Consultation On Church Union -- By: Charles R. MacDonald

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 15:1 (Spring 1972)
Article: Consultation On Church Union
Author: Charles R. MacDonald

Consultation On Church Union

Charles R. MacDonald

Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis

In recent years many voices have been raised on behalf of “the unity of the church.” This phrase has been the refrain of liberal churchmen and now is being accepted by some who are in the twilight zone between liberalism and conservatism. What has been termed “the fragmentation of the church” (separatism) is the chief of sins in the eyes of those looking toward church union. The phrase “the uniting church” has been coined to refer to that body of persons who are on the way to the union of the Christian denominations and the resultant church.

Skeleton History. This study presents a skeleton outline story of one organization, very young in years, which may bring about the first long stride toward church union in America. We refer to the Consultation on Church Union. This is presented in the hope that it will alert the Lord’s people concerning the possibility (indeed, the imminent possibility) of a fait accompli in this area.

On December 4, 1960 Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, at that time the Stated Clerk (same as Executive Secretary) of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., (today the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches), delivered a sermon on “A Proposal Toward the Reunion of Christ’s Church.” It was preached at Grace Episcopal Cathedral (the church of then Bishop James A. Pike) in San Francisco at a small pre-Assembly gathering of the Fifth General Assembly of the National Council of Christian Churches in the United States. In that message the preacher (a Presbyterian) proposed to the Protestant Episcopal Church that “it, together with the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., invite the Methodist

Church and the United Church of Christ to form with us a plan of church union.. . Any other churches which find that they can accept both the principles and plan would also be warmly invited to unite with us.”

C.O.C.U. Breaks with N.C.C. In the light of the emphasis on church unity which had existed in the National Council of Churches, such a proposal was bound to come sooner or later. Dr. Blake, who had been an ardent advocate of church unity, was the logical man to deliver it, and he was opportunist enough to take advantage of the favorable climate and situation. Out of that proposal has come an organization and a movement called “Consultation of Church Union” (C.O.C.U.) which has become the group leading the crusade today for what has been called “the uniting church.” Many non-ecumenists had thought the National Council of Churches would be the organization which would take the lead in this. Howe...

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