By Jesse B. Thomas, D. D., LL.D
The following pages embody the substance of an elective course lately given to students of Newton Theological Institution.
Some portions of the discussion (in Parts IV., V. and VI.) had been previously published in the Western Recorder, of Louisville, Ky. I am indebted to the courtesy of the late editor of that paper, Dr. Eaton, for permission to use the matter taken from his columns. The articles then published aroused enough interest in Wales to induce an application from the Rev. J. Spinther James, of Llandudno, for the privilege of translating them into Welsh for circulation there.
Care has been taken to derive authentic information as to the tenets of the various bodies mentioned, from the language of their official standards, supplemented by interpretative utterances of recognized leaders among them. Only representative bodies have been selected, in order to avoid needless prolixity. The effort to classify these bodies, and especially to summarize their views, is,
of course, a precarious one; the result must be taken "with a grain of salt." The "logical sequences" specified are by no means to be interpreted as actual, except where definitely alleged to be so. Endless differences in interpretation and application of the language of the documents cited from, are discoverable (and will probably disclose themselves in heated protest, if this volume should arrest the attention of dissidents). Moreover, logic and practice do not always travel together. Horace Walpole said the Anglican Church had "a Romish ritual, a Calvinistic creed and an Arminian clergy," and his sarcastic arrow went near the mark.
It should be added that nothing here said as to the fictitious conception of a "church universal" should be construed as questioning the substantial reality of that underlying unity of the followers of Christ throughout the ages and the world which, however wrongly named, is unquestionable. The "kingdom" is a present fact; but, thus far, only a fact "within."
Nor is there any disposition to carp at or hinder the sanguine endeavor of sincere men, clerical or lay, to hasten the visibility of Christian union by legitimate means. Doubt
is expressed as to supreme reliance on "business methods" of human device, or military organization into mass movements. There is peril in relying solely on the momentum of a burst of enthusiasm. The methods of the Crusades did not prove effective in the end. The kingdom of heaven is not to be "taken by violence." It will come, "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord." It is like a "grain of mustard seed" - not a keg of dynamite. It is not necessary to say - what will be only too obvious to the reader - that the author is a Baptist, and must be understood as speaking only from his personal point of view - not as a "master in Israel." He asks for patient reading only; not for credence, except where buttressed by the "law and the testimony."
CONTENTS PART I. THE STUDY OF ECCLESIOLOGY. PAGE I. Scope and Importance of the Study 11 II. Its Place in the Scheme of Christian Doctrine. 14 III. Current Problems Indirectly Involved 22 PART II. MODERN NOTIONS OF THE CHURCH. Summary of Various Uses of the Term 43 PART III. FORMAL DEFINITIONS. I. The Imperial Theory 51 II. The Collegiate Theory 65 III. The Sacramental Theory 76 IV. The Hereditary Theory 96 V. The Voluntary Theory 123 PART IV. THE "HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH." I. The Apostles' Creed as a Basis of Unity 147 II. Historic Emergence of the Modern Idea of a World-church 165 III. Appeal to the New Testament in Defense of the Idea 167
PART V. THE CHURCH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. I. The Word "Ecclesia" in the New Testament 199 II. The Greek "Ecclesia" 210 III. New Testament use of "Ecclesia" and "Basileia" 220 PART VI. CONTEMPORARY SIGNIFICANCE. I. Importance of Distinction Urged 289 II. Bearing on some Tendencies of the Present Time 296 III. Practical Conclusions 310
THE STUDY OF ECCLESIOLOGY
SCOPE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY
I. Definition of Theme. - The term "ecclesiology" has been broadened in common usage to include the detailed functions and relations of the church, as well as its essential nature. It was natural, and perhaps legitimate, that the ideal should be thus supplemented and interpreted by its actual working outcome, in order to its better understanding and appreciation. It seems, indeed, impossible to define the church without determining the range of its constituency; which involves, at once, an inquiry into the nature and significance of the ordinances. Equally preliminary to the outlining of its polity is some settlement of the nature and function of the clerical office. In these and other like particulars the subject ramifies and interlocks itself with practical problems that can not be wisely dismissed without careful investigation. The topic of ecclesiology has, accordingly, been thought worthy, in some
institutions, of being erected into a distinct department of study. It has in some instances been made to share in or absorb the realm of pastoral theology, and even of homiletics. This broader aspect of the theme will not be here wholly overlooked.
