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The New Christianity; or, The Religion of the New Age By Salem Goldworth Bland Characters: 43527

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

A new social order is not more imperatively demanded than a new Christianity. Nothing less than this will suffice, nor will anything less be brought into being, in this crisis of transition. For while there are unchanging elements in Christianity, there are, it is equally certain, aspects that are constantly changing.

The devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the central and determinative principle of Christianity, is the least variable element; the institutions and dogmas by which that devotion is expressed and seeks to act upon the world, are the most variable.

Institutional Christianity is even more variable than dogmatic Christianity. It has varied greatly, is still changing, and its history shows that it is subject to the same influences as fashion the changing social order. This illuminating principle helps us to understand the past and to forecast the future of the Church.

During the last twelve hundred years or more, the Christian Church and the social order in Western lands have developed on parallel lines. Each has passed through two great phases and is now entering on a third.

I. The aristocratic or feudalistic phase, A.D. 700-1500.

The three centuries (roughly reckoning) from, let us say, A.D. 400 to A.D. 700 were, probably, the darkest in the history of civilization--darker even than the struggle of the last five years. They were the centuries of a struggle not so colossal in its apparatus of destruction, but seeming, even more than this struggle in its darkest hours, to threaten the extinction of civilization.

The Northern barbarians that had been pressing against the defences of the Roman Empire, as the yellow tides of the North Sea against the dykes of Holland, from the time of the inroads of the Cimbri and Teutons in the last decade of the second century before Christ, at last found entrance A.D. 378 when the Visigoths, who had been permitted to cross the Danube to find an asylum from the Huns, defeated the Roman armies and slew the Emperor in the great battle of Adrianople. From that year, with varying intervals of quiet, armies, or rather hordes, of men from the inexhaustible forests of Germany and Scandinavia, from the steppes of Russia and Central Asia, swept over lands for centuries accustomed to peace and weakened by bureaucratic despotism, inequitable and crippling systems of taxation, and, most debilitating of all, the essentially demoralizing influence of slavery. The mighty legions that had so long kept the frontiers inviolate vanished like a dream. The superb Roman roads and bridges fell into ruins. Fertile fields relapsed into wilderness. Towns decayed. Laws were forgotten. Cultivated languages with great literatures were replaced by barbarous jargons.

It was as when a country-side is devoured by a flood, and trees are uprooted, houses and barns dissolved or swept away.

Only one institution of the old Greco-Roman world withstood the waves, uprose above the yeasty flood in indestructible sovereignty--the Roman Catholic Church.

Out of the welter of overrunning barbarism--no law, no government, no protection except by superior force--the feudal system arose. The deep instinct for order and peace asserted itself. The strong man found a following. His tribe or clan, if he were a chieftain, his neighborhood, in any case, gave him service and maintenance, and he on his part gave the fullest measure of protection he was able to furnish. He became the feudal lord of a district. Through those stormy centuries that followed, when the savage people fought each other, and western Europe as it slowly struggled into order again was assailed by the Viking pirates on the North and West, by Hun-like Magyars on the East, and by the Saracens on the South, the feudal system was the only method by which over large areas any measure of security could be achieved. The strong man with his fighting force lived in his castle, and huddled under its walls lived the tillers of the soil, whom he at once in varying ratio protected and oppressed.

Some kind of relationship established itself among these feudal lords. One who by conquest or marriage had secured possession of specially large territories might out of these allot subordinate holdings to faithful followers, or by the same methods establish an overlordship over other lords. Eventually the deep and irrepressible instinct for unity and order lifted one of these families to the kingship of a group of feudal districts.

The feudal system was a varying system, the theory of which was never fully carried out, a system that had different origins in different countries and underwent different developments. The chief characteristic of it, as far as this reference to it is concerned, was its aristocratic character. Those men only counted who had enough land to support themselves and a body of fighting men. Whatever authority there was lay in their hands. The men who tilled the soil and practised the rude handicrafts of the age and carried on such beginnings of commerce as were possible, could find such imperfect security as there was only in accepting the despotic rule of one of these lords, knight or baron or count or duke as it might be, or more happily for them, in some respects, a bishop or monastery abbot. All sovereignty was in the mailed hands of these men or in those of the king, who in most of the countries slowly but surely established his control over his turbulent and recalcitrant feudatories.

