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3 3433 06819651 2







Published for the Commission on Interchurch

Federations of the Federal Council of the

Churches of Christ in America





Introduction by



ROY B.^ GUILD, Editor


New York: 347 Madison Avenue



R 1S19 L

Copyright, 1919, by
Roy B. Guild

■ -^; •* '• / •


In the messages and reports herein given to
the public is found the keynote of the confer-
ences on interchurch work now being held in
different parts of the country and to be held in
greater number during the coming year.

Two words, community and unity, are to the
front in this day. The Church exists for the
community. The churches, through unity of
spirit and of thought and of action, must
become the ablest servants of the community
or surrender to other agencies the opportunity
that is offered to them.

The religious leaders who wish to see the
principles herein stated put into practice, do
not now need to experimei^t. So many cities
have interchurch organizations which have
made these experiments and have worked out
successful plans for cooperative efforts, that
others can profit by their experiences. It is
earnestly hoped that this series of addresses
will arouse many to action.

The Editor.




Preface, The Editor iii

I. Introduction, Fred B. Smith 1

II. The Work of the Church Today,

Robert E. Speer 13

III. The Church of the Future, Cary

B. WiLMER 31

IV. Moving Toward the Light, George

W. Coleman 45

V. Declarations of the Atlantic City

Conference 63


Feed B. Smith


Those who read this series of remarkable
addresses will be profited if they are first
reminded of exactly the incidents and the
peculiar settings which called forth these ex-
pressions. In approaching the close of the
Great War and in recognition of the tremendous
responsibilities which would come to Protes-
tant Christianity, many of a type and character
which had not been encountered hitherto, the
Federal Council of Churches of Christ in
America was led to recommend a series of
conferences to be held throughout the nation.

The purpose of these conferences was first
of all to study anew the questions which are
confronting the churches, and second, to bring
about nation-wide unity in the expression of
the best methods of meeting the needs thus

In anticipation of this series of larger con-
ventions throughout the country, a few of
the greatest leaders were invited to meet at
Atlantic City, December 18 and 19, 1918, to
outline in general form what it seemed to
them ought to be the message and method
of this new and larger Christian program.
Ninety truly great men spent two remark-
able days together. Most of the time was


spent in unprepared, open, informal expres-
sions of personal convictions, hopes, and de-
sires concerning the Church — its future, its
message, its methods. To give guidance,
however, to the whole, the addresses which
are found in this volume were delivered.

The most significant incident in connection
with the entire conference referred to, was
the fact that these ninety men seemed to have
a somewhat incidental interest in the question
of church machinery. Those who had called
the conference had rather anticipated that
perhaps the major interest would center around
the readjustments so much talked about in
the mechanism of organized religion, but for
fully one-half of the whole time the conference
persistently clung to the question of what
is to be the type of message delivered by the
Christian Church in this period of remaking
a shattered world. The expression was often
heard that if every last thing the experts had
ever hinted at concerning machinery could be
immediately adopted, thus putting the organ-
ized elements of religion upon the highest
possible plane of eflBciency, if the Church then
failed to emphasize the things which are related
to this new life, it was bound to fail. So
strongly did these great leaders feel that
the message to be delivered was of primary
importance that, with a tenacity which would
not yield, they clung to this discussion — going


up on one side and down on the other for
one-half of all the time allotted to the con-
ference. It, therefore, seemed nothing less
than providential that the addresses found
in this book should have been delivered and
can be accepted as such a high epitome of
the very message these men longed for, prayed
for, and declared their determination never to
give up until they had fully found.

There was full recognition of the fact that
we are living in the midst of great prophecies
about better equipment for the Church and
its allied societies, and also in a time of great
prophecies about the geographical extension of
Christianity, as well as in a time when greater
words of expectation are uttered concern-
ing cooperation and unity than ever in the
past; but these men held in no unmistakable
way that vaster than any of these, or all of
these combined, is the question of whether
the Christian Church is going to deliver a
message broad enough in its dimensions to
encompass all of life and make this new world
of reconstruction accept it as the cardinal
doctrine of enduring peace.

