The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is in session in Edinburgh and the news has just come through that bishops-in-presbytery have been (to quote The Times) “utterly rejected as a proper price to pay for unity with the Anglican communion.” This adverse decision regarding the proposal contained in the Joint Report on Relations between Anglican and Presbyterian Churches (discussed on previous occasions in this column) that Presbyterianism should take episcopacy into its system was not unexpected. During the past week the discussion on this subject has been proceeding in the pages of The Times. It was sparked by a leading article, published on the day of the opening of the General Assembly, which observed that “the longer the Church of Scotland has looked at the proposal that it should take in bishops, the firmer has been its stand against it,” and we were reminded that “close on two-thirds of sixty-two Scottish presbyteries have spoken outright against the suggested change for Scotland, and the opposition of many of the rest can be inferred from their dour comments and questions.” The deep reason, “as revealed in the presbyteries’ reports,” continued the editorial, “is that the Scottish Church as a whole devoutly and sincerely believes that closer relations between two communions of the same faith should not be made dependent on changes in polity and structure. Why, it is asked, should closer unity require closer uniformity? The center of the present deadlock is to be found at precisely that point.” Scottish churchmen “had hoped that full intercommunion might be granted once the Churches pledged themselves to work towards unity.” They have ...1
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