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CHURCH ARMY

as different aspects of the same church, and Melanchthon was even more explicit.[1] As the saint purified in heaven is he who struggled with his sins on earth, so is the church triumphant one with the church militant. In Dr Lindsay’s words, “it is one of the privileges of faith, when strengthened by hope and by love, to see the glorious ideal in the somewhat poor material reality. It was thus that St Paul saw the universal Church of Christ made visible in the Christian community of Corinth.”[2]

But it is at this point that we come to the dividing line which has been drawn by different conceptions of catholicity. Dr Lindsay goes on to argue that all insistence on the principle of historical continuity, whether urged by members of the Anglican or the Roman Catholic Church, as upholders of episcopacy, is a deliberate return to the principle of Judaism, which declared that no one who was outside the circle of the “circumcised,” no matter how strong his faith nor how the fruits of the Spirit were manifest in his life and deeds, could plead “the security of the Divine Covenant.” Without entering into controversy it must suffice to point out that, from the point of view of all episcopal churches, the ministry of the bishops succeeding the ministry of the apostles, however it came to pass, was for fifteen centuries accepted as the pledge of unity. This principle, however, of continuity in ministry, belongs to a different department of Christian thought from the sacrament of baptism, which really corresponds to the Jewish rites of admission to the covenant. And it has been an established principle of the undivided church since the 3rd century, the bishop of Rome in this case upholding against St Cyprian the view which subsequent generations have ratified as Catholic truth, that baptism by whomsoever administered is valid if water is used with the right words. From this point, alas, divergence begins.

(d) The fourth element is authority. Probably all Christians can agree in the statement that the Christian democracy is also a theocracy, that Christ is the source of all authority. There are three passages in the Gospel which claim notice: (i.) the promise to St Peter (Matt. xvi. 18f), as spokesman for the apostles, of the key of the household of God, of power to admit and exclude; (ii.) the promise (Matt. xviii. 15-20) probably given to the Twelve, regarding offences against the peace of the society, advocating exclusion only when brotherly appeals had failed; (iii.) the commission of the whole ecclesia or of the Christian ministry (John xx. 22, 23). Again the root difference between the Presbyterian and Episcopalian conceptions of the church comes to light. Is the authority of the church manifested in the decisions which a local church arrives at by a majority of votes, or in the decisions of apostles and prophets after taking counsel, of the episcopate in later times, ratified by common consent of Christendom? As has been well said, “the church is primarily a witness—the strength of its authority lies in the many sides from which the witness comes.” It witnesses to the Divine Life of Christ as a power of the present and of the future as of the past, ministered in the Word and sacraments.

(e) The church is a sacerdotal society. St Paul delighted to represent it as the “ideal Israel,” and St John echoes the thought in the words of praise (Rev. i. 5, 6), “Unto him that hath loved us . . . and made us to be a kingdom, and priests unto his God and Father.” This idea of the priesthood of the whole church has three elements—the divine element, the human element and self-sacrifice. The promise that Christians should be temples of the living God has been fulfilled. As Dr Milligan has said very well, “It is not only in things to which we commonly confine the word miracle that the Divine appears. It may appear not less in the whole tone and spirit of the Church’s life, in the varied Christian virtues of her members, in the general character of their Christian work, and in the grace received by them in the Christian sacraments. When that life is exhibited, as it ought to be, in its distinctively heavenly character, it bears witness to the presence of a power in Christian men which no mere recollection of a past example, however heroic or beautiful, can supply. The difficulties of exhibiting and maintaining it are probably far greater now than they were in the apostolic age; and as nothing but a present divine support can enable us to overcome these, so, when they are overcome, a testimony is given to the fact that God is with us.”[3]

But this life is to be a human life still, to be in touch with all that is noble and of good report in art and literature, keenly interested in all the discoveries of science, active in all movements of social progress. It cannot, however, be denied that to live such a life, divine in its powers and human in its sympathies, demands daily and hourly self-sacrifice. As the author of the Imitation of Christ put it long ago, “There is no living in love without pain.” The thought of self-sacrifice has been emphasized from the earliest times in the liturgies. By a true instinct the early Christian writers called widows and orphans the altar of God on which the sacrifices of almsgiving are offered up.[4] Such works of charity, however, represent only one of the channels by which self-sacrifice is ministered, to which all prayers and thanksgiving and instruction of psalms, prophecy and preaching contribute. Thus in the Eucharist the offering of the church is made one with the offering of the Great High Priest.[5]

All this represents an ideal. It suggests in a modern form the perpetual paradox of the Christian life: we are what we are to be. The church is the divine society in which all other religious associations are eventually to find their home. The prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” embraces all spiritual forces which make for righteousness. They were acknowledged in Christ’s words, “He that is not against you is for you” (Luke ix. 50). But the divisions of Christendom testify to the harm done by undue insistence on the claims of the individual to gain scope to extend the kingdom in his own way. As in a choir all the resources of an individual voice are used to strengthen the general effect, so must the individual lose his life that he may find it, witnessing by his share in the common service of the church to the ultimate unity of knowledge and harmony of truth.

For the various conceptions of the church as an organized body see Church History, sec. 3, and the articles on the various churches.  (A. E. B.) 


CHURCH ARMY, an English religious organization, founded in 1882 by the Rev. Wilson Carlile (afterwards prebendary of St Paul’s), who banded together in an orderly army of “soldiers” and “officers” a few working men and women, whom he and others trained to act as “Church of England evangelists” among the outcasts and criminals of the Westminster slums. Previous experience had convinced him that the moral condition of the lowest classes of the people called for new and aggressive action on the part of the Church, and that this work was most effectively done by laymen and women of the same class as those whom it was desired to touch. “Evangelistic zeal with Church order” is the principle of the Church Army, and it is essentially a working men’s and women’s mission to working people. As the work grew, a training institution for evangelists was started in Oxford, but soon moved (1886) to London, where, in Bryanston Street near the Marble Arch, the headquarters of the army are now established. Working men are trained as evangelists, and working women as mission sisters, and are supplied to the clergy. The men evangelists have to pass an examination by the arch-deacon of Middlesex, and are then (since 1896) admitted by the bishop of London as “lay evangelists in the Church”; the mission sisters must likewise pass an examination by the diocesan inspector of schools. All Church Army workers (of whom there are over 1800 of one kind and another) are entirely under the control of the incumbent of the parish to which they are sent. They never go to a parish unless invited, nor stay when asked to go by the parish priest. Officers and sisters are paid a limited sum for their services either by the vicar or by voluntary local contributions. Church Army mission and colportage vans circulate throughout the country parishes, if desired, with

  1. The Conception of Priesthood, p. 29.
  2. Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries, p. 17.
  3. The Ascension, p. 254.
  4. Polycarp, Phil. 4; cf. Tertullian, Ad Uxor, i. 7.
  5. This teaching is not confined to Episcopalian writers. It has been finely expressed from the Presbyterian standpoint by Dr Milligan, op. cit. p. 265 ff.; cf. Lindsay, p. 37.