Full Text for Authority in English Theology from the Oxford Movement to the Present (Text)

CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Wume 48. Number 4 Announcement .......................................- Authority in English Theology fmm the Oxford Movement ........................... to the hesent .John Stephenson 265 Jonathan Edwards: A Case of Medium-Message Conflict ..................... Klernet Preus 219 ...................................... Theological Observer .2W ....................................... Homiletical Studies .303 Authority in English Theology from the Oxford Movement to the Present John Stephenson The Second Reform Bill having passed through the House of Commons in the September of 1831, the prime minister, Lord Grey, was hopeful that this measure, which entailed the sup- pression of the pocket boroughs and a modest extension of the franchise to the middle classes, would shortly receive the ap- probation of the Upper House. Grey was to be disappointed, for on October 8 the House of Lords threw out the Reform Bill by forty-one votes. The bishops of the Church of England ac- counted in 1831 for a much greater proportion of the members of the Upper House than they do today; so that the distribution of their votes materially affected the fortunes of the proposed legislation. For a variety of reasons, six bishops abstained; two Whig prelates voted in favour; and the Archbishop of Canter- bury, joined by no fewer than twenty of his episcopal col- leagues, voted against the bill. Thereupon the wrath of the enraged lower orders fell upon the Upper House. The secular peers were able to withdraw to relative safety on their estates, but, by the nature of their profession, the bishops were obliged to appear in public. For several months, there was little fun in being a bishop. The palace of the Bishop of Bristol was burned down by an angry mob; most prelates were grossly insulted, and even encountered physical violence, in the streets; and on November 5 of 1831, the date of the annual celebration of the happy deliverance of His Late Majesty King James I from gun- powder treason, the customary national indulgence in Romophobia was waived for a season as the bishops of the respective dioceses won from Guy Fawkes and the pope the honour of being burned in effigy atop village bonfires up and down the land. This outburst of popular discontent with the dignitaries of the Established Church must be seen in the con- text of the repeal, in recent years, of restrictive legislation against Dissenters, Roman Catholic and Protestant alike, which 266 CONCORDIA THEOIDGICAL QUAKEXLY had its origin in the turmoil of the 1670's. From 1828, Protes- tant Nonconformists could once again sit in parliament and hold municipal office; and the same liberties were extended to Roman Catholics, in both Great Britain and Ireland, in the following year. A resurgence in the political influence of Protes- tant Dissenters was inevitably followed by a restoration of their centuries-old assault on the entrenched privileges of the Church of England. Although Protestant Nonconformists were permit- ted freedom of worship after 1689, until almost the middle of the nineteenth century the Anglican clergy enjoyed a monopoly of Christian marriage and burial within England. The enormous revenues of the higher clergy conspired with such vexatious anomalies to make the Established Church seem very vulnerable to parliamentary attack at the time of the Reform legislation. To the foe who bared his teeth without must be added the enemy within the gate. As the traditionalist-minded Anglican clergy and laity waited for the Dissenters newly admitted to the House of Commons to do their worst, they were homfied to read blueprints of reform penned by latitudinarian clergymen of the English Church, pamphlets full of suggestions for the sup- pression of traditional Anglicanism and for its replacement by a comprehensive, all-embracing, dogma-less national church. Thomas Arnold, the Head Master of Rugby School (1795-1842), published in 1833 his Principles of Church Reform. Arnold proposed that the Thirty-nine Articles should no longer be binding on the clergy and that the Church of England should be broadened to include those who had left it in the seventeenth century. Such latitudinarianism was anathema to those who cherished the Prayer Book and the Articles and whose chief spokesmen were to be found in the University of Oxford. Arnold's published views led to his losing the friend- ship of John Keble, Fellow of Oriel College and Professor of Poetry in the university, a man who was shortly to quit Oxford for the remote country parish of Hursley in the Diocese of Win- chester. Around the same time, Keble was greatly agitated over some ecclesiastical legislation then before parliament. Despite its huge Roman Catholic majority and substantial Presbyterian minority (especially in Ulster), Ireland possessed a complete Anglican Establishment, headed by no fewer than twenty-two archbishops and bishops who drew revenues totalling 150,000 pounds per annum. Such a top-heavy Establishment was ridiculously disproportionate to the number of Anglican souls AUTH0lUl-Y