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    1909

    January 13, 1909

    “Church Federation” The Medical Missionary, 18, 2, pp. 36-39.

    ATJ

    ALONZO T. JONES

    [It should not be expected that we should give here any account of the origin and growth, so far, of the Federation of Churches. All this, both in the history and in the principles of it, has been fully set forth in these columns in the past three years; and has been reprinted in book form. All that can be done now is to follow the thing in its further development, as in the late council manifested. All who have not read the accounts up to the present time can do so by obtaining the two pamphlets—“The World’s Greatest Issues,” twen- ty-five cents; and “The Christian Church and Church Federation,” thirty-five cents. Probably a good many have “The World’s Greatest Issues,” but we know that not so many have “The Christian Church and Church Federation,” though the latter is, if anything, more than the former essential to a fair understanding of church federation and its far-reaching meaning. Both of these pamphlets can be had by addressing, with the price, THE MEDICAL MISSIONARY, Battle Creek, Mich.]MEDM January 13, 1909, page 36.1

    THE first meeting of the “Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America” was held in Witherspoon Hall, Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 2 to 8, inclusive.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 37.1

    Three years ago there was held in New York City a conference on federation. That conference proposed to the churches a form of federation. This was approved, the federation was a fact, and this council in Philadelphia was the first meeting of the officially formed and officially named and called “Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America.”MEDM January 13, 1909, page 37.2

    In the opening speech by the president of the Council, he said that this Council was “a federation of denominations. Federation itself is no new idea; but denominational federation is new. This Council stands officially for thirty-two denominations, with a membership of eighteen millions, and representing a population of fifty millions, a majority of the inhabitants of the United States.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 37.3

    “It is American, and has rightly a relation to the questions of temperance, marriage and divorce, Sabbath desecration—to all the great questions that demand the united efforts of the churches. It has also relation to the world at large; for the attitude of our nation is largely Christian toward other nations, and the essential spirit of our nation is that of the Lord Jesus.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 37.4

    “It is Protestant; but whereas the Protestant Reformation emphasized the right of private judgment and developed in a notable manner individuality, thoughtful persons are now realizing the need of combination, and the interests of the individual no longer blind the minds of believers to the need of mutuality in service.”MEDM January 13, 1909, page 37.5

    There were about four hundred delegates from the thirty-two churches of the Federation. The Methodist Episcopal had fifty delegates; the Methodist Church South had thirty-four; the Baptist Federation of the North had thirty-two; Presbyterian Church had thirty-one; the Disciples, thirty; the Congregationalists, twenty-one; and so on down to the Primitive Methodists, who had but two.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 37.6

    Three years ago, when this Federation was formed, the Baptist churches were not a federation, of themselves. Since that time, however, the Baptist Churches have formed a federation of themselves. There was opposition to it, and the opposition was Scriptural and Christian. Nevertheless, federation was practically accomplished at the annual assembly in Washington City, 1907, and was perfected at the annual convention in Oklahoma City, 1908; and became a part of this National Federation by the appointment of the thirty-two delegates before mentioned.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 37.7

    Business sessions were held forenoon and afternoon each day except Sunday; and mass-meetings in two or three places every night and Sunday afternoon—except Saturday night.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 37.8

    The time of the Council in the business sessions was occupied with the hearing and discussion of the reports of large committees that had been appointed apparently at the Conference in 1905, and that had made up their reports before this Council had assembled.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 37.9

    These reports and the discussions showed plainly that this Federal Council of Churches, in the name of heaven assumes jurisdiction of everything on earth—local, national, and international; civil and religious alike. For with equal confidence they dealt with “International” and “Interdenominational” relations; with affairs of the State; as well as of the Church. And this universal jurisdiction has been assumed with the direct purpose of its being held, exerted, and enlarged. In their own words: “A body of men that represents to any extent a constituency that includes a church membership of over seventeen millions and a family and individual constituency of more than half the population of this nation of eighty millions, can not but receive world-wide recognition from those who thoughtfully watch the trend of national and international affairs.”MEDM January 13, 1909, page 37.10

    Sunday afternoon there was held at Lyric Theater a mass-meeting professedly in the interest of workingmen; but in fact it was in the interest of trades union workingmen. And everything about it, except one speech, showed plainly that on the part of the Church Federation the meeting was chiefly for the purpose of their feeding taffy to the trades unions. The chairman of the meeting was a vice-president of the Federation of Labor and a Roman Catholic; while the meeting itself was gotten up altogether by the Federation of Churches, a federation of Protestants only, and which would not by any means admit Catholics to its membership. This Catholic chairman of the mass-meeting of the Federal Council of Protestants, on behalf of the Federation of Labor congratulated the Federation of Churches on “the strong and open stand that it had taken in behalf of labor. We would almost concede that the Church Federation resolution emanated from a trades union.”MEDM January 13, 1909, page 38.1

