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The Journal of Religion 



Volume II NOVEMBER 1922 Number 6 



THE MODERNIST MOVEMENT IN THE 
CHURCH OF ENGLAND 



C. W. EMMET 
University College, Oxford, England 



"Modernism," originally used of a special movement within Roman Catholicism, 
is now used of the liberal movement within other churches. It represents a way of 
approach rather than a set of opinions. Important stages are marked by (i) Essays 
and Reviews, (2) Lux Mundi, (3) Thompson's Miracles in the New Testament, (4) the 
Girton Conference of 192 1, Privy Council Judgments, and Resolutions of Convocation. 

The strength of the movement is focused m the Churchmen's Union, but js wide- 
spread in academic circles, among the parochial clergy, the older laity, and still more 
among the younger (Student Christian Movement, etc.). Modernism is an attempt 
to meet the difficulties of the two latter sections. 

Concerning the attitude of the Church, the Extremists are definitely hostile, but 
responsible leaders recognize that Modernism has a serious message, and many both 
among Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics are anxious to come to terms with it. There 
is danger from the "left wing", this, however, does not direct the policy of the move- 
ment in England. Two main problems present themselves: (i) a restatement of 
religion which shall be a gospel and preserve the fundamental values of the past; (2) 
the question of honesty involved in assent to creeds and formularies which embody 
the ideas of a past age. 

"Who gave you this name?" is a question which may be 
addressed to parties no less than to individuals, and the god- 
parents responsible are often popular instinct and the press. 
It is so with Modernism. It was first applied to the movement 
within the Roman CathoUc church, of which Loisy and Tyrrell 
are the best known exponents. This movement was prepared 
to go to extremes in criticism and philosophy, while apparently 
keeping intact all the doctrinal formvdaries and the whole work- 
ing system of Catholicism. It distinguished the Christ of 

S6i 



562 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

faith from the Christ of history, and extended Newman's doc- 
trine of development to lengths which would have astonished 
its originator. 

Many would wish still to confine the term "modernism" to 
this particular school. But the god-parents who preside over 
such things have bestowed it upon a wider movement. It has 
come to be the popular designation of what was formerly called 
the broad, or liberal, school in the Anglican church. Many, in- 
deed, of its adherents regard the name with some distaste, and 
we find, for example, the somewhat confusing spectacle of a 
prominent Uberal such as Dean Inge inveighing in no gentle 
terms against "Modernism." In such cases it must be under- 
stood that what he is attacking is the Continental variety with 
its handful of representatives from other churches. But, 
generally, the term is now accepted in the wider sense; it 
has probably come to stay and it is obviously convenient. 
"Broad Chxirch" suggests a somewhat negative and academic 
outlook; and "Uberal" has associations with poUtics. We 
shall therefore use the term "Modernist" as denoting the 
movement in the AngUcan church, and, indeed, in other 
churches, which believes that religion needs to be interpreted 
afresh to the modem man and that it can be so interpreted 
without the loss of any essential element. It is prepared to 
welcome without reserve the results of historical criticism and 
scientific discovery with their new outlook on the world. It 
strives to preserve a real continuity with the past and is 
resolved to work within the church to which its adherents 
belong. At the same time it recognizes in varying degrees 
that the time has come when services, formulas, and doctrinal 
statements require revision. It needs, however, to be said 
very clearly that Modernism is not primarily the acceptance 
of a set of opinions and new dogmas, critical or scientific. 
Any given Modernist may or may not believe in the Virgin 
Birth, or the empty tomb, or the apostolic authorship of the 
Fourth Gospel. The essence of Modernism lies, not in its 



MODERNIST MOVEMENT IN TEE CHURCH OF ENGLAND 563 

conclusions, but, in the way they are reached and the temper 
in which they are held. Modernists agree that we can no 
longer appeal to the authority of Bible, creeds or church as 
something fixed and decisive; they agree that the Spirit of 
God is speaking in divers channels and by divers voices and 
that we must be ready to hear all that He saith to the churches; 
and they agree that truth flourishes best in an atmosphere of 
freedom and that the church must be brave enough to suffer 
a great variety of opinions within its walls. 