It was the lowest form of order, the smallest degree of security, that feudalism provided. Legalized anarchy it has been happily called. But the measure of order and security it secured was probably all that was possible under such conditions, conditions under which an aristocratic system was the best system and, probably, the only and the inevitable one. Whatever judgment one may pass on the inadequacy and unserviceableness of aristocratic and monarchical forms of Government to-day, it ought never to be forgotten that we owe the beginnings of modern civilization to aristocracy, and its farther development to that outgrowth of aristocracy, monarchical government. Democracy in such a stage of civilization would have meant nothing but anarchy.

As under such semi-savage conditions no other kind of social organization could possibly arise than an aristocratic, so no other kind of ecclesiastical organization could meet the religious needs than an aristocratic. A democratically organized church could not have fulfilled the mission of the Church, could not, indeed, have existed. With great hordes of half-savage people precipitating themselves upon the Empire and almost extinguishing the ancient civilization, the only kind of Church that could grapple with the problem--the most formidable and appalling that civilization and Christianity ever had to face--was a Church organized on thoroughly aristocratic principles. Such a Church had been providentially prepared in the Roman Empire before its downfall. It has been already remarked that the one institution of the old shattered and submerged Greco-Roman civilization which survived the barbarian deluge was the Roman Catholic Church. We owe that Church, which has laid mankind to the end of time under unforgettable obligations, to the conditions which surrounded primitive Christianity and to the organizing, governing genius of the Latin mind.

Primitive Christianity, the devotion to the supreme Jew, Jesus Christ, we owe to the Hebrew mind. Transplanted among the Greeks, the simple, ethical, comparatively untheological and unorganized faith developed its latent philosophical implications. The Greeks gave it a creed. Transplanted simultaneously among the Latins, it was given an organization by that race whose superb and unexampled genius for government had made it mistress of all the countries around the Mediterranean.

The turmoil of erratic speculation within the infant churches with their motley converts gathered in from all kinds of religious and philosophic cults, and the ferocious persecutions from time to time launched at the helpless followers of the Christ, with their terrific temptations to apostasy or dangerous compromise, developed an aristocrat form of government. War and danger always call for the strong command. Christianity, threatened by erratic thinking and divisive controversy within and by deadliest attacks on the constancy of its people from without, found its salvation, as far as human agency was concerned, in the episcopacy, in large powers intrusted to the man who in the judgment of the individual Church was the wisest and ablest leader. The rule of the bishop was as natural and inevitable under such conditions as the rule of the captain on the ship at sea, the rule of the commanding officer in a fighting unit, the authority of the man recognized as leader in an unorganized group of farmers fighting a prairie fire. It is not wonderful that the bishops came to be regarded with veneration and their office as essential to the Christian Church. The episcopal office has earned the regard which it has enjoyed. The more fully one understands the historical conditions under which the belief in the indispensableness of episcopal organization grew up, the more reasonable one finds such a belief even if one is unable to admit its validity.

The same Roman genius for government which gave the principle of episcopacy its great place in the Church gave the Church also the papacy, and by a development as natural and, probably, as inevitable. The same necessity in troublous and dangerous times for large powers of command being held by the ablest man in the individual congregation or, later, in the group of Churches which came to be known as the diocese, developed the over-bishop, or archbishop, or metropolitan, or patriarch, as over-bishops were variously known, and over these again the supreme bishop, the bishop of bishops, the bishop of the great capital, Rome, who came at last to monopolize the title of Papa, or Pope, which originally had been given to every bishop.

The Papacy corresponds to the united command of the allied armies on the western front, which so swiftly and irresistibly transformed the war in that decisive area, and which will make illustrious till the Great War is forgotten the names of the great war-minister, Lloyd George, who so wisely and magnanimously brought it about, and the great general, Marshal Foch, who so magnificently justified it.

