An Anglican's Dissection Of Catholic Views
Anglicanism in Transition. By Humphrey Johnson. (Longmans, 6s.) Reviewed by the Right Rev. MARTIN COLLETT, Abbot of Nashdom
The author makes the statement that the Malines Conversations would have been inconceivable one hundred years ago; the same statement is true of this book. Throughout it is marked by the spirit of sound scholarship, candour and friendship, together with an obvious desire to interpret history impartially. and to attempt with equal impartiality, to forecast the future. He does not hesitate to point out the faults of his co-religionists both by irritating Anglicans and by permitting themselves to be irritated by them.
Of Anglicanism in Transition the first fifty pages may be termed its terminus a quo and the last fifty its terminus ad quern. The first section is admirable, although there are a few places where an Anglican would shift the emphasis. The last section is the least satisfactory in the book.
Each section ends with a statement to which exception must be taken. The first is a quotation from the account of the Church of England which Newman wrote for the French translation of the " Apologia -; the last-which is the same in substance as Newman's-is the author's conviction of the future of Anglicanism. " The victory of those who desire that she shall remain above all else a national Church, over those. Who care whether she lose this character provided that she remains attached to certain fixed standards of belief. seems assured." This in our opinion is untrue.
In spite of the early Anglican life of the
author until he was twenty-one-it is a proof of his own statement with reference to Cardinals Vaughan and Bourne, that those outside the Anglican Church are incapable of understanding her true inwardness. He fails to reckon amongst other things on the inertia of the average Anglican who cares very little abOUL the whole matter. What he says of Cardinal Bourne is. "The Pietas Anglicana was something of which he understood as little as did his predecessor."
The middle sections are lucid, stimulating and fair, especially that on the growth of Modernism in the Anglican Church, where he is careful to point out the great influence .of modernising continental Roman Catholics. But the book throughout makes rather gloomy reading especially in his forecast of the future. As to the Church of Rome he says : "'Still more certainly may it be said that there is little probability of the Catholic Church replacing the Anglican one as the national embodiment of religion in any but a very rcOnote future." And, " The stream of converts to Catholicism . . . has not proved -large enough to imperil the Church of England's position. . . She (the Church of England) is still in a large measure the Church of the nation."
He considers the .Evangelicals to have become too " flabby " to exert any influence; the Free Churches may be dismissed as having no potential value; union with the East, will if it ever comes about, bifurcate into a Protestant modernistic sect and obscurantism; and, finally die of inanition. A Uniat Church of England in communion with Rome seems to be the utmost of his hopes; but of this he is doubtful, for he considers Canterbury and Rome to have been closer at Malines than they will ever be again.
After these transitional days are over, he sees in the clergymen of the national Church one who believes but little, and who thoroughly approves not only of birth control and admission to Communion of divorced persons, but also of sterilisation, euthanasia both voluntary and compulsory and trial marriage. With this forecast we cannot agree.
A gloomy book for the most part; but clear, scholarly and vastly interesting.
My Uncle Is An Anglican
Looking Forward. By Harold Anson, Master of the Temple. (Heinemann, 10s. 6d.)
Reviewed by PETER F. ANSON
When a few weeks ago 1 rashly offered to review this book I began to have an uncomfortable feeling that, if I were going to he honest in my criticisms. people would say that it was hardly respectful for a nephew to attack a septuagenarian uncle in such a brutal manner-even if the latter is quite capable of defending himself. But now that 1 have read this book a second time I have come to the conclusion that here is a volume which will have to be reckoned with by all future students of the history of Anglicanism, and one which nobody can afford to ignore if he wishes tc obtain .a true conception of the infinite comprehensiveness of the Church of England at the present day.
From his student days at Cuddesdon, when his critical spirit was a cause of alarm to the Principal, until only a few years ago when the late Archbishop of Canterbury told him that his heterodox views would prevent him ever offering him any responsible position in the Church, my uncle has always been something of an ecclesiastical rebel, although never a militant one. After a long and varied career as an Anglican parson both at home and abroad, in which he has had the friendship
of many famous men and women, he has now found a congenial sphere of work, as well as a home in perhaps the most beautiful of all London's old houses-thanks to a Presbyterian Prime Minister's recommendation to the King.
Here, in an ancient church built by the Knights Templar in Catholic times, he ministers to an eclectic congregation, "having all manner of visible ecclesiastical attachments, or none at all." This "body of men and women, united by invisible ties, often unknown to one another," so he tells us, "do not want anyone in the pulpit who will stir up division or stimulate controversy," but "a very simple service with the added dignity of architecture and music and song."
* * It is a very different conception of Anglicanism from that held by either the extreme Anglo-Catholics or the extreme Evangelicals. but the Feclesia Anglicana Seems to be able to find room for them all. In his kindly, unperturbed manner my uncle shows us how this seeming paradox can become an actual reality.