According to a report in a late issue, the chairman of...

According to a report in a late issue, the chairman of the Congregational Union Assembly at Pendleton allowed himself, in the course of an address dealing with the ability of Christianity to fulfil the requirements of a world's religion, to express his not very complimentary estimate of the intellectual capacities of Christian Scientists. Surely there can be no more ineffectual, as there is no less expensive, method of seeking to clothe words with a resemblance to wisdom, than by declaring rather loudly that those who may think differently are necessarily fools and gullible. Nor can a public indulgence in such an expedient by its advocate be expected with any confidence to promote the claim of Christianity to be regarded as the final universal religion, or to foster that spirit of unity from which any such religion must spring.

Will you kindly allow me space to refer to this greatly misunderstood subject in the hope that your readers may not too readily accept this critic's estimate? No one who follows at all closely the religious thought of the day can be unaware of the consensus of opinion that Christianity has reached, or at least is approaching, a crisis in its history. Hitherto, as one write has put it, Christianity has, as it were, been divided vertically by sectarianism, but today modernist thought is cutting all sections horizontally. At the same time the churches are with one voice lamenting their diminishing membership and deploring their inability to solve the distracting social problems of the day. "It appears to me regrettable," to use the critic's own words, "that the organized forces of Christianity have so little guidance to offer the nation in the present unrest in the world of labor." Is it not just possible that these manifestations are in origin not unconnected, that they spring from a common root? Is it not possible humanity is beginning to revolt against a Christianity which exhorts to a patient submission to evil as God-sent and inevitable, and to the postponement of happiness till after death? May it not be that mankind is failing to recognize in a religion which does not save, the religion of the Saviour of mankind? Ought it to be surprising if people, calling to mind that the Saviour went about healing those sick in body or mind and freeing those in bondage to sin, misery, and disease; that he preached that he came to fulfil the law and that those who believed on him should be able to prove its truth by doing the works he did, are beginning to think that, as a substitute for the salvation they are seeking for their present grievous ills, the prospect of a hypothetical salvation from a hypothetical torment beyond the grave is unsatisfying?

May 18, 1912

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