Rev. Douglas Horton
Dean, Harvard Divinity School
Sir:---Your fifteen minute broadcast, listened to recently, caused me to wonder how the head of an institution that trains men for the ministry, could be so lacking in proper biblical and historical understanding as to believe that a combination of Protestant sects could possibly be the Church that Jesus Christ established.
You bemoaned the fact, as do all lovers of Our Lord and Saviour, that there are 248 different Protestant sects in our country. Surely there is no scriptural or historical warrant for the belief, expressed in your broadcast, that the unification of those 248 sects would be "the Christian Church." This seems to be a Harvard University delusion. President Nathan W. Pusey said not long ago, in addressing a Protestant "Communion Breakfast" in Mechanics Hall, Boston, that Protestants are coming to "the realization that despite all the many differences, some ridiculous, some not so ridiculous, that the many separated churches are only fragmentary parts of the one Christian Church whose proper domain is the whole inhabited world."
The attempt to unify the 248 Protestant churches, all man-made, on the assumption that they would be the "one Church" that Christ brought into existence, is, inferentially, a denial of Christ, Whose Church was to be, and has been in modern terms, an indestructible, self-perpetuating Spiritual Corporation. It is the Church that began to function on the First Pentecost Day. It is the Spiritual Corporation that Christ promised to remain with "all days, even to the consummation of the world" (St. Matt. 28:20). Christ commanded that those who refused to "hear the Church," that is the Church Catholic that existed during the first century, shall be "like the heathen and publican," condemned, as St. Matthew tells us (18:17).
You fail to realize that the Catholic Church is the "Kingdom," the indestructible "Kingdom" on earth, through which man reaches the Kingdom of Heaven. It was made up of the Apostles in the beginning, as you know, who were commissioned by Christ to elucidate and apply the moral law throughout all time. This the Catholic Church has done through the occupants of the Chair of Peter, the bishops and priests throughout the Christian ages. This authority centered primarily in Peter, whom Christ, the Son of God, delegated to be His dispenser of the Law of the New Dispensation, just as God named Moses as the dispenser of the Old Law.
The Church you proposed, made up of the 248 Protestant "fragments," was not to have an hierarchy, as you said incidentally during your broadcast. This is another repudiation of Christ's plan; Whose Church was governed by an hierarchial authority in the beginning, when it was made up of the Apostles with Peter in supreme delegated authority. This Christ-delegated spiritual authority has been exercised throughout the Christian ages by the Popes, occupants of the Chair of Peter; who have the "Keys," the delegated authority that Christ gave to the first Pope.
The granting of this hierarchial authority, which you presume to repudiate, has been attested to by the foremost Christian religious personages throughout the Christian ages. St. Augustine, for instance, said:---"Many considerations detain me in the bosom of the Catholic Church! ... The succession of Bishops from the Chair of the Apostle Peter himself, to whom Our Lord after His resurrection entrusted the feeding of His flock, down even to the present Bishop; lastly, the very name Catholic of which amid many heresies that Church alone has kept possession; all this attaches me to her with my inmost soul" (Contra. Epist. Manichei Fundament. C. iv. N. 5).
The desire for Christian unity, expressed recently in your broadcast, cannot be obtained by any reorganization of the 248 Protestant "fragments." That laudable desire can only be obtained by affiliation with the Christ-established Catholic Church. Therein is religious unity, and therein only; because Christ continues to abide therein; and she is divinely protected from error in matters of faith and morals. Therefore the Bishop of Rome can say today, what St. Cyprian, Bishop of the Catholic Church in Toulon said in the sixth century, "The Church is one, widely extended by its fecundity: as there are many rays of light, but one sun; many branches of a tree, but one root deeply fixed; many streams of water, but one source. Take a ray from the sun; the unity of light allows not division; break a branch from a tree; the branch cannot germinate; cut off the stream from its source; the stream dries up. So the Church sends forth her rays over the whole earth; yet is the light one, and the unity is undivided" (De Unitate Ecclesiae, p. 195).
This communication is sent to you of my own volition, with the prayerful hope that you will be blest, in the very least with an appreciation of the Catholic Church, as was Rev. Philip Schaff, the Presbyterian minister, who said in an address in the General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance:---"The Catholic Church is still the largest body in Christendom ... She is the best organized body in the world, and the prisoner in the Vatican commands with infallible authority an army of priests and monks in five continents. She is backed by inspiring memories as the Alma Mater of the Middle Ages, the Christianizer and civilizer of the Northern and Western Barbarians, the Church of the Fathers, the Schoolmen and the Mysteries; the Church of St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine, of St. Benedict and St. Francis, of St. Bernard and St. Thomas Aquinas, of Thomas à Kempis and Fenelon. She is still full of missionary zeal and devotion, and abounds in works of charity. She embraces millions of true worshippers and followers of Christ, and has the capacity for unbounded usefulness. We honor her for all she has done in the past, and wish her God's blessing for all the good she may do in the future."
Sincerely in the Lord,