THE Christian Statesman accounts for the lack of growth in the Methodist and other prominent churches the past year, by pointing out that these churches have not done their duty in the matter of “Christianizing society.” This is an important duty for the church, says the Statesman, because without it there will not be “an environment in which the Christian character can come to perfection.” “It is hard if not impossible to be a consistent Christian in society as we now find society.” So the churches must destroy the evils that flourish in society, and so remove temptation and furnish an environment in which it will be easy to do right.
This conception of the mission of Christianity contains two fatal defects. In the first place the church cannot renovate this world so that the evils flourishing in society will be eliminated. If the Scriptures teach anything at all, they teach that the world itself will be destroyed by fire, with all the wicked upon it, and that thus the evils that afflict society will be finally removed. Christians will not save the world, but will be saved out of the world. And secondly, Christian character is not brought to perfection by removing obstacles from the Christian pathway, but by a vigorous surmounting of these obstacles by the faith which lays hold upon infinite power. Christian character represents not a work done outside the Christian, but a work done within him. God’s plan is not to take man and women to heaven by smoothing the way so that they can slide along easily, but by filling them with power to overcome the world and to rise above every possible obstruction. The only smooth way in this world is the way that leads downward.
“EAMSTER” is observed by the churches because of the resurrection of Christ. The day is celebrated as the anniversary of the day of the resurrection. As the anniversary day, it would, like Christmas or one’s birthday, occur in different years upon different days of the week. Hence the churches would find themselves celebrating Monday, Tuesday, etc., as the day of the resurrection of Christ, when they had celebrated the previous Sunday for the same reason! In the interests of Sunday observance this would never do.
So it was decreed that the anniversary must always fall on Sunday, and we have an anniversary day which not only always falls on Sunday, but spreads out in the course of years over a period of four or five weeks between the beginning of March and the end of April! It does’t [sic.] matter whether it falls in March or April, just so that it falls on Sunday.
All this celebration of Easter is of course a confession that Sunday is not the day of Christ’s resurrection. A weekly event cannot be an anniversary, and an anniversary cannot be celebrated weekly. The logic of the weekly observance demands that there be no Easter, and Easter in turn disposes entirely of the claim made for Sunday as the weekly Sabbath.
Why will intelligent sensible people be guilty of such inconsistency! Why do not the churches either drop Sunday as the Sabbath, or drop Easter? If there is any good reason for holding to both as commemorative of the same event, we really wish some one would tell us what it is.