The 1948 Lambeth Conference opened recently in England, with 314 bishops, 14 archbishops, and the Archbishop of Canterbury in attendance, and representing some 20,000,000 communicants. It is consultive, not legislative, but its influence is weighty. W. L. Emmerson, editor of the British Present Truth, is covering the conference for THE MINISTRY. Hence we will not go into particulars here. This is a movement we need to watch, to understand, and to evaluate. Among other topics it will declare itself on the church and the modern world, the unity of the church, and certain proposed mergers. Bearded Russian and Eastern Orthodox patriarchs and metropolitans were included. The largest single block consisted of seventy-eight bishops from the United States: A most significant utterance was made by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his address of welcome. Note it:
"Our communion is no longer English or British or Anglo-Saxon. . . . But it is still called the Anglican, the English Communion; and though the word is no longer altogether appropriate for this diverse family of autonomous churches, yet it bears witness to a truth of the past and to a truth of the present. . . . Every one of the churches here represented traces its ancestry back to the church of these islands, and so to Canterbury and to St. Augustine. . . . To that tradition of Christian experience which by the circumstances of history has come to bear the name of Anglican, we are united in a common loyalty of gratitude and devotion. . . By its nature it looks beyond itself to seek that visible unity of the Church of Christ which has been lost and is to be re-won."
The significance of the middle section, stating that this 'diverse family" traces its origin to the church of the British Isles represented in Canterbury and Saint Augustine, should not be missed. The full meaning is clear only as one knows that Augustine of Canterbury (d. 604) was a Roman Catholic archbishop sent by Pope Gregory of Rome to win over the Celtic bishops and church subservience to the Roman archbishop. A hot controversy has raged over whether Augustine or Aidan, was the true apostle of England, as Lightfoot contends. Rome is seeking to gather all past achievements under her wing, and many Protestants are consenting without protest and without understanding the issues or the significance of the Roman pressure. These are among the items we have asked Elder Emmerson to discuss shortly.
L. E. F.