What have been the main stages in the development of 
this movement?' Not to go too far back, we may mention 
the pubUcation of Essays and Reviews in i860. This was a 
collection of essays written, as is well known, by prominent 
members of the Church of England, including Temple, after- 
ward Archbishop of Canterbury, Mark Pattison, and Jowett. 
The positions taken up would in most cases be regarded today 
as very moderate, but the book was received with a storm of 
indignation. An archdeacon spoke of it as containing all the 
poison which is to be found in Tom Paine's Age of Reason, 
while it had the additional disadvantage of being written by 
clergymen. It was denoimced in Convocation, and proceed- 
ings were taken against two of the contributors. They were 
sentenced to a year's suspension by the Court of Arches, but 
acquitted by the Privy Council, the main point at issue being 
whether the formularies of the Church of England required a 
belief in everlasting punishment. This Privy Council judg- 
ment vindicated the position of the Broad Church party, as 
it was then called, in the Church of England. It should be 
carefully noted that the same court vindicated the position of 
the Evangelical party in the Gorham case, and of the High 
Church party in the Bennett case.* 

' The writer would venture to refer the reader for fuller details to his discussion 
of the subject in Conscience, Creeds, and Critics (Macmillan & Co., 1918). 

"In the Gorham case the point at issue was Baptismal Regeneration, in the 
Bennett case the doctrine of the Eucharist. 



564 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

The Privy Council is a lay court and a State court, and its 
jurisdiction is vehemently objected to by many High Church- 
men. One of the main arguments urged in favor of disestab- 
lishment is that it would enable the Church "to rid itself of this 
incubus," and to decide its heresy trials by purely ecclesiastical 
courts. It is interesting to speculate what would have been 
the position of the Church of England today if this had been 
the procedure during the nineteenth century; for in each of 
the cases referred to above the lay court stood for freedom, 
while the ecclesiastical court proved itself conservative and 
narrow. 

A further stage was marked by the publication of Lux 
Mundi. It showed that a large section of the High Church 
party was prepared to accept Old Testament criticism almost 
without reserve, refusing, e.g., to regard oUter dicta of Christ as 
decisive evidence of the Davidic authorship of Psalms. With 
regard to the New Testament it was more hesitant, and it is 
only fair to the writers to point out that they regarded their 
position as completely in harmony with the main trend of the 
teaching of the Fathers and with the pronouncements of Coim- 
cils. Without going into the manifold questions raised by 
this position, the important point to notice is that it proved 
that biblical criticism and a recognition of the teachings of 
modern science had now established themselves in the center 
of church life. 

Our next landmark may be the publication of Mr. J. M. 
Thompson's Miracles in the New Testament (191 1). The 
writer definitely rejected miracles as ordinarily understood. 
He was deprived of his license by the Bishop of Winchester, 
who had jurisdiction over the college to which he belonged, 
and there followed a deluge of pamphlets and sermons on both 
sides of the controversy. The most definite outcome was a 
debate in the spring of 19 14 in the Upper House of Convoca- 
tion, the assembly of the diocesan bishops of the Church of 
England. A petition was presented by the Churchmen's 



MODERNIST MOVEMENT IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND 565 

Union demanding freedom to study and discuss critical prob- 
lems and to publish the result of studies, and also urging that 
a wide liberty of belief should be allowed with regard "to the 
mode and attendant circiunstances " both of the Incarnation 
and of the Resurrection. A resolution was carried in which 
the Bishops expressed their resolve to maintain imimpaired 
the CathoUc faith as stated in the Creeds. The most important 
paragraph may be given verbatim: 

We express our deliberate judgment that the denial of any of the 
historical facts stated in the creeds goes beyond the limits of legitimate 
interpretation and gravely imperils that sincerity of profession which is 
plamly incumbent on the ministers of Word and Sacrament. At the 
same time recognising that our generation is called to face new problems 
raised by historical criticism, we are anxious not to lay unnecessary 
burdens upon consciences, nor unduly to limit freedom of thought and 
enquiry, whether among clergy or among laity. We desire therefore to 
lay stress on the need of considerateness in dealing with that which is 
tentative and provisional in the thought and work of earnest and reverent 
students. 

