight Divinity


viii The Church and the World

Lecture Sermons, the year following, at St. Mary's in
Oxford, between the commencement of the last month in
Lent Term, and the end of the third week in Act Term.

" Also I direct and appoint, that the eight Divinity
Lecture Sermons shall be preached upon either of the
following Subjects — to confirm and establish the Christian
Faith, and to confute all heretics and schismatics — upon
the divine authority of the holy Scriptures — upon the
authority of the writings of the primitive Fathers, as to
the faith and practice of the primitive Church — upon the
Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ — upon the
Divinity of the Holy Ghost — upon the Articles of the
Christian Faith, as comprehended in the Apostles' and
Nicene Creeds.

" Also I direct, that thirty copies of the eight Divinity
Lecture Sermons shall be always printed, within two
months after they are preached ; and one copy shall be
given to the Chancellor of the University, and one copy
to the Head of every College, and one copy to the Mayor
of the city of Oxford, and one copy to be put into the
Bodleian Library ; and the expenses of printing them
shall be paid out of the revenue of the Land or Estates
given for establishing the Divinity Lecture Sermons ;
and the preacher shall not be paid, nor be entitled to the
revenue, before they are printed.

" Also I direct and appoint, that no person shall be
qualified to preach the Divinity Lecture Sermons, unless
he hath taken the degree of Master of Arts at least, in
one of the two Universities of Oxford or Cambridge ; and
that the same person shall never preach the Divinity
Lecture Sermons twice."


A SECOND EDITION of these lectures having been
called for, I have taken the opportunity of revising
them carefully. In two or three instances misprints
have been corrected ; in some passages the punctua-
tion has been improved, and in others the form of
expression has been modified. The alterations are,
however, almost entirely of a verbal character, and
the pagination of the book remains the same. The
only cases where any alteration has been found
necessary in statements of historical fact are those
on p. 189 (Canossa) and on p. 206 (The Pragmatic

When these lectures were delivered I ventured
to predict (p. 7) that such controversy as they might
arouse would not follow the ordinary lines of religious
cleavage, and that much of what I had to say might
be accepted by Presbyterians or " Free Churchmen,"
while much would be distasteful to many members
of the Church of England. This prediction has
been amply verified. The most severe attack upon
the book has come from the Church Quarterly
Review^ while it has been treated with a large

X The Church and the World

measure of sympathy in periodicals representing
Scottish Presbyterianism or Enghsh Nonconformity,
as well as by Dr. Kattenbusch in the Theologische
Litcraturzeitung and Dom Morin in the Revue
Benedictine. Further, it is true that within the
borders of the Church of England the reception
accorded to the book has not been determined by
the ordinary party lines. No critics have shown
more sympathy with my main contentions than the
writers who reviewed it in the English Church
Review and the Reunion Magazine ; while on the
other hand some representative Evangelicals have
welcomed the book (or at least many of its argu-
ments), rightly discerning that there is much in
common between the Evangelical view of the rela-
tions of the Church and the World and the view
which I have maintained, although Evangelicals
have been prone to emphasise individualism, whereas
I have laid more stress upon the corporate aspect
of religion. On the other hand the argument of
the book has failed to commend itself to many
Churchmen who hold a more central position, and
it is naturally distasteful to all whose sympathies
lie in the direction of Erastianism. Nor can I fail
to notice that, although the doctrine of religious
liberty and of the relations of Church and State
which I have presented is (I believe) pure Liberal
doctrine — and indeed the only doctrine ultimately
consistent with Liberalism — the reviews in organs
representing political Liberalism have for the most
part been hostile to my contentions.

Preface xi

It would be impossible within the limits of a
preface to enter into a discussion of all the criti-
cisms, or even of the most important criticisms,
which have reached me. I am glad to find that, in
spite of the wide range of history which is covered
by the lectures, very few of my statements of fact
have been called in question, and that in only two
cases has any modification been found necessary.
The criticisms relate, for the most part, to matters
of opinion, and to the principles on which historical
phenomena are to be interpreted. I did not expect
to command any general consent to the opinions
which I advanced, and I have not in any way shrunk
from candid criticism. Nor have I any reason to
complain of the way in which adverse criticism has
been expressed ; indeed it has in almost all cases
been accompanied by generous expressions of
sympathy and appreciation.