IN ENGLISH THEOLOGY 267 in need of pastoral care; so that parliament proposed to reduce the number of sees to twelve as bishops died or retired, freeing the revenues thus saved to boost the livings of the poorer clergy of the Church of Ireland. Such state interference in the life of the church was too much for John Keble, who had been brought up to cherish iure divino episcopacy. Chosen as university preacher before the Judges of Assize, on July 14,1833, from the pulpit of St. Mary the Virgin, Keble denounced the proposed legislation as a "direct disavowal of the sovereignty of God." His sermon was speedily published under the headmg of "Na- tional Apostasy." A parenthesis in Keble's introduction is wor- thy of note. Speaking of the legislature of England and Ireland, he reflects as follows on the recent abolition of religious tests: "the members of which are not even bound to profess belief in the Atonement." In suppressing bishoprics, parliament touched a tender spot in the Anglican conscience. The incipient Oxford Movement now leapt to the defence of the bishops, in their person and in their office. Owen Chadwick writes that, "A rising wave of af- fection for Archbishop Howley [of Canterbury] swept over the country clergy of England."' Howley, one of the most in- coherent bumblers ever to sit on the Chair of Augustine, was later to cause acute discomfort for Queen Victoria at her cor- onation by jamming an excessively tight ring of office on her finger and by plumping (and twisting) too vigorously the crown on her head. One of his best remembered remarks is the opening vocative of an address he gave at the Speech Day of a girls' school: "My dear young female women." In 1834 a loyal ad- dress was presented to Howley with the signatures of some seven thousand clergymen. At the same time, John Henry Newman, Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, penned the first of the Tracts for the Times, the series of theological pamphlets which gave the Oxford Movement the name of "Tractarianism. " Here Newman rested the clergy's claim to authority not on the state's establishment of the church, nor on the superior social status of the clergy, but on their so-called "Apostolical Descent": "Ex- alt our Holy Fathers, the Bishops, as the Representatives of the Apostles, and the Angels of the Churches; and magnify your of- fice, as being ordained by them to take part in their Ministry." Newman conceives of episcopacy as necessary not only for the he esse, but for the very esse of the church. Only a bishop standing in the apostoIic succession can validly ordain; hence: "we must necessarily consider none to be real& ordained who have not thus been ordained." N. F. S. Grundtvig, on one of his visits to England, was little amused when apprised of this fact by an eager advocate of the Oxford Movement. Another remark of Newman's concerning the bishops of the 1830's, while plainiy funny to succeeding generations, affords us an indication of the temper of the times: "we could not wish them a more blessed termination of their course, than the spoiling of their goods, and martyrdom." For the remainder of the 18303, Newman was the chief spokesman of the Oxford Movement. A distinctive contribution of his was the notion that Anglkanim should see itself as a divinely favoured via media. This idea was not in itself new, but whereas in the seventeenth century the Anglicans had thought of their middle way as passing between the Scylla of Romanism and the Charybdis of Anabaptism, Newman now plotted the via media between Rome on the one hand, and continental Pro- testantism, Lutheran and Reformed, on the other. And Newman taught that the middle way could best be charted with the aid of the Vicentian Canon: one must go to Christian anti- quity and there discover what has been held "everywhere, always, and by dl," and one will lay hands on an objective measure and criterion of belief which will ward off Roman and Protestant error. Having to a great extent set the tone of the programme for the Oxford Movement, Newman joined the Church of Rome in 1845. Even though he thus spent the rest of his life outside the English Church, at the end of his days and in the ensuing century the influence of John Henry Newman has been strongly felt in the resolution of the great theological issue which is the topic of this paper. In the generdly accepted opinion of contemporary Anglicans, Edward Bouverie Pusey is ,very much the eminently forgettable "ugly sister" among the three chief fathers of the Oxford Movement. John Keble continues to be celebrated for his devout life (while bis theology is conveniently forgotten), and John Henry Newman is customarily treated with an extreme form of hyperdulia on account not only of his prose, but also of his enunciating several seminal ideas which cause many to see in him the father of the Second Vatican Council. Pusey (lMUL1882) is meanwhile left in obscurity. A confessional Lutheran is apt to find Pusey the most interesting figure in the Oxford Movement, and perhaps in the entire English religious scene of the nineteenth century. The grandson of an earl, in his late twenties Pusey studied extensively in Germany, becoming