The reading public of the continent has recently been blessed with a run of studies on the relationship between the Church and the sects. One of the questions that recurs in these studies is: What accounts for the rather spectacular rise and growth of the sects? Some writers have tried to analyze the background of the sects to determine whether they have arisen out of a failure of the churches to satisfy the spiritual needs of the people. The sects, it has been said, form the unpaid accounts chargeable to the churches. That is, the sects represent an obligation that the churches have failed to fulfill.
A German writer, Heinz Horst Schrey, has published a book recently in which he says that the Church must not face the sects in the role of the polemicist but in the role of the penitent. The subtitle of his book reads: The Sects as Question to the Church. The sects, Schrey says, are an indictment against the Church for not living in conformity with the Gospel she preaches. He asks whether the sects do not even express elements of the Gospel which the Church has left neglected or confused.
Do not the sects, asks Schrey, often display an enthusiasm that shames the coldness of the churches? Do they not often live in joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, in contrast to the this-worldliness of the churches? Have not the churches too often found their abiding city here on earth? Is not the life of faith often stifled by the worldly organizations and machinery of the established churches? No, pleads Schrey, let us approach the sects not with polemics, but with penitence; let us not come to them in order to convert them, but let us convert ourselves. This, he insists, is the only honest attitude for the Church to assume in the ...1
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