The Roman Catholic Church is the sublimest achievement of the organizing powers of mankind, and the unifying element in it, the capstone of that mighty structure, the key stone of the arch, is the Papacy. The Roman Catholic Church, or, as it might appropriately be designated, the Papal Church, is a greater construction than even the Roman Empire, of which it is the spiritual counterpart--vaster, more enduring, more firmly-knit, and infinitely more beneficent. The Pope corresponded to the Emperor; the bishops, to the provincial governors; the invincible legions which carried the Roman eagles into the swamps of Germany and the mountains of Caledonia, were surpassed in their daring and the tenacity of their conquests by their spiritual counterpart, the missionary monks.

It was this organization which had been providentially prepared for the anarchic and desolating period of the barbarian invasions, as Noah's ark for the Deluge, and not only as a shelter for the precious salvage of the submerged Greco-Roman civilization, but as a spiritual army which should conquer the conquerors, and on the debris of the greatest landslide of history fashion new gardens and habitations.

Latin Christianity, then, represents a distinctively aristocratic type of Christianity, the priest dominating the congregation and not controlled by them, the bishop dominating the priest, the Pope at the summit responsible to none but God. Such fashioning that great Church had received at the hands of men wise to give the Church such organization as the conditions demanded. It was this Church which the barbarian onset could neither shatter nor overpower. It was this Church which met the barbarians with a force and a sovereignty beyond their own. It asserted its moral and intellectual superiority. It overawed the men who, with the passions of men, had often the heart and still oftener the brain of the child. It put these turbulent warriors to school and struck to their hearts the fear of God and of the devil and of the Church.

No Church but an aristocratic one could have dominated such a situation. The very qualities which the modern man most resents in the Roman Catholic Church--its authority, its dogmatism, its spiritual powers of intimidation--were the qualities which enabled it to evangelize the vast heathen and barbarian masses. As in the state so in the Church, the centuries from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Protestant Reformation were centuries which called, though, it must be recognized, with lessening emphasis and with sporadic but multiplying exceptions, for the aristocratic principle. Feudalism and Roman Catholicism were the only possible systems.

II. The bourgeois or plutocratic or capitalistic phase, A.D. 1500-1914.

Gradually, however, there arose in the aristocratically organized middle age a new power. This was the trading and manufacturing classes. As soon as the feudal nobility gave any measure of security, and much more extensively when kings grew strong enough to stretch the royal power over their turbulent feudatories, the irrepressible trading instinct asserted itself. English wool found its way to Flanders, French wine to England, the silks and spices and gems of the East to Europe. Busy and wealthy cities sprang up in districts favorable for manufacture and along the great trade routes between East and West. Kings, eager to assert their sovereignty over the anarchic barons, allied themselves with this new burgher class, which was on its part glad to support a power that promised it deliverance from such very imperfect and costly protectors as the feudal lords had shown themselves to be.

The Crusades, especially, stimulated trade and in the nearly two centuries (A.D. 1096-1270) during which the crusading spirit was active, the most notable feature of the social evolution of Europe was the rise of the towns.

The rise of the towns meant the liberation of the people. No buildings in Europe have more sacred associations than the old city halls of the medieval cities of the Low Countries, France, and Germany. They were the birth place of modern freedom.

Trade loves freedom and abhors all restrictions except such as are sometimes short-sightedly imposed by itself. The towns, wearied of the exactions of their castellated tyrants, won their freedom by purchase or by fighting, or co-operated with the king in reducing the barons to some measure of good behavior.

During the last five hundred years, and especially since the Industrial Revolution effected by the use of machinery, the merchant and manufacturing classes have been steadily climbing into power. They have superseded or absorbed the pre-existing aristocracy. The old families have died out or been transformed by a profitable and strengthening admixture of rich plebeians. The bulk of even such an imposing aristocracy as that of Britain is composed of creations of the last two or three generations, and these so largely from the ranks of wealthy brewers that there is truth as well as wit in the saying that the British peerage is the British beerage. The sale of titles at the price of large contributions to political funds is admitted and defended. Even in Great Britain, with its impressive array of ancient names, aristrocracy has been largely converted into plutocracy.

In a constitutionally democratic nation like the United States there is no other aristocracy.

Now, if Church and State undergo a parallel development and re-act in the same way to conditions governing them both alike, what we might expect to find would be that, with the growing ascendancy in the social structure of the trading and manufacturing class (or to use a single term, though unfortunately one with a flavor of resentment about it, bourgeoisie), there would be a parallel ascendancy of the same class in the Church.

