Lux Mundi

Bp. Charles Gore

Recently, at a local Episcopalian Church, I had the pleasure of sitting through an introductory class on ECUSA. The video was produced in the mid-eighties– before the consecration of homosexual bishops but well after after the ordination of women priests. What surprised me was how Anglo-Catholicism was so praised by ECUSA, especially the allure of sacramental mysticism. While I only may be guessing, I venture there’s at least two reasons for this–

First, the type of sacramentalism the video celebrated was truly a pantheistic sort, provocatively assigning nature and especially social justice (aka, alms?) the same kind of sacramental objectivity and virtue as the Supper and Baptism. No distinction was made between the nature of Christ’s sacraments and so-called church rites because ECUSA views its own prophetic voice and deeds (the alleged church and the related culture) as coextensive and equal to Christ. This solves an obvious hermeneutical problem of scripture being  the sufficient and final rule for faith.

Second, when ECUSA celebrates the victory of Anglo-Catholicism against bible literalism in the 20-th century, it really celebrates Bishop Gore’s Lux Mundi. Lux Mundi originated as a series of lectures addressed by Bishop Charles Gore in 1904 to the Bampton Conference at Oxford. The lectures propounded upon a radical view of society and christology.

Radical Christology:
Bishop Gore introduced modernism into Anglicanism by relocating the uniqueness of the incarnation from the virgin birth of Christ towards breath of life in Man. This enabled certain categories of redemption to shift from the cross towards creation. If the image of God was not depraved, or only stained by a slight “stumble” rather than “fall”, then sin was very little a problem. This allowed ethics to shift from a scriptural to a more philosophical basis, especially in relation to Fabian-marxist ideas. Therefore, Lux Mundi successfullyflattened the world with Christ’s body removing divine humiliation as its bridge. Rather than Christ uniquely glorified and ascendant through mortification and death, Gore gives the unconditional honor to man regardless of sin and rebellion. The Holy Spirit therefore dwells everywhere with equal imminence or “light”, and therefore Gore proposes a kind of pantheism?

” If we are to apply the religion of Christ, we need also and equally to have our ears open to the moral ideals of each age and country — especially of the present age. For instance, the ideas associated with democracy — the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity — we must believe to be, at their best, of divine origin — real expressions of the divine purpose and the divine wisdom for to-day.” (Gore, “Everlasting Gospel and Spirit of the Age”, Christ and Society lectures, 1927)

A sad example of Liberal and Anglo-Catholic affinity is found within the 1904 Expository Journal. Here, Dr. Hastings Rashdall discussed the downside fortunes of Broad Churchmen at the turn of the century. Dr. Hasting curiously had high hopes for Bishop Gore. In retrospect he was not giddy in his estimation,

“Dr. Hasting agrees with the high church principle,  appealing to the church instead of the bible. For the appeal to the  church, which is a living and progressive society, carries with it a ‘recognition of the principle of growth, of development, of a perpetual inspiration, not limited to the first century or the fourth’. His message to the High Churchman is, therfore, mainly one of encouragement. Let him [the High Churchman] carry his principle out. Let him emancipate the truth to which High Church teaching owes its great spiritual triumphs, from the too narrow intellectual envelope by which its growth has been fettered. Dr. Rashdall’s hope is in Bishop Gore… his hope even now seems to be in detaching the leaders and the scholars of the High church party from its unintellectual residuum, rather than in the broad church party itself. His hope is Bishop Gore.”

Living with liberalism:
What I find most disturbing about Lux Mundi is how beloved Prayer Book catholics like Dearmer and Frere played leading roles in English socialism, eroding the very patriarchate that we defend today. Bishop Gore perhaps fired an early shot against male orders, consecrating twenty-one women lay readers in 1917. The 1928 BCP(s) also reflect the rising powers of liberal catholicism, particularly evident in the marriage rite where many OT references are trimmed down and unequal vows removed. As with the American, the watering-down of OT verse from 1662 was a general theme catholic revision in the English proposed book,

