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The Presbyterian of the South : [combining the] Southwestern Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Southern Presbyterian. [volume] (Atlanta, Ga.) 1909-1931, May 21, 1919, Image 3

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

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/10021978/1919-05-21/ed-1/seq-3/

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means to this end, it must stop doing it. If it
possesses anything, it must give it up; if it
believes anything, it must cancel it from its
creed; if it is anything, it must change and
become what it needs to be. It must view its
orders and tenets, its properties and practices
in the light of its mission; and it must never
forget that, the law of its life takes it to cal
vary; not merely to Christ's calvary, to sing
a hymn and say a prayer and then go away
to feed its pride with thoughts of power and
peace, but to its own calvary, where it lays
down its life, where it gets itself crucified,
where it has the nails and the spear and the
thorns driven into its flesh, and where it quits
counting statistics and, entering upon the
agony of its intercession, can say, "1 am cru
eified with Christ."
It is this kind of a church, I think, Christ
had in mind when he uttered my text. It is
such a church the need of the world clamors
for today. It is such a church that men wdl
seek, for they will know that it thinks more of
their welfare than of its own success, and that
it seeks them, not to use them, but to serve
them and to teach them how to serve.'
A New World.
There is a new world waiting to be built.
The old world is in ruins. The war has done
more than shoot up a section of France. It
has shattered old traditions; it has kicked out
despotic dogmas, that for generations have
tried to fetter free thought; it has mtde a
seraph cap of systems founded on privilege and
easte. As one goes through the devastated
area of Prance, it is a scene of desolation that
confronts him. City after city is beaten down
to the ground ; villages by the hundreds are
now crumbling heaps of broken stone; in
many a town not a house is left standing; the
inhabitants are gone; people can live there no
longer; and yet love is tenacious of locality
and, here and there, you will come upon a
little group of French peasants burroughing
among the ruins where they once had a home,
unwilling to live anywhere except on the old
spot. Hut the ruins can never be rebuilt; a
new town may arise on the old site, but the
shell-shattered debris must first be cleared
away; it can never again become a human hab
It is an illustration of what has befallen so
ciety. Much that went to make the old order
has been shot to pieces. Some', tenacious of
the old ways, are crawling back amid the
ruins, but the world can never live there again.
In politics, the old doctrine of national isola
tion and selfishness has been shelled. The
League of Nations is the Magna Charta of the
new internationalism and over the portal of
the State house of every decent country the
world of tomorrow is saying, "Not trade, but
service, must direct the statesmanship of the
future." In business the old principle of com
petition is discredited and commercial life con
fronts co-operation as an economic and indus
trial necessity. In religion sectarianism has
lost all its friends and even denominational
ism most of its arguments. If the Church is to
get an audience today it must go in the spirit
of him who said, "Ye are brethren."
A new world is waiting to be built and it
must he a world of brotherhood. The rent in
humanity made by this accursed war must be
closed. The wounds must be healed; the sor
rows comforted, and the alienations reconciled.
On thfc ruins of the old order human life must
build a house to dwell in where people are free
from fear, free from the menace of war, solici
tous for each other's welfare, concerned for
one another's happiness and daily striving to '
translate the Golden Rule into all of life's re
Can the Church Build a New World?.
Ts the Church equal to this task? If not, so
ciety is doomed. If the Church cannot pro
mote fraternity and foster brotherhood, is
there anything 011 earth that can? If the
Church with the gospel of the crucified Re
deemer who loved the world enough to die for
it cannot lead a crusade against dishonesty
and greed in polities, against selfishness and
the worship of mammon in business, against
bigotry ami intolerance in religion, then love
has no constituency left to follow its white flag
against the foes of hope.
If the Church cannot teach men to aequiiv
self-mastery, to he free without being arro
gant, to possess their privileges without de
priving others of their rights, to find in service
and sacrifice the road to God, then the Church
has professed with 110 hope of performance.
It is a vain boaster. Its message is the empty
wind and its right to existence is gone for
ever. If the Church cannot build the new
world, it cannot do what it was created to do p
for it exists, not to write insurance against
disaster beyond the grave, but to establish a
kingdom of good will on the earth and fill time
as well as eternity with righteousness and
If the Church cannot build the new world,
it has come to the lionr of its supreme oppor
tunity only to fail ; only to break down and
show that for two thousand years men have
