SHOULD THE PROTESTANT CHURCHES UNITE?
A Maclean’s Album
Five leading clergymen discuss with three laymen such questions as divorce, Billy Graham, temperance and the Lord's Day Act as they examine in this taperecorded report for Maclean’s what divides and what unites them: See next page
The clergymen: “People are scared when we talk about unity. They confuse unity with uniformity.”
Ever since the Reformation, the hundreds of Christian sects that are usually grouped under the name of Protestant have thought with a mixture of yearning and suspicion of something called Unity. Against the single and unarguable doctrine of Roman Catholicism, these Protestant churches have been confronted everywhere and constantly with evidence that in this singleness the Roman Catholics have attained a strength, or an attitude and semblance of strength, that they, the Protestants, lack.
For the past fifty years, the movement toward union has been growing among the Protestants, and in the last two decades it has accelerated as the accompanying box indicates. At the end of the nineteenth century there were some six hundred Protestant sects. Today, because of mergers such as the one that produced the United Church
Dr. R. S. K. Seeley
¡I Soon after this article went to press :j
If one of our distinguished panel members, |§
P Dr. Seeley, died of injuries suffered in ff
a car accident. He was forty-nine. |f
of Canada in 1925, there are only about half that number.
This month, at Oberlin, Ohio, forty-three major Protestant church bodies, including eight from Canada, are holding a conference on the subject of unity—the first of its kind in North America. With this background in mind, Maclean's recently asked the representatives of the five largest Protestant denominations in Canada to take part in a tape-recorded discussion on the same subject. The churches represented were: the United Church of Canada; the Church of England in Canada; the Presbyterian Church; the Baptist Federation and the Lutheran Church.
As might be expected, Dr. James S. Thomson, the Moderator of the United Church, was the most enthusiastic supporter of union. He summed up what might be termed the "pro'’ side of the argument, as far as Canada is concerned, with these words:
"Our country is in a very rapid state of development — economically, socially, politically, and. in a sense, culturally. I think this should find a religious and a spiritual expression. I have a rather profound feeling that we’re bedeviled to a certain extent by what I call ecclesiastical colonialism, in a sense that we've all inherited from other parts of the world ecclesiastical tra-
ditions that we go on perpetuating. There is a need for some kind of corporate expression in the midst of our national life of what I might call a unified spiritual witness—something that can speak as a church in Canada to the people of Canada. We have talked about the growth of indigenous churches in India and in Africa and in China and in all’parts of the world. Are we never to talk about an indigenous church in Canada that will have its roots in this country?” Not all of the other clergy on the panel agreed entirely with Dr. Thomson, as their brief remarks, edited from the tape recorder, show: Dr. R. S. K. Seeley, Provost of Trinity College, Toronto; Anglican: “I'm not quite convinced of the desirability of a national church. I think you might easily replace ecclesiastical colonialism with ecclesiastical nationalism.”
Rev. Ross K. Cameron, Dovercourt Presbyterian Church, Toronto: "Sometimes it can be sinful to try to organize the spirit of God.”
Dr. J. B. McDormand, General Secretary-Treasurer, the Baptist Federation of Canada: “Any possibility of organic union will depend upon the exercise of practical forms of co-operation as an intermediate step. We can't jump directly from here to there.”
Dr. Otto W. Heik, Professor of Systematic The-
The laymen: “If union comes, what kind of church will we have?”
ology, Evangelical Lutheran Seminary of Canada, Waterloo, Ont.: “My experience indicates that there can be no union.”
Although no prospects of immediate church union in Canada exist at present, some form of further Protestant co-operation is perhaps closer than these necessarily brief sentences suggest. During the discussion it was evident that Provost Seeley, speaking for the Church of England, was receptive to the idea of union, while Mr. Cameron, the Presbyterian, and Dr. McDormanfl, the Baptist, might be described as at least lukewarm. Only Dr. Heik, of the Lutheran church, was entirely opposed.
