The Effect Of The War On Christian Reunion -- By: William J. H. Petter

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:292 (Oct 1916)
Article: The Effect Of The War On Christian Reunion
Author: William J. H. Petter

The Effect Of The War On Christian Reunion

William J. H. Petter

The effect of the war on the reunion of Christendom is a subject that opens up such a vast field of interest and inquiry that one trembles at the threshold, and wonders in bewilderment which of the many doors that give entrance into the subject should be opened. There are two thoughts which are prominent at the present time: The first is the unity which is being shown in actual operation in relieving the suffering produced by the war — a unity of all beliefs and creeds and religions, based upon the outgoing of human sympathy. The other is the realized spiritual unity shown on the field of battle between the chaplains of the various denominations who are working together in perfect cooperation and harmony. These men who have worked side by side to relieve suffering, and who have ministered side by side in danger and privation, can never go back to the old prejudices and misunderstandings, to the narrow spiritual horizon of earlier days. A statement has recently appeared as follows: —

“In the new Master of the Temple, Dr. Barnes, the English Church has a new voice which will be heard with increasing interest as the days go on. In his inaugural sermon, preached a few weeks ago, Dr. Barnes gave expression to certain views, which, coming from a man; in so unique a position, deserve and will command all the more attention. He went straight to the point in pleading for a fuller unity among Christians: —

“‘Let us not forget that the national spiritual experience takes other forms, and I for one would gladly see them included in the National Church. The great Puritan tradition is of immense ethical value, and in its best expression moulds itself closely on Christ’s teaching. The Anglican Church would be richer if she could include within herself those who, guided too exclusively by that tradition, have separated themselves from her. And the Quakers, too, with their burning personal religious experience, and their insistence on the sacramental nature of all our actions, can teach us things that we must not forget. He who would serve Christ in his generation should welcome all varieties of Christian religious experience in proportion to their power to reveal God.’

“The spirit of these words is most welcome, and bears witness to that truest of attitudes which recognizes aspects of truth and life outside its own boundaries. The best efforts for unity to-day are based on this principle of recognizing the Divine working wherever it is seen, and of seeking to co-ordinate all these phases into one great unity. It is hardly likely that Christian people will ever agree on all things, but it is certainly possible and desirable that they ...

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