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REORGANIZING THE CHURCH FOR RELI.
THE PULPIT AND THE CHURCH SCHOOL
THE meaning of the war for religious educa
tion has now become quite clear. The war
has revealed the tremendous power of education to shape national character, ideas, and purposes. It has also shown clearly that education which is not Christianized may be prostituted to the most unholy ends. All education must be permeated with the spirit and motives of Jesus if the finest conquests of peace are to be realized. But the problem goes much deeper than this. All of the religious impulses, the thinking and the sentiments of each individual must be quickened into a new life and organized around the mind of Christ. This is the chief function of the Church. The State educational institutions can be made to reflect the Christian viewpoint in the classroom but they cannot and will not be responsible for its creation and culture. The Church must function in the life of the community and the nation as a religious educational institution. This it will do very largely through the pulpit, the Church school and the denominational college. In its educational work the Church must be so closely correlated with the work of the public schools and the State universities that the two together will form a national system of education. No nation can be said to have a system of education until the social, moral, and religious interests of the individuals are as well-provided for as are the intellectual and vocational.
In this volume we have sought to show the new value the war has placed upon human personality. We have seen the power of sin to drag men down to tragic and contemptible depths, and we have also beheld the power of the ideal to lift men up to the most superb heights. Throughout the whole war men revealed innate spiritual capacities that we scarcely believed existed. They have demonstrated their right to share the spiritual inheritance of the race irrespective of nationality, creed, color or occupation. Furthermore the war has revealed the real source of culture by disclosing the deeper spiritual meaning of the home, the national soul, the Church and the Bible as the basis of a new social order. The war has made possible the triumph of the Christian philosophy over the materialistic theory of life and has revealed Christ at the heart of the cosmic process as alone able to meet the needs and the desires of men. It is the work of religious education to develop each generation so that they will enter fully into their spiritual inheritance.
We are now ready to attempt a general statement of the meaning of religious education. Religious education deals with persons capable of great spiritual attainment and seeks to direct the processes of development in such a way that each individual will grow into the fulness of the stature of the man Christ Jesus. Whatever Christ means to a man, that will religious education mean to him. If Jesus is a man only and man is the result of materialistic evolution, then religious education is a purely naturalistic process. But if Jesus is God, His creative mind at work in the universe, His will in history, His love on Calvary and His spirit regenerating and shaping the lives of men, then religious education is the organization of the forces resident in the evangelical conception of Christianity. Christ is the supreme personality of all time and religious education is the process by which His person is reproduced in the life of the individual. Religious education is a moral process; it must train men to live in right relation to God and man. It is a social process and must train men to live in right relations with their neighbors. Religious education is a missionary force and seeks to widen the conception of "one's neighbor” to include the uttermost parts of the earth. Religious education deals with a growing organism and therefore utilizes all of the laws of growth involved in each period of a child's development. In all of this work religious education never loses sight of the fact that it is dealing with immortal beings, who live and move and have their being in God. Religious education is therefore evangelistic in its aim,
social in its outreach, missionary in its motive, scientific in its methods and spiritual in all of its processes.
As a result of all of our discussion, we deduce four important conclusions. (1) The Church, by means of a statesmanlike program of religious education can go to work and actually build the Kingdom of God upon earth. Each member of the Church will be conscious of the goal aimed at and of the fact that they have a very definite part in its attainment. In a single generation it will be possible to make an entire community conscious that each member is engaged in the kingdom-building task. Soon the nation and then the world will be equally conscious of each member's part in the realization of a great social ideal. To bring the minds of all men under the positive social control of a great spiritual ideal for human society was the dream of every prophet and the overmastering passion of Jesus. The great movements in history have been intimately bound up with the instinctive hunger of men to realize this dream and to share this passion. During the first two centuries of Christianity the amazing growth of the Christian Church around the central idea of a new spiritual society was a social and religious phenomenon of the first magnitude. Further on in history we have the initial evangelical and social movements started by Saint Francis. About the same time there grew up the Crusades with much that was hysterical and valueless but none the less significant. Following
this came the Renaissance with the Reformation at its heart, all of which was crowded full of social meaning and was purely educational in its method. The revival under the Wesleys carried with it the dream of a social order and so saved England from social revolution. Soon again the dream of the prophet and the passion of Christ appeared in the modern missionary movement; then came a new movement which was theinevitable result of them all, the modern movement for world democracy which began with the American and French revolutions and which came into world ascendancy as a result of the great war just ended. When we seek to penetrate to the underlying cause of these great movements in society, all of which broke down national barriers and stirred to their depth whole continents, we find that they were largely due to potential energies resident in the Bible and liberated in social life by teaching the Bible to the people in their mother tongue. As the mind, in the light of history, is allowed to dwell upon the strategic significance of the present hour, when newly-liberated moral, economic, political, and religious forces are sweeping with tidal power through the lives of all men, one is overwhelmingly convinced that now is the time for the Church to launch a religious educational movement that will, in a surprisingly short time, build a new world around the person and power of Jesus Christ. The delay of a decade will allow the plastic condition of the universal human heart to become so molded into forms of thought