intimate with the Pietist Tholuck. On his return to England, Pusey engaged in literary controversy with a fellow clergyman, Hugh James Rose (who was later to be his co-worker in the Ox- ford Movement) who had in some Cambridge sermons delivered four peppery Discourses on the State of the Protestant Religion in Germany. Rose told a bleak tale of wholesale apostasy, trusting to instil such horror in his readers as would afford an antidote against England's taking the same path. Now Rose was no expert on post-Reformation German Protestantism, and his sweeping wholesale generalisations imitated the better informed Pusey . In two studies, which appeared within a couple of years of each other, the youthful Pusey sought to set the record straight. He concurred with Rose in excoriating the rationalist Neology that had devastated German Protestantism, but diverged from Rose in detecting Ervourable signs of a restoration of a more substantial theology. And, unlike Rose, Pusey dug back deeper than the eighteenth century in seeking the roots of Pro- testant Germany's virtual apostasy. During his stay in Ger- many, Pusey had been told by Neander that the rigidity of Lutheran Ortlrodoxy must bear some of the blame for the later lurch in the opposite direction. Accordingly, Pusey highlighted the putative excesses of what he termed Lutheran "orthodox- ism" as an albeit unintentional grandparent of rationalism. In addition, notwithstanding his great (and, incidentally, endur- ing) admiration for Spener, Pusey argued that Pietism must be considered the immediate parent of liberalism. Later on, Pusey was to think more kindly of Lutheran Orthodoxy, espedy of Job Gerhard. At the time of writing on the theology of Ger- many, though, Pusey was playing a double game. Not only was he endeavouring to discharge his debt of friendship to Tholuck by rectifying Rose's inaccuracies, but he was also intent on sounding certain caveats to his English co-religionists. Now when he first wrote on the theology of Germany, Pusey was yet a layman. He deemed it improper for a mere layman to speak too plainly to his spiritual superiors. Allegory must therefore take the place of straightfornard discourse. Pusey sensed that the rigidity of the so-called high and dry churchmen and the sentimental superficiality of the English Evangelicals might become the unwitting sponsors of a local lapse into rationalism, and he endeavoured to get this point across through the characters of Lutheran "orthodoxism" and German Pietism. On one point Pusey was later bitterly to regret what he wrote in the late 1820's. In the work on German Protestantism, Pusey ZXl CONCORDIA THEOLIXiICAL QUWI33U.Y tended to conceive the scope of biblical inspiration as extending largely to the impartation of saving doctrine, with the result that he failed toassert the absolute inerrancy of all the historical and geographical statements of Holy Scripture. The Bishop of Lon- don and Keble expressed their reservations in private cor- respondence, and within a few years Pusey himself developed into the foremost English nineteenth-century advocate of plenary inspiration and absolute inerrancy. His opponents were apt in later years to taunt him with being a turncoat and to point with glee to his statements of the late 1820's. Such tactics in- variably produced from Pusey public expressions of contrition. Interestingly, in these statements Pusey would customarily give an account of his view of the proper relationship between Scrip ture and tradition. The Bible for him is always supreme, the evidence of antiquity playing an ancillary role as the prime witness to an exposition of Scripture which must needs be more authentic than the arbitrary interpretations of the moderns. The Vincentian Canon, then, had a different function in Pusey's theology from the one it exercised in Newman's. Along with Keble, Pusey is the most biblically anchored of the bthers of the Oxford Movement. I would fain demonstrate this last point through a brief reference to Pusey's work on sacramental doctrine. Among the theologically more substantial Tracts for the Times, a place of honour might well be found for Pusey's "Tract on Holy Bap- tism." A full-blown biblical and patristic realism is espoused here, with some apposite quotations from Luther thrown in for good measure? to the great consternation of the Anghcan Evangelicals who, then as now, liked to think that Luther was, deep down, really a good Zwinglian. And in the 1840's and 18503, Pusey was instrumental in restoring the historic Real Presence doctrine to the Church of England. His defence of the Lutheran formularies against the charge that they teach "con- substantiation" remains well worth reading, and he displayed great respect for Johann Gerhard. A passage from Pusey's biography by his disciple, Henry Parry Liddon, will demonstrate that Pusey is an interesting figure: It had been possible for some divines of an earlier age to write of the Person and work of Christ almost in the language of St. Athanasius and St. Cyril, while they discarded the Sacraments in the tone of Calvin and Zw- ingli. But this inconsistency was becoming less and less practicable when the operation