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The following statistics, quoted from modern life, while laymen wait for inthe “Post" articles, indicate the situa- terpretative ethical leadership in the tion in greater detail:
mazes of present-day political, social,
and industrial relations, and stories of Attendance in Episcopalian theological seminaries decreased from 463 in 1916 equally ineffective clergymen who turn
their churches into mere reform clubs, to 193 in 1920; in all Presbyterian seminaries from 1,188 to 695; in Methodist arguing for planks in a program withseminaries from 1,226 to 976; and in
out stimulating the passion that will Congregational institutions from 499 in incarnate the proposals in constructive 1910 to 255 last year. Roman Catholic action. This book will dramatize seminary enrolment has increased rap- every existing type of religious leaderidly, however, bringing up the entire ship in the country. Without argutotal to an approximate pre-war status, ment, without dogmatic generalization, although the Protestant institutions it will illustrate the futility of certain have not recovered.
types of leadership and the desirability Attendance in all theological semi
of other types. It will be an indictnaries in the United States-Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish-increased
ment not only of certain types of very gradually from 3,354 in 1870 to clergymen, but of certain types of lay10,588 in 1915. There was a noticeable
men as well. It will, by the simple jump in registration before America en- reporting of facts, give us a pretty tered the war to 12,051 in 1916, followed complete picture of American civilizaby a slump to 9,354 in 1917–18.
tion, a complete story of the innumera
ble forces that play about the pulpit, Back of these bare statistics lies a influencing the courage and timidity story of profound human interest. of the ministry. The times cry aloud Some day some interested publicist for a muck-raking of pulpit and pew will give us a significant book on the by an honest reporter. No other single problem of religious leadership in the thing, if this were honestly done, would United States. It will not be a book of give so great an impetus to authentic special pleading, but a book of super- Christianity. reporting. These statistical tables will be translated into illuminating stories
$ 2 of communities of "sheep without a The first of the "Post" articles preshepherd," stories of communities in sented the statistics of the situation. which religious leadership has failed to In succeeding articles the investigator challenge either the mind or the crea- presented the results of interviews tive moral impulses of the people, with outstanding clergymen and theotragic stories of great spirits broken by logical professors, reporting their interthe economic slavery of the American pretations of the situation. From the ministry, stories of ignorant pulpits mass of interviews I disentangle eleven starving and insulting intelligent pews, reasons why, in the judgment of these and, contrariwise, of intelligent pulpits leaders, young men are less and less strangled by illiberal pews, stories of inclined to enter the ministry. clergymen who turn their churches in- First, the influence of the war. This to retreats for mystics, discussing eso- assertion runs through many of the teric doctrines that bear no relation to interviews, but in no case is it very
clearly or convincingly stated what is these interviews is the fact that, aside meant by it. The war itself is pictured from such strictly religious forms of as a instrument of disillusion, wrecking leadership, preaching has in our day the faith of many in the power of things got outside the churches, slipped out of spiritual. It is pointed out that the surplice and pulpit, and found many spiritual renaissance which many ex- new and secular avenues of expression. pected to follow the war failed to Novelists, dramatists, college professmaterialize.
ors, university presidents, judges, labor Issue is taken with this conclusion leaders, secretaries of state, governors, by several leaders. Some assert that journalists, and other public men have the war sent the really strong men in our day "preached" with all the pasback stronger, the weak men weaker. sionate emphasis of Puritan parsons on Others assert that the war had little the moral ideals of the race. Many if any effect on the situation.
of these men would, had they lived in Second, the decline in the economic early New England, have entered the status of the minister. The disgrace ministry. Had Theodore Roosevelt fully low salary schedule of American lived in the New England of Cotton clergymen needs no emphasis here. It Mather, his preaching of "the square
. is obvious. Some leaders find grounds deal” would doubtless have been hurled for hope in the present campaigns for from the pulpit to the enlivening of pension funds for aged ministers. It many a somnolent Puritan congregamay be asked, in passing, whether such tion. Had William Jennings Bryan campaigns, dramatizing as they do the lived then, he would doubtless have difficult economic problem of the min- been a settled pastor instead of the ister, may not themselves discourage itinerant political evangelist he is tomany prospective candidates for the day. Winston Churchill's “The Inside ministry. Many leaders think this is of the Cup” would doubtless have true.