Technically speaking, however, the term "ecclesiology" points more exclusively to an inquiry into the essential nature of the church itself - into what it is, rather than what it does. The discussion thereupon takes on a theoretic rather than an experimental form, and falls legitimately within the sphere of Christian doctrine, or dogmatic theology. Especial emphasis will here be laid, therefore, upon the question of the normal constitution of the true Christian church, as defined in the New Testament, or fairly implied from its teachings.
II. Importance of the Study. - No one can read the New Testament thoughtfully without being impressed with the conspicuousness of the place there assigned to the church as a potent factor in the working out of the problems of the new era. As illustrative of the high prerogatives there assigned it, note
1. That the idea itself is of divine conception,
to be wrought into actuality under divine guidance and made divinely indestructible. "I will build my church" (Matthew 16: 18).
2. That it is unspeakably precious as an institution on which Christ has set his heart, and which he has "purchased with his own blood" (Ephesians 5:25; Acts 20:28).
3. That he has chosen it to prolong and consummate his incarnate ministry. It is "his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 1:18, 24).
4. That it is intended to become the medium of a higher revelation. Through it the "manifold wisdom of God," which "for ages has been hid," is to be "made known" (Ephesians 3:9-11).
5. That it is to be a prime instrument of personal development through its adaptation to mutual edification (Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11).
6. That pecular perils and responsibilities attend its leadership, requiring high mental and spiritual qualifications and acute vigilance because of the momentousness of the interests involved (Acts 20:28; 2 Tim. 4:1,2).
ITS PLACE IN THE SCHEME OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
I. logical order. - In the development of Christian doctrine there is perceptible a natural order, in which each step seems an essential precondition to the arrival of its successor. It is well to note the place which ecclesiology normally takes in this advancing series. The theologian ordinarily treats the topics to be discussed, in the following order; viz., theology, anthropology, Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology. It is interesting to observe also that the chronological order in which these topics actually emerged into prominence in history was almost exactly correspondent. First came the discussion of the doctrine of the Trinity, or theology proper, at the Council of Nicea in the fourth century. Next, the inquiry as to the constitution of the person of Christ, which involved anthropology as well as Christology, at the Council of Chalcedon in
the fifth century. Later, with Anselm in the twelfth century, the effort to formulate a theory of atonement brought the topic of soteriology to the front. Not until the seventeenth century, and the breaking asunder of Christendom in the Reformation under Luther, did the question of ecclesiology reach its radical form. For it became necessary then to determine whether it was essential to the true idea of the church that it should be a visible imperial organism, loss of membership in which entailed separation from Christ and salvation. The question of eschatology is still in nubibus in our own day. The Book of Revelation still needs most of all to be revealed. It is still the subject of the most diverse interpretations. It is last in Scripture, and remains last in yielding a definitely formulated doctrine.
Recapitulating the order of topics thus disclosed, observe
1. The primary position of theology. "In the beginning God;" so runs the first verse of Scripture. For without God there is no beginning of the universe, nor of intelligent thought concerning it. Science and philosophy are daily recognizing more distinctly that they can find no starting-point except
from this postulate. Without it cosmos returns to chaos and becomes unintelligible.
This idea is also germinal. All Scripture and all history lie hid in it. Progress must be from a beginning, and ordered progress implies guidance and purpose. So the universe comes to have a meaning, and revelation issues in prophecy. To interpret either wisely, we must "look to the end of things that are to be abolished" and "judge nothing before the time." Here, again, science and philosophy are fast falling into line with the theological implications of Scripture. The scientific theory of evolution is more and more a theory of what Henry Drummond called "Advolution." The question of origin is overshadowed by that of destiny. The unsatisfied eye turns from the terminus a quo to study the more significant terminus ad quern. (Cf. Lloyd Morgan's "Interpretation of Nature" and Thomson's "Bible of Nature" - Bross Lectures for 1907.)
