The Church and the Kingdom
A New Testament Study
By Jesse B. Thomas, D. D., LL.D.
THE COLLEGIATE THEORY
Closely allied, in its dominant ideas, to the imperial theory is the collegiate. As typical illustrations of it, we may refer to the organization of the Eastern, or Greek, and the Anglican bodies. Referring to the official or otherwise authoritative utterances of these, we find the following conception of the Church outlined:
I. Creedal and Other Definitions.
1. Eastern or Greek Church. - The "Confessio Dosithei," one of the "Acts of the Synod of Jerusalem" (1672), reckoned by Dr. Schaff "the most authoritative and complete doctrinal deliverance of the modern Greek Church," contains the following statements; viz.:
"Art. X. The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church comprehends all true believers in Christ, and is governed by Christ, the only head, through duly ordained bishops in unbroken succession. The doctrine of the
Calvinists, that bishops are not necessary, or that priests (presbyters) may be ordained by priests, and not by bishops only, is rejected.
"Art. XL Members of the Christian Church are all the faithful who firmly hold the faith of Christ as delivered by him, the apostles, and the holy synods, although some of them may be subject to various sins" (Schaff, "Creeds of Christendom," I:62-64. A condensation. The full creed in Greek and Latin is given in same work: II: 410-416).
The "Catechism of the Orthodox Eastern Church" (1839) says (in answer to Q. 252): "The Church is a divinely instituted community of men, united by the orthodox faith, the law of God, the hierarchy, and the sacraments."
In reply to the question, "How can the Church, which is visible, be the object of faith ("I believe in the Holy Catholic Church"), when faith, as the apostle says, is the 'evidence of things not seen'?" it is answered: "First, though the Church be visible, the grace of God which dwells in her, and in those who are sanctified in her, is not so; and this it is which properly constitutes
the object of faith in the Church.
"Secondly, the Church, though visible so far as she is upon earth, and contains all orthodox Christians living upon earth, still is at the same time invisible, so far as she is also partially in heaven, and contains all those that have departed hence in true faith and holiness."
To the further question, "How does it agree with the unity of the Church that there are many separate and independent churches, as those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Russia?" the reply is that "these are particular churches, or parts of the one Catholic Church: the separateness of their visible organization does not hinder them from being all spiritually great members of the one body of the universal Church, from having one head, Christ; and one spirit of faith and grace. This unity is expressed outwardly by unity of creed, and by communion of prayer and sacraments" (McElhinney, "Doct. of Church," Ch. XVIII., pp. 196, 197).
In the catechisms (Part I., Sec. 10) occur the following utterances concerning the sacraments:
1. In the Greek Catechism, Jerusalem
Ed., page 82, we read, "It is one of the presumptuous sins against the Holy Spirit, to hope for salvation without works to merit it."
2. A sacrament is defined to be "a sacred performance' whereby grace acts in a mysterious manner upon man. In other words, it is the power of God unto salvation." "The sacraments are divided into two classes: first, such as are absolutely necessary in themselves - namely, baptism, holy chrism, and communion. These are indispensably necessary for procuring salvation and eternal life; for it is impossible to be saved without them. The second division embraces those sacraments, the necessity for which proceeds from something else."
3. "The benefits conferred by baptism are the remission of original sin, the remission of all past actual sins, and grace to sustain the believer in his conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil."
2. Anglican Church. The thirty-nine Articles which form the standard of faith in the Anglican Church give no formal definition of the "Holy Catholic Church." Bishop Pearson, in his book on the creed, furnishes such a definition, as follows: "The single persons professing faith in Christ are members
of the particular churches in which they live, and all these particular churches are members of the general and universal Church, which is one by unity of aggregation, and this is the Church of the creed which we believe, and which is in other creeds expressly termed one, 'I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.'" The "particular churches" here referred to, composing the Church universal by "aggregation," are specified in Article XXXIV. as "national churches."
The English Parliament of 1532 declared England to be "an empire made up of spirituality and temporality [lords spiritual and temporal]" ("Church and Age," I: 17).
As to what constitutes a "visible church," we learn from Article XIX. that it is "a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is faithfully preached and the sacraments be duly administered according to Christ's ordinances, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same."
The "due administration" of the sacraments, again, depends upon the validity of the ordination of the administrant by a bishop in the line of historically continuous
succession from the apostles. (So Bishop Pearson, "On the Creed," Art. IX.)
The sacraments, so administered, are essential to salvation. Article XXVII. says of baptism: "It is also a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church. . . . The baptism of young children is in anywise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ."