been delivered from a pulpit to a limThird, the decline in the social in- ited congregation instead of reaching fluence of the clergy. The decline in a best-seller-novel audience. Charles the minister's economic status has had Rann Kennedy, the playwright, would something to do with this, no doubt, in earlier days have turned naturally but many factors, too involved for to the pulpit rather than to the stage full consideration here, have entered as the medium for the expression of his into the change from the early days, servant-in-the-house ideas. As Govwhen the minister was the dominant ernor of New York, Charles Evans personality in the community. Hughes preached from the rostrums of
Fourth, the increased attractiveness county fairs and political mass meetof other professions. It is pointed out ings the same basic moralities his that in recent years many new forms father preached for forty years from of religious leadership other than the the pulpit. When Woodrow Wilson, a ministry have been developed, as, forlayman, became President of Princeinstance, secretaryships in the Young ton University, his appeals to the conMen's Christian Association, social- science and idealism of its young men welfare work, and the like. What is were as high appeals as any made by not sufficiently emphasized in any of his clerical predecessors. In fact, it would be difficult to name any out safely distinct in air-tight compartstanding leader of American public life ments. It is manifestly true that no who has exerted a dynamic moral in- young man of intellectual insight and fluence upon the country during the sincerity can look forward with any last half century who, a few genera- degree of satisfaction to a limitation tions ago, would not have naturally of his public utterances to pious exturned to the ministry. This is a sweep- hortations to abstract moralities. He ing but, I think, sound statement. knows that under such limitations he Who will say that, under present day can never be more than a seller of conditions, any of these men would rhetoric. And whether it be noble or have rendered greater or as great ser- ignoble, religious or irreligious, the vice had they entered the pulpit? But able young man of to-day is not interall this, although in ultimate moral ested in the exclusive task of "labeling
“ effect good, has meant a turning away men and women for transportation to from the regular ministry and has a realm unknown” and sedulously helped to create the present problem of avoiding straightforward considerathe empty pulpit.
tion of that reconstruction of human Fifth, the lack of freedom of speech society which Jesus of Nazareth had in in the modern pulpit. The pews of mind when he talked of the kingdom the leading churches in all of our com- of God coming on earth. munities are filled with men who have Sixth, changes in religious emphasis a big material stake in the existing during the last half-century. The social and economic order. Naturally Very Reverend H. E. W. Fosbroke, they resent recklessly radical attacks dean of the General Theological Semupon this order by the clergyman inary of the Episcopal Church, is rewhose salary they pay. Men never ported by the “Post" investigator as have and never will cheerfully pay men asserting that one of the great deterto attack them or their interests. A rents to entering the ministry to-day certain amount of such conservative is the fact that “many of the ablest influence upon the clergy, as upon young men believe that the churches school teachers and editors, is salutary, still insist upon a literal interpretation but there is no danger that the neces- of the scriptures which conflicts with sary minimum of conservative safe- their scientific study at college." This. guarding will ever be lacking. The of course, is not true in any sweeping danger is all on the other side. The sense, but it is true enough in many danger lies in those pew-holders who quarters of the church to make it not insist upon the preacher's sticking ex- wholly an invalid belief on the part of clusively to the “old gospel,” by which our young men.
The constructive they really mean sticking to a safely scholars of the church have never fully irrelevant doctrinal sermonizing which met their duty of popularizing the rewill not disturb their Sunday morning sults of their studies. We should not
. devotions in the way impertinent dis- be in the critical situation we are now cussions of “Christianizing the social in respecting religious leadership if the order" do. The danger lies in those great scholars who have done so much pew-holders who want the world of de- to rescue Christianity from the fogs of votion and the world of dividends kept myth and mysticism had matched the itinerant evangelist's ardent preach- Ninth, the lack of a program, with ments with an equally effective presen- anything near the unanimous support tation of their findings. If the young of church leaders, that challenges the men of America knew the results of intelligent faith and courage of young modern Biblical research, many of men. them would not feel, as they now do, All this goes back to the statement that they would have to scrap their made before that young men will be scientific training if they entered the interested in the ministry if it is stated ministry.