“The proposals of 1927 had a polarizing effect on Anglo-Catholicism. Undoubtedly, the changes made were in a distinctively Catholic direction; however, the book was also highly controversial. It contained various ‘modernist’ develompents, such as the treatment of the Athnasian Creed, the omission o freferences to the Flood adn the corssing of the Red Sea, and a ‘softening down’ of the baptismal and marriage offices that would offend conservative sensibilities…The response of pro-revision liberal Evangelicals was influenced by three main factors: a desire for progressive liturgy, a belief in comprehensive Anglicanism, and a commitment to Church order. Although liberals were wary of a change in the doctrinal orientation of the Church, many welcomed the ‘modern’ dimension of the bishop’ revision.” (p. 53, 61 National Religion and the PB controversy, 1927-28)

Was this an early manifestation of the egalitarian or feminist spirit? Of course, these are faulty reforms judged in retrospect. Dearmer and Ferere were men of their times too, none possessing 20/20 vision. Even so,  divines like Andrewes knew God’s majesty invoked more than an aesthetic or style but included a deep conversion of life and repentance under the preached Word, partly explaining why Caroline sermons are so eloquent yet long– many a ‘homily’ going past an hour in duration. The Anglican Way is certainly more than aesthetic (or Shakespearean English) but it is first a heavenly theology that wonderfully articulates the unique miracle and Promise of man’s salvation uniquely by God, dividing rightly between fallen man and raised Christ.  Lux Mundi perhaps weakened the gap between the two.

Nonetheless, we can’t dismiss everything liberal catholics achieved. We might judge men like Gore and Temple more by their faulty political alliances than theology per se.  Part of their dilemma was renegotiating Erastianism. Some points about the incarnation and society have profound insight and validity (even if  secondary matters of import). But where these speculations displace moral or natural law, they have no authority other than a creative philosophy of the age.

If Anglicanism ever turned from the cliff of ruin, we might wonder how a conservative center might prevent another liberal tendency? If Anglicanism regrouped into a “large church” (ACNA #3?), perhaps the restraint of common formularies would suffice, and, rather than Lux Mundi courting bad allies it might serve a regular and common benefit as Dearmer and Bicknell did.  Dearmer and Bicknell, however, were exponentially closer to orthodoxy, in both doctrine and discipline, than those who pass for Lux Mundi today. The Dr. Rashdall’s of TEC have appropriated the rhetoric of late 19th and early 20th-century liberal catholics and set it to their own design.

21 responses to “Lux Mundi

  1. I picked up a tattered copy of the Lux Mundi essays some time ago. As you pointed out, some of their ideas have merit (Gore wrote some very fine things on the eucharist); and, over all, their goal to make the Catholic faith intelligible to the church goer of late 19th-century Victorian England was a laudable one. Unfortunately, that goal transmogrified into a radical departure from biblical and traditional norms, with the lamentable results mentioned in this post.

    When I first read Gore and his compatriots, I suspected they were in thrall to the then fashionable “higher criticism” of Tubingen and other German universities. I wonder if the German connection might also explain churchmen such as Dearmer et al being so easily swayed by socialism ? I thinking here of the statism of Bismarck’s Germany.


  2. Benton H Marder

    A most thought-provoking post.
    However, I like to get down to the nitty-gritty. The key is the EC pre-occupation with ‘social justice’ in pseudo-Marxist tones. To equate this with the Gospel Sacraments evokes a memory of the more distant past. The whole point of this has to do with inculcating guilt that is to be assuaged by contributions to the preferred cause, or adherence to a particular cause. It has nothing to do with the Gospel Sacraments. it is a form of justification by works. In other words, it’s the old Indulgence racket without the concept of Purgatory. It’s the same old superstitious mumbo-jumbo that Tetzel preached. To be sure, these people don’t come

    right out and say, “Sobalds d’Geld in Kasten klingt/ Die Seelen aus dem Fegfeuer springt” They don’t say that the guilt is assuaged before the money reaches the bottom of the box. The idea is the same. Great leaping Tetzel, indeed.

    I haven’t so much as looked at ‘Lux Mundi’ for many years. But, then, I learn my theology from the various expositions of the 39 Articles and the BCP. Better that we stay in the old paths, no?



  3. Perhaps we can detect a red flag with Gore’s list of democratic virtues, under the titles liberty, equality and fraternity? Those were watchwords of the French revolution, no?

    The irony is that a society modeled upon socialist principles, is very far gone from the biblical virtue of charity. Charity, if it is to be genuine, cannot be coerced. The Articles demonstrate their value, once again, in guiding the Church towards the sanity of a truly Christian world view; insofar as they extoll the “right, title and possession” of private property, along with the duty “liberally to give alms to the poor.”