The discussion group also included three lay observers: Ralph Mills, a Toronto lawyer who is chairman of the board of the Church of All Nations and a member of the Home Missions Board of the United Church; Anne Francis, an Ottawa journalist and broadcaster who describes herself as a casual (and occasionally critical) churchgoer; and Pierre Berton, managing editor of Maclean’s, who acted as chairman.
Although the main subject of discussion was Protestant church union, the talk naturally roamed elsewhere. The panelists, in discussing the mechanics of church union, also found themselves talking about their churches’ attitude to-
ward Billy Graham, Norman Vincent Peale, temperance, divorce and the Lord’s Day Act.
The discussion began with Dr. Seeley's remark that “we are not looking at the unity of the church from the view of its practical advantages, but because we believe it to be the will of God that the church should be one.” Dr. Thomson agreed with this point of view, but went on to point out that there were cogent advantages as well, not the least of which was the shortage of ministers. “I came from a meeting yesterday when we toted up the need for ministers to supply our church and it came to something like three hundred,” he said. “We have exactly ninety-five men coming forward.” He went on to point out that the movement, which resulted in the present United Church, sprang up in the Canadian west, where communities could not afford to support more than one Protestant church and "took the situation into their own hands.
“They said ‘We’re going to have a church in this community and it’s going to be a community church.’ They put the label United Church on it before there w'as a United Church.”
The church’s present dilemma springs from an over-all postwar increase in church membership. All panelists agreed that more people are attending church in
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continued from page 17
Are the Billy Grahams attracting new members to the churches, or merely reaffirming the old?
Canada than ever before, but whether this is part of a religious resurgence or merely a reflection of the population increase none could say.
Mr. Cameron pointed out that percapita church attendance has declined
steadily from 53.5 percent in 1901 to 47.7 percent in 1951, but Dr. Thomson insisted that there has been a resurgence since these statistics were taken.
All the panelists seemed to feel, with Mr. Mills, that “the churches that are
strongest appear to be those in which people forty and under are attending with their children.”
A spirited discussion on postwar evangelism and the part it has played in increasing church attendance then took
place, before the panelists returned to the main topic of church union.
MR. BERTON: How significant has been the Billy Graham crusade and similar evangelical crusades which we have seen since the war?
DR. THOMSON: I think that the results show that those who register a decision or indicate in some palpable way that they have been influenced are largely church people already.
MR. BERTON: These evangelistic meetings are not increasing church membership?
DR. THOMSON: I have no foundations to support that.
MR. CAMERON: In my own experience I haven’t found that they did . . . except as Dr. Thomson says, good church people go up to the front and express themselves as wanting to be dedicated again to the cause of Christ.
MISS FRANCIS: They have already done that?
MR. CAMERON: They have already done it in their church.
DR. McDORM AND: I think there are results of the Billy Graham meetings that Dr. Thomson’s statements do not cover. When a large number of people under the pressure of publicity start coming to a central place of worship with a demonstration of the strength and the vitality of Christianity, it’s going to attract a certain number of marginal people. Some of these people come in. I think there has been some good done. For instance, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland had the first net increase in its membership one year after the Billy Graham meeting.
MISS FRANCIS: But, did they stay?
DR. McDORM AND: I think they'll stay as well as people have all through the centuries. There is always a good percentage of losses. Some people come in under the stress of emotion and they don’t stay.
DR. SEELEY: I think it’s completely immeasurable. Statistically, one cannot measure any very marked increase in church attendance. 1 do think the very fact that great crowds of people have exposed themselves to a proclamation of the gospel — it must do something to them. Maybe it will take a very long time before any effect can be measured. One of the interesting things about many of the recent evangelistic missions is that one has heard far less of people being put off by them than were put off by some earlier evangelists.
DR. HEIK: The Lutheran church has never officially endorsed this v/hole business. In Toronto we did not take part in the mission. On the other hand, some of our churches in Europe were more impressed by Billy Graham.
MR. MILLS: Perhaps more has been accomplished in this area by conferences of laymen.
MR. BERTON: Could the money expended on the Billy Graham campaign be put to better use?