On the other hand, the marked growth of so-called "Humanism" and "Personal Idealism" in philosophy reveals a disposition to turn to human personality, rather than to automatic mechanism in nature, for an explanation of the world's ongoing. Will, as
a source of energy and intelligent design (Aristotle's "Final Cause"), thus returns to a place of supremacy from which materialism would exclude it (Cf. Lord Bacon on results of deeper study of nature.) So God becomes "first, last and midst"; for "of him and through him and to him are all things."
2. Christology a riper manifestation of God. Assaults on Scripture have been especially directed against the Book of Genesis and the Gospel of John - and wittingly; for in these are emphasized the beginning, in creation, and the new beginning, in the incarnation. To rob the record of either is to destroy the fruit in the seed. "In the beginning was the Logos;" but the manifestation of God was only dimly given in creation and Old Testament history. The works of creation reveal theiotes only, rather than theotes (attributes, instead of personality), as Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans (1:20). In Jesus, for the first time, the "Word became flesh," and so completely articulate. In him, for the first time, men saw the "very image of his [God's] substance" (Hebrews 1:3). In his "face" shone visibly "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 4: 6). So that he might justly
say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9), and John might say of him, "This is the true God, and eternal life" (1 John 5:20).
But Jesus was not only, in a unique sense, the "Son of God," being "God manifest in the flesh"; he was also the "Son of man" - the revealer of humanity, in its divine ideal and its actual condition. For, in his sinless character, he demonstrated that sin is not an originally inherent necessity of our nature - he so "condemned sin in the flesh"; and in his sorrowful experiences and tender ministries he made it clear that man has somehow "fallen short of the glory of God" destined for him. He showed also how completely the world is now "out of joint," in that his very goodness entailed the greater suffering. He revealed the true misery of man as an alien in his Father's world: "God's first-born Son - first-born in grandeur and in grief." As the typical man, he had not, like foxes or birds, a "place where to lay his head"; for man must be reminded that because he is neither fox nor bird he must be restless until he rests in God. The swine are content with husks; but the prodigal, although among swine, is not of them; and the very shame
entailed by his hunger for beasts' food compels him to remember that he is a son, and so, having come to himself, to come also to his father.
Christology thus advances beyond theology proper in that the inarticulate utterances of the earlier revelation now gather themselves into an intelligible and final word; and in that word it is made clear that God's thoughts toward man are "thoughts of peace and not of evil" (Jeremiah 29: 11). For Christ is "the Word" of God and Christ is incarnate love.
But Christ is the incarnation of humanity as well as of Deity. He took our nature upon him that we might become "partakers of the divine nature." He thus reveals man to himself as well as God to man. Through him we learn what man was, what he might have become, what he has become, and what he may become through grace.
3. Soteriology the purpose of Incarnation. Bible history is the history of redemption. Creation leads providentially to recreation. The union of God and man, in the person of Christ, is in order to the reunion of God and man in the world. Reconciliation implies prior redemption; redemption
rests upon the offering of the consummate sacrifice "once for all at the end of the ages"; and that sacrifice could come only through incarnation. Thus the "eternal purpose," that "runs through the ages," fulfilled itself in the atoning work of Christ; in which the age-long mystery of the universe is solved and "all things" are "reconciled." Only in "the fulness of time" and in its normal order, could this solution come, and only "in the fulness of time" could the notion of atonement emerge into distinct recognition.
4. Ecclesiology the complement of Soteriology. Luke, in the Acts, speaks of those who are "being saved" (2:47). For salvation, as the Greek word etymologically implies, is bringing to completeness This involves the idea of a process. Salvation is, as Paul indicates in Philippians 2:12, a thing to be "wrought out" from incipient immaturity to ripened fullness. Regeneration is the outcome of redemption, accepted by faith, and is complete in itself. But it is the completeness of the new-born babe, who is still co develop into "a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." (Cf. Teleioi kai olokleroi" - James 1:4).