This is exactly what we do find. The aristocratic form of Christianity, which fitted into the feudalistic age, which was called for by the social conditions of that age, which was, indeed, probably, the only kind of Christianity that could have existed in that age, did not suit the freedom-loving, self-reliant, self-asserting, ambitious burghers. They resented the control which the clergy exercised over them, alike when it was well-meant and when it was selfish and tyrannical. Especially they resented the enormous sums which were extracted from them by the fees and taxes of priests, bishops, and the Papal Court at Rome. They resented, too, the Church's prohibition of interest. This condemnation, based on the Mosaic prohibition of interest, had not been found so unfair or vexatious prior to the sixteenth century when money was borrowed mainly for unproductive consumption, as for example, for war and for extravagance. Now when, in the great commercial development of that century, money was being borrowed for business with the prospect, almost the certainty, of profit, and interest became merely the sharing of profits, the Church's refusal of absolution to those guilty of taking interest was a serious factor in the growing hostility between the cities and the Church.

The Church, moreover, favoured sumptuary laws,--the minute regulation of purchases and prices. As this well-meant legislation tended to restrict trade, it was disliked by the traders.

The immense capital locked up in vast ecclesiastical buildings and estates was naturally, also, the object of envy. Clerical immunities from municipal taxation, and episcopal jurisdiction over otherwise free towns added to the general irritation.

It might possibly have been foreseen that, sooner or later, a revolt would come and a new sort of Church would take form. That revolt came under Luther. Many motives conspired in it. With Luther himself and many of his followers the motive was a genuinely religious one. It was a revolt against the legalistic interpretation of Christianity and against the moral failure of the Roman Catholic Church. But with the mass of the city people, who were the main support of Luther, the motive was mainly a passion for freedom and only subordinately and sporadically a passion for a purer faith or a holier life.

In the new Church that was fashioned in varying forms in the northern races where the revolt was most general and thorough-going, one feature naturally predominated--the ascendancy of the bourgeoisie. That Church, or rather group of Churches which by seeming accident, but, perhaps, by that deeper philosophy which moves even through the seeming accidents of history, came to be known as the protesting or Protestant Church, was the Church which suited a predominately middle class society as Roman Catholicism suited a feudal society.[#] Protestantism, in a word, is bourgeois Christianity. It is the Christianity of the middle, or trading, classes. It was born where these classes were strongest--in Germany, Holland, Switzerland, England, France. It has exalted the middle classes and the middle classes have exalted it. It has been with them in their struggle and has shared their triumph. It sanctions their ethical standards, falls in with their tastes, emphasizes their virtues, is indulgent toward their faults, condemns their aversions.

[#] "The 'true inwardness' of the change of which the Protestant Reformation represented the ideological side, meant the transformation of society from a basis mainly corporative and co-operative to one individualistic in its essential character. The whole polity of the middle ages, industrial, social, political, ecclesiastical, was based on the principle of the group or the community--ranging in hierarchical order from the trade-guild to the town-corporation; from the town corporation through the feudal orders to the imperial throne itself; from the single monastery to the order as a whole; and from the order as a whole to the complete hierarchy of the Church as represented by the papal chair. The principle of this social organization was now breaking down. The modern and bourgeois conception of the autonomy of the individual in all spheres of life was beginning to affirm itself."--Belfort Bax: The Peasants' War, p. 19.

It would almost seem that it was a consciousness of its specific class limitations which led the new movement promptly and decisively to turn away from the claims of the lowest class, though the distinct refusal of German Protestantism to champion the cause of the oppressed peasants in 1524 may be credited to the imperfect sympathies of Luther and his jealousy for the reputation of the new movement. Luther was a peasant's son, but his attitude to other peasants was one almost of contempt, mingled later with fear.[#]

[#] "The wise man saith: food, a burden, and a rod for the ass; to a peasant belongs oat straw. They hear not the word and are mad; then must they hear the rod and the gun and they get their due. Let us pray for them that they obey; otherwise there need be no pity for them. Let only the bullets whistle around them. Otherwise they are a hundred fold more evil."--Letter to Rühel. De Wette. Vol. II., p. 619.

