TREND TOWARDS ROME.
(The Editor, "N.S.W. Presbyterian.") Sir,
Rev. C. A. White's suggestion that the Church of Scotland "seems to be making rather rapid strides 'towards Rome" is amazing. The preface to the 1940 B. of C.O., signed by Dr. Oswald B. Milligan, on behalf of the Committee on Public Worship and Aids to Devotion, states:—
"The Church of Scotland, adhering to the Scottish Reformation and receiving the Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, on its supreme rule of faith and life, bases all its worship on Holy Scripture. Without reservation of any kind it may be asserted that everything contained in this Book receives its warrant from that source."
Mr. White, without delay, should produce proof that this claim is false, or withdraw his accusation. I am not at all sure that Mr. White has not compared the 1928 Book of the U.F. Church with the 1940 Book of the reunited Church. The latter book is offered as a norm and not a liturgy, thus retaining liberty of worship. Because it is a book of guidance in leading worship, all the cherished procedure of the Reformed tradition is not stated categorically. Hence it assumes the presence of the Kirk Session at an admission service, because it could not take place without the Session, which court has already approved the admission of the new members. The Session, therefore, has not disappeared, as Mr. White asserts. The 1940 Book preserves
ex silentia the functions of the Session in the admission of new members, but, viva voce, it recognises the prerogative of the minister to lead each part of the act of worship in which the admission is acknowledged by profession of faith. When the minister says, "I do now in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the great King and Head of the Church, admit you," his voice is in every sense the voice of the Kirk Session, and, indeed, of the whole Church.
It certainly baffles my understanding how this procedure can be described as "making rather rapid strides towards Rome." The most learned authorities make clear that the admission and discipline of members is a function of the Session, but that the conduct of worship and the administration of sacraments are ministerial and not sessional acts. (Vide Cox: Practice and Procedure, pp. 110. et seq. The Code, 132, 159.)
The use of the 1940 Book was approved and commended by the 1942 general Assembly of Australia, and this venerable Court shares in Mr. White's accusation.
I shall leave to others the rebuttal of Mr. White's suggestion that the Order
for a Second Table is a Reserved Sacrament. Of this error the order is actually
the refutation. Let me add that, in the interest of the faith and harmony of our
congregations, these questions should be answered plainly and quickly. I have
little sympathy with ritualism, but even less with the creeping paralysis of congregationalism
which threatens to undermine the Reformed Church in this country.
H. MacNEIL SAUNDERS.