The only criticism which is wholly unrelieved in
its tone of condemnation is that which is contained
in a lengthy article by Dr. E. W. Watson in the
Church Quarterly Review for October 1910. There
are many to whom a Regius Professor's lightest
word is heavy, and as Dr. Watson's article is the
fullest and most severe attack on the position main-
tained in my lectures, and also probably represents
a considerable body of opinion, it may be well that
I should say a few words as to the attitude adopted
in it. Dr. Watson expresses himself with somewhat
unusual acrimony and contempt ; but that is a ques-
tion of taste. He has thought well to give an

xii The Church and the World

imaginary account of the " mental process " by which
my " grip of facts " has been loosened, and my judg-
ment has become hopelessly abstract. He makes
it an accusation against me that I have taken a
motto from Dante, "who was, to say the least, a very
detached observer of the religious phenomena of his
day," and he appears to regard detachment as a posi-
tive disqualification for writing history. He declines
to regard me as " a serious historian," or my line
of argument as either historical or philosophical,
because I have treated Church and State as " two
independent and co- existent entities, working in
pari materia.'' I must confess that I had always
regarded "detachment" (if by "detachment" is
meant freedom from partiality and prepossessions)
as one of the first qualifications for writing history,
and I can only rejoice if in any measure I have
attained it. But if by " detachment " Dr. Watson
means the " remoteness from facts " and the abstract
point of view with which he elsewhere charges me,
I can honestly plead " Not guilty." My lectures
were throughout an appeal to facts — to the facts
both of the present and of the past. They originated
in an attempt to explain the urgent facts of our
present distresses by the historical facts of the New
Testament and of Church History. It may be that
I have not always interpreted the facts correctly,
but I do not think that " remoteness from facts " can
justly be laid to my charge. The conditions of my
life are such that remoteness from facts would not
have been an easy thing to achieve, and my experi-

Preface . xiii

ence leads me to believe that it is more likely to be
attained in Oxford than in Birmingham. Certainly
it is significant that I have been assured by many
active and experienced parochial clergy that what
I have written seems to them to go to the root of
the practical difficulties which confront them in their
every-day work. It is true, of course, that I have
in some degree personified " Church " and " State,"
and treated them as separate entities, and passed
judgment on their action or policy at different
periods, in spite of the perfectly obvious fact that
at any moment the individuals who compose the
Church must be to a large extent identical with
those who compose the State. I do not believe,
however, that there is anything more " abstract "
about my treatment of these entities than can be
found in the treatment of " serious historians."
Every historian, serious or otherwise, who wishes
to avoid chaos, must treat Church and State as
entities, and personify them, and pass moral judg-
ments upon them. If Dr. Watson objects to my
treatment as "abstract," he must, I think, object
equally to many passages in Mr. Bryce's Holy
Roman Empire {e.g. the passage quoted on p. 212
of my lectures) and in Dean Church's Begiiming of
the Middle Ages [e.g. ch. iii.). I am really puzzled
to know how Church History is to be written in
the future if the Church is no longer to be treated
as " a separate entity," and if all judgments on her
corporate action are tabooed, either on the ground
that they belong to ethics and not to history, or

xiv . The Church and the World

because the Church (like a modern Trade Union)
is to be regarded as having no collective respon-
sibility for the actions of her leaders. But I fancy-
that Dr. Watson's deepest objection to my line
of argument is due to our divergence as to the
fatalistic interpretation of history. I have collected
a large number of facts as to the policy of the
Church, the processes of wholesale conversion,
coercion, secularisation, etc., and their effects upon
the life of the Church. I do not understand that
Dr. Watson questions these facts. But he explains
them by a theory of design and development, "a
divine purpose for the education of the world."
" The price had to be paid," " a phase through which
the Divine Society had to pass " — such euphemistic
phrases are as frequent in Dr. Watson's pages as
" Erastianism " is in mine. Indeed Dr. Watson
appears to arraign me as a disbeliever in Providence,
because I hold that the Church took a wrong turn
in the fourth century, and that both then and later
it " did not perform the impossible task of being
independent of its environment." His argument
seems to me to involve a difficulty far greater than
that of belief in the fallibility of the Church. He
and those who think with him are in reality main-
taining that the Church could only have discharged
her mission by becoming secularised ; that is to say,
could only have survived and spread by disobeying
her Master's fundamental teaching as to discipleship.
I contend that such a position is really far more fatal
to any true belief in Divine Providence than the

