One of the most potent drives within Protestant Christianity in our day is the move toward union. Already there is an imposing list of major realignments—the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., the Methodist Church, the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in America. How many adults in North America can claim that the church in which they were baptized or confirmed has maintained its organizational identity? And the end is not yet. Almost every major Protestant group has an official committee to discuss further mergers.
All this effort may be explained on the ground that Protestants have come into a cultural and historical situation in which we must move together or be overwhelmed separately. Our division is weakness, and now is a time when Protestantism needs to be strong. We need to unite because in broad areas of the world—not least in the United States—we find ourselves confronted by a vigorous Romanism. In many countries a resurgence of ancient religions is posing a challenge not to be ignored. There is also the worldwide threat to Christian faith—and, of course, to all religion—by Communism. And what shall be said of the threat from native materialism, which creates many problems even though it is not supported by doctrine or organization?
The move for merger may be justified on the basis of scriptural witness. To Paul’s question, “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1:13a), there is no adequate answer save this one: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4–6). Certainly to offer a divided ...1
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