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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

What About the Churches?

What About the Churches?

In the midst of all this turmoil, unrest and anarchy, what about the Churches? I don't propose to dwell at any length on questions of theological controversy, although there, as elsewhere, there has been a considerable amount of unrest and confusion. Amongst students of unrest and confusion. Amongst students of theology the stage of doubt and citicism had been reached some time previous to my last address. The results of that disquieting process have been gradually filtering through the minds of the mass of the people during recent years, being brought into the consciousness of the common people largely through the utterances of Mr. R. J. Campbell, of the City Temple, London. In this domain, however, I am of opinion that the constructive stage has been more definitely reached than it has in the domain of sociology or politics, national or international. In many respects the Churches seem to be drifting out of touch with the great mass of mankind, and are in danger of becoming a negligible factor in the life of the world.

One very disheartening feature of the world-wide labour movement at the present time is its anti-Christian spirit, and the antagonism which many of its leaders are developing towards organised Christianity. It is quite true that many of the best and wisest labour leaders, both in Great Britain and New Zealand, are men deeply imbued with the spirit of Christianity, many of them active workers in Churches and Sunday Schools. Indeed, it is true that many of them have received their equipment for platform work by their training and experience as lay preachers. At the same time, I think ft must be admitted that a very large proportion of the men who to-day are getting the ear of the workers are not only anti-Church, but anti-Christian. Whether rightly or wrongly, the impression seems to be gaining ground amongst the workers of the world that the organised Christian Church, if not actively hostile to the aims and ideals of labour, is, to say the least of it, apathetic. This ought not to be. The spirit of Christianity is the only solvent of industrial, social, or economic problems. Of course the Christian Church can have no association with, or tolerance for, a propaganda which unblushingly boasts that the question of "right" or "wrong" has no meaning, or which inculcates such pernicious doctrines as "sabotage" or "barn burning." But the perversity of false labour leaders is no excuse for indolence or indifference on the part of Christian ministers or laymen.