New York, November 9, 1925.
I hereby certify that the following Pastoral Letter has been set forth by the House of Bishops, in accordance with Canon 21, § II. [v.] of the Digest of Canons.
CHARLES L. PARDEE,
Secretary of the House of Bishops.
Canon 21. § II. [v]. "Whenever the House of Bishops shall put forth a Pastoral Letter, it shall be. the duty of every Minister having a pastoral charge to read it to his Congregation on some occasion of public worship on a Lord's Day, not later than one month after the receipt of the same."
A PASTORAL LETTER
Brethren of the Clergy and Laity:
As those upon whom rests the responsibility of Chief Shepherds in the Church of Christ, we send our message of love and counsel to you at this time.
We look out upon a world in which vast changes are taking place. In China, and elsewhere among the peoples of Asia and Africa, movements and forces are at work which must have momentous consequences. Some of those best able to judge the signs of the times are warning us of the danger of racial conflicts more disastrous than any that this earth has yet known. It is no longer possible for the races of men: We dwell separate and remote from one another. A power must now be found strong enough to bind men together in world brotherhood if they are not to consume each other in world strife. Throughout Europe there is deep disquiet with widespread threatenings of social disintegration. And here in our own land, favoured as it is beyond any deserts of ours, we see much that must give us grave concern. We see an amassing of wealth such as history has never known, without a corresponding growth in sense of stewardship and obligation though there are many noble examples of generous giving. There is still much to be done to bring our industrial and economic conditions into accord with the spirit and law of Christ. We see a weakening of the ties, and a lowering of the standards, of home life due to lack of proper parental control and to the absence from our homes of definite religious influence. We see a widespread revolt against the Christian ideals of morality and purity expressed in much of our literature, advocated openly by some of those whose position gives them hearing and influence, hailed by many as the advent of a fuller freedom and a larger self-expression, and, in correspondence with this, the appalling and still increasing growth among us of Divorce.
We see in our land tens of millions of men and women who acknowledge no connection with religion, and, as a result of this, a large proportion of our children growing up without religious influence, or religious teaching, of any sort. Can we fail to see the connection between this situation and the spirit of lawlessness, the startling increase in crime, and especially the increase in the number of youthful criminals, which is now challenging our attention?
But in our own country, and elsewhere, another movement is manifest. Driven by the pressure of the world's need men are with new earnestness looking towards Jesus Christ. Evidences of this are coming from the farthest corners of the earth. Faced by the issues of this present time men are feeling the need of Divine help and guidance. They see the inadequacy of human statesmanship to meet the present world situation. With a new reality they feel their need of God. More widely than ever before they are beginning to see that the one hope of the world is in Christ. But their faith in Him is vague and uncertain. The call to the Church is now for a new preaching of the Gospel in all its Divine truth and power. We give thanks for the results of the Nation-Wide Campaign inaugurated six years ago. This movement has not only increased our contributions for the work of the Church, it has aroused us to a new consciousness of our corporate life and responsibility. We call for a still larger and more loyal participation by every diocese, every parish and every member in this great common undertaking of the Church. But we need now something still deeper and more vital than this, something without which all our efforts will be of no avail. Organization, machinery, methods of administration, have their importance, but the supreme need of the Church today is a fresh realization of the meaning and power of the Gospel itself. We need a new conversion to Christ so that we may preach Him to men with the same love and power with which the Apostles preached Him. What is now needed is that Christ Himself shall be accepted, that His grace and truth shall be made known, that we shall preach Him as the New Testament shows Him to us, as He is now at God's right hand, in all His majesty and glory. It is this message for which men are longing and waiting. It is this Faith which has power to save the world. It is this which will fill the ranks of the Ministry with the best and noblest of our sons, and will carry men and women to the ends of the earth to share with others the joy and light and love that they themselves have found in Christ. If there seems to be today any lack of enthusiasm, of joy, of adequate response to the missionary challenge of the Church, it is because of the lack of evangelical fervour in our preaching of Jesus Christ.
The very heart of the Gospel is that it was the Eternal Son of God who came Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ to dwell among men. With the Apostles, with the New Testament, with the whole Catholic Church throughout the world, we believe that it was He by Whom the heavens and the earth were made. "Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man."
Let us make it clear that our acceptance of the Christian Creed is not a matter of mere assent to intellectual propositions. Our faith is in Christ Himself, which is an infinitely simpler, and an infinitely greater thing. We believe in Him, we pray to Him, we strive to follow Him, we look to Him as our Saviour and our Lord. It is our faith in Him which explains, and justifies, the prayers, the hymns, the sacraments, the whole Faith and worship of the Church.
We would especially warn our people against the superficial and false antithesis, just now often dwelt upon, between the religion of Christ and the religion about Christ. No such differentiation can be made by those who believe in Jesus Christ as God. There is no such antithesis in the New Testament. We need both the religion about Christ and the religion of Christ, and the Church and the Scriptures give us both. If we are to have a living Faith in Christ, we must know the truth about Him.
Brethren: the love of Christ constraineth us--that love, which poured itself out in entire self surrender for our sakes, is the challenge to us, and to all men, to redeem the discord and failure of the world, to abolish war and bring in peace, by unselfish service in His Name and power. On Him, and on faith in Him, depends the whole world's hope and salvation. It is Christ alone Who brings comfort for the sorrow of human life, Who can overcome the sin in the world, and in each of us. It is Christ alone Who can give us the strength that we need for the tasks now facing us. It is Christ Who has given us those visions of truth, of justice in all human relationships, of world brotherhood, which are now before men's minds. It is Christ only Who can bring these visions to fulfillment.
We who send this message to you pledge ourselves to new devotion in His Name and service. With most affectionate care for them, we call the young people of the Church to new adventure in the faith and service of Him Who is more modern than any of the movements of our day. We call the whole Church, clergy and laity, old and young alike, to repentance and new life, to prayer and sacrament and worship, to faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God, that we may be His true disciples and may bear our faithful witness of Him to the World.