DR. McDORMAND: The cost of the Billy Graham campaign was roughly a hundred thousand dollars. When you put that against what is spent on liquor every week end in Toronto, it’s peanuts. One of our Baptist churches in Toronto has a budget for a year of more than the whole Billy Graham campaign cost. MISS FRANCIS: I wonder if people who come to cities haven’t lost contact with
their own groups and the Billy Graham thing isn’t answering the need to people to feel that they’re part of the community?
DR. HEIK: Don't you think that the established church would meet this need much better than Billy Graham?
MISS FRANCIS: The question is: has it? DR. HEIK: In our church it has.
MR. CAMERON: I think the most effective evangelism is the visitation evangelism by the laymen in the congregation going to the homes and presenting them in a trained and skillful way with the reality of Christ.
DR. SEELEY: I would agree. But I think that there is a certain desire for belonging which attracts the people to the mass meeting. I also think there’s a certain desire for anonymity. You can go along to a mass meeting without being too committed about it. Nobody is going to buttonhole you.
MR. BERTON: There’s another kind of evangelism that is a phenomenon of the postwar period. It is what I call literary evangelism. You are undoubtedly aware of the spate of the religious books that are being introduced, such as those by Norman Vincent Peale. What is the overall effect of these books?
DR. SEELEY: I think that in this realm of literature, just the same as in every other, there is some good stuff and a lot of bad stuff. The interesting thing is that the publishers find it worthwhile to put it out.
DR. McDORMAND: People are looking for help in their crises of life, in their temptations, in their perplexities. They’re looking for guidance, they’re looking for truth, they’re looking for moral support, they're looking for a sense of adequacy, strength—and Norman Vincent Peale has a big hearing. Now, I know he’s superficial. I know that he panders very much to the idea that democracy and Protestantism are to be equated—
MR. CAMERON: That’s one of the trappings of religion. It is not religion.
DR. SEELEY: I think if we really look at this carefully we can see that there is a criticism of the church in all this. People have not received sufficient religious education in their youth and they are now trying to repair some of the breaches.
DR. McDORMAND: There is more leisure to read too.
DR. SEELEY: We’re always changing foci, aren’t we? There was the time when the pulpit was the only medium of mass communication, not only for the gospel but for public notices and everything else. Then there was the newspaper; now there is the paper-backed edition.
MR. CAMERON: But the church is founded on the one fact of the forgiveness of sin. and so much of this literature comes out of the philosophy which doesn't recognize the reality of sin. It doesn’t talk about sin at all.
DR. THOMSON: I think many of these books emphasize u'hat I would call a half-truth—we probably have been more bedevilled by half-truths than anything else—namely, that there is a fuller life waiting for people if they will only believe it.
MISS FRANCIS: Well, is it better to go to church for the wrong reason than not to go to church at all?
DR. McDORMAND: I would say yes . . . your wrong reason will become a right one in due course if you keep on going . ..
MR. CAMERON: Isn’t it true that in every congregation you have what Isaiah would call a saving remnant—that there’s a nucleus, large or small, of people who are really believing Christians and practice their religion? The job of the church
is to continually spread that experience. DR. McDORMAND: They are at least in the family. They may not be the most observing or admirable members of the family, but they are in the family and it is good for them to be there.
MISS FRANCIS: But I think Dr. Peales books have revelations that are . . .
MR. CAMERON: Yes, they are appealing to an intellectual indulgence. I don’t think they are getting down to basic facts of religion.
DR. McDORMAND: 1 think they’re helpful as far as they go. Now', I know
that they contain little theology and don’t stand squarely in the Christian tradition as such, but I do thinkthey point to certain traits of personality which ought to result from the impact of the Christian gospel. One fault with his books is that they neither supply Christian motivation nor suggest the need of spiritual reinforcement through worship and through the historic church. He is trying to describe the abundant life that Jesus talked about bringing to all men who would believe in Him. but he doesn't sufficiently relate this to believing in
Jesus Christ and to all that that implies. MISS FRANCIS: That is. he implies that it comes in this world rather than in another.