  4. Dear Mark,

    I had this same feeling too while reading Gore. The identification with culture, the ‘spirit of the age’, and the Holy Spirit sounds too much like Hegel’s Zeitgeist, equating God to the development of man’s culture. The idea of ‘development’ or ‘evolution’ of theology is also prominent in Gore. But unlike marxian materialism, christian socialism appears to reassert a metaphysic, making the Holy Spirit something promiscuous. Like modernism, nothing is fixed, and even core concepts are subject to revision, “the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing”, etc.. So, it would seem ECUSA are really the proper heirs of this tragic branch of Anglo-Catholicism.

    What interested me was the unity Anglo-papism has with Lux Mundi, namely creating a second source of faith that is treated infallible yet independent from scripture. Hooker calls this misdistinguishing, and it is the same error as RPW, “Much mischief arises from want of correctly distinguishing; rightly to do so, is to sever things different in nature, and to discern wherein they do differ; and to imagine a difference where none exists, is to misdistinguish.”

    It really compells me to become a stricter cessionist. but what I like about Hooker is his wisdom to remain silent in mysterious areas. Nonetheless, we can be most certain the Spirit is present where Christ has placed his Name/Word, and we should stick with what Christ has most reliably revealed.


    • Dear, Charles

      I see your point about cessionism. For all their differences, there is something of a conceptional alliance between radical charismatics and liberal catholics in their appropriation of the mantra “The Holy Spirit is doing a new thing”. Both do violence to the authority of Scripture, although the former are usually lumped together with Bible thumpers. In any case, it should come as no surprise that men of such disparate outlooks and mental gifts, like Bp. Gore and (gulp) Kenneth Copeland, share a radical doctrine of kenosis, which affects Christ’s very Divinity.

      Hastings’ appeal to the Church as living and “progressive” society, over against the Bible is anathema to high church principles, of course. And the fact that it does obeisance to the zeitgeist, rather than to what the Church believed in the first or fourth century, betrays a very low estimation of the Church, or, perhaps its conflation with the world.

      The radical charismatic isn’t sophisticated enough to construct an appeal to catholicity and high church principles which simultaneously dismantles ecclesiology. Things like ecclesial authority, creeds, confessions, doctrinal continuity etc. aren’t part of his vocabulary. His concern is to discover what the Spirit is saying in the here and now; not through the zeitgeist, or the authority of an ordained ministry, but in the gifts of a recognized prophetic voice.

      So the criteria is different. Nevertheless, the flawed ecclesiology of the two camps-both of them have no concern to maintain what the Church has believed in times past- is productive of both heresy and tyranny. In the case of the radical charismatic, it will be found in the voice of the prophet/church leader, whose role as “God’s annointed”, immunizes him from all criticism; for the liberal catholic, it is in the authority of the presiding bishop, as a witness and keeper of the zeitgeist.

      Unlike the liberal catholics, it is rare to find the charismatic faction dissing the Bible; although their disregard for historical continuity in doctrine typically results in positions that are antithetical to what it teaches (and that creates tremendous difficulties for Scripture’s perspicacity). Still, a refusal to adhere to the biblical norms of the faith once delivered plagues both camps. And I believe its remedy is to be found in a return to the Anglican position of Holy Writ as the ultimate and sufficient standard for doctrine along with recognition of the Church as “a witness and keeper of Holy Writ” with authority in controversies of faith.”


      • Dear Mark,

        Excellent reply, and, as always, you add much valuable substance.

        At this point I ought to link to Nicholas Armitage’s great article at RTBP. Nor should we forget Kevin’s excellent quotation and discussion on sola scriptura and Cranmer. And, of course, Mark’s own work on Anglican authority is here. I guess we’ve had a running dialogue on sola scriptura for sometime at RTBP,,. What I find interesting is how liberal catholicm and rightwing papism both form a unity with respect to (adding/subtracting) binding doctrine against the Anglican (orthodox) rule of faith. At best, Lux Mundi turns ‘evangelical counsels’ into ‘moral law’. Historically the former (say, communistic sharing) were spiritual disciplines not moral codes (like the right of inheritance or marriage). In other cases, Lux Mundi is simply antinomian, e.g., feminism, homosexuality. Regardless, there is a purposeful confusion of divine and conventional rules.