This resolution was markedly cautious and conciliatory. 
The Bishops, it -will be seen, refused to condemn any book or 
statement explicitly, or to encourage prosecution. A good deal 
had gone on in the background before the debate and the 
ofl&cial resolution, and no doubt something had been sacrificed 
on both sides in order to retain episcopal unanimity in the 
face of the public. 

Attention was soon occupied by the more immediate 
issues of the war, but the question of Modernism came to a 
head in the Conference held at Girton, Cambridge, in August, 
1 92 1. The Conference was organized by the Churchmen's 
Union, and its subject was the Person of Christ and the Creeds. 
For some reason the attention of the press was attracted; it 
was a slack season and the public was waiting for the arrival of 
CharUe Chaplin. Fragmentary and misleading reports of some 
of the papers appeared with scare headlines — "Dean denies 
Divinity" and the like. It is hardly worth while going into 



S66 TEE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

the whole story. Sensible people recognized that such frag- 
ments could not be relied on as giving the whole truth, and this 
view was fully confirmed when the papers were published in 
full in the Modern Churchman of September, 192 1. But pubhc 
attention had now been drawn to the whole subject. The 
average man had known vaguely that something was going 
on in the direction of the spread of modem ideas among the 
clergy. Now he began to talk about Modernism himself in 
his club and workshop. The Modernists had not engineered 
the advertisement, but their opponents had given them a boom 
such as the most astute of pubUcity agents might envy. It 
was realized on all sides that Modernism was very much alive 
and must be taken seriously. The case could no longer be 
met by sarcastic references to "the sterile party" or to "a 
handful of academic hberals." 

Two definite attempts were made to stem the tide. The 
Rev. C. E. Douglas seized a broom which broke very quickly 
in his hands. He delated Mr. Major for heresy on the ground 
of his denial of the physical resurrection of the body. In the 
choice of the person to be attacked he showed a sound instinct. 
Mr. Major is editor of the Modern Churchman, the chief organ 
of the Modernist movement in England; he is also principal 
of Ripon Hall, Oxford, a theological college for the training of 
ordinands. Not having the status of a beneficed clergyman, 
he might not be so well protected as those who enjoy "the 
parson's freehold " in a living; for the Established Church gives 
a very secure tenure to its incumbents. 

But the ground on which he chose to fight was less well- 
selected. It is not only Modernists who, while believing 
wholeheartedly in Immortality as the full survival of the 
personality, reject any idea of a resurrection of the flesh or 
the physical particles of the body. A condemnation on this 
issue would have involved a great mass of central church 
opinion, and it was no surprise when the Bishop of Oxford, 
having sought advice from three of the leading theological 



MODERNIST MOVEMENT IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND 567 

professors of Oxford, refused to proceed with the prose- 
cution. 

The second line of attack was a series of attempts to per- 
suade the Bishops to condemn the Girton Conference. A 
petition was presented by the English Church Union calling 
attention to "erroneous interpretations" concerning the God- 
head of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity, urging that by 
these opinions the minds of many had been deeply distressed, 
enemies of the faith greatly encouraged, and the honesty of 
the clergy as a body seriously called in question." The peti- 
tioners, therefore, desired the Bishops "to declare that such 
opinions are contrary to the teaching of the Bible and the 
Church." 

