Twentieth-Century Congregationalism -- By: Henry A. Stimson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 071:281 (Jan 1914)
Article: Twentieth-Century Congregationalism
Author: Henry A. Stimson

Twentieth-Century Congregationalism

Henry A. Stimson, D.D.

“The nature of a thing is that which it has become when the process of development is over.” Aristotle

“The binding religious fellowship is that which keeps personal wishes within bounds.” James Martineau.

Most people you can safely restrain if you forbear to snub them. You can induce them to agree if you allow them to argue.” Edward Thwing.

The Christ Himself had been no Law-giver Unless He had given the life with the Law.” Mrs. Browning.

The action of the National Council of Congregational Churches at its recent meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, is attracting wide attention. It amounts to a virtual reconstruction of the denominational life, and marks an epoch in its history. To understand its true significance, it is necessary to read it in the light of the past. At the meeting of the Council nine years ago (i.e. in 1904) the project was agitated. Three years later it was urged and a Committee appointed. Three years still later, at the meeting in Boston in 1910, the Commission of Nineteen was appointed with posi-

tive instructions, which were “to formulate and constitute a practical scheme of administration, and to submit to the next Council a Constitution and By-laws which embodied their judgment; coupled with the statement that ‘The Council hereby declares in favor of the enlarged conception of the Secretaryship, laying upon that office added advisory and administrative service.’” Acting under its instructions, the Commission gave three years to consideration of the subject. They printed several preliminary Reports, of which copies were distributed by the thousand throughout the churches, drawing out criticisms innumerable in the religious papers and individual letters, numbering more than a thousand. At the meeting of the Council the Commission produced a Report, the result of their inquiries, materially modifying the plans which they first announced. They held almost continual open sessions for free discussion and criticism during the meeting; they gave constant assurance that all suggestions would be carefully considered; they continued in session, privately, most of the time, and on the morning of the final debate, they introduced still another Report, modifying their previous ones, with the benefit of suggestions and discussion up to the last moment.

When the formal debate opened in the Council, it was quickly shown that debate was already practically exhausted. Nothing new was suggested; technical problems were promptly dealt with; and at the appointed hour of noon, the final vote was taken. At the ...

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