of theological principles, AUTHORITY IN ENGLISH THEOIDX 271 whether conservative or destructive, was more clearly ap- prehended, both from internal analysis and in the light of history. It was clear to Pusey that if the solvents which were applied by Zwingli to those great texts of Scripture which teach sacramental grace were also applied to those other texts which teach the Divinity and Atonement of our Lord, the result would be Socinianism; while, if the Bap- tismal and Eucharistic language of the New Testament was understood in the literal and reverent sense in which seriouc Christians read the texts that illustrate our Lord's Godhead and Hi Sacrifice for the sins of the world, the Zwinglian and even the Calvinistic theories of the Sacraments would be no longer possible. The popular Pro- testantism was really, if unconsciously, on an inclined plane; and if attachment to such positive truth as it still held did not lead it to ascend to a point where all would be safe because consistent, it would, at no distant time, be forced downwards by the irreligious criticism of the day into an abyss where any hhb would be impossible? In 1828, Pusey was appointed, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, to the Regius Chair of Hebrew in the University of Oxford, a professorship of which he was to enjoy a marathon fifty-four year tenure until his death in 1882. This half century was to witness an increasing harrassing of the views which Pusey held on the nature of Holy Scripture. Specifically, 1860, the year after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, saw the issue of a volume of essays by six clergymen and one layman, entitled hays and Reviews. The two best known essayists were Benjamin Jowett, of Balliol College, Oxford, and Frederick Temple, Head Master of Rugby School and afuaue Arch- bishop of Canterbury, one of whose diversions would be to indulge in pig-farming at Lambeth Palace. In brief, the authors of hays and Reviews somewhat gingerly embraced what would later be called the historical-critical method; one of them in- dicated that Genesis and geology do not belong in the same ball-park and that the literal interpretation of Genesis must therefore be eschewed; while another clearly denied that Holy Scripture can be equated with the Word of God. An uproar speedily ensued. Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, pro- nounced that the authors could not "with moral honesty main- tain their posts as clergymen of the established church."' What could be done? Within a year, Archbishop Sumner of Canter- m CONCORDIA THEOUXiICAL QUAKERLY bury, speaking for all the bishops, pronounced that one could not maintain such views as those propounded in Essays and Reviews and remain with integrity in the Anglican ministry. Dif- ficulties arose with the demand that censure turn into discipline. For the bishops must prosecute putative heretics in the civil courts, and the previous decade had seen two long contests in the cases of a country clergyman prosecuted by his bishop for denying baptismal regeneration and of a Westcountry arch- deacon with a martyr complex who obhged his bishop to bring charges against him for teaching the manducatio impiomm. Civil judges were apt to interpret the Anglican formularies ac- cording to the letter, not the spirit, so that convictions for heresy were notoriously hard to come by-Accordingly, the Arch- bishop of Canterbury was skeptical that any good could come from prosecutions in the civil courts. Archiepiscopal reserva- tions were overruled, however, and two of the essayists were cited by their bishops before the Court of Arches. The judgment given by the dean of the court was confusing: guilty on some counts, innocent on others. The mixed verdict was widely inter- preted as a virtual acquittal, so that the traditionalists were obliged to appeal yet higher to the judicial committee of the Privy Council. The majority of the committee acquitted the two indicted clergymen, and the minority dissenting verdict of the two archbishops went unheeded. Since the state refused backing for ecclesiastical discipline, the only recourse left was a series of joint statements and declarations. In 1864 Essays and Reviews was condemned by the Convocation of Canterbury, and around the same time the Tractarians and the Evangelicals came together in alliance. The guiding spirit was Pusey. Danger of modernism brought about a resumption of cordial relations be- tween Pusey and his cousin, Lord Shaftesbury, a leading Evangelical layman, who, as a cabinet minister for ten years under his indifferent father-in-law, Lord Palmerston, filled the bench of bishops with conservative Evangelicals. Pusey's declaration maintained the inspiration and divine authority of the Bible "without reserve or qualification," and taught (against F. D. Maurice) the everlasting duration of the punish- ment of the cursed and the bliss of the saved. The declaration was signed by 10,906 clergymen of the Established Church. Pusey's right hand man, Henry Parry Liddon, countered the new theological trends in his justly acclaimed Barnpton Lectures of 1866 on The Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This