Are There Any Protestants?

Are There Any Protestants?

In Chicago, Ill., December 5, 1912, an assembly of three hundred and nineteen clerical delegates from thirty professedly Protestant denominations intentionally and expressly repudiated the word “Protestant.” ATAP 1.1

That is an occurrence of such importance as to demand the serious attention of all: especially all the people of the United States. It is my purpose tonight to make as plain as possible both the fact and the meaning of it. ATAP 1.2

The meeting by which this thing was done was the “Second Quadrennial Meeting of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America” which was held in the Hotel LaSalle, Chicago, Ill., December 4-9, 1912. ATAP 1.3

This “Federal Council” is composed of thirty or more denominations, having a total membership of “more than seventeen millions.” It was originally organized by five hundred delegates from twenty denominations, who met for the purpose in Carnegie Hall, New York City, November 15-21, 1905. ATAP 1.4

In its original organization this “Federal Council of Churches” was expressly and distinctly Protestant. In the call under which the convention met in New York City the object of the proposed meeting was distinctly stated to be “to secure an effective organization of the various Protestantcommunions of this country”; and “to form a bond of union that will enable Protestant to present a solid front,” etc. And now without any pressure from without, and without any issue or crisis to demand it, but spontaneously and voluntarily that professedly Protestant organization openly and expressly repudiates the word “Protestant”! ATAP 1.5

And this occurred in the very first business meeting of the Council, and in dealing with the very first “Report” that was made to the Council: that is, at the first possible opportunity. ATAP 1.6

The occasion of it was this: The “Executive Committee” presented its report. In that report the committee expressed the “earnest hope that the Second Federal Council will make yet more clear certain fundamental facts as to the churches of the country, through their federation.” And the first of these was “The fact of the substantial unity of the Christian and Protestant Churches of the nation.” ATAP 1.7

No sooner was opened the discussion of the report, than that word “Protestant” was challenged as if it were a mortal enemy. “Why emphasize a word that is not a uniting but a dividing word? a word that recalls a most unhappy and trying experience,” said one. “By using this word, you make it more difficult for many of your Christian brethren to work with you,” said another. Discussion was soon cut off by a motion to resubmit the report to the committee for revision eliminating the word “Protestant.” And this was so done as to express the “earnest hope” for the “fellowship of Catholic unity.” Then the report was promptly and unanimously adopted, and with applause. ATAP 1.8