Henson and Lord Halifax

by
21 December 2017

December 28th, 1917.

A PERSON signing himself “D.D.” addressed to the Times of Monday a curiously maladroit defence of Dean Henson. To begin with, he commits the absurdity of calling him the Bishop of Hereford, a mistake which rather suggests that the “D. D.” must be a dissenting divine, and therefore not quite perfectly acquainted with ecclesiastical matters. But the point of the letter was to set off Lord Halifax, as a defier of episcopal authority, against the Dean of Durham [Henson]. It is true that the former opposed, at one time and another, the action of certain bishops, but “D. D.” failed to specify any instance of his defying their authority where it was lawfully exercised. It was only when they tried to enforce on Churchmen obedience to the rulings of secular courts in matters which are the Church’s concern that Lord Halifax approved of resistance. To oppose such action is not to defy, but actually to uphold, episcopal authority. The Dean of Durham, on the other hand, defied the Bishops of London and Birmingham when they were lawfully exercising their authority, and, as he told us, among his most cherished possessions are their lordships’ futile inhibitions against his intrusion into their dioceses for the purpose of preaching in conventicles. The cases of Lord Halifax and Dean Henson are not parallel at all. “D. D.” really must try again. He has egregiously failed on this occasion.

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