It is no secret that strenuous efforts were made to secure 
the desired result. But once more a counter-petition, with 
few but weighty signatures, was organized by the Church- 
men's Union, and important debates took place in the Convoca- 
tions of Canterbury and York in May of this year. The 
Convocation of Canterbury passed a resolution declaring its 
own adhesion to the teaching of the Nicene creed and calling 
attention to the fact that the church commissions as its min- 
isters those only who have solemnly expressed such adhesion. 
It went on: 

Further, this House recognises the gain which arises from enquiry, 
at once and reverent, into the meaning of the Faith, and welcomes every 
aid which the thoughtful student finds in the results of sound historical 
and literary criticism, and of modern scientific investigation of the 
problems of human psychology; and it deprecates the mere blunt 
denunciation of contributions made by earnest men in their endeavour 
to bring new light to bear upon these difficult and anxious problems. At 
the same time it sees a grave and obvious danger in the publication of 
debatable suggestions as if they were ascertained truths, and emphasises 
the need of caution in this whole matter, especially on the part of respon- 
sible teachers in the Church. 

The York Convocation adopted a report to much the same 
effect. 



568 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

Two points deserve to be noted, (i) In spite of the strong 
pressure brought to bear, the Bishops definitely refused to 
issue any condemnation either of the Girton Conference itself 
or of any specific statements made at it. They recognized the 
absolute necessity of free and full discussion and the futihty 
of ex cathedra pronouncements. (2) They went distinctly 
further in their welcome of the Modernist movement than did 
their predecessors in 1914. 

What then is the strength and extent of this movement? 
It is focussed in a society already referred to, The Church- 
men's Union for the advancement of liberal religious thought. 
Its objects are: 

1. To afl5rm the continuous and progressive character of the revela- 
tion given by the Holy Spirit in the spheres of knowledge and of conduct. 

2. To maintain the right and duty of the Church of England to restate 
her doctrines from time to time m accordance with this revelation. 

3. To uphold the historic comprehensiveness of the Church of 
England. 

4. To defend the freedom of responsible students, clerical as well as 
lay, in their work of criticism and research. 

5. To promote the adaptation of the church services to the needs and 
knowledge of the time. 

6. To assert the claim of the laity to a larger share in the government 
and responsible work of the Church. 

7. To foster co-operation and fellowship between the Church of 
England and other Christian churches. 

8. To study the application of Christian principles and ideals to the 
whole of our social life. 

Its activities are varied. Perhaps the most important are 
the support of the Modern Churchman, the monthly magazine 
already referred to, and the organization of conferences for 
the discussion of modern problems. The Coimcil includes 
among many others Bishop Hamilton Baynes, Dean Inge, 
Dean Rashdall, the Master of Marlborough, the Rev. C. E. 
Raven, and Miss Maude Royden, a sufficiently varied selec- 
tion which emphasizes the feature aheady referred to, that 
modernism is not the acceptance of a set of opinions. For 



MODERNIST MOVEMENT IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND 569 

there cannot be many questions in which the Dean of St. 
Paul's and Miss Royden see eye to eye, except in this funda- 
mental principle of the need of absolute freedom. 

It is interesting to note that an American Modern Church- 
men's Union is in process of formation, of which the organizer 
is Dr. McComb, Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Episco- 
pal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

The Churchmen's Union is important and representative, 
but the Modernist movement itself is very much wider. We 
may perhaps distinguish the following classes: 

1. There are many in academic circles, theologians and 
others, who share the general point of view, but have the 
reluctance of the scholar to associate themselves with any 
movement of a propagandist or popular kind. But in any 
crisis they are, as will have been seen, ready to range them- 
selves unreservedly on the side of hberty of thought within the 
church. 

2. Not a few among the parochial clergy are semi- 
Modernists or crjrpto-Modemists. Often they have not fuUy 
thought out their own position. They are modern in Old 
Testament criticism, but not in New Testament criticism. 
Or they are prepared to apply critical methods to the Bible 
in general, but hesitate to do so with regard to doctrines 
touching the Apostolic Succession or the Sacraments. Others 
share the dislike to be associated with a party; a few, perhaps, 
are afraid to avow their position. 

