Wednesday, October 2, 2013

C. B. Moss on General Councils

The following is from Fr. Claude Beaufort Moss' short tract The Church of England and the Seventh Council (1957).

But who is to decide whether the definition of a particular Council is a necessary conclusion from Scripture rightly interpreted?  The English Church has no doubt at all about this. 'The Church hat authority in controversies of faith' (Article 20). The Church has no right to enforce what cannot be proved by Scripture, but it has the right ot give judgment on the interpretation of Scripture, and to require its membesr to accept its judgment. 'No prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation' (2 Peter 1.20). For the Church is not an academic society for theological research; it is an army marching to win the human race for Christ.  There are some questions which, once they have been asked, must be answered, and answered finally. Is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a created being as Arius taught?  If He is, we out not to worship Him as God. Was His Manhood swalowed up in His Godhead 'like a drop of vinegar in the ocean,' as Eutyches taught? Then it is not true that a man like us is on the throne of God, and knows what our sufferings are because he has felt them.  Such questions must be setted, and only the Church can settle them.  If local councils cannot, a General Council must be held.  But its decisions require to be accepted by the Universal Church, which is the final judge.  Councils can be misled: no assembly of men is immune from the possibility of error, as history abundantly shows.  When the decrees of a Council have been accepted by the whole Church, or practically the whole Church, the question is settled.  It ought not to be opened again unless new knowledge turns up, which in the nature of the case, if the subject is the revealed truth of the Incarnation, is unlikely. (Emphasis added)

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