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The Presbyterian of the South : [combining the] Southwestern Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Southern Presbyterian. [volume] (Atlanta, Ga.) 1909-1931, February 13, 1918, Image 2

Image and text provided by Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/10021978/1918-02-13/ed-1/seq-2/

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We have been asked to state our position
on the question of union %vith other churches.
We believe that this is a subject upon which
every man is entitled to his own views. We
believe that every man ought to make a care
ful investigation of the subject and form his
opinion on the basis of all the information lie
can get. Prejudice should never have any
place in the formation of any opinion and es
pecially in matters pertaining to the interests
of the kingdom of God. We believe that no
man ought to insist that another shall accept
his opinions, whether they coincide with his
judgment or not. We believe, further, that
no man has the right to impugn the motives
of another or question his loyalty and de
votion to the Master's cause, because the other
man does not think as he does. We believe
that all discussion of this question should be
in love for the Master and for the brethren,
and that it should all be with the sole aim of
discovering what is the will of God.
80 far as our columns are concerned they
are open, as far as space will permit, to any
one who wishes to discuss this subject, and
does so in a courteous manner and with a
Christian spirit towards those avIio do not
agree with him.
As to our position. We see no reason why
the time may not eome when there may be
union, or some other closer relation than we
now have, between our Church and one or
more of the other Presbyterian churches of
this country.
The matter which is before the Church now
i.i the report of the Committees on Conference
of the Northern and Southern churches. As
that report has not yet been prepared, and as
timation of what it will be has been given
ay these committees, of course it cannot
y be discussed.
The action of the Northern Assembly was
specifically with reference to the union of our
Church and theirs. The action of our As
sembly suggested the broader subject of the
federation of all the Presbyterian churches.
Most of those who have written on this sub
ject, so far as we have seen, seem to think that
the only question is that of union between the
Northern and Southern churches. We cannot
undertake to predict what this report will be
and, of course, any discussion of it now is out
of order.
But as we have been asked as to our views
on the subject of the union of our Church and
the Northern Church, we have 110 objection to
giving them, claiming for ourselves what we
grant to all others, a right to our opinions and
a right to express them.
We have a very high opinion of and a very
high regard for the great Northern Church
and the magnificent work it has done, both
in this country and in foreign lands. The vast
majority of the ministers and members of that
Church we believe are entirely sound.
We believe that this position may be main
tained without forcing the conclusion that
there must be union between the two churches.
We do not believe the time has come for
union. The arguments advaneed in favor of it
do not seem to be conclusive. The more im
portant arguments in favor of union seem to
reduce themselves to two. One is that a large
Church, covering the whole nation, will present
a better appearance to the world, and will,
therefore, exert a greater influence. We are
not sure that one great Church will make a
better appearance before the world than two
smaller ones, which live and work together in
Christian peace and harmony. We are sure
that the larger Church will not make the bet
tor show, if entire peace and harmony do not
exist in its membership. We are also very
sure that it is unwise to try to get two house
holds to live under the same roof, if they can
not live quietly and peaceably in adjoining
homes. It may be said that the two churches
ought to live in perfect harmony, whether
united or separated. This is true. But what
we have to deal with is fact and not theory.
One of the arguments used in favor of union
is that it will avoid friction where two
churches are located in the same community,
and would, therefore, make a better appear
ance before the world. Where two churches
arc near together and there is need for only
one, there is nothing to prevent their uniting
now, if they desire to do so. If friction exists,
there is probably no desire to unite. If the
higher Church courts were to order those con
gregations to unite against their will, it is not
probable that existing friction would be re
The second important argument in favor of
"nion is that the efficiency of the churches will
be increased, that the united Church will ac
complish more than the two working separate
ly. Theoi'etically this seems plausible, but we
have seen 110 evidence produced to show that
this will be true.
We believe that it is an admitted fact that,
in proportion to men and money used, our
Church is accomplishing more results than the
Northern Church, both in the home land and
in foreign lands. If the union of the two
churches would insure the united Church being
brought up to our standard, it would be a