staked their hope on a counterfeit. No such
challenge has summoned the Church since cal
vary and 110 snch opportunity has faced it
since Christ called it into being. I do not be
lieve the Church will fail. In the ruined Ca
thedral at Soissons we found a wonderful pic
ture of the Great Supper unharmed. In some
strange way the painting had escaped. Quiet
ly the faces of Christ and his apostles looked
out upon the desolation around them. So
amid the ruin of the world, calm and serene
remains the power of Christ to make men free
and build life up toward heaven, and this
power the Church may command.
Rut to command it the Church must itself
be under the spell of this power. If the Church
is to build a new world- it must, in some re
spects, become a new Church. I do not believe
that it needs a new message. With Paul, it.
may still say, "I am not ashamed of the gos
pel of Christ." As I have gone through the
war zone and preached to the soldiers my con
viction has been strengthened in the ability of
the old gospel to meet the situation. This gos
pel does not need to be defended ? it only needs
to be proclaimed and read. Repeatedly the
soldiers have told me that they are tired of dog.
mas, disgusted with sectarianism, but that they
believe in Jesus Christ and his religion of ser
vice and sacrifice. There are, however, some
things the Church must do if it is to build a.
new world.
It must break with discredited and worn-out
traditions. What would you think of a boat,
tied to the dock in New Orleans that wanted
to go to Panama? It starts but it stops for a
good rope and a stout pilehead holds it to the
dock. If it ever gets to Panama it must cast
off. The Church has been tied up to some
things that prevent progress. If it is to move
out it must cast off. It is easy to mistake tra
ditions for principles but nothing is a prin
ciple that is powerless. Principles are eter
nally dynamic. If your theory of the Church
and State cannot lift society, cannot improve
mankind, rest assured it is not a principle ? it
is a tradition and the quicker you get it to the
graveyard the better.
The Church must emancipate itself from
dogmatism and intolerance. I am not pleading
for a colorless creed, but protesting against
confounding crotchets with convictions,
against placing the distinctive principles of a
denomination in- the same class with the fun
damentals of Christianity ; against making a
sacrament or a rite or a creed or anything but
service and sacrifice a condition of fellow
The Church must also be united. At present,
this does not necessarily moan organic union.
It certainly means co-operation and federated
effort. It means for tlie Church what it meant
for the armies of the allies when they were
united under a supreme command. The Brit
ish army was not merged into the French nor
the French into the American, but they did not
get in each other's way. They had one plan
and moved as one man and victory marched
out to meet them. I doubt if uniformity is
what the Church needs just now. Little is to
be gained by Methodists becoming Haptists
and Haptists Presbyterians. What is needed
is not that we should whittle down our beliefs
until we all think alike, but that we should
achieve harmony in action and move as one
man for victory.
To do this the Church must forget itself. If
it is to inoculate the new world with its life it
must die daily. It must be willing to decrease
that Christ may increase; to die that society
may live; to be lost that the world may be
saved. The task to which scientific medicine
sets itself today is that of preventing disease.
The doctor deliberately attempts to make him
self unnecessary. The ideal of the Church
should be as high. "I saw no temple therein,"
writes John, in his vision of redeeme'd society.
The church has so successfully executed its
task as to put itself out of business.
"The hour has come when the Son. of Man
:shall be glorified." The hour has come for the
new world to be built; for daybreak and mil
lennial dawn. Yonder on the skyline the king
dom awaaits. Just above our heads the Holy
?City, coming down from God out of heaven,
pauses in its chariot of light to see whether
?Christ's Church is ready for it to drive down
to men or back to God and wait another mill
ion years. The hour is come ? what says the
Church? "Verily I say unto you, except a
grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it
abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beai'eth
much fruit."
Jesus Christ said in his last talk with his
?disciples before his crucifixion, "A new com
mandment give I unto you, that ye love one an
other," and added, "By this shall the world
know that ye are my disciples." The only
weapon he put into the hands of his Church
was love ? love to God, love to our fellow
Christians and love for the souls of the per
ishing of earth. Confucius gave his followers
a code of ethics, Mohammed the sword, Brah
ma a mystical dream, but Christ gave the di
vine gift of love.
The constant temptation' of the Church
is to depend on organization, on institutions,
?even ordinances and sacraments. Our weapons
are not carnal, but spiritual. Love is the one
unique power that the Church can wield. Love
is the fertile soil in which all virtues sprout
and grow. Reverence has its beginning in
this grace. Courage that finds its finest motive
in this self-sacrifice is hardly possible without

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