Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Faith Once Delivered: Nantlais Williams: Five. The Continuing Struggle

Predictably, Nantlais' forthrightness on the question of Confessional Reconstruction was not appreciated by everyone. Not only did theological liberals accuse him of being a reactionary, but orthodox ministers such as the Rev. John Thickens of Willesden Green, London, accused Nantlais of alarmism. The reconstruction exercise, he maintained, was not a liberal ploy: '[...] the subject under discussion at present', he maintained, 'is not whether the Confession of Faith should be abolished or changed, rather that the Connexion be afforded the right to preserve the Confession if it so desires.'

To say the least, Thickens was guilty of naiveté. When the final report appeared, it recommended that a Declaratory Act, modelled after the Church of Scotland articles be passed to take the place of the Confession as the ultimate standard. Described by D. Densil Morgan as 'much more succinct than the 1823 Confession', it was still larger than the Shorter Declaration on Faith and Practice. This was to be accompanied by an historical sketch of the life and doctrine of the Connexion, a staement affirming that Christ alone and not the state is the head of the Church and a statement affirming that the Connexion had the right to make further chages to the expression of its faith, provided these were in accordance with the 1823 Confession and the Word of God. Finally there was a paragraph committing the Presbyterian Church of Wales to inter-denominational co-operation and unity.

There was still a long way to go before these changes were accepted, and Nantlais would have his say in this process.



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