It is at this point that the church emerges
into prominence as the channel in and through which the Christian life is to find its expression in the individual and the community. We thus come in due order upon the subject of our study.
The earthly church, through help of which such development is to be effected, becomes a type of, and prelude to, the arrival of that "general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven" (Heb. 12:23), of which latter assembly eschatology treats, and which need here be only mentioned as the concluding feature of history, revelation, and doctrinal study, alike.
CURRENT PROBLEMS INDIRECTLY INVOLVED
Certain doubts have become current in many quarters as to the true interpretation of the New Testament allusions to the then coming Church. It is not intended here to discuss the problems suggested, much less to dogmatize concerning them. They ought, however, to receive a passing notice as indicating the wide range of suggestion bred by the topic in hand, and the need of careful and patient study of the theme as essential to a confident solution of them. Among the more radical of the problems thus pressed upon thinking men is the question:
1. Whether there is any warrant for the existence of the organised Church, or any need for its persistence.
(1) Radical criticism denies the trustworthiness of the Gospel records, and consequently makes it impossible to ascertain what words Christ actually used. At the
best he is represented as having employed the critical word ecclesia but twice, and that by only one of the Evangelists. And only one of these allusions is confidently relied on as genuine in so influential a work as Thayer's "Dictionary of New Testament Greek." Moreover, if he spoke Aramaic only, he could not have used the identical word in question, but only one reckoned by the reporter as its equivalent. In the only unquestioned case (Matthew 18:17) the allusion seems to be an existing institution, probably the synagogue. What evidence, then, remains that Christ ever expected or intended the arising of such an institution?
(2) Even supposing it certain that he employed the word in question, or its equivalent, there remains still the doubt whether he had in mind or purpose a formally organized body. The institutionalism of his time was frowned upon by him. He foreshadowed a new era in which emphasis would attach to that which is "within" - a "worship in spirit," as contrasted with the sensuous externalism of Judaism. "Institutional Christianity" has accordingly been bitterly denounced as a perverse misrepresentation of Christ's fundamental idea. Pleas
have been made for a "creedless, formless, nameless Christianity." The Young Men's Christian Associations have been denounced as "exponents of an effete theology and recruiting clubs for the old churches" because they do not swing out upon the broad sea of so-called "Liberalism," and, ignoring the Church wholly, "work for ends that are purely moral and spiritual and Christian." A prominent minister in one of our large cities is reported as saying: "I don't believe Christ ever intended to found a Church in the modern sense of that term. . . . Jesus Christ came to establish God's kingdom on earth." And this from an "orthodox" pulpit.
(3) Moreover, supposing the formal Church to have been a normal development in the beginning, there is room for doubt as to its permanent usefulness. Having been born of Judaism, and having taken on a Judaistic tinge, may it not have outgrown its earlier conditions? May it not now need to be put aside like other "childish" things inherited from "them of old time"? Roman Catholicism may have been a judiciously devised cocoon for a crude populace, but ought not such swaddling-clothes to be recognized as outgrown? Ralph Waldo Emerson
abandoned the ministry rather than share in the administration of a purely "carnal" ordinance - the Lord's Supper - alleging that it was "against his constitution." One writer remarks that "the theory seems to be gaining ground among advanced thinkers that just in the degree that the Kingdom of heaven gets itself established on earth, through the Church, perhaps, as chief agency, will the Church itself become a superfluity; and the ethical societies of America and Europe are already discussing the question, 'To what good purpose shall we devote church edifices when the organizations that erected them, and used them one day out of seven for religious observances, shall have yielded place to organizations and methods better adapted to advance the intellectual and moral interests of the human family?'"
2. Questions have arisen as to the normal constituency of a Christian church.
(1) Must it, in order to merit the name lawfully, be composed exclusively of those who have voluntarily attached themselves to it? In some countries every citizen is, by virtue of his citizenship, constituted a member. In some communions birth into a
Christian household carries the babe into membership. It is contended in some quarters that the "world," as a "subject of redemption," is itself a Church. And, again, baptism by an authorized hand is supposed to "christen," thus incorporating the baptized into the Church.
