Three hundred and sixty odd World Council of Churches delegates, representing Protestants in eighty-four lands, including a dozen from countries behind the Iron Curtain, have gone back to their respective countries after their meeting in Evanston. While much has been reported of this conference in the Catholic as well as the secular press, a further word seems in order.
Such a gathering would not have been possible a century ago, on account of the sects holding more uncompromisingly to their biblical, doctrinal interpretations in the past than they do today. Yet there still abides in these sects differences that keep them from being a unit, though they agree to the abstract slogan:---"Christ---the Hope of the World".
The consciousness of the "sin of disunity", of which they are guilty, prompted Dr. Basil Ioannidis, Professor of Theology at the University of Athens, Greece, to say "The multiplication of Christian communities and religious bodies has obscured our idea of the one, holy, Apostolic church and, even among Christians themselves, has destroyed reverence toward the church and belief in the church as a divided society, as the very body of our Lord."
The reference of the Professor to the "idea of the one, holy Apostolic Church" ought to have brought to mind the Catholic Church Council of Nicea, where the three hundred Bishops of the "one holy Apostolic Church", presided over by the legate of Pope Adrian, set forth in the Nicean Creed those historic words. The delegates were reminded of the place where the unity "Christ---the Hope of the World" desired may be realized, by the gentlemen who picketed the Evanston gathering with a placard, reading "All Roads Lead to Rome. Come Home, Brothers".
The Evanston gathering of the World Council of (Protestant) Churches called to mind its former international gathering, in Amsterdam, which went on record against "the ideologies of both Communism and laissez-faire capitalism". The delegates failed
to realize that "laissez-faire capitalism" stemmed from the basic principle of the Protestant "Reformation".
This laissez-faire principle, of everybody for himself, and the devil take the hindermost, was the application to industrial life of the extreme individualism of the so-called "Reformation", which had substituted the Bible, privately interpreted, for the authority in Scriptural matters that had been exercised for fifteen centuries, which "Christ---the Hope of the World" had delegated to the Apostles, with Peter as their head, and their successors. The Communism, that the World Council of (Protestant) Churches went on record against, is the reaction to the laissez-faire era with which Protestantism is guilty of having inflicted the world, when it brought about the separation of economics, as well as religion, from authoritative regulation.
It was the unjust economic conditions, due to the "Reformation"-hatched laissez-fairism obtaining in the industrial world, particularly in England, the mother-country of "capitalism", that prompted Karl Marx to become the arch-enemy of the private property system, and the Father of Communism. One has but to study Marx's classic, DAS KAPITAL, the so-called "Bible of the working class", to substantiate the fact that the writing of it was prompted largely by the gross economic injustices that resulted from the basic principle of Protestantism in the sphere of religion, applied to the industrial and social spheres of human activity. It caused "the English working class to be precipitated without any tradition from the golden to its iron age"; from the golden age of the Catholic guilds, when, as Karl Marx says in his classic, "a merchant could buy every kind of a commodity, but labor as a commodity he could not buy".
Karl Marx says further along in DS KAPITAL, that "the process of forcible expropriation of the people received in the 16th century a new and frightful impulse from the Reformation, and from the consequent colossal spoliation of the church property. The Catholic Church was, at the time of the Reformation, the feudal proprietor of a great part of the English land. The suppression of the monasteries, etc., hurled their inmates into the proletariat. The estates of the Church were to a large extent given away to rapacious royal favorites, or sold at a nominal price to speculating farmers and citizens, who drove out, enmasse, the hereditary sub-tenants ... The legally guaranteed property of the poorer folk in the part of the Church's tithes was tacitly confiscated".
This economic injustice that followed the anti-authoritarianism of the "Reformation", applied to the civic as well as the economic life of the people, which led to the undoing of the poor, is vouched for by Thorold Rogers and William Corbett, non-Catholic writers of note, as well as by Karl Marx.
The Guild Age, which existed at the time of the inauguration of the "Reformation", was the age when in addition to the 52 Sunday rest days, there were numerous days of obligation, enjoyed as rest days by the toilers, after fulfilling the obligation of going to Mass. "Protestantism", says Karl Marx, "by changing almost all the traditional holidays into workdays, played an important part in the genesis of capital".
Paul Lafargue, son in law of Karl Marx, said that "the reformed religion abolished the Saints in Heaven in order to suppress the fete days on earth". It is the "expropriation" of the toilers, the drastic pauperizing conditions brought about by the advent of Protestantism during the 16th century, that prompted Karl Marx to call for the "expropriation of the expropriators"; which the Lenin-Trotsky-led Bolsheviks forcibly did in Russia thirty-seven years ago.
"Laissez-faire capitalism", that the delegates in the Amsterdam Assembly of the World Council of (Protestant) Churches condemned, does not exist. Its end began in England, when Parliament was forced to permit the organization of the toilers into trade unions, which had been declared to be a conspiracy against the State. They compelled the adoption of laws to protect the interest of the toilers, such as the ten hour law for working women and children. This put an end to the unrestricted use of land and capital by property owners, without regard for the welfare of the toiling masses.
While it was a satisfaction to have the delegates to the World Council of (Protestant) Churches condemn both "laissez-faire capitalism and Communism", it would have been much more satisfactory had they realized that one stemmed from Protestantism; while the other was a reaction thereto. This would be a step toward the realization that "Christ---the Hope of the World" awaits them in the Church that is universally under the jurisdiction of the occupant of the Chair of Peter.
"All Roads Lead to Rome. Come Home, Brothers!"