Luther's glorification of the liberty of a Christian man, his stirring appeals to the German nobility to shake off the rapacious ty

ranny of Rome found response in other hearts than those he was addressing. His impassioned words, like hot coals kindling a fire whereever they fell, helped to bring to a head the discomfort which had been growing among the peasants. This was due, in part, to the increased cost of living, a fifty per cent. advance, it has been estimated, from 1400 to 1415, for which the increased output of silver from the mines in the Tyrol and elsewhere was chiefly responsible. But the chief cause was the increased exactions of the German princes, sustained in their oppressive claims by the growing recognition of the Roman law, which found no place for the peasants except as slaves. Eventually, in 1524 the peasants drew up twelve demands which they submitted to Luther with an appeal for his support. Luther found the demands mainly just and urged the princes to make concessions, but strongly condemned any effort, in case the reforms were not granted, to secure them by violence. The demands were refused and the peasants rose. They were successful at the outset, as most of the professional soldiers of the princes were in Italy with the Emperor, Charles V., then at war with the Pope. On their return, these trained forces scattered the undisciplined bodies of peasants, already demoralized by wine and plunder and lack of leadership. The princes took a ferocious revenge. It is estimated that from one hundred to one hundred and fifty thousand peasants were slaughtered; many more were blinded and maimed.

Luther, angered and terrified by the uprising, had urged the princes on to the slaughter in words that are an ineffaceable blot on his memory.

"First, they [the peasants] have sworn to their true and gracious [!] rulers to be submissive and obedient, in accord with God's command (Matt. 22:21), 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's,' and (Rom. 13:1), 'Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.' But since they have deliberately and with outrage abandoned obedience, and in addition have opposed their lords, they have thereby forfeited body and soul, as perfidious, perjured, mendacious, disobedient rascals and villains are wont to do."

[Later, Luther approved and justified the revolt of the Protestant princes against the Emperor to whom they had sworn obedience--so early had Protestantism one standard for the lowly and another for the high.]

* * * * *

"It is right and lawful to slay at the first opportunity a rebellious person, known as such, already under God and the Emperor's ban. [Luther himself was certainly under the latter ban and, in the judgment of Roman Catholics, under the former.] For of a public rebel, every man is both judge and executioner.

"Therefore, whosoever can should smite, strangle, and stab, secretly or publicly, and should remember that there is nothing more poisonous, pernicious, and devilish than a rebellious man [much more devilish in Luther's judgment than an oppressive prince!] Just as when one must slay a mad dog; fight him not and he will fight you, and a whole country with you.

* * * * *

"If the civil government thinks proper to smite and punish those peasants without previous consideration of right or fairness, I do not condemn such action, though it is not in harmony with the Gospel, for it has good right to do this.

* * * * *

"Therefore let him [a prince or lord] not sleep, nor shew mercy and compassion. Nay, this is the time of sword and wrath, not the time of mercy.

* * * * *

"Such wonderful times are these that a prince can more easily win heaven by shedding blood than others with prayers."

He even makes the extraordinary statement, "In 1525 the elector John of Saxony asked me whether he should grant the peasants their twelve articles. I told him, not one," (Michelet, p. 448)--revealing a callousness which can only be characterized as brutal.[#]

[#] "The Lutheran Reformation, from its inception in 1517 down to the Peasants' war of 1525, at once absorbed, and was absorbed by, all the revolutionary elements of the time. Up to the last-mentioned date it gathered revolutionary force year by year. But this was the turning-point. With the crushing of the Peasants' revolt and the decisively anti-popular attitude taken up by Luther, the religious movement associated with him ceased any longer to have a revolutionary character. It henceforth became definitely subservient to the new interests of the wealthy and privileged classes, and as such completely severed itself from the more extreme popular reforming sects."--Bax; Peasants' War, pp. 28, 29.

Luther completed the severance of the new faith from the proletariat when he deliberately handed over his new Church to the control of the princes. In his complete distrust of the common people, it seemed to him that there was no other authority that could replace that of the bishops. So, despite the remonstrances of Melanchthon, a more oppressive tyranny was imposed on the Lutheran Church in Germany than had been exercised by the bishops, and the foundation was laid for that estrangement of the proletariat from the Church which has had such fatal results on both proletariat and Church in our time. On Luther rests the responsibility of converting the German Church into a branch of an autocratic government, as such distrusted and detested by the laborer in the country and the worker in the town, and of thus bringing about a condition of things which has earned for Protestant Prussia the reproach of being the least religious country of Europe.