(2) What of the requirement of definite belief in Christ, or salvation through his intervention in any form? The "Broad Church," the "liberals," the "ethical reformers," sharply assail credalism as obstructive, if not destructive, in tendency. Formulas of all kinds, it is said, have arrested development, bred tyranny, and ended in persecution. "He can't be wrong whose life is in the right." "Out of the heart," not out of the head, are "the issues of life." The Presbyterian Church requires subscription to a creed only of the ordained. Anglicans rebel against such subscription as "a yoke that neither we nor our fathers could bear." But why should any informal profession of faith be required, since sincerely good intent, wholly apart from intellectual attitude, is alone essential?
(3) Is there need of any prior experience of inward change - any hint of what is
known as regeneration - to be insisted on? Is regeneration to be regarded as a condition, or, at best, an inseparable sequence, if not a product, of baptism? The followers of Alexander Campbell have long been estranged from their baptismal coreligionists because of the impression, whether truly or falsely derived from their utterances, that they regard baptism as strictly "christening" its recipient, apart from any anterior experience other than intellectual and voluntary. It is plausibly urged by them that acceptance of Christ as Teacher and King may be definitely shown in submission to his command. All avowal of emotional change is unverifiable and apt to be delusive. Whatever may have been his occult experiences, therefore, he becomes overtly a "Christian" only through the appointed channel of outward expression of discipleship.
(4) Is baptism, as an outward act, essential to legitimate membership in a normally constituted church? The Friends, for instance, a most devout and gracious people, wholly repudiate all obligation to observe ordinances in literal form. The disposition to remand varying forms of baptism to non-essentialism, as touching an "externality
of an externality," has much increased in later days. The hunger for ecclesiastical unity tends to benumb and stifle any too curious inquiry into the cogency of traditional scruples as to departure from exact obedience. Why should the "seamless coat" of Christ be rent through obstinate clinging to divisive externalisms? In some churches resort has been had to "affiliated membership." In England "mixed" churches, often having pastors of variant faith, abound. It is not unusual to invite to the Lord's table all those who count themselves Christians, without regard to open profession of faith and baptism, or alliance with any church.
3. Serious questioning of the wisdom of prolonging of denominational distinctions begins to become insistent. The alleged weakness of divided Protestantism over against the compactness of the Church of Rome, the growth of social and national tendencies toward unification in organization, and especially the expressed desire of our Lord for the oneness of his followers, have awakened renewed doubts as to the legitimacy of the partition lines that now isolate Christendom into sects. Such questions as these are becoming rife; viz:
(1) Was the original breaking up of Protestantism into Lutheran and Reformed bodies needful or wise? It is remarked that the tendency so initiated has gone on with increasing intensity until resultant bodies have grown "thick as leaves in Vallom-brosa." As a result, there have followed friction, individual weakening, fossilization, and unfavorable impression on the outward world. "I have lived too long in a country where people worship cows." said Lord Macaulay, "to think much of the differences that part Christians from Christians." Pres. A. D. White, in 1875, denounced the intrusion of denominationalism into education. He insisted that it had created "only a multitude of little sectarian schools with pompous name and poor equipment, each doing its best to prevent the establishment of any institution broader and better."
On the other hand, Dr. Philip Schaff, a most competent authority, vigorously defended the existing order. "Denominations," he asserted, "are most numerous in the most advanced and active sections of the world. A stagnant church is a sterile mother. . . . Sects are a sign of life and interest in religion. The most important
periods of the Church - the Nicene age and the age of the Reformation - were full of controversy."
An earnest plea for the revival of denominational enthusiasm was also later issued by an influential Presbyterian paper. It claimed that "diffusive Christianity is no more effective in saving men than sheet-lightning shimmering over summer clouds." The editor thinks that all the Christianity in the world has been almost entirely the product of denominational zeal and enterprise. He feels assured that Christian work, to be greatly and permanently effective, should be divided up, carried on and sustained by denominations, and in furtherance of this view continues:
"Denominationalism, intense, intelligent and loyal, forcing itself into power by saving men, is not a curse, but a blessing. If the world is saved, it will be saved in this way. Undenominational efforts, however well meant, and however apparently successful, have always failed of permanent results, and as long as human nature exists as it is, always will fail. Denominationalism is not what is popularly called sectarianism; it does not promote bigotry. The most
abominable dogmatism extant is among those who boast that they have no creeds. It is a sort of headless monster, flopping itself about without law of existence, unregulated by the equities of truth or charity."