  5. I too own a tattered copy of Lux Mundi and share the appreciation for much of the writings in the context of their goals and settings. The long-term effect, though, was to produce an Anglo-Catholicism within TEC (my former church) that was dangerously Cross-less. Even the Eucharist was beginning to be seperated from the Calvary and being assigned imagery almost exclusively from the manger. Of course, the Incarnation is important, but when we look at the Gospel texts, 1/4 is dedicated to the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord, not his birth.


    • Hello Eric and Mark,

      Here are some thoughtful qualifications about Lux Mundi as a collation of addresses. Their problem is more an unbalanced emphasis on angelic counsels than any specific breech of orthodoxy. Surprisingly it’s not really higher criticism that is the culprit but a misapplied christian mysticism. But, as we know, what starts as ’emphasis’ too often is further exaggerated becoming ‘contradiction’. I doubt very much men like the Rev’d Campion had any more hostility to the OT moral law than St. Benedict, but in wanting to distinguish ‘shadow’ from ‘light’, Moses vs. Angels, the moral law is unnecessarily divided, set in opposition by individuals like Dr. Rashdall. Lux Mundi definitely tries to breathe new life into the evangelical counsels, and this is the route latitudinarians leveraged as against the OT. I feel safer identifying it with Wesley’s moral perfectionism. Meanwhile, liberals should answer Melanchthon’s question, “what good are counsels when the commandments aren’t even kept?” The commandments were for sinners, etc..

      One can read the progression of their imbalance. Overall, the Lux Mundi group of 1920’s was conservative on many ethical fronts, notably family questions like opposing divorce, female employment, vulgarities in pop culture, etc.. And in their writings you find them keeping within the envelope of orthodoxy,certainly not denouncing or omitting the decalogue like today’s radicals. Here are some positive comments, for instance, on the moral law from the Rev’d Ottley, chapter xii., the lecture on Christian Ethics:

      “Obedience to it is acknowledged to be the indispensable condition of true union between God and His creatures. For Jesus Christ teaches us to discern in the Law the self-unveiling of a Being whose holiness and love it reflects, as well as HIs purpose for man.

      The revealed law is comprised in the Decalogue. It seems needless to vindicate at length the paramount place where this fundamental code occupies christian thought. Suffice it to say that in broad outline it defines the conditions of a right relation to God, and to all that He has made. And the Law is ‘spiritual’. Though for educative purposes primarily concenred with action, it makes reference to inward disposition, and thereby anticipates the main characteristic of Christian goodness. It also recalls the great landmarks of God’s redemptive action; it sets forth His gratitude, partly as a ground of obligation.”

      so, the Decalogue is not contrary to the counsels. Very well and good. But then in Chapter xi. (p.375) the Rev’d Campion seems to see no biblical mandate for private property. This is where things start to get ‘whacky’. I have to wonder if they employ the same reasoning as Rome or the East when it comes to celibacy vs. the ‘right to marry’. Again, it’s a low view of the OT combined with a high view of Angelic counsels– not necessarily out of tradition but certainly an exaggerated or unnecessary tension.

      “The same emphasis on higher motives is characteristic of Christian treatment of the questions connected to property. Christianity is certainly not pledged to uphold any particular form of property as such. Whether property had better be held b individuals, or by small groups, as inthe case of primitive Teutonic villages, or of the modern Russian or Indian village communities, or again by the State, as is the proposal of Socialists, is a matter for experience and common sense to decide.”

      Lux Mundi writers were friendly to the idea of socialism, “the development of Industry makes desirable the formulation of the ‘Ethics of Labour'”. We might also recall there are several socialist systems, and probably some were more inclined to a distributivist type. For instance, p. 432 “for ethical purposes the abstract terms Capital, Labor, Production, Wealth, etc., must be replaced by personal terms, Employer, Employe, Producer, Man of Wealth, etc. Our problem is how to supersede the technical and legal relation by the personal. ” . Nonetheless, the erosion of ‘personal responsibility’ is only one of many reasons I dislike statism. Heck, the Frankfurt school is harsher on Bolshevism than CSU.

      p. 427, “And such movements are to be judged as they display, or bear upon character. If for example a Christian mistrusts the extravagant schemes of some forms of socialism,– it is not because he is insensible to the wrongs and miseries which suggest a violent remedy, but because all such weeping proposals would merge the individual life, would repress and mar the fulness of that organized social life which gains elements of richness and diversity from the free play of individuality.”