3. Again among the older laity, a large niunber both of 
men and women, in their private thoughts and in conversa- 
tions among themselves, practically take up the Modernist 
point of view, though they may not be able to state their 
attitude in precise theological terms. But they beheve that 
the church and its ministers are stiU committed to an old- 
fashioned traditionahsm. When they have tried to formulate 
their ideas or their problems to a parson, they have often 
chosen their confidant badly, and found themselves repulsed 



S70 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

with a snub or a jest. Accordingly they have preferred to 
keep their thoughts to themselves, and not a few of the clergy 
stiU beUeve quite seriously that there is no modernism in their 
congregations. Sometimes the laity of whom we are speaking 
continue to attend the ministrations of the church in a detached 
and rather cynical mood; sometimes they absent themselves 
almost entirely. But they have not ceased to care for rehgion 
or for their church. 

4. Younger folk may be regarded as forming a class of 
their own, differing from their elders in that they are more 
articulate and have a clearer idea of what they want. In the 
Student Christian Movement and similar organizations they 
have learned to discuss rehgious problems with the completest 
frankness in the Ught of modern knowledge, and they are not 
afraid to express themselves. They have also found a Chris- 
tian fellowship with their like which cuts across the divisions 
of the churches; they are impatient of denominational barriers 
and resent being herded into separate pens for worship and 
above all for the Holy Communion. 

These yoimger people are not primarily interested in critical 
or historical questions, such as the authorship and date of books 
of the Bible, the evidence for miracles, or the origin and history 
of Episcopacy. They are prepared on these points to accept 
the conclusions of the experts. But they want a religion which 
is clear and intelUgent in the fundamentals, which wiU help 
them to rebuild a world which seems to them to be falUng in 
ruins, and which will make co-operation and fellowship the 
ruling principle between nations and between classes. With 
all their suspicion of dogma they have no use for a rehgion 
which does not give the central place to Christ, and they wish 
to be able to give an inteUigible reason for doing so. 

It is this concern for a right scale of values which explains 
the influence among them of Dean Inge, in spite of the fact 
that they are often out of sympathy with much of his outlook 
on social questions. 



MODERNIST MOVEMENT IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND 571 

This group is inclined to despair of all the churches as at 
present organized. They are watching anxiously and critically 
to see whether they can rise to their new opportunities. If 
they fail, they are probably prepared to start a new organiza- 
tion of their own. 

It is with these two last classes that Modernism is especially 
concerned. It is its task to persuade them not only that 
religion can be saved, but that the church can be saved, if 
they will come in and share in the work of transforming it from 
within. The Modernist can assure them of a welcome and of 
a sympathy which understands their difficulties and is prepared 
to meet them frankly. 

What then is the attitude of the church as a whole toward 
Modernism? It is undoubtedly more favorable than might 
appear on the surface to one who knew only the church press, 
especially in its correspondence columns, and certain of the 
platform and pulpit utterances on the subject. The some- 
what violent and undiscriminating utterances here found no 
doubt represent a real body of opinion especially among 
evangelicals and the more advanced Anglo-Catholics. A lead- 
ing article in a church paper wrote as follows: "Toleration is 
extended to us [the Anglo-Catholics] on the supposition that 
we will extend the same toleration to Protestants and Modern- 
ists. Things may be different when it is foimd that Catholics 
have not lost their missionary zeal, that they believe that they 
alone are loyal members of the Church of England, and that 
they are not willing to lie down with Protestants and Modern- 
ists in the same bed." And if the Church of England were 
disestablished and the extremists succeeded in capturing the 
machine (and they are well organized and know exactly what 
they want), the position of Modernists in the Church of Eng- 
land might become very critical. It may be noted that this 
would react on other churches, in America and the colonies, 
which are in communion with her. From her historic position 
she to some extent gives the lead to the daughter churches, 



572 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

and especially to those who are included in the Lambeth Con- 
ference of Bishops. As long as she herself remains compre- 
hensive, they are not likely to narrow themselves unduly, but 
if, under the circumstances indicated, she expelled Modernism 
from her own borders, the position of the Modernists in other 
churches would become very precarious. But though Modem- 
ism has need to watch the situation carefully there is no 
ground for despondency. As has been said, the intransigeant 
elements are very vocal, but there are other forces working for 
peace and for understanding. 

