An extraordinary book burst like a bombshell on the British ecclesiastical scene this summer. Its title: Power Without Glory: A Study in Ecumenical Politics (Hutchinson, 30s.). Its author: Ian Henderson, professor of systematic theology at Glasgow University, doctrinally a radical and never slow to acknowledge indebtedness to Bultmann.
Such dubious antecedents have been waived in the welcome given the book in some ultra-conservative circles, who are in this case Churchillian to a man. “If Hitler invaded hell,” said Sir Winston once, “I should feel constrained to say a good word for the devil.” What a potent uniting factor is a common antagonism!
Only brief mention is possible here of some points Henderson raises in his 184-page attack aimed at exposing the tricks of the ecumenical trade. A cosmic swindle is being practiced; ecumenical discussions are never what they seem; the double-think and the double-tongue are inevitable; language is used to conceal rather than reveal motives; ecclesiastical takeover bids have increased, are increasing, and ought to be diminished; failure to recognize institutional churches as power structures is leading to mass delusion; and, far from desiring organic unity, God finds the whole concept as distasteful as does Ian Henderson. The latter, indeed, regards One Church-ness as “the greatest thing we have to repent of,” for it is an expression of power rather than of love. In its name threats of death might one day be made against nonconformity, for Henderson fears that the Coming Great Church will deny to objectors the ordinances of the Christian religion.
“The ascription of his own successful activities to God,” Henderson holds, “is an age-old device of the ecclesiastical power operator.” God, ...1
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