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these ornaments, and not the suppression of them, carries out the plan of the English Reformation. And the gestures above alluded to are explicitly allowed in the article "Of Ceremonies" at the end of the first Edwardine Prayer Book.
One of the glories of the Episcopal Church, in the minds of many who feel strongly the responsibility of keeping alive the spirit of the Reformation, is its extreme adaptability to the desires of the people. Some want a "simple," some an "ornate" service. All can find what they want somewhere within the wide bosom of mother Church. It is true. But it is true in spite of, not because of, the Reformation. The condition that prevails was lamented by the Reformers in their day, and the purpose of the Prayer Book was to abolish it. They say:
"Whereas, heretofore there hath been great diversity in saying and singing in Churches within this realm; some following Salisbury Use, some Hereford Use, and some the Use of Bangor, some of York, some of Lincoln; now from henceforth all the whole Realm shall have but one Use." (The Preface, P. B. of 1549; Concerning the Service of the Church, P. B. of 1662.)
The Reformation may have been a monstrous mistake -if so, let us agree to abandon its principles; but let us have done with a party slogan which attributes to the Fathers of that great movement ideas which grew up in the decadent days of Hanoverian England, or which are simply the fancy or self-will of modern minds.
Are Miracles Discredited?
REV. WILLIAM NEELY COLTON
HE great controversy over the miracles of Scripture has died down. It is no longer carried on in the popular arena. The battle lines are no longer changing. Both sides have occupied settled positions, and the war of movement has been succeeded by trench warfare.
What do the rank and file of Church people think? Their minds are exceedingly confused, and their views very hazy. They are puzzled to know what the Church really teaches about miracles. All sorts of ideas are floating in their heads. Impressions gathered in childhood from Sunday School teachers are side by side with those received from H. G. Wells and similar theologians of the day.
Now, if ever, there is need of definite statement as to what is and what is not included in the doctrine of the Church as to the miraculous element of Scripture. It is the duty of the official teachers of the Church to try to bring the confusion of their people's minds into some sort of order. But there is no possibility of their doing so if their own minds are as foggy as they sometimes appear to be.
The radical change which has occurred in the intellectual climate produces an altered attitude toward the miraculous which is more important than the attacks of all the critics. Once, and not so long ago, the ordinary person regarded the occurrence of miracle as a constant possibility. He did not think it at all strange that miracles had occurred in the experience of others. But nowadays the average Church member is convinced that there is not the slightest chance of his meeting with a miracle, and he believes, furthermore, that it has been a good many centuries since anybody met with one. The belief in mir
acles in this sense has vanished almost completely. And this change affects profoundly the attitude of people toward the miraculous element in Scripture.
During the third quarter of the nineteenth century, when the question of miracles was one of the issues of the day, and the cleverest men were continually writing and talking about it, there were many who took it for granted that the miracles of Scripture had been finally discredited for all intelligent people. There are today some among us who are in that epoch and think that the premature opinions then uttered are the conclusions of modern thought. In certain quarters, at that time, it was taken for granted that faith in the Bible would pass with its miracles, and that it would take its place with other ancient literature, losing its privileged position as the word of God. Yet these predictions have not been fulfilled. The Bible still carries the burden of its discredited miracles and retains its authority.
It is true that there are plenty of people today who hold that miracles are not credible. But their number, as compared with the masses of Christendom, is insignificant. Will they succeed in converting those masses to their opinion? Nothing is more unlikely. Clearly, it would be necessary, first, to convert the teachers of the Church. To what extent are they accomplishing this? It is often asserted by spokesmen of the modernists that a large proportion of ministers are secretly in agreement with them. This does not indicate a high opinion of the honesty of the ministers. But modernists are apt to show signs of irritation when the ministers are mentioned. Something about the latter disturbs them. Perhaps it is that the ministers are so blind to their doctrine.
It is also true that the more enlightened of Church people are less inclined to take the miraculous element of Scripture in a lump than they formerly were. They have
learned to discriminate in dealing with various portions of Scripture. This, however, is not modernism but a return to ancient principles, applied by the early Fathers. We are fortunate in that we do not feel called to take up our arms whenever any account of a miraculous occurrence is called in question. It is nobody's business to defend the miraculous element of Scripture in general, or as a whole. It is not a fortress of the faith, such that if one point in the wall is undermined the whole structure is weakened. There is a fortress, and it is based on miracle, but many of the Scriptural miracles are no portion of its fabric.
The contention is rather around certain key-miracles. Such are the Incarnation and the Resurrection of Christ. Of the miracles of the Old Testament two only are essential to the faith: the Creation and Prophecy.
The miracle recorded in the opening chapters of Genesis cannot be dealt with in the usual fashion by impugning the credibility of witnesses. The only witness is God Himself, and if there is any testimony He gave it. The weaving together of ancient legends to form our narrative may have been guided by inspiration, or not; the legends themselves are among the nursery lessons of the human race and were taught long before Abraham's time. Why such an ancient origin should be held to discredit the Scriptural account is a question for the critics to answer. The form in which the doctrine is conveyed seems highly suitable to its purpose-that is, the purpose of a container. Anyone who has a basket of eggs delivered at his door knows enough to take the eggs out of the basket, and does not find fault because the basket itself is not good to eat. The picture of God taking up a handful of dust and moulding it into a man may not appeal to us as a historical statement, but the vehicle serves to convey the teaching, and doubtless serves as well as any other would. Nor
is it likely that the men who cast these chapters into their present form failed to distinguish between the doctrine conveyed and the means of its conveyance.
Our belief that God created the universe and man does not rest on this record, or any one record, but on records and evidence of many kinds. The counter-thesis, however that the universe and man came into existence by accident-is unsupported by any record or evidence at all. Refusing both of these a man might say, "Having no knowledge of the facts I will hold no theory until I have something better to base it on." But it may be asked, "Has anyone ever accomplished this feat of preserving an open, that is, an empty, mind in a matter so fundamental?" It seems as if that would almost involve giving up thinking altogether. Among the facts which support Scripture on this point is the absurdity to which men are reduced by its rejection-as if a man were found painfully struggling through a bog with a good path beside him. We prefer the path. We start out with the acceptance of a miracle.
Looking further, we note that the miracles of Scripture fall into three groups: those of the Old Testament, of the Gospels, and of the Acts. Old Testament miracles figure most in the conversation of the average man. Among these, the chief, for popular interest, is the story of Jonah. It seems late in the day for people to treat this and the story of Joshua and the sun as part of the Christian religion. Where are the teachers of the Church? Why do they not give their people some elementary enlightenment? And where did Church members, so many of them, get the idea that the Church's faith involves the literal acceptance of allegories and legends? We can trace the notion back to that period when the Protestants, having abandoned the infallible Church, set up an infallible Book in its stead. Thus came the theory of verbal inspiration,