6 JANUARY 1906, Page 20



[TO THE EDITOR OF THE "SPEcteron.1 SIE,—I do not propose to criticise Canon Beeching's letter in your last issue further than to say—what he himself is, I am sure, well aware of—that to pick out certain doctrines from a theological system and label them "fundamental Christianity" has an inevitable tendency to make the other elements of that system seem unimportant. I only wish to remind him that his proposal is identical with that which was vainly pressed upon the London School Board in the early "nineties." It was then thought by many Churchmen that if the Board could be induced to sanction a form of religious teaching which should embrace the doctrines common to the Church of England and to " orthodox " Nonconformists, it would be a very great improvement on the colourless unde- nominationalism which is all that need be given—I do not say all that is given—under the Cowper-Temple Clause. I took an active part in the controversy—one has at times to fight for what one only ball likes against something which one wholly dislikes—and I well remember the violent hostility

which the proposal provoked. Because its chief author happened to be a High Churchman, it was described as an attempt to introduce disguised Popery into Board-schools, and respectable Evangelical clergymen, whose ideas of cere- monial had never soared above a black stole, found them- selves denounced as Ritualists. This kind of opposition might probably have been overcome. What proved impossible to overcome was the determination of the Nonconformist leaders not to introduce dogmatic teaching in any shape into Board- schools, or to take any steps to ascertain which of the Board- school teachers were qualified to give such teaching. I greatly doubt whether on these two points the Nonconformist attitude has undergone any change.

In your article on the same subject you ask : "Cannot such a system be adopted by the State, except as regards the Roman Catholics, the Jews, and the extreme High Churchmen ? " Would not the State have to provide for a body of opinion far larger probably than all three put together,—that which is loosely called Unitarian ? Is the system adopted by the State to include the doctrine of the true Godhead of Jesus Christ? If it does not, it will not be fundamental Christianity as understood by the Church of England and by " orthodox " Nonconformists. If it does, the exceptions will, I fear, cover more ground than the rule.—I am, Sir, &c.,


[Need we despair because a particular attempt failed Why should not a new effort made under new conditions be successful F—ED. Spectator.]