Protestantism, then, by its very origin is Christianity shaped to suit the trading and manufacturing class. Now, what are the characteristics of members of this class? They are keenly but, in general, superficially intelligent, alert, watchful, ambitious, pushful, courageous, energetic, industrious, self-reliant, independent, freedom-loving, intensely individualistic. They are honorable according to the standards of their class, often generous when the business struggle is not involved, but in the struggle itself they tend, almost of necessity, to become hard and selfish. Their great aim has been to "get on," to make money, to rise to as high a social position as possible, amid the vast opportunities of modern business to win and retain great power.

Protestantism fits a people of such characteristics like a glove. It exalts the rich man. It consults him and honors him, puts him forward on every possible occasion, suitable or scarcely suitable. Knowing his sensitiveness, it deals with him tactfully and deferentially.

It emphasizes the virtues conducive to business success,--industry, thrift, sobriety, self-control, honesty, at least as far as the law commands or as far as dishonesty would be plainly imprudent.

It disapproves the sins that hinder success or impair respectability,--such as indolence, profanity, intemperance, licentiousness, and all overt transgressions of the law.

What would be the sensations of an audience to which a millionaire manufacturer or broker or promoter was unfolding the secret of his success, if he were to say, "I owe my success and any distinction I have been able to achieve to my honest effort to carry out the Sermon on the Mount!"

For good and for evil, at the outset doubtless more for good than for evil, now more for evil than for good, Protestantism is intensely individualistic.

Christianity has its individualistic aspect. Protestantism has emphasized this. Christianity has also its social aspect. Protestantism has largely ignored this.

Above all, Protestantism has lacked humility and pity. Naturally so. They are the two virtues least called for in the business struggle, the two virtues, indeed, most liable to prove embarrassing.

Here is where, probably, Protestantism most sharply differs from Primitive Christianity and from the Christianity which was in the mind of Jesus.

Protestantism is a fighting faith. It trains men to be self-reliant and hard. Fair play is its substitute for brotherliness, and it often finds it difficult to get as high as that.

The divine note of love is faint. Protestantism has never caught the passion for brotherhood. So it is not strange that, where the reviving spirit of brotherhood, which is the divinest movement in modern life, is strongest, there is the least drawing to Protestantism.

It is in the proletariat to-day that the sense of brotherhood is keenest. It is the proletariat which is the increasing despair of the Protestant Churches. Perhaps it is not too bold a generalization that, on this Continent at least,--it does not seem so widely true in England--the working man who is most interested in the Church is least interested in labor organizations. He is the ambitious, individualistic workingman who is bent on emerging from his class. He is least class-conscious. He hopes to become affiliated with the master class.

The workingman who is most class-conscious, whose heart is set on the betterment of his class, is usually very slightly affiliated with the Church, if at all, and that affiliation is due, generally, to the appeal the Church and Sunday School make to his wife and children. Very frequently his attitude to the Church is one, not of indifference, but of resentment and distrust. He feels, though perhaps subconsciously, that the prevailing temper of the Church is one of self-advancement. The leading men in the Church are mostly those who have been most successful in strenuous self-advancement. Any man whose heart has been stirred with the passion for the common good is liable to be disappointed in seeking in the Church for the encouragement and sympathy that he craves.

Neither the Protestant nor the Roman Catholic Churches can claim to have inspired the Labor movement. At best it can only be said that, when the movement had struggled through the early days of conflict and persecution, the Churches reached out hesitatingly and half-heartedly a hand of fellowship in a spirit, partly of genuine desire to make amends for past dereliction, partly of condescension, and partly of fear.

But during the severity of Labor's early struggle, Protestantism, except in isolated and unofficial representatives, gave no assistance, not even its blessing, to what was the most profoundly Christian movement of the nineteenth century.

When it did not frankly sympathize with the masters in their difficulties with their unreasonable and discontented employees, it maintained a cautious neutrality. The first step to right relations between the Churches and Labor would be a frank confession that they failed to give Labor their help when Labor deserved and needed it most.

