“To abide in divine love is to frame one’s life in active correspondence with God’s purpose.”

I believe that there is no duty which is so pressing upon the Church of Christ at this moment as the duty of re-erecting the ethical standard of Christ-or reasserting the only Way. It is evident to-day that the current rejection of Christianity is not primarily or mainly a rejection of its theology but a rejection of its moral claim. In regard to the sexual appetites the Christian standard, within marriage and without it, is being quite explicitly repudiated over very wide areas of society. This is commonly recognised. But it is at least as true that our industrial and social system have been largely built up on the repudiation of the Christian principles of justice, spiritual equality and brotherhood: and that the current maxims of our commerce, our current attitude towards wealth, our current toleration of selfishness as the normal ideal for the individual, the family and the nation, are direct repudiations of the principles of the prophets and of Christ. At the same time there is a very deep and wide feeling in the best of men, inside and outside the Church, that the Christian Life is rooted in the truth and that there is no alternative to it. And I cannot but acknowledge that it is very largely from outside the church that we have been, of recent years, relearning the moral meaning of Christ. I say that I think the first duty of the Church to-day is again to study and teach the Way, as William Law taught it in the 18th century in his “Serious Call.” This demands from the preachers and teachers of the Church very serious study. And it will involve a very serious alteration of emphasis in our preaching. In particular this is true of the Catholic movement in Anglicanism. It has perforce been occupied in recovering forgotten or ignored elements of Catholic doctrine, for instance about the Sacraments. In doing this it has run a great risk. It has distorted the emphasis. it has not made it constantly evident that the sacramental institutions of Christendom are means, not ends; that there is only one end and this is likeness of God: and that we have no authority to substitute any lower standard as sufficient. This is the lesson which we owe in the first instance to the prophets of the Old Testament; but since the very God was manifested in the flesh, the meaning of their root principles has gained a quite new clearness. “I,” says Jesus, “am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” “God is love; and he that abideth in love”-which is the social principle of brotherhood-he and he only “abideth in God and God abideth in him.” And to abide in divine love is to frame one’s life in active correspondence with God’s purpose. It is not merely negative attitude-to abstain from doing evil. It is the devotion of oneself to promoting the Kingdom of God-which is justice and peace and love-in every department of human affairs.

—From “The God of the Prophets” by Bishop Charles Gore, delivered at the Second Anglo-Catholic Congress, London 1923


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