Preface xv

argument which I have put forward. Dr. Watson
writes as If the Church had merely failed to evolve a
high standard of action, a standard which would have
been too advanced for Its environment ; but the point
surely Is that In the fourth century the Church (If I
may relapse Into personification) actually turned her
back on our Lord's teaching and on the principles
which in the main she had been following for three
centuries. To maintain that such a policy was in-
evitable does appear to me " fatalistic." Indeed Dr.
Watson's whole argument is an excellent example
of the fatalism In historical interpretation and the
complacency in religious outlook against which I
ventured to protest In my lectures. At the risk of
being called " revolutionary " I cannot subscribe to
the comfortable doctrine that in Church History
whatever has been must have been, and that what-
ever Is is right^in short, that " tous les dvenements
sont enchaines dans le mellleur des mondes pos-
sible." Nor can It justly be maintained that a
belief in the Divine origin of the Church Involves
the negation of the possibility of a great error In
policy. If the New Testament writings are worthy
of credence, Christ laid down certain great prin-
ciples ; if Church History is worthy of credence,
the Church of the fourth century abandoned them.
The discrepancy cannot be denied. Dr. Watson
argues that (In spite of the discrepancy) the Church
could not have acted otherwise, and that an " un-
conditioned " Christianity is a delusion of abstract
thinkers. To me it seems that whatever the

xvi The CJuirch and the World

motives were, the violation of principles is evident,
and that the effect v^'a.s propter vit am vivendi perdere
causas, as indeed was abundantly proved by the
lowering of the spiritual level in the succeeding
centuries. I have disclaimed any attempt to assess
the responsibility of individuals for this or later
errors, nor have I written with any object of imput-
ing blame. All that has been attempted is to dis-'
cover whether the policy adopted was right or
wrong ; and the conclusion that it was wrong can
only be escaped either by the adoption of the
fatalistic principle, or by arguing that the teaching
of the New Testament is not to be taken seriously,
or by the plea that the Church is not an entity of
which right and wrong can be predicated. To those
who are content to adopt any of these three courses
the argument of these lectures will undoubtedly
fail to make an effective appeal.

Only two things remain to be said. It was
perhaps natural that many of my reviewers should
have been more interested in the last two lectures
than in the earlier ones, and that some should not
have resisted the temptation to label my book as
" A plea for Disestablishment." I thought I had
made it plain that I did not regard Disestablish-
ment as as end in itself, or as a panacea, but only
as a necessary step towards regaining freedom of
action for the Church, and especially freedom to
pursue a more intensive policy.

At least one critic has reproached me for not
propounding in detail some scheme for the restora-



fXY) Oavjxd^eTe, uSeA<^oi, el jxia-el vfias 6 Kocr/xoi. rjfiei'i oiSafiev
oTi /t€Ta/?e/i^KajU.£v eK rov Bavdrov ei's t^v {w7/v, ot/, dyairw^ev
Tovs uSeXcfiovi. — I St. John iii. 13. ,



St. Luke ix. 23, 24: "And he said unto all, If any man would
come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,
and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it ; but
whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."

St. John XV 18, 19: "If the world hateth you, ye know that it
hath hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the
world would love its own : but because ye are not of the world, but
I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

" The World by professing Christianity is so far woi.a> _ ..a-.'.
from being a less dangerous enemy than it was before,
that it has by its favours destroyed 7nore Christians
than ever it did by the most violent perseciition^
These words were written just 180 years ago by
William Law, the most spiritual of all the English
writers of the eighteenth century.^ Law was, indeed,
a mystic ; and Common Sense ever loves to laugh
mystics out of the court of Reason without a
hearing. But Law was also a man of keen obser-
vation and penetrating logic ; and while I do not

^ William Law, Serious Call, chapter xvii. {Collected Jf'orA's
1893, vol. iv. p. 178).


4 The Church and the World lect.

ask you to accept his dictum without qualification
or without proof, I think that it may well serve
us as a starting-point for our inquiry into the
relations — ideal, historical, actual — between the
Church and the World. Thinking men who care
for religion have become profoundly conscious that,
Wiatvt /^ttwAv /^'^ although the Christian ideal of life has never been
4,4 Aw •^"'^ ^4tAA«-' superseded or even rivalled, there has been, and is,
hi c 'McU^'a wide-spread failure to make this ideal the actual

standard of Christendom — in other words, that a
large proportion of our Christianity is little more
than nominal. Some general causes of this failure
were discussed with insight and eloquence two
years ago by my immediate predecessor in these
lectures.^ I do not want to traverse the same
ground. I should wish to associate myself generally
with his diagnosis, and to acknowledge the failure
which he analysed ; and then to ask how far this
failure may be traced to any defects of method and
policy on the part of the Church in her relations to
the World. -

1 J. H. F. Peile, T//c Reproach oj the Gospel: The Bampton
Lectures for 1907.

^ I am aware that in using "she" and "her" in reference to
the Church I come under the condemnation of Bishop Creighton
i^Life and Letters, ii. 506) and other high authorities. But if I
err, I err deliberately and in good company. In many cases it
is almost necessary to personify the Church, and English idiom
does not admit of personification except by the use of the
feminine. Nothing is further from my intention than by this use
to endorse Bluntschli's doctrine that the Church is feminine and
the State masculine {The Theory of the Alodern State, English
translation, 2nd ed., p. 23).

