A strange phenomenon has overtaken much of Christendom in the past ten years. The churches are being acted on by both centripetal and centrifugal forces: the one is bringing the churches together into union schemes such as COCU; the other is dividing the churches over matters of dogma, ethics, politics, and social action. At stake is the direction Protestant Christianity will take in the seventies and its ability to remain an effective evangelizing agent in a world gone mad.
Probably no other movement expresses more strongly the centripetal urge than COCU. The nine major denominations (African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Christian Church [Disciples of Christ], the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church in the U. S., the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.) now involved in this merger effort would together form the largest Protestant church in the United States.
Tragically, the union arrangement is a jumble of conflicting and dissonant elements. The Plan of Union must be judged a document of expediency in which major precepts are diluted. The new church could turn out to be a sterile hybrid if its proposed form is not changed substantially. The price of the merger may be the integrity of the denominations that enter it. (It can be argued, however, that some of the denominations involved in the merger have already squandered their heritage so recklessly that little is left to be lost through union.)
The doctrinal commitment of COCU is fuzzy and weak, and what it fails to say is even more important than what it says. Some non-negotiable tenets of the Christian faith have ...1
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