      Is that it? Gore then launches into a ‘new theory’ of economic rights, and this is where I see pandora’s box. While a kind of justice is given to the worker, an injustice is dealt to the businessmen, and I must conclude evangelical counsels were not intended for social policy. Gore says,

      “A christian theory of rights is required. The prevailing view of them is individualistic. It is forgotten that the rights of one man have their ground in the obligations of another; they are limited by the claims of other personalities on our own; ‘right’ is, in fact, a condition making possible the fulfilment of duty. It is thus a matter of Christian concern that workers should attain to the possibility of free self-development: healthy conditions of work, enjoyment of domestic life, security of maintenance, perhaps permanence of contract, opportunities in recreation and culture–, everything, in fact, which will give them fair chance of healthful and worthy life. Christianity can be content with nothing short of this” 432

      So, this reminds me of the debate around ‘economic’ vs. political rights. Ought the law define defining positive in addition to negative rights? In so many ways, contemporary debate still weighs the measure of angelic/utopian vs. mosaic/punitive laws we ought to have. What contemporary debate forgets is such depends on the work of the Spirit which defines the boundaries and society of the Church– the world and church not being identical. So, the basic error with Lux Mundi is misapplying counsels at the expense of the commandments. This gives hand to a rather low view of OT, playing into the hands of less principled men (Dr. Rashdall) who egg and abide radical application of evangelical counsels/monastic spirituality on an otherwise ungodly people who’s personality is better suited for Mosaic code. Also, notice Gore’s basic equivocation on the historical Adam, favoring a definition of sin by the NT at devaluation of OT,

      “In all the account then of the creation, of the nature of man, of the origin of sin, the Christian sees an action of the inspiring spirit. He sees it all the more when he compares the record of Genesis with those which are parallel to tit in other races. But if an Irenaeus, a Clement, an Athanasius, an Anselm cold treat the record of part of it as rather allegorical than historical, we can use the same liberty. This is not our present subject. All I want to make clear is that the Christian doctrine of sin rests on a far broader and far surer foundation than the belief that the early chapters of Genesis belong to one form or stage of inspired literature rather than to another. It rests on the strong foundation of the authority of our Lord, accepted and verified by man’s moral consciousness. ” p.442

      Another interesting quote p. 287 by Gore:

      “It is of the essence of the NT, as the religion of the incarnation, to be final and catholic: on the other hand, it is of the essence of the OT to be imperfect because it represents a gradual process of education by which man was lifted out of depths of sin and ignorance.”

      The mystical also plays a big role in Lux Mundi, where Gore calls the OT an ‘external’ code while the NT church is taken as ‘practice’ or ‘experience’– the contrast of Law vs. Personality. The fourth leg of ‘experience’ in TEC is not the same as Gore describes. In TEC the Spirit can reside normally in a pantheistic way. Where as with Gore, the Spirit normally dwells where Christ ordained it– in the unique society of the Church, “The Church, His Spirit-bearing body, comes forth into the world, not as the exclusive sphere of the Spirit’s operations, for ‘that breath bloweth where it listeth’; but as the special and covenanted sphere of His regular and uniform operation,the place where He is pledged to dwell and to work” (p. 282). On page 286, Gore grapples tradition, rejecting it as a code but making the case for its apprehension by inspired Reason. This really says little about tradition aside from the fact Lux Mundi quotes Fathers (many of whom are ex-monks, naturally) left and right. Quoting Gregory of Chrysostom seems to implicate OT law,

      “Do not ask, he says, how these (OT precepts) can be good, now when the need for them is past: ask how they were good when the period required them. Or rather, if you wish, do inquire into their merit even now. ..Their highest praise is that we now see them to be defective. If they had not trained us well, so that we became susceptible of higher things, we should not have now seen their deficiency. “

      But was Chrysostom dismissing the civil, ceremonial, and sacrificial law of the OT or the moral one? I think the former. This is where attitudes toward the law must be discerned. While I believe Lux Mundi has been purposely misunderstood by socialists, they are guilty of no more than an over-emphasis, perhaps reaction, to the evangelicals of their day. My only criticism is a misapplication of evangelical counsels, and in certain areas, an unnecessary tension or displacing of OT commandments against NT perfections. Even the Benedictine rule avoids that, preferring to look at counsels as fuller expositions of commandments, listing them side by side together. The way to correct this over-emphasis is to reveal the counsels as implicit to the commandments, as Ottley suggested in the tenth, if not also the first, commandments.


