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A. C. Headlam: his place in the tradition and development of the church

Jefferies, Phillip (1991) A. C. Headlam: his place in the tradition and development of the church. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Arthur Cayley Headlam occupied an important vantage point as a student and young priest in the academic world at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. He occupied the middle ground which both understands and receives the exciting spirit of reason in science and history but manages to hold to the 'a priori' givenness of Christian Revelation. Whereas many theologians felt the necessity of a separate existence for faith and theology, Headlam expected a close, dialectical relationship between the two. This openness found expression in a faith in which a more or less traditional incamational theology could both live with and find support in the robust atmosphere of rationalism, and in which the maintenance of Catholicism did not entail either an isolationism or an exclusion of the spirit of criticism. In terms of the historic three fold ministry, Headlam attempted to hold together an evolutionary theory, in which the shape and style of the institutional ministry, dictated by an objective, historical approach, depended upon social circumstance, with a simultaneous belief in the providence of God, identified in the Church’s ability to adapt to emergent needs. As schemes for Christian unity developed, Headlam, as a senior and important figure in the Church, saw these 'emergent needs', as demanding an ultimate acceptance of episcopacy for the regularisation of Church Order. He did not see Apostolic Succession as the means of the transmission of Grace, however, but as a practical rather than an essential characteristic of the Church. Grace lay, rather, within the Corporate nature of the Church. As a consequence, there could be an immediate recognition of Christian ministries within the inclusive body of Christ. Within the perennial tension between the givenness of tradition and the free Spirit of God, Headlam attempted to face the consequences of his exposed position.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1991
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Dec 2012 12:03

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