In the New Testament 5

The inquiry is indisputably one of great import-
ance and of great difficulty, and to conduct it
adequately would need the attainments of an Acton
or a Dollinger. No one can be more conscious
than myself how inadequate is my equipment for
the task ; my defence must be that it seemed better
that the attempt should be made inadequately than
not made at all, and that perchance its v^ery in-
adequacy might induce some more competent writer
to grapple more worthily with a subject of permanent
and vital interest.

The subject, although a vast one, has its limits,
and we must observe them scrupulously. We are
not primarily concerned with the general history of
the Church, or with its internal constitution and its
ministry, except so far as they throw light upon the
relations between the Church and the World.

It is hardly necessary to stop at this moment to
define the two terms, for the nature of the two
conceptions will emerge in the examination of the
evidence of the New Testament. It may suffice
to say in this place that under "the relations between
the Church and the World " must be included the
Church's relations to the mass of individuals compos-
ing any community, nation, or empire, and also to the
organised government or civil power in every com-
munity. We shall therefore have to consider such
phenomena as persecution and State hostility on the
one hand, and State recognition and protection on
the other, as well as the aim and policy of the Church
at different periods with regard to the question

6 The Church and the ]Vo7'ld lect.

whether she should try to make herself co-extensi\^e
with the World, or should proclaim her distinctness
from the World — whether, in fact, her policy should
be primarily extensive or primarily intensive.

The method which is contemplated is historical
throughout. The title " The Church and the World
in Idea and in History" does not imply any meta-
physical or a priori speculation. By the " idea " of
the Church we mean simply the intention of Christ
for the Church in relation to the World, the prin-
ciples on which He intended her to act ; and this
idea can only be known to us by the investigation
through purely historical methods of the evidence
with regard to Christ's intention. By the words
" in history " it is meant to include the question
how far the Church during the nineteen centuries
of her existence has been faithful to Christ's inten-
tion, and how she has fared in observing it or in
diverging from it. In the course of the argument
it will be necessary to examine much historical
evidence and to pass many historical judgments.
In a large number of cases these judgments must
be, at the best, only probable, owing either to
defective evidence or to the nature of the questions
themselves. But the endeavour will be made to
follow the historical evidence whithersoever it may
lead us ; and it may be said at once that if the
argument is not historically sound it will be wholly
valueless. Lastly, let it be said that the lectures
have been written without any wish to enter into
controversy upon many matters about which

I In the Neiv Testament 7

Christians are most sharply divided into different
camps. Much of what will be said might be
accepted by many Presbyterians or Free Church-
men : much, I fear, will be distasteful to many
members of the Church of England. On some
controversial points it has been necessary to make
my own position clear, for listeners and readers
have a right to know the principles from which a
lecturer starts ; but I have restricted these occasions
as far as possible, and such controversy as is raised
will not follow the ordinary lines of cleavage. My
aim, at all events, has been not controversy but truth-

In the first lecture we shall be concerned with
the Church and the World in the New Testament.
It is inevitable, therefore, that something should be
said with regard to the authenticity and authority
of the New Testament writings. It must be said
briefly, and without detailed argument or evidence,
for the simple purpose of making clear the position
from which the argument starts.

In the first place, there is in these lectures a
full admission of the claim of criticism to examine
on historical principles, without fear or favour, such
questions as the date, integrity, and authorship of
each book of the New Testament, and an unreserved
acknowledgment of the duty of accepting whatever
results are firmly established by the most scientific

Secondly, there is a strong conviction that the
attempts of " advanced " critics to assign a late date
to most of the books of the New Testament have

8 The Church and the World lect.

not proved successful. Criticism has, iadeed, pro-
foundly affected our views as to the nature oi
inspiration and as to the process by which the Four
Gospels assumed their present shape ; but it has,
so far (I hold), wholly failed in its attempt to prove
the Four Gospels to be second-century documents,
or the Pauline Epistles to be mainly spurious, or the
Acts of the Apostles a late and unhistorical treatise.
The Synoptic Gospels can be legitimately regarded
as first-century documents. Of them the Second
is undoubtedly the earliest, and the Third may
almost certainly be attributed to St. Luke ; and the

Online LibraryWalter HobhouseThe church and the world in idea and in history : eight lectures preached before the University of Oxford in the year 1909 on the foundation of the late Rev. John Bampton ... → online text (page 1 of 29)