Westcott and Hort continued...
It is truly amazing that a man who believed things completely contrary to the convictions of today's fundamental preachers and educators could be exalted and defended by them. Of course, I believe this is done primarily because our fundamental brethren know little of what either Dr. Westcott or Dr. Hort really believed and taught.
This does not completely describe Brooke Foss Westcott, the man. He was a devout socialist and postmillenialist. Socialism and postmillenialism go hand in hand. Postmillenialism is the belief that we shall bring in the millenial reign of Christ ourselves, without Christ's help. Socialism is usually the means of establishing that thousand-year reign of peace.
A postmillenialist would see a spiritual "coming" of Christ at any great event which drew the world closer to his idea of peace. It is also easy to see why he would believe that a "heaven" was attainable down here, i.e., Westcott's statement: "We may reasonably hope, by patient, resolute, faithful, united endeavour, to find heaven about us here, the glory of our earthly life."
These are only two small glimmers of the socialistic light which burned in Westcott's breast. If they were all of the evidence available, it would make for a weak case indeed. They are not!
Dr. Westcott's "pacifist" nature shows early in his life. He was known as a "shy, nervous, thoughtful boy" while attending school. His hobbies were as follows: "He used his leisure chiefly in sketching, arranging his collections of ferns, butterflies, and moths, and in reading books of natural history or poetry." 129
He developed an interest in social reform early on. He was known about his school for talking about things "which very few schoolboys talk about - points of theology, problems of morality, and the ethics of politics." 130
His son, Arthur, describes him with these words: "As a boy my father took keen interest in the Chartist movement, and the effect then produced upon his youthful imagination by the popular presentation of the sufferings of the masses never faded. His diary shows how he deserted his meals to be present at various stirring scenes, and in particular to listen to the oratory of 'the great agitator,' presumably Feargus O'Connor himself. He would often in later years speak of these early impressions, which served in no small degree to keep alive his intense hatred of every form of injustice and oppression. He even later disapproved of his father's fishing excursions, because his sympathies were so entirely on the side of the fish. On one occasion, being then a little boy, he was carrying a fish-basket, when his father put a live fish into it, and later in life he used to declare that he would still feel the struggles of that fish against his back."131
(The Chartist movement was a campaign for social reform in England from 1838-1848.)
This one paragraph reveals the temperament which could describe Westcott for the rest of his life:
He was ever in favor of any social reform, at any cost, as he himself stated in speaking of the French Revolution: "The French Revolution has been a great object of interest. I confess to a strong sympathy with the republicans. Their leaders at least have been distinguished by great zeal and sincerity. Lamartine, who I fancy you know by name, quite wins my admiration."132
Westcott's Poetical Influences
Westcott was ever a lover of poetry and was deeply influenced by its message. This explains his admiration of Alphonse de Lamartine. Lamartine was a French poet whose writings helped influence the French people into revolution. Ironically, but I am sure not coincidentally, Lamartine had studied under the Jesuits.
He is a fool who thinks a poet's pen is not a mighty weapon!
Westcott's romantic attitude explains why he would make the statement that, "Poetry is, I think, a thousand times more true than history."
It also explains his susceptibility to the subtle Romanizing influence of the poet Keble. Westcott had a fondness for poetry and an unusual fondness for Keble's poetry. No poet is mentioned more often in his writings than Keble.
Westcott writes concerning Keble, "But I intend reading some Keble, which has been a great delight to me during the whole week, and perhaps that will now be better than filling you with all my dark, dark, dark gloominess."133
It seems Keble's poetry inspired Westcott to see that the Church of England needed to make a change.
Westcott found time to quote Keble to express his feelings.
That Keble formed in Westcott a passive attitude toward Christianity's arch-enemy, Rome, is evident by his reaction to a sermon condemning Popery: "As for Mr. Oldham's meetings, I think they are not good in their tendency, and nothing can be so bad as making them the vehicle of controversy. What an exquisitely beautiful verse is that of Keble's, 'And yearns not her parental heart,' etc. We seem now to have lost all sense of pity in bitterness and ill-feeling. Should not our arm against Rome be prayer and not speeches; the efforts of our inmost heart, and not the display of secular reason?"136
It has been often stated that "You are what you read." Westcott's constant exposure to pro-Roman influences set a pattern for his thinking, even though he may not have been aware of it. Westcott even refused to abandon Keble as his writings became more obviously Popish.
Remembering the hatred Westcott had for what he considered "injustice and oppression," and his submission to the programming poetry of Keble, we find him slipping farther away from a truly biblical stand after hearing another pro-Roman speaker, Maurice.
This constant barrage of Romanizing influences caused Westcott to incorporate many Roman Catholic practices into his thinking.
In February of 1849 he decided to investigate two favorite subjects of the Romanizers: "Inspiration -- Apostolical Succession. May I inquire on all these topics with simple sincerity, seeking only the truth!"139
The result of the first study led to Westcott's believing the Bible to be absolutely true, but he refused to call it infallible.
Our good Bishop has now lost the conviction that Scripture is "infallible." We are never told the result of his study of the Roman Catholic teaching of "Apostolic Succession."
