Article: A Brotherhood Church I wish I could believe the hopeful statement of Mr. Paul Tyner in The New Time for August that “the labor movement has certainly captured the church.” I believe thoroughly in the statement he quotes from Henry D. Lloyd, that the great coming social movement must be a religious movement; I believe that no permanent economic reform can be accomplished without a moral reform; I do not believe that any change in our financial, industrial or legislative systems can be of permanent benefit unless accompanied by an uplifting of the moral and religious sentiment among our people. Neither the establishment of a social democracy, nor the adoption of the single tax, nor direct legislation will make men love one another; and the perpetuity of free government and of liberty depends upon the prevalence of brotherly love. Give a people the broadest and most liberal democracy, the fullest liberty, and if they do not love one another, strife and discord and ambition will prevail, and men will devise ways and means to rob and oppress their brothers. No social, industrial or governmental system can absolutely prevent selfishness from manifesting itself. Perfect government can only exist where perfect love prevails. Broadness and liberality in government cannot go ahead of love and brotherly sentiment among the people; it is only as the spirit of brotherly love prevails and selfishness disappears that liberty is possible. We can bring about a change for the better in social and industrial conditions only by increasing the sentiment of brotherly love in the hearts of men. Mr. Lloyd is right; the labor movement must be a religious movement – the religious sentiment must be made predominant in it. How is this to be brought about? Can we, as Mr. Tyner thinks, “capture” the organized church as a whole? As a preacher of the Methodist church, I would be glad to believe that this could be done; but it will require something more than the presence of “representatives of the church” on the platform at a reform meeting to convince me of its possibility. A true church and a good government have the same purpose; the sole object of each is the salvation of men from sin, suffering, ignorance and poverty. It is to secure this blessing of complete salvation that churches are organized and governments instituted among men. Failure comes to governments and churches when devotion to the organization itself supersedes devotion to humanity as the end in view. When the machinery of government becomes complicated, giving employment to vast numbers and affording protection to great interests, the preservation of government comes to be looked upon as of greater importance than the salvation of the people, and when a church organization becomes prosperous and powerful, conducting great missionary and other enterprises, and giving employment to many people, the tendency is to subject the prosperity of the church for the salvation of humanity as the prime motive of work. In this case missionary work will be pushed with ardor and the unsaved will be exhorted with great zeal – not because we love them, but because we need them; their conversion, or at least their union, with us is necessary to the prosperity of the church. That this is largely the case with all the churches of to-day no one who is familiar with their workings will deny; and in proportion, as devotion to the organization, or to the particular creed or doctrine of the church becomes a dominant motive, brotherly love is driven out. The problem that Mr. Tyner must solve is this: Given a church that does not practice brotherly love and has almost forgotten how to preach it, to accomplish through this church the establishment of universal brotherhood. The problem is unsolvable, unless the church be born again. We must have a New Church for the New Time, either by the renewing of the old church or the creation of one all new. History shows that it is vastly easier to organize a new church upon right lines than to renew an old one. Jesus Christ tried to renew a church that had gone wrong; so did Martin Luther; so did John Wesley, and their efforts only resulted in the formation of new organizations. For 1,900 years we have been sifting the teachings of Jesus, and it is only lately we have learned that he compressed all of theology into the words. “Our Father,” and all of sociology into the one word “brother.” The one great need, not only of the labor movement, but of all humanity, is for a church that in its creed and practice shall express these conclusions. We need a Brotherhood Church. Not a Socialistic church, nor a church which shall advocate Socialism; political parties can do that – but a church that first, last and all the time shall stand for the brotherhood of humanity and for the idea of God’s fatherhood, and for nothing else, a church whose confession of faith shall be, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God,” whose rule of practice shall be, “Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,” and whose standard of experience shall be, “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.” And this must be a church, not an undenominational or inter-denominational society, working among all churches and in a minority in each – it must be a working church, working as a church. The religious and social problem of the hour is, How shall we establish what Christ died to establish – a Brotherhood Church?
Wattles, Wallace D.. Wallace D. Wattles Master Collection (Annotated and Illustrated): 84 Rare Books and Articles by Wallace D. Wattles, Author of The Science of Getting Rich .