Religious World Trends

Import of Leading Press Declarations

Various authors. 

Interchurch Co-operation

The long-anticipated merger of Protestant groups, which will ultimately result in con­certed pressure against nonco-operative bodies, grows apace. It is essential for us to keep abreast of this trend that will ultimately center against the commandment-keeping remnant.

The question, "Where are we now in inter-church co-operation?" is propounded in the Methodist Zions Herald of September 2. The writer states that "the history of these co-op­erative efforts covers more than a hundred years. Current organizational expressions of this co-operation are represented by a multitude of agencies." He then goes on to show how the merger is taking place, in local, State, and national organizations:

"Gradually, many of the churches represented in these organizations came to feel that State or local areas should have only one co-operative agency to serve the needs which their varied ministry in the local community requires. This has resulted recently in a notable trend toward interdenominational mergers. The first expression of this trend took place in large cities in 1923. Now nearly all the major organized cities have merged their separate councils of churches, councils of religious education, councils' of church women, ministerial associations, missions councils, etc., into one inclusive interdenominational agency. This same trend is true of State interde­nominational work since 1932. Today there are 251 local and State councils and federations of churches across the country through which individual churches are co-operating.

"Sixty-seven separate communions are officially co­operating in one or more of the eight major national interdenominational agencies. These eight are the Council of Church Boards of Education, the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, the Foreign Missions Conference of North America, the Home Missions Council of North America, the Inter­national Council of Religious Education, the Mission­ary Education Movement, the National Council of Church Women, and the United Stewardship Council. Created at different times and designed for separate purposes, the co-operative ministry of these agencies and the new ecumenical spirit in Christendom have brought them closer and closer together. . . .

"Certainly the completion of the organiz.ation of the World Council of Churches is a first priority in the strategy of church co-operation internationally, and should be consummated as quickly as world con­ditions permit. Every answer to where we are now in church co-operation indicates we cannot stop there.

The churches must move forward to an ever-increas­ing co-operative unity. The extremity of misery and affliction which the human family now suffers places upon Christendom a greatly increased responsibility to exemplify the spirit of togetherness and unity which arises from its faith in Jesus Christ. This foundation of the church's faith and life is deeper than all denominational separations. Church co­operation can help make this clear. This, in turn, under the guidance of God, may release new spiritual power. Thus equipped, churches may acquire a united front as they face responsibilities before them now and in preparation for their ministry in the postwar world."

Still Clinging to Evolution

By CARLYLE B. HAYNES, Secretary, War Service Commission

On Sunday night, August 2, 1942, in the Riverside church, New York City, Harry Emerson Fosdick made it plain that he still clings to the pagan teaching of evolution. Seek­ing to find some comfort for his parishioners in the gloomy prospects of current developments, he found that comfort in the slow processes of evolution. He said :

"Imagine yourself back some millions of years ago on this planet, facing two facts here. On the one side volcanoes—huge, terrific, blazing with the inexhaust­ible fires of the earth's flaming core, and on the other side protoplasm—miscroscopic, invisible along the water's edge, feeble, quiet, vital. On which are we betting, as we stand there millions of years ago—vol­canoes, or protoplasm? Protoplasm had no credible chance to mean anything as against the violent forces represented by volcanoes, and yet, see what actually came of it at last—life, spirit, beauty, music, proph­ets, apostles, martyrs, scientists, and saints.

"The unimaginable did happen. Unpredictability is the essential quality of this cosmos, and in the future, as in the past, the one thing we can be most sure about is that what will happen will be something that 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,' and that hath not 'entered into the heart of man.'

"In these days we need the reinforcement of this meaning of God behind our morale. Volcanoes versus protoplasm—that is not ancient history. On the one side, today, the upheaval of violent forces that shake the world; on the other, the spiritual forces, quiet, invisible, vital, creative—my soul, how hard it is to believe in them with steadfast faith! Many of us here are tempted to bet on the volcanoes.

"That is the kind of cosmos we live in. It is the incredible that happens. To many of us the applica­tion of this truth will be most poignant when we think of the terrific events we now are living through, full of foreboding, packed with evil omen. We are tempted at least emotionally to feel that the world is almost sunk, history come to a dead end. Yet, my friends, look at history. What happens there is habitually the unpredictable."