Westcott also had an affinity for statues since his poetic spirit had the ability to read a great deal into that which he saw.
The Jesuit plan is to introduce the ways of Rome into the minds of Protestants and familiarize them with the "High Church" atmosphere. Then, little by little, allow these Roman ideas to intertwine themselves with the worship service. Dr. Wylie aptly describes the plan:
This trend was quite apparent in the unsuspecting mind of Bishop Westcott. "I do not say that baptism is absolutely necessary, though from the words of Scripture I can see no exception, but I do not think we have no right to exclaim against the idea of the commencement of a spiritual life, conditionally from baptism, any more than we have to deny the commencement of a moral life from birth."143
These Romanistic leanings eventually led Westcott into allowing the practice of "prayers for the dead." In writing to a clergyman in August of 1900 concerning this Roman Catholic practice which had found its way into an Anglican church, HE STATED, "I considered very carefully, in conference with some other bishops of large knowledge and experience, the attitude of our church with regard to prayers for the dead. We agreed unanimously that we are, as things are now, forbidden to pray for the dead apart from the whole church in our public services. No restriction is placed upon private devotions."145 (Emphasis his.)
Notice that the Bishop advised against prayers for the dead in "public service," but he did not even attempt to discourage the practice in "private devotions!" Would one of today's fundamental preachers who have such high regard for the Westcott and Hort Greek Text respond in the same manner? Would we hear one of our Bible-believing brethren confront the matter with, 'Well, we don't practice prayers for the dead here in our services, but if you want to do it in your private devotions, it's okay.' NEVER! We are to hate the garment "spotted by the flesh." (Jude 23.) Dr. Westcott's garment is spotted to the point of resembling a leopard's skin! Are we to expect an unbiased rendering of the Greek Text by a man whose convictions would rival Jerome's in loyalty to Roman teaching? I trow not!
But to allow prayers for the dead would be futile if there were only heaven and hell. The "dead" in heaven would need no prayers, and the "dead" in hell would be beyond hope.
Benjamin Wilkenson provides the missing link in Westcott's chain of Romanism when commenting on the Revised Version translation of John 14:2:
Considering the Romanistic ideals which Dr. Westcott possessed, it is no surprise that his close friend and companion, Dr. Hort, would compare him to, of all people, the Roman Catholic defector, John Newman! "It is hard to resist a vague feeling that Westcott's going to Peterborough will be the beginning of a great movement in the church, less conspicuous but not less powerful, than that which proceeded from Newman."147
It also seems not surprising that Westcott would call the Jesuit inspired Oxford Movement, "the Oxford Revival!" "The Oxford Revival in the middle of the century, quickened anew that sense of corporate life. But the evangelical movement touched only a part of human interest."148
Another Roman Catholic doctrine is the adoration of Mary. Here also Dr. Westcott did not let the Roman Catholic Church down, as he reveals in a letter to his fiancee Sarah Louisa Whittard.
This condition is also indicated by his son, Arthur, in describing Westcott's reaction to the painting "The Sistine Madonna:"
The intensity of Westcott's admiration for Christ's mother is best revealed by his desire to change his fiancee's name to "Mary" as Arthur explains: "My mother, whose name was Sarah Louisa Whittard, was the eldest of three sisters. She afterwards, at the time of her confirmation at my father's request, took the name of Mary in addition."151
The above examples illustrate Dr. Westcott's strong Roman Catholic leanings. Again I must say that I do not believe that if a man lived today with the convictions we have just studied, that he would be welcome in a fundamental pulpit anywhere in America, be his name Bishop Wescott or Hort or Schuler or any other.
Westcott's Communal Living
Few of Bishop Westcott's Twentieth Century supporters know the true thoughts and intents of his heart. If they did, they would know that he was an advocate of communal living! Let the record speak for itself.
His son, Arthur, stated in his book, Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott:
On the idea of the Coenobium, Bishop Westcott's socialism bordered very close to communism as we see by his own description of what a Coenobium was to be.
Little did the esteemed professor realize that the college students of a hundred years later would be more than happy to turn his dream into a reality!
Arthur viewed the establishment of the Coenobium with much fear and trembling. They were assured of its future reality quite often.
In a letter to his old college friend, Dr. E.W. Benson, dated November 24, 1868, Dr. Westcott states his regrets that the Coenobium had not yet been established, and wonders if he wouldn't have done better to have pursued the matter further.
Two years later he was still promoting the idea through articles in a periodical entitled "Contemporary," as he explains in another letter to Benson dated, March 21, 1870:
Young Arthur's naive sounding prediction in 1868 of the establishing of such a Coenobium in Peterborough, two years later (1870) seemed almost prophetic. In December of 1868, Dr. Westcott became Examining Chaplain in the Diocese of Peterborough! Just prior to the move, he wrote Benson, "The Coenobium comes at least one step nearer."157
Arthur's fears seemed somewhat realized.
Thus we see a side of Dr. Westcott which is not too publicized by his followers, yet it was there nonetheless. In addition to his desire to see the Authorized Version replaced, a Romanized Church of England, and the establishment of college Coenobium, he had one other great driving force, the abolition of war.