Do I hear you say you are growingly disillusioned about the organized Church itself, and it makes you wonder? You’d be abnormal if you didn’t feel this, and I predict you will feel it off and on all the rest of your days. There is plenty in the Church to make us feel that it would be hard even for God to make “these dry bones live.” A few mornings ago I was reading St. Luke 9:1–6, where He sends out the Twelve to work miracles and preach: I could not help feeling how very different from this is an Ecumenical Council in Rome, or a meeting of the House of Bishops in the Episcopal Church, or a Presbyterian General Assembly, or a session of the World Council of Churches. We smile at the disparity, and then go on our old ways; isn’t it about time we cried at the disparity, and began taking a different way? The Church “talks a good fight.” When you know that the entire Episcopal Church, one of the wealthiest of all per capita, sends out only 270 missionaries, you know that as a church we just don’t care very much whether the Gospel gets to “all the world.” The churches are full of people who give a silent, inactive assent to things the clergy have to articulate for them, but there is more plodding and going-along than either sacrifice or the power of the Holy Spirit. I do not so much fear that the Church will go backward into total ineffectiveness, and I can scarcely hope that, at this rate, it will go forward into anything bright and exciting and adequate for these times. I fear that it will just continue on its own self-centered way, keeping up its old institutions, more or less looking after its own people, but having nothing with which to grip the world’s imagination or to stir its heart. I go along with you if these are your ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.