Attention has been called to the attitude of the Bishops. 
Under the leadership of the Archbishops of Canterbury and 
York they undoubtedly realize three main factors in the 
situation. 

1. Modernism has on any view a good deal to say for itself 
on critical and historical grounds. The leaders of the church 
are alive to the warnings of history, which show how often the 
heresy of one age has become the orthodoxy of the next. 
Official condemnations and loud popular outbursts have only 
served to make the church ridiculous and are obviously not 
the right means for the dehcate task of disentangling truth 
from error. 

2. The church leaders understand the paramount impor- 
tance of meeting the younger people sympathetically, and it 
is a constructive Modernism which seems best fitted to do 
this. 

3. The supply of ordination candidates gives rise to much 
anxiety, both in number and quahty. Unless a full recogni- 
tion is given to a temper of mind which, while remaining 
essentially Christian, accepts the modern outlook, there is 
little prospect of persuading the best and most intelligent of 
the younger men to give themselves to the ministry. 

On such grounds as these far-seeing men in positions of 
responsibility, while they may not agree with many of the 
Modernist positions, are yet sincerely anxious to keep the 



MODERNIST MOVEMENT IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND 573 

ring, to secure a fair discussion of present-day problems on 
the basis of argument rather than of an appeal to authority, 
and to encourage the movement itself to develop on sane and 
Christian lines. 

There are many in both of the other great parties of the 
church who are prepared to adopt much the same attitude. 
At an Evangelical Conference at Cheltenham a year ago a 
markedly respectful and sympathetic hearing was given to 
Modernist representatives. As is well known, the Church 
Missionary Society is sharply divided on the question of its 
attitude to biblical criticism. But a recent conference of 
representatives of both points of view arrived at a statement 
which included the following: "After prayer and long and 
anxious conference and with an ever-growing consciousness of 
the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst, we have been 
drawn closer together in a deeper understanding of the move- 
ments, intellectual and spiritual, which have been influencing 
many of us." Those who have begun to fear lest haply they 
may be found to be fighting against God are at least prepared 
to be tolerant. 

In the same way there is a large and influential element 
among the Anglo-Catholics which realizes that Modernism has 
a message and that a sympathetic understanding is both 
desirable and possible. This section is perhaps more disturbed 
by criticism of the Creeds and the church system, including 
Sacraments and Orders, than by criticism of the Bible. None 
the less many of the yoimger men, especially those who are 
prepared to think and read, accept for themselves so many of 
the Modernist positions that they can hardly become parties 
to a wholesale condemnation. A good deal depends on which 
element in the Anglo-Catholic party succeeds in directing its 
policy. 

Some would say that the chief danger to Modernism lies 
in its left wing. The difficulty is common to all Kve and pro- 
gressive movements, whether in religion or in politics. At 



574 TEE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

the moment the chief representatives of this wing are two well- 
known English scholars now settled in American universities. 
Professors Lake and Foakes- Jackson. To many modernists 
their position seems equally vulnerable both from the religious 
and from the critical side. In particular they are dissatisfied 
with their attitude to Christ. They do not make it clear in 
what sense he can be regarded as the founder of the Christian 
religion or what, if any, is the relation of the believer to him 
today. Their views have in fact been explicitly disavowed 
by most of the leading representatives of English Modernism, 
and both the scholars in question have retorted by unsparing 
criticism of what they regard as a compromising and weak- 
kneed attitude. It is, then, not unfair to emphasize the 
undoubted fact that such scholars with all their brilliance and 
learning have failed to carry with them the great majority of 
their friends and former associates. These hang back not 
from timidity or fear of consequence, but in the last resort 
because they do not believe that the critical and historical 
position presented by such extremists is really soimd. A left 
wing cannot be regarded as compromising a movement unless 
it directs its policy, and at present, at least, the policy of 
Modernism and of the Churchmen's Union is in quite other 
hands. 