What a pitiable, futile doctrine ! According to Mr. Fosdick's belief, it has taken at least one hundred million years for the processes of evolution to give the victory to protoplasm rather than volcanoes. Does he mean to imply that it will take a similar period of time before we can hope for deliverance from the present volcanic forces that are shaking the world? How much truer optimism it is to believe that the Lord who made the earth by His Word will shortly bring to eternal defeat all the forces of destruction, and begin His glorious reign.

Publicity in the Public Press

Much has been said and written regarding our workers' utilizing the public press in reporting the activities of their churches, by inserting sermons, and in various other ways. We seldom expect the press to write about us, but a recent write-up of considerable interest has found its way to our office—an account in which a newspaper reporter wrote at length of his visit to a Seventh-day Adventist church in Pennsylvania.

The article, "We Go to Church in Erie," in the Erie Dispatch-Herald of February 23, ap­peared in the reporter's regular column, with his name, Arch Bristow, superimposed on an appropriate winter scene. In the first para­graph he tells how he had been visiting a different church each week, and this was his "fifty-eighth consecutive churchgoing." The story covers almost forty column inches, and is written in chatty, informal style. We marvel, as we read it, how a non-Adventist could find so much to say about a single visit to a single church. Space does not permit reproduction of the whole write-up, but we quote a few extracts;

"So accustomed have we become to driving out to church on Sunday morning, through quiet streets de­serted except for churchgoers, it seemed strange in­deed to be on our way to church in the midst of this busy, Saturday afternoon scene, and in the middle of the afternoon. However, it is very good for us to do things that are different. Every time we climb out of our rut, we're lifted to a new elevation, from which the viewpoint is different. To Seventh-day Adventists, of course, what others call Saturday is the Sabbath day, and there is excellent Biblical basis for calling it the Sabbath.

"While not the busiest, loth Street is one of Erie's active thoroughfares. Traffic flows steadily east and west. The Seventh-day Adventist church is on the south side of the street, some three blocks east of State, a red brick church with low Roman tower, large gothic windows, easy steps, a friendly, brown door coming almost flush with the sidewalk. A chiseled cornerstone informs the visitor the church was 'Es­tablished 1890. Rebuilt 1931. . .

"We take a seat in a rear pew, so that our note-making may annoy no one. Also, a rear pew gives a visitor the best view of the church. The walls and curved ceiling are finished in light buff. The gothic windows are green and gold, with rich blue, purple, and gold at their pointed tops. The handsome oak pews are deeply cushioned in green. Beneath the pews a polished, hardwood floor. The church's broad middle aisle is carpeted in rich green. Three tall-backed chairs stand in a recess behind the oak pulpit. A cheerful, well-lighted, warm, friendly church in which to find oneself this cold, windy February after­noon. . . .

"The three men occupying the Seventh-day Ad­ventist pulpit, while laymen, are local elders, taking the place of the pastor in his absence. It is quite re­markable so fine a speaker is found outside a regular pastorate. He is an easy and convincing talker, and there is more thought and logic in his address than one sometimes hears from a preacher who wears a gown. His subject this afternoon is 'God's Other Commandments.' He begins by reading from Mat­thew 5 :48: 'Be ye therefore perfect as your Father is perfect.'

"Immediately there is a rustle of Bible leaves, as almost every adult member of the congregation fol­lows the Bible reading. Again and again during his talk, as the elder reads one passage and another, comes a rustle of Bible leaves over the entire church as his hearers follow the words closely. This close following of the text, this rustle of Bible leaves throughout the church, is an unusual feature of the Adventist service we shall remember. We have never seen its equal. This intimate participation in the service seems a fine thing. It is as if everybody shared in the preaching. . . .

"Erie's Seventh-day Adventists could not be more warm and friendly. We meet many fine people, and after considerable friendly chatting step out into the cold air of the late February afternoon, a most pleasant memory added to our long list of church visits."

What would a reporter find if he visited your church?

M. A. H.

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Various authors. 

November 1942

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