(2) But, admitting that some lines of partition are advisable, and even inevitable, it remains to inquire at what point such partition becomes needful or advisable. Most denominations divide upon details of polity, upon creedal differences, or upon questions of ritual or outward detail. Baptists and Episcopalians are ordinarily singled out by a common instinct as chief obstructionists of the final reunion of Christendom. For it is seen that the points at which they dissent from other bodies are most radical. For Baptists pertinaciously adhere to immersion as the only authorized baptism, and therefore essential to the normal constituency of a New Testament church. While the Episcopalians, with equal fidelity, claim that ordination at the hands of the "historic episcopate" is essential to clerical efficiency, and therefore to legitimate baptism itself. Questions of polity or ritual are largely questions of expediency; but questions of supposed fidelity to express command or
to divinely established order are not so.
4. New social, political and other conditions are pressing anew upon us the inquiry as to the nature and range of the ftmctions of the Church.
(1) Ought the Church any longer to attempt the supervision of private conduct by way of discipline; and, if so, for what? The English Church agrees with Augustine that the parable of the "tares" forbids any interference with the growing crop; to root out offenders is to interfere with the work of the angels. Let all "grow together until the harvest." Although Charles Darwin was a professed agnostic up to his death, there was no hesitation in reading the burial service over him as having died in the "odor of sanctity." Trials for heresy have come to engender bitterer criticism of the heresy-hunter than of the heretic. He who boldly departs from and sneers at the common faith is no longer a "miscreant." He is more likely to be crowned, by the secular press at least, as a hero. "Worldly amusements" were once thought to be deserving of ecclesiastical notice, and those who shared in them were subjected to the humiliation of being "labored with," and, if obstinate, of
being cut off. But matters of personal behavior are no longer the subject of espionage or adjudication in the Church - save in the case of criminal or other outrageous offense. What such relaxation of traditional "watch-care" may ultimately bring forth, is not yet clear.
(2) Pre-eminent among the growing problems of the day, perhaps the one supreme subject of hesitating inquiry is that of the relation of the Church, as such, to economic and other social questions. What attitude ought the Church to assume toward labor organizations, and toward the whole movement which they, in part, represent? What of the work of "institutional churches," and official participation in efforts for social betterment among the poor and the vicious? How far may the Church properly go in seeking municipal or other corporate advance in such betterment? At what point ought the Church to stop in the effort to combine the ethical and the strictly religious? Is there any danger of swamping the latter in the former? It is needless to particularize further. The intricacies of the problem are labyrinthine.
Dean Fremantle, in his book on ''The
World as a Subject of Redemption," sharply repels the common notion that the mission of the Church is primarily to the individual. He there says: "Salvation is looked upon mainly as the deliverance of individuals. The idea of salvation of society has been ignored, though it stands out prominently in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. . . . The main object of Christian effort is not to be found in either the saving individuals out of a ruined world, or in the organizing of a separate society destined always to hold aloof from the world, but in saving the world itself" (pp. 7, 9).
Dr. R. J. Campbell, the brilliant successor of Joseph Parker in the City Temple, London, in his "New Theology Sermons," thus exalts the present social functions of the Church:
"As to the function of Christianity. 'Other-worldism' has in reality nothing to do with Christianity. . . . The Church of Jesus originally knew of no commission to get men ready for a heaven beyond the tomb. . . . Co-operation must replace competition; brotherhood must replace individualism; the weakest (morally and physically) must be the objects of the tenderest care
which the community can show; selfishness must be driven out by love. This is the whole Christian programme" (Pref. IX. X.).
