A Liberal Manifesto: The Place of Reason in the Thought of the Church. The Church Times (20 Jan 1939)
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[ 769 A Liberal Manifesto: The Place of Reason in the Thought of the Church The Church Times (20 Jan 1939) 58 There are many people in England who, though they rarely attend the services of the Church, have a real sense of the need for religion. We believe that a large number have given up the practice of going to church either because they have been offered a form of worship which does not satisfy their needs, or because the Christian religion has been inadequately presented to them. We believe that a Catholic interpretation of the position of the Church of England has the decisive advantage of recognizing that in the divisions which have rent Christendom truth does not lie exclusively on any one side. But we believe that if Anglo-Catholicism is to play the part which it might, certain present tendencies must be counteracted in regard alike to worship and teaching. The Prayer Book. A Catholic interpretation of the Church of England has been maintained from the sixteenth century onwards by many of the most learned Anglican theologians; it has shown its power to co-operate with other schools of thought both at home and abroad, and has exercised a profound influence on English religion, culture and life. But it must be put forward both in teaching and practice in a form which meets the needs of the present time. In regard to worship, we recognize that reforms and improvements of the Prayer Book are urgently needed, and we believe that a settlement of the controversies of the past is both possible and desirable. But in present conditions the Church in England is largely a missionary Church. It must adopt missionary methods, and it must seek to build upon such religious traditions as are available. In consequence, it is a matter of great importance that, so far as is in any way possible, changes in forms of worship should be based upon and grow out of the forms of worship contained in the Book of Common Prayer, which is familiar to the English people as a whole, and rightly valued by them, rather than involve the introduction of forms which are alien to our religious history. We desire to see in Anglo-Catholic churches forms of service which are recognizably Prayer Book services. Signed Letters and Documents with Multiple Authorship 770 ] In regard to the teaching of the Church, we believe in the Catholic Faith that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, and in the Incarnation of the Word in the historical Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we believe in the historical truth of His Virgin Birth and His bodily Resurrection from the dead. We believe that in the sacramental life of the Church Catholic the faithful possess the means of grace appointed by God togivemanaccesstoHimself.WebelieveinthedoctrinesoftheEucharistic Sacrifice and Presence. We believe that it is our duty to pray for the dead as well as for the living, and that we ourselves are aided by the prayers of Blessed Mary and all the Saints. No Infallibility. At the same time, we reject the belief that the teaching of the undivided Church should be regarded as settling all questions for all time without respect to the advance of thought and knowledge. We believe that the Reformation, even in the Church of England, obscured certain doctrines and practices of very real value, such as the belief in the Communion of Saints and the practice of sacramental confession; but we reject the view, often put forward by some Anglo-Catholics, which denies that a drastic reform of religion was needed in the sixteenth century, and we believe that in spite of losses involved the Reformation produced some very real gains. Consequently, we deplore the tendency to assume that Anglo-Catholics must hold that any divergence from the general outlook of the Roman Catholic theology, or from Thomist philosophy, is necessarily erroneous. In particular, we cannot accept the belief that specific theological statements can be assumed to be infallible simply because they have been laid down by Popes or General Councils, or because they have hitherto been generally accepted bytheChurch asawhole. Webelievethat theHolySpirit is always guiding the Church into all truth, and therefore that there has been development of doctrine. But such development is consistent with the possibility that a pronouncement made in the past, which expressed the truth of God at the time in so far as man’s knowledge then enabled him to understand...


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