The baptismal formula in the "Book of Common Prayer" prescribes the following prayer after the baptism of an infant: "We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for thine own child by adoption, and to incorporate him into thy holy Church," etc.
II. Summary of Collegiate Theory. - The essential ideas underlying this theory are:
1. Divinely instituted territorial rule. The Church being the earthly manifestation of the Kingdom of heaven, its chief officials must be "kings" as well as "priests." Every priest is supreme in his own parish, subject
only to the bishop of his diocese, who, again, is subject to no one but the primate or the patriarch, he in turn being responsible to no man but to Christ only. All citizens of his territory are ipso facto his subjects.
2. Grace through external sacraments only. There being no salvation outside the Church, and the Church being a visible body, it follows that admission to it and to its benefits must come through visible channels. Regeneration and inclusion in the Church come, accordingly, ex opere operato, through lawfully given baptism, and sanctification through the eucharist.
3. Unbroken continuity in transmission of apostolic gifts. The validity of the sacrament depends on the genuineness of the transmitted authority of the administering priest. This authority being a concrete thing, literally passing by manual transfer, must be historically proven in order to security of imparted grace. The longing for this unquestionable historic continuity drove J. H. Newman to the Church of Rome, and has led to the recent effort of English clergy to secure from the Pope an endorsement of their priestly legitimacy. Determined not to
be defrauded at this point, "for centuries in the church of Alexandria, and still in the church of Armenia, the dead hand of their first bishop" is applied to the head of the new priest in ordaining him.
4. Unity as a world power. This theory agrees with the imperial in tracing all power to an apostolic origin. It differs only in making the college of apostles, rather than Peter alone, the center of unity. In the Eastern and Anglican, as well as in the Romish Church, there is an ascending hierarchy from priest to archbishop or patriarch, each grade being subordinate to, and receiving authority from, that above it. This gradation corresponds with, and (as the names of its territorial area, beginning with the paroikia or parish, suggests) was derived from, the organization of the Roman Empire. But, while the former two stop with the patriarch or primate, corresponding with the secular prefect, the Romish Church completes the parallelism with the empire by adding the supreme ruler in the pope, who became, like the emperor, Pontifex Maximus. Rome thus simply completes the same pyramid which England and the Orient leave truncated.
III. Logical Sequences of Theory.
1. As to the religious life.
(1) The sensuous element rules. In the Eastern Church the baptized infant is at once given the bread and wine of the eucharist, thus being sanctified as well as saved by sacramental means (Stanley, "Eastern Church," 118). In the same church it requires twenty folio volumes to direct the details of ritual for specific occasions (Lewis, "Bible, Missal," etc., 16).
Council of Moscow, 1656, "invoked heavy curses on all who presumed to make the sign of the cross with two fingers instead of three" ("American Cath. Quarterly," 1890).
Tractarianism in England laid equal emphasis on importance of position at the altar, details of vestment and genuflection and the like.
(2) Fossilization in thought and indifference in morals have followed. The Greek Church calls itself the "Holy Orthodox," and clings to antiquated dogmas and routine. As at Rome, "religion" is the affair of the priest or the monk. The layman has no need or right to think, but only to submit. He need not concern himself about his sins so
long as they can be officially forgiven at small cost.
Ritualism everywhere supplants spirituality. The great cathedrals are the work of the darkest period of the Middle Ages. Moscow is a city of churches, monasteries, shrines and images, but also of crime and debasing influences. "Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and builded temples."
2. As to civil and religious liberty.
(1) The voluntary factor is excluded. Every babe born into the realm is born de jure a member of the national church. Normally he must be in infancy made de facto a member by baptism.
Hooker, in his "Ecclesiastical Polity" (Oxford, 1843), II. 386 (Book VIII., Sec. 1), writes: "There is not any man of the Church of England but the same man is also a member of the commonwealth, nor any member of the commonwealth who is not also a member of the Church of England." Wilson, in his essay on the "National Church," in the famous "Essays and Reviews," confirms this notion as follows: "Each one born into the nation is, together with his civic rights, born into a membership or privilege as belonging to a spiritual
society." Dean Fremantle, in his recent work on the "World as Subject of Redemption," adds that in England "there is no established church, but only an established clergy - the nation is the church."
(2) External conformity may therefore be properly required and dissent suppressed. External worship can only be controlled by force. The prohibition and persecution of nonconformists to secure national unity of worship has been common in churches holding the theory in question. "No bishop, no king," said James I., and he proceeded to compel submission to the bishop. The Czar of Russia becomes a priest and head of the Russian Church. King George is supreme custodian of the offices of the church and of its worship in England. Dissenters exist only by his sufferance.
The Sacramental Theory
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