strong argument. Hut we can scarcely ex
pect the smaller body to have such an influence
over the larger.
Among other reasons why we arc not in favo?
of the union of the two churches at the present
time are these : There is 110 general demand
for it on the part of the ministry and mem
bership of our Church.
If union could secure a majority vote there
would be a strong minority that would not
agree to it and who would stay out. We would
then have division, instead of union, just as
was the case with the Cumberland Church in
this country, and the churches in Scotland.
We believe the cases of overlapping, where
friction has developed, are not as numerous
as is sometimes supposed. We remember
hearing a representative from one of the bor
der States, where the trouble is supposed to
exist, say 011 the floor of the Orlando Assembly
that there were not more than a half dozen
places in his State where the two churches
came together.
Where there is trouble of this kind, we
would like to see the Northern Church a. lit
tle more careful about carrying out the comity
agreements between the churches than it seems
to have been in a number of cases in recent
We would like to see the Northern Assem
bly show a desire and an ability to exercise
more control over the actions of its Presby
teries. Against the wish of the vast majority
of that Church New York Presbytery has been
licensing men, who were entirely unsound in
the faith. But the Assembly has not put a
stop to it. The Assembly gave some of the
border Presbyteries instructions in regard to
the course they were to pursue in matters of
comity. These Presbyteries ignored the in
structions entirely.
The position of the two churches is almost
diametrically opposed on the question of the
relation of the Church to the negro, and on
that of the relation of the Church to political
questions. Until some agreement can be
reached on these questions, it seems hard to
see how the churches can get together to ad
We believe that this is a very unauspicious
time to take up the question. The Canadian
churches wisely decided to postpone the dis
cussion of union until the war was over. Just
now every Christian is called upon to exert
all his powers in support of the government,
and in meeting the many calls of the great
opportunities of the world for work for the
Master. This question of union cannot be set
tled in less than several years, and, granted
that the outcome may be all that could be de
sired, the time thus spent cannot be afforded
during the strenuous days through which the
Church and the country are passing. When
the war is over will be time enough to take up
the discussion of questions that are not vital
at this time.
There is an intelligent cry for the conser
vation of our resources. This will be greatly
increased as the days go by and the demands
of our millions of soldiers is heard. We do
not intend them to suffer more than is neces
sary. They must have the best to fight with,
and fight on.
Unquestionably we are the most extrava
gant nation 011 the earth. God has been so
bountiful and gracious in supplying our every
need that we have lolled in the lap of luxury
and feasted on more precious plates than ever
Roman conquerors had before them.
The very best of the war will come in our
remodelling our extravagant tastes and cutting
out the luxuries.
So we arc hearing earnest requests from our
President and his advisers as to conserving
food. One slice less of bread per man will
feed the allied army. And so down the list.
Some are looking to this war as a period of
loot; others as a time when they will refuse to
cut out one thing from their usual pleasures.
Many, and we believe most people, are ready
to sacrifice much that righteousness may pre
vail. A shrill howl is going up from the liquor
Mien at their enforced conservation. It is very
certain they would never have saved one bushel
of corn, nor one pound of sugar. The whole
fabric of civilization might go to utter ruin, the
world might welter on into the Dark Ages,
just so the liquor barons might have their easy
millions. A true economy demands that the
whole liquor business go to the last drop.
It is a true economy to substitute the plain
and cheaper and less exportable things on our
tables. Last year's clothes should be made to
do business another year. New furniture and
equipages should be denied, and everything un
necessary should go for the time.
But there is an economy that is false in
the extreme.
There is an economy that takes our boys
away from high school and college, and puts
them in the "army. As Lee said in the last year
of the Confederacy, when the boys of eigh
teen and twenty were conscripted, "The Con
federacy was grinding its seed-corn." There
are ten to twenty million men in America who
o?n carry arms. Why take the youth who
is gaining knowledge and put him in a place
where he can never go back to college again?
It is surely grinding the educational seed-corn
of the land.
There is a demand that ministers should
volunteer; especially for Y. M. C. A. service.
Ferhaps it would be well for a few. But when
we think of the tens of thousands of well
prepared laymen, who could fill the places with
great acceptance, we are surprised that this
demand should be made. Recently the splen
didly fitted President of the Technological In

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