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IV. CHURCH ALLIANCES AND FEDERATIONS OF CHURCHES.
The impulse towards fellowship and co-operation in Christian activities have also found notable expression within the Protestant world in œcumenical gatherings of Churches belonging to the same family and the confederate associations of Protestant Churches here and abroad. In both cases, proof has been given of the unity of the Protestant Churches and the possibility of hearty agreement in action without solidarity of denominational control.
The alliances of Churches belonging to the same families have been constituted on the basis of the primitive truths of the Gospel find agreement in distinctive denominational principles. They began with the Alliance of the Reformed Churches, which held its first meeting in Edinburgh, 1876, and are the following: 1. The Baptist World Alliance, with meetings, London, 1905, Philadelphia, 1911, and Stockholm, 1923. Among the principles emphasized at Stockholm were the 'universal priesthood of believers as the basis of the New Testament teaching as 961to the Church and the ministry,' and that 'Christian unity can only come through obedience to the will of Christ, as revealed in the New Testament, which Baptists must ever take as their sole, sufficient, certain and authoritative guide.'22682268See the Report of the Bapt. World Alliance, Stockholm, 223 pp. 2. The International Congregational Council with four meetings, London, 1891, with Rev. Dr. R. W. Dale as president; Boston, 1899, with President Angell of Michigan University as president; Edinburgh, 1908, and Boston, 1920.22692269The proceedings have been published in separate vols. 3. The Lutheran World Convention, with meetings in Eisenach, 1923, and Copenhagen, 1929, and based on the statement that 'the Lutheran World Convention acknowledges the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the only source and infallible norm of all Church teaching and practice, and sees in the Lutheran Confessions especially in the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and Luther's Small Catechism, the pure exposition of the Word of God.' 4. The Œcumenical Methodist Conference, with meetings in London, 1901, Toronto, 1911, London, 1921. 5. The Alliance of the Reformed Churches throughout the World holding the Presbyterian system, whose last three meetings were held in Pittsburgh, 1920, Cardiff, 1925, and Boston, 1929. Its object is to consider questions of general interest to the Presbyterian community, to seek the welfare of Churches, especially such as are weak or persecuted, and disseminate information concerning the kingdom of Christ throughout the world.22702270These œcum. councils are in line with the words of Dr. Philip Schaff, 1875. Writing of the London gathering which arranged for the Council of 1876, he said: 'We have the Christian union of individual believers in the Ev. Alliance, and now this is a confederation of Churches of all Presb. and Reformed bodies. The last step would be the organic union in one body which will hardly appear till the millennium. In the mean time the Lutheran Churches should have a Luth. Alliance, and the Episcopalians, Methodists, and other eccles. families should have their alliances. In this way, union would be simplified.' (Life of P. Schaff, p. 318.) 6. The Unitarians have also had world conferences under the title, the International Congress of Religious Liberals, beginning in London, 1901. The meeting was held in Prag, 1927.
To these world alliances of Churches affiliated by denominational origins and agreements should be added the congresses uniting representatives of all the Christian bodies of the world except the Roman Catholic Church, namely, the Universal Christian Conference on Life and Work, held in Stockholm, 1925, and the World Conference on 962Faith and Order, Lausanne, 1927. The latter22712271See the Univ. Christ. Conf. on Life and Work, Stockholm, 1925, ed. by Bp. Bell, Oxf., 1926, 787 pp. For the Lausanne Conf., Bell: Documents on Christ. Unity, I., 377 sqq.; II., 220 sqq.; and Proceedings of the Conference, N. Y., 1928, 541 pp. In 1930 a committee appointed by the two English archbishops to 'consider the findings of the Lausanne Conf.' in a long report announced that 'it would never abandon the principle of a ministry conferred by episcopal ordination.' The Report, with statements by Bishops Gore and Palmer on the South India Scheme, 158 pp., publ. Westminster, 1930. 'disavowed emphatically any attempt to define the conditions of future reunion,' but at the same time considered among other subjects the sacraments, the ministry, and the extent of the authority of Scripture, all of which have an essential bearing on the consolidation of the Churches. Both conferences were attended by representatives from the Eastern Orthodox Churches, who also took part in the proceedings.
The Federation of Churches is represented by the Federal Council of the Evangelical Free Churches of England, formed 1917, and the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, 1905. The English Federation is based upon a Declaratory Statement of Common Faith and Practice which includes the evangelical doctrines of the Trinity, incarnation, 'the Only Headship' of Christ in the Church, sin, the final judgment, the Scriptures, the sacraments, and the ministry, the last defined as 'not a sacerdotal order but as comprising all who are called to it by an inward call of the Holy Spirit authenticated by the call of the Church.'
The Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America has for its object, as its Plan of Federation states, 'more fully to manifest the essential oneness of the Christian Churches of America in Jesus Christ as their divine Lord and Saviour, to express the fellowship and catholic unity of the Christian Church and to bring the Christian bodies of America into united service, for Christ and the world.'
The Holy Church throughout all the world
Doth acknowledge Thee, the Father everlasting
Thine adorable, true, and only Son
Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
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