Editorials -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 093:372 (Oct 1936)
Article: Editorials
Author: Anonymous


Sermon Moratorium

Just at the time when the discussion occasioned by Dr. Frederick S. Fleming’s proposal for a two-year moratorium on sermons was dying from inanition induced by its inherent impracticability and futility, the American Institute of Public Opinion selected this subject to test the efficacy of Dr. Gallup’s poll system in divisive matters not political. Because of the success of his method of obtaining the trend of public opinion during the presidential campaign, it is intimated that this service will be broadened to cover other proposals of general interest sufficiently wide-spread to warrant the effort.

Some surprising facts are disclosed by the returns from this poll on Dr. Fleming’s proposal. It indicates that 74 per cent of voters not church members are opposed to the proposal. On the other hand, it is not a matter of surprise that the South, sometimes ridiculed as “the Bible belt,” should show a large majority vote for a continuance of preaching, but it is illuminating that New England tied the South with 87 per cent. These two sections stand in the lead against the proposal, while the Mountain and Pacific Coast regions register the largest vote in favor of it, the former topping the list with 25 per cent. Perhaps the fact that such a large number amongst the people of his own denomination were favorable to the ban on preaching, shown in the poll to be 23 per cent, gave the rector of Trinity Church the temerity to break into front page publicity with this sensational proposal which not only flies in the face of Scriptural injunction but the age-long experience of the church. These figures open a wide field for interpretation and we may expect diverse analyses and conclusions.

After all is said, however, there is a strong feeling that certain kinds of preaching should be put under a moratory

rule. This sentiment breaks out periodically from two opposing camps. It is safe to say that the majority in a poll designed to test this opinion would favor a peacefully inaugurated moratorium against the sort of preaching they do not endorse. Religious liberalists might express themselves, as they do in print, in opposition to the Bible-centered sermon and urge the application of the moratory rule against it. On the other hand, the Bible loyalists might be expected to show their stand against the substitution of the so-called social gospel in the place of the gospel of God’s grace. The result of such a poll might be as surprising as some of the features of this one have been.

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