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Tlhq churches, to judge by the tone of many reports of synods, councils, and assemblies, are as yet in the desert, but the. eyes of some are turned eastward, where they see an 1 attractive vision. Weary of the heated sands of arid dogma and the bitter waters of sectarian intolerance, they take comfort in the prospect of green oases and shady palms on tho far horizon. Is it a mirage, or is tho vision a reality? Sometimes it seems almost near at hand — sometimes remote, and again it is hidden by rising vapours. Only of late has "the. union of the churches" been discussed seriously as a possibility, and committees luvvo bacn appointed to ttiko Dreliminarv measures to bsino* it about,

Tbet'lidea is "in the air" ; the vision, Gametiuies assumes something like a deyfinito form. What hinders? Not doctrine ; for-on essentials there is an agreement that counts for more than aU the differences, and churches can. no more continue to exist without doctrine than '•a, vertebrate crea-ture without a skeleton. It is simply intolerance — not th© spirit of faith, but "the spirit that denies." 'So long as the man, in the pulpit unchurches his fellow-Christian, so long -mill schisms continue and sects multiply. Christian union was seriously discussed at the late Lambeth Conference, . and the statement on that subject by the Bishop of Wadapu reported to-day from jStepter deserves careful consideration, not only on account of its high tone and charitable-spirit, bufc from the bishop's expressed opinion that the basis of episcopacy is much, misunderstood, 'and' is not tho insuperable bar against union and intercommunion that many, both within and without the Anglican Church, imagine. Significant, too, in the same connection, are the views of the Bishop of Auckland on the subject /of lay readers, as reported in our issue of Wednesday. These voluntary workers, to whom the church owes bo much, have no priestly ordination, yet the bishop permits them to preach extempore, and desires that they should be permitted to solemnise matrimony. While this recommeadation has no direct reference to other Christian bodies, it goes to show that "orders" need not be the bar they are usually supposed to be. After all, "charity? i n the New Testament senfce— tolerance, fraternal sympathy, and mutual appreciation— will be found the only path to the external unity which exists as yet only as a vision of the future.

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Bibliographic details

SEERS OR DREAMERS?, Evening Post, Volume LXXVI, Issue 121, 20 November 1908

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SEERS OR DREAMERS? Evening Post, Volume LXXVI, Issue 121, 20 November 1908