      • Charles,

        Your analysis betrays a mastery of the subject matter which is astonishing. (No kidding) Where’d ya get yer brains, laddie?


      • Hi Mark,

        After actually reading the lectures in Lux Mundi, I had to reconsider my views. It wasn’t so much ‘rationalism’ that paved the way for a latitudinarian comeback so much as Anglo-Catholic mysticism which placed, perhaps, an undue stress on NT and evangelical perfections. That said, Lux Mundi was a great read. Though an envelope might have been pushed in some areas, there is nothing within that one might call ‘heretical’. It even stood up to the 39 Articles. In the end, however, liberals like Dr. Rashdall took advantages of the said tensions to cloak the liberal revolution in ‘catholic’ terminology and themes. So, what we see today in TEC is really a synthesis of liberalism and anglo-catholicism, where, unfortunately, AC provides a superficial language, fitted to liberal theology’s categories and organization. It’s definitely a time period (the late ritualists) that deserve more reading.

        I also think, as we talk about a ‘center churchmanship’, we evaluate and, to an extent, find an orthodox means to live with currents of liberal catholicism and even black gown puritanism. I don’t think we can shake these parties any more than we can surgically remove them from our history. I’m not talking about comprehension which high church have always opposed, but at least consider and understand how these movements inform our own churchmanship and liturgy. This is one reason I like the 1928 prayer book over 1662 because it’s very composition and revision force an engagement with minority opinion. You can’t engage something if you know nothing about it but caricature. This is what I found most unappealing about hardcore-RPW and Anglo-papism. Though they define themselves in negation with respect to one another, this has done more to mask their internal agreements rather than offer any break from what they allegedly oppose. Their false opposition ultimately obscure and serve to disorientate the unwary. I believe latitudinarians sensed this, wedged and levered it to their advantage.


      • Hi Mark,

        A lot of liberal catholic writing is fascinating, but there is a point where it runs off a cliff. In England the modernists seemed to hedge their bet, playing both the Evangelical and catholic side. With later liberal catholics, the de-emphasis on OT commandments is coupled with appeals to comprehension. Thus, not only is OT downplayed but so is confessionalism/ subscription. By the 1930’s the mild comprehension proposed for peace between evangelicals and ritualists becomes radicalized with respect to other christian churches, leading to questionable organizations like the World Council (WCC). Part of this was an attempt by liberals to renegotiate the Erastian state, inaugurated by Keble’s justified criticisms. The result was wider pluralism and an emphasis on ‘manners’ at the expense of creed. Some of the proposals belonging to the 1925-45 period are interesting, particularly T.S. Eliot and AB William Temple’s advocacy of a christian intellectual elite. What I like the most about some of the proposals of this period was a wise apprehension to free church. Free churches, for me, are the abandonment of (original or ‘catholic’) Protestant principle. I think they were also for Temple and Eliot. Temple was an advocate of the church assembly, which gave the CofE more independence from parliament, and I think he got this bicameral model from American episcopacy which reveals a convergence of sorts.


  6. Now that I’ve slightly revised my assessment of liberal catholicism, how did the modernists take over in the CofE? I’m still gleaning the facts, but John Maiden’s book, National Religion and the Prayer Book Controversy, 1927-28, sheds some light on how modernism made headway after a retreat between 1874-1889.

    Maiden claims modernists were mostly identified with the evangelical side, but unlike conservative evangelicals, generally were supportive of the catholic bishops efforts for bcp revision. The deposited book’s stress on NT and depreciation of Old Testament won modernist approval. When revision failed to pass parliament, conservative evangelicals were punished by liberal catholic bishops who promoted modernist allies instead. The later regained lost territory, gaining high offices and sharing power with liberal catholics in the 1930’s through 1960’s. Maiden says,

    “Liberals did little to contradict Randall Davidson’s declaration that the AEGM had ‘the ball at its feet’, and if anything underlined their flexible compatibility with the center-high consensus. In contrast, conservative evangelicals– reactionary and instransigent in the face of the rise of Anglo-Catholicism– were seen as rigidly partisan in their churchmanship. Their response in 1927-28 secured their exclusion from the center-high project and their estrangement from the wider church life– they were cast out into the Anglican wilderness, where few enjoyed consideration for preferment…No non-liberal evangelicals were elevated to a bishopric until 1939, when Chav asse was promoted to the See of Rochester. The isolation of Evangelicals from the life and activities of the Church was part imposed and part chosen. It could be that the full restoration of conservative Evangelicals to their church did not occur until the National Evangelical Anglican conference at Keele in 1967, when, under the leadership of John Stott, party members were encouraged to reintegrate with Anglicanism at diocesan and national level”.(p. 66-67)