work is a tragically neglected classic of English theology, a storehouse of devoutly applied biblical and patristic scholar- ship. Meanwhile, Pusey applied himself with enormous erudi- tion to such topics as the authorship of the Book of Daniel. In the long run, Pusey and Liddon were doomed to lose. Already in 1869, Gladstone, during his first term of office as prime minister, recommended Frederick Temple for the See of Exeter. The royal congg d'e'lire prevailed over the inevitable outcry; Pusey wrote stupendously long letters to the Guardian, com- plaining that Temple's appointment made a farce of Convoca- tion's condemnations of 1864 and opining that the only remedy was the dkstabli&ment of the Church of England. Wah Temple's elevation to the episcopate, the modernist takeover of the upper echelons of the Church of England had begun. An in- teresting footnote can here be recorded from the life of Pusey. Jh the 1860's' the great cathedrals were beginning to be used for evangelistic purposes, and Dean Stanley of Westminster Abbey conceived the idea of running a series of Sunday afternoon ser- mons featuring the greatest preachers in the land. Stanley was a disciple of Thomas Arnold and a fervent supporter of Ersays d Reviews. Pusey politely and encyclopaedically turned down Stanley's invitation to occupy the abbey's pulpit. Yes, he would gladly have the opportunity of reaching thousands of hearers, he wrote, but to appear in the same chancel as Stanley would convey the mistaken impression that he regarded Stanley as an orthodox clergyman and might lead people to suppose that the differences between them were of less than fundamental impor- tance. Pusey understood the theological m underlying the business of unionism. The year 1889 represents a decisive caesura in the ongoing history of the Oxford Movement, as the year in which the prin- ciples of modern critical biblical scholarship were first publicly embraced by the rising young men of the Anglo-Catholic party! Under the editorship of Charles Gore, Principal of the newly established Pusey House in Oxford, the symposium volume LKX Mundi was published. Gore's own forty-seven page contribu- tion, on "The Holy Spirit and Inspiration," is a good indicator of the temper of the volume as a whole. Most of Gore's essay is nothing more than a conventional and edifying treatment of the person and work of the Third Person of the Trinity, but in the find sections he began to tread on explosive ground. Gore's distinctive theses boil down to the contention that a certain amount of criticism ought to be permitted on the contents of the Old Testament books. The first eleven chapters of Genesis, along with the history of Jonah, the Davidic authorship of cer- tain Psalms, and the authorship and dathg of Daniel might caldy be surreaxbed to the highg critics without forfeiting a single ounce of Chnstmn . . dogma. With an eye to Liddon's Brrmpton Lechmi of 1866, Gore had to reconcile these conces- sians with the plain fact that the Quist of the Gospels is, to all intents and purposes, emlmmi@y pre-critid. Gore solved this problem by adopting a Kenotic Christology: a putative self-limitation of the divine omnkcience made it possible for Gorc (im his own opinion at least) to combine creedal orthodoxy with uitkal priuciples. In his Kenotkh, Gore was followed by the luminous Congregationalist theologian, Peter Taylor For- syth. Sjnnificantly, Gore held that the criticism that should now be permitted in certain parts of the Old Testament might under no cirwnstanccs be suffered to invade the New. On reading Gore's essay, Liddon, now a Canon of St. Paul's, suffered spasms of disgust. He tunred his face to the wall, dying within a year, having first expressed the opinion that Gore bad betrayed everything for which the Oxford Movement had stood. Ironical- ly,~~matgiallyciUmguithe~whichheout- lined in 1889, so that as a bishop in the l92O's he stoutly waged holy war against clergy who denied the virgiual conception or the bodily resurrection of ow Lord. When the Modernist Crisis hit the Church of England after the First World War, Gore was in the vanguard of those demanding the Mest ecclesiastical penalties. His last years were spent penning volumes of Chris- tian apologetics, including defences of the apostolic authorship of the Fourth Gospel and the authenticity of the Pastoral Epistles. Even at the end of his life, it never occurred to Gore that he himself might share part of the blame for sowing the whirlwind of apostasy that has swept through some dons of the English Church in the present century. In his essay of 1889 Gore appealed to a then recent writing of John Henry (now Cardinal) Newman in support of his recension of the doctrine of inspiration. Back in 1884 the newly elevated prince of the Holy Roman Church had published two articles on the subject of biblical -? Towards the end of his sec- ond essay, Newman takes issue with one of his wnservative Roman Catholic critics by pointing to the prevalent opinion that Holy Scripture is not verbally inspired. Newman can always be used as a trusty barometer of the Spirit of the Age. His aim was AUTHORITY IN ENGLISH THEOUXiY 275 to make a winsome