Organic Christian Unity -- By: Burnett T. Stafford

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 059:236 (Oct 1902)
Article: Organic Christian Unity
Author: Burnett T. Stafford

Organic Christian Unity

The Position Of American Churchmen

Rev. Burnett T. Stafford

Never before in the past four hundred years has the organic unity of all confessing the name of Christ been brought so conspicuously to the front as now. His manifest desire was that his followers should be united both spiritually and organically, as they moved to the redemption of the world. To-day, all who follow in his train, cordially accept the great primitive symbols of the faith; namely, the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. The hindrances to organic unity are not in this quarter, since the facts of the faith abide the same from generation to generation. Difficulties come up, for the most part, over matters of expression: one party says one thing, and another something else. Both usually have an equal degree of positiveness; and, while honestly professing sincere regard for each other, both continue to move along well-defined parallel lines, if not positively divergent ones.

Academically considered, it would seem that the need of the world-embracing movement, which the Christ, with clear and well-defined purpose set agoing, should have some organ of expression. He certainly saw with unobscured vision into the future, as the message of redeeming love and grace should first take hold of the thoughts, and then of the ambitions, of men; and in the final place, reform and reconstruct human society in all respects. He knew human nature to the very core; so that he was en-

tirely conscious that the work to be done by his gospel was in those regions of soul, sensitive and resolute, where every point is one of warning and serious danger. Is it true that “he touched humanity with a magnificent enthusiasm,” and that is all? Statesmen and reformers seek to embody their ideas and principles in organizations having platforms and constitutions as foundations for aggressive operations. The more perfect these can be made, the larger is the expectation of long-continued success. Was the Divine Man of Galilee profoundly lacking in this worldly wisdom? He was willingly subject to human conditions; and one ever-present need of all progressive movement is the presence of an organism of expression. Thought, however brilliant, never does work as long as it remains in the air. Spiritual good news and ambition bring things to pass only as they are forced into the fighting line of social and religious movement. To do this, an organization is imperative.

The unqualified affirmation of all Churchmen—commonly called Episcopalians—is that the Christ did create such a needed organization: it is the Church; and its authority and orders have come to the present day unimpaired.

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