RATIONALISM IN THEOLOGY.
fifty clerical contributors to Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible."
However, action was taken, and Dr. Williams and Mr. Wilson were summoned before the Court of Arches. Out of thirty-two charges all were dismissed but five, and on June 21st, 1864, the Court pronounced that they had departed from the teaching of the Thirty-nine Articles on Inspiration, Atonement, and Justification. They were suspended from their functions for one year only. But the Rationalists were determined upon a severer test, and they carried an appeal before the Privy Council. Again the Privy Council reversed the decision of the ecclesiastical court, gave the essayists the costs of the case, and restored them to their functions. "On the general tendency of the book called ‘Essays and Reviews,'" said the Council, "we neither can nor do pronounce an opinion. On the short extracts before us our judgment is that the charges are not proved."
In the meantime there had been another startling manifestation of the Rationalistic spirit, on this occasion in the ranks of the episcopacy itself. John William Colenso had been appointed Bishop of Natal in 1854, and sent to control the South African Mission. The natives, however, occasioned the conversion of the Bishop to Rationalism. Translating the Old Testament into Zulu brought his attention very acutely to bear upon its interesting contents, and when a Zulu one day naively asked him if the narrative he had been reading—the graphic description of the flood—were true, he felt a pricking of conscience in giving the orthodox answer. As the result of his studies he issued, in 1862, in the very height of the "Essays and Reviews" trouble, a book entitled "The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua Critically Examined," of which he denied the Mosaic authorship and the historical veracity, pointing out its numerous internal contradictions. The English bishops were alarmed, and all (except three) wrote a letter asking him to resign his see; and the convocations of York and Canterbury again condemned the work. Colenso refused to resign, and declared his intention of returning to Africa.
Since the English Court had no jurisdiction over him, an episcopal synod met in Cape Town on November 27th, 1863, and condemned him in his absence. He was charged