But perhaps this sympathetic attitude to Labor was too much to expect of a form of Christianity which had such an origin and such associations as Protestantism. Like the form of Christianity which it largely displaced in the freedom-loving northern races of Europe and America, it has rendered great services. Like that again, it was, perhaps, the only sort of Christianity possible under the conditions under which it took its form. It has helped to train an energetic, daring, self-reliant, and relatively honorable people. It has been the Christianity of a bourgeois epoch, and with the passing of that epoch it, too, will pass away or undergo a profound metamorphosis. It is a very different sort of Christianity that will meet the religious needs of the new epoch that the world is entering.

The Labor phase, A.D. 1914--

We have seen how the trading and manufacturing towns pushed their way up during the later period of the medieval age and eventually overthrew aristocracy in state and Church, substituting a social and political order and a Church dominated by the business class. Similarly, since the middle of the last century, a new force has been pushing up in the bourgeois regime, destined, it now seems clear, to effect a similar transformation. This is organized Labor.

The most significant feature in the social development of the last hundred years has been the patient, persistent, oft-defeated, yet insuppressible struggle of the proletariat of the western world for human rights. The dead weight of the bygone ages was upon it. When had the men and the women who did the rough and necessary work of the world, smoothed the highways, dug the drains, built the houses and the bridges, carried the burdens over the mountains and across the seas, tilled the fields and cared for the herds and the flocks--when had they been other than the despised, ill-paid, ill-housed servants of the classes who through their fighting-power or their money-power could command the services of the toilers? What right had they to overturn the ancient order, an order which history recognized and the Church was willing to consecrate? Against the established order, against religious sanctions, against the combined authority of wealth and rank, against the legislative and military powers of governments, the workers had to carry on their new, uncharted, and desperate struggle unaided and alone. The Universities from their academic heights looked down on it with calm scientific interest. If any feeling was stirred, it was oftener contempt than pity. Even the Church of Christ was, with a few illustrious exceptions, unfriendly or timidly neutral. Nevertheless, in spite of calamitous setbacks, the movement made way against the public opinion of the dominant classes, against hostile legislation, against anarchic injunctions, against police and soldiers, and to-day Labor is the mightiest organized force in the world.

It is enthroned despotically in Petrograd and Moscow above the shattered ruins of the most imposing monarchy of the modern world. It is the strongest element in that welter of confusion and uncertainty to which the most powerful and compactly organized nation of modern times has been reduced by its insane ambition, the indignation of mankind, and the justice of God.

Labor is the uncrowned king of Great Britain. Wisely led, there seems no reasonable aim it cannot realize.

In the United States in the Summer of 1916, in a straight issue between Labor and one of the most powerful capitalistic groups, the President and Congress of the United States wisely and justly capitulated to Labor.

The futility of trying to "smash the Labor unions" or to arrest the progress of the Labor movement is now sufficiently clear. As well try to smash a forty mile wide Alaskan glacier or arrest its onward march to the sea. Old precedents have lost their authority, old calculations and presuppositions fail or mislead. It is a new age the world is entering. As the determining factor in the social structure of Europe from 800 A.D. to 1500 was feudalism, and from A.D. 1500 to 1900 capitalism, so from 1900 onwards to the dawn, it may be, of still vaster changes as yet undescried, the dominant factor will be organized Labor.

If Labor, then, is to be the dominating factor in the age just opening, it becomes a question of deepest interest to discover the principles of the Labor movement.

A full answer to this question would be lengthy and might have elements of uncertainty, but the essential outstanding principles of the Labor movement are neither doubtful nor difficult to determine. They are three:

1. Every man and every woman a worker.

The Labor movement has no place except for workers. Its essential demand is that every man and woman shall, during the normal working years, make a just contribution to the welfare of the social organism. It is determined that there shall be no place in society for idlers or exploiters. It is the deadly enemy of parasitism in all its Protean forms.

2. The right of every worker to a living wage.

This is nothing other than the assertion, in the only form that makes it more than iridescent froth, of the great Christian principle of the worth of the soul. It is a very modest and restricted assertion of that great principle, but it is a more substantial and significant assertion than has been made anywhere else. The Christian doctrine of the infinite worth of the human soul becomes claptrap where this principle is not admitted.

