Source: Assembly Herald
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Anarchism and the Gospel”
Date of publication: November 1901
Volume number: 5
Issue number: 5
|“Anarchism and the Gospel.” Assembly Herald Nov. 1901 v5n5: pp. 410-11.|
|anarchism (religious response); anarchism (dealing with).|
|Jesus Christ; William McKinley; Paul.|
The editorial (below) is accompanied on page 411 by a photograph of McKinley.
“This article may be secured in leaflet form for distribution by addressing ‘Home Mission Literature Department,’ Room 712, 156 Fifth avenue [sic], New York, N. Y.” (p. 411).
Anarchism and the Gospel
The shot of an assassin has taken from us the
President we loved and trusted. It has done more. Men look about in wonder and
vague dread. A foe to American institutions is in our midst whose blow can neither
be calculated nor averted. Something must be done. What shall it be? There will
be legislation. That is well. The danger is that there will be too much of it
and too much reliance upon it. It will be repressive. But to repress is not
to get at the root. There must be a change of social and moral conditions. There
will always, for those wicked enough to do it, be a chance to shoot rulers.
The remedy lies in a force that will take away motive and impulse.
There is just one force mighty enough to cope with anarchy and lawlessness. That is the gospel. It is the power of God. The appeal of all good men should be to that which God has put into this world as able to save to the uttermost.
If it is not doing that work, the fault is not in it, but in its applications. We are beginning to reap the fruit of our neglect of foreigners, from whom our anarchists mainly come. The churches do not reach them, do not seriously reach after them. Churches are not planted among them. Rather churches and gospel agencies are forsaking them for more responsive fields. So did not Paul of the early preachers, nor should we. It is not too much to say the Church spends hundreds on her own comfort, where she gives dollars for the salvation of the submerged tenth. But that tenth is our menace. Thence come the threats and blows that shake our national fabric.
What shall be done? The spasm of sorrow now
wringing the national heart forces the question. But the answer must not be
a spasm, but a campaign. Two convictions must grip the national conscience.
First—That the danger to our institutions is both grave and imminent. Read this danger in the light of the fact that a President without enemies, in a time of peace and free from any severe agitations of opinions, is shot down, while evidence accumulates that behind the assassin is a large company now fleeing to cover from the nation’s wrath, but ready to appear again and repeat the tragedy.
Second—The conviction of God’s people that only the power of God grappling conscience and transforming life is strong enough to reach the root of our troubles. When these truths shall take hold on us, not in an easy intellectual compliance, but with the energy of their nature and our emergency, we will arouse from our lethargy or our sporadic zeal to match our national need with the potency of the truth as it is in Jesus.
What now is being done for foreigners in cities
or camps? An occasional missionary voice reaches them. Tent evangelism in our
cities challenges them only long enough to secure a passing hearing. The Salvation
Army reaches out its hands and saves one here and there. The missions to the
outcast kindle lights only strong enough to reveal the darkness in which they
are set. Federations of churches by faithful canvassing get the census of the
slums and reveal the multitudes drowning in their iniquity.
Thus the churches make their protest against sin. But the diameter between a protest and a power, an appeal and a rescue, is measureless. Our efforts to save our cities or our camps from the horrors which hang over them do not rise to the dignity of a campaign impelled by the threat of fatal defeat and the hope of final victory.
Would we regenerate our people and by changing lives make anarchy impossible, the Church of Christ must plan, as great conquests are always planned, and must co-operate, as by co-operation only great victories are secured. Not an occasional collection, not an arm’s length sympathy, not a revival spasm. Flesh and blood and soul must go into the campaign. The Church must forget her ease, and herself and comrades must lock their shoulders. Moneyed men must invest less in special police and more in agencies that take hold not of the collar but the conscience. The godliest and best of our young men must train and give themselves to this mightiest battle of the age. They can do it under the inspiration of saving souls from death and a nation from disaster. 
The last General Assembly appointed a committee to consider the religious problem of the city. It did not know how soon it would be a national problem as well. It is none too soon. Assemblies, Federations, Mission Boards and Christian people in any organization can give themselves to no graver or more imminent question than this:—How shall the storm be stayed whose far-flashing bolt struck our best beloved?
From a patriotic standpoint there is nothing more imperative. The last address of our President expressed a great longing for closer bonds between us and other nations, especially between us and those who on our continent depend upon us. A noble legacy breathes in that longing. Let us accept it and that we may bless the people we touch, let us give ourselves not only to make secure the institutions of civil liberty but to make God’s word of righteousness so mighty among us that it shall put away evil passions from our own people and send the salvation in which we rejoice to all which are round about us.
In one of Mr. McKinley’s immortal sentences he said of our nation, “It is our province, as it should be our earnest care, to lead in the march of human progress, and not rest content with any secondary place.”
That leading will be secured not by armies and navies, not by victories of diplomacy or the forum, but by quickening, transforming and lifting power of Christian Truth and Christian Institutions.