in terms of concrete contemporary Seventh, the feeling that ministers affairs as well as in terms of abstract are made a class apart and "shunted preachments. out of the main stream of affairs into Tenth, the decline of religious life in narrow channels of merely theological the home. On this point there is room interest." This goes back to the ques- for wide difference of opinion. There tion whether the ministry is to be con- has been a marked decline in the ritual ceived by laymen and by clergymen as observances of religion in the homes of a task of "exhortation to abstract mo- the United States. The modern Amerralities" alone or a task of leadership ican family does not assemble daily in "Christianizing the social order” for prayer and reading of the Bible as as well. Where the ministry deals it did in earlier days, and fewer fathers mainly with abstract moralities alone, “say grace” at the table, but in fundaclergymen will be a “class apart,” mental moral atmosphere and in but when it fully assumes its rightful wholesomeness of outlook upon life I leadership in the morals of public believe that modern American family affairs, this apartness will disappear. life is preferable to the stern ritualism Eighth, the materialism of the age of earlier days.
. This is an old cry. It is easy to damn Eleventh, the failure of the Interan age with an adjective, but to call Church World Movement. It is pointour time materialistic and say that ed out that young men who returned passion for money, for comforts, for from the war, still intending to enter luxuries, accounts for young men's the ministry, saw this greatest plan for failure to enter the ministry in which Christian unity ever attempted go to there are no financial prizes is, I think, wreck and ruin through denominashallow reasoning. I believe there has tional jealousies, petty animosities, and never been a time when as many young the determined opposition of certain men of intellectual power and a sense lay forces who disliked its dabbling in of social responsibility were devoting social and economic conditions. This, themselves to poorly paid work be it is believed by certain leaders, shatcause some program of achievement tered the faith of many young men in challenges their interest and their cour- the power of the church to effect age. Hundreds of such young men in genuine readjustments in human sogovernment service, in scientific lab- ciety. oratories, in journalism, in teaching, These, then, are the reasons adhave turned their backs upon more vanced by prominent churchmen for profitable fields because they have the decreasing number of young men found a challenge.
who enter the ministry. They make
a rather dark picture. The one bright some natures as hunger or thirst, began spot in the situation, to many, is to manifest itself.
to manifest itself. It was not that that the majority of the more liberal Gordon had attacked or denied any of seminaries and those having univer- the doctrines of orthodox theology. sity connections are better attended He had ignored them. He rarely rethan ever before, while many of the ferred, save in the reading of a lesson conservative seminaries are searching or the taking of a text, to the incidents desperately for students to fill their of Bible times. He talked a good deal halls. For instance, the Union Theo- about the Carpenter of Nazareth, but logical Seminary, the Yale Divinity always in terms of candid intimacy School, and the University of Chicago that left the impression that he was disTheological Seminary, with liberal rep- cussing a contemporary living leader. utations that have evoked the disap- He talked much of the Christianproval of great groups of churchmen, izing of American society, American are popular. This speaks well for the politics, and American industry. What intellectual quality of the students he said was shot through with an ethiwho have chosen these institutions. cal passion that gripped and moved
the unchurched who crowded to hear 83
him. There was about him something I want to conclude this discussion reminiscent of the old Hebrew prophby relating the story of one young man ets. He seemed to share their sense of who entered the ministry, but later reality, and to burn with their hot left it for reasons that will appear in hatred of the futile formalism into the story. He has never wavered from which religion tends to fall. the purposes that prompted him to But this seemed not to impress the enter the ministry, but he is to-day in "regulars" of his parish. Unfortua secular position from which he is nately for Gordon, he was ministering exerting the influence he had hoped to a community that was one of those to exert through the ministry. I tell hermetically sealed pockets of popuhis story because it dramatizes, I think, lation, still to be found in our country, the problem confronting many young into which had filtered nothing of that men to-day. I shall call him John modern thought which is rescuing Gordon, as a convenient name for him Christianity from the hair-splitting to hide behind, and I shall call the old theologians and sinister interests who doctor who was his confidant Dr. Am- have colored it with their prejudices or brose. The story, however, is “from bent it to their purposes. He was talkthe life," as he has told it to me sev- ing a new language, and they missed eral times, and as I watched its devel- the ancient accents. That it was the opment.
language of the founder of their church Gordon had packed, to standing- was not apparent to them. His serroom capacity, his church. Men who mons did not "sound like the regular had not darkened church doors for preaching we've been used to." He years became regular attendants, but had likewise been severely criticized by many of the "regulars” in his church several of his fellow-ministers. He grew doubtful. The instinct of heresy- was disturbed. hunting, seemingly as inseparable from In his difficulty he turned for coun