    It was during this period (1930-67) that modernism also changed. In England, Modernism was basically a civil religion. It therefore was defined by trends and prejudices in the civil sphere. My guess is the Church lost its normal insulating medium against society as modernist churchmen assumed greater leadership. When society tanked, so did the church. The generation of Anglo-catholics that deserve scrutiny is not so much Lux Mundi (though certain distortions paved the way, but these resided amongst evangelicals too) but more the “Moot group”. I hate to relativize, but in many ways finding a culprit is like trying to dissect culture from man, and then jail it. However, the church did drop the ball since it should not passively but actively inform the culture from the superior vantage point of scripture, tradition, and inspired reason– all working together, not against. I think the situation too complex to merely blame Erastianism. Erastianism worked surprisingly longer than most realize or give credit, possessing a certain beneficial inertia. But it’s during the postwar years the entire edifice crumbles.

    As a side note, I recall Belloc’s warning against Catholic cooperation with marxian socialism– i.e., that a non-christian movement against greed might inadvertently introduce ‘the servile state’ rather than lead to an authentic utopian socialism (which Thomas Cromwell theorized– aka. peasant socialism). Belloc is gives a prophetic warning I wish more progressives heeded today. But modernists and postwar-catholics regrettably aligned together for both atheist internationalism and fabianism. Was this the very alliance distributivists like Belloc warned against? Liberal catholicism, I believe promoted the Rule while forgetting the measure, in the end encroaching upon everyman’s right to property, giving unbridled power to the state. Yet, I believe a kind of differential treatment between big, ‘corporate’ property and the small-holder deserves reflection where the former has many, varied forms. I’ve read about early german-Greens and how marxists managed to usurp their party in the eighties. I imagined liberal catholics simply made convenient alliances w/ modernists, left their guard down, and were finally ‘snoockered’.


  7. Here is a quote from Francis Hall on the positive contributions of modernism. I would like to think each party has something to contribute shy of tearing down standards. I believe there was a time all three were relatively orthodox, albeit with tension. Nonetheless, restoration of such would require a fair amount of discipline and catechism. I accept Francis Hall’s remarks about the modernism as wisely irenic,

    “But even in its liberal aims the modern mind is doing a great work for the Church. It can never overthrow the catholic faith and system in its integral elements, but is rapidly discrediting the accretions and provincial limitations which characterize sectarian Christendom of today. It is gradually compelling earnest Christians of every name to concentrate upon fundamentals, and to slough off provincial and denominational conceptions. Thus it is facilitating the emergence of an ecumenical mind– the unifying mind of the Head of the church.
    Anglicans have felt its influence in many ways. Even those who most abhor liberalism have been compelled to distinguish more clearly between the essentials and accidents of their standpoint; and a process of clarifying and fortifying the fundamentals of the Anglican Churches is making irresistable advance. Anglicanism today is passing through much that is controversial and momentarily confusing to a stronger, more adequate and more truly ecumenical conception of the catholic faith and religion, and of its own particular and provincial part in the catholic propaganda” p. 260 Dogmatic Theology v. 8

    Not easy to swallow in retrospect, but the reality is we cannot dissect modernism out of our church, and fair better to come to terms with some elements thereof. ?


  8. I just ordered a book that fills in the gap regarding the development of liberal catholicism. I am really convinced there’s been at least three theological ‘shifts’ in the Anglicanism. The first was the rise of New Learning. The second was the Carolinian catholic revival and perhaps the Oxford movement. And then the synthesis of modernism to catholicism, remaking Anglicanism upon Incarnation theology, was the third shift. Anyway, the book worth purchasing is by Michael Ramsey, An Era in Anglican Theology: from Gore to Temple: The development of Anglican Theology between Lux Mundi and WWII, 1959 . It would cover the phenomena of liberal catholicism far better than anything here.