Following this closely, however, in ratio of
importance came the question of how Protes-
tant Christianity was going to get essential
unity upon this larger program. Every voice
that spoke gave utterance to a sentiment which
seemed to be in the hearts of all, that the


community has become the unit with which
Christianity has to deal, and that, therefore,
unrelated denominations or societies are fatal
to the best interest of the Christian Church.
There were present the strongest advocates of
rapid, organic church unity of the Protestant
forces. There were those present who ex-
pressed strong doubts concerning this even as
an ultimate goal, but after lengthy debate
and after fullest conference there was unan-
imous approval of the report submitted by
the committee of which the Rev. C. B. Wilmer,
D.D., of Atlanta, Ga., was Chairman, and
another by the commission of which Professor
H. L. Willett of the University of Chicago
was Chairman, as the surest method for se-
curing practical, immediate results. Summing
it up, there can be no doubt but that the
unanimous feeling was that some form of
inter-church committee, league, club, or fed-
eration among the Protestant churches in
every city, town, or community of the na-
tion, was the next great step in meeting the
trying vexed task of reconstruction. I do not
believe there was a delegate who was present,
however, in the final hour when that vote
was passed adopting these two reports, but
who felt assured that eventually there would
come greater union in the organic relations
of these now unrelated and sometimes com-
peting elements of the Christian Church.


Certainly there was a large majority there
who believed, hoped, prayed, and expected
even in their day to see a unity of organic
Christian forces throughout the world that
might be even greater than that spoken of as
"Protestant." While many cherish hope in
this realm, and free expression was given again
and again to that sentiment, they were all
agreed that the immediate call was for some
form of cooperation which would get practical
unity upon this community service which the
Christian Church is called upon now to render.
A third note in the order of its importance
that should be mentioned here, was the
call for larger cooperation in service, in out-
lining plans and programs, and in mutual
understanding of the Protestant churches and
their allied societies. A committee, of which Dr.
Clarence A. Barbour of the Rochester Theologi-
cal Seminary was Chairman, dealt with this
question and called first of all upon the Chris-
tian churches to recognize these allied societies,
such as the Sunday School Movement, the
Young Men's Christian Association, the Young
Women's Christian Association, the missionary
organizations, and the young people's societies,
as vital, definite factors in their life. This, of
course, provoked some discussion of what the
real definition is of the Christian Church, and
while there was doubtless a good deal of differ-
ence of opinion concerning the various defini-


tions submitted, there was no difference of opin-
ion upon the demand that the Christian Church
ought to recognize these societies and organ-
izations as an integral part of its program and
everywhere give them the practical demon-
stration of this in hearty approval of their
work. With equal earnestness, however, these
organizations were also called upon to recog-
nize their permanent allegiance to the Chris-
tian Church and were asked to make known
in some form their plans and programs, that
the Church as a whole may therefore have
the advantage of advanced information con-
cerning local, state, national, or international
plans being projected.

It is my belief that if this one item alone
can be worked out successfully, so that in the
future no one of these societies shall be led
to make its plans either for community or
for national expression, without recognition of
other societies of a kindred type and without
recognition of the Church as a whole, the
conference will have amply justified itself and
its conventions to follow will justify them-
selves. There are many very sincere, devout,
consecrated Christian workers throughout the
nation, who have been distressed by the
tendency of these societies, each appealing
to its own clientele, to make out unrelated
community programs that would center in
themselves just as though none of the others


were in existence. This note calling for better
coordination has elements of great possibility
for good to the supreme issues of the King-
dom of God.

Taken as a whole, the conference had in it
some men who looked into the future with a
scant degree of hope, but they were in the
minority. The larger number, while giving due
recognition to the difficulties and not un-
mindful of the vexed situations arising, faced
the future in unbroken confidence that the
Christian Church is going forward with in-
creasing strength, that it is not a decadent
force, that it is not a retreating army, but
that, quite to the contrary, counting well the
cost, it is facing the reconstruction and the
mighty problems of nationalism and inter-
nationalism, believing itself to be the repository
of the hopes of all for their ultimate success.

The leaders and those particularly respon-
sible for this conference very soon after re-
turning found themselves confronted with a
practical problem of carrying out those great
ideals of cooperation and unselfishness which
had been so strongly preached for forty-eight
hours in their presence, for it was learned that
exactly at the same time that this conference
was in session, a similar one was being held
at 25 Madison Avenue, New York City, repre-
senting all the missionary societies of the
Protestant churches, both home and foreign.


They in turn had been outlining a program of
conferences and conventions throughout the
nation, to be followed by a financial drive
in 1920, which, if carried out parallel with the
conferences proposed by the Atlantic City
Conference, would give the impression to the
nation again of division and of overlapping.
In consequence the United Missionary Con-
ference asked those representing the confer-
ence held under the auspices of the Federal
Council of Churches to appoint a committee
of conference to meet them, which was done.
Many meetings were held, with the result that
instead of carrying two movements down
through the nation at about the same time,
one of which might have been thought of as
having a home accent and the other a mis-
sionary accent, these have been consolidated
into what is known now as The Interchurch
World Movement of North America.