3. Union.

The Labor movement is based on the solidarity of the workers. It abhors competition. It represents the triumph of the we-consciousness over the I-consciousness. It organizes in unions. There have been few things in history that had more of the morally sublime in them than the way in which the individual has been called upon by the Labor movement to risk, not his comfort merely or his advancement, but his livelihood, in defence of some one whom he would never know but with whom he was linked in the sacred cause of Labor.

And these principles of the Labor movement are at the same time the characteristics of the corresponding Christianity of the new age. For, as we found an aristocratic type of Christianity in the aristocratic medieval period, the social conditions demanding the aristocratic organization in Church and State and permitting no other, and as, in the age which succeeded the feudal, a freedom-loving, competitive, individualistic class imposed its character on the social and the ecclesiastical organization, so institutional Christianity will undergo a third transformation and, in a society dominated by Labor organizations, will become democratic and brotherly.

Protestantism must pass away. It is too rootedly individualistic, too sectarian, to be the prevailing religion of a collectivist age. It is passing away before our eyes. Everywhere it reveals the marks of decay or of transformation. It must change or die.

Not to Protestantism, not to Roman Catholicism, belongs the age now dawning, but to a new Christianity which will, indeed, have affinities with them both but still more deeply with the Christianity of Jesus.

This Christianity, indeed, is already here. Like its Master when He came, it is in the world and the world knows it not. It is still immature, undeveloped, unconscious even of its own nature and destiny. It will receive large and valuable contributions from both the great historic forms of Christianity, not improbably from the Eastern, or Greek Christianity, as well. But in promise and potency the coming Christianity is more fully and truly here in the Labor movement than in any of the great historic organizations. Perhaps a more accurate statement would be, that the Labor movement needs less radical change than the great Church organizations to become the fitting and efficient Christianity for the new age.

It needs, in the main, but two great changes.

1. It must broaden.

It must open its doors, as the British and Canadian Labor Parties are now doing, to include all kinds of productive work, of hand or brain. It must make room for all who contribute to the feeding, clothing, housing, educating, delighting of the children of men. It must include the inventor, the research scientist, the manager, as well as the manual worker; the men who grow things or who distribute them as well as those who make them; the professional class, who, on their part, must cease to regard themselves as other than men and women of labor. Labor must become, in short, the category to which all belong who really earn their living and do not seek to "make" more than they earn.

2. Labor must recognize the Christianness of its own principles.

I do not say Labor must become Christian. It is profoundly and vitally Christian in its insistence on the right of the humblest man or woman to human conditions of life, in its corresponding denial of the right of any human being to live on the labor of others without rendering his own equivalent of service, in its devotion to the fundamental Christian principle of brotherhood.

The Draft Report on Reconstruction, for example, prepared near the close of 1917 for the Labor party of Britain, is not only the ablest and most comprehensive programme of social reconstruction so far drawn up, but in its aims and methods and spirit it is profoundly Christian, a thousand times more Christian than the ordinary ecclesiastical pronouncement, though the name of Christ does not occur in it. The need is not so much that Labor become Christian, as that it become clearly conscious that it is Christian and can realize itself and win its triumph only on Christian lines.

It is not strange, after all, that among working men should arise the Church which is to give the truest interpretation of Christianity. The Lord Jesus was Himself a working man and brought up in a working man's home; His chief friends and chosen apostles were mostly working men. How can He be fully understood except through a working man's consciousness? The high, the served, the rich, the mere scholars, as such, are not fitted to understand Christianity. Individuals of exceptional character and insight may escape the limitations of their environment and education, but in any large community interpretation the working man's consciousness would seem to be essential. And, on any large scale, Christianity has never found such an expression as the Labor movement promises to give it--so essentially and predominately democratic and brotherly.

Labor and Christianity, then, are bound up together. Together they stand or fall. They come into their kingdom together or not at all. It is the supreme mission of the prophetic spirit at this fateful hour to interpret Labor to itself, that it may not in this hour of consummation miss the path. To turn away from Christianity now would be for Labor to turn away from the throne. But it will not. Mankind is in the grasp of divine currents too strong to be resisted.

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