Problems with Church Reunion 1922
THE STUMBLING-BLOCK TO CHURCH REUNION
FEELING KEENLY that it would be a humiliating reflection upon the validity of their own ministry if they agreed to a reordination of the clergy as a requisite for church union, the Board of Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church have formally rejected the overtures of the Lambeth Conference. As told in these pages several times, the Lambeth proposals, which were promulgated by a conference of Anglican and Episcopal bishops from all over the world in August, 1920, provide, in brief, for a reunion of the churches on the basis that priests of the Roman and Greek Catholic Churches would be accepted as priests of the Anglican Church if their own communions would reciprocate, while it is asked of the Protestant Churches that they should allow their ministers to submit to reordination by Anglican or Episcopal bishops. The proposals have not yet been accepted by any denomination, and their rejection by the Methodists is generally taken as indicative of the attitude of the other branches of the Protestant Church.
The “implied inferiority or insufficiency of their own authority and ordination” under the Lambeth scheme is regarded by the Methodists as an insuperable obstacle to the proposed reunion, and the Newark. News remarks that “doubtless the Methodist Bishops are correct in feeling that their ministry and laity would resent the intimation, however lightly laid, that the church, one of the largest Protestant denominations, has been without the pale of authoritative Christendom. One hundred and eighty long years have passed since John Wesley became the founder of Methodism as it endures to-day, and in that time the Bishops point out that the Church has been blest of God. Deeply as they are convinced of the unity of purpose of the Anglican Church and their own, they can not, even as a form, subscribe to a theory that Divine authority has not been theirs.” On the other hand, ” there can be no doubt of the sincerity and warmth of the union proposals which have been broached by a number of the eminent ministers of the Episcopal Communion,” says The Christian Century (Undenominational).
“The World Conference on Faith and Order, the proposed concordat with the Congregationalists, and the Lambeth Conference are all evidences of the spirit of what The Christian Century is pleased to believe is a majority opinion of the men and women of the Episcopal Church. Yet these various overtures have not been received with very much warmth by the evangelicals of this country. There has been courtesy in the replies, and a studied avoidance of anything offensive, but nothing that looked at all earnestly toward closer fellowship.”