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Buchmanism (Oxford Group Movement)

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Archives / 1947 / June

 

 

Buchmanism (Oxford Group Movement)

Ruth Tinkler

By MRS. V. RUTH TINKLER, Bible Instructor, British Columbia, Canada

 

Founding: Founded in 1921 by Frank Buch­man, a former Lutheran minister of Philadel­phia. Later Buchman was engaged in Y.M.C.A. work, and became an itinerant evangelist, working in America, England, China, and Japan, particularly among college students.

While visiting at Cambridge University in 1921, he discovered his power as a "life changer." Some Cambridge students whose lives he had changed went with him to Oxford University, where he told of the lives he had changed from "selfishness and lust to purity and service." House parties began to be held about this time, and the movement grew rap­idly, especially among college students.

Name: The misleading title "Oxford Group Movement," which was adopted and much pre­ferred to the name "Buchmanites," brought vigorous protests from officials and friends of Oxford University, and the Buchmanites were legally denied the right to use the Oxford Group title. University authorities in both England and America condemned the move­ment.

Beliefs: The Buchmanites make much of "sharing." In a riotous atmosphere of house parties, public confessions of gross and lesser sins are made to the group of ladies and gen­tlemen elegantly dressed in gorgeous gowns, tuxedos, and costly jewelry.

Another belief, as stated by Dr. Shoemaker, is: "I believe enormously in the possibility of a guided life, influenced and led at every step by the Holy Ghost." The followers are taught that they should begin every morning by wait­ing upon God with paper and pencil in hand, making the mind a blank, and writing down whatever guidance they get. Guidance is claimed in trivial decisions such as expenditure on postage. In house parties guidance is asked as to the amount they should tip the hotel help.

Samuel Shoemaker, rector of the Calvary Episcopal Church of New York, and Buch­man's leading disciples in America, writing in The Christian Century, lauds a number of house parties held by the group in Canada and the United States. He claims that wherever these house parties occurred, spiritual history was made. He quotes a Canadian official who Welcomed the group as saying, "As Wesley saved England from revolution, so the forces which you so powerfully represent are the only ones which can save civilization today."

In ignoring the poor and seeking to com­mend the gospel to the rich and fashionable, large expenditures are involved. It has been es­timated that the campaign in Canada and the United States in a year cost more than $150,000. The movement includes "Anglican bish­ops, American millionaires, Scandinavian mag­nates, colonial dignitaries, sports' celebrities, elderly hostesses, movie stars, Christians, Jews, and Mohammedans."

There were at least thirty full-time workers associated with Dr. Buchman, supported by contributions. Ministers who have become Buchmanites engage in public confessions about former hollowness, hypocrisy, and lack of spirituality, asserting that Buchmanism pro­vides the only road to truth, happiness, and the Christian life.

As set forth in the movement's handbook, Soul Surgery, the key words of the cult were "Woo, Win, Warn"; and as elaborated in the-same document they are "Confidence, Confes­sion, Conviction, Conversion, Conservation."

REFERENCES

Herbert Wyrick, Seven Religious Isms, Zonderman, 1940.

Charles W. Ferguson, The Confusion of Tongues, Doubleday, Doran, 1928.

 

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