    Of course, the chairman and everybody else there knew full well that by his reference to “labor” he meant only union labor as the object of that action of the Church Federation. And the Federation Council had only the day before taken such action, in the words. “To those who by organized effort are seeking ... to uphold the dignity of labor, this Council sends the greeting of human brotherhood and the pledge of sympathy and of help in a cause which belongs to all who follow Christ.” This, while in the same report declaring that “the churches must stand for the right of all men to the opportunity for self-maintenance; a right ever to be wisely and strongly safeguarded against encroachments of every kind”—a declaration in the presence of which trades-unionism can not stand for a moment.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 38.2

    Nevertheless, both parties rode the two horses going in opposite directions, and the Catholic vice-president of the Federation of Labor introduced the Protestant president of the Federation of Protestant Churches. Then, the Protestant president of the Federation of Protestant Churches, a bishop, said:—MEDM January 13, 1909, page 38.3

    “This Federation represents a membership of seventeen millions and a population of more than fifty million. If Christ had not been here, there would have been no federations. The badge of this Federation bears the hand of a laboring man—the hand of Christ. I would not be here if Christ were not a workingman. I would not respect him if he were not a workingman. Christ is the model workingman. He has a claim on the workingman, as no other religion has. Laboring men rarely use the name of Christ profanely.”MEDM January 13, 1909, page 38.4

    Then the Catholic chairman of the meeting said:—MEDM January 13, 1909, page 38.5

    “In our great struggles, in our great strikes, we have felt that the church was indifferent. The great majority of members of trades unions are church members. When a man joins a union and goes on a strike, it does not mean that he is not a Christian. We all worship the same God. And now since the church has declared herself, it devolves on us to do our best to keep the respect of the church.”MEDM January 13, 1909, page 38.6

    But what the bishop said is worth a little notice for its own sake alone. Take his expression. “I would not be here if Christ were not a workingman. I would not respect him if he were not a workingman.” Just look at that, will you? Think on it a little. Jesus Christ, being the Lord of glory and the Creator of heaven and earth, it would seem that he should be respected by every person in the universe, wherever and in whatever form or condition he might choose to come. But lo, here is one who makes it the sole condition of his having his respect that he “come as a workingman!” The Lord of glory and Creator of all things condescends to come to the world of sinful men for the purpose of delivering sinful men from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. In view of this it would seem that any sinful man would by only glad to welcome him and do him grateful reverence and everlasting homage, in whatever form or estate he might choose to come. But no! here is one who flatly declares that if Christ the Creator and Redeemer had not come as “a workingman” he would not even respect him. This gives just ground for query as to what the bishop considers the real relative attitude and position of himself and the Creator. How much more of a step would he have to take in that same direction before he would be ready to proclaim that unless the Creator and Lord of all conform strictly to his notion in all points he “would not respect him”?MEDM January 13, 1909, page 38.7

    Also about how much larger mass-meeting of trades unions would be needed to draw from him the declaration that if Christ were not a trades-unionist he would not be at such a meeting, and “would not respect him”? Indeed, this is implied in what he did say; for he said, “If Christ had not been here, there would have been no federations.” And what are trades-unions but trades-federations? And what is trades-unionism but trades federationism, equally with church federationism?MEDM January 13, 1909, page 39.1

    But so far is it from being true that if Christ had not been here there would have been no federations, that exactly the opposite is true. Christ is “the word made flesh.” And that word said to him with a strong emphasis that he “should not walk in the way of this people,” saying to him “Say ye not ‘A confederacy’ to all them be whom this people shall Say ‘A confederacy.’” Isaiah 8:11, 12. So of Christ’s coming being the ground or cause of federations, the truth is so completely the opposite that where Christ is recognized and received or even respected, there can not be any such thing as federation or confederation of any kind or to any degree, whether federations of labor, or federations of churches, or what not.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 39.2

    The chairman next introduced the Rev. Mr. Stelzle, who before he became a minister was a machinist. He made “the one speech” before referred to as the exception. It was a straightforward, open, fair, and honest, Christian speech to union men on the principles of the gospel of salvation; of the change of heart as the true spring and guide of life, citing with telling effect the philosophy of Josh Billings, that “before you could have an honest horse-race, you must have an honest human race”; and closing with a most powerfully spiritual appeal to them that they “Give Jesus a square deal.” It was the best address that I ever heard given to union men. And the contrast—in the speech itself, in its effect, and in every respect—between this speech and the adulation of the bishop was so marked that it seems the bishop must surely have seen it and been fairly ashamed of his toadyism, if not of himself also.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 39.3

    And this contrast is only a phase, and illustrative, of a wide and mighty contrast that was manifest throughout the whole course of the session of the Federation Council—a contrast that conveys a world of meaning, and is in itself the touchstone of the whole scheme of Federation.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 39.4

    But this part of the story will have to be told next week.MEDM January 13, 1909, page 39.5

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