There would seem to be two crucial problems which Modem- 
ism has to solve in the near future. Can it make good its claim 
to be constructive? A destructive stage is often necessary; 
there is rubbish and there are false beliefs to be cleared away. 
The Book of Job is mainly a piece of destructive criticism; the 
writer found in the field certain beliefs as to the meaning of 
suffering which he regarded as untrue to experience and derog- 
atory to God. He destroys these beliefs, though he is not 
yet clear what solution of the problem he can put in their 
place. Such a process, though it does not carry us the whole 
way, is always a clear gain to religion. But the present situa- 
tion has its peculiar difficulties; it is, for example, very differ- 



MODERNIST MOVEMENT IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND 575 

ent from that which faced the Reformers of the sixteenth 
century. Then it seemed only necessary to get rid of accre- 
tions and superstitions, and the original gospel would stand 
out once more. But now more is required than the clearing 
away of such accretions. Historical Christianity has seemed 
to imply a view of the world, its origin, its fall, the method of 
its redemption, a view of the relation between God and man, 
between Heaven and earth, which is to many untenable in an 
age of evolution with its wider conception of the universe. 
There must be a thoroughgoing restatement of religious 
beUefs, such as will harmonize with the new outlook; the ques- 
tion is whether it can preserve the original and fundamental 
values. Modernism beheves that it can, and there are abun- 
dant signs that it is feeling its way toward a restatement which 
will be a gospel to the modem world, which wiU have a dynamic 
strong enough to save souls and which will prove its power to 
regenerate society. The Modernist beUeves this, because he 
beheves in the living spirit of Christ. 

The second question is less fundamental, but equally 
urgent. It concerns the question of honesty and sincerity in 
a period of transition. A grave problem is presented by the 
requirement of assent to Creeds and Articles which belong 
to a pre-critical period, and by the constant use in prayers 
and hymns of language which by common consent can no 
longer be taken in its literal and historical sense. This problem 
presses most hardly on the sensitive conscience and particularly 
on the conscience of many of the best men who are contemplat- 
ing entering the ministry. Can this problem be solved? 
Under the pressure of Modernist discussions it is coming to be 
widely recognized that there is such a problem and that it 
needs to be taken very seriously, and pubUc opinion is moving 
in a direction which will profoundly modify the whole idea 
of assent and subscription to doctrinal formxilaries. Negotia- 
tions on the subject of reunion of the churches have thrust it 
into the forefront. The Anglican Church lays down acceptance 



576 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

of a creed as a condition of reunion. The Free Churchman 
retorts that he can only accept a creed if it is clearly under- 
stood that it is not to be regarded as final or absolute, and that 
the assent, both of laity and of ministers, must be subject to 
a wide latitude of interpretation of individual clauses. There 
are signs that such a position may be accepted on the Anglican 
side, even in quarters where such acceptance might have seemed 
very improbable. This implies the recognition of the attitude 
toward creeds, for which the Modernist has long been contend- 
ing. But the difl&culty of conscience will not be entirely re- 
moved imtil some such position has been explicitly recognized 
by the church. 

We have spoken of these two points as problems which 
face Modernism, but they are really problems which face the 
churches as a whole. It is not too much to say that the 
survival of Christianity, as at present organized, largely 
depends on the ability of the churches to solve them. Modern- 
ism has its contribution to make. And this is why many who 
disagree profoundly with some of the Modernist positions yet 
feel themselves impelled to confess, "except these abide in the 
ship, ye cannot be saved." The questions raised by the new 
knowledge are too vast for any one school or any one church. 
They can only be solved if all men of good will, representing 
different traditions and different outlooks, are willing to 
co-operate unreservedly in a spirit of mutual understanding 
and of Christian fellowship.