DR. McDORMAND: Well, why shouldn’t it come in this world? We don’t know enough about the other world, but we are concerned with the improvement of life here. There was a time when we assumed that hunger, privation and suffering were essential, inescapable and inevitable. We said, “Let’s accept it and let’s look to the correction of these things beyond the realm of this vale of tears.’’
We no longer accept that viewpoint. DR. SEELEY: I think that Christianity is always basically an “other worldly” religion. Basically, Christianity is an indifference to material things. Now that doesn’t mean that we are indifferent to the conditions of human living; no: because the concern of the Christian thought is that it could never be indifferent to conditions of living. But I think that this kind of literature which suggests that there are material advantages, that there is prosperity to be gained from the religious life — I won’t call it the Christian life—I think that that is a thorough distortion of Christianity.
DR. THOMSON: I think I agree on the whole with Canon Seeley that the great interest of the Christian faith is in the spiritual world—and that’s not necessarily a world that is to come; it is the
recognition that it is the real world here and now. I would also agree with McDormand that that doesn’t permit one to an acceptance of misery, suffering, pain and poverty as being an essential part of the discipline of life here and now.
MR. BERTON: Let’s return to the subject of church union.
DR. SEELEY: I think that for myself the great difficulty in the way is the confusion in people’s minds between union and uniformity. People are scared when we talk about the unity of the church. They think we are ready to have a uniform church, which 1 think nobody really desires. Differences of ecclesiastical tradition would be preserved and merged. I also think that the greatest difficulty is creating a real desire for unity in church people at large. Until this grows up
from beneath. I don't believe that we can get any real unity of Christian people at all. It can certainly never be imposed from above.
MR. MILLS: Dr. Seeley. I can't speak of the small town, but certainly in a large centre like Toronto my experience has been that the average layman is much more willing to change his specific denomination for the purpose of attending a nearby church than used to be the case.
MISS FRANCIS: Dr. Heik, you don’t agree with all this, do you?
DR. HEIK: No. If there is any ecclesiastical nationalism, as Dr. Thomson calls it, then it certainly exists in the Scandinavian countries where ninety to ninety-eight percent belong to the Lutheran Church. But the spiritual life in these countries is pretty low. Simply uniting the church outwardly does not of necessity change the spiritual life. MR. CAMERON: I agree with Dr. Seeley that unity is going to come from the people through the work of the Council of Churches, and in this country we haven’t developed the Council of
Churches adequately at all. If you go to the United States you will find in almost every community that they have their council of churches.
MR. BERTON: Is the move to union stronger in the United States?
MR. CAMERON: No. Nobody is worrying about organic union there . . . they’re thinking of co-operative unity. Now 1 am against bigness for the sake of bigness. A national church doesn’t appeal to me in the least.
DR. THOMSON: I happen to be a minister of a national church and I think
there is something profoundly significant in a national church.
DR. HEIK: Well, if you want to create a national church of Canada though not related to the state as the Lutheran Church is in Sweden or the Anglicar Church is in Great Britain, that would change very much the scene as far as the outward approach to the people is concerned.
DR. THOMSON: What I’m thinking of is a church that would consider the nation as a whole.
DR. HEIK: Well, it would have to order or control the religious situation of Canada.
DR. THOMSON: No. You can’t do that. DR. HEIK: You could if there is no other church apart from this organization.
DR. THOMSON: I’m not so foolish as to suggest that we should pass legislation that no other church should exist. DR. HEIK: Yes, but you desire . . .
DR. THOMSON: I desire a united church in Canada. That’s what I desire to create. DR. SEELEY: I’m a little concerned with the statement that people will quite happily exchange their membership in one church for membership in another. This is good in one sense. On the other hand, the kind of unity which we seek is the bringing together of the traditions and the heritages of many churches for a richer and greater whole.
MR. BERTON: What kind of a church would this Church of Canada you envisage be? What kind of a building would it be?