    Below was an email comment I exchanged with a friend on liberal catholicism in TEC. I thought it somewhat insightful given our normal identification w/ modernism/innovation by rationalism. However, what’s occuring in TEC today is a radical pneumatology, and at core it’s really ‘irrational’. Anyway, I thought it worth posting:

    I’ve really tried to wrap my head around this one, even trying to force myself to appreciate some aspect of modernism. No luck. It’s just too destructive. A couple days ago I was considering this thing called ‘convergence’ or “four stream” Anglicanism, and I was pondering if any particular branch could be brought under the heel of confessional-standards. Of the four (liberalism, charismatics, evangelicals, and catholic), modernism didn’t seem to have any redeeming quality. Until the early twentieth century, modernism might have been identified as a kind of protestant unitarianism or loose evangelicalicism. But by the early 1900’s modernists metamorphed, aligning with the Oxford catholics, giving birth to a pivotal theological synthesis. What’s interesting was this latter breed of modernism was actually an irrationalism disguised in high church garb that attacked the propositional and neo-scholastic foundations of the Reformation, exchanging what amounted for confessional orthodoxy for catholic mysticism. A radical pneumatology consequently displaced or deligitimized scripture and reason from the church, and what’s left are “prophetic declarations” without any warrant or constraint. This boils down to who controls the bishopric and committees. The rise of existentialism and romanticism against enlightenment and consequently humanist christian learning is what actually engulfed the church. Anglo-catholics went along with it because it got them the prayer book revision and drove out the ‘calvinists’. But when you hear AC’s describe Anglicanism in non or even anti-confessional terms, i.e, prayer or practice, they are just regurgitating early 19th century lux mundi, moot group, et al..

    Despite all the above, one will have a hard time pinning most TEC priest(esses) as an abject unitarian or atheist. They remain creedally catholic despite enormities here and there. So, I guess, while their closet unitarianism has no value, the real challenge is to find ways to reign in the radical pneumatology. It’s not too difficult since the major misunderstanding is word and spirit, law and grace, etc. always follow one another. The Spirit is never apart from the Son or the Father. It would not give a rise contrary to an ethic declared in scripture. While it might be anti-intuitive, modernism and charismaticism aren’t really very different from one another. Both find ways to undermine the sola scripture. Both place more importance on ‘experience’ than ‘reason’. Frankly, I am at the point of going the other extreme, proclaiming the merits of scholasticism, summas, and Aristotle. At least I think they deserve a defense, but it’s very telling when libs and AC’s decry the same things, namely propositional truths. As a catholic, I am much more drawn to the medieval as corrective for these reasons.


  9. I can’t quite follow some of this discussion. ‘Lux Mundi’ was published in 1889. It’s theology is not essentially ‘Modernist’ but late Victorian. I don’t think there was such a thing as a LM group in the 1920s especially as some at least of the contributors were dead by then.


    • This is a pretty old article, and today I’m not so quick to blame the anglo-catholic socialists for collusion with so-called modernists (as some might call Dr Rashdall’s historical-biblical criticism). Gore not only kept a creedal orthodoxy at a time when others were ready to abandon it, he was an active member of the National Life Society, opposing birth control and divorce, not only through the late-19th but into the early twentieth century, speaking passionately against these issues as late as 1930. So, not all anglo-catholic socialists are ‘bad’, but I do suspect something of a shift in emphasis introduced by their number, moving away from a theology of atonement into incarnation, thus enabling an alienation of the Mosaic law from ethics. I tried quoting some of this shift from the Lux Mundi papers in above comments. However, your point about the ‘Victorianness’ of anglo-catholic sociallists is certainly correct, and it deserves consideration given other socially conservative political currents like ‘red toryism’ in Canada. Here’s Charles Gore against contraceptives (c. 1930), and what’s fascinating about this paper is what it says about other social justice issues, especially gender and race. Again, Gore’s Victorian conservatism forced me to reconsider the possibility of a conservative socialism and/or national-catholic economics. The Moot Group is another story but something Gore would have thought shaky on creedal orthodoxy and traditional mores, misrepresenting his Victorian taste for socialism. Anyway, you can see these old Victorians are still writing in 1930, and that what we call “modernism” today dates back to the mid-19th century.
      I’ll try to find the term used by critics against proponents of historical-biblical method upon the publication of the 1885 revised version– which to our eyes appears as a conservative revision of the Authorized but to churchmen yesterday was thought as a radical departure from the 1611. A lot of this is referential.