Not so confident or optimistic are the conclusions of a returned missionary as to the observed workings of this theory on the foreign field. As the result of long personal acquaintance with the facts, he notes that the ratio of conversions was never so small in proportion to the exertions put forth; that conversions among the heathen are not in the ratio of the difference of the means employed sixty years ago, while schoolteach-ing and general intelligence are greater; that respect for Christianity, through its missionaries, has increased and is increasing, but, if we contrast the results of present activities as to conversions, the difference is most perceptible. He asks why this is so, and then gives reasons as follows:
"It is not that the missionary is less industrious and self-sacrificing; he is vastly better equipped in every way for his work. The trouble is that his exertions are too general. The attempt is made to cover too much ground. Besides, there has been the counteractive influence of the popular notion that Christianity is rather for the betterment
of the race in its general conditions than for the saving of souls from eternal ruin.
"The churches have fallen into the channels of mere humanitarianism. The trend now is toward municipal Christianity. Christian power is diverted to reputable secularities, ethics, and enfranchisements, in order to greater political liberty, until the operation of Christian sacrifice comes in only incidentally, soul-saving being not the only, or even the main, end or object. Everybody is preaching everywhere to the masses, but who is preaching, and quietly bending all his energies, to save the individual? Where is the society for solitary auditors? Where is the house-to-house organization to wrestle with the unsaved alike in the slums and behind brownstone fronts? The name 'slums' generally shuts the door against all efforts in the more destitute portions of our cities. Work for the improvement of moral natures is spread out, like a little butter over a whole loaf."
(3) The exclusion of the Bible from the public schools, and the consequent antagonism of the Roman Catholic clergy to them as "godless"; the embarrassments connected with stringent Sunday legislation; the
scarcely concealed ambition and effort of Romish prelates to secure political predominance in the country - call for more definite conception of the duty of the Church and its ministry as to political affairs. Are we a "Christian nation," as our Supreme Court has affirmed, and, if so, has such a nation any duty to realize Christian ideals in its legislation, and what part, if any, in securing such legislation belongs to the Church?
5. Changing social and other conditions suggest new queries as to the true status and functions of the Christian ministry.
(1) Is the ministry intrinsically a life-long office, and must it therefore be so continued? The motto, "Once a priest, always a priest," was inherited from the Romish Church, where even the pope could not efface the indelible seal of ordination. The notion of a clerical caste, thus engendered, was frowned upon by the early dissenters from Rome. The Independent churches, including the Baptists, ordained to a local pastorate only. That pastorate ending, his ministerial function ended with it. A new ordination must equip him for a new location. There were in those days no "reverend" coal-dealers or insurance agents, or ministers
"without charge." The sacred and secular were not, indeed, far apart; for it was not thought indecorous for the church to set over it a "consecrated cobbler" or Bunyan-like "tinker." In our day, when the average pastor receives less than half the compensation awarded to the skilled mechanic, there seems strong temptation to revert to the Pauline self-support as a final alternative.
(2) A cognate question arises in view of the multiplication of itinerant workers, evangelistic and other. May one be lawfully ordained to a special form of non-pastoral service? May we rightly "lay hands" on a brother to accredit him specifically to the work of a missionary, as they did in the case of Barnabas and Saul, when they "sent them away" to the Gentiles? May one be ordained as a colporter, a Sunday-school organizer, a Bible reader, a "settlement" worker? Lay work rapidly takes on clerical aspects; may ordination be adjusted anew to its demands?
6. The old question of the proposed "enrichment of the service" recurs with varying local atmosphere and increasing obeisance to the demands of higher esthetic culture. Shall we return to the rigorous observance
of the Christian Year, to surpliced choirs, to a prescribed liturgy, to the recital of the Apostles' Creed and the Ten Commandments? And can we all agree upon the same routine of service? Is there any danger that in refusing, as John Wesley did, to "let the devil have all the good tunes," we may unwittingly install the devil also as choir-master? How far may we go in subsidizing sense to the help of spirit?
Only a few of the perplexing queries that swarm out of the depths have been thus hinted at. Their intelligent solution is of the highest importance. But, in order to this, there is need of patient and thorough study of the preliminary question as to the divine ideal of the Church itself.
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