apology for Christianity in its Roman Catholic form. Noting that the Councils of Trent and the Vatican had spoken of inspiration as covering what the Bible has to say concerning faith and morals, Newman concludes that faith and morals form the scope of inspiration. Holding this to be true on the authority of the papat teaching office, Newman goes on to suggest that the Scriptural narratives might contain "incidental statements" - "obirrr dicta" - which have nothing to do with faith and morals and which might just hap- pen to be inaccurate. Newman fastens on 2 Timothy 4: 13 as af- fording a model instance of a. "obitcr dictum," asking what difference it would make if the apostle had suffered a lapse of memory and had left the cloak for which he asked not with Car- pus at Troas, but with someone else at another place. Perhaps Newman should not be given too much blame for the tidal wave of unbelief that has swept across some sections of Anglican theology in this century, but it is arguable that a volume which he published in 1845 has been a contributory fac- tor in the theological developments that led to the publication, in 1977, of the blasphemously entitled symposium volume, The Myth of God Inmate. For the partial lapse of English theology into apostasy has not been the result merely of Bultrmmbkrn crossing the English Channel. Rather, two parallel assaults have been waged in the twentieth-century against the English Church. Certainly, the torch of the Modern- ists of the 1920's passed to the ambivalent R. H. Lightfoot, who introduced form criticism to England, and from him to his pupil, Dennis Nineham - and, incidentally, when the "Final Report of the Lutheran-Episcopal Dialogue in the U.S.A." brackets Dennis Nineham together with Ernst Kaesemann; the latter has good reason to feel affronted. In addition to this development, we must consider the partial collapse of English patristic scholarship in recent decades as a lively contributor to believing theology. It can be no accident that one of the con- tributors to 7Xe Myth of God Incarnate was Maurice Wiles, the present Oxford Regius Professor, who arrived at his radical conclusions in the course of his patristic researches. And although he did not contribute to the volume, the late Cam- bridge Regius Professor, G. W. H. Lampe, was closely awckted with the authors, and, towards the end of his life, in his God us Spirit, repudiated Trinitarianism altogether. But 2m CONCORDIA THEOUKMCAL QUARTERLY what has all this to do with Newman? As he struggled his way from Canterbury to Rome in the 18403, Newman had to do some serious thhdbg on the application of the Vi~lcentian Canon, which lay at the heart of his conception of the Anglican via media. In his work of 1845, An Essay on the DeveIopment of Christian Doctrine, Newman blew to smithereens the Anglican understanding of the Vinccntian Canon, by demonstrating that the unanimous consensus on fundamental doctrines which he had earlier supposed to be palpably demonstrable in the case of the Ante-Nicene Church simply never existed. -can patristic scholarship has caught up with Newman's iusigbt in the last hundred and krty years; and the revela- timthatthe~toohawfi=et ofclay, addedtothe- . . brought about through the higher dcism of the Bible, has produc- alamoqgsomescholarsthesensethatTmhrchwasrjght~all. Lest a $Ise impredon be conveyed here, let me subjoin that the tbcological nihikm associated with Nineham and Wdes ef hot gaurs onmciSchenrcoaisticof~sel~d~tbeoLogical schoh. A swing in the oppde direction is apparent inoertain of the younger men at the major universities. The main problem area in English theology, then, lies in ques- tions relating to the inspiration and authority of the Holy Scrip tures. For our own part, confessional Lutheran Cfiristendom currently enjoys, so far as human eye can see, a temporary respite from internal controversy on this issue, for which we do well to be thankful. A critical qwstion emerges, though, when we consider the ancillary authority of the patristic tradition. Realisation that the Vincentian Canon is a shaky foundation for the whole theological enterprise is not the same as urging a Bap- tist rather than a Lutheran understanding of so& scriptunr. The infiltration of a Protestant mentality into our church could very well result in the displacement of the Lutheran soh scr@&ru, which includes those features of the Christian tradition which are not at odds with the material principle of the Reformation, by the fundamentalist Protestant sola scripfura, which recognises no hermeneutically authoritative tradition between the ancient text in a disgusting translation and the enthusiast in the pew. Our sixteenth-century fathers demonstrably appealed to the ancient fathers as senior members of the same church who continue to offer a vital contribution to the thought of AUTHORITY IN ENGLISH THEOW 277 Christendom. Do we presently run the danger of forfeiting the confessional perspective on the Christian past, and should this perspective be lost, can the confessional substance be main- tained? a lk Report artre huhmm-m IJkdope Sed Series, II%W!CW (Cb cirmati: Forward Mavemeot plblications, ml), p. 18