Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/29

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



freely in complete disregard both of prelates and formularies, and their opinions almost cover the entire ground between Romanism and Agnosticism. I know one who considers the Archbishop of Westminster as his lawful prelate; and, at the other extreme, the pupils of Jowett, with their neo-Platonic divinity, are not far removed from Agnosticism. When Canon Farrar, preaching in Westminster Abbey, rejected one of the most characteristic dogmas of Christianity there was a momentary excitement; but it has long subsided into indifference. And when, in 1889, Canon Gore edited "Lux Mundi," which started from the assumption that, in this epoch of "profound transformation," theology "must take a new development," and that there was a "necessity of some general restatement of the claims and meanings of theology," a few of the more fossilized theologians, like Archdeacon Denison, raised a solemn protest; but the book was only another welcome expression of a very wide-spread sentiment. Men like Professor Momerie can with impunity preach, in pulpits of the Established Church, rank disbelief in the most familiar dogmas. Other clergymen, like A. Craufurd, M.A., in his "Christian Instincts and Modern Doubt," propagate by their writings a similar rejection of all dogma (in the traditional sense), and a commendation of the spirit of Emerson and Browning. Even, to judge from the posthumous revelations on the late Archbishop of York, the Rationalistic spirit is not confined to the minor spheres.

It would be impossible to appreciate the working of the Rationalistic spirit among the laity of the Church of England, for the simple reason that one does not know where to draw the line of communion. If Mr. Matthew Arnold, with his professed abhorrence of all dogma and his shadowy remnant of theistic belief, is aggregated to it, its comprehension is bewildering. The author of "Super natural Religion," a book which caused a fluttering of wings in 1874, is just as anti-miraculous as Mr. Arnold. Sir J. Seeley, another prominent lay writer, author of "Ecce Homo," is also conspicuously Rationalistic. Few Rationalists (retaining some shade of Theistic belief) have placed themselves outside the pale of the Church as decisively as Carlyle did; yet Carlyle was more decidedly Theistic than Arnold. Drummond, Balfour, and Mallock, the three chief