As Chairman of the committee responsible
for the conference at Atlantic City December
18th and 19th, I have great satisfaction, as
these messages are submitted in this book, in
commending it to all those who are interested
in the Kingdom of God to the ends of the
earth, not as one part of a program, but now
as an element in a united program which I
firmly believe will mean more to the triumph
of the cause of Jesus Christ than any other
movement in the history of the Protestant


Church up to this date. This volume and
these addresses are released at a time of great
confusion of mind, spirit, and body through-
out the world. Leagues of nations, world
courts, parliaments, and treaties are much
talked of as an earnest of a better brotherhood
throughout the world and an enduring peace.
With all of these I find myself in accord: that
they are vital, that they are essential, that
they have great potency I am persuaded.
Likewise, I am persuaded that unless they all
shall be underwritten, permeated, pervaded,
inspired by the truths of Jesus Christ as enun-
ciated by the Christian Church, they must
eventually fail. While the world needs the
helpfulness of all their messages, the world
needs most the voice that can interpret life in
the terms of spirituality, brotherhood, and
universal good will. To this the Christian
Church lends itself as never before in its
history and goes forward full of hope.


Robert E. Speer



Wherever any group of Christian men come
together today, whatever may have been the
specified object of their gathering, there is
just one subject to which, inevitably, first or
last, their minds turn: the subject of the
present duty of the Christian Church and of
our duty as Christian men in that Church, to ,
that Church, and, through the Church, to
the nation and the world. There are many
other groups which are assembling in these
days which discuss their interests and their
rights; and many of these groups, which in other
days, would have confined their discussions to
their interests and their rights, are think-
ing now also of duties. But, wherever Chris-
tian men come together, it is not a matter of
interests or of rights at all: it is a matter
exclusively of the duty of the Christian Church
of which they are part and of themselves as
Christian men in that Church, as to just what
its present task is, wherein that task is differ-
entiated from what its task may have been,
and how the experiences through whioh the
Church and the world have been passing have
defined or affected that task in any way.



The first thing I should like to say, bear-
ing on this general question, is that these
experiences have clarified and they have con-
firmed the fundamental Christian ideas. We
are speaking today to an attitude of mind
more intelligent and more responsive toward
the great fundamental ideas of the Christian
faith than any attitude of mind we have
known in our generation.

Take just five great ideas:

First: The idea of God. It has been amaz-
ing to see through this experience how shallow
the skepticism of the past generation has
been. No doubt, the atheistic view has eaten
more deeply into the moral character of the
generation than we can know; but its theolog-
ical influence, one is tempted now almost to
say, has been negligible. There have been no
atheists discoverable anywhere in the camps
here or in the army on the other side of the
sea. Men have believed in God. It has been
dumfounding to see how instinctive this be-
lief in God has appeared to be and how absent
all the cheap atheism, with which we were
familiar before, has been in this great crisis.
It has not only been a revelation of how deeply
men believed in God: the experience itself
has strengthened that faith. The assurance of
righteousness in history, the visible spectacle
before men's eyes of the judgment of God
striking home on the third and fourth genera-


tions after Frederick the Great, the pains
which men have experienced in association with
righteousness, have ail deepened men's faith
in God.

Take, second, the idea of man. The old
theological paradox we have always held with
regard to man — his divinity and his devilish-
ness, his limitless strength and power and his
vacillation, his weakness: all of that every
man who has passed through this great expe-
rience accepts now. The highest estimate that
the Christian theory puts on man we see now
to be justified; and all that the apostle said
about the colossal havoc that sin had made of
man we see also now justified before our eyes.
The traditional evangelical anthropology is
commonplace among the men who have passed
through this great experience.

Take, third, the idea of the Church. There
are those who think that the Christian Church
comes out of this war badly; that now that
the War is over, the men will come streaming
back from the other side saying, "The Knights
of Columbus we know; the Young Men's
Christian Association we know; and the Sal-
vation Army we know; but what is this thing
they call the Christian Church.^" I have no
such fears. One trembles for all other organ-
izations as the result of the War; but one has
no misgivings whatever regarding the Church;
for, if there have been lessons which the War


has taught, which it has burned home out of
experience in the lives of men, they are just
the lessons that lie at the very heart of the
nature of the Christian Church, the meaning
of collectivism, of social relationship, the power
of fellowship to lift the weak and carry them.

It is amazing, as one has gone out through
the camps and mingled with the men, to see
how much more those churches which had a
vivid sense of the corporate reality of the
Church appealed to the men than churches
in which that idea was weak and undeveloped.
Those churches to which the sacraments were
real had an incalculable advantage over those
churches to which the sacraments meant com-
paratively little. It would be easy to mul-
tiply illustrations here this evening — all could
do it who have had any firsthand contact
with the men — to show how powerfully what
lies in our thought as deepest in the very
nature of the Church is the thing which ap-
pealed most to these men, although they, of
course, are not aware of its having been the
Church. But the principles stand out in men's
experience and thought with a new meaning
and power.

