Memorandum for the Archbishops’ Commission on Training for the Ministry
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636 ] Memorandum for the Archbishops’ Commission on Training for the Ministry In May 1936 the Anglican Convocations passed resolutions requesting the Archbishops to appoint a Commission “to consider the problems connected with the selection, testing and training, both before and after Ordination to the Diaconate, of those who are being called to serve in the sacred Ministry of the Church.” On 16 May 1938 the Secretary of the Commission, L. Eaton Smith wrote TSE that the Commission “would be greatly obliged if you could see your way to submitting a Memorandum, giving your views with regard to the general matter of the Commission’s reference, and more particularly what you think the laity hope to find in a minister of the Church of England, and how the laity think those ministers might best be selected in order to realise these expectations.” TSE submitted his remarks to the Secretary on 3 Aug 1938 for the Commission’s Sept meetings at Oxford, “with apologies for their poverty. Also I realise that they are not very well written, but I did not have enough confidence in their value to feel impelled to put them into better form; and I understand that they are solely for the confidential use of the members of the Commission. In any case, there are remarks which I would not wish to be publicly quoted in their present form.” As I do not feel qualified to hazard proposals within the terms of reference in the narrower sense, I feel that the most useful remarks that I can offer must be concerned with problems which may appear peripheral, but which are, I believe, fundamental. If the following is a contribution at all, it contributes rather to lighting the background against which discussions are conducted. It is obvious that the Training of the Ministry is not a simple champ clos of specialised education.1 The training of the ministry is a problem of quite another order than the training of engineers, chemists and other technicians . Such an assertion is so obviously true that its implications can easily be overlooked. If, I suggest, one is taking a long view, and not merely considering minor reforms and adaptations for the situation of the moment, then it is impossible to form a really sound theory of the training of the ministry, without having a theory of Education in general. A theory of Education, again, depends upon having a view of the nature of the Good Society, as well as an accurate understanding of the present state of society, and this brings us back to theology. A critique of modern education must [ 637 Memorandum be a critique of liberalism and secularism, two doctrines to which the most powerful forces in education for over a century have been committed.2†   To pass from these very general observations to something more particular , I suggest that any thinking about the Training of the Ministry must take into account the social changes actually taking place in our society. Has not some of the strength – as well, of course, as some of the weakness – of the Anglican Priesthood in the past been due to its having been drawn from a fairly homogeneous upper middle class, dominated by the traditions of Oxford and Cambridge? I do not need to dwell upon the social changes which have been taking place, so far as they affect the personnel of theclergy,theirsocialpositionetc.,becausethemembersoftheCommission will have a much more exact knowledge of these matters than I: I only wish to stress their importance in connexion with the Commission’s deliberations. A Roman priest of my acquaintance admitted to me that he felt considerable anxiety about the future of his priesthood in this country, because the type of family which formerly was glad to give one son to the priesthood is now much smaller, and parents are disposed to discourage a son – especially of course an only son – from this vocation. He feared the consequences of the priesthood being drawn chiefly from the lower classes which still have more numerous offspring. This particular difficulty may not be so acute with us, naturally; but there appear to be reasons for believing that the larger part of the Anglican clergy may tend to come from homeswithnosocialadvantages.Unless,therefore,thegeneralbackground of education is considered, it will not be enough merely to make sure that recruits of this type have a thorough theological training for the next few years after they have discovered their vocation. I am not, of course...