Friday, December 4, 2009

Jesuit On The Ideal of One World-Wide Christian Church

Though the division of world history into centuries is arbitrary, as we look back upon them we see that each has none the less been characterized by some great spiritual movement.
This is true of the Church Catholic, and is also true of those Churches which broke away from her communion at the time of the Reformation.
The century following the Reformation saw a breach between Anglicans and Nonconformists and the establishment of Free Churches throughout the English-speaking world. The eighteenth century saw the rise and growth under Wesley of a great revival, which also led ultimately to the establishment of numerous religious bodies, each separate from the other.
In Scotland the seventeenth century saw the struggle of the Presbyterian Kirk to free herself from dictation by English kings and churchmen; while the eighteenth gave birth to a demand for further liberty, culminating in the secession under Erskine (1733),
and after another hundred years in the still greater secession led by Chalmers (1843). Six years later the last great secession from the Wesleyan body took place, this also being the outcome of a demand for greater liberty than the Conference was willing to concede. The year 1850 indicates the high-water mark of the disruptive tendency of liberty-loving Free Churchmen. After that date it not only declines, but gives place to the opposite tendency, a desire for reunion.
Already the Church of England had begun to lament her isolation and to search, in the Oxford movement, for a via media which should bring Catholics and Protestants together. Already Newman and others, relinquishing altogether the Protestant standpoint, had "gone over."
Already in Scotland, in 1847, the earlier secessionists had united, and by the end of the century there was to be a reunion, well nigh complete, in the United Free Kirk, of all those who had seceded from the Established Kirk. The reunion idea also took root amongst the Wesleyans, resulting in the United Methodist Church, and in proposals for an even wider reunion of all Methodist bodies.

Link (here) to read the fantastic full essay entitled, The Ideal Of One World-Wide Christian Church by the 19th century theologian Fr. Leslie J. Walker, S.J. Published in 1921 in Constructive Quarterly: a journal of the faith, work and thought of Christendom

Painting is of Cardinal John Henry Newman

1 comment: said...

It is so encouraging and heartening to read about Jesuits doing the real work of a priest. I know Jesuits,one of whom you recently profiled, who are so caught in their cerebellum, that people are seen as an imepdiment to theri own private affairs w/ God and the mind.