Ecumenism

In the preparations for the July meeting Rosedale argued that a society of liberals would help towards church unity:

This much-longed-for event [church unity] will be greatly facilitated by a closer unity among the liberal-minded laity and clergy. Those who have something in common with all sections of English Christianity are most likely to prove a link to unite all.

He explained his reasoning:

For instance, it seems to me that, whilst we cannot see our way to supporting the extravagances, nor submitting to the unsubstantiated “authority” of one section, we admire and strive to imitate its zeal and activity, and, indeed, desire to carry much farther its own theory of “oneness”, by promoting a desire for unity in diversity. With regard to another extreme section of our Anglican Church, while believing that “narrowness and exclusiveness” are ever detrimental to religious progress, and whilst utterly disagreeing with those who desire to cripple investigation or limit our right to wider opinions than were current some hundred years ago, we gladly clasp hands on them over the emphasis they give to certain “fundamentals”, and most heartily agree with them that religion does not lie in “externals”; we claim, too, that depth and sincerity are of primary importance. With regard to those outside our communion, we entertain no animosity. They have their vocation, and we believe in a “unity in diversity”.
In view of these facts it seems to me that there is no body so likely to be used by God in the special work of healing the ‘unhappy divisions’ as the body of liberal-minded clergy sometimes (I think unsuitably) called the Broad Church Party...[7]

Similarly, according to the Church Gazette those who attended the 29th September meeting

were unanimous... in insisting that nothing of truth should be given up, and that, in order to do this, it was necessary to spare no pains to discovery of truth. It was urged that the only thing that could heal the differences at present so rife and destructive was to unify the thought of the Church, and that this could only be done by really liberal thinking in religious matters. The Union would form a common platform for men of diverse views, and would emancipate the Church from the reproach so often made against it of being dominated by narrow-minded factions...[8]

Thus diversity of belief needed to be defended:

Till now men of Broad views have weakly allowed themselves to be half ashamed of their principles before others, knowing that such principles were in a minority, and besides would be often misunderstood. They have, therefore, kept these ideas mostly to themselves, and so many are genuinely in the dark about them. We think that the time for all this is now clearly at an end. Progressives in religious thought must no longer dissemble views which, within their own souls, they hold to be truth...
With reference to any question raised, a Broad Churchman maintains his right to approach it without being in any way bound to arrive, sooner or later, at some predetermined conclusion. The position is essentially fundamental, because it is useless to think at all unless thought is free, and can take its own course irrespective of public opinion, or even of disabilities often resulting. In itself this position is simply impregnable, for, unless a man has the unhappy facility of keeping his theological thought in a watertight compartment, well sundered from the other thoughts of his life, there is no other attitude even possible. The Broad Churchman will, at any rate, have nothing to do with the compartment theory.
Yet there are drawbacks, here to be candidly confessed. For starting on the same premises, and even on the same principles of treating them, it is not found in this world that all will arrive at exactly the same conclusions. Thus, while all High Churchmen think the same, or nearly so, and all Low Churchmen seem to be quite uniform in belief, we must admit that in the progressive ranks there is plenty of variety of opinion. But, after all, perhaps these varieties are healthy and all for the best, especially among those who have a true faith in the prevalence of truth over error.[9]