DR. SEELEY: I would have all kinds of buildings.
DR. McDORM AND: First of all it
wouldn't be any of the churches that now exist.
DR. SEELEY: I think that is the most important point.
DR. McDORM AND: Everybody coming into that church would bring his distinctive traditions and convictions. It would be something new.
DR. HEIK: Out of the scramble you can bring together your puritanic emphasis on the one hand and the ritualistic emphasis on the other? How can you do that? Would you destroy the crucifixes, for instance, or retain them? You are going to have different churches—the one would have the ritualistic form of services and the other one . . .
DR. SEELEY: We have them both within the Anglican Church at the present time.
DR. McDORMAND: So do we in our church—in the Baptist Federation.
MR. CAMERON: What is your doctrinal basis going to be?
DR. SEELEY: That is going to be a bit difficult. In Ceylon, where they are trying to work out some scheme of church
“The larger a church becomes the greater danger there is of centralization of authority and thought”
union, they say quite frankly: what this church will be God alone knows. It is God’s church, not ours, and therefore we don’t strive toward a pattern preconceived in our minds as to what the church will be.
MR. BERTON: But what do you do when you get down to practical things like the Order of Prayer, the Hymn Book and these things?
DR. SEELEY: I don’t think you would change the ritual in the least bit. I think that within the same church building, according to the needs of the congregation, you would get high masses and you would get the simple worship service . . . MR. BERTON: As you do in the Anglican Church?
MR. SEELEY: Yes, except that you don't get them in the one building in the Anglican Church now . . . The worship would be according to the needs of the congregation. For a great many years there would probably be very little change in the form of worship in a particular community.
MR. CAMERON: What is the advantage exactly over what we have now?
DR. SEELEY: Well, we are perfectly conscious in the Anglican Church that we are lacking many things.
MR. CAMERON: Well, so are we, but . . .
DR. SEELEY: Yes . . . and these would be contributed to us from other church bodies in this new church.
MISS FRANCIS: But aren’t there certain things about the Anglican Church which a Baptist congregation would find definitely objectionable?
DR. SEELEY: Yes. This is the problem. DR. McDORMAND: I was at the World Conference of Churches, in Evanston, three years ago and I heard Bishop R. B. Beardlove make a very significant statement. He's a Norwegian and a Lutheran. He comes from a state church. You'd expect a very strong speech from him in favor of a monolithic unitary structure. But as a matter of fact he said, "I believe that God is too great a lover of variety to desire one monolithic undifferentiated church, and personally I have no desire to see it.” Now 1 think the larger a church becomes the greater danger there is of centralization of authority, centralization of thinking, so that the local churches and the individual members of the local churches simply become pawns in a great ecclesiastical scheme. I don't think that’s good for the spiritual growth of the individual. The larger an organization becomes the more regimentation becomes necessary. The individual is denied a good deal of the expression of his individuality. Do you think, for example, that Europe is any less worthy a unit of the world service because it has small nations like Switzerland and Belgium and Holland? Would it be better to say we don't want any small nations in Europe?
MR. CAMERON: A great many people think so. There should be a League of Nations.
MISS FRANCIS: Take the British Commonwealth, where you have diversity and unity at the same time.
DR. THOMSON: Well I would just like to say that we in the United Church have had a very valuable experience of thi; very thing, bringing together three rather different religions. Far from it having an influence of a deadening effect, 1 think it has had an effect of bringing us together with a sense of joyfulness and fellowship and a sense of unity of purpose and of meaning. Our practical experi-
ence has been that it has been a great strengthening to the church.
MR. CAMERON: What was the main purpose of the union?
DR. THOMSON: The main purpose of union was to be able more adequately to minister to the people of this country. MR. CAMERON: Well, in the first ten years, that is between the years 1921 and 1931, there was a per-capita loss of those
connected with the LJnited Church compared with those who were connected with it before in the three denominations. It did not fulfill the purpose of being more capable of meeting the needs of the people—that is, evangelism.