Take the idea of the Cross, also. The prin-
ciple of abandonment, of letting one's life go
as the agency of achievement; the principle
of freedom from all things and of accomplish-
ing results just by naked life; the principle


of atonement: three of the great principles
that are embodied in the Cross of Christ have
been hved in and through by thousands of
men. The idea of the Cross has been made
mtelligible to many men today by their own
actual experience.

Or, take the idea of Christ. Christ is the
most outstanding figure in the Army and the
Navy today; and not as a teacher, mind you.
Men have been bothered by some of the
teaching of Christ; some have ignorantly
thought, as Conan Doyle felt, that there were
a good many of the forms of Christ's teaching
that needed to be adjourned until after the
War. It is not that side: it is the under-
lying principles that they feel. Christ is the
living supernatural person today of whom they
think, very crudely, no doubt, many of them;
but if anyone thinks that the mere unitarian
gospel appeals to these men, let him go and
preach it to them. He will find as he mingles
among them that the Godhead we see in Christ
has a new significance and meaning and attrac-
tiveness to these multitudes of our younger

I say, first of all, that the experience through
which we have been passing has given us a
mental climate in which to preach the great
principles of Christianity such as we have not
had, with men's minds open to them, with
these ideas intelligible to them as they were


not before, with new depths of experience
opened in their souls.

In the second place, the War has not only
advantaged the Christian faith in the state-
ment of its intellectual convictions. It has set
moral and spiritual values in the supreme place
in a day when we were beginning to fear
whether moral and spiritual values could ever
regain that place, when we were driven to
think that mercenary considerations had come
absolutely to dominate the American mind,
when those types of magazines which were
most popular and that type of advertising
which was deemed the most successful rested
on fundamentally unChristian conceptions of
success and of the use of life and human rela-
tionships. What we see is the reverse of all
that, and we know now that these men talk
without their audience, that deep in men's
hearts there is the capacity to set the moral
and spiritual values over against things and
all personal interests. I was talking the other
day with a father who was telling me about
his boys, five out of six of them in the Army,
four of whom had been for the last four weeks
under fire. What personal interest was there
in that — a man to give his five sons to death
and those five sons to go without hesitancy?

We had gradually come to believe — it had
worked its way into all our conceptions of
political economy and international affairs —


that the only motives that were legitimate or
effective in the life of nations were the mo-
tives of material interest. Now we see there
is not a word of truth in it. What Dr. Guttery
of England put so picturesquely to us con-
tains what we know to be the truth as he
pictured Belgium to us in address after address
of his, Belgium as the national soul that had no
body. It is the second time we have seen that
in history. You may define what you mean
by a nation, and your definition will not
apply to Belgium since the War began. Was
Belgium, therefore, not a nation? Yes, it was
a national soul astray in the world without a
body. Just a little muddy strip of Flanders,
that was all its land. That would not hold
the Belgian soul. We see that there is a soul
in nations that you can detach from the body
of the nation and then bring back again into
its body, as Belgium has now come back.

All the emphasis that was laid on morale
also was simply a testimony to the unreality
of the old materialistic ideas. There is a
passage in the second volume of Cromer's
"Egypt" in which he recalls Napoleon's maxim
that in war the moral is to the material as
three to one, and works out the truth of that
from his own experience in Egypt. And we
see now from the experience we have passed
through that that is commonplace and that
the moral is to the material as probably a


good deal more than three to one. What we
have seen has been the rejection by the great
mass of mankind today of the old material-
istic view and the acceptance by the world
of idealism; of ethical idealism, which is simply
a belief in the possibility of the best; which
in politics is simply political optimism; of
idealism which is simply unselfishness, the
exaltation above all other values of life, truth,
and duty.

I say not only in the realm of the intellectual
statement of our Christian doctrines, but in
the moral atmosphere which we are breathing
and in the midst of which we are to do our
work, the Christian Church has been given
a new time. No doubt some of the loyalty
and idealism has been crude and imperfect.
There is a striking poem by Sir Alfred Lyall.
It is the story of a British officer in India who
was captured in the foot-hills of the Himalayas
by some Mohammedan mountaineers and was
offered his life if he would abjure Christianity.
He had no Christianity to abjure. He was an
agnostic and he was called on simply to avow
his agnostic faith and he would be given his

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Online LibraryRoy Bergen GuildThe church--after the war--what? → online text (page 1 of 5)