Menacing Federal Council Trends
No outside observers of the religious undercurrents in popular American Protestantism, a forthright article by W. B. Riley and Dan Gilbert in the January Christian Life and Faith is most illuminating. This is a movement upon the developments of which we need to keep informed, because of the role cast by prophecy for apostate Protestantism in the finale of American affairs. On the subject of "The False Front of the Federal Coundil," the opening paragraph reads:
"The Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America has been a bone of contention from the time of its birth. Its direct effect upon the denominations has been division in many churches. With it, neither the Southern Baptist Convention nor the Southern Presbyterian Assembly has shown the least sympathy, while both these bodies in the north have been divided and injured by their Federal Council affiliation. The purpose of this discussion is to show clearly its anti-Christian attitudes and activities. We bring against it three specific charges, presenting positive proof for each; namely, false claims, false creeds, and false conclusions."
Denying the validity of the Council's representation that it speaks for twenty million American Protestants, embracing the Christian church of the nation, this contention follows:
"The falsity of such claims immediately becomes apparent when it is remembered that the largest body of people on the American continent, the Southern Baptists, have repeatedly refused this fellowship, as have also the great body of Lutherans and that of Southern Presbyterians; while in their northern conquests they have only succeeded in winning to their aid astute politicians in official station."
As to the contradictory character of the Council leaders' objectives, the writers declare:
"In their early history they were charged with making concerted efforts 'to influence the action of the Government on such questions as world peace, disarmament, national defense, immigration, labor, industry, foreign relations, etc.' Dr. Shailer Matthews, then ex-President of the Council, denied the indictment, saying that 'such charge was not fair,' and that in so far as the Federal Council touched upon such matters, their approach was absolutely nonpolitical.' A later president, Dr. S. Parkes Cadman, however, revealed the truth in the following words: 'The American churches are going to grapple courageously with the great social and international questions. The day is past when any realm of our economic, industrial, social, or political life will be regarded as outside the sphere and responsibility of the churches.' "
Charging next a repudiation of Christian fundamentals, the article charges :
"Scarcely one of these [fundamental] truths (much less all of them) is held by the leaders of the Federal Council of Churches. If it were necessary, we could give abundant quotations to prove this contention. Not only have they denied the verbal inspiration of the Bible, but they have denied every other virile definition of inspiration. Among their leaders, almost uniformly the sacrificial atonement of Christ is rejected; while His promised return is 'anathema' with practically every one of them. The views which they are now promulgating are the views of the Unitarianism of fifty years ago, and the result is a spiritual dearth in the churches, decreasing baptisms, a descending scale in giving, widespread spiritual declension. Thousands of churches are without a baptism. Hundreds, if not thousands, of their preachers even deny the necessity of regeneration."
Even more serious in its implication is the asserted Council alignment with the Internationale. Thus:
"Their literature features discussions of fantastic proposals involving intermeddling with the affairs of foreign nations. As if it were not enough to assent to the Moscow idea of First, Second, Third and Fourth Internationals, they have now absolutely arranged to subject Christianity itself to the same international expression, a meeting being actually arranged for the summer of 1938 in Holland with a view to the formation of a World Council of Churches."
Grave charges are next leveled at the Council's attitude as to morals. But the most menacing feature of all is its attitude toward the abolition of individual freedom, and the practices of the collectivists. Using Dr. E. Stanley Jones as an example, the statement continues:
"In his most recent book, 'The Choice Before Us,' Dr. E. Stanley Jones recommends centralized ownership and operation by the State of all the means of production. If this were carried out, it would mean the confiscation by the Government of all factories, farms, and private business. In the book referred to, Dr. Jones lauds Communism as being closer to the spirit of Christianity than any other system, past or present. In fact, he goes to the extreme length of saying that Communism is preferable to fascism, and that fascism is a more idealistic system than American capitalism ! The expressions in his book have been received with sympathetic approval by those who seek to organize 'A Communist United Front' in the United States. In this connection let it not be forgotten that E. Stanley Tones has become the especial mouthpiece of the 'Federal Council of Churches in America."