DR. THOMSON: 1 think there are a lot of things that enter there . . . You’re taking the census reports, and a lot of people registered themselves as Presby-
terians because they had always been. MR. CAMERON: There is an inaccuracy there?
DR. THOMSON: Yes.
MR. CAMERON: It happened in other countries in the same period too.
DR. THOMSON: We can say so far as we are concerned in the United Church that it takes a long time for different religions to mix together.
MR. MILLS: 1 now belong to a congregation which is a merger of one Methodist and two Presbyterian traditions, and I would say that I couldn't identify the streams except for one or two people from those different congregations; it is very difficult to do. Now. that is a practical example of what can be done and I think it would be tragic if those three congregations were now trying to carry on separately in the centre of the city and in an area where only one is needed. DR. SEELEY: This is the kind of way in which unity is going to come. You are
not going to get immediate unity of all Christian bodies, because you are going to get unity of Christian bodies that arc close together to start with.
MR. BERTON: Would you say that the next union that comes at all will be between the Church of England and the United Church?
DR. SEELEY: I am not a prophet.
MR. CAMERON: Doctrinally the Anglican Church of Canada and Presbyterian arc closer together than any other.
MR. BERTON: Let me ask a practical question. At the moment the Anglican
Church will not marry people who havo been divorced; some of the other churches here will. What would happen in the unity church? And how would you resolve such questions as temperance? MISS FRANCIS: Are there, then, different Christian ways of life?
DR. HEIK: No. For example, we are not so strict on temperance, and by temperance I mean abstinence.
MISS FRANCIS: Then there are different Christian ways of life?
MR. CAMERON: Oh, there are different interpretations of what a Christian
ought to do, but if you go back to the Bible as a rule of faith in life you’ll find that temperance is taught in all things. DR. SEELEY: In a sense you could say there are different ways of Christian life. To be a Christian for me is not necessarily the same thing as to be a Christian for you. You might have a little different interpretation of the way of Christian life.
DR. HEIK: Dr. Thomson, didn't you try a few years ago to get a pledge from your people not to drink any alcoholic beverages?
DR. THOMSON: We never entered into legislation in the matter, but it was strongly advised that the membership of our church should be total abstainers from alcoholic beverages.
DR. HEIK: But that would never happen in our church.
DR. THOMSON: I saw a very strong letter sent out by the Primate of the Anglican Church in Canada drawing attention to the use of alcoholic liquor and indulgence therein which I could quite easily have signed.
DR. HEIK: Yes, but we Lutherans would never make such an issue as this.
DR. SEELEY: But that doesn’t matter. You see, I think that the two points Mr. Berton has raised there are in different categories. One is a matter of church order, the remarrying of divorced people, on which there would have to be some rule governing the whole church, and that would have to be arrived at by discussion and examination . . .
MR. BERTON: Either have to decide to marry divorced people or not?
DR. SEELEY: Or leave it to the discretion of the individual.
MISS FRANCIS: The individual clergyman?
DR. THOMSON: Yes. The United
Church of Canada is not indifferent to the question of divorce. It is enjoined upon the minister who marries people that he shall enquire into all the circumstances and he shall not consent to any immorality or to accept divorces as a normal situation. But we do not take the same extreme view as the Anglican Church in Canada, that the innocent parties, so-called, should therefore forever be diverted from the possibility of remarriage.
DR. SEELEY: We haven’t even a uniform practice throughout the Anglican communion. In the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, for instance, there are circumstances in which remarriage could take place in church.
MR. BERTON: There are three areas of social controversy as far as the Protestant churches in this country are concerned: divorce, liquor and the Lord’s Day. These are matters that affect the general concept of church unity. Is a rigid attitude on these social subjects hurting the church, or hurting those churches which take a rigid attitude? DR. THOMSON: I don’t think any of us have abrogated the Decalogue, and we take the view that the Sabbath is a day that should be set apart as being a rest from toil and an opportunity for worship — that wholesome tradition which has come down from the very earliest days of the church. I think most of us
“The church is not concerned primarily about public approval
It must declare what it believes”
recognize that with the onward movement of the contemporary world it is not possible, and possibly not even desirable, to maintain w'hat might be called a legalistic rigidity with regard to the observance of the Sabbath. Nevertheless, I thnk we all wish to conserve the manifest benefits which have accrued. I think the workers of this country will be very foolish if they give that up.
