21 AUGUST 1936, Page 3

Erasmus, Luther and the World Today In his presidential address

to. the Modem Churchmen's conference at Oxford on Monday the Dean of St. Paul's admitted frankly that the influence of Christianity in the world was steadily waning. It is hard to contest that verdict, or to acquit the exponents of Christianity of all responsibility. That, evidently, is Dr. Matthews' view, for he emphasises the need for a new Reformation, in the spirit of Erasmus rather than of Luther. " We seek to know," he said, " what Christ has to say to this generation and to proclaim it in the language of this generation." That is profoundly true, so long—and the Dean's words lend no colour to the gloss—as it is not interpreted to mean that the Church should say to this generation, in the language of this generation, what it gratifies this genera- tion to hear. .The Church's message may well be some- thing which, in so far as it involves sacrifice and the acceptance of exacting standards, this generation by no means desires to hear. But essentially the Dean is right. The standards are eternal, but the problem of their application to the complex problems of today, both personal and public, is formidable, and nothing is more important than that the Churches of all denominations— the laity even more than the clergy—should bring to the study of that the mental range of an Erasmus even more than the fervour of a Luther, though in fact both are needed.

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