The disquieting objective of coercive control in the religious field is the final count, using radio broadcasting as an example. Its importance merits this further lengthy quotation:
"Some time ago a Religious Publicity Conference was held in Atlantic City, at which the chief topic was the radio. Dr. Charles S. Macfarland was then the secretary of the General Council of the Churches of Christ in America, and he is reported to have said:
"'Local fans do not want to hear local preachers. Local stations do not want any denominationalism. The ultimate plan yet to be worked out will probably be for local federations of churches to endorse and local stations to present national programs provided on Sunday by the Federal Council, whereby all will have their choice of hearing Doctor Cadman, Doctor Poling, or Doctor Fosdick, and perhaps a few other selected preachers who have received full endorsement of the Federal Council. The Federal Council is now surveying the entire field throughout the country and is signing up all available stations to carry their programs. Mr. Goodman of the New York Federation of Churches is at present on an extensive trip through the central, western, and southern sections of the country. We believe that as a result of his tour, presenting the matter carefully to local federations and local broadcasting stations, fifty or more additional stations will be signed up with iron-clad contracts obliging them to use the Federal Council religious programs and none other. It is also likely that Mr. Goodman can induce these stations to join the National Broadcasting Company's chain, thereby presenting the most extensive and powerful chain for the broadcasting of religious services yet devised. By October the distribution through local stations of the Federal Council program will cover three or four times the present scale.'
"Local federations are to sign up 'iron-clad contracts obliging them to use the Federal Council religious programs and none other.' If this plan succeeds, Doctor Macfarland states: 'In the future, no denomination or church will be able to secure any time whatever on the air unless they are willing to pay prohibitively high prices for brief periods of broadcast. Our hope is that with the gradual development of our plan, we will not be obliged to confine our talent to New York, but will be able to use talented ministers in other localities who meet our requirements for popular broadcasts.'
"The only hope held out is that there may be an opportunity for 'talented ministers in other localities who meet our requirements' to do some broadcasting. During the discussion, the following question was answered as follows:
"Question: 'Did you mean, Doctor Macfarland, that it is the expectation of the Federal Council to control all religious broadcasting. making it impossible for denominational conventions to get on the air and for pastors to broadcast sermons without Federal Council sanction?'
"Answer, by Doctor Macfarland : 'Precisely! The committee feels this to be a wise policy. There will be no more free hookups on national assemblies, except as the denominations want to raise large sums to purchase time in competition with commercial accounts. We would be very happy to have this meeting appoint a committee of four or five to confer with Mr. Goodman with a view to furthering this plan.'"
Protestantism's Bid to Rome
History moves forward swiftly these days in the accomplishment of inspired prediction. The forecast of Protestantism stretching its hands across the gulf to clasp hands with Romanism is in process of swift fulfillment before our eyes. It is imperative for us to be familiar with the steps. Samuel McCrea Cavert, general secretary of the Federated Council of Churches of Christ in America, recently attended the meeting of the provisional committee of the World Council of Churches held in Paris, January 28-30. At this meeting, Doctor Cavert presented "the proposal of the American churches for a conference to be held under church auspices, dealing with the world economic situation."
Reporting in the Christian Century for February 22, Doctor Cavert states that this was the first meeting of the provisional committee since the conference at Utrecht last May at which the constitution of the projected council was drafted. The Paris meeting reviewed the happenings of the last eight months since Utrecht, and made plans for the two or three years that must intervene before a meeting of the assembly of the council, made up of the official delegates appointed by the member churches, can be held. Eighteen North American churches have approved the plan. No church in England or Scotland had yet acted on the invitation. Doctor Cavert says :
"In general, one gained the impression that in no other country has the response to the proposal for the World Council been as enthusiastic as in America, save possibly in a few of the small countries of the European continent."
Then follows this highly significant paragraph, the full import of which should be grasped and remembered:
"The chairman was authorized to write to the Vatican giving information about the formation of the World Council [Protestant], and expressing the hope that in view of their common interest in opposing widespread secularism and paganism there might be at least some measure of Roman Catholic cooperation in certain aspects of the council's work."