MR. BER TON: Isn’t the desire to have a day off pretty well achieved by unions? DR. THOMSON: If you become indifferent to one specific day you find considerations of overtime begin to come in and the men begin to lose their day off.
MR. BERTON: But isn’t it happening anyway?
DR. THOMSON: I think it is. I’m not a rigid Sabbatarian in the sense that I think perhaps my forefathers were. Even the books that one read in those days and other innocent recreations were frowned upon. Now I don’t think any of us is prepared to take up that kind of position today.
DR. HEIK: We don’t believe that the church has a right to enforce this thing. The early church did not observe a day of rest from work or toil. Certainly there is no evidence of that.
DR. McDORMAND: There is a general feeling that the church is seeking to impose this tradition upon society for its own benefit. That is most unjust to the church, because the church is primarily concerned to preserve for mankind’s interest a proper observance of a day of rest and worship.
MR. BERTON: Are you really concerned that people are not getting one day off out of the week?
DR. McDORMAND: What we were concerned about is that one day—the Lord’s Day—be a little different from the commercialized high-pressure week day, with sport and business and everything going on just the same as other days of the week. The five-day week isn't the point. The point is that of the two days that remain, Saturday and Sunday, one should not be devoted entirely to the commercialization and the exploitation of man. MISS FRANCIS: You mean Sunday is better than tranquilizers.
DR. McDORMAND: Exactly.
MR. CAMERON: Isn’t it reasonable to expect—for the church to expect, at least —that Christian people should develop their spiritual nature and to ask that one day be set aside for that purpose?
MR. BERTON: The point that has just been made is that the church is trying —or some of the churches are—to impose this upon people who do not share its convictions.
DR. McDORMAND: The church is trying to bring moral pressure on its own congregation but not necessarily legal pressure on people who do not belong to that congregation.
MR. CAMERON: The law was made years ago . . . and it’s a puritanical law. Now, if people want that law changed they'll have the opportunity likely. But don’t blame the churches for it.
DR. McDORMAND: It is not that I am arguing about . . . it’s the Lord’s Day itself I am speaking of. •
MISS FRANCIS: Yes, but you are talking about rules that make it impossible for people in some communities to go to chamber music on a Sunday because church members can’t.
DR. HEIK: It is not right for the church to enlist the non-Christian state to enforce the Lord’s Day in the way they are trying to do it.
MR. BERTON: On these controversial grounds on which the churches are battling. they seem to be losing. More and more people don't seem to want to keep the Sabbath, more and more seem to want to drink liquor by the glass, and more and more people are getting divorced and finding churches who will marry them if they have been divorced. Now doesn't these developments put the church
in the public eye in a very bad light? DR. McDORMAND: Well, you see,Mr. Berton. the church is not concerned primarily about public approval or disapproval. When the early church came into being there was a despised minority not doing the things that were done all about them. One of the major reasons for the Christian church’s growth was that it expressed its conviction in such a
way as to progressively win the assent of an increasing number of people. The Christian church is not going to respond to its divine commission by conforming and consenting to the things that are done. Its job is to declare what it believes to be the will of God for the good of man. If the liquor interests believe they have a perfect right to persuade people to drink, why haven’t we an equal
right to persuade them not to drink. We believe that abstinence in the use of liquor is a good thing for families, for individuals, for society. Why should we be afraid to say so because someone is going to criticize? In the long run the church is not going to increase its influence or its goal by becoming silent on the things which it believes to be true simply because somebody doesn't like to hear the truth and says so.
MISS FRANCIS: I was just wondering if over the years the record of the church hasn't had to stand up against similar pressure periods and survived them fairly well?
DR. McDORMAND: The church has to become a minority again before it can become a majority.
DR. HEIK: Well, it’s one thing to say it is good for you not to drink liquor (personally I'm not interested in liquor at all) . . . and another to say if you drink liquor you can’t be a Christian. DR. THOMSON: I don’t think any of us say that. Our church takes the view that every church must take and every intelligent man must take, that there is far too much intoxicating liquor being consumed in this country at the present time. I don’t think that our church today is taking up either the prohibitionist’s point of view or the compulsory total abstinence as a condition of church membership. But we do counsel our people not to partake of intoxicating liquor.
DR. McDORMAND: No one speaks for all Baptist churches in Canada, and we do not have what might be termed “official positions” such as some other communions have, but it is definitely understood amongst us that total abstinence is the approved Baptist position in the matter of alcoholic beverages.
DR. SEELEY: There are a great many Anglicans who regard the taking of liquor as a sinful matter and they would abstain from it. We have no rule within the church in this regard. It is a social problem and the church has something to say on social problems.
MR. BERTON: Is it proper for the church to speak on political problems as well?
DR. THOMSON: I think you could distinguish between what you might call party politics, and politics. It would be a monstrous doctrine to say that the church had nothing to say about the political life of this country.
MR. CAMERON: The greatest political crime in history was the crucifixion of Jesus. Now, the church certainly has a right to make judgment in the light of the word of God as to what the politicians are doing.
DR. SEELEY: I think you would say that the church ministers to the whole man . . . political life as well as to the whole man . . .
DR. McDORMAND: The church is a very important part of the community. Why shouldn’t we have something to say, as a very large and considerable responsible group of society, about what is going on about us, which affects us?
MR. CAMERON: That touches again the reason that there should not be a national church. The church then is not free to speak its mind.
MISS FRANCIS: Mr. Cameron. I don’t quite understand ... Is it the church speaking as the Presbyterian Church, as the Anglican Church, or is it the individual clergyman? Is it a Presbyterian point of view politically, or is it the point of view of the individual clergymen in the parish?
DR. HEIK: There is the question . . . Who is qualified to speak in the name of the church?
DR. THOMSON: 1 think you can say there are three levels as far as the actual official statement of the church is concerned. First, the official constituted (bodies such as. in the United Church of Canada, the General Council, in the Anglican Church, 1 imagine the Synod, and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Or, from time to time, a minster speaks forth as he is activated by the work of God. not as a free-lance speaker or orator, but as a man who ¡s ordained. Equally, the individual Christian. as a man. has an even greater responsibility than a man in the world to speak, to vote and to participate in the political life of the country, as a member af a party or simply as a citizen at large, t think you’ve got all three levels.
MR. BERTON: In this respect, let me isk this question . . . Where are the heretics within the church today . . . where ire the Luthers and the Calvins and the Wesleys . . . arc there any coming up? DR. THOMSON: Were they heretics? MR. BERTON: At one point in their contemporary time they were considered heretics.
DR. SEELEY: Well, there are lots of rebels in the church.
DR. McDORMAND: That’s very apropos to our discussion about unity. At that time there was one universal church and there had to be heretics to correct ihc errors which had arisen through the sheer perils of megalomania.
MR. CAMERON: There is one thing that bothers us—the short-circuiting of the voice of the United Church on these practical questions. It is rather irksome to some people.
DR. THOMSON: How do you mean? MR. CAMERON: I mean one department and one person speaks out and says, "This is what we should do." ... It isn’t the mind of the church that is being spoken.
DR. THOMSON: You are speaking
about the Board of Evangelism, are you? MR. CAMERON: That’s right.
DR. THOMSON: Well, as a matter of fact, it's a properly constituted board of the church having its authority under the General Council.
DR. McDORMAND: But there are certain people who speak allegedly for that board before the board knows anything about what he is going to say. Now. mind you, that would fit perfectly well into our Baptist situation because each man speaks for himself.
MR. CAMERON: The United Church shouldn't put that on as the voice of the church.
On this note of genial disagreement the discussion drew to a close, it